What Part of the Idea of Inalienable Rights is so Hard to Grasp?

Inalienable Rights aren’t some sort of zero-sum game that means you have fewer rights if other people have the same rights as you.

I used to let myself get suckered into that Ayn Rand sort of game but as I’ve gotten back to my Sixties idealist roots I’ve started to see how shitty I was acting and how I was letting myself join a lynch mob attacking other groups that were equally or more oppressed.

Identity politics encourage that shitty sort of behavior towards people that aren’t part of  your tribe.

Hell people even encourage folks to deny others their inalienable rights based on the argument that, “they aren’t like us.”

It doesn’t matter whether the argument  they aren’t like us, is based on race, ethnicity, religion or a myriad of other factors including sex, sexuality or gender behavior.

We don’t really enumerate most things that are inalienable rights because we really like being able to discriminate, say we are better than those people over there, hell we murder millions in wars that leave millions of our own dead in order to perpetuate our entitlement and our “right” to deny others their equal rights.

The people who wrote our Declaration of Independence summed up some of those rights we describe inalienable: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The thing about these sort of rights is that they should belong to everyone, including people who are different from you or I.

It doesn’t mean you should have more rights than someone else simply because you have more money or are white and a Dominionist.  Inalienable rights means that both men and women have the same rights.  That gays and lesbians have the same rights as straights. That TS/TG and all those other labels have the same rights as people whose lives were never impacted by trans-prefixed words.

The late Utah Phillips used to say, Everyone is born with these rights and as soon as they are born people start taking them away and its up to you to fight to keep those rights that should belong to everyone.

I’ve spent my lifetime standing up for those rights, not just for myself but for others from other groups that I am not a part of.

That what the Left is about and I am an unabashed leftist. To be a leftist, to be a Progressive is to stand up for and defend the rights of everyone.

Steinbeck laid out what that means in Tom Joad’s soliloquy near the end of Grapes of Wrath.

I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be ever’-where – wherever you can look. Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad – I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise, and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too

It is bigotry to try to impose collective guilt upon an entire class of people based on the acts of individuals who may be members of that group.

It is a freaking war crime when an invading army uses collective punishment on a population for the acts of resistance committed by a few.

Yet every single time bigots want to justify their advocating for the denial of rights to an entire class of people they drag out the red herring of some member in that group having at some point and time having done something heinous.

The expected reaction to that heinous crime is supposed to be, “Oh that’s horrible. No one in that class of people should be allowed to go on breathing much less be entitled to the same rights I am.”

Well that works if no one questions the premise of imposing collective punishment for individual acts.

It also works if no one questions the general mendacity of bigots trying to stir others into joining them in their attacks upon the group targeted for bigotry.

Sometimes bigots will appeal to people’s vanity with the , “You and I are different, we are not like those people, we are different.

And different we may well be, but that does not justify the leap of logic required to reach the conclusion: Therefore we should deny others the same rights we consider our inalienable rights.

At one point we, Americans fought a war which divided families and nearly brought our nation to an end.

A large number of people in the southern part of our nation were conservatives who thought they were better than people from Africa, whom they treated as subhuman and owned as slaves.  While large numbers of progressive people in the North (who may in reality have not held very high opinions of those people from Africa) stood up and fought to expand those inalienable rights to those people who were enslaved.

It was a bloody bitter war and even today the struggle of people of African ancestry to obtain and maintain their inalienable rights continues.

On one side are the progressives who believe in expanding the category of inalienable rights and insuring that all have those rights, on the other side are the conservatives who wish to restrict the category of inalienable rights and deny those rights to people not like them.

To often I hear an argument from post-transsexuals that goes like this:  I had to struggle. No one gave me those things, we had to work for them.

Okay…  Nice going.  Instead of our having  suffered and worked to change those things leaving a heritage of expanded rights for others; we should leave things just the way they were, so that others have to put up with the same pain and difficulty as we did.  Except it was pretty easy to skate by with what we had back then.  You didn’t have to have official papers, undergo computerized background checks.

The moment I started questioning some of the bullshit put out by the HBS/classic transsexual clique I started seeing the epic fail of both their ethics and logic.

They are running on Focus on the Family/NOM/AFA logic and ethics, which are the ethics and logic of bigots.

The right to own other people, to control the lives of others, to support the discrimination against others is not an inalienable right because it denies inalienable rights to others.

It is nothing more than bigotry and is thus unethical and reactionary behavior.

This analysis of also applies to the self anointed “radical feminists.”

In Orwell’s Animal Farm, he pointed out this logic with the idea “all animals are equal except some are more equal than others.”

You betray your true colors when you trot out the Phyllis Schlafly bath room argument.  From that point on I know you can’t possibly be a progressive. Because the argument is bullshit.  The protecting women argument was used in a slightly different iteration of protecting white women, to deny black people equal access and enjoyment of their inalienable rights.

