Privatizing Roads, Bridges, Schools and Energy Grids? Corporatism Pervades SOTU

From Alternet:

While the President pledged to reel in corporations, his grand plans for the U.S. proposed just the opposite.

By Laura Gottesdiener
February 13, 2013

The split screen during the state of the union last night was a nice touch. After all, what is more practical, more common sense–more bipartisan, perhaps–than charts? My favorite chart was the wages versus corporate profits over time. Those two jagged lines–one shooting sky high over the last decade, the other plummeting steadily over the last forty years–are worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. Throughout the State of the Union, President Obama railed against the reality the chart revealed.

Corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs, but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged,” he boomed. “Today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong.”

Wrong, indeed. But on the issue of income inequality, the President’s rhetoric was right across the board–that is, until he actually began unfurling his Grand Plans. That’s when the President’s typical double-speak kicked in.

He promised to curtail corporate profits, but his vision for a new, “high-tech” America seemed to entail turning everything from our highways to our public schools into corporate-owned, public-private partnerships.

Missed that part of the speech? Let’s take a closer look at his lofty language.

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The Shooting Gallery: Obama and the Vanishing Point of Democracy

From Truth Out:

By Henry A Giroux
Tuesday, 12 February 2013

We live at a time in the United States when the notion of political enemies has become a euphemism for dismantling prohibitions against targeted assassinations, torture, abductions and indefinite detention. Under the elastic notion of permanent war and the use of Orwellian labels like terrorists, enemy combatants, enemies of the state or the all-encompassing “evil-doers,” the United States has tortured prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo for more than a decade. It also kidnapped suspected terrorists, held them in CIA “black sites,” and subjected them to extraordinary rendition – “the practice [of] taking detainees to and from US custody without a legal process … and often … handing [them] over to countries that practiced torture.”1 As a new report from the Open Society Foundation, “Globalizing Torture,” points out, since 9/11 the CIA has illegally kidnaped and tortured more than 136 people and was aided in its abhorrent endeavors by 54 countries.2 All of this was done in secrecy and when it was eventually exposed, the Obama administration refused to press criminal charges against those government officials who committed atrocious human rights abuses, signalling to the military and various intelligence agencies that they would not be held accountable for engaging in such egregious and illegal behavior. The notion that torture, kidnapping and the killing of Americans without due process is an illegitimate function of any state, including the United States, has overtly suffered the fate of the Geneva Conventions, apparently too quaint and antiquated to be operative.

Excessive torture, cruel and unusual punishment, secret detention and the violation of civil liberties are not only deeply ingrained in American history; they also have become normalized in both popular culture and in government policy. For example, popular representations of and support for torture extend from the infamous former television series 24 to the more recent highly acclaimed Hollywood film, Zero Dark Thirty.3 Whereas popular representations of torture and other legal illegalities prior to 2001 were viewed largely as the acts of desperate and psychologically unbalanced individuals or rogue governments, the post- September 11, 2001 climate has accommodated such representations, as torture has become common fare in mainstream culture – from action films and TV dramas to comedies. As torture moves from state policy to screen culture it contains “an echo of the pornographic in maximizing the pleasure of violence.”4 In this instance, the spectacle of violence mimics a new kind of mad violence that has engulfed American society. Torture is now a mainstay of what might be called the state-sanctioned carnival of cruelty, designed to delight and titillate while in real life torture has been shamelessly sanctioned as a military necessity and state policy. At the same time, torture, violence and the culture of cruelty have been removed from the discourse of ethics, jurisprudence, accountability and human rights.5

This retreat from moral responsibility reveals more than political failure, more than a perverse victory for those who argue for the acceptability of what was once considered unthinkable in a democracy. It signals the emergence of a kind of anti-politics, the dismantling of a politics in which matters of power, justice, governance and social responsibility are inextricably connected to democratic institutions, laws, values and education. This is an anti-politics in which the obligations of justice and responsibility to others has been overtaken by a rhetoric of fear, national security and war that has made Americans accomplices of a tyrannical and terrorist state apparatus. Under such circumstances, the critical project of democracy, if not politics itself, is replaced by the shared experience of fear, the instrumentalization of culture and society and a state of emergency that “eradicates political freedom, democratic processes and legality as such.”6

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Beyond Gun Control, Obama Urged to Tackle Joblessness, Incarceration and U.S. “Culture of Violence”

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I Have a Hard Time Understanding the Idea of Gender Neutral Pronouns

The last few days I’ve had a hard time finding TS/TG related material that I really feel like publishing. Maybe I’m just in a funk or something but a few recent posts sort of bother me. 

