This year I spent Transgender Day of Remembrance on the set of Orange Is the New Black, an original series for Netflix in which I play Sophia Burset. A large part of me felt that I should have been at events memorializing those we have lost this year to anti-trans violence, but sometimes we have to work, and thankfully I have a job at the moment. When I have an acting job, I am infinitely grateful, because acting is my number-one passion, and acting jobs are really hard to come by. When I woke up Nov. 20, 2012, I thought about all the trans folks we have lost this year and in previous years and how so many of them didn’t get to live their dreams like I got to do that day. So many trans dreams deferred. I worked in honor of those dreams that day.
As an African-American trans woman from a working-class background, I am in a pretty high-risk category for having my dreams deferred through either discrimination or violence. When I am on set, I usually require myself to stay pretty focused on my character and her circumstances for that day, but Nov. 20 I found myself on my smartphone, reading various articles and profiles about trans people. I learned a few things I didn’t know about our history. I read about African-American trans woman Sir Lady Java‘s story and her activism in the 1960s and ’70s, and about trans man Reed Erickson‘s philanthropy starting in the early 1960s. But what moved me to tears as I sat in my trailer was CeCe McDonald’s Trans Day of Remembrance proposal.
CeCe McDonald pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter earlier this year. On June 5, 2011, she defended herself against a racist and transphobic physical attack. One of her attackers was killed in the altercation. When much relevant evidence, like her deceased attacker’s violent history, his white supremacist leanings and the fact that he had a swastika tattooed on his chest, were ruled inadmissible in pre-trial hearings, CeCe took a plea to a lesser charge to avoid 41 years in prison. She is currently serving 41 months in a Minnesota men’s facility. CeCe’s story shook me to my core, because her story could so easily be mine.
What moved me so much about CeCe’s call for more collaboration among LGBTQ communities was her vision of stepping into a role of leadership, even from a prison cell, and her courage to do so.
From The New Civil Rights Movement: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/lesbian-hosptialized-after-severe-thanksgiving-beating-by-girlfriends-brother/news/2012/11/26/54660
by David Badash
on November 26, 2012
An Alabama woman is in the hospital after being severely beaten on Thanksgiving, allegedly by her girlfriend’s brother, because she is a lesbian. 23-year old Mallory Owens is recovering from the assault and subsequent reconstructive surgery at USA Medical Center in Mobile, Alabama.
The family reportedly wants the alleged attacker, Travis Hawkins Jr., in jail and charged with a hate crime and attempted murder. Currently, news reports state Hawkins is out on bond for second-degree assault.
“He tried to kill her. He’s lucky he didn’t kill her. She’s lucky to be alive,” WKRG reports her mother Kristi Taylor said.
“I didn’t recognize her when I got here. It’s hard to look at her like that,” she cried.
The twenty-three year old was celebrating Thanksgiving at her girlfriend’s house in Mobile Thursday night, when her mother says her girlfriend’s brother attacked her, just for being gay.
“She was invited over by the family to eat Thanksgiving. I did not want her to go, I begged her not to go, knowing how the family felt about her. But she said, ‘They’re trying to be nice.’”
Mallory’s mother says this isn’t the first time he’s attacked her. Earlier this year, family members tell News 5 that Travis Hawkins Jr. hit Mallory over the head with a pipe wrench. She was injured, but the family did not pursue charges after that incident.
This time, she was beaten so badly that she’s almost unrecognizable. She had to have facial reconstruction surgery, with metal plates put in her cheek bones. Her sister Avery has been by her side ever since.
By Joan Walsh
Monday, Nov 26, 2012
Taking a break from 24/7 politics after the election, I finally read John Kelly’s troubling “The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People.” Our problems feel small. Ireland lost one in three people in the late 1840s. At least a million died in the famine and its related illnesses; another two million fled for England, Canada, the United States or other ports of refuge.
But I kept coming back to U.S. politics anyway. Hauntingly, Kelly repeats the phrase that drove British famine relief (or lack of it): they were so determined to end Irish “dependence on government” that they stalled or blocked provision of food, public works projects and other proposals that might have kept more Irish alive and fed. The phrase appears at least seven times, by my count, in the book. “Dependence on government:” Haven’t we heard that somewhere?
In fact, the day after finishing Kelly’s book, I found Salon’s Michael Lind writing about the Heritage Foundation brief, “The Index of Dependence on Government.” It could have been the title of a report by famine villain Charles Trevelyan, the British Treasury assistant secretary whose anti-Irish moralism thwarted relief, but of course it was written by well-paid conservative Beltway think tankers. The very same day PBS aired a Frontline documentary revealing that our fabulously wealthy country has the fourth highest child-poverty rate in the developed world, just behind Mexico, Chile and Turkey. And I couldn’t help thinking: we haven’t come far at all.
