New Feature: Survival Hints

I wear whole lots of different hats which is one major reason I feel extremely constrained by identity politics.  None of the neat identity packages really fit.

Over my life time I’ve picked up whole bunches of skills from cooking and sewing to page layout and computer construction.

Many people whose lives have been impacted by trans-prefixed words are facing hard times economically.  Un-employment and under-employment particularly if one is older or not so passable are  real facts of life.

Identity be damned though… It isn’t just being trans ******… Many other formerly middle class people are facing the same problems thanks to Extremist Capitalism and the Free Market waging class war on the working classes.

Hence… The new column “Survival Hints”…  I want this to be a co-operative effort…  Especially on the part of people outside the US.  There is an e-mail address for this blog suzan.wbt@gmail.com I’ll run articles submitted by others that address this topic.  Some suggested topics might include negotiating Name Changes, free or low cost medical care etc. Others could include tips on turning various skills into income producing endeavors that do not require conforming to some sort of corporate standards.

If you have a blog and have posted articles on these themes this is an opportunity for links and a link back to your blog or website.

Today I am featuring an article I found on Alternet.  It particularly hit home as I have spent a great deal of money on glasses this year that I am not all that happy with.

The following is reposted with the permission of Anneli Rufus.

She has written several interesting appearing books and has the following sites:

http://www.annelirufus.com/

http://scavenging.wordpress.com/

Wow — the Eyewear Industry Is an Incredible Ripoff, But There Are Alternatives

By Anneli Rufus, AlterNet
Posted on August 31, 2010, Printed on August 31, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/148024/

Those of us who need prescription eyewear need prescription eyewear. Are you wearing yours to read this? Imagine if you weren’t. Imagine life without your glasses for a year, a week, an hour. Yet many health insurance plans, especially for the unemployed or self-employed, don’t cover them.

Mine doesn’t.

Last year, I went shopping for no-line progressive bifocals in small oval metal frames. Name brands mean nothing to me. Price does. My high astigmatism and need for bifocals disqualify me from those buy-one-get-one-free deals, which almost always involve only single-vision specs.

In store after store, megachains and optical boutiques alike, small oval metal frames fitted with lenses matching my prescription started at $300. One popular shop quoted me $582 for the lenses alone.

I bought a pair of no-line progressive bifocals in small oval metal frames for $44 online. I’m wearing them right now.

Perhaps because prescription glasses are where medicine meets fashion, they’re among the world’s most overpriced merchandise. Imperfect eyesight isn’t your fault: You can’t make yourself nearsighted by eating too much fudge. Yet if your health plan excludes vision care, you’ve spent years at the mercy of a $64 billion industry characterized by 500-percent markups.

This has begun to change over the last few years. A knowledge-is-power, power-to-the-people, Web-driven DIY wave is rocking the optical industry’s very foundations. Dozens of companies now sell prescription glasses online, frames and lenses included, for as little as $7.95.

It works like this: Google “cheap glasses” to find a frame you like at a price you like at a site you like. (Among the most popular are 39DollarGlasses, ZenniOptical — where I bought mine — and Goggles4U.) Use the virtual fitting mechanism to “try it on.” Type in your prescription (obtained from an actual eye doctor), pupillary distance (aka PD, derived by measuring the space between your pupils with a ruler), address and payment information. Send.

It’s a virtual myopian/hyperopian/presbyopian Tea Party, led largely by Minnesota software engineer Ira Mitchell, who launched his revolutionary GlassyEyes blog (its motto is “Saving the World from Overpriced Glasses!”) in 2006. Packed with forums, product reviews, discount deals, and tips for buying specs online, it’s the vision-impaired version of Yelp.

“There is no appreciable functional or material difference” between prescription eyewear bought online and bought in brick-and-mortar stores, Mitchell tells me, but in stores “the cost to the consumer is anywhere from four to ten times more. It turns out that they’re making ridiculous margins on the frames, the lenses and the coatings.”

Complete with antiscratch coatings and other pluses, his own glasses cost between $30 and $60 per pair online. Over the last three years, he’s bought around 40 pair — because, at that price, he can.

Mitchell was appalled when he first began researching wholesale prices for optical merchandise and realized that opticians acquire lenses for as little as $3 each. “I’ve easily paid twenty times that when I didn’t know any better,” he says.

Granted, these glass, plastic, polycarbonate or polymer blanks must be ground to fit frames and prescriptions, and this takes work, but it’s not rocket science. Typically, lens grinding is done by optical laboratory technicians. According to PayScale.com, OLTs in the United States earn between $9.73 and $14.40 per hour. Most learn on the job, and have only a high-school diploma or a GED. No specific certification is required.

The fleecing, Mitchell says, is just as bad on frames.

“A consumer-level frame costs significantly less than $10 to manufacture. The rest is operations, licensing and profit. Think about that the next time you pick up an average $150 frame. These aren’t markedly different or superior to the $30 glasses available from reputable online dealers — and those include lenses, probably the same ones you were just about to pay $200 for in the store.”

