There is no meritocracy: It’s just the 1 percent, and the game is rigged

From Salon:

The game is rigged: We elected Obama to hold the 1 percent accountable. So why are they still running everything?

Sunday, Mar 16, 2014

The big news after President Obama’s State of the Union address in January was that he didn’t really talk about the issues of inequality that everyone expected him to talk about. Instead, he shifted the “conversation,” as we call it, toward the subject of opportunity. He shied away from the extremely disturbing fact that when you work these days only your boss prospers, and brought us back to the infinitely less disturbing fact that sometimes poor people do get ahead despite it all. In a clever oratorical maneuver, Obama illustrated this comforting idea by referencing the success stories of both himself—“the son of a single mom”—and his arch-foe, Republican House Speaker John Boehner—“the son of a barkeep.” He spoke of building “new ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” a phrase that has become a trademark for his administration.

The problem, as Obama summed it up, is that Americans have ceased to believe they can rise from the ranks. “Opportunity is who we are,” he said. “And the defining project of our generation must be to restore that promise.”

The switcheroo was subtle, but if you’ve been paying attention you couldn’t miss it: These were almost precisely the words Obama had used the month before (“The defining challenge of our time”) to describe inequality itself.

Well, the Democratic apparat heard it, and as one body did they sway and swoon. This was a move of statesmanlike genius, they said. “Opportunity” and social mobility are what Americans have always liked to hear about, they declared; “inequality” sounds like a demand for entitlements—or something much worse. “What you want to do is focus on the aspirational side of this,” said Paul Begala in a typical remark, “lifting people up, not on just complaining about a lack of fairness or inequality.”

If you’re in the right mood, you might well agree with him. In the distant past, “opportunity” used to be something of a liberal buzzword, a way of selling welfare-state inventions of every description. The reason was simple: true equality of opportunity is not possible without achieving, well, greater equality, period. If we’re really serious about opportunity—if we’re going to ensure that every poor kid has a chance in life that is the equal of every rich kid—it’s going to require a gigantic investment in public schools, in housing, in food stamps, in infrastructure, in public projects of every description. It will necessarily mean taking on the broader problem of the One Percent along the way.

But that was what the word meant long ago. It’s different today. When people talk about opportunity nowadays, they’re often not trying to refine the debate over inequality, they’re trying to negate it. The social function of mobility-talk is usually to excuse inequality, not to change it; to persuade us that the system we have now is fair and even natural—or that it can be made so with a few more charter schools or student loans or something. Because everyone has a chance at making it into the One Percent, this version of “opportunity” tells us, there’s nothing wrong with letting the One Percent hog every dish at the banquet.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on There is no meritocracy: It’s just the 1 percent, and the game is rigged

How San Francisco Betrayed Us

From Alternet:

The sidewalks are still free — until a cop cites you with “Sit/Lie”.

By Andrew Lam
March 14, 2014

I recently said goodbye to another friend who left San Francisco for greener pastures. Joanne and I have been friends for many years and it was sad to see her go. But like many of my friends who love the city, the bay with its beautiful hills and blue sky, she felt it had somehow betrayed her.

Once home to bohemians, artists and poets, San Francisco has become a city for the mega-rich and up-and-coming high-tech workers. The tension between the haves and have-nots, in fact, is rising fast where those with extraordinary wealth are buying up real estate in droves and leaving those in the middle class floundering.

“I’d love to stay if I can afford something,” Joanne said. “But if you want to raise a family, you have to go elsewhere.”

Besides, where can she find a house with a backyard garden in San Francisco on her middle class income?

According to a new study by the real estate website, Trulia, San Francisco ranks second in the nation among cities with the highest income gap. And, my hometown also tops the list of cities with the most expensive price for homes per square feet. Business Insider reports that a million dollars will buy about a 1,500-sq-foot home in San Francisco. That amount in Boston, which ranked second, would fetch a 2,092-sq-foot home.

This has become a common complaint. San Francisco — indeed, the whole Bay Area — is now facing an enormous dilemma: the economy is booming once again after a long recession, but there’s no affordable space left.