Transgender Non-Discrimination Breakthrough

From Metro Weekly: http://www.metroweekly.com/news/?ak=7288

EEOC ruling that gender-identity discrimination is covered by Title VII is a ”sea change” that opens the doors to employment protection for transgender Americans

By Chris Geidner
Published on April 23, 2012

An employer who discriminates against an employee or applicant on the basis of the person’s gender identity is violating the prohibition on sex discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to an opinion issued on April 20 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The opinion, experts say, could dramatically alter the legal landscape for transgender workers across the nation.

The opinion came in a decision delivered on Monday, April 23, to lawyers for Mia Macy, a transgender woman who claims she was denied employment with the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after the agency learned of her transition. It also comes on the heels of a growing number of federal appellate and trial courts deciding that gender-identity discrimination constitutes sex discrimination, whether based on Title VII or the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws.

The EEOC decision, issued without objection by the five-member, bipartisan commission, will apply to all EEOC enforcement and litigation activities at the commission and in its 53 field offices throughout the country. It also will be binding on all federal agencies and departments.

In the decision, the EEOC states, ”[T]he Commission hereby clarifies that claims of discrimination based on transgender status, also referred to as claims of discrimination based on gender identity, are cognizable under Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition ….”

Continue reading at:  http://www.metroweekly.com/news/?ak=7288

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US college grads confront the dead end of the profit system

From World Socialist Web Site:   http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/apr2012/pers-a24.shtml

Andre Damon
24 April 2012
Amid endless claims of economic recovery by the Obama administration and the media, the conditions facing the working class in the United States continue to deteriorate. This is seen nowhere more clearly than in the fate of young people, who confront a future of unemployment, low-paying jobs and perpetual debt.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that more than half (53.6 percent) of all four-year college graduates under 25 in the US are either unemployed or underemployed—that is, without a job or working at a job that does not require their degree. This is the highest percentage since records began being kept 11 years ago.

Of the 1.5 million people in this category, about half are unemployed and the other half are working for low wages at retail stores, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. The report also noted that only three of the 30 jobs with the largest projected number of openings in the next eight years will require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Overall youth unemployment in the US is over 23 percent, and after three years of official economic “recovery,” the rates of underemployment and unemployment for this group are still rising. The dire employment situation for young people is being used to pit them against older workers. In many cases, companies have laid off workers with decades of experience and replaced them with better-educated workers at half the pay.

The same students who cannot find decent-paying jobs that offer the prospect of economic security and advancement are saddled with huge college debts. The average student debt level topped $25,000 this year and the total amount surpassed $1 trillion.

Continue reading at:  http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/apr2012/pers-a24.shtml

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ALEC’s Vision of Pre-Empting EPA Coal Ash Regs Passes the House

From The Center for Media and Democracy: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/04/11473/alec%E2%80%99s-vision-pre-empting-epa-coal-ash-regs-passes-house

by Sara Jerving
April 23, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment on April 18 to the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 (HR 4348) that would effectively pre-empt the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating coal ash, the waste from coal burning plants, as a hazardous waste. About 140 million tons of coal ash are produced by power plants in the United States each year. There are about 1,000 active coal ash storage sites across the country.

According to the EPA, the ash contains concentrations of arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and other metals, but the coal industry has claimed there is less mercury in the ash than in a fluorescent light bulb. However, the EPA found in 2010 that the cancer risk from arsenic near some unlined coal ash ponds was one in 50 — 2,000 times the agency’s regulatory goal. Additionally, researchers from the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, and Sierra Club have documented water contamination from coal ash sites in 186 locations. The new bill would strip the EPA’s authority to regulate the ash and hand it over to the states.

The coal industry and its allies have been pushing several levers to stop the EPA from regulating coal ash, including passing resolutions through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Along with its coal ash provisions, the transportation bill, which is intended to extend highway and transit funding through September, includes measures that would advance the controversial trans-Canada Keystone XL pipeline.

Devastating Coal Ash Spill Raises Alarm

Attention to the hazards of coal ash has grown since a devastating spill in eastern Tennessee in 2008, where a Tennessee Valley Authority storage pond poured more than 1.1 billion gallons of ash onto some 300 acres of nearby land, contaminating rivers, destroying homes and accumulating up to six feet of liquid-ash sludge in some areas. The disaster was five times larger, by some measures, than the BP oil spill and more than 100 times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill.

Continue reading at:  http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/04/11473/alec%E2%80%99s-vision-pre-empting-epa-coal-ash-regs-passes-house

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California to vote on abolishing the death penalty

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/24/california-vote-abolish-death-penalty

If passed, execution would be abolished as the maximum sentence in murder convictions, replaced with life imprisonment

Reuters in Los Angeles
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 April 2012

California voters will decide in November whether to repeal the death penalty, after activists collected the more than 500,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot.