In the case of Drew’s post it just seems as though the pushing of gender neutral pronouns runs counter to the battle many TS/TG people are fighting to avoid being pushed into some sort of third gender or non gender ghetto. Gender neutral pronouns seem to run counter to the efforts to rid our selves of slurs like “shemale” and “trannie”.

Maybe it come with being a feminist post-transsexual of a certain age, but I have a hard time understanding a post by Drew Cordes on Bilerico:  Dehumanization & the Hegemony of Gendered Language.

The ways in which language reinforces the gender binary are familiar to many of us. The most immediate example being the lack of a gender-neutral singular pronoun in many of the world’s tongues. There have been many attempts to sidestep this limitation historically and in the contemporary queer/trans community, from the invention of new pronouns such as “zie, zir, yo,” repurposing the gender-neutral yet plural “they” for singular purposes, or not having a pronoun preference at all (the latter being my favorite because it forces other people to make a choice they’ve never thought about making before). At this point, none of these options has been able to do much more than carve out a niche of recognition within the small communities in which they were innovated.

I never got the rationale of third gender pronouns.

I have been using their as an inclusive singular as well as plural possessive pronoun for some forty years.  Transgender/transsexual folks had nothing to do with my working towards that usage.  They didn’t even enter my mind when I started adopting it. First it was seen a an idiosyncratic use, something pushed by feminists to corrupt the male primacy of the English language.

You see when I was growing up male egos were so fragile that women and girls were taught they had to accept male singular and plural pronouns as the universal and inclusive pronouns because it would insult men to refer to them using feminine pronouns.

I realize the last 30 years of  right wing backlash against the 1960s as well as the feminism and gay liberation of the 1970s has left us with some really perverted intellectual garbage when it comes to thinking about men/women and gender.

Fortunately we have started waking up. Men are not from Mars and women not from Venus.  We are both from earth and more alike than different.

Gender Studies is really pretty detached from reality and a Ph.D. in gender studies will prepare you for a career that includes knowing the difference between a grande and a vente as well as how much caramel syrup goes into a Caramel Macchiato

It’s all so retro, so 1990s, this post-modern gender studies crap that was always an exercise in intellectual wankery.

The obsession with gender transgression and intersex people.  It turned out the main proponent behind the intersex movement, Kiira Tirea (and many other aliases) was a total fraud, an attention seeking TS/TG person.

As we move past the academics who celebrated third genders in the form of Hijra and Katoey and all the other colonized and formerly colonized cultures we discover that those people too are basically TS/TG people who have many of the same aspirations as those sisters and brothers in the west.

Like the majority of sisters and brothers here they want to be accepted as members of the sex they feel themselves to be part of.  Like most sisters and brothers here they want to be able to live ordinary lives with dignity and respect, not lives filled with abuse, fear and degradation.

When actually sex reassignment surgery becomes available in cultures that have these niche categories, all of a sudden a large percentage of people living in these cultures become pretty much indistinguishable from  transsexual folks in the west.  The western concept of transgender has been appropriated by a large percentage of the folks in these niche cultures who didn’t migrate to the transsexual self diagnosis.

And why not?  It’s like gay liberation.  TS/TG people in the west formed movements, demanded rights and respect.  These are pretty much universally desired things.

It appears to me that most people, TS/TG people included are fairly comfortable with there being a sex/gender binary.  The matters being fought over are about equality and respect. At times there seems to be a lot less difference between TS folks who get SRS and TG folks who socially transition, live full time and do everything but get SRS, than there is between those of us who want to fit in with others of the sex/gender we transitioned to and those who see themselves as “gender queer”.

It always seemed to me that people transitioned to be more comfortable in their own skins, more comfortable with their internal gender.

