Friday Night Fun and Culture Raphael Saadiq

I have to thank one of my favorite TV Shows, Austin City Limits for turning me on to Raphael Saadiq last night.

Cece Mcdonald

As a blogger I sometimes  come come across a story that makes so sad and angry that I am at a loss for words.

Sometimes I am stuck watching the state grinding forward in such a brutal act of institutionalized injustice that words fail me.

I say the Serenity Prayer to myself, even though I am an atheist.  I say it to remind me not to obsess on things I can’t possibly change.

Yet I have a hard time turning from injustice.  Over the years I’ve come to support both Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier, in spite of both the government’s and the media’s campaigns to convince me of their guilt.

I view the Prison/Industrial Complex as a monstrous institutionalization of racism as well as class war that oppresses the poor and disenfranchised of all races.

But then the intersection of race enters the picture, for the wheels of injustice grind most heavily over the bodies and souls of people of color be they Black or Latino.

Stand your ground laws are written to protect the gun carrying proper white man.

Does anyone actually think a person of color invoking such “right of self-defense” would be treated with the deference that George Zimmerman has been treated.  That it would require a nationwide cry of outrage for the person of color, who stood his ground and killed a white person, to be arrested, jailed and charged with murder?

As a post-transsexual woman of many years I have read stories of the murders of many transsexual and transgender sisters.  I have also been aware of how the lives of most of these victims have been impacted by many layers of oppression.

Class, race, poverty, queerness, systematic denial of a legitimate means of survival, sex work, slut shaming.

Many years ago I heard the phrase, “Down by law.”  That came from the days when our merely living and being ourselves was reason for our being arrested.  Passing meant surviving without constant harassment and was a survival skill.

But here is where the intersects of oppression come in.  Many, not all but many, perhaps even the majority of transsexual and transgender people of color went to the meanest of schools, schools starved for money to pay teachers and buy supplies.  grew up in the most impoverished environment often dependent upon the government safety net and reviled by the smug rich Ayn Rand Objectivists for having that need, even when that need was created through structuralized racism and class war.

Society abuses all transkids, who aren’t able to hide their transness.  Very few have supportive parents.

The idea that we can be and should be beaten or killed is part of the macho ethos.

Being a martyr or perfect victim is part of our ethos.  We try to appeal to the sympathy of the dominant culture by showing our wounds, commemorating our dead.

I’m not going to argue the details of Cece Mcdonald’s case.  The overview is that she stood her ground and successfully defended herself against an attacker and the attacker wound up dead.

I don’t think she should be in jail or pending trial.  Yet I know that this isn’t just about the actions of the case, the merits of her claims to self defense or the merits of the prosecutions claims.  When so many layers of oppression enter into the equation it is never that simple.

It never has been when race is part of the picture in a world where people of color are treated as lesser human beings.

It never is in a world where transsexual and transgender people are seen as less than human.

When the wheels of injustice grind much heavier upon the bodies and souls of people of people the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall described as “the despised and the dispossessed.”

When we as demonstrators chant, “No Justice, No Peace!”, we need to remember it is up to us to put our shoulders against the wheels of injustice and try to stop those wheels of injustice from grinding up the “despised and the dispossessed.”

If speaking out or bearing witness is the only thing you can do then offer that.  If you can offer more then offer that.

Coming to the defense of one person may not change the entire system, but it may make things better for that one person.

Conservatives Attack Hilary Rosen For Raising Children As A Lesbian

From Think Progress:

By Zack Ford
Apr 12, 2012

No one is arguing that raising children isn’t work. Democratic strategist and CAP Action board member Hilary Rosen is a single mother of twins who had to go through the expensive and challenging process of adoption with her then partner Elizabeth Birch. Now, she’s trying to stick up for other mothers who don’t have the luxury of millionaire husbands to help fund their child-rearing duties, and the backlash is getting ugly. Catholic League president Bill Donohue attacked her family on Twitter this morning:

@CatholicLeague: Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.

Somehow, Rosen’s family is less valid, less worthy of respect because she adopted her children. This insults not just lesbian couples, but all non-birth mothers. In fact, it seems like few even recognize that Rosen is a mother at all, perhaps an inherent cultural consequence of her choice (or lack of choice) to not be a stay-at-home mom. Consider this Twitter quip from Alice Stewart, who until this week was Rick Santorum’s National Press Secretary:

@alicetweet: Being a mother is the most valuable work a woman can do, my heart goes out to @hilaryr children if she doesn’t believe that

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Why Hilary Rosen Is Right

From The Nation:

Jessica Valenti
on April 12, 2012

For most of today, the homepage of Fox News has featured a huge picture of the Romney family with the headline: “5 Kids, 16 Grandkids, and Dem Adviser Charges Ann Romney Has ‘Never Worked a Day in Her Life.’ ” The outrage, which has spanned across mainstream media, Twitter, Facebook and beyond, is over Hilary Rosen’s comments to Anderson Cooper yesterday that Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, has “never worked a day in her life.”