A key to the industry-standard overpricing is the fact that a single corporation — Luxottica, the world’s largest eyewear firm — owns many retail eyewear chains and many popular eyewear brands. Based in Milan, Italy, Luxottica owns and operates LensCrafters, Sears Optical, Target Optical, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, Ilori, and other chains in the United States, along with yet more chains throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, India, the Antipodes and the Middle East.

Luxottica owns Ray-Ban, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Vogue, and other brands, and makes glasses under license for over a dozen designer labels including Versace, Prada, Bulgari, DKNY, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Tiffany, and more. As if that isn’t enough, Luxottica is also the parent company of a vision-care benefits program, EyeMed.

Eyewear prices in brick-and-mortar stores stay artificially high, Mitchell says, due to “the lack of real competition, inasmuch as Luxottica owns massive manufacturing, licensing, retailing and insurance interests” — albeit EyeMed is “not so much insurance as a marketing ploy to get people to buy from their stores at a discount and to force the remaining independent stores to buy Luxottica controlled frames. But, again, most people are unaware of this.”

Because one company holds a near-monopoly on brick-and-mortar eyewear stores, “pricing models are somewhat static across the lot of them. They also have a knack for using the mattress sale model … constantly running sales that seem too good to pass up when in reality they’re still making enormous profits.”

“Semi-Annual 50% Off Sales Event,” reads a current LensCrafters ad. But the frames in question range from around $100 to around $300, and that’s without lenses.

“People pay what the brick-and-mortars are asking, primarily because the vast majority don’t know there are better, cheaper options,” Mitchell says.

As with any purchase — in fact more than with most purchases, as this involves eyesight — it pays to research each company’s delivery and return policies, Better Business Bureau status, and accessibility. Does its Web site list a phone number? If not, why not? If so, call it. Can you reach live people? Are they knowledgeable about your prescription? Does the company have its own in-house optometrists? It should. If you care about brand names, can you ascertain that the logo-bearing frames sold by any given company aren’t counterfeits? Factories churn out fakes.

While many online outfits sell real and bogus designer frames, the least expensive frames available online are unapologetically nameless generics: current and classic styles, sans logo. As is true with most consumer products, they’re not necessarily worse than their name-brand counterparts. After a year-plus of daily use, my $44 generics still look new. (That being said, I should have paid a few dollars more for higher-quality polycarbonate lenses and I should have sought bifocals with a wider middle-vision band, but these errors were my own, not the company’s.)

“Very high-priced frames may have somewhat better materials,” Mitchell says, “but from my experience, the no-names have been very well made.” Having owned dozens of generic pairs, he’s experienced “no more issues with them than with the name brands from LensCrafters. I think they’re pretty much on par.”

These days, he notes, “there are a lot more online retailers now than at the end of 2006. There aren’t a whole lot more reputable ones, however. I’ve shopped at over a dozen, and narrowed things down to about three or four that I feel comfortable recommending to others. As this is a fully custom market, mistakes can enter the process anywhere from the initial customer entering prescription information to the production process. I’ve found that a few of the sites do a better job than others at fixing mistakes. Some do better at this than the traditional stores.

“Prices haven’t dropped at all in the traditional brick-and-mortars, but downward price pressure from Wal-Mart will undoubtedly start to make an impact in certain parts of the country. I saw a sign in a
Wal-Mart recently for $38 glasses. The selection was tiny, but we’re starting to see a price intersection.”

The first online eyeglasses company was Houston-based FramesDirect. In 1992, optometrists Dhavid Cooper and Guy Hodgson closed their several Texas brick-and-mortar shops, then pondered their future.

“We knew that we wanted to sell eyewear in all fifty states 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Hodgson says. “We had no idea how to do this.” Renting a small office, they installed computers.

“When you talked about the Internet in those days, no one knew what you meant. Search engines were in their absolute infancy. We thought a 56k modem was blisteringly fast.”

Cooper had won a Surgeon General’s Commendation Award in his native South Africa for creating a program providing the poor with recycled glasses for free. Hodgson specialized in treating the nearly blind. Barely fluent in email, the pair created a basic Web site, offering designer glasses at low prices because, unlike brick-and-mortar opticians, they needed to pay neither storefront rent nor employees’ salaries, nor did they need to keep large quantities of merchandise in stock.

“Everyone around us thought we were completely mad: Eye doctors, giving up their lucrative practices to go into this weird thing,” Hodgson laughs. But once orders started pouring in, “The whole optical industry completely shunned us. They said we were ruining them.”

At eyewear conventions, he and Cooper wore their nametags backward to avoid verbal abuse. Since then, dozens of imitators have emerged, many based overseas and most able to offer even lower prices because they sell generics. Buying prescription eyewear is like buying prescription drugs: It’s cheaper online. It’s cheaper when it comes from outside the U.S. GlassesUnlimited, for instance, can afford to sell hundreds of different stylish frames fitted with prescription lenses for only $9.99 because its entire operation is based in Thailand.

“We don’t have big margins here. That’s how we are serving our clientele. That’s why we’re getting hundreds of orders on a daily basis, 70 percent of which come from the U.S. and Canada,” GU manager Sam Davis tells me. “We have virtually no expenses. We have our own home brand and do our own production. We don’t outsource anything.”

Based in the U.S., FramesDirect still undercuts retail-store prices for guaranteed designer goods.

