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Archive for the ‘rights’ Category

A book for our time: Manufacturing Hysteria

Posted by Charles II on October 16, 2011

Manufacturing Hysteria, by Jay Feldman, is a must-have book.

Jay Feldman's Manufacturing Hysteria

We think of the anti-immigrant movement, the hatred of Muslims, or the depredations by the Pentagon and other federal agencies against the rights of speech and assembly to be unique to our age. They are not.

If you can’t afford the time or money for the book, listen to his talk on C-Span.

Added: if, like me, you’re a compulsive book buyer, you may also want to look at a recent book on the new deal by LAT writer Michael Hitlzig.

Posted in civil rights, immigration, rights, unions | 1 Comment »

By invitation: a debate on Obama’s handling of the economy in light of political realities

Posted by Charles II on September 24, 2011

I made the following comment (slightly edited for clarity) in a previous thread that I think deserves to be raised for debate.

While I tend to agree that Obama and the Democrats could not have been expected to find the perfect response to the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and have therefore been “muddling through,” there’s a point at which the Democrats lose their “brand.”

“Brand” is particularly important for a party that represents the poor and middle class. The wealthy always have ways to use advertising to create niche products, something like one sees on the cereal aisle, with dozens and dozens of brands made out of two or three main ingredients. Hence there are Christian rightists, libertarians, Tea Party Republicans, country clubbers, etc.– a mix of conflicting ideologies that are glued together by money and a delusion that things were better in a mythical past.

A “people’s party” doesn’t have the luxury of spinning out different brands. It has to rely on extremely simple messaging. Democrats used to understand this. They were the party defending wage pricing power (unions and minimum wage), benefits (Social Security, Medicare), and the unemployed/unemployable (unemployment, Food Stamps, etc.) As long as people know that Democrats will defend the less-wealthy, they are less susceptible to the divisive tactics at which Republicans excel.

From Nixon through Dukakis, Republicans did manage to besmirch the Democratic brand. In response, Democrats created two niche brand– “Blue Dog” and “DLC” Democrats. These are not just marginal brands, useful in only about 20 districts. They are brands that confuse the electorate about what it means to be a Democrat. Republicans often argue that Democrats are the real party of wealth–and they have examples to point to. In 2010, among the top 10 were Kerry, Harman, Rockefeller, Warner, Polis, Lautenberg, and Feinstein. FDR, a wealthy man, was smart enough to understand that he had to make a special effort to demonstrate his bona fides.

I do not believe that the Democrats were somehow prevented from enacting a larger stimulus package in 2009, or even that they didn’t know that they should have. If GDP has fallen by 6% of GDP (roughly $840B), the stimulus package has to be at least that large (realistically, it should be double that). And it has to be real stimulus. Tax cuts, especially at the upper end tend to be saved. The stimulus bill was $787B. $70B was the AMT fix, which is routinely approved, and therefore doesn’t count at all. Some of the other $200B in tax cuts went to people who could be reliably predicted to save/invest it, and therefore doesn’t count as stimulus spending. There are some other provisions which are not particularly stimulative, like Homeland Security spending, but at the very least we know that the stimulus bill was $120B short of a minimal response. The GDP revisions raise that number to $400B.

What’s important to note is that $400B is not actually that much money. If it had been applied sensibly to the mortgage crisis, as I was advocating, there would have been no “Great Recession.” We would have rebounded as sharply as in past recessions.

The Senate can change its rules by majority vote any time it wants to. Given the magnitude of the crisis, given the well-known history of Republican obstructionism, the failure to do so in 2008 ranks as one of the greatest political blunders of modern times.

With 51 votes needed, we could have passed a new New Deal. Obama has to bear responsibility for failing to see this clearly.