A small, 700-sq-foot, one-bedroom apartment in downtown with a view is now renting for nearly $4000. People are renting out their walk-in closets for over $1,000 a month. San Francisco, in fact, has become the city with the highest rent in the United States this year.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on How San Francisco Betrayed Us

The Inevitability of Income Inequality

From Truthdig:

By Nomi Prins
Mar 11, 2014

There’s been a lot of discussion about the historically high levels of income and wealth inequality lately—mostly from people on the shorter end of that stick—with good reason: There’s no end in sight.

In his new book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” economist Thomas Piketty argues that worsening inequality is inevitable in a mature capitalist system, based on his analysis of 200 years of data. But inequality isn’t just an evolving condition like a crippling allergy that comes and goes, or just grows, enumerated by horrifying statistics. Nor is it just the result of a capitalist-utopian idea of free markets in which everyone gets a fair shot armed with equal information (which simply don’t exist in the real world, where markets are routinely gamed by the biggest players). Inequality is endemic to the core structure of an America that operates more as a plutocracy than a democracy. It is an inherent result of the consolidation of a substantial amount of both financial power and political influence in the hands of a few families.

In my upcoming book, “All the Presidents’ Bankers,” I trace the lineage of the banking and political families and their associates who have had the most combined influence on American policy. Inequality of income or wealth is a byproduct of the predisposition and genealogy of this coterie of America’s power elite. True, being born into wealth means having a greater chance of accumulating more of it—but take it a step further. Expanding on the adage of “it takes money to make money,” we get a much better idea of why inequality is so rampant: Because aside from income and wealth issues, it takes power to keep power.

By nature of the construct and self-reinforcing behavior of a small circle of American families and their enterprises—particularly over the past century since financial capitalism replaced productive capitalism as the means to expand power, wealth and influence—a comparative handful of families and their connections run Wall Street and Washington collectively. They run America as two sides of one political-financial coin, not as divided factions but as co-influencers of policy through public and private office.

There have been times during the past century when the specific individuals commanding this joint effort paid credence to the public interest, or were imbued with more humility. During those times, levels of inequality happened to decrease. At other times, the power elite solely promoted private gain, as from WWI through the crash of 1929, and since the 1970s, particularly since the 2008 crisis. At those times,  inequality happened to grow. This is not to imply that the moods of the elite were the sole arbiters of the direction of inequality, but that whatever the direction of these levels, general economic health is more dependent on the actions of this long-term, tightknit and concentrated few than on the ideal of a democracy. In this environment of such power inequality, economic inequality is unavoidable—and unsolvable.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on The Inevitability of Income Inequality

RuPaul Stokes Anger With Use of Transphobic Slur

Drag Queens and Drag Contests are soo passé and tired.

The same can be said of Mr. RuPaul.

I just can’t bring myself to watch that sort of bullshit.  I left that whole world forty some years ago because I found the whole drag queen scene stupid and boring, preoccupied with sex and drugs sans rock and roll.

Expecting wisdom from drag queens is like expecting a pig to sing high opera.  It ain’t gonna happen.

Transsexual/transgender people have our own artists and musicians in a wide range of genres.  We should give them more support and learn to ignore the aging gay boys in strange dresses as they are nothing but a bunch of transphobic misogynistic pigs.  Let them slither back to the pits they call drag bars.

Time to move on..

From The Advocate:

The controversial drag queen makes use of the transphobic term ‘shemale’ in a segment reminiscent of Maury Povich’s ‘Man or Woman?’ episodes.

BY Parker Marie Molloy
March 18 2014

Last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race featured a contest many on Twitter are calling transphobic. The game, “Female or Shemale,” pitted the contestants against each other in a quest to determine whether they were being shown a picture of — as RuPaul phrased it — “a biological woman or a psychological woman.”

In announcing the name of the game, “female” was said in a higher-pitched tone, while “shemale” was said in a low, gruff, masculine-sounding tone. The contestants laugh as they guess whether or not the body part they’re being shown belongs to a cisgender (nontrans) woman.

