Friday, October 31, 2008


Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project: Great cause, great graphic.

Oh Please

Whenever I read a rant urging a vote for McCain, I want to say, "Aren't you the guy who twice voted for Bush? And you think I should take your advice?

So the people who support McCain are Joe the scab Plumber, Bill Kristol, West Virginia, and Bush fans.

Yep, that's who I'd choose to protect America.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Vet Who Did Not Vet

Vote Barack!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sarita Peron de Palin & You

"I come from the people;
They need to adore me
So Christian Dior me
From my head to my toes.
I want to be rainbow high."

Especially since word of the $150K wardrobe hit the airwaves, the comparison between Eva Peron and Sarah Palin has been irresistible, and thanks to my buddy Michael, I'm not the first Lefty blogger to pick up on it.

Naomi Wolf's comparison of Sarah Palin's role in Bush's GOP to Eva Peron's role in her husband's coup in Argentina may be the most substantive example, but there's a lot of it going around. See, for instance, My Left Wing.

Do read Naomi Wolf's post on HuffPo about "the muse of the coming police state." Keep in mind that right now, here in the USA, we're witnessing the waning days of an eight-year presidential assault on the people's powers (the Constitution) and what could indeed be a third consecutive stolen election. If you still doubt that a coup is plausible, only consider what's at stake, what we've seen in the last eight years, and who's controlling elections in presently red swing states. This is serious stuff. Here's an excerpt:

"Please understand what you are looking at when you look at Sarah "Evita" Palin. You are looking at the designated muse of the coming American police state.

"You have to understand how things work in a closing society in order to understand "Palin Power." A gang or cabal seizes power, usually with an affable, weak figurehead at the fore. Then they will hold elections -- but they will make sure that the election will be corrupted and that the next affable, weak figurehead is entirely in their control. Remember, Russia has Presidents; Russia holds elections. Dictators and gangs of thugs all over the world hold elections. It means nothing. When a cabal has seized power you can have elections and even presidents, but you don't have freedom."[Emphasis added.]
What we're talking about is fully contextualized in Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. If you have not read that documented analysis of current, global political/economic developments--readable, astounding, mind-boggling--then you ain't seen nuthin' yet, baby. You ain't seen nuthin' yet.

Again, at the moment, on this day, during this week, and on Nov. 4th especially, this is about the reality of stolen elections--e-voting machines that flip votes; fraudulent voter ID, voter intimidating, vote chaging, purging registration rolls, blocking owners of foreclosed properties from voting, etc., ad nauseum.

Reports are pouring in from early voting states of vote tampering, intimidating, vote flipping, purged rolls. It isn't theory. It's reality. Here in the USA, we have a concerted, widespread, systematic Republican effort to manipulate the election, a president willing to intervene in the election process, and a corrupt and partisan Department of Justice.

We know it's coming. The question is, what do we do about it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Tour of American Conservatism, a la Bush and Cheney

If you need a refresher tour, take a few laps through American conservatism narrated in the "vernacular of retail."

Thanks to Daily Dish for finding this one.


Rumor has it that Sarah Palin is planning to decorate the Veep's residence to coordinate with her favorite painting.

Ted Stevens Guilty. Now What?

If Democrats sweep on November 4, approximately one second after swearing, a flood of Republican money will wash over partisan private investigators across the land to fund the search to find something on the Democrats. At every single level of government. And, if you remember Dan Rostenkowski and Gary Hart, you know that the search will succeed. People are people.

So the first take-away to Democrats is, "Don't crow. Clean up your own house."

The second take-away is this, and apparently it cannot be said too often: Power corrupts.

Stevens was--actually, is, until he resigns or is expelled from the Senate--one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington. The Senate is a place where seniority counts, and Stevens is the senior Republican in the Senate. There isn't much he doesn't know about the Senate--and about his fellow Senators--and, as ranking Republican on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, he is in a terrific position to do a lot of good or a lot of harm to anyone dependent on federal funding. He's been in a stronger position in the past, but the trail of money to his political action committee AND to his home renovation program speaks to his reach and power.

The Senate is also a place where felons can serve if elected. Doesn't that pretty much tell you everything you need to know about congressional ethics?

OK. So now what.

Well, there's this from the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau:

"Despite being a convicted felon, he is not required to drop out of the race or resign from the Senate. If he wins re-election, he can continue to hold his seat because there is no rule barring felons from serving in Congress. The Senate could vote to expel him on a two-thirds vote.

'Put this down: That will never happen -- ever, OK?' Stevens said in the weeks leading up to his trial. 'I am not stepping down. I'm going to run through, and I'm going to win this election.'..."

