Friday Night Fun and Culture: Stevie Nicks

Monica Robert’s “Stealth Doesn’t Help The Trans Community”

I get tired of over arching pronouncement from both the HBS Faction and the Transgender as Total Identity Faction.

There are a ton of things that don’t help the Transgender Community and to Monica’s credit she often attacks the racism and classism that is all too prevalent as well.

But, Stealth Doesn’t Help The Trans Community, isn’t exactly the same thing.

Stealth or at the very least controlling who one discloses to is a survival skill that allows many of us to have jobs, albeit shitty jobs on the concrete floors of big box stores.

Stealth allows us to live outside of ghettos without having our windows broken and/or our cars trashed by bigots.

But here’s the kicker…  If you are on computers, social media sites or blogs proclaiming how stealth you are you aren’t as stealth as you may think you are.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that some people come out, go to their therapist, see their doctors, get their surgery and are never activist, indeed really never hang out in or get involved with “the community.”  They may not be actively helping “The Community” but neither are they harming it.

They aren’t consuming time or resources others who are perhaps needier get instead.

Some one who is stealth isn’t contributing to the interminable transwars.

At the same time there are people out there whose actions actually do harm the “Trans-Community.”

People like the silicone pumpers.

The drug dealers including hormone sellers who reuse needles.

The attention seekers who use activism as a means of self promotion.

Those who deny the issues of prostitution and substance abuse within the Trans Communities.

Those who act as though racism and classism don’t exist within the trans-communities as well as within the greater community.

Those who condemn sisters and brothers for having political interests or even personal interests that go beyond the trans-specific issues the “Community” defines as being the most important.

Those who attack people for burn out with the “Trans Community” and its needs, as though people do not have a right to have a personal life or to take care of personal needs.

I left a Facebook group earlier this week, one for Trans Professionals, the classism was too much to swallow.  There are too many “professionals” out there who expect to keep every bit of their privilege when they transition.  As part of the working class and as someone who is older I have met too many people with advanced degrees living in out sourced, part time hell.  I fail to see non-discrimination measures that let corporate suits keep their power positions as the real problem.

On the other hand workers rights and effective laws that prevent the displacement of workers for any number of reasons including being trans are an issue.  Ending “At Will Employment” is and should be a real goal.  Restoring the unions to prominence should be a goal.

As for me I have the Summertime Blues and the last thing I need to do is fight with people I often agree with.


Inequality is real, it’s personal, it’s expensive and it was created

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When Will Americans Resist?

World News Trust:

Mickey Z. — World News Trust
July 1, 2013

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

– Tyler Durden

When I posted a photo of just some of the 33 million (!) Egyptian protestors who took the streets in late June, inevitably, the comments led us in the direction of this musing: Why can’t we get even 33 Americans to show up at a rally on a regular basis?

A friend suggested I write about this and I suddenly recalled that I’d once before addressed this topic — in early 2009. The resulting article reflected my frustrated state of deep cynicism at that time. While the connections I’ve made and experiences I’ve shared via Occupy Wall Street since then have helped make me a less pessimistic commentator, I still feel there’s value in the angry (bitter?) words I wrote more than four years ago.

“Protest” is definitely not a verb in the United States
I began the article by defining the term “protest” (definitely not a verb) as it pertains to the United States:

“Wait for UFPJ or ANSWER to stage a parade (I mean, demonstration) on a weekend afternoon so no one misses work or school or in any way disrupts the flow of commerce. Don’t make a sign; the organizers will make one for you. March in an orderly fashion, be polite to the occupying army (I mean, cops), and be sure to stay in designated free speech zones. Blame the Republicans. Wear costumes. Make puppets. Exclude anarchists. Hold a candlelight vigil. Sign a petition. Chant. Vote for a Democrat and hope for change. Need I continue?”

(My use of the word “occupying” makes me grin now, and a caveat: I’ve turned 180 degrees on the use of costumes and puppets. They put the reach in outreach!)

The question I posed in 2009 has become more urgent than ever: “With the stakes never higher than they are now, why aren’t activists ramping up the pressure and looking beyond tactics that are allowed by those in power?”

In the article, I ventured “five guesses” to answer my own query:

1. We are trained to believe that nothing major is wrong. Climate change? Economic meltdown? Epidemics of preventable diseases? Slavery, genocide, ecocide? You name it and we’re ready to downplay it. We’re Americans, goddammit, we’ll figure out a way to fix it. When the going gets tough, we’ll call the experts.

2. We are trained to leave it to experts. Rather than worry our little heads over why 150-200 plant and animal species go extinct each day, we rely on experts. Instead of learning what a “collateralized-debt obligation” is and how it contributed to the current economic depression, just let the professionals handle the mess. Besides, such delegation frees up much more time to watch TV and update our Facebook pages.

(Note: I wasn’t even on Facebook back then.)

