Making Labor Pay

From Dollars and Sense: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2012/0912sciacchitano.html

Recent battles in Wisconsin and San Jose show why we need universal pensions.

By Katherine Sciacchitano

This article is from the September/October 2012 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine.

The political economy of the recovery is making the United States even more unequal than it was during the bubble years. Incomes fell across the board during the crisis: median family income is 6.3% below what it was in 2001. But the top 1% garnered 93% of income growth in the first year of recovery. Housing, still the main source of wealth for middle-income families, remains depressed while stocks are close to pre-crash highs. Moreover, the drive for more tax cuts for the wealthy continues. And policy initiatives to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would weaken the safety net even as it is most needed.

A spate of attacks on state and local public-sector pensions now threatens to make inequality even more entrenched and painful, and to undermine both short- and long-term economic growth.

The power of labor is dead center in this agenda. Despite a long-term decline in workers covered by union contracts, unions have over 16 million members: they are still the social force most capable of combating the assault on workers’ incomes and militating for greater equality. Crippling their political power therefore remains both a tactical and a strategic objective on the right. With only 6.9% of workers in the private sector covered by union contracts, versus 37% in the public sector, public-sector unions are bearing the brunt of the attacks. And public pensions are the battering ram.

Attacking Unions, Eroding Pensions

The trip wire for the assault on pensions was the combined fall in state and local revenues from the bursting of the housing bubble, and the steep losses suffered by pension funds during the resulting stock market slide of 2007-2009: by 2010 there were widely acknowledged public pension funding shortfalls totaling nearly $800 billion

While pension funds are slowly making back market losses, conservative advocates like Andrew Biggs at the American Enterprise Institute are arguing for new measures of shortfalls that would bring them to over $4 trillion, and using this $4 trillion figure to call for a national movement to slash both public-sector pensions and union rights. The implicit threat is that taxpayers will have to pay these trillions now and into the future, even though they themselves may not have pensions. The stated policy objective is to convince taxpayers and politicians that defined benefit pensions are too expensive in the public sector and should be replaced with defined contribution plans.

Defined benefit pensions are a form of deferred compensation—pay for work performed; they provide guaranteed lifetime payments in retirement. Defined-contribution plans give workers tax breaks for individual savings; workers invest these savings and then pray they don’t run out. Over the past three decades, defined benefit pensions have been nearly eradicated in the private sector for non-union workers; their abandonment in the public sector would effectively end defined benefit pensions as a norm for retirement security and shift the burden of retirement savings almost entirely to individuals.

Continue reading at:  http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2012/0912sciacchitano.html

Posted in Class War, Corporate Abuse, Economic Issues, Employment, Hard Times, Human Rights. Comments Off on Making Labor Pay

Did slaves catch your seafood?

From Salon:   http://www.salon.com/2012/05/21/did_slaves_catch_your_seafood/singleton/

Thailand, a major source of fish imported to the US, depends on forced labor for its product

By , GlobalPost
Monday, May 21, 2012

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

PREY VENG, Cambodia, and SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand — In the sun-baked flatlands of Cambodia, where dust stings the eyes and chokes the pores, there is a tiny clapboard house on cement stilts. It is home to three generations of runaway slaves.

The man of the house, Sokha, recently returned after nearly two years in captivity. His home is just as he left it: barren with a few dirty pillows passing for furniture. Slivers of daylight glow through cracks in the walls. The family’s most valuable possession, a sow, waddles and snorts beneath the elevated floorboards.

Before his December escape, Sokha (a pseudonym) was the property of a deep-sea trawler captain. The 39-year-old Cambodian, his teenage son and two young nephews were purchased for roughly $650, he said, each through brokers promising under-the-table jobs in a fish cannery.

There was no cannery. They were instead smuggled to a pier in neighboring Thailand, where they were shoved aboard a wooden vessel that motored into a lawless sea. His uncle had fallen for the same scam five years prior and escaped to warn the others. But Sokha told his son, then just 16, that this venture would turn out differently. He was wrong.

“We worked constantly, for no pay, through seasickness and vomiting, sometimes for two or three days straight,” he said. “We obeyed the captain’s every word.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/05/21/did_slaves_catch_your_seafood/singleton/

Posted in Abuse, Class War, Fascism, Globalization, Hard Times, Human Rights, Nazism, Slavery, Workers. Comments Off on Did slaves catch your seafood?

The First Domino Falls in Greece

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/21-2

by Shamus Cooke
Published on Monday, May 21, 2012 by Common Dreams

Greece’s situation is not an isolated event, but a bellwether for the industrial world and beyond. The fallout from the 2008 global crisis hasn’t reached bottom yet, and the depths will be dug deeper as the Euro crisis spreads — political crisis will create economic crisis and vice versa, as periods of calm and stability are replaced by international turmoil and panic.

The media and politicians have portrayed the Greeks as indolent and stupid, refusing to swallow the economic medicine needed for a healthy recovery. But the austerity medicine of the bankers — slashing and privatizing the public sector, cutting wages and benefits, mass layoffs, etc. — is a cure that threatens to kill.

What will happen in Greece? Its future was hinted at in the last elections. The centrist parties were devastated by the reality of economic extremes; the “middle ground” simply fell out from under them, since society had been torn asunder by the inequality of the very rich versus everybody else.

In consequence, the radical left party SYRIZA is polled to come in first in the next elections, based on its firm stance against austerity and its uncompromising attitude against the bankers of Greece and beyond. The corporate politicians wanted SYRIZA to take part in a “unity government” that would magically rebuild the country’s lost middle ground and continue the pro-banker austerity policies.

But unity in an economically polarized country like Greece is impossible, especially when the continued existence of the bankers and wealthy rests on the continued suffering of everybody else.

Since unity failed during the last elections, Greek “technocrats” are now overseeing the government until the next elections. What is a technocrat? Someone who supposedly lacks any class bias; the professional strata of professors, lawyers, or doctors that attempt to sit astride an uneven society perfectly balanced, blind to special interests, while keeping their sights set on the “national interest.” But the Greek technocrats are continuing the wealthy’s austerity program, exposing their fake objectivity.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/21-2

Posted in Anti-Globalization, Austerity, Class War, Corporate Abuse, Fascism, Globalization, Human Rights, Workers. Comments Off on The First Domino Falls in Greece

Trans Canadians fight for recognition on legal documents

Lately they’ve started requiring a passport to cross the boarder between the US and Canada. An extra expense for working people who live along the border.