In some ways that requires us to follow the rules of gender on at least a minimal level.  Gender is somewhat social and there are some who resist the notion of giving others the clues by which we commonly gender other people.

It’s a statement, what situationists called détournement a way of unsettling commonly held thinking.  In the right situation it is a cool thing to do.  But in the wrong environment it can lead to people winding up on that damned list we are forced to read each November.

And therein lies the problem.  People should be free to express these things. Yet I am concerned with the risks people take when they live gender queer lives outside the LGBT ghetto or the academic world.

That most of the gender neutral pronoun stuff is in the protective arms of academe is a good thing.

Outside the walls of academe TS/TG people are having to fight really hard to have their post-transition sex/gender respected and to have people use appropriate nouns, pronouns and adjectives.

Leslie Feinberg, Kate Bornstein and Riki Wilchins have said and done some very good things but I really have a hard time supporting them on the idea that TS/TG people are some other gender; not male/not female.

A significant portion of TS/TG people, myself included prefer virtual cis status to that of the gender queer population.

Perhaps it is because we have jobs, lives and interests beyond the TS/TG world and while supporting the TS/TG communities is still a part of our lives it isn’t the only thing that is important to us.

Trans* Invisibility

From Huffington Post:


In order to illustrate transgender invisibility and the pain that can accompany coming out, I told the following story to participants in a meeting of an international advocacy group for LGBTQIA people.

My wife and I were visiting with a cisgender heterosexual couple, and our conversation began to focus on personal relationships. Because we wanted to be authentic about our life experiences, we came out to them as a couple, and I came out as a trans* woman. Almost immediately, both of them said, “That doesn’t matter to us.” The intent of their statement was to be affirming, but the statement’s impact on me was profoundly different. Though it’s important to know that people respect and accept you, it’s also important that they honor the lifelong struggle that you have faced as a trans* person.

When my story ended, some of the participants at our meeting found it difficult to understand why my immediate reaction to the statement was negative. After all, aren’t trans* people looking for acceptance? Aren’t we longing for welcome and inclusion? It was at this point that one of the participants, an African-American woman, spoke out. She exclaimed that when people say, “I don’t see color,” they are deluding themselves. Furthermore, they erase a history of oppression, slavery and Jim Crow laws and ignore the burgeoning gap in wealth and the huge disparity in incarceration rates between black and white people. They erase the work of Dr. King and all the struggles for civil rights in our country. They ignore the presence of systemic oppression that affects everyone in society, because we are all part of those systems, oppressed and oppressors alike.

Of course, the couple who said that the fact that I’m trans* doesn’t matter to them probably intended to be accepting, or they may not have wanted to talk about it, get into a disagreement, sound uninformed or say something wrong. I tell this story because the impact of the statement on me was to make my trans* identity invisible. It’s important that people recognize the lifelong struggle that you have faced as a person whose birth-assigned sex and gender identity are not the same.

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Universities Changing Gender-Based Housing Rules

From Wisconsin NPR:

Mon February 11, 2013

More Wisconsin colleges and universities are bending traditional housing rules for LGBTQ students, and also for men and women who just want to live together.

This fall, UW-La Crosse will allow male and female students to live together in suite-style dorms.

UWL Director of Residence Life Dr. Nick Nicklaus says the university wants to provide a safe and comfortable place for LGBTQ students to live, “They’re going to be able to concentrate more fully on their academic experience. It’s one less worry that’s taken off their plate and, ‘I don’t need to be concerned about my living environment and how I’m being perceived.’”

But Nicklaus adds, male and female heterosexual students can also live together under the new rules.

UW-Milwaukee will be offering inclusive housing in the fall for LGBTQ students. For example, a gay male student could live with females.

UW-Madison is offering a new living option next semester with Open House: Gender Learning Community. Students of all backgrounds and identities can live there and will participate in weekly seminars together.

UW Board of Regents prohibits coed housing, so each school needs approval from its chancellor.

Gender-neutral housing isn’t limited to the LGBTQ community.