We'll see if he wins in a couple of days. If he does win, and if he later resigns or is forced out, how will his seat be filled and by whom? Governor Palin?


An Open Letter to Mormons from a Fancher Granddaughter

Readers in the Southwestern USA are probably aware of it, but others might not know that leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), whose members are informally called Mormons, have formally taken sides in the California anti-gay proposition banning "gay" marriage. In a move that has divided Mormons themselves, the church is actively soliciting its members to oppose both CA Proposition 8 and the similar Arizona Proposition 102. From The Advocate: A letter sent to Mormon bishops and signed by church president Thomas S. Monson and his two top counselors calls on Mormons to donate ''means and time'' to the ballot measure. A note on the letter, dated June 20, says it should be read during church services on June 29, but the letter was published Saturday on several websites.

Following is an open letter to Mormons drawing parallels between 19th C Christian zealots' vicious persecution of Mormons and 21st C Christian zealots' vicious persecution of gay men and lesbian women. The parallels, while not exact, are close enough: zealots lack compassion, allegiance to constitutional justice, and humility. Consequently, they behave in ways that de-humanize themselves and others to a degree that often cannot be measured, much less atoned for. It might be expected that Mormons would understand this simple fact better than most and refrain from acting to restrain others' constitutional rights on the basis of malicious bigotry.

I suspect you know the name "Fancher."

For those who don't, one Capt. Alexander Fancher headed "the Fancher Train," a wagon train passing through Mountain Meadows, UT, en route to California in September, 1857. The Salt Lake Tribune reported what happened:
"A California-bound wagon train of about 140 Arkansas emigrants led by John Baker and Alexander Fancher camped near the present-day southwestern Utah town of Enterprise in September 1857. Fears that the U.S. Army was preparing to forcefully remove Brigham Young as Utah territorial governor and impose martial law were at their height. Spurred by inflammatory sermons of LDS leaders, a siege mentality focused Mormon resentment on the 'gentile' wagon train.

"Early on Sept. 7, a group of American Indians and local Mormon 'Indian missionaries' attacked the encircled wagon train without warning. ... With their ammunition, food and water almost gone, the emigrants were persuaded by Mormon officials on the afternoon of Sept. 11 to surrender their arms in exchange for a safe escort past the Indians to Cedar City. ... On a pre-arranged command, the rescuers turned upon the emigrants, joined by Indians who had been lying in wait. Estimates of the death toll include 14 Arkansas men shot in the head, 12 women and 35 youngsters clubbed or knifed to death, with 17 children younger than age 8 surviving the double-cross.

"Nine cowhands hired to drive cattle also were murdered, along with at least 35 other unknown victims. In all, 120 people, mostly women and children, were slain." (Salt Lake Tribune, March 14, 2000, p. A-4)"
This is a bitter part of American history. Accordingly, historians for decades have debated the motives for and precise authority for this massacre. They need not concern us here.
What I know beyond any doubt, and the main point of my recitation here, is that this massacre occurred in a wider context of abuse, violence, fear, and anger caused by America's perception of Mormonism.
The reason most often cited was "Christian" opposition to Mormon practices. But whatever such practices were, and why they existed, and what good or evil they did or didn't spawn was not even remotely relevant. What mattered--all that mattered--was perception.

So violent was the storm of rhetoric and outrage that swept the country that Mormons believed their very lives depended upon making a strategic exodus, en mass, to Utah. So it can't have been a matter of perfect joy and tranquility when a wealthy and large wagon train of "Gentiles" (non-Mormons) appeared in the lush Mountain Meadows valley.

Who knew why they came, or where they were headed, or what would follow? Would the US Army come along shortly to evict everyone in favor of new settlers like these? Who could know? There must have been grave concern among everyone of good will, not just about the immigrants' ultimate intentions and their possible potential for being abusive or violent, but also about how the local people would respond if anything untoward did occur. At least that's how I imagine it.

I've been to Mountain Meadow. Without planning or even expecting to, I ended up on the hill overlooking the valley talking with a local descendant, a Mormon farmer who had climbed up to get a fix on his cattle's whereabouts. When he asked me what had brought me there, I just said that my grandmother was a Fancher. Nothing else was required.

We talked for an hour after my partner left for town to get our camera fixed.

I said I hadn't come for vindication, that I didn't even feel particular rage: 1857 was a long time ago. Rage seemed superfluous at best in 1997, and at worst, a ridiculous extravagance that would only perpetuate grief. So I told him that I had just wanted to come because I wanted to get a sense of what else might have happened on both sides. I said that while nothing could ever excuse that extermination, I had a feeling that events surrounding the massacre were more complicated than either side wanted to dwell on.