But for pre-op TS folks or TG folks this becomes an oppressive burden due to their being denied passports that reflect the gender they live full time. I know this tread the line between sex/gender but when people commit to living full time as a member of a particular sex even if they don’t actually have SRS to become a member of that sex it seems a matter of human rights to permit them necessary identification documents that do not place an extra burden upon them by automatically revealing their being TS/TG to petty bureaucratic border enforcement officers.

I’m tired of the government spending so much energy on snooping in the lives of individual citizens while they totally ignore the crimes of the corporations and rich.

From Xtra Canada: http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Trans_Canadians_fight_for_recognition_on_legal_documents-11256.aspx

Andrea Houston
Sunday, December 18, 2011

Talia Johnson is nervous to travel. One look at her passport tells a border guard everything they need to know about her gender status.

Johnson, who has had her name legally changed, now wants to change the sex designation on her passport – a simple correction from “m” to “f” – to ensure all her documents accurately reflect her gender.

The federal government says trans people must undergo sexual reassignment surgery (SRS), or provide a letter guaranteeing the procedure will take place within a year.

The Ottawa resident has not yet had SRS, mainly due to the financial cost of the surgery. She would also have to take time off work and travel to Toronto. “The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto is the only organization in Ontario that offers SRS. There is a long wait and it’s not easy to get.

“The status now is I don’t have a passport. Without the sex designation change, trans people are put in constant danger while traveling under the assumed sex. At this point in my life, I will have trouble if I travel.”

Susan Gapka, chair of the Trans Health Lobby Group, has been working on this issue for years. Her group is pushing to make transitioning easier by opening up access to SRS and removing the red tape around changing legal documents.

“If your legal documents don’t match at the border there could be problems,” Gapka says. “I have had bad experiences at the airport. You can be singled out for looking different. A police officer could ask questions. It opens the door to harassment and discrimination.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Trans_Canadians_fight_for_recognition_on_legal_documents-11256.aspx

Posted in Civil Rights, Equal Treatment, Human Rights. Tags: , . Comments Off on Trans Canadians fight for recognition on legal documents

Oral Arguments Heard in Golinski DOMA Case

From Frontiers LA: http://www.frontiersla.com/Blog/FrontierBlog/blogentry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10327929

By Karen Ocamb
December 16, 2011

The Obama administration appears to be keeping its word regarding the Defense of Marriage.

On Thursday, Dec. 15, the Dept. of Homeland Security agreed to join in a motion with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”)—according to Immigration Equality—to stop the removal of Michael Thomas, whose legal marriage to Massachusetts resident John Brandoli did not prevent the threat deportation because of the Defense of Marriage Act. The government has also closed cases for other binational couples—though others still have not yet been so lucky, according to Stop the Deportations.

While Michael and John celebrated on the East Coast, Friday on the West Coast, in San Francisco, federal employee Karen Golinski—who has been fighting for years to secure health insurance for her wife Amy Cunninghis—found that the DOJ sent one of its top senior lawyers to help argue in U.S. District Court that DOMA is unconstitutional.

Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner has been following the story. Here’s an excerpt from his excellent report:

Golinski’s case, which began as an ordinary request to include her wife, Amy Cunninghis, on her federal employee health insurance plan, became, initially, a dispute between the branches of government about how court employees are managed—and who can do so. Since then, however, it has evolved into its current status as a challenge to DOMA.

Continue reading at:  http://www.frontiersla.com/Blog/FrontierBlog/blogentry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10327929

Posted in Civil Rights, Equal Treatment, Human Rights. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Oral Arguments Heard in Golinski DOMA Case

Obama’s “Mission Accomplished”

From Ted Rall:   http://www.rall.com/rallblog/2011/12/15/syndicated-column-obamas-mission-accomplished

Posted by Ted Rall
December 15th, 2011

Wars and Prisons Move, Wars and Torture Never Ends

Most Americans—68 percent—oppose the war against Iraq, according to a November 2011 CNN poll. So it’s smart politics for President Obama to take credit for withdrawing U.S. troops.

As it often is, the Associated Press’ coverage was slyly subversive: “This, in essence, is Obama’s mission accomplished: Getting out of Iraq as promised under solid enough circumstances and making sure to remind voters that he did what he said.”

Obama’s 2008 campaign began by speaking out against the war in Iraq. (Aggression in Afghanistan, on the other hand, was not only desirable but ought to be expanded.) However, actions never matched his words. On vote after vote in the U.S. Senate Obama supported the war. Every time.

As president, Obama has claimed credit for a December 2011 withdrawal deadline negotiated by his predecessor George W. Bush—a timeline he wanted to protract. If the Iraqi government hadn’t refused to extend immunity from prosecution to U.S. forces, this month’s withdrawal would not have happened.

“Today I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” Obama bragged reporters on October 24th.

The UK Guardian noted: “But he had already announced this earlier this year, and the real significance today was in the failure of Obama, in spite of the cost to the U.S. in dollars and deaths, to persuade the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to allow one or more American bases to be kept in the country.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.rall.com/rallblog/2011/12/15/syndicated-column-obamas-mission-accomplished

Posted in Constitutional Rights, Human Rights, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Obama’s “Mission Accomplished”

Die-In tonight; Tomorrow is International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers

From Feministe: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/16/die-in-tonight-tomorrow-is-international-day-to-end-violence-against-sex-workers/

by Clarisse Thorn
on 12.16.2011

Reposted with Permission

Tomorrow is the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers. For some 2011 event locations, click here.

Sex Worker Activists, Allies and You has a bunch of great links and 101 materials about sex workers’ rights.

Here in Chicago, the Sex Workers Outreach Project is holding a Die-In tonight and another event tomorrow at the best feminist site ever, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum:

“STOP SHAMING US TO DEATH”
Die-in Action for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Hosted by: Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Chicago
When: Friday, December 16, 2011 at 11:45 AM
Where: 18th and State Street, in front of the Chicago Police Department in the South Loop
Who: Current & former sex workers, allies, friends, families, and communities.

Join SWOP-Chicago in a die-in action to protest violence committed against sex workers

Chicago — On December 16th, sex workers and their allies in the Chicago area will gather at the Chicago Police Department for a “die-in” action. Participants will fall to the ground “dead” holding signs bearing our messages. Through this action, we hope to raise awareness of the violence committed against sex workers and other marginalized groups. Law enforcement, those whose job it is to “serve and protect,” often either ignores violence committed against these groups, or is a direct perpetrator. IT IS TIME FOR THIS VIOLENCE TO STOP.

This event is part of the annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. On the following day, Saturday, December 17th, sex workers and their allies will gather at vigils around the world to commemorate the annual Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, honoring sex workers who have died at the hands of violent crimes, and declaring an end to all violence against sex workers.