3. We are trained to embrace non-violence. All the real heroes would never raise a fist in anger: Jesus, MLK, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, etc. Sure, the government and its corporate owners are taking away all our rights and all our money. They’re poisoning our air, water, and food while crafting laws that make prison a looming possibility, but the moment we contemplate anything more than a non-violent response, we become worse than any of them. Ain’t that right?

4. We feel too damn privileged to risk prison (or worse). The average Gaza resident doesn’t have the luxury of wondering if their resistance could result in arrest and thus perhaps ruin their reputation. The average American? Well, that’s a different story. I can’t defy insane laws designed to squash protest. I might get arrested and that means close proximity to all those scary criminals and it also means hurting my chances of landing a good job and maybe even losing all my respectable friends. I mean, I’m an activist and all but that’s asking way too much. Who do you think I am, Mandela?

5. We’re fuckin’ cowards. Our acquiescence in a disturbingly broad range of areas appears to have no limits. Americans love to talk the talk about being fearless and tough but when ordered to remove our shoes before going through airport security, it’s “yes sir” all the way. We know things have passed the proverbial tipping point and that immediate action is 100 percent needed and justified, but we’re far too spineless to do anything that might get us in trouble. Somehow, it’s more terrifying for any of us to face down a cop than it is to contemplate the total destruction of our earthly eco-system.


After all that, I summed up: “If it’s true, as Gandhi stated, that “action expresses priorities,” we American activists clearly aren’t overly concerned about the future.”

Lurking beneath such snark, however, I knew there was much more to it than “expressing priorities.”

“Force is always on side of the governed”
In the Doors song, “Five to One,” Jim Morrison wrote:

“The old get old/And the young get stronger

“May take a week/And it may take longer

“They got the guns/But we got the numbers

“Gonna win, yeah/We’re takin’ over”

There was a time when I took youthful solace in the whole “we got the numbers” thing. The very idea filled with me confidence… but eventually I came to see that the ones with the guns figured it out a long, long time ago.

Philosopher David Hume — in 1758 — explained it this way: “As force is always on side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is, therefore, on opinion only that government is founded and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments as well as to the most free and most popular.”

“The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world,” wrote Gore Vidal. “No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity — much less dissent.”

“We” still have the numbers. Morrison’s “they,” however, give no indication they’ll be surrendering their guns any time soon. As a result, dissent in America is pretty much limited to methods (at least in their safe-for-mass-consumption versions) are deemed “legal” by those with the guns and, in their own way, legitimize the power held by those with the guns.

Thus, all such tactics are essentially ineffectual in terms of provoking systemic, long-term change. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why you haven’t taken your rebellion beyond the methods listed above. Your answer is likely the same as mine: “We’ve got the numbers but, well, they’ve got the guns.”

What the Egyptians may have figured out is how to lure in the military so they’d have the numbers and the guns. While I have virtually zero confidence we can de-program those in U.S. law enforcement — from local municipalities to the federal level — any time soon, there already are many veterans who now identify as activists and/or occupiers.

It’s a start… but also a far cry from 33 million on the streets with army support.

Nothing left to lose
“We are all going to die. The issue is how we live. What we do matters.”

– Jed Brandt

Which brings us back to the question, the literal title of this article. To try answering, let’s return to reason #4 listed above — the bit about being “too privileged” to protest — and to Hume’s mention of the governors having “nothing to support them but opinion.”

The brilliance of the 1% has been to convince nearly everyone else that they “have too much to lose” to risk fighting for a better world. Thus, it’s our job to turn the tables with some counter-conditioning.

It’s our job to make clear the simple yet frightening reality that we have virtually nothing left to lose. Do I exaggerate? Consider this…

We’ve already lost access to clean water, breathable air, healthy food and thus face an epidemic of preventable but deadly diseases and conditions… we’ve already lost 90 percent of the large fish and 80 percent of the forests… we lose 150-200 plant and animal species every single day…we’ve already lost the freedom to send an e-mail, make a phone call, mail a letter, or even walk down the street without being spied on and/or repressed…and we’ve practically lost our goddamned souls as we offer silent consent to all the above and so much more (like wars waged in our name).

We lose something each time we step over a homeless person to enter a store that sells the remains of tortured and murdered animals or products made in sweatshops or toxins disguised as commodities.

We lose something each time we tune out the call to revolution and focus instead on our televisions, our computers, and our smart phones.

We lose something each time we choose denial, apathy, or indifference instead of awareness, solidarity, and action.

So, please don’t talk about how you have “too much to lose” to risk becoming an activist, a target of the state, to take to the streets and demand change, to put your ass on the line.

As Jim Morrison also sang: “No one here gets out alive.” If we’re all on borrowed time, it’s our duty to make the best use of each and every minute.

After all, we truly have only one thing left to lose. It’s called “the future.” In other words, we have everything to gain.



Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.

