Supreme Takeover

June 28, 2011

The ruling against women seeking class-action standing in a lawsuit against Wal-Mart by 5 Republican male Justices of the Supreme Court, as unjust and unfair as it is, was no shocker. This is the same Court that ruled that women who find out that they had been secretly discriminated against by an employer could not sue after the fact. It is the same Court that many believe, will ultimately reverse Roe v Wade. That fear may be realized, but something else is operative here besides simple misogyny. Even though the same 5 men have consistently ruled against women, their rulings can be more accurately described as pro-corporation. Women happen to be the victims in the most recent case, but the list of victims is far longer than the beneficiaries of their Robert’s Court.

It used to be that the one consistent thread that ran through Supreme Court rulings was legal precedent. However, this Supreme Court, dominated by Federalist activists, have only one truly predictive characteristic: bias in favor of Corporate interests. They have consistently ruled in favor of businesses in cases against individual victims. They essentially handed control of the Government to Corporate money with the Citizen’s United ruling last year. Some argue that next time around we are not electing a President as much as meeting the next Chairman of the Board. It’s a valid argument…

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Weiner is the Soul of Congress

June 21, 2011

Just a few thoughts on Weiner…

Anthony Weiner, forced out of Congress by fellow Democrats, not for having sex with women, but for talking about it.

Senator David Vitter has illegal sex with prostitutes but was NOT forced out of office by fellow Republicans because it WAS sex with a woman (most family values guys in the GOP get caught in gay sex, so he was a form of redemption for them).

President Clinton, prosecuted for having an extra-marital affair by Rep. Gingrich who was also having an extra-marital affair.

Anthony Weiner came to prominence with his impassioned defense of health care for 9/11 survivors when the GOP wanted to cut off funding. He was a strong advocate for not allowing the GOP to defund nutrition programs for poor pregnant women and infants when the GOP chose to fund the National Arboretum instead.

Was anything about the text messages Weiner sent more obscene than the conversation Gov. Walker of Wisconsin had with a man posing as one of the Koch brothers as they discussed using hired thugs to cause violence among people demonstrating against his attempt to break public unions?

Our Country has had many leaders who took a personal interest in the pursuit of happiness (cf Thomas Jefferson, FDR, JFK, WJC), but up to and including Clinton they were men who had a sense of duty to the Country – and they served the Country well.

On the other hand, the current crop of religious right, family values, and yes, even so called liberal pols seem to have something besides the good of the country on their minds.

Maybe the Country is in the shape it is because men who are concerned only with self-gratification or aggrandizement are running it.  In this sense, Anthony Weiner does represent the soul of this Congress.


Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

June 17, 2011

Work is a human right. It is the activity of a human person; it can never be considered as mere merchandise, as has happened in the past and still happens nowadays. Treating workers as mere tools does no justice to their personal dignity.

Laborem Exercens

Pope John Paul II

 

I am not in the habit of quoting Catholic teachings in my blogs, but this quote from Pope John Paul II reflects an issue that has bothered me for some time. Social justice is a term used in derision by many Conservatives, especially those on the so-called “religious” right. However, social justice is just as critical to peace as any other form of justice, and we live in one of the most unjust societies in American history. Unemployment and employment at wages at poverty level are becoming a permanent part of our society – at a terrible cost to many American families. Ultimately, if we don’t stop the institutionalization of unemployment, there will be no peace and order.

Some people might argue that the age of slavery was the most unjust era, and it they wouldn’t be wrong. However, we now live in a time in our Country’s history when men and women of all races and ages are slowly being led into economic slavery – to a society where we can no longer afford to own much property and where our freedoms are voided by our need to remain trapped by low paying jobs.

To say that we have a 9% unemployment rate is deceptively antiseptic. It does not include nearly as many people unemployed so long that they have given up and fallen off the official lists. It also does not include another important fact: that many of the people employed now are underemployed in jobs that have wages approaching those of 3rd world countries. This is one reason why the rate of poverty has exploded in America. It is one reason why a household can have two wage-earners and still not make ends meet.

It is true that more Americans are unemployed, more Americans are underemployed, more Americans are impoverished that at any time since the Great Depression. It is not a coincidence that the decline of unions has led to a decline in the middle-class. Unions protected the dignity and the safety of works. They created the living wage and the American middle-class. In this period of flagrant union-busting, it would serve us well to understand the alternatives of working poverty or unemployment.

It is also true that American wealth is greater than any society in the history of mankind. What? That’s right folks, there is more wealth in America today than in any society in the history of mankind, except it is all kept by a tiny number of people, not through labors of their own, but by virtue of laws that value financial. That is the fundamental injustice of our Government and society in general: we value wealth obtained through investments in financial markets rather than the dignity of man.


Bring Them Home

June 9, 2011

With all of the news from the past week concerning turmoil in the Middle East, one item seemed to me to capture the madness of there. Two countries were guilty of mass murder against unarmed civilians: Syria and Israel. Syrian President Assad hopes to hold on to power in a country his father captured through a violent civil war in the 60s. Last weekend his troops killed an estimated 42 unarmed protesters in one city alone, Jisr al-Shughour. Israeli troops killed an estimated 20 unarmed Palestinian protesters near the Golan Heights, annexed by Israel. It seems that in the Middle East, there is not much difference between dictatorships and Democracies as far as killing unarmed women and children goes.

The problems of the Middle East are not political as much as they are tribal and cultural. Democracy didn’t temper the behavior of the Palestinians in Gaza any more than it has the Israelis. There is no political solution to a tribal culture of war and revenge that has existed for thousands of years.

I have a friend with sons who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and they say the same thing: these people kill each other all day long until Marines pass by, and then both sides fire at the Marines. Is there any doubt that if we pulled all of our troops out, that the various tribes and religious sects there would simply kill each other rather than American troops? Trillions of dollars later and, even more costly has been the blood of American heroes shed, there is no evidence whatsoever that creating democracy will create any peace or stability in the Middle East.

It’s time to bring our troops home.


Brief Scare

June 1, 2011

It was a thought that caused me to wake up in a sweat… could it be? Could it be that Rand Paul and I share the same policy on the misnamed “Patriot Act”?

I was rightfully considered more of a Libertarian than Democrat when I ran for Governor, but that was in a time when people who claimed to be Libertarians weren’t simple shills for the Coch brothers. No true patriot could support the Patriot Act (as Ben Franklin famously said “anyone who forfeits  liberty for security, deserve neither”) and I have always felt that it was a mistake. When the Act was used to get bank records of my employees when the Bush Administration was investigating me for a violation of Campaign Finance Laws, my worst suspicions were realized. The Patriot Act is used by law enforcement to spy on every citizen for any reason.

So imagine my surprise when the lone man holding up the vote on the Patriot Act was Rand Paul. Does the phrase “existential crisis” come to mind? Not really. It turns out that Paul was not objecting to the Patriot Act because it violated the U.S. Constitution with routine and random warrantless searches of all citizens. No, he objected to a provision of the Act which required registration of arms purchases. Rand Paul wanted anyone, including potential terrorists, to be able to purchase weapons anonymously.

Fear was the motivation that caused Congress to take away our rights – fear of the terrorist boogey-man.  Paul simply wanted to weaken the one part of the Act that did make sense…