Based on this, I assert that the fundamental problem is one of power, not policy per se, and that to address that fundamental issue, the following are asserted:

* There was a critical failure to stand up to the Republicans. Obama and the Democrats have to take responsibility for a serious failure of leadership. Only by accepting responsibility and defining the nature of the failure can they regain credibility.
* The Democrats must return to their roots as the party that supports wages, benefits, and the poor. They must fight for voter rights.
* Democrats have to actively undermine the media by refusing to advertise on any media that are hostile to Democrats.
* Democrats are more than even odds likely to lose the next election, putting Republicans in power in all branches of government. If they lose the election, it is critical that they lose it very loudly as the party that represents the poor and middle class.
* A right-wing regime must be denied even the faintest aura of legitimacy. Having wrecked our economy, denied millions of Americans the vote, and used the judiciary to seize political, they deserve none.
* If Democrats retain control, they must end the abuses of the wealthy by reforming campaign finance, health insurance, taxation, and the minimum wage. The right to unionize, the right to vote, Social Security, the minimum wage, disability insurance, and healthcare have to be made basic human rights.

Please argue your case using specific facts (such as the size of stimulus necessary) that can be accepted or refuted

Posted in economy, Obama Administration, President Obama, Republicans acting badly, rights | 10 Comments »

The Optional Sixth Amendment

Posted by Charles II on July 12, 2009

Tony Pugh, McClatchy (via t/o)

After years of funding shortfalls, legal aid societies across the country are being overwhelmed by growing numbers of poor and unemployed Americans who face eviction, foreclosure, bankruptcy and other legal problems tied to the recession….

The nonprofit Legal Services Corp….. says that the number of people who qualify for assistance has jumped by about 11 million since 2007….. Roughly 51 million people are now eligible for assistance – individuals and families who earn less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level, now set at $27,564 a year for a family of four….That means that legal-aid programs will turn away roughly 1 million valid cases this year, advocates say, about half the requests for assistance they’ll receive….Middle-class people also have trouble affording legal help, but with fewer economic resources, the poor are more likely to find their money problems leading to court.

Legal aid offices typically handle cases involving divorces, child custody and a host of consumer issues that can include landlord-tenant disputes, foreclosures, evictions, applications for government benefits and battles with predatory lenders. They often represent battered women who need protection, women who are trying to obtain child support or families trying to secure insurance payments….

    After providing $390 million for programs funded by the Legal Services Corp. this year – an 11 percent increase over 2008 – Congress is poised to up the ante again. The House of Representatives has requested $440 million for fiscal year 2010, President Barack Obama asked for $435 million and the Senate has called for $400 million.

    House and Senate conferees will settle on a final amount, but it’s unlikely to approach the previous inflation-adjusted peaks of $750 million in 1981 and $554 million in 1995, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress, a liberal research center. The report found that the Legal Services Corp.’s inflation-adjusted funding this fiscal year is the lowest in the program’s 35-year history, an estimated $6.85 per person.

Now, the Sixth Amendment, taken literally, applies only to federal criminal trials. But if representation is understood as a fundamental human right, surely we do not want people who are being unjustly evicted or women seeking protection from abusive husbands or people being cheated by insurance companies who renege on payments to be denied representation. Those can easily turn into issues of the gravity of loss of life and liberty.

Posted in Constitution, poverty, rights | 3 Comments »

I Can Haz Rule Of Law?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 22, 2009

Just Us

Per LHP at FDL, signs point to “yes”:

David Iglesias, one of the US Attorneys who were fired for actually trying to do their jobs in a fair, non partisan manner, has just been tapped by the Obama administration to prosecute Gitmo detainees. This is an inspired choice. Not just for the “up yours” message it sends to the loyal Bushies — though that adds some fun to the mix — but because his unique skill set positions him to handle all the permutations of prosecutions to come in these cases.

Go read the rest of Looseheadprop’s story. Rule of Law: It’s the new black! (And black is the new president.)

Posted in Barack Obama, Constitution, doing the right thing, DoJ, dope slaps for Dubya, Good Things, habeas corpus, Justice Department, Obama Administration, political prisoners, political purges, President Obama, rights, Rule of Law, US attorney firings, US Attorney scandal | Comments Off on I Can Haz Rule Of Law?