There’s no doubt that Rosen, a CNN contributor and Democratic political consultant, made a gaffe in providing such a juicy sound bite. But her message—in context—was right on.

Rosen was responding to Mitt Romney’s constant trotting out of Ann when he gets a question on women’s issues:

What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues. And when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.

Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we—why do we worry about their future?

There’s nothing there about stay-at-home moms, or the idea that that raising children isn’t work. Rosen was referring to the fact that Ann Romney—an incredibly rich and elite woman—likely does not understand the economic concerns of most American women. Again, it was unfortunate choice of words—but she wasn’t wrong.

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Vermont Yankee: A Nuclear Battle Over States’ Rights

From In These Times:

There’s no end in sight to Vermont’s long-running legal struggle to shutter an aging power plant.

BY John Raymond
April 10, 2012

It was a 40th birthday bash attended by more than 1,000 people in three states–but the attendees came to demonstrate, not celebrate. The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, a poster child for anti-nuclear protests throughout its four-decade history, was the target. Only the day before, on March 21, its state permit to operate expired and the legislature voted to shut it down. But the power plant was still operating.

The protest brought demonstrators (“Hell no, we won’t glow”) to Vermont Yankee’s owner, the Entergy Corporation, and its offices in Brattleboro, Vt., White Plains, N.Y., and corporate headquarters in New Orleans. There, they put up a yellow crime tape outside the building and went inside to demand an interview with CEO J. Wayne Leonard.

In a statement, Entergy said it was “business as usual for our employees, who are focused on providing safe, clean and affordable electricity.”

Vermont’s legal battle to shut down the Yankee power plant is on the radar screen in states throughout the country where local communities are fighting the relicensing of aging nuclear sites. Citizens are concerned by ongoing radioactive leaks that contaminate groundwater, shutdowns resulting from degrading systems and lax maintenance, and fears that corporate owners won’t pay the near $1 billion price tag to decommission plants.

Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant in Vernon, on the Connecticut River, its Indian Point plant on the Hudson River outside New York City, and its Pilgrim nuclear plant on Cape Cod Bay in Plymouth, Mass., are all at the center of fierce battles aimed at shutting the plants down. But in recent months, the Vermont Yankee battle has taken center stage.

In January, a federal district judge upheld Entergy’s challenge to Vermont laws adopted in 2006 (and agreed to by Yankee) that give the state legislature veto power over approving a federal license extension for the Yankee plant. In 2010, the Vermont Senate overwhelmingly (26 to 4) rejected allowing the plant to operate beyond its 40-year federal operating license.

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Eurozone crisis to trim global trade, World Trade Organisation warns

Smash The WTO!

From The Guardian UK:

Europe’s debt crisis and the sluggish pace of global growth will see trade flows ease for a second successive year in 2012

, economics editor, Thursday 12 April 2012

Government hopes of an export-led recovery were dented on Thursday as the weakest trade figures for almost six months coincided with a warning from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the turmoil in the eurozone would act as a major drag on international commerce during 2012.

Official data showed the sovereign debt crisis in the weaker countries of the monetary union already having an impact on UK firms, with exports to Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece all showing steep falls over the past year.

Labour seized on the figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that Britain’s trade gap widened from £2.5bn in January to £3.4bn in February, with officials citing lower exports of cars, capital goods and food, drink and tobacco as the main reason for the deterioration.

The WTO said growth in world trade would ease for a second successive year. It revised down its estimate of growth in global trade in 2011 to 5% and said it was pencilling in a figure of 3.7% this year.

Pascal Lamy, the director-general of the WTO, urged member states to resist the temptations of protectionism. “More than three years have passed since the trade collapse of 2008-09, but the world economy and trade remain fragile. The further slowing of trade expected in 2012 shows that the downside risks remain high. We are not yet out of the woods,” he said.

“The WTO has so far deterred economic nationalism, but the sluggish pace of recovery raises concerns that a steady trickle of restrictive trade measures could gradually undermine the benefits of trade openness,” he added. “It is time to do no harm. WTO members should turn their attention to revitalising the trading system and to ensuring such a scenario does not materialise.”

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US policy channeling undocumented immigrants through the deserts to die?