PLEASE JOIN US AT THIS IMPORTANT EVENT! And don’t forget to dress appropriately for the weather conditions!

And here’s the info about the Saturday December 17 event.

Feel free to link to your own posts about sex work, the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers, and relevant events in the comments.

Posted in Civil Rights, Economic Issues, Feminist, Human Rights, Murders, Police Abuse, Rape, Sex Workers, Sexual Assault, Social Justice, Violence. Comments Off on Die-In tonight; Tomorrow is International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers

Congressional Tyranny, White House Surrender

From Common Dreams:   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/15-0

by Ralph Nader
Published on Thursday, December 15, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Paraphrasing Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of Capitol Hill. A majority of Congress is just about to put the finishing touches on an amendment to the military budget authorization legislation that will finish off some critical American rights under our Constitution.

Here is how two retired 4 star marine generals, Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar, described in the New York Times the stripmining of your freedom to resist tyranny in urging a veto by President Obama:

“One provision would authorize the military to indefinitely detain without charge people suspected of involvement with terrorism, including United States citizens apprehended on American soil. Due process would be a thing of the past….

“A second provision would mandate military custody for most terrorism suspects. It would force on the military responsibilities it hasn’t sought”…. “for domestic law enforcement….”

“A third provision would further extend a ban on transfers from Guantanamo, ensuring that this morally and financially expensive symbol of detainee abuse will remain open well into the future.”

All of Obama’s leading military and security officials oppose this codification of the ultimate Big Brother power. Imagine allowing the government to deny people accused of involvement with terrorism (undefined), including U.S. citizens arrested within the United States, the right to a trial by jury. Imagine allowing indefinite imprisonment for those accused without even proffering charges against them. Goodbye 5th and 6th Amendments.

Continue reading at:   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/15-0

Posted in Civil Rights, Constitutional Rights, Fascism, Human Rights. Comments Off on Congressional Tyranny, White House Surrender

There Goes the Republic

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/there_goes_the_republic_20111214/

By Robert Scheer
Posted on Dec 15, 2011

Once again the gods of war have united our Congress like nothing else. Unable to agree on the minimal spending necessary to save our economy, schools, medical system or infrastructure, the cowards who mislead us have retreated to the irrationalities of what George Washington in his farewell address condemned as “pretended patriotism.”

The defense authorization bill that Congress passed and President Obama had threatened to veto will soon become law, a fact that should be met with public outrage. Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth, responding to Obama’s craven collapse on the bill’s most controversial provision, said, “By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law.” On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney claimed “the most recent changes give the president additional discretion in determining how the law will be implemented, consistent with our values and the rule of law, which are at the heart of our country’s strength.”

What rubbish, coming from a president who taught constitutional law. The point is not to hock our civil liberty to the discretion of the president, but rather to guarantee our freedoms even if a Dick Cheney or Newt Gingrich should attain the highest office.

Sadly, this flagrant subversion of the constitutionally guaranteed right to due process of law was opposed in the Senate by only seven senators, including libertarian Republican Rand Paul and progressive Independent Bernie Sanders.

That onerous provision of the defense budget bill, much discussed on the Internet but far less so in the mass media, assumes a permanent war against terrorism that extends the battlefield to our homeland. It reeks of a militarized state that threatens the foundations of our republican form of government.

Continue reading at:   http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/there_goes_the_republic_20111214/

Woman Jailed, Ostracized After Resorting to Self-Administered Abortion: What Is This, Puritan America?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/153433/woman_jailed%2C_ostracized_after_resorting_to_self-administered_abortion%3A_what_is_this%2C_puritan_america/

When we deprive women of access to abortion, shun them, and even throw them in jail, we as a society become weaker.

By Amanda Marcotte 
December 14, 2011

Jennie McCormack, a resident of Idaho and a mother of three, has spent the past few months of her life in a legal and social situation that calls to mind the trials of Hester Pyrnne, the heroine of The Scarlet LetterAs reported by Nancy Hass of Newsweek, McCormack’s ordeal started when she learned she was pregnant by a man who was doing time for robbery.

Realizing that she couldn’t afford another baby, nor the $500 fee and two trips to get an abortion (because Idaho requires women to wait 24 hours after their first visit to the doctor to “think it over”), McCormack resorted to buying RU-486 from a vendor online. The police eventually arrested McCormack and charged her with an illegal abortion, claiming that she was over Idaho’s legal limit of 20 weeks for an abortion. Since the exact gestational age can’t be determined, charges have been dropped for now, but prosecutors are retaining the right to re-charge McCormack. In the meantime, she’s become a pariah in her community, been fired from her job, and even had to face social workers who are basically denying her aid to care for her children.

Even in super-liberal New York City, a woman is being prosecuted (albeit in a less drastic way) for a self-abortion after the legal limit. The desperate woman, accused of aborting after six months, threw the fetus in a trash can, presumably because she was not aware of her other options for disposing of it.

In the United States, abortion is technically a legal right, but as these cases show, it’s not functionally a right. If abortion were actually a right, women wouldn’t have such a difficult time getting a legal abortion that they resort to drastic measures that land them in jail. These cases demonstrate why abortion needs to be more than a right for those who have the means to jump through all the hoops put in place to keep them from obtaining legal abortions. Making sure women who want abortions can get them in a timely and safe fashion helps more than the women in question. We all do better if women can get the abortions that are supposedly their right.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/153433/woman_jailed%2C_ostracized_after_resorting_to_self-administered_abortion%3A_what_is_this%2C_puritan_america/

Posted in Abortion, Christo-Fascism, Civil Rights, Health Care, Human Rights, Legal Issues, Misogyny, Reproductive Rights. Tags: , . Comments Off on Woman Jailed, Ostracized After Resorting to Self-Administered Abortion: What Is This, Puritan America?

Woman files lawsuit because she can’t harass transgender customers

It is a shame that the first thing one thinks when someone proclaims themselves to be a “Christian” is, “There stands a delusional person who is a bigot and a compulsive liar.”

Particularly when they describe themselves as born again, or “religious”.  Get ready for the bigoted lies and bullshit to start flowing.

I’m tired of Christo-Fascist bullying of business that try to be fair and respect the rights and dignity of minorities.

See first the original story:  Woman files lawsuit because she can’t harass transgender customers

From Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters:  http://holybulliesandheadlessmonsters.blogspot.com/2011/12/mat-staver-liberty-counsel-doubles-down.html

Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel doubles down on implausible story against Macy’s

By Alvin McEwen
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reposted with permission

As Mat Staver and the Liberty Counsel continue milk the case of the former Macy’s employee who was fired for harassing a transgender customer, one has to wonder are they reading their own press.