I don’t believe in appropriating epochal tragedies and singular cruelties for modern political use. Genocide, slavery, famine, the Holocaust; rape, incest, lynching – those terms mean something specific. A recession, or even a depression, can’t be equated with famine, let alone genocide. Nor can rampant child poverty: we fend off starvation pretty successfully with food stamps, government help and charity today. We still have poverty programs, even though we slashed them in an anti-dependency backlash Trevelyan might have approved. A Democratic president, Bill Clinton, acting at least partly on Ronald Reagan’s insight that “we fought a war on poverty, and poverty won,” eliminated Aid to Families with Dependent Children in 1996 and replaced it with a time-limited, work-incentive program that cut its rolls by 58 percent in the last 15 years. One in five children was poor in 1996; the exact same percent are poor today. (Among black children, the rate is almost 2 in 5.) Whether we’re fighting a war on poverty or a war on the poor, what we are doing isn’t working.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2012/11/26/when_right_wing_blather_killed/
From Pandagon @ Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/26/476452/
By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, November 26, 2012
Roy Edroso’s ever-hilarious weekly round-up of the ever-delusional right wing blogosphere is particularly excellent this week, as rightbloggers tried to wedge their fantasies and hobbyhorses to the holiday news cycle. I especially loved how many insisted that Obama didn’t mention God in his speech, when a quick perusal of the full text shows that he mentioned that ancient myth twice. Defeated by Ctrl-F! Why did we ever think these people were political geniuses, again?
But what really stands out is that the conservative obsession with other people’s sex lives continues to roam about unleashed. In previous years, they understood that freaking out and denouncing the near-universal sexual habits of Americans was politically stupid. Not just because it makes them sound completely out of touch, but because the behaviors that whip them into a frenzy of hate—premarital sex and contraception use—are behaviors that they themselves have and often continue to participate in. I suspect they all think that it’s different when they do it, the same way they think that it’s different when they accept financial assistance from the government. But that’s a hard line to sell. So, in previous years, their obsession with your sex life has been packaged as feigned concern for fetuses, or whipping up anxieties about adolescent sexuality. This year, however, right wingers seem to believe the existence of Sandra Fluke somehow changed the rules, making it somehow more politically feasible to accuse the rest of the world of being dirty perverts.
It’s not just the wingnut who fantasized about spending the holiday yelling at grown adults for their “copulation driven” decisions, though that really would be enough. No, what was really amusing was the number of conservative dudes whipping themselves into a frenzy over “discount abortions”.
And besides, a news report went around that a Planned Parenthood outlet in Florida was offering a Black Friday discount on office visits, which the brethren immediately reinterpreted as discount abortions! ”Planned Parenthood Offers Black Friday Discounts on Abortions” headlined (naturally) Jim Hoft; “PLANNED PARENTHOOD OFFERS BLACK FRIDAY DISCOUNTS ON ABORTIONS,” hollered Human Events (“It’s an Obama world… Now you can go shopping and then go in and kill your baby”); “Discount Death,” yowled Robert Stacy McCain; “Planned Parenthood Offers Black Friday Discounts on Murder Of Unborn,” extrapolated the David Brooks faves at Front Porch Republic; etc. (Oh, well, it’s not like they haven’t tried it before.)
Not just because it’s a total lie* (a Planned Parenthood was offering $10 off office visits, which means mostly well woman check-ups and contraception consultations—not that anti-choicers like those things any better), but because of their bizarre assumptions about what everyone-but-them thinks about sex. Like women see the a $10 off coupon and are like, “Well, I was going to stay a delicate virgin until marrying a nice young man my father selected for me, but now that I only have to pay $490 for an abortion instead of $500, I’m going to go ride every cock in town!” Or perhaps they believe the abortion itself is the exquisite erotic pleasure, since god knows having your uterus painfully suctioned out provides the kind of satisfaction no mere mortal man can. Some times I think right wingers confuse the vacuum aspiration machine with the Excessive Machine in “Barbarella”.
Continue reading at: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/26/476452/
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/26/jim-greer-florida-voting-laws_n_2192802.html
By Ian Gray
Jim Greer, the former head of the Florida Republican Party, recently claimed that a law shortening the early voting period in the state was deliberately designed to suppress voting among groups that tend to support Democratic candidates, the Palm Beach Post reports.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told the Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only…‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.’”
The HB 1355 law, which was passed by Florida’s Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) in Nov. 2011, cut the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. It was publicly sold as an effort to reduce voter fraud and to save money, but Greer says that this was simply a “marketing ploy.”
Greer served as Florida’s GOP chairman from 2006 until 2010 when he was forced to resign after allegedly stealing money from the party. He was arrested and his case is pending.