(And the debate is full of speculation. You can get a sense of it from the unsubstantiated entry about Mountain Meadows at Wikipedia. The fact is, we'll never know if some Christian supremacist acted in brute ignorance and committed an incindiary obscenity or not. Maybe, but we just don't know.)

We talked without animosity, almost as friends. In fact he told me things I'd never have known without him--that some of the children from the train had been brought up by the local families as their own, and where I could find the communal grave holding some of the remains.

He couldn't have missed the fact that we are a lesbian couple. It's evident wherever we go, in our interactions--the habitual fond gestures of a long-married couple--and in our tone and vocabulary with each other. Appropriately enough, that made no difference to him.

I couldn't have missed the fact that he is a Mountain Meadeows Mormon. It was evident in all he said about himself. Appropriately enough, that made no difference to me.

What mattered--the only thing that ever matters--was our mutual kindness and humility.

Though I can't know what transpired in 1857, I am sure that the leading actors on the stage that day were the same ones who are hogging the stage now, in today's debate about gays and lesbians. And then as now, when moral umbrage, misunderstanding, fear, and paranoia overshadow reason, the actual human beings caught up in the clash are rendered invisible. What becomes of them, what horrors play out in their numerous small daily lives as a result is also invisible. It can't be measured, much less accounted for. Only the extremes--the Matthew Shepards and the Mountain Meadows--are noted, and then too briefly.

So this is an appeal to you. You've seen the decades of misery that ensued from the massacre at Mountain Meadows. You know why it occurred, and what relationship it had to years of bigotry poured out on Mormons by "Christians" utterly convinced of their own superiority.

If you remember how it feels to be vilified, abused, ostracized, and penalized because of someone else's misconceptions, maybe you can summon a little humility and a little kindness. No matter what church leaders may tell you, when you pull the level, vote no on Arizona's Proposition 102 and no on California's Proposition 8.

It's only justice.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Where's That Mason-Dixon Line Again?

Wonder if the throngs in the habit of assuring (and congratulating) themselves that racism is exclusively a southern thing have noticed that the goons cheering nastily for McCain/Palin don't all have southern accents. Last time I looked, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Nevada, and Colorado aren't south of the Mason-Dixon line. Neither is Alaska.

Wonder if anybody recalls that the entire country has been up to its eyeballs in racism long before McCain/Palin. It was -- and continues to be -- directed at Latinos and Latinas.

One of those "blind spots" we're always hearing about, I guess. Just sayin'.

On AZ Prop 102

Don't you just bet the guy in the middle is a Mormon for McCain? Geeze. Rapture already and leave the rest of us alone!
Thanks to my bud VL for this one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nope, You Can't Make This Up!

Anti-elitists John McCain and Sarah Palin spent $22K for two weeks' of the services of a make-up artist. Two weeks.

This is on top of the $150K the anti-elitists (both with private family airplanes) spent on Palin's wardrobe and goodies for the kids.

All I can say is, thank God they're anti-elitists. Can you imagine what they'd have spent if they weren't?

If I were a down-ticket Republican, I'd be forming a mob.

Ashley Todd: Truth in Advertising!

Ashley Todd is the little Republican field organizer who told police that she was attacked and brutalized because she has a McCain sticker on her bumper.

Such a terrible thing! McCain and Palin both phoned her to commiserate. Biden and Obama expressed the hope the attacker would swiftly be brought to justice.

The only problem is, it turns out that Ashley is a liar.

Ashley cooked up a nasty little scheme to mislead the voters, and then she blamed a Black man.

Does this sound familiar? Why, yes it does!

This is the long-standing strategy of the national GOP! First it comes up with a self-aggrandizing, destructive plan that swindles the public, then executes it, hurts itself and many others in the process, and then blames it all on people of color.

Here. Plug it in yourself. Whether the script is Iraq, or Katrina, or the home foreclosure crisis, it works! Yecht. It's uncanny when you think about it.

So here's my thought for the day. Give the poor elephant a break. Make Ashley's photo the official Republican Party logo. Now that would be Truth in Advertising.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Hot AZ music: Calexico

Memo to Greenspan: It's Poogie Built

In between spurts of vacuum cleaning and trash dumping, I watched as former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan confessed to blowing his responsibility over the matter of market deregulation. Greenspan, whom I've lately learned never outgrew his adolescent fixation on Ayn Rand's human-averse theories, actually believed that the market would regulate itself in a perpetual spasm of self interest. He believed fervently that an entity like, oh, AIG, would never never never take an inappropriate risk because doing so might cause it to harm itself. He believed that the profit motive would restrain foolish risk taking.