Yesterday, I pointed out how Staver and the employee, Natalie Johnson, conducted several interviews in which they tried to whitewash the fact that Johnson’s actions violated Macy’s policy and that concerns about “religious liberty” and “men in women’s changing rooms” were a pitiful dodges.

I even hinted that the Liberty Counsel was “conjuring up” a story of an “anonymous” Macy’s employee troubled by the policy.

But in an interview with the phony news service One News Now today, Staver seems to be sticking to that story and making up new ones:

Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, now tells OneNewsNow that an employee of another store has told him she has persistent problems keeping men out of the women’s fitting room.

However, that’s not exactly what the Liberty Counsel said yesterday on its blog:

The employee said she constantly has to ask men to leave the women’s fitting rooms.

It may seem like an insignificant jump from “asking men to leave women’s fitting rooms” to “having persistent problems keeping men out of women’s fitting rooms,” but this jump only elucidates the questions I asked yesterday.

Those questions were:

Were these transgender women, rather than men accompanying their loved ones? These are two totally different situations.

And if these were transgender women, what are the odds of this employee having the ability to violate company policy without losing her job? If this woman had been truly asking transgender women to leave the fitting rooms, we would be hearing about this before now.

If this anonymous employee has had  “persistent problems” with transgender customers, then that would mean there was in fact conflict between her and those customers. And if this is the case, I refuse to believe that several transgender women in different cases would allow themselves to be disrespected and not complain, especially when the store policy is in their favor.

How is this woman continuing to keep her job in light of this possibility? Or does this woman even exist?

Then Staver tries to make it seem that there is a groundswell of negative reactions to Macy’s policy:

According to Liberty Counsel, the public is reacting.

“Consistently the people of America are saying that they will not shop at Macy’s,” explains Staver. “They’re tearing up their Macy’s credit cards, they’re sending back their Macy’s gift cards, they say that they will not shop at Macy’s — and this is a consistent response that we’re seeing from the public around the country.”

The Liberty Counsel founder says customers are “literally outraged and shocked” at Macy’s policy.

Staver conveniently doesn’t provide proof of this claim, just like neither he nor the Liberty Counsel has provided proof of the existence of the anonymous Macy’s employee.

To reiterate, I smell a rat.

Email Macy’s and send the company your support for standing up for our rights and dignity. And most of all, tell Macy’s to not back down. 

Apparently, Beating Your Child Now Is All The Rage

From The New Civil rights Movement:    http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/apparently-beating-your-child-now-is-all-the-rage/discrimination/2011/12/14/31826

by David Badash
December 14, 2011

While I didn’t have a glorious and candy-​coated childhood, I did have it pretty good. And I’ll confess to being pretty lucky — lucky enough to have two parents who never beat me. Beating your child is morally wrong, but sadly, corporal punishment — “the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable” — is apparently legal in America, at least when done by a parent in their home.

(Note: We’re not legal experts, and are not delivering legal advice. All the more reason to never beat your children. If it’s not illegal, it should be.)

Despite that, a 2006 American Psylogical Association study found “adolescents who were more likely to engage in fighting, bullying, and victimization of others reported that their parents engaged in corporal punishment as a disciplining method.”

In other words, parents who are beating their children are raising children who are more likely to be violent. Good job, parents!

And let’s be honest, spanking is beating. And it’s unacceptable.

That said, regular readers of The New Civil Rights Movement remember all too well Evangelical Christian pastor Michael Pearl and his wife Debi.

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/apparently-beating-your-child-now-is-all-the-rage/discrimination/2011/12/14/31826

Posted in Abuse, Christo-Fascism, Civil Rights, Human Rights. Tags: . Comments Off on Apparently, Beating Your Child Now Is All The Rage

How Credit Collectors Have Reinvented the Debtors’ Prison

From New Deal 2.0:  http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/12/14/how-credit-collectors-have-reinvented-the-debtors-prison-67301/

by Mike Konczal
Wednesday, 12/14/2011

ew tactics have an old ring to them and low-income debtors are falling prey.

NPR just ran a story called “Unpaid Bills Land Some Debtors Behind Bars.” As they report, ”Here’s how it happens: A company will often sell off its debt to a collection agency, generally called a creditor. That creditor files a lawsuit against the debtor requiring a court appearance. A notice to appear in court is supposed to be given to the debtor. If they fail to show up, a warrant is issued for their arrest.” Marie Diamond has more.

This is increasingly common across the country. My colleagues Matt Stoller and Bryce Covert have both written about debtors being jailed for failure to appear in court. Debtors’ prisons are illegal, and some point out that this is really jail for a summons problem, not a payment. But I haven’t had a full vision of the practice until I read this excellent working paper by Lea Shepherd of Loyola Chicago law school, “Creditors Contempt” (h/t creditslips). Beyond laying out the problems with the current system, which gives a disproportionate amount of the coercive powers of the state to creditors, this paper also has implications for another topic I’m interested in — the class bias of the submerged state.

The key here is something called in personam debt collection remedies. In an agrarian economy, it was relatively straight forward for creditors to order a sheriff to seize the property of a debtor. In rem actions, where a sheriff would go and seize property, would work just fine. But this became harder to do as time went on.

The debt collection market evolved in personam debt collection remedies. This in personam action has two goals: discovery and collection. The court orders the debtor to disclose information about his property, location of his assets, etc. to help creditors track down those assets. Then the court orders certain payments to be made, which allows for collection. This court order is enforced through the court’s authority to hold debtors in contempt, which in turn is enforced through threats of imprisonment. Depending on the jurisdiction, contempt charges can be made against either the failure to show up for the discovery process or the failure to stick to the collection ordered.

Continue reading at:   http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/12/14/how-credit-collectors-have-reinvented-the-debtors-prison-67301/

The Super-Rich Get Richer, and Everyone Else Is Going Down the Drain

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/economy/148294/the_super-rich_get_richer%2C_and_everyone_else_is_going_down_the_drain/

By Robert B. Reich

Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, yet they’re going to keep their fat tax cuts.

September 24, 2010

The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the eduction, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion.

Wall Street continued to dominate the list; 109 of the richest 400 are in finance or investments.

From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes (because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15 percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts).

The rest of America got poorer, of course. The number in poverty rose to a post-war high. The median wage continues to deteriorate. And some 20 million Americans don’t have work.

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/economy/148294/the_super-rich_get_richer%2C_and_everyone_else_is_going_down_the_drain/

Posted in Class War, Economic Issues, Employment, Human Rights, Labor, Social Justice. Comments Off on The Super-Rich Get Richer, and Everyone Else Is Going Down the Drain

Blame the Ultra Right Wing Extremist Republicans

I’m tired of liberals, progressives and especially LGBT/T folks blaming the Democrats for actions of the ultra right wing Republi-Nazis.

