Symphony Orchestra Flash Mob – Sabadell (Spain)

Source: Symphony Orchestra Flash Mob – Sabadell (Spain)

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Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America

Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual linchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean

Source: Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America

We better remember this guy, and all the damage he helped create. This shows that democracy is NOT compatible to absolute capitalism.

Border Wall Blues

trump refuses to give up on his precious border wall with Mexico, because such pundits as Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, presumably speaking for trump voters, complained about any backing down on the construction of the wall. He’s also talked about closing the border with Mexico entirely-that reminds me of East Germany during the Cold war period.

This is not the act of a responsible leader, but of someone who is desperate for whatever support he could get, since Mueller is on his trail, and established Republican leaders are souring on his stupid foreign policy moves, like the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Syria, to appease such despots he admires like Erdogan of Turkey and Putin of Russia. He has to play tough for his voters-what would he use them for? A crude militia if he IS impeached? I would put nothing past him. The rules of politics in this country have been long gone.

For this stunt, over 800,000 federal employees are without paychecks; these are not the evil “bureaucrats” the right wing myth factory whines about, but people trying to do the best job they can for the community, often with not all that much pay; people who have mortgages and groceries to pay for, and kids to support. But don’t worry, CONgress and the inmates in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue still get their pay. That’s something to think about this new year.

Blue Gif Artist GIF by Erica Anderson - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Mason Missile, December 29, 2018

Greetings!

I hope you’re enjoying your holidays. Unfortunately, there is the new December tradition-along with caroling, the ugly sweater, and Aunt Clara’s fruit cake- of religious extremists demanding everyone say “Merry Christmas,” complaining that they’re not allowed to talk about Christmas.

For conservatives, it’s a zero-sum game for them: more rights for traditionally oppressed minorities-like Jews and Muslims in this country- means less rights for the traditionally dominant groups, as if rights were a tangible commodity. The reality doesn’t matter to them, it’s their perception of reality; they project what they want to impose on others-like the dominance of Christianity to the exclusion of other faiths, or no faith at all- upon others. It’s like the homophobic bully who beats up gays because he himself is afraid that he’s gay (like it’s a bad thing).

Look at Wisconsin and Michigan- Democrats have won governorships in those states in 2018, and the lame duck Republican legislature- “elected” from heavily gerrymandered districts-got to work in passing legislation stripping the new governor of his authority to make appointments to certain agencies; in Michigan, Republicans did the same to the newly-elected governor, attorney-general, and secretary of state (all women). In 2016, in North Carolina, Roy Cooper, the Democrat, defeated Pat McCrory for governor, and the Republican legislature proceeded to strip the governor of some of his authority.

Fortunately, the efforts by Republicans are being challenged in the courts and by grassroots activists-did they think we would just take it lying down, allow ourselves to be oppressed and repressed? Apparently they do, they act like there would be no resistance.

In Georgia and Florida, during their gubernatorial elections, there were voting applications placed “on hold,” voting stations closing, efforts to discourage people from voting-like when, in Georgia, county officials ordered people at a senior citizens’ center off the bus taking them to the polling station-and absentee and mail-in ballots all of a sudden going missing. Remember, Brian Kemp, who ran against Stacy Abrams in Georgia, was still serving as Georgia’s Secretary of State, supervising the election system.

Remember this when Republicans whine about “elitist” Democratic liberals, and pretending to be of, by, and for the people; if they were so damn confident about their popularity, why repress voting? Do they expect us to, like I said, just take it? Are they just trying to wear us down, drain our financial and emotional resources so we give up?  There might be a hiatus, a time-out, but we get back into the fight.

(Still, burnout, wearing one’s self out, is a problem among activists. We need to take care of ourselves; don’t worry, there will be others keeping the fight going while we’re on vacation.)

Frontiers of Free Enterprise- General Motors, like the other auto giants, took a bail-out package from the federal government after its bankruptcy in 2009, costing taxpayers $11.2 billion, after the government spent $49.5 billion to save the company. (Last I heard, there were no cries about “lazy welfare moochers” then.)  (http://time.com/82953/general-motors-bailout-cost-taxpayers-11-2-billion/) Plus, the tax cuts the Republicans passed in 2017 were-the same old line that nobody believes-to stimulate the economy, rebuild equipment and hire more workers.

BUT- Right after Thanksgiving, GM announced it would close down five of its plants in North America, thereby laying off 14,700 workers. (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/26/general-motors-set-to-cut-workforce-as-slowing-sales-and-steel-tariffs-bite) Meanwhile, GM CEO Mary Barra received a salary on $22 million. (https://moneyandmarkets.com/barra-most-unpopular-ceo-gm/) Even while crying poormouth, cutting salaries and jobs for workers, and demanding tax breaks, corporate executives continue to attain huge perks.