The ballot initiative focuses on the high cost of the death penalty in a state that has executed 13 people since capital punishment was reinstated in the nation in 1976. Another 723 inmates sit on death row pending lengthy and expensive appeals.

The move, which comes as a number of states reconsider capital punishment, would abolish execution as the maximum sentence in murder convictions and replace it with life imprisonment.

If the measure passes, it was expected to save the state in the “high tens of millions of dollars annually,” according to an estimate of the fiscal impact of the bill that is included in the text of the measure.

“We’ve spent billions of dollars killing 13 people. There is a much better system,” said Steve Smith, a campaign consultant for SAFE, which got the initiative on the ballot. By contrast, Texas has executed 481 people during the same time period.

The ballot measure was approved as a growing number of states question the use of the death penalty, and comes less than two weeks after Connecticut lawmakers voted to repeal the death penalty there.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/24/california-vote-abolish-death-penalty

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Planned Parenthood Worried It’s The Target Of New Undercover Sting

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/planned-parenthood-live-action_n_1446527.html


A string of suspicious incidents at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country has given the organization reason to believe that anti-abortion activists are targeting it in a new organized sting operation.

According to Planned Parenthood spokesperson Chloe Cooney, clinics in at least 11 states have reported two dozen or more “hoax visits” over the past several weeks, in which a woman walks into a clinic, claims to be pregnant and asks a particular pattern of provocative questions about sex-selective abortions, such as how soon she can find out the gender of the fetus, by what means and whether she can schedule an abortion if she’s having a girl.

While patient privacy laws prohibit Planned Parenthood from offering specific details about the visits and where they occurred, Cooney told The Huffington Post that the incidents are so unusual and so similar to each other that they have raised concerns among the organization’s executives that the visits are being recorded as part of a concerted anti-Planned Parenthood campaign.

“For years opponents of reproductive health and Planned Parenthood have engaged in secret videotaping tactics with fictitious patient scenarios and selective editing in an attempt to promote misinformation about Planned Parenthood and our services,” Cooney said. “As with the prior instances, we anticipate that once again this group, likely in coordination with a broad range of anti-abortion leaders, will soon launch a propaganda campaign with the goal of discrediting Planned Parenthood, and, ultimately, restricting women’s health.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/planned-parenthood-live-action_n_1446527.html

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Battle for the Soul of Occupy

From Ad Busters: http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/defend-occupy_moveon.html

Round #5 – Will MoveOn knock us out?

20 Apr 2012

As we prepare for the May uprising, two power centers of our movement have announced plans for a spectacular bi-coastal May 1st bridge blockade. On the West Coast, Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco are planning rush hour disruptions on the Golden Gate Bridge while in New York City, occupiers say they will block one or more Manhattan-bound bridges. These acts of nonviolent direct action will set the tactical tone for the next phase of Occupy: they signal the turn towards Strike actions aimed at disrupting the flow of money. And, on a deeper level, these blockades come at a pivotal moment for Occupy as the movement grapples with a battle for its soul.

The question many occupiers are debating is whether the spirit and voice of Occupy will stay with the new left horizontals who launched the uprising or whether it will move towards MoveOn’s 99% Spring, and their old left buddies at The Nation magazine, Ben & Jerry’s, et al.

For the first most spectacular days of Occupy – such as on September 24 when eighty Zuccottis were arrested and shocking footage of women getting maced was replayed on national television – MoveOn ignored our movement. They decided to jump on board much later when 700 nonviolent occupiers were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. They saw this mass arrest as an opportunity to fold Occupy into their electoral Rebuild the Dream campaign to bolster Obama. At a time when Occupy was inspiring hundreds of thousands of people across the nation to take the squares, set up leaderless encampments and reinvent democracy in people’s assemblies, MoveOn held an October 5 online “Virtual March on Wall Street” with their friends at Rebuild the Dream.

At the peak of Occupy, when the people’s movement had catalyzed a global day of action on October 15 that saw millions of us in 82 countries rally in financial districts and capital cities for real democracy, MoveOn tried to cash in on Occupy’s momentum with a donation pitch. “We have to capitalize on this momentum now,” wrote MoveOn in an email to its members. “Can you chip in $5?”

Continue reading at:  http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/defend-occupy_moveon.html

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New York Named National Leader in Fight Against Wage Theft

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/13084/new_york_wage_theft_labor_progressive_states_network_make_the_road/

Advocates say what had been a ‘pathetically weak’ law now has teeth

By Josh Eidelson
Monday Apr 23, 2012

One year after New York’s new wage theft law took effect, the Progressive States Network has named the state the nation’s leader in confronting the issue. Speaking on a media call Wednesday, PSN Senior Policy Specialist Tim Judson said the 2010 law has proved “the strongest in the country.” But he warned that the national picture remains bleak: “Where wage theft is concerned, there are essentially no cops on the beat.”