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The ‘religious freedom’ ploy to block healthcare coverage of birth control

From The Guardian UK:

Rightwing Christians are abusing the right to religious liberty to impose their views on others and restrict access to contraception, Friday 5 July 2013

Freedom and liberty should be fairly simple: you don’t step on my toes or impede my right to live according to my belief system, and I’ll do the same. Unfortunately, reality is a bit more complicated than that, especially where religion is concerned. Increasingly, rightwing Christians aren’t happy with being allowed to practice their own religion without interference; they want the right to mandate their beliefs across the board and call it “religious freedom”.

The conservative reaction to the Obama administration‘s contraceptive policy is case is point. Although 99% of American women who have had sex have also used contraception and the vast majority of Americans support contraceptive access, a small handful of religious organizations and individuals oppose the use of birth control and don’t want it offered in employee health plans.

The Obama administration came up with a compromise: houses of worship don’t have to include contraceptive coverage in their employees’ health plans. If there are other religious non-profits that object to contraception, they can be totally hands-off when it comes to birth control coverage; they won’t have to pay for contraceptive coverage, nor will they have to contract or arrange for it. A third party will come in and formulate separate plans that cover contraception for employees at those institutions.

In other words, employees will have the right to affordable contraception if they want it, but employers that have a legitimate religious objection won’t have to pay for it or otherwise take steps to obtain it to their employees. We’re not talking about churches here; we’re talking about religiously-affiliated non-profits, like hospitals, charities, social services groups and universities, which employ large numbers of people who don’t share the religious beliefs of the owners.

So, the folks who oppose contraception don’t have to pay for or use it, and the folks who are fine with it can see it treated like any other medication under their health plan. For-profit companies that happen to be owned by religious people don’t qualify for the exemption. So, just because your boss has a particular view of a certain medication doesn’t mean he gets to decide that the company’s health plan won’t cover it.

Sounds fair, right?

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Health In United States Is Only ‘Mediocre’ According To New Report

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 07/10/2013

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO, July 10 (Reuters) – The United States is falling behind its economic peers in most measures of health, despite making gains in the past two decades, according to a sweeping study of data from 34 countries.

Although Americans are living longer, with overall U.S. life expectancy increasing to 78.2 in 2010 from 75.2 in 1990, increases in psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and conditions that cause back, muscle and joint pain mean many do not feel well enough to enjoy those added years of life.

“Despite a level of health expenditures that would have seemed unthinkable a generation ago, the health of the U.S. population has improved only gradually and has fallen behind the pace of progress in many other wealthy nations,” Dr. Harvey Fineberg of the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C., wrote in an editorial published on Wednesday with the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle is the first comprehensive analysis of disease burden in the United States in more than 15 years. It includes estimates for death and disability from 291 diseases, conditions, and injuries as well as 67 risk factors.

It is one of three new papers by the institute being released simultaneously at the request of first lady Michelle Obama, who plans to present the findings to mayors of U.S. cities in an invitation-only event at the White House as part of her campaign to improve the nation’s health.

They add to a growing pile of research showing that despite lavish spending on healthcare in the United States, Americans are failing to make significant gains in many measures of overall health.

In a 2010 report by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, the United States, despite spending twice as much on healthcare, came in dead last compared with six peers – Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.

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WalMart…pay a living wage or get out!

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State Dept Contractor ERM Lied About TransCanada Ties, Another Fatal Flaw of Environmental Review

From Desmogblog:

Steve Horn
Wed, 2013-07-10

The contractor the Obama U.S. State Department hired for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) of the northern half of TransCanada’s Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands export pipeline overtly lied on its conflict-of-interest disclosure form that it signed and handed to State in June 2012.

A major research dossier unfurled today by Friends of the Earth-U.S. (FOE-U.S.) and The Checks & Balances Project (CBP) shows that Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM Group) played “Pinocchio” in explaining its ties – or as they say, lack thereof – to Big Oil, tar sands and TransCanada in particular on its conflict-of-interest form.

The two groups dug deep and revealed State’s contractor ERM and its subsidiary Oasis Environmental both have ongoing contractual relationships with the Alaska Gas Project – now known as the South Central LNG Project – co-owned by TransCanada, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP. Further, ERM’s Socioeconomic Advisor Mark Jennings served as a “Consultant to ExxonMobil Development Company for the Alaska Pipeline Project, according to his now-scrubbed LinkedIn profile.

ERM’s own documents – FOE-U.S. and CBP further explain – also reveal the multinational firm has business ties with over a dozen companies active in the Alberta tar sands, including Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Total and Syncrude.

On its conflict-of-interest form, ERM said it had no “direct or indirect relationship … with any business entity that could be affected in any way by the proposed work.” Clearly, that’s far from the case.

In March, ERM Group – a City of London-based dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute (API) with a history of rubber-stamping ecologically hazardous oil and gas infrastructure projects – said KXL’s northern half “is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development” of the tar sands in its SEIS. Thus, it will also have little impact on climate change, according to ERM’s SEIS, contracted out by TransCanada on behalf of the State Department.

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