Scott’s predecessor, Republican-turned-Independent Charlie Crist, resisted efforts from Republicans to shorten the state’s early voting period, citing reasons that mesh with Greer’s claims.
In an interview with The Huffington Post earlier this month, Crist said the new law is clearly aimed at curbing turnout among Democrats.
“The only thing that makes any sense as to why this is happening and being done is voter suppression,” he said.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/11/26-6
Common Dreams staff
Published on Monday, November 26, 2012 by Common Dreams
Two former Florida GOP leaders and current party strategists are blowing the whistle on early voting law HB 1355, which—they admit—was designed by Republicans to limit Democratic turnout, specifically targetting minorities.
Former GOP Chairman Jim Greer and former Governor Charlie Crist told the Palm Beach Post that concerns regarding voter fraud were advanced “for one reason and one reason only,” to deter Democratic voters.
According to the report, Greer cited a number of meetings, beginning in 2009, during which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours. “We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,” Greer was reportedly told by party consultants.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” he added. “They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
Former Governor Crist also admitted to being approached by party leaders during his 2007-2011 gubernatorial term about changing early voting in an effort to suppress Democrat turnout.
The election law, HB 1355, which was successfully passed by Republican super-majorities in 2011, cut Florida’s in-person early voting days from 14 to eight and eliminated early voting on the Sunday before Election Day and, according to The Post, “made it harder for voters who had changed counties since the last election to cast ballots, a move that affected minorities proportionately more than whites.”
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/11/26-6
Ross Douthat is The New York Times pet resident right wing nut. He’s a would be theocrat who belongs on Wing Nut Daily. The Times keeps him around to prove they aren’t liberal.
From the Center for Economic and Policy Research: http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/ross-douthat-argues-that-social-security-would-be-easier-to-cut-if-it-were-changed-from-a-social-insurance-program-to-a-welfare-program
Sunday, 25 November 2012
Ross Douthat argues convincingly that if we eliminated the link between contributions and benefits it would be much easier politically to cut Social Security. Of course he thinks ending the link would be a good idea for that reason, but his logic is certainly on the mark, people will more strongly protect benefits that they feel they have earned.
Douthat is off on a few other points. He tells readers:
“In an era of mass unemployment, mediocre wage growth and weak mobility from the bottom of the income ladder, it makes no sense to finance our retirement system with a tax that falls directly on wages and hiring and imposes particular burdens on small business and the working class.
“What’s more, the payroll tax as it exists today can’t cover the program’s projected liabilities anyway, and the pay-as-you-go myth stands in the way of the changes required to keep Social Security solvent.”
The problem here is that we are not condemned to an era of “mass unemployment, mediocre wage growth and weak mobility.” This has been the outcome of inept macroeconomic policy and trade and regulatory policies that were designed to redistribute income from those at the middle and bottom to the top. Most people would look to reverse these policies rather than eliminate social insurance.
The implication of this comment, that we would somehow be able to make up substantial funding shortfalls from cutting taxes on law and middle income people by taxing the wealthy more also is not very plausible. Given the enormous political power of the “job creators” (as demonstrated by the fact that people are not laughed out of town for using this term), it is unlikely that substantially more money will be raised from the wealthy to pay for Social Security. This means that in Douthat’s dream world we would be seeing large cuts in benefits.
He also is wrong with his arithmetic. The payroll tax certainly can cover the program’s expenses. In fact, had it not been for the upward redistribution of income over the last three decades, which nearly doubled the share of wage income going over the cap on taxable income, the projected 75-year shortfall would be about half of its current level.
Continue reading at: http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/ross-douthat-argues-that-social-security-would-be-easier-to-cut-if-it-were-changed-from-a-social-insurance-program-to-a-welfare-program
In Portugal and Greece, as in Spain, protesters took aim at the IMF as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “IMF means hunger and misery,” was a slogan in Lisbon. “We are fed up to our ovaries with the IMF,” joked a feminist contingent at the Madrid demonstration. Yet the truth is that IMF leaders, themselves frustrated with austerity madness, might have grabbed a banner and joined the protest. A very public dispute has erupted between the fund and the European Union over the pace of fiscal adjustment and the need for a second restructuring of Greek debt.
At its semiannual meeting in Tokyo in October, the IMF announced that the austerity packages applied throughout southern Europe since 2009 have been counterproductive, undermining economic growth and increasing rather than bringing down public debt ratios. Greece provides ghastly proof of the failed logic of the euro orthodoxy. After three years of shock therapy, the Greek economy is in depression and will have shrunk by more than 22 percent at the end 2013, the IMF warns. Employment in Greece has fallen to 1980 levels, and Greek debt dynamics have only deteriorated. Public sector debt has soared from 144 percent of GDP in 2010 to 170 percent, and unless the official lenders agree to take a haircut in a controlled restructuring of debt—as private lenders did earlier in the year—Greece may be forced to leave the euro. “The IMF has admitted the blunder, but tell that to the Greeks,” said Zoe Lanara, international relations secretary of the Greek General Confederation of Labor at a conference organized in October by left think tank TASC in Dublin.
