March 2012

War On The Poor

In Minnesota

Here in Minnesota, social service issues are going to be an ongoing focus for the foreseeable future. Republican legislators keep introducing one bill after another to try to make life as hard as it can be for poor people. They want to restrict services to a total of three years in a lifetime, put a sixty day waiting period for services for newcomers to Minnesota, and make it so you can't receive any services if you've been convicted of any crime in the previous ten years.

Bullying

The Violent Enforcement of Conformity

Bullying kills. It also costs- school districts can face massive lawsuits when a tragedy happens because of unchecked bullying. So why is it frequently the case that teachers and school administrators will look the other way, blame the victim, or facilitate bullying in some other way?

Mitt Romney criticizes Obamacare on its second Anniversary

"He hit on some pretty interesting points during a campaign speech in New Orleans"

Republican front-runner Mitt Romney maligned President Barack Obama’s health care reform that was put in place two years ago. Although, Romney’s opponents have constantly stated that Obamacare is a national model of the law he signed when he was Governor of Massachusetts, Romney has continued to criticize Obama’s version of it.

Romney has stated that Obamacare is an entitlement that is wasting too much of the government’s funds and is also bringing too much unnecessary state involvement into people’s lives. He said that he would change the health care reform by providing the states with Medicaid money and altering the tax code so that people will be offered an incentive to purchase insurance on their own right.

Occupiers In Union Square

And Thoughts On Cop-Fishing

For the past few nights, Occupiers in New York City have successfully held on to Union Square, a new encampment without tents or tables. The NYPD has responded in its usual heavy-handed fashion, and the Occupiers have also escalated, taunting the police in various ways. Some Occupiers have even been “fishing for cops” by dangling donuts in front of their faces from home-made fishing poles. This isn't a kind or respectful thing to do, and I personally wouldn't do it. But these Occupiers have seen the NYPD savagely beating their friends and comrades again and again, and under those circumstances their lack of respect for the police should surprise no one.

Keep Religion Out of School

Tax dollars are not paying for a “godly education” in any sense of the phrase.

My best friend recently suffered yet another altercation with her child’s first grade teacher. I don’t know about you, but when a teacher has it out for a kid in the freaking first grade, something’s wrong. Do you really hate kids so much that you can’t deal with something simple like an adult?

The little girl and a little boy had been experimenting with their fingers, seeing who could bend theirs back the furthest. Kids do these silly things a lot, and they’re actually not so silly; they’re learning all kinds of things from these simple activities, such as critical thinking, hypothesizing, comparing and contrasting, social skills, you name it. The teacher decided to jump in, however, when the little girl used her middle finger to bend next, demanding that the girl tell her why it was bad, and how would her parents feel about it, and making her miss not one but TWO recess periods because of it.

Should The Law Have Better Protected Trayvon Martin?

Zimmerman has yet to be arrested for the shooting

The death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin has sparked national outrage. All indications suggest that Martin, who was gunned down by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, was unarmed and fleeing from Zimmerman moments before he was killed.  Protestors and legal counsel acting on behalf of Martin's family are calling for the federal Department of Justice to investigate the incident as a hate crime, but Zimmerman has yet to be arrested for the shooting.

A Florida law called Stand Your Ground has been cited as the reason authorities did not arrest Zimmerman following a brief questioning at the crime scene, during which Zimmerman claimed he feared for his life during an altercation with Martin. The law allows deadly force in public areas when necessary for self defense.

V.P. Cheney's Hunting Accident

Mr. Cheney Accepts Responsibility

The sprawling 50,000 acre Armstrong ranch in Kennedy County, Texas offers excellent quail hunting. Katherine Armstrong, the ranch’s owner, allowed the vice presidential party access to the ranch on Thursday February 11, 2006 to hunt the birds. Vice President Dick Cheney was participating in the hunting trip as was Harry Whittington, Pamela Pitzer Willeford and Oscar Medellin. The vice president’s Secret Service detail was also present. All of these people were at the scene and were eyewitnesses to the incident.

Keeping Our Eyes On The Big Picture

It's The Way To Win

 

One of the most important issues for worker's rights right now is to not get caught up in small-picture thinking. What do I mean by small-picture thinking? Concentrating on your own local problems and not standing in solidarity with others, concentrating on short-term problems instead of long-term solutions, fighting to hold ground instead of advancing, and working for small reforms instead of sweeping, systemic changes.

Tempest In A Teapot

Graffiti at OMW

 

According to the “Belleville News Democrat,” Fox2, and various other corporate news outlets in the St. Louis area (all of which actually pulled the story from the Associated Press), the big story about the Occupy the Midwest Regional Convergence is the fact that a few pieces of pro-Occupy graffiti showed up here and there around the city.

 

You might think the big story, in a democratic society with a functional free press, would be the baton-slinging attack by the St Louis Police Department on a peaceful protest march- but then, we are no longer a democratic society with a functional free press. The mainstream media moves in lockstep with the other elements of the corporate state, making a molehill of graffiti tags into a mountain of “vandalism,” while saying as little as possible about the bloody faces and broken heads.

