Archive for category Equality
At the Bundy Ranch standoff, so-called right-wing militia members aimed assault weapons at law enforcement officers. No arrests were made, and Cliven Bundy remains a free man. Last night in Ferguson, Missouri, an overwhelming police force including SWAT teams rampaged through residential streets firing stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. They attacked peaceful, unarmed protesters and arrested reporters. The city never imposed a curfew, which means citizens were supposed to be allowed to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights.
Something is wrong. The media are blaming so-called “homeland security” and the militarization of even small-town police departments, which can buy a surplus MRAP from the Army for only $5,000 even if they don’t need one. Worse than that, there seems to be a trend of police use of deadly force against unarmed suspects – many of whom are being shot multiple times or shot in the back.
Ferguson Seeks Answers After Police Shooting Of Michael Brown
Does the Second Amendment Only Apply to White People?
Alderman, 2 reporters arrested as Ferguson erupts for 4th night
Did Police Use Excessive Force Against Ferguson Protesters?
Ferguson’s Police Got Free Military Gear Straight From The Pentagon
According to new research (PDF) supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, middle class Americans are getting poorer (OK, we knew that, but now the numbers are in – and they are startling).
For the study, researchers gathered information on families in the middle of the wealth distribution continuum. What they found is that in 2003, the inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992. Fast-forward 10 years: that figure is down to a mere $56,335.
Ordinary Americans got 36 percent poorer in just a decade.
…The upshot is that regular people have endured one of the worst periods in recent memory. It will not surprise you to learn that during the same decade of 2003-2013, the rich were partying down. In the 95th percentile of wealth distribution, people got 14 percent richer.
That oughta brighten your day.
h/t The Raw Story (Click on the X to make the ad go away)
Faux News host Bill O’Reilly chided his colleague Megyn Kelly on Thursday for saying income inequality might be a potent issue for Democrats in 2016, and predicted that Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t run for President because “all she wants to do is sell her dopey book.”
“You’re buying into this fraud, Kelly, and I’m very disappointed, so listen to the master,” O’Reilly told Kelly. “You worked your way up. Was there any war on you? Did anybody declare war on you?”
“I just destroyed this inequality myth,” O’Reilly concluded.
We didn’t really need more proof that Faux News inhabits an alternate universe, but here it is anyway.
Idaho is the latest state to join the wonderful world of marriage equality.
A federal magistrate struck down Idaho’s gay marriage ban and ordered the state to begin offering marriage licenses Friday morning. The Judge’s decision in this case is every bit as thorough as Judge Shelby’s Utah decision:
Judge Dale’s Idaho decision reads, in part:
“This case asks a basic and enduring question about the essence of American government: Whether the will of the majority, based as it often is on sincere beliefs and democratic consensus, may trump the rights of a minority,” the judge wrote in a 57-page decision.
“… Idaho’s marriage laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love,” Dale wrote.
Bryan Fischer, AFA spokesbigot, found the decision a personal affront:
The sting of this is in fact personal for me, as I am a co-author of Idaho’s amendment. I worked diligently in late 2005 with other pro-family leaders in the state to carefully craft its language. Then together we worked with the Idaho legislature during the 2006 session, meeting with lawmakers and lining up testimony in committee hearings.
Fischer ranted the ruling a “mish-mash of sentiment, emotion and an utter absence of rational consistency.” He then called on Idaho’s governor to go full on George Wallace:
He [Idaho's governor] should fulfill his oath of office, an oath he took before God, to uphold the constitutions of both Idaho and the United States by flatly refusing permission for any city or county clerks in the state of Idaho to issue licenses to same-sex couples. The people of Idaho have spoken, he should say, and I will fulfill the promise I made to them to uphold their constitution.
This would not even be civil disobedience, since there is no “law” to disobey. A judge’s ruling is not a law – it is a ruling and a ruling only. Such an act on his part would in fact be the ultimate display of civil obedience, obedience to the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and would be the first step in returning America to the rule of law rather than the rule of men.
Alvin McEwan posted about this same issue and observed:
Fischer is so indicative of the hubris of folks on the other side of the marriage equality issue. In 2004, they sold an ugly bill of goods to Americans. Didn’t they realize that one day, they would have to defend the laws against marriage equality that they passed back then?
You just can’t pass a law and not be able to defend it in court, folks. It’s un-American.
Alvin’s point is spot on; conservatives seem to not have considered that the rhetoric they used to support anti-gay marriage laws and amendments would need to stand up in court. And as we’re seeing, the arguments against allowing same sex couples to marry are unpersuasive in a court of law.
Tonight on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC show Prof. Dorian Warren of Columbia University (citing the book White Collar Government by Nicholas Carnes) wondered aloud what it would be like if the millionaires formed their own political party, a party representing just 3 percent of Americans.
- The Millionaire Party would already occupy the White House.
- They would control the House of Representatives.
- They would have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
- And the Millionaires would have a 5-4 Supreme Court majority.
While there is no such thing as the Millionaire Party, does it matter that the wealthiest Americans set the tax rates for the wealthy, that white-collar professionals choose the minimum wage for blue-collar workers, and that people who have always had health insurance decide whether or not to help those without? Could be.