The same holds true for another venerable American brand, Sears, under its CEO Eddie Lampert, formerly of Goldman Sachs, a disciple of Ayn Rand, and with no experience in retail sales; applying the idea of cutthroat competition to units of his company (which acquired Kmart) and demanding they compete with one another.  (https://www.salon.com/2013/07/18/ayn_rand_killed_sears_partner/) Sears under Lampert sold off and closed hundreds of Sears brand and Kmart stores, and laid off thousands of employees-while paying its executives $9.9 million in perks. (https://thinkprogress.org/sears-lavishes-ceo-with-pay-and-perks-while-laying-off-workers-and-bilking-taxpayers-d6dabcf9762d/)

Instead of more employees, fewer and more laid off; instead of more facilities, stores and plants closing. Corporate executives prosper from their incompetence, and workers get nothing. That was the same model practiced by Bain Capital, under Mitt Romney. The ideas put forth in the Preamble of the Constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World are even truer now than back when the IWW was founded in 1905:

“The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

“Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.”

I’m not entirely into the IWW program, but the idea is the same-we workers, and low and middle-income people must educate ourselves and then organize to reclaim what remains of what we call “democracy” in this country, and to move it further.  

And on that note, Happy New Year!

New Year Party GIF by Omer - Find & Share on GIPHY

Christmas Blues

I hope everybody is having a good holiday season. All through the year, not just on certain occasions, we all need to connect with our loved ones, whether they’re biological family or not. But it is particularly true in the winter, when days are short and cold, and the weather is by itself a downer; Seasonal Adjustment Disorder (SAD) is definitely a thing. If you’re feeling down this time of year, reach out to friends and other loved ones, they could also do with a little human contact, like we all do.

via GIPHY

 

Morality and Reality

On Monday, December 17, I participated in the Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers, held at Thomas Paine Plaza in Philadelphia. There people gathered to honor the memories of people killed while engaged in sex for hire, doing nothing more than raising money to care for their families and to get by. The demonstration continued with a gathering at the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (http://www.philamoca.org/) for a commemorative reading of names to slain sex workers; a viewing of a TED Talk about the need for sex workers to take part in discussions about their work and how to regulate is (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc-n852sv3E); and a talk from my friend, Anita DeFrancesco http://anitadefrancesco.com/) about her new book, The Donna Gentile Story, about the murder of her cousin, a sex worker. (http://donnamariegentile.com/)

This is all part of a growing movement to defend the rights of sex workers-be they workers in a house or on the street, pole dancers, escorts, sugar babies, cam girls, porn performers-and to recognize sex work as a real, legitimate form of employment, one carried out by workers like you and me, people trying to earn income to pay their bills, go through college, and care for their loved ones.

We must all support the rights of sex workers to do their trade, to respect their opinions about how and where they work their jobs, their input about what laws affect their work, and their right to be safe from predators. A first step is to eliminate, from our own minds and from our society, our customary shame about sex, the idea that sexual feelings can be denied or repressed; they will always come out, often in the most harmful situations.

I have also been pleased by the continuing advance towards legalizing Marijuana for both recreational and medical uses. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolff has come out in favor of recreational weed; there are similar moves in the state governments of New York and New Jersey. The so-called “War on Drugs” was a propaganda term by Richard Nixon as a means to attack communities of color and anti-war activists, who would be most likely to use marijuana. Since then, for nearly fifty years, billions of dollars have been sent to police departments at all levels to put down the drug trade, millions of innocent people have been incarcerated for just puffing a joint, live have been turned around, communities raided-and the drugs still keep coming in.

Both of these issues-sex work and Marijuana-have been driven by fear and prejudice, while the scientifically based reality shows that it would be best to allow these things to take place legally, and to not demonize or criminalize people participating in them. The commercial news media had a role to play in advancing the politically-motivated misinformation about sex work and Marijuana, has a responsibility to allow intelligent discussion about the medical and recreational benefits of cannabis, and to support the rights of sex workers in dictating how to run their business, as they are the best experts.

Incarnation Institute

My good friend the reverend Beverly Dale (“Rev Bev”) has long been an advocate for helping Christians overcome their phobias about sex.  For centuries, the traditional Christian attitude was that sex-a perfectly wonderful and natural force in one’s life-was the source of evil, that the flesh itself was entirely evil, and that women were to blame for men falling into sin, IE, sex,  and the body was a shameful thing. Rev Bev’s ministry has been to end sexual and body shame. 

To carry out her work, Rev Bev has founded, and is Chair of, the Incarnation Institute for Sex and Faith, https://www.incarnationinstitute.org/  to promote the truth that sexual pleasure and diversity, in all of its forms, are to be celebrated and respected, and that sexual freedom is a right to be respected. 

This is important to discuss, as we read about clergy sexually abusing minor children, sexual abuse and harassment my men of power against women, and discrimination against LGBT people and attempts to prevent women from controlling their own fertility. Sexual repression is the reason people do not dare complain about such problems, and we must continue to find the freedom, within ourselves and within our society, to be more open about discussing sexual issues.

Repression, denying anything like sex exists inside the human body, is an exercise in futility-the sexual urge will come out sooner or later, often in the most dangerous way, and it needs to come out in an intelligent manner. Open and intelligent sexual discussion, like Rev Bev caries out, is one way to go.