“What we sell and what the brick-and-mortar stores sell are the exact same products,” Guy Hodgson says. “How can they afford to charge the prices they charge?”

Anneli Rufus is the author of several books, most recently The Scavenger’s Manifesto (Tarcher Press, 2009). Read more of Anneli’s writings on scavenging at scavenging.wordpress.com.

Posted in Economic Issues, Frugal Living, Hard Times. Comments Off

Wing Nut Daily

Headlines at the Nazi Ninny Pages says it all…

If marriage is lost, we lose everything

Don Feder
Posted: August 31, 2010
1:00 am Eastern

Last Saturday, Glenn Beck held his Restoring Honor rally in Washington, D.C. An estimated 300,000 to half a million people came from all over the country. The Fox News host made the event an interfaith revival. “America today begins to turn back to God,” Beck declared.

But while America turns back to God, Beck turns his back on God’s law. Hey, that’s catchy!

A guest on the “O’Reilly Factor” in early August, Beck was asked, “Do you believe that gay marriage is a threat to the country in any way?” Answer: “No I don’t. Will gays come and get us?” Apparently, this jocularity was meant to belittle the bumpkins who oppose turning marriage into a free-form institution.

Beck then quoted his hero, Thomas Jefferson (who thought the French Revolution was groovy): “If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket what difference is it to me?” Apparently, demolishing the institution of marriage, and undermining the family, should be matters of supreme indifference to those fighting to save America from the clutches of Obamaism.

No link.. The Nazi pukes don’t deserve one.

Although their eating their own is some what amusing in an Animal Planet sort of way…

Posted in Nazism, Uncategorized. Comments Off

Strong Suggestion or Order… Bookmark and Read Paul Krugman

You make the call.  One of the best of the best voices regarding the economics issues that govern our daily lives is Paul Krugman.  He is a Nobel Prize winning Economist and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times and has a New York Times Blog.

Bookmark his Blog and read his column. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/ Read his column in opinion http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html

What brought this on was his blog entry today.

August 31, 2010, 9:50 am

The Unbearable Pettiness Of Being Rich

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s column today makes Wall Street honchos sound like spoiled kids; they went for Obama because he seemed like their kind of guy, then turned on him with a vengeance because they think he’s looking at them funny.

Based on what I know, that’s about right.

I talked to some financial-industry backers of Obama back during primary season; they really didn’t know or care much about policy issues, but were in love with Obama over his style — and also over the prospect of being in his inner circle, something they knew wouldn’t happen with Hillary. Now they’re mad because they don’t feel that they’re getting enough stroking.

And you have to bear in mind that this comes after Obama has made immense efforts to placate the financial industry. There were no bank nationalizations; there were hardly any strings attached to bailouts; the financial reform bill was by no means draconian given the scale of the disaster. But Wall Street is furious that Obama might even hint that they caused the crisis — which he does, now and then, because, well, they did.

And as far as I can tell, hardly any of the new anti-Obamanites is thinking at all about what will really happen once John Boehner is speaker.

You know, one might have thought that having all the money in the world would make people less petty, less concerned about whether they feel that they’re in the in-group. But nooooo </Belushi>

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Council of Europe – Human rights of transgender persons are still ignored or violated…

[2010-08-31 commissioner.cws.coe.int]

http://commissioner.cws.coe.int/tiki-view_blog_post.php?postId=74

Human Rights Comment
Council of Europe
Commissioner for Human Rights

Forced divorce and sterilisation – a reality for many transgender persons

Posted on 2010-08-31 10:02

The rights of transgender persons are still ignored or violated, but some signs of understanding now begin to appear. One example is the outcome, at long last, of Lydia Foy’s struggle in Ireland. She was registered as male at birth but has lived as a woman since 1992. This summer she finally succeeded in her battle for legal recognition by the Irish state as a woman and for a birth certificate that reflects this reality.

Most people legally defined as man or woman will experience a corresponding gender identity. Transgender persons, however, do not have such a corresponding identity and may wish to change their legal, social, and sometimes also physical status.

The case initiated by Lydia Foy in 1997 led to a High Court ruling ten years later that Ireland was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by not providing recognition of Dr. Foy in her preferred gender. It took the Irish government another 2.5 years to accept that Irish law is incompatible with the European Convention. In June 2010 the Irish government withdrew its appeal to the Supreme Court and will now recognise Lydia Foy as a woman.

The Irish government will introduce legislation to recognise transgender persons in their preferred gender including the possibility for them to obtain new birth certificates. An inter-departmental working group has been set up by the Irish government to develop a legal framework which respects the human rights of transgender individuals. It is crucial that representatives of the transgender community as well as other experts be represented in this working group. This could become a good model for other states which are currently considering improving their legal framework for transgender persons, including Portugal, Hungary, the Netherlands.

Still viewed as a mental disorder

Ireland is not the only country where transgender persons have faced obstacles in obtaining legal recognition of their preferred gender. Some Council of Europe member states still have no provision at all for official recognition, leaving transgender people in a legal limbo. Most member states still use medical classifications which impose the diagnosis of mental disorder on transgender persons.