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Fossil-fuel subsidies are the real job killers

From Grist:

By Brendan Smith and May Boeve
12 Apr 2012

How many lobbyists does it take to defend billions in subsidies for one of the most profitable industries in the world? 786. That’s the size of the army that oil and gas companies maintain in Washington to strong-arm Congress into bankrolling an industry that is cutting jobs and literally fueling the climate crisis. This army is bigger than Congress itself, which has only 535 members.

Last year, Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee decided to investigate Big Oil’s jobs claims — and it turns out the industry has gone on a firing spree in recent years. They discovered that despite generating $546 billion in profits between 2005 and 2010, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and BP reduced their U.S. workforce by 11,200 employees over that period. In 2010 alone, the top five oil companies slashed their global workforce by 4,400 employees — the same year executives paid themselves nearly $220 million. But at least those working in the industry as a whole get paid high wages, right? Turns out that 40 percent of U.S oil-industry jobs consist of minimum-wage work at gas stations.

With job numbers like these, it is no wonder the fossil-fuel industry needs to spend millions ensuring they are not branded as “job killers.” As Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said, “Oil companies that make record profits and then cut American jobs strain their own credibility when they claim to be huge job-creators.”

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Barney Frank Unloads On The ‘Great Scam’ Of Paul Ryan

From Talking Points Memo:

Sahil Kapur
April 12, 2012

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) unleashed a stinging attack on House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan in an interview with TPM, describing him as an ideologically driven extremist who doesn’t deserve his reputation within the political establishment as a genuine fiscal hawk.

Labeling the House-passed GOP budget a “great scam,” Frank cited its military spending hikes from current law levels as evidence that Ryan’s primary goal isn’t deficit reduction. He also cited Ryan’s refusal to specify which tax loopholes he’ll close as evidence of trickery.

“It’s not deficit reduction when you increase military spending so that you can make up for that by cutting Medicare and Medicaid. That’s not budget reduction. That’s ideology. That’s the right wing,” Frank told TPM. “The other great scam for Ryan is to say, ‘Oh, I’m not going to help the rich people … I’m going to lower their rates and get rid of loopholes,’ although he doesn’t mention a single loophole that he’ll get rid of.”

The Massachusetts congressman, who is retiring at the end of this term, is an outspoken advocate for reducing deficits by cutting military spending. His rationale is arithmetic: Paying off the debt while holding revenues flat and leaving the military untouched will devastate programs that help working-class Americans. America can afford military cuts, Frank argues, because now that the Cold War is over, “There is no force out there in the world capable of taking away our freedoms.”

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Religious Right Marks Anniversary of Titanic’s Sinking by Exposing the ‘Iceberg’ of the ‘Radical Homosexual Agenda’

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Gas prices, now averaging $3.92 a gallon, may have peaked

From USA Today:

By Gary Strauss
April 10, 2012

This year’s surge in gasoline prices appears over, falling short of the record highs some had feared heading into peak summer driving season.

Prices have held at a national average of $3.92 a gallon the past week, below 2011’s $3.99 high and July 2008’s record $4.11.

“By the behavior of the market, things are just running out of steam,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior analyst for price tracker “Barring any major event — refinery problems, Iran — I think prices have peaked.”

DeHaan said the national average could dip to $3.70 a gallon by early May. Typically, prices peak shortly before Memorial Day.

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The Long, Hot March of Climate Change

From Truth Dig:

By Amy Goodman
Posted on Apr 12, 2012

The Pentagon knows it. The world’s largest insurers know it. Now, governments may be overthrown because of it. It is climate change, and it is real. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last month was the hottest March on record for the United States since 1895, when records were first kept, with average temperatures of 8.6 degrees F above average. More than 15,000 March high-temperature records were broken nationally. Drought, wildfires, tornadoes and other extreme weather events are already plaguing the country.

Across the world in the Maldives, rising sea levels continue to threaten this Indian Ocean archipelago. It is the world’s lowest-lying nation, on average only 1.3 meters above sea level. The plight of the Maldives gained global prominence when its young president, the first-ever democratically elected there, Mohamed Nasheed, became one of the world’s leading voices against climate change, especially in the lead-up to the 2009 U.N. climate-change summit in Copenhagen. Nasheed held a ministerial meeting underwater, with his cabinet in scuba gear, to illustrate the potential disaster.

In February, Nasheed was ousted from his presidency at gunpoint. The Obama administration, through State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, said of the coup d’etat, “This was handled constitutionally.” When I spoke to Nasheed last month, he told me: “It was really shocking and deeply disturbing that the United States government so instantly recognized the former dictatorship coming back again. … The European governments have not recognized the new regime in the Maldives.” There is a parallel between national positions on climate change and support or opposition to the Maldives coup.