As the late Molly Ivins used to say, “You got to dance with them that  brung you…”

We don’t have a Progressive Party.  Every attempt that has been made to build a third party has been performed top down and ass backwards.  The most recent example being “The Green Party”, which is now mostly a burnt out shell funded by Republi-Nazis.  Before that there was “Peace and Freedom”.  The lesson that needs to be learned is, “You do not start a political party to run someone for president.  You start by running someone for school board.”

We have spent the last 40 years or so engaging in self-defeating behavior including identity politics, only organizing among people like ourselves.

The Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s crossed racial lines.  It may have seemed patronizing to some but a multi-racial movement had seriously left wing progressive roots and the potential to unite poor black and poor white people as well as the better educated  and higher up the class structure, leaders.  One year to the day after Martin Luther King started talking about matters of class and how poor whites and poor blacks were in much the same boat when it came to opportunity, they killed him.  They being the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Hillary was right on that one, there is a “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” in this country.  It is both long standing and powerful, backed by moneyed interests like Murdoch, Mellon-Scaife, and Koch.  They own the media, fund right wing think tanks, and fund astro-turf organizations like the Tea Baggers.  They are in a partnership with the religious right, which is funded via tax free tithings from their flocks.

They have a police state on their side that has the power to disrupt and destroy any movement that threatens to actually stand up for equality and social justice.  They infiltrate and subvert our movements, sow dissension and suggest we get apathetic.

They whisper in our ear, “Aww the Democrats didn’t get you what you wanted.  Why don’t you show them who is boss and sit this election out?  Why don’t you withhold money from them?”

Of course Democrats aren’t helped by having a bunch of oh so nice wimps on our side.  You know the kind, the ones who spew the lines about how calling Republi-Nazis the same sorts of names they call us is stooping to their level.  Shit, the oh so nice wimps don’t even want us to bring a knife to a gun fight, they want us to bring kind platitudes, an oath to passivity and a flower to that gun fight.

And at the first sign of failure on the part of the Democrats they want to give up.

Fuck that shit.

We let those Nazi dickwads funded by Breitbart  destroy ACORN, a truly progressive organization and we didn’t put up a protest or a fight.  We have let the media give these bestiality loving Nazis like that cum bag Paladino and self avowed Satanist Christine O’Donnell all the publicity while they ignore serious Democratic candidates who might be better equipped to govern this nation.  We aren’t making a huge uproar when Tea Bagger candidates suggest committing genocide on LGBT/T people by invoking the imprimatur of  “The Bible” and “God”.

It is time to get tough.  Out organize them and take seats from them rather than giving up seats.  If they sling one clod of mud at one of out candidates dump a truck load of manure on theirs.

The corporate funded media have treated ultra right wing airheads like Rand Paul as people to be taken seriously, when in reality they are insane and their ideas are totally un-American.

Speaking of which…  Remember Molly Ivins?  She said of Pat Buchanan’s speech at the ’92 Republi-Nazi Convention, “It probably sounded better in the original German.”

We have let these Confederate flag and Nazi values assholes trademark “American Values” and after giving them exclusive rights of usage allowed them to pervert those very same values into something I sure as hell do not recognize as American Values.

I was pretty proud of how far we have come when we elected President Obama, even prouder still when the nomination came down to being between a man of color and a woman.  When I looked at our convention I saw the common people who make up the beautiful tapestry of this diverse nation, and I was proud to be a Democrat.

Not that the Democrats have gotten me the things I want but they have at least tried.

When I looked at the Republican Convention, my only comment was….  “I…I…see white people…” They do not represent us.  The majority of the people of this nation including the majority of Republican voters support the repeal of DADT.

We have about 45 days to work for the party.  Less than half a month to show we refute all the Birther lies about Obama.  45 days to show the world how proud we are of all sorts of people, of all different races and sexualities as well as classes all pulling our oars in the same direction in 2008 to elect the first President , who wasn’t a white male.

Even if we are disappointed this isn’t a time to retreat or to surrender… And damn it I am sometimes seriously disappointed with both Obama and with our congress.  I want them to fight harder but then I realize that we Democrats are a wishy-washy bunch and we don’t like fighting.  Say something is “socialist” and we fold when we could fight for it instead and make the Democratic party represent the sort of democratic socialism they have in much of western Europe.

Am I disappointed with not having Single Payer, inclusive ENDA, the Repeal of DADT and Marriage Equality?  Damn right I am.  But giving in now means never getting those things.  Giving in now means letting a bunch of racist, homophobic bigots who care only for the interests of the rich win.

Now isn’t the time to mourn our failures. Now is the time to organize.

The Revolution will not Enjoy Corporate Sponsorship

The Revolution  absolutely will not be brought to you by Absolut

The Revolution will not give the leaders of the revolution passes to fly on American Airlines as long as they wear a corporate pin

Working Assets may fund a lobbyist to kiss up to some congress person but it will it put some one on a picket line?

Wearing a rainbow pin while waving a rainbow flag sucking down the beer that is sponsoring this years Pride Festival will give you neither freedom nor Pride

Do you really think corporations will sponsor workers rights to a fair share?

A living wage?

Or will they maybe try to buy you off  by helping you focus all your energy on getting a bill passed that will help you enjoy equal access to being a 9.00 dollar an hour barista with a college degree.  A job where you get to pee in the bottle for the manager of the Starbucks that under pays you and over works you.  You know the one that came in and drove the neat funky coffee house where they had poetry readings out of business.

I may be wrong but I sure wouldn’t count on Starbucks sponsoring the revolution.  Because when push come to shove Starbucks is just another Walmart.

Corporations will not sponsor your fight to end NAFTA/CAFTA/GATT or the off shoring of all the jobs that paid a decent wage.

I’ll tell you an open secret about corporation… The only purpose of a corporation is to make a profit for their executives and shareholders.  The corporations do not give a flying fuck about your gender identity or your sexuality.

They will throw you under the bus if some Christer doesn’t like your looks and complains.  If you are not in a union and have the misfortune to live in a so called “right to work” state they do not need a reason to fire you and see to it you do not get un-employment.  And ENDA won’t do a damned thing about that.  If you think otherwise look at the rate of un-employment for people of color.

Corporations do not have your best interests at heart.  You are a human resource to be used to increase the one thing that a corporation exists for, the bottom line.  They care only about money.

When they say something different they are lying.

There will be a revolution when and only when people stop arguing over bull shit like identity and unite to say they are tired of being collectively fuck by corporations that don’t give a rats ass about their lives.