See videos …
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In the series “The Secret Life of a Food Stamp,” Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark traces how big-box stores make billions from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps. What’s more, the wages of many workers at these stores are so low that the workers themselves qualify for food stamps—which the employees then often spend at those big-box stores.
This video crunches the numbers on how much Walmart, the single biggest beneficiary of the food stamp economy, might have to raise prices across the board to help a typical worker earn a living wage.
Are safety-net programs designed to help struggling Americans padding corporate profits at taxpayer expense? BTW friends don’t let friends shop at Walmart.
As usual, Robert Reich says it better than I could (emphasis added).
“Paid-what-you’re-worth” is a dangerous myth.
…The real difference is the GM worker a half-century ago had a strong union behind him that summoned the collective bargaining power of all autoworkers to get a substantial share of company revenues for its members. And because more than a third of workers across America belonged to a labor union, the bargains those unions struck with employers raised the wages and benefits of non-unionized workers as well. Non-union firms knew they’d be unionized if they didn’t come close to matching the union contracts.
Today’s Walmart workers don’t have a union to negotiate a better deal. They’re on their own. And because fewer than 7 percent of today’s private-sector workers are unionized, non-union employers across America don’t have to match union contracts. This puts unionized firms at a competitive disadvantage. The result has been a race to the bottom.
…The reason Wall Street bankers got fat paychecks plus a total of $26.7 billion in bonuses last year wasn’t because they worked so much harder or were so much more clever or insightful than most other Americans. They cleaned up because they happen to work in institutions — big Wall Street banks — that hold a privileged place in the American political economy.
…The “paid-what-you’re-worth” argument is fundamentally misleading because it ignores power, overlooks institutions, and disregards politics. As such, it lures the unsuspecting into thinking nothing whatever should be done to change what people are paid, because nothing can be done.
It’s not that working Americans are lazy/incompetent. Capitalists are greedy and powerful.
Conservative Myths About the Minimum Wage, Debunked
Contrary to conservative myths, raising the minimum wage would boost the economy, benefit all workers, and won’t hurt consumers.
Thomas Perkins is an 82-year-old venture capitalist worth an estimated $8 billion. He doesn’t like democracy. Unfortunately for us, people like him hold the balance of power in today’s America.
Asked for an idea that could “change the world” by FORTUNE’s Adam Lashinsky, Perkins told an audience at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Thursday that Americans shouldn’t be able to vote unless they pay taxes and that the wealthy should have more votes.
Perkins has houses in Belvedere, Marin County, California, and spends about two months a year at Plumpton Place, his Elizabethan mansion in East Sussex, England, which once belonged to the Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. In 2010 he purchased the penthouse atop the Millennium Tower on Mission Street in San Francisco’s financial district.
You may remember this guy from his WSJ letter to the editor that compared what he called the “progressive war on the American one percent” to the Nazi death camps under Adolf Hitler.
When I say that capitalism is antithetical to democracy, or that the 1 Percent are trying to parlay their plutonomy into a plutocracy, this is an example of what I mean.
During a 2007 campaign speech in Spartanburg, South Carolina, then-Senator Obama promised he would fight for collective bargaining rights if he was elected president.
“And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.”
Two years ago, President Obama passed up an opportunity to make good on that promise when Wisconsin workers lost their collective bargaining rights. Some people suggested mailing pairs of comfortable shoes to the White House to help the President out.
Once again, our President needs those shoes. He says he is concerned that Americans have gone too long without a minimum wage increase, yet he won’t sign an executive order to help out low-wage federal contract employees.
From Think Progress:
Unlike millions of other low-wage employees, the ones fulfilling federal service contracts can get a raise without an act of Congress. The workers, backed by a group of about 17 House progressives, want President Obama to exercise his executive authority to improve their pay and get taxpayers out of the business of paying poverty wages. The administration has kept quiet on the topic for months as the congressional progressives who favor the move have gotten louder and begun criticizing the president’s inaction, and both workers and lawmakers hope Obama’s upcoming State of the Union address will include an announcement about raising federal contract worker wages with the stroke of a pen.
The eight-month federal worker campaign has played out in the shadow of much larger coast-to-coast strikes by fast food and Walmart workers, who likely hope their activism has emboldened a president who once famously pledged to walk picket lines alongside workers.
Former Constitution Party Utah State Senate candidate Trestin Meacham began a fast the day after District Judge Robert Shelby released his ruling that Utah’s Amendment 3 prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying is unconstitutional. He is attempting to draw attention to what he says is an option for the state: Nullification.
Nullification is a far-right theory that has repeatedly been rejected by the Supreme Court. Article VI of the United States Constitution contains the Supremacy Clause that states, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”
Utah’s Amendment 3 was a clear violation of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (emphasis added).
…No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
“This has nothing to do with hatred of a group of people. I have friends and relatives who practice a homosexual lifestyle and I treat them with the same respect and kindness that I would anyone. This is about religious freedom, and an out of control federal government.”
H/t Think Progress
More info: Trestin’s Fast
UPDATE: U.S. Supreme Court on Monday put same-sex marriages in Utah on hold, granting the state’s request for a stay pending appeal.