Nasheed is the subject of a new documentary, “The Island President,” in which his remarkable trajectory is traced. He was a student activist under the dictatorship of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and was arrested and tortured, along with many others. By 2008, when elections were finally held, Gayoom lost, and Nasheed was elected. As he told me, though: “It’s easy to beat a dictator, but it’s not so easy to get rid of a dictatorship. The networks, the intricacies, the institutions and everything that the dictatorship has established remains, even after the elections.” On the morning of Feb. 7, 2012, under threat of death to him and his supporters from rebelling army generals, Nasheed resigned.

While no direct link has been found yet between Nasheed’s climate activism and the coup, it was clear in Copenhagen in 2009 that he was a thorn in the Obama administration’s side. Nasheed and other representatives from AOSIS, the Alliance of Small Island States, were taking a stand to defend their nations’ very existence, and building alliances with grass-roots groups like, that challenge corporate-dominated climate policy.

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Media Madness: Promoting Society’s Worst, Ignoring Its Best

From Common Dreams:

by Ralph Nader
Published on Thursday, April 12, 2012 by Common Dreams

March Madness comes once a year. Media Madness is year-round. What the mass media choose to cover and feature try to turn the priorities of any sane society upside down.

People of vice, war, money, spectator sports and business receive media attention – oftentimes ad nauseam. People of virtue, peace, civics, health, labor and community engagement have to beg for media attention. Which of these two groups represents the most basic values of a civilized society that would restrain the excesses of the other group? You can guess!

There are many reasons for this chronic bias, beyond the power of commercial advertisers. The media believe that wrongdoing and greed and violence get readers and ratings while their opposites are dull soup.

But aren’t these opposites vital to the survival and well-being of a just society? Aren’t people who wage peace to prevent war, or demand health/safety over sickness/injury, more newsworthy when they expose people or companies that cause danger, damage and deaths?

Big-Time Greed is headline material, while Big-Time Thrift (e.g. efficiency for consumers) is boring, even when it concentrates on exposing Big-Time Greed. Aetna, Pfizer and avaricious middlemen are sometimes in the news when they exhibit gouging practices. But have you ever heard of Harvard researcher/lecturer Malcolm Sparrow, who for years has shown that at least ten percent of your healthcare spending goes down the drain due to preventable, computerized billing fraud and abuse? That amounts to $270 billion this year alone!

When news editors are asked why the media overwhelmingly cover the utterances of warmongers like William Kristol (The Weekly Standard) but ignore peace-advocates like Coleman McCarthy (The Nation and Progressive Magazine), they respond that Kristol has more influence.

But who gave Kristol influence? Why, the media who quote and interview him incessantly. Coleman McCarthy, a formerly syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, works to have colleges and high schools around the country adopt peace studies. He could give a lively interview on “Meet the Press” or “This Week” on the superiority of waging peace over waging war in advancing national security in countries around the world.

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WTO Orders U.S. to Dump Landmark Obama Youth Anti-Smoking Law

Fuck No!  Who the hell are a bunch of corporations to dictate to sovereign nation and free people the right of those people and nations to self govern and set their own riles for products sold within their borders.

Smash the WTO!

From Huffington Post:

04/ 9/2012

A landmark U.S. health policy already was being struck down even as protestors surrounded the Supreme Court over the attack on President Obama’s healthcare law. Behind closed doors in Geneva, a World Trade Organization (WTO) tribunal issued a final ruling ordering the U.S. to dump a landmark 2009 youth anti-smoking law.

The Obama administration’s key health care achievement slammed by the WTO was the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA), sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). The ruling, issued Wednesday, was on the final U.S. appeal which means that now the U.S. has 60 days to begin to implement the WTO’s orders or face trade sanctions.

This outrageous WTO ruling should be a wake up call. Increasingly “trade” agreements are being used to undo important domestic consumer, environmental and health policies. Instead, the Obama administration has intensified its efforts to expand these very rules in a massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement.

The WTO’s ruling against banning the sale of flavored cigarettes isn’t the only example of its attack on consumer protection and health laws. The U.S. has filed WTO appeals on two other U.S. consumer laws — U.S. country-of-origin meat labels and the U.S. dolphin-safe tuna label — both were slammed by lower WTO tribunals in the past six months. Yup, in short order we could see the WTO hating on Flipper, feeding us mystery meat and getting our kids addicted to smoking.

The challenged tobacco control U.S. law was designed to reduce teen smoking by banning “starter flavorings,” since tobacco firms had begun marketing flavors like cola, chocolate, strawberry and clove. The 2009 law forced U.S. firms to cease sales of these products, whether imported or domestically produced.

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