News Flash: Modest Dress Doesn’t Stop Sexual Harrassment – But It May Well Encourage It

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 21, 2008

Ziska did a post on the inverse relationship between dressing modestly and sexual harrassment (and the degree of control that men have over their bodily impulses) that’s caused much comment. Here’s a taste from the Bitch PhD link that was the cornerstone of Zuska’s post:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in feminism, Fundies, rights, women's issues | 5 Comments »

Don’t tase me, Bro’ II

Posted by Charles II on July 26, 2008

AOL reproduces a CBS news report:

A grandfather and pastor is suing a Toledo, Ohio, hospital after being Tasered and beaten by security guards at the facility.

Much of the incident was caught by surveillance cameras.

Al Poisson, 67, says he was visiting a friend in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center a year ago and was in a very good mood when he came upon a glum-looking guard and joked with him.

“I said (to the guard), ‘Are you happy today?’ Poisson told “Early Show” co-anchor Harry Smith Friday. “He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Well, you oughta tell your face!’ ”

The guards wound up taking Poisson outside the building, where they used a Taser and/or stun gun on him, dropping him to his knees and, he says, beat, kicked and “manhandled” him when he was down.

It all happened in front of Poisson’s son and Poisson’s 6-year-old grandson.

The Web site of CBS affiliate WTOL-TV in Toledo cites Poisson’s lawsuit as claiming Poisson’s son pleaded with the guards to stop because Poisson has a bad heart.

I think Tasers should be classified as instruments of torture. That’s the way they’re being used.

Posted in civil rights, rights, wrong way to go about it | 16 Comments »

Don’t worry about telecomm immunity. Worry about the rest of the new FISA bill –Balkin&Co.

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2008

[Update: Via KTLK’s Johnny Wendell, listen to Bob Barr on FISA bill]

Phoenix Woman says, correctly, that African Americans lived with severe abuses of their rights, but adds that they did not talk about fleeing, nor did they give up. She quotes an African American Deoliver mocking those who criticize Obama for his part in the FISA bill:

[W]here were you when we were dying? Where are you when were crying? Who among you challenged COINTELPRO? Who fought J Edgar Hoover? Who among you will go to jail for me? Will die for me, will [you] call out the names of the dead killed by that piece of paper you now brandish like a sword to impale your former Hero?

And yet it’s a false history. African Americans fled in great numbers to the north and even to Europe to escape the abuses. Untold numbers did give up. And there were many whites who not only did challenge the abuses of the Hoover FBI, but went to jail and died for civil rights.

Murdered civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman
(photo: FBI poster of three murdered civil rights workers from Freedom Summer; Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman)

And, of course, the civil rights movement was a primary target of the illegal wiretapping of the Hoover FBI. The point is that the rights of all of us are threatened when the rights of any of us are violated. If mostly-white peace activists lose their right to privacy, then does anyone think that African American rights will not also suffer?

So, what does that have to do with FISA?

Well, according to Jack Balkin and his co-posters, telecomm immunity is the least of what we have to worry about with the FISA bill (I, of course, think we should worry about the immunity provision above all, because unless that is stripped, the abuses cannot even be exposed). The discussion of telecomm immunity is limited to what might occur under “the infamously opaque US v. Klein ‘doctrine’.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in abuse of power, Barack Obama, Constitutional crisis, NSA eavesdropping, rights | 4 Comments »

The Projection Room

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 23, 2008

movie-projector.jpg

Glenn Greenwald noticed the strangely twisted racist efforts by a favored Instapundit blogging ally, “Instapunk”, to project his own racism onto black people.

David Neiwert picked up on similar efforts by Pat Buchanan, Bridget Johnson, and Rush Limbaugh:

What you’ll notice in all this, of course, is that all these folks really aren’t concerned about black people at all. They’re talking to white people, and basically reinforcing the stereotypical view that there’s just something wrong with those black people. Why else can’t they see that conservatism is really about their greater good?

Folks like Limbaugh and Buchanan and Bridget Johnson like to complain that when blacks vote for liberals en masse, they’re engaging in “identity politics”. As always, they forget that “identity politics” in America was in fact created, and deeply institutionalized, by white people.