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The Ethics of Gender Transition

From Huffington Post


Last month, following blogosphere chatter about the impact of transition on spouses, I posted about my own transition and its impact on my family. I said that it’s important to hear both sides of this story, particularly as the process of transition interacts with the evolution of the structure of the American family, marriage equality, and our understand of gender. This leads to fascinating debate on very many levels, from many perspectives.

Last week “The Ethicist” in The New York Times posted a question and response on this very issue. I’d like to say that preventing this pain and suffering is why I, and so many other activists, do our work — so that the next generation can become themselves early enough in their lives that there will be no such collateral damage downstream. It’s sobering for me to reflect on the reality that women like me, with my life experiences, will, in all likelihood, no longer exist in two generations. That’s a good thing, on balance.

We should step back a moment and recognize that this column would never have been published a decade ago, let alone two. In that respect it marks significant cultural progress. Twenty years ago trans parents almost always got divorced, lost custody of and, many times, any access to their children. Until a decade ago divorce was a prerequisite for genital reconstruction. That seems silly today, with a majority of Americans in support of marriage equality, which is legal in nine states plus DC. But that change was part of the cultural shift away from defining women in strictly sexual terms, and accepting only one way of being a woman. When such surgery began fifty years ago in this country it was assumed trans women were transitioning simply to be able to have heterosexual sex with men. No other reason was even considered. That has now changed completely for the better.

The core issue for the trans community has been the columnist’s comment, “Your sadness is tragic, but at least it’s confined to yourself.” This is something with which every adult trans person with a family I know has grappled. The best transitions are not easy, and I’ve had one of the best. Spouses and children must deal with the consequences, whether in a supportive or a hostile environment. I know no one who wished this social and personal trauma on her family. My exes are supportive, we still get along. My children have been very supportive, and very resilient. I do know, however, that none of them considers my transition the preferable outcome for themselves. From their own self-centered perspectives, life would have been (easier, happier, simpler . . .) had I not transitioned. That, however, is not a simple calculus, because a broken spouse and parent will do unintentional harm to the family as well. And that harm may include suicide and its sequelae. So our sadness, or more accurately, existential angst, is rarely confined to ourselves, even if it may appear that way from the outside.

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Dancing to Ferlinghetti’s Beat

From Counter Punch:

America’s Revolutionary Poet

February 8-10, 2013

As you watch the 93-year-old Lawrence Ferlinghetti with shoulders squared back like a 21-year-old athlete striding briskly through the streets of San Francisco in the marvelous new documentary “Ferlinghetti: a Rebirth of Wonder”, it might occur to you that poetry and radical politics are the magic elixir that Ponce De Leon was searching for in vain.

As a seminal figure of the Beat Generation, Ferlinghetti is still going strong as are a number of other poets who pay tribute to him throughout the film, including Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and Amiri Baraka (who started out as a beat poet named LeRoi Jones.) Though having departed to higher spiritual realms, Allen Ginsberg makes a striking appearance as well, sitting side by side with Ferlinghetti as they are interviewed on art and politics. The connection between the two is particularly intimate since Ferlinghetti risked prison time for publishing “Howl” back in 1956 through the auspices of City Lights Books, an offshoot of the bookstore he had launched a few years earlier.

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of bookstores like City Lights and George Whitman’s Shakespeare and Company in the 1950s. Shakespeare and Company opened in Paris around the time that Ferlinghetti was working on a PhD at the Sorbonne. After coming back to the United States, he decided to open his own store modeled on Whitman’s, paying homage to it by putting up a sign “Shakespeare and Company” just above “City Lights” and right above the front door. In the mid-50s, the paperback revolution was gathering strength and people like Ferlinghetti were in the vanguard, placing titles by New Directions and Grove Press on their shelves, as well as those of publishers even more on the leading edge. Fortunately Whitman was interviewed for the documentary just before his death at the age of 98 in December 2011, additional evidence that rebellion is good for your health.