Well, it didn't, did it?

And do you know why it didn't?

Be warned: You'll need to equip yourself carefully for this demonstration project, and it isn't for the faint of heart:

First, get a giant bag. Then fill it with fresh, hot, buttered popcorn. Then set the bag of steaming hot buttered popcorn amidst four girl-crazy teenage boys. Then stand back.
Translated, the boys are the market, their interest in girls the irresistible imperative to restrain themselves, and the popcorn is the bait. You see what happened.

I'm shocked, shocked.

Only a sublime one percent of human beings can self regulate. The rest of us have ever required some fearsome spectre to keep us on the straight and narrow path. For many, that would be Hell. For others, it's a sergeant, the local constabulary, the school principal, mom and/or dad, or the unmatched terror of peer ridicule.

Hell and high school principals weren't invented because humans can self regulate.

Haven't we known since Hammurabi (he'd be an Iraqi if he lived now) that humans cannot self regulate? Isn't that the self evident fact around which all human societies are structured? Isn't that the one irriducible reason for laws, governments, religions, police, traffic lights? For God's sake! That's The First Rule of People!

What I want to know is, if Hammurabi knew that, and I knew that, how come I'm not CEO of a Wall Street investment bank, making $51 Million in annual bonuses and $300 Million annual salary? (OK I made those numbers up, but you get my drift.)

This kind of thing makes me foam-at-the mouth crazy.

Deliberately ignoring The First Rule of People is bad enough, but then predicating the operations of the most important financial exchange in the world upon ignoring The First Rule of People, and THEN ACTING SURPRISED WHEN IT ALL COLLAPSES? Excuse me. This is dumber than a wedge of cheddar.

This kind of thing is what I call Poogie built.

Poogies are a special kind of male. They construct stuff--material, theoretical, strategic, political, it doesn't matter--and then, when it doesn't work, as everyone else knew it wouldn't work, this is what they do. They form panels before Members of Congress (comprised largely of other poogies) where they excrete yards of multi-syllabic words to explain why it was self evidently impossible for anybody, under any circumstances, ever in history to know ahead of time that it wouldn't work.

Poogies make 18-lb travel irons. Poogies pack kleenex in un-dispensible wads. Poogies make seat belts that physically cannot work for anyone with convex breasts larger than 24-A, and poogies make contractor-size packs of sandpaper pads that don't fit the designated sanders.

Market deregulation is a classic example of poogie-built theory. Like the notion that we'd be greeted in Iraq with rose petals; like the idea that a CIA High Alert warning about 9-11 could safely be ignored; like the notion that Brownie would make a great FEMA chief, or W a good president, market deregulation is premised on all that we know about Neptune and nothing we know about Earthlings. It's so idiotic that it's hard to see why anybody ever fell for it in the first place.

Like Ayn Rand's Tazmanian Devil Theory of Human Relations, the notion that the markets will self regulate is a monument both to an abysmal ignorance of human nature and to the power of depraved greed.

Thanks to Alan Bail, of the Church of What's Happening Now for semi-private insights into Greenspan's devotion to Ayn Rand.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Confused About Tax Policy?

If, like moi, you want a bit of clarity about tax policy, here's a fine read by Nobel economist Paul Krugman, on the Reagan-W "tax cut con." And it's even interesting.

They Spent HOW MUCH on WHAT???

Remember the week-long media fixation John Edwards's $400 haircut?

It appears that that's just Democrat chump change.

The Republican National Committee(RNC)just announced that it spent $49 THOUSAND at Saks Fifth Avenue, $75 THOUSAND at Neiman Marcus, $9 THOUSAND at Macy's, and miscellaneous additional THOUSANDS for wardrobes, accessories, hair, and make-up for the Palins.

The Washington Independent, via Politico, reports that the Republican National Committee appears to have spent $150,000 for clothes, hair and makeup for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her family, following her pick as Sen. John McCain’s running mate.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

The records also show nearly $10,000 paid to Macy’s in Minneapolis, nearly $6,000 to Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s, and $295 to Steiniauf and Stroller, a high-end baby store — even little Trig got in on the action.

On the bright side, even if McCain loses the election, the Palins will still look fabulous.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yeah, I wanna look at this for the next 4 years


Friday, October 17, 2008

Send MN Rep. Michelle Bachmann Back Under Her Rock

If you didn't hear Chris Matthews' interview with this modern-day McCarthy fascist, Daily Kos has it on video here.

This gal is as hard Right as it gets. She's like a Sarah Palin clone. But see for yourself.