The show has a long history of using the term “shemale” in various plays on words, most notably during a segment called, “You’ve Got Shemail.” In last night’s game, contestants saw pictures of cisgender women Christina Aguilera, former WWE wrestler Chyna, and “Tan Mom” Patricia Krentcil, alongside photos of well-known drag queens.

“Shemale” is a word that historically refers to transgender women, most prominent in pornography. The word originated with transgender porn and doesn’t have roots in “drag culture,” as some have argued is the case with the word “tranny.”

GLAAD’s transgender media reference guide denotes two levels of terms to avoid: problematic and defamatory. “Shemale” falls under the defamatory heading, with GLAAD officials writing that the word — along with words like “tranny,” “shim,” and “gender-bender” — “only serves to dehumanize transgender people and should not be used.”

In response to a 2013 episode of CBS’s Mike & Molly, GLAAD called out the sitcom for its use of the word “shemale,” among other problematic portions of the episode.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on RuPaul Stokes Anger With Use of Transphobic Slur

Libertarians’ ethical gap: Why their alliance with Christians is based on contempt

From Salon:

As they try to attract “values” voters, the liberty crowd seems to forget one thing: government’s moral component

Monday, Mar 17, 2014

CPAC 2014 banished its would-be atheist booth, but religion was still a fraught issue among its attendees. While the conservatives of CPAC may have cringed at the evangelizing of American Atheists, it hardly proposed a much sturdier vision of the relationship between Christianity and the evolving American right wing.

Christian leaders at the conference, including CitizenLink’s Tom Minnery and Colorado Christian University Centennial Institute director John Andrews, seemed quick to urge Christian voters to accept and support politicians with patently un-Christian positions on various social issues. But this was no typical call for acceptance of imperfection or mercy on the flawed; it was a calculated political move to try to endear libertarian candidates to erstwhile Republican values voters.

Andrews lamented that the media “are doing their utmost to create divisiveness, fractures, factions, back-biting, family squabbles, between all who believe in liberty, limited government, free enterprise, and traditional Judeo-Christian values,” and urged conservative Christian voters to view their differences with libertarian candidates as a mere “family feud.” According to Minnery, “libertarians can learn from social conservatives about the importance of basic moral principles that create the sense of ordered liberty which is so important to our country.” In other words, the two Christian leaders had in mind a kind of alliance – not unlike the initial marriage of convenience that brought together the Christian right and free market capitalists under Reagan.

But at least when the Reaganite revolution brought Christian values voters and free marketeers together, the profit-driven sect of the Republican Party was willing to campaign for the maintenance of some Christian political principles, such as the sanctity of life and the primacy of the family. CPAC’s message takes the alliance a step further from its Christian commitments by suggesting, more or less, that Christian values are negotiable so long as policies intended to bolster free market capitalism are upheld.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Libertarians’ ethical gap: Why their alliance with Christians is based on contempt

Anti-Semitic Hate Monger Franklin Graham praises Putin as better than Obama on LGBT issues

From Raw Story:

By Travis Gettys
Monday, March 17, 2014

Evangelist Franklin Graham is the latest conservative to praise Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggressive crackdown on LGBT people.

Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association started by his father, credited Putin in the March issue of his group’s Decision magazine with protecting children from gay “propaganda” by signing a bill imposing fines on adults who discuss same-sex relationships in a non-negative way.

On the other hand, Graham wrote, President Barack Obama had sold himself out to promote “the gay-lesbian agenda.”

Graham claims he’s not endorsing Putin, mentioning that he’s never heard the Russian president quote a Bible verse and cites unspecified “controversies” in his personal life.

But he praises Putin as a “commanding presence” who is right to equate homosexuality with pedophilia in the law.

“Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue — protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda — Russia’s standard is higher than our own?” Graham wrote.

The column was published Feb. 28, the day after Russian sent troops into Crimea.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Anti-Semitic Hate Monger Franklin Graham praises Putin as better than Obama on LGBT issues

Dragnet Nation: A Quest For Privacy, Security And Freedom In A World Of Relentless Surveillance

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Dragnet Nation: A Quest For Privacy, Security And Freedom In A World Of Relentless Surveillance