Even more common are provisions which demand impossible choices, such as the “forced divorce” and the “forced sterilisation” requirements. This means that only unmarried or divorced transgender persons who have undergone surgery and become irreversibly infertile have the right to change their entry in the birth register. In reality, this means that the state prescribes medical treatment for legal purposes, a requirement which clearly runs against the principles of human rights and human dignity.

Some positive legal developments can however be found. The Austrian Administrative High Court ruled in 2009 that mandatory surgery could not be a prerequisite for gender change, and in Germany the Federal Supreme Court indicated in 2005 that operative interventions as a precondition for the change of gender are no longer tenable.

Full right to physical and moral security

All countries need to develop expeditious and transparent procedures for changing the name and gender of a transgender person on official documents, in accordance with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.

In 2002, in Goodwin v UK, the Strasbourg Court’s Grand Chamber stressed that in the twenty first century the rights of transgender persons should be effectively protected by states. They should have the same right to personal development and to physical and moral security enjoyed by others in society. One cannot but agree.

There is a strong need for an informed dialogue about the widespread discrimination against transgender persons in Europe today. One contribution will hopefully be a comparative study, the result of which my office will present early next year, on continued discrimination in all parts of Europe on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

-

Thomas Hammarberg

Forced Sterilization?  WTF?

Sex Reassignment Surgery includes sterilization.  It is in the nature of the procedure.  I swear sometimes it seems as though transgender folks are opposed to sex reassignment surgery and want to end it the same way they insist on erasing Transsexual in the name of some imagined unity of identity under the rubric of “Transgender as Umbrella”.

This is bad form and discourages people with transsexualism from acting as part of a coalition on issues that concern all.

It is a denial of our needs and has been one of the major causes of the TS/TG War that has gone on for some 20 years now.

Sometimes, I swear I would be better off devoting energy to tree hugging and general worker’s rights issues.

Class War, not just for the rich anymore.

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/opinion/29rich.html?ref=frankrich

By FRANK RICH

ANOTHER weekend, another grass-roots demonstration starring Real Americans who are mad as hell and want to take back their country from you-know-who. Last Sunday the site was Lower Manhattan, where they jeered the “ground zero mosque.” This weekend, the scene shifted to Washington, where the avatars of oppressed white Tea Party America, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, were slated to “reclaim the civil rights movement” (Beck’s words) on the same spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream exactly 47 years earlier.

Vive la révolution!

There’s just one element missing from these snapshots of America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the “death panel” warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are.

Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch’s, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate’s unchecked anger and the Obama White House’s unfocused political strategy, they might.

All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled “Invisible Hands” in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our “socialist” president.

Continue Reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/opinion/29rich.html?ref=frankrich

ENDA and the ERA

I’m reading Sherry Wolf’s Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation. I came across an interesting piece of information.

In 1974 Bella Abzug introduced the original version of ENDA called “The Equality Act of 1974″

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bella_Abzug

Abzug served the state of New York in the United States House of Representatives, representing her district in Manhattan, from 1971 to 1977. For part of her term, she also represented part of The Bronx as well. She was one of the first members of Congress to support gay rights, introducing the first federal gay rights bill, known as the Equality Act of 1974, with fellow Democratic New York City Representative, Ed Koch, a future mayor of New York City.

In 1974 transgender did not exist as either an identity or social construct.  One was a heterosexual CD, a queen or transsexual and while we might have been friends there wasn’t that much of a sense of collective identity. Indeed while bisexuality was a lived reality it was a vastly under-appreciated identity by lesbians, gays and straights alike.

This makes ENDA in its various iterations some 34 years old.

We were on a roll in 1974…

In 1972 we finally got the Equal Rights amendment introduced.  Remember that one?

THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT

Section 2.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3.
This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

That one…   Alice Paul first proposed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923 on the 75th anniversary of the first Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY.

We got that amendment though the house and senate.  All it needed was ratification.

http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/era.htm
The Equal Rights Amendment passed the U.S. Senate and then the House of Representatives, and on March 22, 1972, the proposed 27Amendment to the Constitution was sent to the states for ratification. But as it had done for every amendment since the 18th (Prohibition), with the exception of the 19 Amendment, Congress placed a seven-year deadline on the ratification process. This time limit was placed not in the words of the ERA itself, but in the proposing clause.
Like the 19th Amendment before it, the ERA barreled out of Congress, getting 22 of the necessary 38 state ratifications in the first year. But the pace slowed as opposition began to organize – only eight ratifications in 1973, three in 1974, one in 1975, and none in 1976.

Arguments by ERA opponents such as Phyllis Schlafly, right-wing leader of the Eagle Forum/STOP ERA, played on the same fears that had generated female opposition to woman suffrage. Anti-ERA organizers claimed that the ERA would deny woman’s right to be supported by her husband, privacy rights would be overturned, women would be sent into combat, and abortion rights and homosexual marriages would be upheld. Opponents surfaced from other traditional sectors as well. States’-rights advocates said the ERA was a federal power grab, and business interests such as the insurance industry opposed a measure they believed would cost them money. Opposition to the ERA was also organized by fundamentalist religious groups.