In New York City the counterpart of such stores was the Eighth Street Bookshop owned and operated by Eli Wilentz, the father of historian Sean Wilentz. As an aspiring young Beatnik and Bard College undergrad in the early 60s I used to make pilgrimages to Wilentz’s store to check out the latest books and magazines. I bought my Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Gary Snyder there, as well as Barney Rosset’s Evergreen Review. Harry Braverman, who had parted ways with the Socialist Workers Party in the mid-50s for pretty much the reasons I had about 25 years later, had joined Rosset’s Grove Press as an editor and could be relied upon to stump for books like “Autobiography of Malcolm X”, “Che Guevara Speaks”, and Franz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth”, all Grove Press imprints.

Ferlinghetti states emphatically that the beat generation provided the roots of both the 60s radicalization and the counter-culture. The beats had a smaller audience, including only the most alienated teenagers at outposts like Bard College, Oberlin, Antioch, and Goddard who were ready to go on the road even if this meant dropping out of school.

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See also Raw Story:  ‘Ferlinghetti’ explores the remarkable life of the poet-painter-activist

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VAWA Vote: Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Violence Against Women Act

From Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — The Senate easily passed its Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill on Tuesday, officially punting the issue to the House, where Republican leaders still haven’t signaled how they plan to proceed.

The bill passed 78 to 22. It already had 62 cosponsors, which ensured its passage, but it picked up additional support from a handful of Republicans who weren’t already sponsoring it.

Senators who voted against the bill included Republicans John Barrasso (Wyo.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James Inhofe (Okla.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Ron Johnson (Wisc.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), John Thune (S.D.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).

Rubio, who put out a statement on his VAWA stance Tuesday, will give the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address later Tuesday evening.

Interestingly, a number of Republicans who voted against the VAWA bill last year ended up voting for it this year. They are GOP Sens. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Jerry Moran (Kansas), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Roger Wicker (Miss.) and Thad Cochran (Miss.).

The bill authorizes $659 million over five years for VAWA programs. It also expands VAWA to include new protections for LGBT and Native American victims of domestic violence, to give more attention to sexual assault prevention and to help reduce a backlog in processing rape kits. Created in 1994, VAWA has helped to strengthen programs and services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Ahead of the vote, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the bill’s sponsor, questioned why anybody would vote against his legislation since it just expands protections to vulnerable groups.

“It is difficult to understand why people would come in here and try to limit which victims could be helped by this legislation,” Leahy said. “If you’re the victim, you don’t want to think that a lot of us who have never faced this kind of problem, sat here in this body and said, ‘Well, we have to differentiate which victims America will protect.'”

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See also The Progressive:  Republicans Take Abusers’ Side on VAWA
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The Feminine Mystique 50 Years On – A Google+ Debate

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The Real Story of the Religious Right — A Movement Born to Defend Racial Segregation

From Alternet:

The movement initially emerged to defend racially segregated Christian schools from government intrusion.

By Jonathan Dudley

The following is reprinted with permission from  Religion Dispatches. You can sign up for their free daily newsletter  here.

As the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade passed, evangelical leaders marked the occasion with histories of how their community took up the anti-abortion cause. Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, (with whom I engaged in a discussion-via-blog-post this past fall) has suggested the movement formed out of grassroots reflection on “the terrible and inevitable consequences of legalized abortion.” Albert Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president, insisted it arose from moral outrage triggered by Roe v. Wade.

Both histories provide pristine portraits of the origins of the evangelical right, suggesting its founders based their advocacy on scholarly assessments and aspired to noble political ends. But a history can be told that is significantly less flattering.

The right-wing evangelical movement was not an immediate backlash to Roe v. Wade. The evangelical community, unlike Roman Catholicism, showed little interest in combating abortion until almost 1980. As Jerry Falwell lamented in 1979, “The Roman Catholic Church for many years has stood virtually alone against abortion. I think it’s an indictment against the rest of us that we’ve allowed them to stand alone.”

Although evangelicals were mostly silent on abortion after Roe v. Wade, they were not silent on other political issues. Paul Weyrich, one of the evangelical right’s most influential founders, recalls that the movement initially emerged to defend racially segregated Christian schools from government intrusion:

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Police Shoot Jazz Band Members In Dorner Manhunt

So let me guess all these people who have nothing to do with Dorner are just collateral damage to be written off.  I think the police should be sued for big bucks by the people they have mistakenly shot in their frantic straight out of an action movie  manhunt for Dorner.

