GOP and Sexual Dysfunction

June 12, 2014

The GOP is the party of sexually dysfunctional men.

That was NOT a reference to old white men (and the problem of ED per se). Rather it is a reflection of their obsession with sex and misogyny. The most recent example among many was the column of George Will (the wannabe intellectual heir to William Buckley) in the Washington Post asserting that being the victim of rape was a “coveted status” on American college campuses. Does he really believe that women intentionally get raped so they can obtain “status”? Yes, he does, and so do many conservatives in the GOP.

The evidence of misogyny in the GOP is abundant and you have to acknowledge that the Tea Party element of the GOP is at least open and unapologetic about it. Add to the Will assertion that women want to be raped to obtain “status” to the many comments essentially blaming women for either being raped or falsely claiming raped, to their refusal to let women earn equal wages for the same work and you have the foundation of the party of misogyny.

However, the dysfunctional sexuality of the GOP is not just limited to degrading and devaluing women.  Add to that character an obsession with homosexuality and you have two corners of the conservative tent (racism/xenophobia and corporate pandering are the other two corners).

For a political party that claims to be the party opposed to big government they sure advocate a lot of government interference in our sex lives. For millions of American women, gays and minorities the GOP is less of a libertarian liberator than the boogeyman in the bedroom closet.

 

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Trial Lawyers

April 14, 2014

Some Republicans tried to justify their vote against equal pay for women by saying that to pass the law would be to “line the pockets of trial lawyers.” That’s a very revealing explanation. 

If corporations did not discriminate against women, then there would be no lawsuits … period. A case without any evidence would get thrown out in an instant. Discrimination exists when the perpetrators can get away with it. Without the ability of an individual to file a lawsuit, no corporation would have an incentive to follow the law. Republicans want you to believe that corporations will voluntarily not discriminate anymore, and refuse to allow the ability of anyone to discover if any discrimination exists. 

The use of “trial lawyers” is a popular rhetorical tool of Republicans, but the equal pay law and the GM recalls of their cars with fatal defects are good examples of what we do as trial lawyers. GM knew about the defects years ago — before many people were killed because of them. GM did nothing to protect lives. They protected themselves, or rather their profits. The government agency charged with identifying those safety hazards didn’t discover the defects because (apparently) the deaths of dozens of people was below their radar. So much for over-regulation. 

It was a trial lawyer taking depositions in a lawsuit that not only uncovered the defect in GM cars, but also the cover-up of the defect. Thanks to a trial lawyer, lives will be saved and justice can be done for the victims. It is a textbook example of how trial lawyers protect society and your rights. This offends Republicans. 

Republicans want to argue that there are already laws against discrimination, but they want to make it impossible to discover the discrimination, nearly impossible to get a day in court and impose government limits on the amount of money anyone could recover no matter what the evidence is. As a person who has devoted his life to helping defend the rights of individuals against the wealthy and powerful, I understand why the right wing nuts attack my profession. We are the last resort of people like you when the powerful victimize. 

 


Equal Pay

April 14, 2014

You couldn’t ask for a clearer contrast between the “family values” of Republicans and those of the Democrats. The vote on equal pay for women was blocked by Republicans — every single Republican voted against it. Terri Lynn Land, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate to replace Carl Levin, chimed in with agreement with her fellow Republicans that women aren’t really interested in getting paid the same for the same work. You would think that a woman might have a hard time justifying a policy to allow discrimination against women, but apparently not a Republican woman.

As a father of two boys and a girl, I can’t imagine advocating a policy that punishes my daughter just because she is a girl. I wonder how ANY woman could remain a Republican after such a disgraceful vote. However, I can’t honestly discern if Republicans are conducting an ideological war against women, or if the issue is simply one where all Republican policies are subservient to protecting corporate America. 

Sure, Republicans have been the party to deny the right of women to choose what happens to their own bodies. The party of “small government” has proposed all kinds of government intrusions into the personal lives and bodies of women — even to the point of mandating government vaginal exams of pregnant women, and prohibiting reimbursement for contraceptives. The refusal to support equal pay for women might seem to be another extension of their “war on women.” But when you look at the big picture, the issue is less about discriminating against women as it is about protecting corporations. More than anything else, Republicans are all about protecting the profits of corporations and billionaires. Five Supreme Court Justices are possibly the only five people in the world who don’t understand the role of money in politics and power. The Ryan Budget just passed by the House of Representatives is essentially the declaration of GOP policy: take from the poor and give to the rich. 