Pro-ERA advocacy was led by the National Organization for Women (NOW) and ERAmerica, a coalition of nearly 80 other mainstream organizations. However, in 1977, Indiana became the 35th and so far the last state to ratify the ERA. That year also marked the death of Alice Paul, who, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony before her, never saw the Constitution amended to include the equality of rights she had worked for all her life.

Hopes for victory continued to dim as other states postponed consideration or defeated ratification bills. Illinois changed its rules to require a three-fifths majority to ratify an amendment, thereby ensuring that their repeated simple majority votes in favor of the ERA did not count. Other states proposed or passed rescission bills, despite legal precedent that states do not have the power to retract a ratification.

As the 1979 deadline approached, some pro-ERA groups, like the League of Women Voters, wanted to retain the eleventh-hour pressure as a political strategy. But many ERA advocates appealed to Congress for an indefinite extension of the time limit, and in July 1978, NOW coordinated a successful march of 100,000 supporters in Washington, DC. Bowing to public pressure, Congress granted an extension until June 30, 1982.
The political tide continued to turn more conservative. In 1980 the Republican Party removed ERA support from its platform, and Ronald Reagan was elected president. Although pro-ERA activities increased with massive lobbying, petitioning, countdown rallies, walkathons, fundraisers, and even the radical suffragist tactics of hunger strikes, White House picketing, and civil disobedience, ERA did not succeed in getting three more state ratifications before the deadline. The country was still unwilling to guarantee women constitutional rights equal to those of men.

The Equal Rights Amendment was reintroduced in Congress on July 14, 1982 and has been before every session of Congress since that time. In the 110th Congress (2007-2008), it has been introduced as S.J.Res. 10 (lead sponsor: Sen. Edward Kennedy, MA) and H.J.Res. 40 (lead sponsor: Rep. Carolyn Maloney, NY). These bills impose no deadline on the ERA ratification process.  Success in putting the ERA into the Constitution via this process would require passage by a two-thirds in each house of Congress and ratification by 38 states.
The struggles for equality are generally long and difficult.  They are battles not just for hearts and minds nor are they won simply by appealing to people’s sense of social justice.

The people we are fighting hate equality and consider the very idea of Social Justice to be communistic and repugnant.

One thing both ERA and ENDA share in common is that the right wing uses the bath room issue as a club to argue against both.

It is telling that not only the same arguments are used but the same wealthy ultra right wing extremists are leading the campaigns against both ENDA and ERA. They are the same Ayn rand worshiping Neos who are attacking public education, Social Security and any use of the government to better the lives of any one outside that 20% that owns 85% of the wealth in this nation.

Rather than focusing on one particular issue as a minority based on identity politics perhaps instead we need to examine the potential for systematic change. It would seem that as a class the 80% of people who have seen their wealth devoured by that top 20% would have numbers on their side.

The rich right wing elite loves identity politics.  They have created this huge mess and if the working poor unite around our class interests instead of being divided by our single issues well then it sort of turns into pitch forks and torches time.

Because of this they use these cultural issues to divide and conquer.

ENDA and ERA are about the same thing.  Equality.

Particularly for transsexual and transgender people.”Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off

I See White People

The ultra Reich Wing Republi-Nazis that worship the slimy likes of the weeping Glenny Beckster reflect KKK values right down to the bottoms of their pasty white racist hearts.

I just looked through the pictures of the Huckster Glenn’s rally.

Gee… This ain’t the America I know and love.  The one with people of all sorts of different races and ethnicities.  Not to mention the people of the queer alphabet soup.

What these people are mourning is the fact that the pendulum is swing back from their Nazioid vision of an America run by the rich, for the rich, governed by one interlocking board of directors with liberty and justice for well to do white men and screw everyone else.

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Screw Glenn Beck

Today in 1963 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr gave his “I have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington.  Less than five years later the racists murdered him and this nation started its downward spiral into the hell of ever more racist and more extreme right wing regimes.

Today Crocodile Tears Glenn Beck is desecrating a day that should be set aside to remember the noble goals of civil rights and fairness, of justice for all.

That this ugly puke, this slimy piss poor excuse for a human being has the audacity to call a rally of his neo KKK racist know nothings on this day is an affront to real Americans every where.  It is a desecration of everything I was taught to believe this country stands for.

The Real August 28th, speech, the one you should remember and associate with today.

Friday Night Fun and Culture

Utah Phillips – Folk Singer’s great quotes

“You’ve got to own what you do, rather than work and let somebody else make the profit off of it. And you’ve got to fight in this culture to hang on to your own soul, to hang on to your own creativity. Once I got into this folk music world and understood what I could do and that it belonged to me, I looked back on my years of employment with absolute horror. It was bondage, wage slavery. Sure, if somebody else is making the rules every day, it’s a little bit easier, and you can turn your mind off. But none of my parts — my intellect, my curiosity — was being served by that experience. When I got out in the world as a free man, I found that all of my parts were being used.”

“The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.”

“You are about to be told one more time that you are America’s most valuable natural resource. Have you seen what they do to valuable natural resources?! Have you seen a strip mine? Have you seen a clear cut in the forest? Have you seen a polluted river? Don’t ever let them call you a valuable natural resource! They’re going to strip mine your soul. They’re going to clear cut your best thoughts for the sake of profit unless you learn to resist.” “The state can’t give you freedom, and the state can’t take it away. Freedom is something you’re born with, and then one day someone tries to deny it. The extent to which you resist is the extent to which you are free.”