First listen to Bachmann equate leftists and liberals with America haters and call for an investigation of Congress to root out the "America haters." Listen carefully to her vicious and unprincipled diatribe about Barack Obama, and then get yourself to this secure actblue site to contribute generously to Democrat El Tinklenberg, her opponent in a tough Congressional campaign.

Join thousands of progressives in the blogosphere: Let's let Bachmann know in no uncertain terms that she's not welcome in our Congress, and that the more she spews her lying hateful rabble-rousing venom, the more we'll contribute to decent candidates for public office.

Not convinced? Here's what a MN blogger has to say about Bachmann:

"This is a person who organized rallies where signs calling for the MURDER of gays and lesbians were shown, a person who blamed the economic crises on minorities, a person who denies global warming. Michelle Bachmann is as hard right as they come. You don't know how much beating Michelle Bachmann would mean to me and many other Minnesotans. So again, please, please, please donate."
In the immortal words of Marge Gunderson (Fargo), "You betcha! I just think I'm gonna baarf!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Mother's Health is a Loophole?

John McCain lost it tonight.

His attacks may have appealed to some of the base, but his comment about allowing abortions in cases where the mother's health is at risk was the shot heard round the world.

Husbands, wives, and mothers-to-be do not regard the mother's health as a cynical political calculation. They regard it as a matter of sacred responsibility.

Buried within that comment, in my opinion, was core misogyny, the inquisitorial Malleus Malefacorum of Rightwing domestic policy.

Underlying that remark was a profound, pretty much psychotic contempt for and distrust of American women, and a tellingly fearful exaggeration of the influence of the Female in shaping American public policy. Here was a male child confronted with the power of his mother, confounding that primal relationship with public discourse about a woman's right to control her own body.

What McCain didn't recognize in making that remark was how revealing it was of the man himself, and how revealing it is of the male-dominated anti-woman's-right posture. What it revealed to me, again, for the umpteenth time, is that this is not someone I want anywhere near the lever of social or foreign policy.

And is it me, or do John McCain's eyes come across on the television screen as exact replicas of the dead, black eyes of devils in TV serials? When the camera closed in on McCain, his eyes dominated the screen, and it wasn't a reassuring picture.

Wage Theft: A National Disgrace

Today is Blog Action Day 2008, and the subject is poverty.

Along with conservatives' anti-labor, anti-minimum wage, job outsourcing, and economic policies, wage theft--an all-American pass-time--is a major systemic cause of poverty among American workers. It's so widespread that just by itself, wage theft undermines the national claim that we are a country driven by universal religious values. Nuh-uh: All religions require justice.

If you labor in construction, domestic work, home healthcare, assisted living, landscaping, agriculture, hotel and restaurant food services, certain retail industries, roofing, meat and poultry packing, house painting, and similar industries, it doesn't matter whether the employing firm is large or small. The odds that you'll be cheated of significant earned wages are more than 90 to 1.

At least that's the experience of those of us who volunteer for Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ). IWJ is a national organization devoted to improving the lives of America's workers--especially our low-income workers. Reports from IWJ's 19 Worker Rights Centers across the country indicate that over 90% of workers who contact IWJ for help report at least one experience of wage theft.

What is wage theft? The short answer: Wage theft is when you aren't paid the correct sum for each and every hour that you're worked.

How does it happen? Here are some of the more common ways. You work as directed but:

You aren't paid at all;
You are paid less than the amount you were promised;
You are forced to work "off the clock";
Work-related travel time is not recorded or compensated when it should be;
You are misclassified as an "independent contractor," thus cheated of benefits, overtime pay, and the employer's share of payroll taxes to which you are lawfully entitled;
You are paid less than the applicable state or federal minimum wage;
Though eligible, you are not paid time-and-a-half for each overtime hour you work;
Your time sheet is altered to record fewer hours than those you've actually worked;
Illegal deductions are withheld from your paycheck (e.g., illegal fees for required safety equipment);
Fraudulent deductions are withheld from your paycheck (e.g., fees for a promise to get a green card for you)
You are misclassified as exempt from overtime requirements; and so on.

Wage theft isn't merely cheating. It's stealing.

It happens to everyone, but most of all to the most vulnerable among us--immigrants who are unaware of their rights, unable to speak English fluently, and easily exploited.

But while wage theft is epidemic among low-wage workers, both native-born and immigrant, anyone who gets paid for labor is subject potentially to wage theft. "
Wage theft hurts middle-income as well as low-wage workers. It robs money from he public treasury, create a strain on he nation's limited social service delivery networks, and takes money out of workers' pockets that would have been spent at local businesses. And it is a grave sin." [Faith Works, Summer 2008)

Wage theft rates have skyrocketed under the Bush administration. Today, there are only 750 Department of Labor (DOL) inspectors for some 135 million workers who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act--and that doesn't even count domestic and agricultural workers, who aren't protected. In 1938, when the law was first enacted, there were 14 million workers protected by 1500 DOL inspectors.