And there’s no small irony when the efforts of the historical victims of identity politics to break down those institutions are denounced as merely members of a racial identity group defending their own narrow interests. That’s what we call the “projection strategy.”

As always, this means that Republicans are giving us a warning about their own upcoming strategy. So when they begin accusing Democrats of indulging racism, we can be quite certain that the forthcoming election season will be nothing less than a full-on onslaught of Republican racism — excused, of course, by the claim that “they do it too.”

Yupper. These people project so much they should have “Bell and Howell” stenciled on their foreheads.

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, mythmaking, neo-Nazis, projection, race in America, racism, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, rights, rightwing moral cripples, Rush Limbaugh, Silly Republicans | 8 Comments »

Telecom Immunity = Bush Immunity

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 2, 2008

dday has the goods. An excerpt:

So if the intelligence community doesn’t care about this, and the phone company executives don’t care about this, there’s only one constituency for which this legislation is designed. And that’s the Bush Administration itself. As Glenn Greenwald noted the other day, it’s not like this is even well hidden.

In his Press Conference yesterday, Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush candidly explained why he was so eager to have Congress grant amnesty to telecoms:

“Allowing the lawsuits to proceed could aid our enemies, because the litigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about how we conduct surveillance.” […]

Bush is finally being candid about the real reason the administration is so desperate to have these surveillance lawsuits dismissed. It’s because those lawsuits are the absolute last hope for ever learning what the administration did when they spied on Americans for years in violation of the law. Dismissal via amnesty would ensure that their spying behavior stays permanently concealed, buried forever, and as importantly, that no court ever rules on the legality of what they did. Isn’t it striking how that implication of telecom amnesty is never discussed, and how little interest it generates among journalists — whose role, theoretically, is to uncover secret government actions?


That’s all this is about. The telecoms don’t want the amnesty. The overriding goal is to shut down these lawsuits and, most important, eliminate the discovery phase so that the full extent of Administration lawbreaking is permanently hidden. This is about burying the evidence, as every single action by the White House since the Democratic takeover of Congress has been. Bush may have a soft spot in his heart for his corporate buddies, but he’s really not interested in indemnifying them. He’s interested in immunity for himself.

Posted in abuse of power, Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, Congress, Constitution, Constitutional crisis, corruption, cronies, FBI, fearmongering, rights, terrorism, totalitarianism, treason | Comments Off on Telecom Immunity = Bush Immunity

Please, sir, may I have a bowl of rights?

Posted by Charles II on October 15, 2007

Via Naomi Wolf, firedogging it, The American Freedom Campaign:

The American Freedom Campaign Agenda
At critical moments in our history, Americans have been called upon to protect our Constitutional guarantees of liberty and justice. We face such a moment today. The American Freedom Campaign is a non-partisan citizens’ alliance formed to reverse the abuse of executive power and restore our system of checks and balances with these ten goals:

Fully restore the right to challenge the legality of one’s detention, or habeas corpus, and the right of detained suspects to be charged and brought to trial.

Prohibit torture
and all cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Prohibit the use of secret evidence.

Prohibit the detention of anyone, including U.S. citizens, as an “enemy combatant”
outside the battlefield, and on the President’s say-so alone.

Prohibit the government from secretly breaking and entering our homes, tapping our phones or email, or seizing our computers without a court order, on the President’s say-so alone.

Prohibit the President from “disappearing” anyone
and holding them in secret detention.

Prohibit the executive from claiming “state secrets”
to deny justice to victims of government misdeeds, and from claiming “executive privilege” to obstruct Congressional oversight and an open government.

Prohibit the abuse of signing statements, where the President seeks to disregard duly enacted provisions of bills.

Use the federal courts, or courts-martial, to charge and prosecute terrorism suspects, and close Guantanamo down.

Reaffirm that the Espionage Act does not prohibit journalists
from reporting on classified national security matters without fear of prosecution.

Posted in Constitution, Fire Dog Lake, Gitmo, habeas corpus, rights, speaking truth to power | 1 Comment »

 
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