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Economic Issues

For many people coming out as either transsexual or transgender also means accepting downward mobility as a reality.

This is a generality. In many ways becoming female is more likely to economically impact one than becoming male. That is reality in a sexist world where economically speaking women with the exception of a few “Lucky Duckies” like the pair running in California, women tend to earn less than men.

Having a trans history doesn’t help.

But then neither does being born a person of color or lower working class since people from these two categories are often disadvantaged from birth.

There is something important for people to realize. LBJ was the last of the really progressive presidents who actually represented the working people and not the corporate interests. When LBJ left office in January 1969 the buzzards were already circling the “War on Poverty”. When Ronnie Reagan entered office in January 1981 The New Deal, Fair Deal and Great Society were already starting to die deaths of a thousand cuts.

Every president since and most of congress have been in the pockets of the rich. They represent their owners and not the people who vote.

Corporations do not give a rat’s ass about us. The brain wash us with constant advertising and then buy political office for the worst Nazis to come down the pike since the Third Reich.

Cut Social security but not the most bloated item in the budget, the War..excuse me “Defense” Budget…

The “Free Market” policies of the neo-cons and neo-libs have been an utter disaster for the working people of the world.

In the US the economy is based on selling cheap crap made else where to each other at the lowest possible price. This means no more manufacturing in the US. It means driving down workers pay to the point where we are paid pretty much the same as the lowest paid workers in the world.

Surplus value is where businesses used to make profits. If the price is as low as possible just to sell the merchandise, how do they make money? They do it with credit card interest. Every thing you buy with a card cost you more than the price you think you are paying for it.

If we go green and buy less the economy crashes. If we start paying off our cards and only buying what we can afford without paying the credit card interest the economy crashes.

The top 20% of people control 85% of the total wealth and 93% of the financial wealth (http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html)

This means that the bottom 80% of us control next to nothing.  We have become the economic slaves and play things of that top 20%.

This is no longer a democracy, it is an oligarchy.

LGBT/TQ etc folks and the hatred being directed towards us is a way of diverting anger from those who are the real source of economic pain and discomfort in this nation.  The same is true for racism and the anti-immigrant thing.  Then we have the Mosque side show.

We are in a crisis and the time may be coming when we have to pull together as real communities fighting for our lives.  The economic warfare/class warfare directed towards working people has so far been one sided.

Perhaps it is time for a little class warfare from our side.

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Yippie, We’re Seeing Sheryl Crow Tonight

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Today Is Women’s Equality Day in the US

Ninety years ago today the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified giving women the right to vote.  The US was not the first nation to recognize women’s right to vote but it was ahead of many if not most

When I went to school in the 1950s I had teachers who had marched in support of the Suffrage Movement.

When I was growing up girls were still being taught to lose to boys in sports and games because boys were supposed to be superior to girls in every way.

That is called misogyny.  Blame it on the patriarchy, the social construct of gender or whatever.  It is still sexist bullshit and it still sucks.

From Women’s History Resource Center

What is Women’s Equality Day?

At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”

The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.

The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Workplaces, libraries, organizations, and public facilities now participate with Women’s Equality Day programs, displays, video showings, or other activities.

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971
Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and

WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

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A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage

From The New York Time Op-Ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/opinion/25stansell.html?ref=opinion

By CHRISTINE STANSELL
Published: August 24, 2010

LOOKING back on the adoption of the 19th Amendment 90 years ago Thursday — the largest act of enfranchisement in our history — it can be hard to see what the fuss was about. We’re inclined to assume that the passage of women’s suffrage (even the term is old-fashioned) was inevitable, a change whose time had come. After all, voting is now business as usual for women. And although women are still poorly represented in Congress, there are influential female senators and representatives, and prominent women occupy governors’ and mayors’ offices and legislative seats in every part of the United States.

Yet entrenched opposition nationwide sidelined the suffrage movement for decades in the 19th century. By 1920, antagonism remained in the South, and was strong enough to come close to blocking ratification.

Proposals for giving women the vote had been around since the first convention for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. At the end of the Civil War, eager abolitionists urged Congress to enfranchise both the former slaves and women, black and white. The 14th Amendment opened the possibility, with its generous language about citizenship, equal protection and due process.

But, at that time, women’s suffrage was still unthinkable to anyone but radical abolitionists. Since the nation’s founding, Americans considered women to be, by nature, creatures of the home, under the care and authority of men. They had no need for the vote; their husbands represented them to the state and voted for them. So, in the 14th Amendment’s second section, Republicans inserted the word “male,” prohibiting the denial of voting rights to “any of the male inhabitants” of the states.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/opinion/25stansell.html?ref=opinion

We are Experiencing a 1930s Style Depression

From Alternet: http://blogs.alternet.org/grantlawrence/2010/08/24/we-are-experiencing-a-1930s-style-depression/

By Grant Lawrence

Bodhi Thunder

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. I will keep telling you so in hopes it sinks in with somebody. Over the last couple of years we have been through ‘green shoots’ and a supposedly slow recovery. Well as I said often, there wasn’t any green shoots and their was never a recovery. Unless you want to call bail outs for bankers and corporations a recovery.