Until now, wage theft has been virtually ignored. That's beginning to change, thanks to IWJ. IWJ Executive Director Kim Bobo testified in July before the House Education and Labor Committee on wage theft, which catapulted the issue onto the national screen. Shortly thereafter, an editorial appeared in the New York Times, and other newspapers gradually began to cover it. This November, Bobo's new book on wage the will be published.

So at last the issue is beginning to surface. Our job is to keep it front and center.

What can you do to help?
Fill the White House, the Senate, and the House with Democrats
Support Interfaith Worker Justice with a generous contribution
Take advantage of IWJ's extensive online educational resources
Watch Kim Bobo's July 2008 testimony before the House Labor and Commerce Committee, or read the full text of her remarks at the IWJ website
Host a study group on the issue at your faith community; use Bobo's book as your study guide.
Set up a Worker Rights Center, or volunteer for one in your area
Support all pro-union initiatives, including the Employee Free Choice Act now pending. A well-represented workforce is the key to a strong middle class.
Support initiatives to extend wage and hour protections to workers who are not presently covered
Support initiatives to extend paid sick days, healthcare, paid vacations, and retirement benefits to all workers
Support living wage and minimum wage initiatives
Contact the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to voice your support for vigorous enforcement of wage and hour laws. This is especially effective if your own representative or senator sits on one of these committees.
If you are an employer, do the right thing.
Wage theft doesn't hurt only the workers and their families. Ultimately, wage theft hurts us all. It removes dollars from our local economies, undermines our tax base, forces workers who could otherwise be self-supporting to become dependent on taxpayers; gives an unfair, anti-competitive advantage to unscrupulous employers, and strengthens the same climate of greed and fraud that is responsible for a global market crisis. It's different, sure; but the difference is one of degree, not of kind.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grab Bag

Weather Underground Prosecuter Bashes McCain Campaign
From Church of What's Happening Now:

"In a letter to the New York Times on Friday, the lead prosecutor of the Weather Underground "Weathermen" in the early 1970's, William Ibershof, expresses outrage and amazement at the efforts to link Barack Obama to William Ayer's former criminal activities."
He would know.

More on [Disgusting] For-Profit Immigrant Detention Centers
From Facing South, more about the profoundly disturbing GOP-driven practice of profiteering on immigrant detention:
"We've been hearing horror stories about detainees being put into prison with other criminals when all they have done is be here without documentation. Our goal is to keep them safe," Spates said. "But I want to be honest with you. We do stand to gain financially from this."

During a public meeting in Farmville [VA], ICA spokesperson Ken Newsome projected that at 85 percent capacity the facility will generate $322,000 annually in fees for the city in addition to an estimated $450,000 in tax revenue for Farmville and Prince Edward County. According to the Washington Post, if the facility does run at the projected capacity, ICA stands to gross $20 million in federal tax dollars annually.

Privately-run immigrant detention centers of this type have been plagued by scandal, lawsuits and controversy. The private-prison watchdog group Grassroots Leadership has documented a pattern of abuses. They cite examples including a center in Elizabeth, N.J. that was shut down temporarily when immigrants were awarded $2.5 million in damages after an investigation showed that poorly trained guards served rotting food and physically and mentally abused prisoners. ICE turned the facility over to Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), despite this group also having a documented history of abuses in its facilities. In March of last year, nearly 1,000 immigrant prisoners in the 1,500-bed facility run by CCA in Lumpkin, Ga. went on a hunger strike protesting conditions including lack of medical care.

Private companies like ICA [the start-up in question] profit from inefficiency in the immigrant detention system. A recent article by the Washington Post documents immigrants languishing in ICE custody for months even after signing a voluntary deportation order. This means more days of space "purchased" from companies like ICA at taxpayer expense.

The demand for these spaces is at an all-time high with the recent increase in ICE raids, and all indications are that it will continue to rise. Under the Secure Communities plan, ICE will be expanding enforcement efforts and initiating deportation proceedings against any noncitizen, documented or not, who is arrested.

Viable alternatives to immigrant incarceration do exist at a fraction of the cost. With their Appearance Assistance Program, the Vera Institute for Justice achieved a 93 percent appearance rate in court including final appearances at a cost of $12 a day. ICA's $63 dollar per day rate is at the low end of the range of per diem charges in the region where Alexandria tops the list at $113 daily.
Can anybody miss noticing the direction of incentives here? That's one of the two main things wrong with private, for-profit prisons. The other is the authority/legitimacy thing. If you'll pardon a stretched comparison, they're kind of like political churches. There's no way to know for sure who's talking. [Emphasis added throughout. Please see original for significant links.]