From Daily Currant:

Feb. 12, 2013

Three members of a jazz band were shot by Los Angeles police Monday afternoon in relation to a massive hunt for an avenging ex-cop, police and witnesses said.

Police were reportedly acting on a tip in their search for Christopher Jordan Dorner when they stopped a van at an Arco station on La Cienega Boulevard near Interstate 405.The van was carrying three members of a Dave Brubeck tribute band and their manager.

Police then allegedly started shooting at the blue 1989 Ford Aerostar, hitting three men and riddling the van with bullet holes.

The three men, later identified as members of The Brubeck Ambassadors Jazz Band, were treated at the scene for gunshot wounds before being taken to an area hospital in stable condition, police said. The band’s manager was unharmed.

The shooting occurred as local, state and federal police are conducting a massive search for Dorner, 33, an ex-LAPD officer who is suspected of fatally shooting an Orange County couple and three Riverside police officers, one of whom died.

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What does a police state look like?

From Salon:

Violence, arrests of Occupy protesters and stop-and-frisk. Plus: A worshipful media

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013

What does a police state really look like in practice in America? Is it the cartoonish dystopia of sci-fi books? Is it like 1998′s “The Siege,” which predicted a wholesale instatement of martial law? Or in the age of the drone-wielding police department, is it something more mundane and subtle yet nonetheless pernicious? From this city in the middle of Middle America, it looks like the latter.

When people think of Denver, many think of skiing and, since the last election, marijuana. But from here in the Mile High City, things seem a bit different. In the day to day operation of the city, we aren’t as much defined by snow and pot as we are by the fact that we live under the rule of an increasingly brutal police force. It is a police force that our political leaders are more than happy to deploy to punish undesirables, and worse, that the most powerful media organ is more than happy to defend.

We have become, in short, a national cautionary tale — one that no doubt epitomizes similar trends throughout the country.

This sad situation has been long in the making. Over the last decade, while then-Mayor John Hickenlooper was gaining national plaudits for his geek-scientist charm, he was overseeing a police department that has become so violent toward citizens, that the U.S. Department of Justice is now considering a formal civil rights investigation. In all, a Cato Institute study shows that in terms of official misconduct, Denver’s police force is the sixth worst in the entire country.

The highest-profile incidents tell the bigger story.

For instance, after the 2008 Democratic convention, Hickenlooper’s administration was forced to settle a lawsuit showing evidence that he ordered his police force to engage in “indiscriminate arrests.”

In 2011, new Mayor Michael Hancock joined with now-Gov. Hickenlooper to become the first government officials to sic riot-gear-clad police on peaceful Occupy Denver protesters, thus turning the state Capitol grounds into the visual definition of the term “police state.” The episode included firing tear gas and rubber bullets at unarmed citizens.

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What is the State of OUR Union – Yours and Mine?

From Truth Out:

By Laura Flanders
Tuesday, 12 February 2013

President Obama is going to deliver the annual State of the Union address tonight, and if I were to make a wild guess, I’d say he’ll declare the union strong. The economy may be troubled, perhaps the United States is facing challenges, but if history’s any guide, the President will say the union is special, blessed by God, and strong, and there will be applause – no matter that it couldn’t be less true.

Politically, the nation is split as dramatically as it was before the Civil War. The Republican/Democrat divide reflects almost exactly the borders of the old confederacy, and there’s no sign of it shifting any time soon. And economically, we’re as divided as can be.

Take our supposedly representative Congress. In a middle- and working-class nation, Congress is a gathering of millionaires, multimillionaires and billionaires. While working-class people are a majority of our labor force and 90 million people strong, they can’t afford to run for office, and fewer and fewer rich people have ever held a working-class job. Duke University Professor Nicholas Carnes has found that since 1998, the average member of Congress has spent just 1.5 percent of his or her adult life doing any sort of service or manual labor.

Domestically, we’re divided; go global and it’s worse. In sharp contrast to the situation at his first State of the Union address four years ago, Pew Research reports that global approval of President Barack Obama’s international policies has declined significantly since he first took office, along with overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the United States. “In nearly all countries surveyed,” writes Pew, “there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes.”