The defeat of the equal pay law should be a warning to every American, female or male, that the agenda of the Republican Party is to turn the U.S. into a Third World economy where impoverished workers serve the goal of corporate profits. Resisting raising the minimum wage, equal pay, blocking unemployment benefits, Tort Reform … asking how any given law will affect corporate profits can explain 99 percent of all Republican policy. The Ryan Budget declares it loud and clear. In that sense, I suppose, the Republicans can legitimately argue that they are not prejudiced in favor of either gender: both should face equal injustice. 

 


Planes, Trains and Impassable Roads

March 25, 2014

Anyone who travels on Michigan roads knows that many of them are virtually impassable without using extraordinary vigilance and Formula One-level steering ability. Major surface streets, such as Telegraph Road and Woodward Avenue have innumerable potholes, with many of them more than a foot deep. Maybe, just maybe, we can see the light at the end of the wheel-bending tunnel.

Now that Republican lawmakers in Lansing are finished with the important business of passing laws like requiring citizens to fly American flags only made in the U.S., they seem ready to act on Gov. Snyder’s pleas to fund road repairs at a meaningful level. I can only guess that the roads near Grand Rapids are just as bad and that the insurance companies are writing too many checks for damaged cars as the precipitant, but better a good change for bad reasons than not at all.

One potential pothole to funding road repairs is that the budget surplus of nearly $1 billion is not nearly enough to repair all roads and bridges. It would take nearly $10 billion to do the job, an estimate nearly everyone agrees is accurate. For once, Republicans are forced to admit that an essential government function (i.e. infrastructure) requires taxation. They have ignored the need for more taxes to fund road repairs so long that the roads are becoming impassable. Funding for public transportation is out of the question for Republicans as an alternative. So they have to raise a tax.

It would make sense to make high-volume, heavy vehicle corporate users and more taxation of upper level incomes to pay for much of the repairs, but then again that would make sense. Their idea: make the poor pay for it with higher gas taxes.

Go figure …


Jesus and Conservative Republicans

March 13, 2014

Paul Ryan is a lot like many other Republicans insofar as he likes to think of himself as a conservative whose “Christian” values guide his policy. His recent speech at CPAC used coded words and Christian symbols to communicate his political pitch.

For example, he told his fellow Christian conservatives that the left was making a mistake by advocating programs to feed the poor (such as school lunches), because the poor don’t want full stomachs, they want “a life of dignity – of self-determination.” He suggested that feeding poor children hot lunches fills their stomach but empties their souls. I suggest that Paul Ryan has never been poor or hungry … or Christian. 

In fact Ryan isn’t even a very good Catholic boy either. His own church teaches that the economy must serve people, not the other way around … protect the rights of workers to organize and join unions and to have fair wages. You know, the exact opposite of what Ryan stands for. 

In fact, I challenge any person who claims to be a “Christian” and a “Conservative Republican” to justify the following.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said that the Father would welcome those who fed the hungry… took care of the sick, welcomed the stranger and visited the imprisoned. He hardly advocated turning his back on those in need and saying “you’re on your own”.  

Right wing nuts claim that our country is a “Christian Nation” and that the government should reflect Christian values, yet they want to eliminate programs that feed the poor, deny medical benefits, deport immigrants and imprison people (well, mostly black men anyway).

I suppose they will answer with the Left’s support of abortion rights and gay marriage, but the Left really doesn’t claim any unique political connection to God. 

Maybe Ryan and his religious right would do well to remember what Jesus said about Pharisees.

 

 


Trials: Every Verdict Tells a Story

March 13, 2014

I am in the process of trying a case in Wayne County Circuit Court on behalf of a little girl who was forced to be born in a jail cell because her mother was imprisoned and denied necessary medical care by a local hospital. As I was taking the drive to court this morning I heard a radio report of a hunger strike among prisoners in California protesting that state’s practice of condemning large number of prisoners to solitary confinement. That state already is under a court order to relieve massive overcrowding. I wonder how it is that we have become a country that imprisons more people than any other nation in the world.  

In Michigan, one of the largest segments of employment, especially in the Upper Peninsula, is corrections. In a state with more prisons than some countries have, more prisons are being built. If one were to base a guess on what is happening with the prison system based on who is there, one could say that our country has decided to imprison African-American males as a social policy, and the mentally ill, and non-violent drug users. 

Violent crime is at an historic low, yet our prison population is at an historic high. I wonder if imprisonment has become the default setting on a society that refuses to address the social problems that require more effort and long-term investment. Just like the medical and prison staff who turned their eyes away from a woman and child in need, as a society we turn our eyes away from those in need: the mentally ill and homeless, the impoverished, the marginalized in our society. 

Or when we can’t avert our eyes, we imprison them.