“Wage theft” is a new term for an old issue: employers not paying workers their agreed-to wages. It takes many forms: withholding wages; not paying overtime rate for overtime hours; paying below minimum wage; pressing workers to work off the clock. In 2010, In These Times contributor Art Levine reported on the case of immigrant workers who were paid under $2 an hour for work at the New York State Fair.

As Michelle Chen has reported, a survey conducted by the National Employment Law Project in 2008 estimated that wage theft costs the average low-wage worker a full 15 percent of annual income. NELP estimated New York’s unpaid wages at $1.5 billion denied to half a million workers. Analysis by the Drum Major Institute calculated that those lost wages meant a loss of $427 million in revenue for the state, which faces a $350 million budget deficit.

Judson is the co-author, with PSN’s Cristina Francisco-McGuire, of a new report, Cracking Down on Wage Theft: State Strategies for Protecting Workers and Recovering Revenues. They write that wage theft has steep costs low-wage workers, high-road employers, and cash-strapped governments.  “Existing wage payment statutes,” they conclude, “have proved too modest and incomplete to be an effective deterrent against what has become a pervasive and entrenched problem.”

In 2009, the community organizing group Make the Road New York (MRNY) began a campaign which, with backing from a progressive coalition, led to the passage of New York’s 2010 Wage Theft Prevention Act.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/13084/new_york_wage_theft_labor_progressive_states_network_make_the_road/

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‘Whole Food, Not Whole Foods’: Renegade Farmers Reclaim Land on Earth Day

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/04/23-0

To prevent the sale for private development, citizens plant community garden

Common Dreams staff
Published on Monday, April 23, 2012 by Common Dreams

Bay area residents on Sunday, in order to prevent development of a chain grocery store, reclaimed 10 acres of land owned by the University of California-Berkeley and planted a community garden.

The protesters-cum-gardeners, several dozen of them in all, broke the lock on a chain-linked fence about mid-day and got to work digging beds, roto-tilling soil, and planting carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables. The plan is to build a sustainable community garden and stave off any attempt by UC Berkeley to sell the land for private development. Gopal Dayaneni, one of the 20 or so core organizers of the action, told the San Jose Mercury News that the group was committed to growing both the farm and its community of farmers. Volunteers had about 10,000 starts — small bulbs or seedlings — and dug dozens of rows. Some people brought chickens, and the group even brought in a large tank for watering.

“This is the last, best agricultural soil in the East Bay, and we want it to be preserved for community farming and sustainable urban agriculture, not chopped up and sold off in pieces by the university,” said Dayaneni, a 43-year-old Oakland resident and father of two who said he’s long been active in environmental and ecological issues in the East Bay.

Police were on the scene throughout the day, but no arrests were reported. The ‘renegade farmers’ were pitching tents at the end of the day, but said they had no plans to permanently occupy the land.  “Our goal is not to live here, our goal is to create a working urban agro-ecological farm,” Anya Kamenskaya, a spokesperson for the group, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/04/23-0

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After a Generation of Extremism, Phyllis Schlafly Still a Leading General in the War on Women

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/election2012/155090/after_a_generation_of_extremism%2C_phyllis_schlafly_still_a_leading_general_in_the_war_on_women_/

At 87, Schlafly is still on the warpath, gracing any podium that will have her with a font of barbed quips, bad facts and bitter resentment.

By Adele M. Stan
April 22, 2012

On a damp spring evening in Washington, DC, a general in the Republican war on women was dispatched to deny its existence. “The real war on women,” Phyllis Schlafly told a gathering of the Young America’s Foundation at George Washington University, “is by the feminists who demean women who choose the career path of homemaker, and mislead young women into believing…that a job in the workforce will be more significant and rewarding than marriage and motherhood.”

With that, all of the young women in the front row marched up the center aisle and the out of the room, holding protest signs with slogans like, “Stop Sexism,” “Stop Bigotry,” “Stop Homophobia.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry you’re not going to stay around and let me convince you that you’re wrong,” Schlafly said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

A 40-Year War

For all of the shouting about a Republican war on women, you’d think it was a bright, new, shiny phenomenon. But Schlafly’s celebrity was born of her brutal and shameless tactics in that theater of war some 40 years ago, when she mobilized the fearful and bigoted against the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment which, but for her efforts, would likely be the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Today, at 87, Schlafly is still on the warpath, gracing any podium that will have her with a font of barbed quips, bad facts and bitter resentment of women who seek to change a social order that she herself navigated in its most unyielding form, with the help of no one, as she sees it, thank you very much.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/election2012/155090/after_a_generation_of_extremism%2C_phyllis_schlafly_still_a_leading_general_in_the_war_on_women_/

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