So the news out now is the housing market just dropped 27% in July. It probably dropped more. We know, or should know, we can’t trust government numbers.

Now many economists are beginning to rethink their double dip recessions and call the economic disaster what it is–a Depression.

The US economy is in a 1930s-style Depression, Gluskin Sheff economist David Rosenberg said Tuesday….The 1929-33 recession saw six quarterly bounces in GDP with an average gain of 8 percent, sending the stock market to a 50 percent rally in early 1930 as investors thought the worst had passed….(source: cnbc)

The economy is in a depression and the government has used all of its resources bailing out the big banks which means there is little for the people.

Continue reading at: http://blogs.alternet.org/grantlawrence/2010/08/24/we-are-experiencing-a-1930s-style-depression/

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Wal-Mart Asks Supreme Court to Weigh In on Suit

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/26/business/26walmart.html?hp

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: August 25, 2010

Wal-Mart Stores asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to review the largest employment discrimination lawsuit in American history, involving more than 1.5 million current or former female workers at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores.

Nine years after the suit was filed, the central issue before the high court will not be whether any discrimination occurred, but whether more than a million people can even make this joint claim through a class-action lawsuit, as opposed to filing claims individually or in smaller groups. In April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled 6-to-5 that the lawsuit could proceed as a jumbo class action – the fourth judicial decision upholding a class action.

The stakes are huge. If the Supreme Court allows the suit to proceed as a class action, that could easily cost Wal-Mart $1 billion or more in damages, legal experts say.

More significantly, the court’s ruling could set guidelines for other types of class-action suits. “This is the big one that will set the standards for all other class actions,” said Robin S. Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, an arm of the Chamber of Commerce, which has filed several amicus briefs backing Wal-Mart.

Continue Reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/26/business/26walmart.html?hp

NOW to President Obama: Alan Simpson Must Go

NOW Press Release

Statement of National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill

August 25, 2010

Alan Simpson is not fit to lead the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The ugliness of his disrespect for women is matched only by his dogged determination to dismantle Social Security by cutting benefits or increasing the retirement age. The National Organization for Women urges President Obama to take a stand on this issue and replace Simpson immediately.

Alan Simpson, the current co-chair of the president’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, wrote an embarrassing and inappropriate e-mail Tuesday to Ashley Carson, executive director of the Older Women’s League (OWL), berating her and the organization’s work to stop the Fiscal Commission’s assault on Social Security.

Making no secret of his contempt for Social Security recipients, Simpson states, “I’ve spent many years in public life trying to stabilize [Social Security] while people like you babble into the vapors about ‘disgusting attempts at ageism and sexism’ and all the rest of that crap.” Simpson’s hate-drenched message continues to vilify Carson by saying, “take a look at the chart on Page 6 which I hope you are able to discern if you are any good at reading graphs.”

Simpson’s surreal meltdown concludes with a wholesale condemnation of Social Security recipients: “We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work!”

A “cow with 310 million tits”? For those who believe Social Security belongs to the workers who earned it, not to the government and certainly not to the Fiscal Commission, NOW announces its “Tits for an Ass” campaign. NOW will be asking our 500,000 members and supporters to use our website or Twitter account to help us buy baby bottle nipples, which we’ll hand deliver to the White House with a letter urging President Obama to fire Alan Simpson. And while he’s at it, the president should replace Simpson with a leader who will actually try to address the federal budget deficit, instead of using it as a subterfuge to cut Social Security benefits.

On this eve of Women’s Equality Day, we celebrate 90 years of women’s right to vote, but Simpson’s rant is a nasty reminder of how ageist and sexist some of our leaders still are. If Simpson does not have the decency to resign, then President Obama should relieve him of his duties.

Supporters who are on Twitter can participate by going to NOW’s “Tits for an Ass” campaign.

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Anti-big government GOP terrified of “privatization”

Received from Dailykos mailing list

by Chris Bowers

Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 07:30:03 AM PDT

For a party that denounces “big government” and “socialism” at every turn, Republicans are oddly terrified of the alternative: privatization.

Case in point: Republican Senatorial candidate and former Club for Growth chair Pat Toomey. Although Toomey favors moving Social Security out of the public sector and into the stock market–aka, privatization—he will never, ever use the word privatization. Further, he will adamantly deny that he favors privatization. Consider how Toomey reacted to a question at the National Press Club yesterday when asked about Social Security privatization:

Q: Do you continue to favor privatizing Social Security?

A: I’ve never said I favor privatizing Social Security. It’s a very misleading — it’s an intentionally misleading term.

Privatization is exactly what Toomey supports. He wants to take Social Security money out of the public sector of the government and put it in the private sector of the stock market. That is why it is called “privatization.” The DSCC cataloged 36 instances where Toomey supported exactly that policy.