Yup, killing people via robot-in-the-sky, without trial or warning, is not only, as a New York Times headline put it recently, “hazardous” for US policy goals and America’s global effectiveness, but also, as it turns out, for human life. Drones kill people and make others hate us. They’re bad for our union with the world, and it’s not just the drones, the entire war on terror has done a job on our world relations.

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State of the Union 2013: President Obama’s Complete Speech

I’ll confess.  I didn’t watch the State of the Union Speech. Instead we watched RZA’s The Man with Iron Fists.

Why?  Because I’m tired of having the man from Wall Street piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

I voted for him because he was the lesser of two evils.

We don’t have a government of the people anymore we have two right wing parties that represent the rich.

I felt totally apathetic about watching the Kabuki Show of stroking off the public.

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Ready for President Obama to Continue Leading on Climate Change

From The Natural Resources Defense Council:

Frances Beinecke
February 11, 2013

As New England digs out from a storm that left record-breaking snow and ice in its wake, people along the Mississippi River are dealing with the opposite problem: drought. Months of parched conditions have left the river at historically low levels, and the sharp drop in river transit has hit the region’s economy hard. In December and January alone, shrinking river waters put more than $7 billion worth of goods at risk of not arriving where they needed to go.

One Illinois farmer who lost half his crop in the drought last summer, told the Washington Post, “If you don’t live near the river system and see how important it is as far as commerce, it’s easy to forget about it, and what it means to the middle part of the country.”

I will remember those words as I listen to President Obama deliver the State of the Union on Tuesday night. I have the honor of attending the speech, and I am eager to hear the president talk about how we can protect American communities from drought, intense storms, and other hallmarks of climate change. For as many people along the Mississippi know, our nation is already being hit by an altered climate.

President Obama has made it clear he is committed to confronting climate change. He discussed it at length in his Inaugural Address, saying, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” He has also repeatedly said he would make climate action a top priority of his second term.

Americans from all walks of life have welcomed this leadership. Latino leaders, state legislators, faith groups, public health experts, and environmental organizations have written to the White House urging the president to move forward on climate.

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Governor Cuomo: Not One Well!

From Huffington Post:


Last Monday, I dropped everything and headed off on yet another trip to our state’s Capitol. Hoping to do my part to stop the dishonest and toxic gas industry from ravaging our beautiful state, I — along with 500 other New Yorkers who had arose before dawn to board buses bound for Albany — took up the public health battle cry, “Not One Well!”

While we rallied, a rumor of a plan was being whispered in the Capitol halls: any day now, Gov. Cuomo might allow, as a test project, 10 to 40 fracking wells for our state’s Southern Tier — a horizontal row of hilly, rural counties just above the Pennsylvania border. If you could think of New York State as home, the Southern Tier would be its brick foundation. And, indeed, its fields of produce, dairy pastures, and tourism are foundational for the state’s economy and the most vulnerable to hydrofracking.

If rumor becomes the plan that gets approval, then the residents of the Southern Tier become unwilling lab rats in our governor’s fracking experiment. It’s an experiment that risks ruin for many in the form of poisoned water, toxic air, burning flare stacks, mystery chemicals, and 24/7 noise. Why should the rest of NYS care? Because as the saying goes, “once the camel’s nose is in the tent the rest will follow. Or, the shady salesman’s got his grubby foot in the door.”

Point of entry is exactly what this industry wants, and it won’t be satisfied with a few fracking wells in the Southern Tier counties. The gas industry and their landowners coalitions have already said they will press on to open up other areas to fracking — that means most of upstate New York. In short, by permitting just a few wells in an attempt at satisfy everyone, Gov. Cuomo might just be opening the lid on a Pandora’s box nightmare. If you don’t believe me, check out what the Joint Landowners Coalition said on Friday: Cuomo, frack us or we will claim you are taking our land rights and sue you.

The best way to beat back rumors is to make sure the folks that care are heard. Thus, New Yorkers went to Albany to speak the truth. I was honored to be marching and standing alongside my New York neighbors including Arun Gandhi, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Senator Tony Avella, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, Josh Fox and 500 other beautiful and caring mothers, fathers, teachers, religious leaders and young students.

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