The revolution will start when people start saying no to advertising.  When people stop buying stuff they don’t need but are brainwashed into wanting.  Or if they do buy it they pay cash and say no to paying the banks usurious piles of interest charged for using credit cards.

Because the only real value we have to the rich, to the corporations is  in buying, consuming, endlessly…

If we picked just one or two corporations at a time and stopped buying from them until they start treating workers with respect, permitting unions, paying a living wage etc…  That would be revolutionary and I guarantee that revolution will not have corporate sponsorship.

Posted in Anarchism, Civil Rights, Class War, Economic Issues, Employment, ENDA, Frugal Living, Human Rights, Labor, Police State, Social Justice, Unions. Comments Off on The Revolution will not Enjoy Corporate Sponsorship

A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage

From The New York Time Op-Ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/opinion/25stansell.html?ref=opinion

By CHRISTINE STANSELL
Published: August 24, 2010

LOOKING back on the adoption of the 19th Amendment 90 years ago Thursday — the largest act of enfranchisement in our history — it can be hard to see what the fuss was about. We’re inclined to assume that the passage of women’s suffrage (even the term is old-fashioned) was inevitable, a change whose time had come. After all, voting is now business as usual for women. And although women are still poorly represented in Congress, there are influential female senators and representatives, and prominent women occupy governors’ and mayors’ offices and legislative seats in every part of the United States.

Yet entrenched opposition nationwide sidelined the suffrage movement for decades in the 19th century. By 1920, antagonism remained in the South, and was strong enough to come close to blocking ratification.

Proposals for giving women the vote had been around since the first convention for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. At the end of the Civil War, eager abolitionists urged Congress to enfranchise both the former slaves and women, black and white. The 14th Amendment opened the possibility, with its generous language about citizenship, equal protection and due process.

But, at that time, women’s suffrage was still unthinkable to anyone but radical abolitionists. Since the nation’s founding, Americans considered women to be, by nature, creatures of the home, under the care and authority of men. They had no need for the vote; their husbands represented them to the state and voted for them. So, in the 14th Amendment’s second section, Republicans inserted the word “male,” prohibiting the denial of voting rights to “any of the male inhabitants” of the states.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/opinion/25stansell.html?ref=opinion

Posted in Constitutional Rights, Feminist, Gender, History, Human Rights, Politics, Sexism, Social Justice, Unequal Treatment. Comments Off on A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage

Are Muslims Replacing Queers as America’s New Scapegoat?

Thought for the day and maybe forever:  “The left wing and progressives have always stood for inclusion and equality. The right wing and conservatives have always stood for exclusion and elitism/inequality.”

I’m an Atheist and therefore freedom of religion is important to me since the very concept implicitly includes the freedom to not believe.

I was a child in the “good old days” of the 1950s which were good only if you were white, right and well to do and what we described as WASP.

To be queer was so outre as to be sufficient reason to be driven from small town America to seek ones life in the ghettos around America where we could find a modicum of acceptance among “liberal and sophisticated people” described as artistic.  Indeed queer was considered so taboo that they describe LGBT/TQ kids as “sensitive” rather than as queer.

Racism and anti-Semitism were alive and well and anyone who said either were wrong was a “Goddamned Red”.

They also had choice name for people whose ethnic back grounds didn’t conform to the WASP ideal were were being programmed to think of being “normal”.

It was a time when using racial and ethnic slurs was widely accepted.  People who argued for politeness of language were not being “politically correct”, they were “Goddamned Reds”.

The charge of  “Political Correctness” has been cut loose from its founding root in the left wing communities where it was used as ironic chastisement for people who were getting carried away with their own superior level of consciousness.  When it used by right wing it is an euphemistic way of calling someone a “Goddamned Red”.

But heaven forbid one point out to the right wing that their ideology bears a great deal more resemblance to something found in Nazism than in the US Constitution.

They wrap themselves in the flag and wave a Bible in your face while wiping their asses with the Constitution.  In the world according to the right wing the US is a “Christian Nation” and the Constitution only has one amendment, the Second Amendment.

I was a child of the 1950 but I came of age in the 1960s.  Oh wasn’t that a time?  To be young and radical meant hearing everyone’s call for equality and social justice.  It didn’t much matter to those of us who read Steinbeck’s Grapes Of Wrath as high school students and were so moved as to take Tom Joad’s soliloquy to heart.

Whenever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Whenever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there . . . . I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’-I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build-why, I’ll be there.

From Wikipedia:

At the time of publication, Steinbeck’s novel “was a phenomenon on the scale of a national event. It was publicly banned and burned by citizens, it was debated on national radio hook-ups; but above all, it was read.” [5] Steinbeck scholar John Timmerman sums up the book’s impact: “The Grapes of Wrath may well be the most thoroughly discussed novel – in criticism, reviews, and college classrooms – of twentieth century American literature.” Part of its impact stemmed from its passionate depiction of the plight of the poor, and in fact, many of Steinbeck’s contemporaries attacked his social and political views. Bryan Cordyack writes, “Steinbeck was attacked as a propagandist and a socialist from both the left and the right of the political spectrum. The most fervent of these attacks came from the Associated Farmers of California; they were displeased with the book’s depiction of California farmers’ attitudes and conduct toward the migrants. They denounced the book as a ‘pack of lies’ and labeled it ‘communist propaganda’.[6] However, although Steinbeck was accused of exaggeration of the camp conditions to make a political point, in fact he had done the opposite, underplaying the conditions that he well knew were worse than the novel describes[7] because he felt exact description would have gotten in the way of his story. Furthermore, there are several references to socialist politics and questions which appear in the John Ford film of 1940 which do not appear in the novel, which is less political in its terminology and interests.

I’m watching the hysteria being whipped up by the right wing and the cowardly acquiescence of so many in the Democratic Party who seem more concerned with acting like good Germans by not rocking the boat and I think this is how something like the Third Reich happened.

People were too afraid to say, “No, this is wrong.  Too afraid to not join the lynching mob.”

Yesterday I quoted  Pastor Martin Niemöller . Last night Tina and I went to see Jr. John and the Lower 911. In one of their songs they inserted a song I used to sing on special occasion when I faced the thugs in blue with their clubs and Mace, “I shall not, I shall not be moved, Just like a tree standing by the water, I shall not be moved..”

I wasn’t Black, yet I stood for African American Civil Rights.

They were never going to draft me, yet I opposed the draft.

I was not a Native American yet I supported AIM

I was not a Chicano migrant farm worker, yet I supported the United Farm Workers

I am not Muslim (Indeed I find their religion among the most misogynistic of all religions and abhorrent on many levels),, yet I support their constitutional right to freedom to practice their beliefs.