Was Civil Rights Hero Rep. John Lewis Wrong?
Not "No." "Hell no!" One of the clearest signs that Palin isn't qualified is her blissful recklessness. Apart from the fact that her kind of "otherizing" points to her fascistic inclinations and her hypocrisy to her struggle to cover it up, this kind of thing--equating Obama with terrorists--is nothing if not inciting the crowds to a level of rage that she can't control even if she wanted to. When a guy like John Lewis speaks of the dangers of mob violence, people should sit down, shut up, and listen.

Those were hideously dangerous times. They were days of rage built up, on the Right, by decades of racism and by escalated terrors of Communism evoked by Kruschev, Castro, and Joe McCarthy, and on the Left, by waves of protest against a culture twisted by a myriad inequalities, an insatiable lust for violence, and out-of-control materialism.

We still haven't gotten over the 1960s. But today, ten factors in addition to racism and the spectre of a foreign devil are at work. The first is the resentment borne of the whole of the Vietnam experience--the war, the results, and the return. The second is an intentional 30-year secular and religious media campaign devoted to demonizing the Left. The third is the politics of Lee Atwater brought to full fruition by Karl Rove and the swiftboaters, and the resulting rage. The fourth is an extreme, highly politicized Christianist Right active in politics and zealous in creating a theocratic society in the name of Jesus. The fifth is the economic crash and the desperation that has created nationally, especially among the poorest and least educated. The sixth is the systematic outsourcing of working class and middle class jobs. The seventh is a privatized military and privatized, for-profit prisons that depend for their daily bread on a steady crop of "criminals." The eighth is the so-called "Patriot Acts" and "legalized" domestic espionage, dedicated to providing them. The ninth is a systematic attack on the idea of education and on public schools, resulting in a less educated population less capable of navigating change and challenge. The tenth is the unparalleled speed with which today's news and disinformation travel, and the closely related capacity for organizing bestowed by the Internet.

Arguably, today's environment is much more volatile, and the people much more divided, than in the 1960s. I was there then, too, and I think it is worse today. It's just different now: It's a systematized, establishment fascism today threatening chaos from the top down. That's way scarier than a rag-tag bottom-up movement of peaceful pro-Constitution activists.

Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain's Base

Thanks to Wonkette for this.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cash-Carry? Are You Kidding Me?

I hear that Treasury Secretary Paulson has appointed a guy named Neel Kashkari to oversee the $850 Billion bailout--and check his qualifications:

"A Goldman Sachs Group alumnus in charge of the nation’s economic rescue? How unusual.

"Except, of course, it isn’t. As The Wall Street Journal’s Deborah Solomon reported today, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is promoting Neel Kashkari, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for international affairs, to be the point man overseeing the $700 billion financial bailout as the interim head of Paulson’s Office of Financial Stability. The full appointment would need Senate confirmation, which is unlikely to come given the short remaining tenure in this Administration.

"The move essentially puts a new title on what Kashkari he has been doing since he joined Treasury in 2006–examining the consequences of an economic housing fallout. Kashkari was one of three Treasury staffers–including general counsel Robert Hoyt and head of legislative affairs Kevin Fromer–who stayed up until 4 a.m. last Sunday putting together the $700 billion bailout bill that was shot down by House Republicans the next day.

"Kashkari is an Indian-American who has a few things in common with Paulson (above right). Both are former Goldman Sachs bankers, though Kashkari, at 35 years old, is much younger and was just a vice president-level banker in Goldman’s San Francisco technology banking effort when Paulson tapped him to join Treasury. Both also are Midwesterners. Kashkari grew up in Stow, Ohio, and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Paulson was raised in Barrington Hills, Ill. And both sport similar hairstyles– or lack thereof.

"Kashkari didn’t take a conventional route into banking. He started out as an aerospace engineer at TRW, developing technology for NASA projects like the James Webb Space Telescope, the replacement to Hubble, which is scheduled to launch in 2013."

AZ Rightwing "Law-Abiders": Wherefore Art Thou Now?

I'm waiting to be deafened by irate Arizonans lined up in front of Pruitt's to protest the newest crop of "illegals." The new "illegals" are members of the AZ-based conservative group Alliance Defense Fund. They've on pastors, of all people, to knowingly break the law.

I'm waiting for that roar of outrage(tap tap tap).

I'm looking left, right, fore, and aft, for red, white, and blue pro-America "Obey the Law!" signs. I don't see nuthin'.