What Toomey, and most other Republicans, oppose is not actual privatization, but the word “privatization.” Republicans used to use the word when discussing their plans for Social Security but in the fall of 2002, they made the linguistic slide away from the term en masse. They did this once it became known how poorly variants on the word “private” poll in regards to Social Security. Talking Points Memo documented some Republicans making this shift:

Rep. Chris Chocola (R) of Indiana before word came down from party headquarters (Nov. 1, 2000) …

Bush’s plan of individual investment of 2 percent of the money is a start. Eventually, I’d like to see the entire system privatized. It’s not a ‘risky scheme.’

Rep. Chris Chocola (R) of Indiana after word came down from party headquarters (Sept. 3rd, 2002) …

I do not support the privatization of Social Security.

Bob Novak before the word came down from party headquarters (Capitol Gang, Sept. 14th, 2002 where we find Mark Shields at mid-Outrage of the Week) …

Mark Shields: In an Orwellian abuse of the language, conservatives, including even the respected Cato Institute, insist that they’re now for Social Security choice, not for dreaded ‘privatization’. Yes, and war is peace.

Robert D. Novak.

NOVAK: I’m still for privatization.

Bob Novak after the word came down from party headquarters (Crossfire, Oct. 28th, 2002) …

[Democratic consultant] Steve McMahon: I thought they were accusing the Republicans of wanting to privatize Social Security which, after all, is what Republicans wanted.

NOVAK: That’s a Democratic term.

Conservatives favor turning Social Security over to the private sector. However, they will vehemently deny wanting to privatize Social Security because it polls poorly.

With the possible exceptions of Muslims, the LGBT community, and immigrants, there may not be anything Republicans fear more than the use of the word, “privatization.” As such, Democrats need to keep hammering away at Republicans with the term. Maybe if enough Democrats do so, all of them will come to oppose privatization, too

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Thank god I’m an Atheist

Lately it seems a number  of newly emerging transsexual and transgender folks are discovering a bitter truth regarding the Catholic Church.  They hate us and wish we would never come out.  Should the closet become unbearable then we should commit suicide.

Charming really.  Being hated by an institution that seems to have a chronic problem with its priests raping and sexually abusing  children seems deliciously ironic, to say the least.

And people wonder why I am an Atheist.  Perhaps because I don’t like being a member in misogynistic hate groups.

Why Doesn’t the Media Have the Guts to Attack Fox News’ Hate-Filled Witch Hunts?

By Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America
Posted on August 25, 2010, Printed on August 25, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/147907/

Same chorus, different song.

One month after launching a jaw-dropping campaign of racial discord and warning of a looming, Obama-led “race war,” Fox News and the far-right media have turned the page of the hate hymnal and embraced a new enemy: Muslims.

Yes, the bigotry is off the charts. Yes, the purposeful misinformation is almost too plentiful to catalog. And yes, once the again the mainstream press remains mostly mum about the upsetting spectacle being played out for all to see.

The so-called “debate” in the press about the proposed Islamic center for downtown Manhattan is not a serious one. Just like the ‘debate’ in the press about racism and Shirley Sherrod was not serious. And just like the ‘debate’ in the press about Michelle Obama’s vacation was not serious.  They’re not debates. They’re hate-based witch hunts sponsored by the right wing, and reporters and pundits ought to have the guts to point that fact out.

When is the press going to acknowledge that the rules have changed, and these naked smear campaigns being launched by Fox News and the far-right press have no precedent in our politics and, more importantly, they’re changing the way our news agenda is being set?

I mean, c’mon. Pam Geller is now acting as our nation’s newsroom assignment editor?

Yes, cover the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic center — it’s a legitimate story. But in the process, don’t play dumb about the proud hate rhetoric that’s driving so much of the story. Don’t play dumb about the vicious Muslim-bashing that’s front-and-center on Fox News as it rallies its base to loathe Arab-Americans, just as it seemed to rally its base to loathe African-Americans last month.

Rather than doing the right thing, the press has taken a pass and pretended the hysterical, relentless religious bigotry that’s been let loose by the GOP press isn’t newsworthy or deeply troubling. The media silence is deafening and depressing. (And yes, exceptions are noted and appreciated.)

Trust me, folks at Fox News and friends get the message: Full steam ahead!

Eric Boehlert is is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America. He’s the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006) and Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press (Free Press, 2009). He worked for five years as a senior writer for Salon.com, where he wrote extensively about media and politics.

© 2010 Media Matters for America All rights reserved.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/147907/

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Memphis Gay Ordinance Tabled

From The Advocate: http://advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/08/24/Memphis_Gay_Ordinance_Tabled/

By Michelle Garcia

Janis Fullilove x390 (grab) | ADVOCATE.COM

The Tennessee Equality Project has requested that Memphis city councilwoman Janis Fullilove withdraw the Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance Tuesday.

“It became very apparent that it was being treated differently, and it became very, very apparent we were not going to get a fair hearing from the majority of the council members,” Michelle Bliss of the TEP told ABC News-Memphis.

The bill was up for three readings by the council, but was treated with contention by some of the council members, and community members like local clergy.

Fullilove, who sponsored the bill, was on the receiving end of death threats for supporting the legislation. She even found a dead cat thrown on her lawn from opponents.

“No one should be discriminated against based upon their color, their sexual orientation, not at all,” Fullilove said earlier at a city council meeting.

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