The scapegoating of Muslims and blaming the entire world of people who practice Islam for the acts of 18 people who committed 9/11 is ugly, stupid and ridiculous.

Let them have their cultural center and their equal rights.

The memory of LGBT/TQ people having to fight various city halls for the rights to open and maintain our community and cultural centers is to fresh for me to join the lynching mob.

It appears as though beating up on Muslim people has become the new sport of the right, replacing LGBT/TQ bashing.  Or perhaps it has just momentarily supplanted it.

It is all the same hatred that is the stock and trade of the right wing.  Do not be fooled if it puts on a different mask.

Posted in Equal Treatment, Fascism, Free Speech, Human Rights, International, Religion, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Are Muslims Replacing Queers as America’s New Scapegoat?

Police State

I grew up left wing.  I may not have been a red diaper baby but my diapers definitely had a union label.

We were Democrats in part of New York State that had been down with the GOP since they sent volunteers to fight for the Union.

My parents were FDR New Deal Democrats who thought it stupid to vote against the interests of the working people.

I was raised to be careful about telling others things my parents talked about because it was the McCarty era and my father was first generation Polish American at a time when they were stripping people of their citizenship and deporting them for being Reds.

There was a fictional short story by Phillip Nolan called “A Man Without a Country”, about a man stripped of his citizenship and condemned to a life aboard ships.  I don’t remember the specifics of the short story, but John Adams instituted the Alien and Sedition Acts  that could have done something like that.  The moral of the story was supposed to be about how sad the man was to never be permitted back in America. I saw the moral as being, “Freedom of speech, means freedom to agree.”

I came away with a different take on it, perhaps because of my family.  My take on it was that there was a serious gap between what the Constitution says and how the Police State functions.  Freedom of speech should mean just that, after all the Constitution doesn’t have the disclaimer, “So long as one never speaks a disparaging word regarding corporate fascism, police abuse of power, racism, imperialism or the military industrial complex.”

In school I was taught that in the Soviet Union and life under Communism, the citizens had their lives spied upon and could lose their jobs and even be imprisoned for speaking their mind.  Which was way different from the US,  where people were being arrested, spied upon, interrogated, force to name names or face imprisonment as well as be denied employment all under the aegis of “protecting freedom.”

As a kid I couldn’t tell the difference.  But I knew that one of the things that could get one labeled Red was supporting equality for Black people.  At the same time people who murdered and horribly mutilated a Black child named Emmett Till were not prosecuted the way people who said that was wrong were persecuted.

There were things my family spoke about in whispers and that I was told to never speak about like their discussing loyalty oaths.

I was a radical in the 1960s.  I was arrested for my opposition to the war and for standing up for things I knew to be right.

We were subjected to having warrantless raids performed on our places of residence as well as stop and search violations of our rights in the streets.  Even though these warrantless searches were a clear violation of our Constitutional rights.

They called it “The War on Drugs”, they used it as part of a war on anyone the police were bigoted towards.

In the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller:

In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up

It was after all the war on drugs and the only people speaking out were either drug users or left wing scum like the ACLU.  Generally the position was, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.

Then a few years later as the government became much more rabidly right wing and the Constitutional rights of Americans were eroded further in various ways including “the War on Crime” and “The War on Drugs” private companies began to demand employees submit to drug testing.  It didn’t matter if you showed up for work stone sober, they wanted to know what you did on the weekends.  And thanks to things like Employment At Will and the Taft Hartley Act workers had lost the ability to protest against these violations of personal privacy.

After all, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”  Like the dark days of the 1950s when a version of that same mantra was the subtext behind the assumption of guilt when people refused to name names for Joe McCarthy and HUAC, refusal to submit to a violation of one’s Constitutional rights to freedom from warrantless search was taken as an admission of guilt.

And so it goes, one baby step at a time we surrendered our Forth Amendment rights.

Did you speak out regarding this violation of people’s rights?  If you did you were in a minority.  There are gulags across America filled with people whose only crime is the violation of the drug prohibition laws.

Some where along with all the get tough on crime propaganda there was a new mantra introduced, “What part of illegal do you just not get?”  All the while there were obviously two sets of laws one for the rich and one for the poor.

Yet who, other than those pesky Reds spoke up?  And yes it is a truism that if one speaks out against the right wing police state then one is automatically a “Red”.  Even if they have never read a word of Marx/Engels/Lenin.  Even if they are no further left than Obama.

Then came the “War on Terror” with the TSA and NSA, Echelon, and Total Information Awareness.  To speak out against this infringement was to once again be a Red and soft on terror.  We learned new words and phrases like “rendition” and “water-boarding”.

But we weren’t being thrown in concentration and torture camps. So we sat back and repeated the mantra we had long ago taken to heart. “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

In the process we learned to internalize the police state, to watch what we said and wrote, to point fingers and condemn as “Reds” and “Agitators” those who spoke out and questioned what the fuck was going on.

Remember Cindy Sheehan and the Crawford Ranch Demonstration?  Cindy, who son was killed in Iraq, had the audacity to ask  W., “What noble cause?” Perhaps more of us should have asked, “What noble cause?” Because our civil rights were going down the tube and had been for many years.

One of the major problems of identity politics is the compartmentalization and focus on an issue that is supposed to unite in spite of the people who supposedly share that identity having all sorts of different politics.

I have met too many sisters who were classist, racist, anti-feminist and right wing to believe that just having an association at some point and time with a trans-prefixed word makes them my sister.

I have been called a “Red” too many times by people I am supposed to have common ground with according to the ideology of Transgender Inc.

But now the Police state has become real for them too.

We Do NOT Have All the Same Body Parts and Body Scanners Violates Your Privacy

http://blog.seattlepi.com/airlinereporter/archives/218649.asp

It is time to improve privacy!

I haven’t been able to talk about body scanners for a while and it is about time I bring them up again. When I blog about them or am doing research, I constantly see the same argument, “What’s the big deal, we all have the same parts, get over it.”

The thing is we are not all the same and even if we are, we still have a right to privacy. With my obvious dis-like (maybe that is too nice of a word) for the body scanners, I get people who write me in support and calling me  fool. Recently I had a woman write me who is  a pre-operative transsexual, meaning she self-defines as a woman, but still has male genitalia. It is absolutely her right to keep her situation private and no one should have the ability to invade her privacy. Talking about privacy, I will call her “Jane” to keep her anonymous for this blog.

I asked Jane what it is like being asked to go through a body scanner and she told me, “that having to go through a body scanner would be particularly difficult for me as the body scanners actually reveal a person’s gender. ” She also explained it becomes even more difficult because she has, “anxiety which makes the thought of using these even more difficult.”