And I'm still waiting.

From The Michigan Messenger, among others:

"This past Sunday, the conservative organization Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), based in Arizona, sponsored a protest of the federal tax code that prohibits preachers from endorsing a political candidate from the pulpit.

"The initiative, called 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday,' called on preachers around the country to violate the law and make endorsements during their sermons. The 54-year-old tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, like churches, from engaging in partisan politics. If they do, they could lose their tax-free status. According to ADF, about 30 churches participated in the protest nationwide, and almost all of their pastors endorsed Sen. John McCain."

Still not hearing a word.

This tells me (again) that AZ Rightwingers don't give a damn about the law. Just like they don't give a damn about facts and truth, and don't give a damn about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and don't give a damn about fair, free elections.

What they care about is white, male, money, and guns (power). If the last eight years haven't etched that into your consciousness, you're already compost. You're just walking around, that's all.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Palin on the Vice Presidency: Pay Attention, Please

There's an insightful article over on Salon about Palin's comments about the vice presidency. As the writer notes, that was, oddly, the one subject she seems to have thought quite creatively about--inspired, of course, by Vice President Dick Cheney and his constitutional revisionists.

This deserves to be read. Actually, Palin's comments deserve amplification far and wide, and detailed analysis, but I don't think we'll be getting either, do you?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's For Your Own Good, Darling

First, read this for a little crucial background about the Bush Administration, Cheney and Rumsfeld, the creation of NORTHCOM, and the use of the US military "to support civil authorities."

Then read this little item from the Army Times, and consider the timing of this "homeland [Army combat brigade] tour" in light of the economic crisis and the coming national elections. A quick review of all the civil liberties we've lost under the Bush administration might be in order, too. I'm just sayin'. . . .

An excerpt from the Army Times (be sure to read the original):

Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1

3rd Infantry’s 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active Army
By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Sep 30, 2008 16:16:12 EDT

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.

“Right now, the response force requirement will be an enduring mission. How the [Defense Department] chooses to source that and whether or not they continue to assign them to NorthCom, that could change in the future,” said Army Col. Louis Vogler, chief of NorthCom future operations. “Now, the plan is to assign a force every year.”

How to Follow Palin Talk

Pretty darn good, wot? Well done, Adennak. (This, seized from Adennak on Daily Kos, with thanks.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fight Book Banning

What you can do

Stick it to Sarah: Buy a banned book for the Wasilla library.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Debate

I'll take my crow well seasoned and grilled on high heat.

She didn't quit, as I had predicted. Moreover, she did an excellent job given the expectations and within the staged constraints of a debate. I think she may have transfused the McCain campaign, however temporarily, and I will give her credit for guts and for manuvering very well in a difficult situation.

That said, her performance confirmed what I wrote here earlier: She's W in drag. Because she has no genuine intellectual depth, she has no sense that the global stage is too big for her. By "intellectual depth," I don't mean native intelligence. I've never said she ain't smart. What I mean is that there's a world of competing ideas out there to which she has never, ever been exposed. What's far worse, however, is that she never will be exposed to that world because her ideology precludes that exposure. Palin is a study in conviction without exposure, certainty without experience. She reminds me of any late teenager: all mouth and no wisdom.

Palin is the perfect successor to George Bush because she is George Bush, in drag. The guts they share? It's bluster. The attractive, folksy persona? It's cultivated in contradiction to the privilege they devote their lives to achieving. It's fake. The tenacity her followers admire? It's not adherence to a course of action because it is wise and effective. It's adherence to a course of action because it fits nicely inside her ideological cake pan.

She let slip a couple of fearsome views. The notion that the Vice President can expand his or her role in and outside the Senate is an endorsement of the Cheney-Addington Unitary Presidency theme. We're not surprised, of course. But surely, by now we know we don't want any more of that. The notion that global warming might not all be man-made leaves open the probability that under a Palin presidency, doing anything about it would be regarded as a slap in God's face.

And of course there's the part about how her actual record in Alaska bears scant resemblance to her telling of it. The astronomical debt, the fascistic abuse of power, the sports arena built without title to the land it's built on, the road to the bridge built before there's a bridge, the nepotistic installation of friends and family into positions of power without regard to competence. All these, too, are scenes she's stealing from the same one book that George reads.

It bears noticing, surely. I hope Americans can read between well rehearsed lines, but my hope for Americans' ability to distinguish between beef and bullshit is stretched pretty thin these days.

She rarely answered the questions, and often misrepresented the facts, and spoke often enough in theo-code to leave me absolutely as revolted tonight as I've always been by this ticket. It isn't how she performed, in the theatrical sense. It's what her values are.