"You Have No Authority Here"

Why Do We Say That?

 

When I was in St. Louis this weekend for Occupy the Midwest, one of our actions was against Peabody Coal. This is a company that hasn't paid any federal taxes in three years, and that has demanded and received a whole host of tax breaks from the city as well. Peabody Coal is a corporate parasite, contributing nothing to the community while doing everything in its power to suck every dime it can out of that same community. Among their many other offenses, they are currently tearing up the Navajo Nation and draining away its water supply to extract more coal. When Peabody is done, the Navajo Nation will have been drained dry and left without water in the middle of a vast desert.

Maybe we need a Zero Tolerance Policy for Racist

I'm sure it'll never happened though we can still dream

I had come across a heartbreaking video earlier this week that I wanted to share with everyone here, however I of course didn't save it so I had to search for it and you know how that can go. While trying to locate the video that I wanted to share I came across the following video. Needless to say it is a clear-cut reminder of the never-ending ignorance of racist idiots.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his many Stamps

A repeated tribute to a great president

Over the years Franklin Delano Roosevelt has had 9 United States Postage stamps made in his honor. This is further proof that he was beloved and respected as a president for many presidents are lucky to have even one stamp in their honor, in fact several US presidents have walked through the doors of the White House without ever having the United States Post office pay tribute with a stamp.

Vermont Rep Backs Marriage Equality with Humor

Republican sasses it up with mock campaign to outlaw left-handed marriage

Watch out, Vermont. You've got a snarkasaurus rex in your midst. In response to a proposed bill that would repeal gay marriage in the northeastern state, Rep. Seth Cohn has introduced an amendment that would also ban left-handed people from marrying each other. He's gathered the support of a number of citizens who protested outside the State House earlier today with mock signs like "protect right-handed marriage" and "it's civil rights, not civil lefts!"

I've got to say I appreciate the support, especially considering that Cohn is of the Republican persuasion. But I'm not really sure his methods here are the most effective. While having a sense of humor even about the most serious issues is important, introducing an amendment to a bill in jest seems like it undermines the fight for equality. As an activist, I'm not really here just to mock the other side. I try to understand their concerns and work with them as best I can. Flatly belittling your opponents usually isn't productive. Rather than arriving at a mutual understanding of the many facets of the issue, it breeds resentment and contempt.

Arizona Rep Says Women Should Watch an Abortion Before Getting One

Another installment in the disturbing trend of trying to punish, not prevent, unwanted pregnancy

I'm getting a little fed up with the tone of this whole abortion argument that's been flaring up over the past few months. Never mind that the debate itself feels like it's been unceremoniously transplanted from the mid-60s--the way politicians keep talking about women, their bodies and their choices is enough to rile up any feminist who can't   believe she has to assert again and again that she is, in fact, a fully functional adult human being.

The abortion requirements that conservative politicians are calling for seem to indicate that they're less interested in preventing unwanted pregnancies and more interested in shaming women whose choices they disagree with. It almost seems as though they're happy whenever a woman gets pregnant by accident because it raises them a notch up on their high horse. Each new unwanted pregnancy belongs to someone that right-wingers get to feel superior to. Why else would Republicans simultaneously call for the elimination of sex education and access to contraceptives while demanding that women seeking abortion first undergo humiliating and invasive procedures?

Bodyguards for the Citizen Media

Tactic Pioneered At OMW

At the Occupy the Midwest Regional Convergence, citizen media was singled out for police violence. On the first night of the encampment, they went after anyone with a camera- knocking them down, beating them and arresting them. Livestreamers and other alternative media are especially vulnerable, because they have to focus on getting a good shot and they frequently don't realize when police are coming up from behind or from the side.

Defy the Violence

Show Them We Can't Be Stopped

It's like the chant says- “this is what a police state looks like.” Imagine if every single thing you did was being watched by the cops. Helicopters hovering and circling overhead, police spies filming everything you did, cop cars and bike police and police SUVs circling the block again and again and again and again, rows of cops with batons in their hands staring at you from behind barricades, closing off streets behind you, moving in to surround you.

 

Now imagine you kept going anyway. Imagine all of those bullies and spies couldn't scare you at all, couldn't stop you from standing up and resisting, couldn't even slow you down. Imagine all of their power to frighten and intimidate, all of their power to spy and surveil, all of their power to hurt people and arrest people- and all of it utterly useless, utterly weak.

The DOJ Says that the Florida Voter ID Law May Intentionally Discriminate

Those advocating for the new voter ID laws claim that the point is to protect the sanctity of the voting booth and to ensure that elections are fair. They say that the purpose is to ensure that only those who are lawfully permitted to vote in this country are able to exercise the right. The opponents say that the intent is far different. They say that the proponents are deliberately erecting a barrier to the polls for those who are not likely to vote Republican. This means minorities and students, those who have shown a tendency to vote Democrat in the past.

As has been stated in previous posts on the blog, the laws are primarily for those areas of the country where there has been a history of racial/ethnic discrimination at the polls.

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