Jane lives in the UK and unlike in the US, passengers cannot opt-out of body scanners. If you get “randomly selected” , you must be scanned or you don’t fly.

Another argument people often use is, “if you don’t like it, don’t fly then.” There are so many reasons why this argument is weak. If you don’t agree with something, you should stand up for what you think is right and try to change the system.

Jane told me she doesn’t fly as much now due to the fear and has missed out on some very important life experiences. “I have relatives in India who I would like to see again and would also like to travel to India to pay my respects to relatives who have died but feel unable to pass through an airport whilst passing through a body scanner is a condition to boarding my flight,” Jane explained.

We are a global society and need to allow people to fly around the world to continue to grow and prosper. We should not become  society that violates a person’s privacy, so passengers can get a false sense of security that the body scanners provide.

Trans-gender fliers, disabled passengers, folks with body issues and those that have gone through a traumatic experience involving their body should not have to endure evasive security to be able to function in our society. Is giving up your privacy worth the false sense of security you get going through body scanners? I say absolutely not.

And then they came for_______ and suddenly the mantra, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.” becomes very personal to some who were all too willing to accept the privileges they enjoyed in the past when the people whose rights were being violated were Reds and drug users.

The time to stand up against the Police State is when they start scapegoating and imprisoning the under-privileged, those Justice Marshall referred to as the “despised and dispossessed”.  Not when they finally come for you because by then the only people left will be those still saying, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

One Little N-Word

Laura Schlessinger, who may have a doctorate just not in psychology or psychiatry has been spewing hatred and bigotry towards LGBT/TQ people for years.

For those of you unfamiliar with this self appointed dispenser of advice from the fetid swamp land of ultra right wing hate radio and television Dr. Laura has had a radio show for years.

During that time she has told women it is their own fault if they suffer spousal abuse but that they will go to hell if they divorce.  Unlike so many for whom I use the label of Christo-fascist Dr. Laura is different, she is a Judeo-fascist.

This makes her an oddity as there is this incredible history of Jewish support for so many truly progressive causes here in America.  The neo-con movement has been the exception rather than the rule.

In some ways right wingers have been given a pass for their spewing of hate.  I guess it sells in Peoria, a mythical standard of heartland America.

The reality is the full force of the state has been used and abused in the silencing of nearly every progressive cause that has reared its head in America.  This has included laws that make it difficult if not impossible to form labor unions capable of wielding power equal to that of the corporations.

The labeling as Red of anyone who dares speak the dreaded word “equality” or stand for the subversive cause of social justice.  Speaking of the labeling of people as “communist”.  why is there no equivalent of Godwin’s rule regarding red-baiting?

Dr. Laura is part of a tradition of hate speech on the radio and television, protected because it sells products without too much “blow back”. What makes Dr. Laura different from many of the spewers of bigotry is that she is not some dubiously credentialed fundamentalist preacher spewing misogyny and homophobia from the sanctity of the pulpit, nor is she some ignorant pundit reading ultra right wing neo-Nazi talking points that pass as political analysis to gown and hood wearing bigots stoked on “White Panic” and “Gender Panic”.

While working on this I received a bulletin from Media Matters for America that had two parts related to this essay:  http://mediamatters.org/research/201008180029

Malkin, other conservatives voice support for Dr. Laura

Following Laura Schlessinger’s announcement that she will end her radio show in the wake of widespread criticism for her use of a racial slur, Michelle Malkin and other conservatives have responded by praising Schlessinger and her comment that, by quitting the show, she will regain her First Amendment rights.

Michelle Malkin, aka “the rabid Shihtzu” is engaging in a typical right wing tactic of lying with regards to the First Amendment.  Freedom of Speech is no guarantee of a platform. Were this defense of Dr. Laura but a thread in a tapestry, a history of defending free speech on the part of the “rabid Shihtzu then perhaps it would not be such an egregious distortion. But I have never once seen or heard anyone on the right wing ever once support “Free Speech” for anyone on the left.  I’m not referring to a commercially financed platform for where one gets paid for speaking their piece. No, I’m speaking about the right wing defending say the rights of protesters to gather, march and present their position.

If anything the right wing spewers of hate use their platforms to not only belittle the opinion of their opposition (much the same way as I use my platform to belittle them) but they use state power to deny their opposition any platform at all.  It has long taken great courage in this nation to support progressive cause such as equality and social justice.  Too often people on the left have had to face blacklisting, spurious laws enforced by the state, police state type tactics directed at even the most innocuous of groups (hence my using the example of “Quaker Vegans for Peace” as organizations subjected to fascist police state tactics). Too often demands for equality and social justice for people who Dr. Laura slurred by use of the N-word have been met by Concerned Conservative Christian Citizens and their lynching rope.

Schlessinger announces end to show after racial rant
Schlessinger: “I articulated the ‘n’ word all the way out — more than one time.” On August 10, Schlessinger launched into a racially charged rant, during which she — in her own words — “articulated the ‘n’ word all the way out — more than one time.” Among other things, Schlessinger told an African-American caller that she had a “chip on [her] shoulder” and later stated: “If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.” The next day, Schlessinger apologized.

During an August 17 interview on CNN’s Larry King Live, Schlessinger announced that when her radio contract expires at the end of the year, she will not renew it. She said that, following her racial rant, “my First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups.”

I can’t help but wonder how one can cry censorship when one is not being forced to resign as a result of engaging in the spewing of hateful speech, when in point of fact one has had an entire career of many years and has earned big bucks getting paid to spew misogyny, homophobia and other right wing garbage that has contributed to a hate movement that has denied LGBT/TQ people their equal rights.  How is voluntarily not renewing one’s contract, censorship?

Would anyone care to bet that Dr. Laura has another even more highly paying platform  to preach hate from lined up and awaiting her signature on a new contract?  Contrast that with the victims of the right wing black list of the Hoover and McCarty eras.  Those people had their careers destroyed not for preaching hatred and bigotry but for taking stands that supported among other things, opposition to Franco, support for labor unions and support for racial equality.

No…  Dr. Laura’s use of the N-word was not some sort of courageous stance taken in the defense of free speech. It was simply a public airing of what is all to often voiced among those claiming to support “traditional values’ those who wrap themselves in the flag in order to hide their swastikas and Klan robe.

Dr. Laura let her sanctimony slip and revealed her true face.  One that is as ugly as Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism  or the racism of Aryan Nation.

Were it only true that Dr. Laura would be reduced to Blogging without sponsors and supporting that blogging working in a Big Box Store.