The incompetence and negligence in the management of the crisis is staggering. In 2010, the troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF had calculated a manageable impact on growth of the adjustment packages in Greece, Ireland and Portugal, with fiscal multipliers in the region of 0.5. That means for every 2 billion euros’ worth of cuts, maybe 1 billion would have been lost in GDP. But the fund now believes this is far too low: “IMF staff research suggests that fiscal cutbacks had larger-than-expected negative short-term multiplier effects on output,” says the fund’s latest Economic Outlook report. Far from 0.5, “our results indicate that multipliers have actually been in the 0.9 to 1.7 range.” This, the IMF notes, “may explain part of the growth shortfalls.”
From In These Times: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14188/prosperity_not_austerity
Obama needs to resist deficit-oriented, anti-worker austerity policies.
BY David Moberg
November 23, 2012
After playing a key role in President Obama’s re-election, the labor movement must pivot immediately to a new task: moving the president away from a potentially disastrous policy of “austerity economics” and toward a second-term adoption of more worker-friendly “prosperity economics.” In the weeks after the election, Obama will negotiate with the hard-right House Republicans about the looming threat of automatic across-the-board cuts.
Labor leaders see Obama’s strategy on these negotiations as a key test of his second-term priorities. They fear that if he accepts cuts to important programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, his presidency will turn into a political and economic catastrophe for working people. “Even people who voted for Mitt Romney” don’t want cuts to those key social insurance programs, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Instead, labor wants Obama to adopt a plan for “prosperity economics” along the lines proposed by Yale political scientists Jacob Hacker and Nate Loewentheil earlier this year. Beyond debunking austerity as a deeply flawed strategy, Hacker and Loewentheil argue for a government investment in such areas as research, infrastructure, education, improved economic and environmental security for working families, constraints on corporate political power, and more widespread unionization. Together these measures will provide stronger, more equitably shared economic growth that ultimately resolves budget deficits.
If Obama adopts a deficit-obsessed austerity approach to the long-range budget, there will be little money available for creating jobs—what workers most need from the next Congress. And if Obama breaks his promise to protect social insurance programs and accepts a “grand bargain” with Republicans that prolongs the past “lost decade” for workers, the political and economic repercussions could be far-reaching. “Our members would simply walk away from the Democratic Party, and Paul Ryan would be president in 2016,” one labor official says.
Vigorous job creation will not only meet the needs of the jobless but also give workers more confidence and power to raise stagnant wages.
Many union strategists will continue to push for a revised, updated version of the Employee Free Choice Act, but such reform is a longer-term struggle. Obama sidelined labor law reform in his first term, and his recent campaign program to strengthen the middle class did not even mention unions, let alone legislation to facilitate organizing.
Continue reading at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14188/prosperity_not_austerity
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/22/american-ruling-fears-default-argentina
Argentinian politicians and global debt campaigners have responded with fury to a US court judgment that risks plunging the country back into default.
Elliott Capital Management and Aurelius Capital Management, regarded as “vulture funds” by Buenos Aires, won a ruling in a New York court on Wednesday that could force Argentina to hand over $1.3bn (£816m) in repayments and interest to the tiny minority of bondholders who refused to sign up to a hard-fought write down of its debts after the country defaulted in 2001.
Judge Thomas Griesa upheld his own ruling of last month backing Elliott Associates, and said: “Argentina owes this and owes it now.”
In a strongly worded statement, Griesa said that Argentina should make repayments to the so-called holdouts at the same pace that it is repaying the vast majority of bondholders who did agree to a debt-swap. He also warned that US-based bank BNY Mellon, which handles Argentina’s debt payments to US-based bondholders, would be acting “in active concert” with the republic, if it failed to comply with the ruling.
If some of the country’s repayments were diverted to the vulture funds, however, it could reduce the amount available for Argentina’s other lenders, pushing it into a technical default on more than $60bn in outstanding debts. Buenos Aires has repeatedly made clear that it has no intention of paying anything to the plaintiffs in the case.
Nick Dearden, director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “It is completely outrageous that the intransigence of a couple of speculators can bring a sovereign nation to the verge of bankruptcy. These vulture funds never lent money to Argentina – they gambled on a crisis that caused enormous poverty and suffering in that country.”
Agustín Rossi, leader of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s bloc in the lower house of congress, described the ruling as “absolutely despicable”.
A spokesman for BNY Mellon said: “As we indicated in our filing with the court, in our role as trustee we do not believe we should be bound by the injunction.”
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/22/american-ruling-fears-default-argentina