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Fuck cancer

Just in case you’re curious.

Fuck cancer.

I just read an article about a woman who said, “I will die in a few weeks, but life is still beautiful.” She has two daughters, 5 and 9, and a loving husband. She’s 38. She’ll be dead in a few weeks.

Seriously. Fuck cancer.

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700 Words?

Looking over some of my personal favorite posts, I realized I tend to think in long form – many of my favorite posts have run into the 3000 to 5000 words range. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but I’ve decided to practice writing some shorter posts – in 700 to 1000 word range, focusing narrowly on a single topic.

I think the discipline of shorter posts will be good for me.

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700 Words

In an article published in 2005, historian and author Stephanie Coontz observed:

Marriage is no longer the main way in which societies regulate sexuality and parenting or organize the division of labor between men and women. And although some people hope to turn back the tide by promoting traditional values, making divorce harder or outlawing gay marriage, they are having to confront a startling irony: The very factors that have made marriage more satisfying in modern times have also made it more optional.

In its simplest terms, marriage as practiced by heterosexuals the last few centuries has made same-sex marriage socially and legally viable. As more and more straight couples have sought marriages that are emotionally fulfilling partnerships, they have also sought more freedom to end those partnerships when they stopped being fulfilling. Procreation, securing property or social status have ceased to be the primary reasons straight people marry. Child-bearing increasingly takes place outside of marriage. Many social and religious conservative bemoan these trends, but rather than use their energy to redress them, these some conservatives seek to continue banning same sex marriage.

The contemporary model of marriage as a mutually supportive partnership of a loving, couple is the product of the last couple centuries. In leading this revolution in the institution of marriage, heterosexuals have created the cultural environment in which gay and lesbian couples seek marriage.

Marriage may or may not confer upon same-sex couples social approval but it will confer important legal protections and responsibilities. Without the legal protections of marriage, same-sex couples are subject to a variety of injustices and hardships that their heterosexuals brothers and sisters do not face. The legal protections include such simple things as not losing one’s house if your spouse dies and the right to make medical decisions for your spouse. Too many gay and lesbian couples have found themselves, after years and sometimes decades of partnership, legally estranged by hostile family members, suddenly dispossessed of houses, bank accounts, businesses because they have been denied the simple protections of legal marriage.

Marriage is also a public celebration with friends and family, a proclamation by the couple to their community, that they are a partnership and are building a life together. Gay or straight, that public celebration and acknowledgement of marriage is part of our culture. Gay and lesbians persons are asking to marry because they have been raised in our culture, have shared in its celebration of love and partnership and they want to build very normal lives as couples. Most same-sex couples want the white picket fence, the fights, the make-ups, the vacations, the day to day sharing of housekeeping and the day to day companionship of a loving partner.

From a legal standpoint, enacting marriage equality, will result in one outcome – same-sex couples will be able to legally marry. Treating those couples equally to married, heterosexual couples may be difficult for some persons. The courts have, at this point, generally sided with nondiscrimination laws in holding that public accommodations are subject to generally applicable laws and cannot discriminate against same-sex couples. As with resistance to treaing inter-racial couples equally a few decades ago, this part of the social change will very likely quickly fade as the normalcy of same-sex marriage becomes part of day to day life.

Religious questions about marriage will and must be settled internally by each church and denomination. Many churches will have members on both sides of the issue. But, American law protects the rights of churches to determine how they live out their teachings. The fear that churches will be “forced” to perform same-sex marriages will not be realized. At the end of the day, marriage equality poses no threat to persons of faith or the practices of churches.

It may take a few years, but legal same-sex marriage with quickly become a non-issue for almost all Americans. At the time of Loving decision, a majority of Americans opposed inter-racial marriage. Today, for the majority of Americans, it’s a non-issue. There’s no reason to believe same-sex marriage won’t follow the same path. Opponents of same-sex marriage will quickly see they are required to simply accept as legal same-sex marriage. Beyond that, their lives will not change.

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Scottish Independence

I’m curious – does anyone think Cameron’s government will survive if Scotland votes for independence tomorrow?

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Destroy ISIS – That’s The Objective?

ISIS

President Obama is now the fourth President in a row who’s leading us into war in Iraq. Additionally, he again wants to attack Syria (but Washington seems to have switched sides in the Syrian civil war since a year ago). Considering the outcomes of previous American military adventures in the Middle East, is this really a good idea? The plan, such as it is, will consist of using mostly air power and special operations forces in cooperation with allied ground forces. The stated objective is to “degrade, and ultimately destroy” ISIS. However, we’ve failed to “destroy” any of the Islamic insurgent forces we’ve fought against over the past 13 years – they are all still thriving, including ISIS (which started out as al-Qaeda in Iraq).

Rajiv Chandrasekaran in the WaPo:

“Harder than anything we’ve tried to do thus far in Iraq or Afghanistan” is how one U.S. general involved in war planning described the challenges ahead… “This is the most complex problem we’ve faced since 9/11. We don’t have a precedent for this.”

Adding to the level of difficulty is the fact that the USA will be fighting on the same side as Bashir al-Assad, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Iran. And the nascent Iraqi government of of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is an uncertain ally at best. Probably half the Iraqi Army has been rendered combat-ineffective as a result of ISIS advances.

More info:
5 Questions About The War Against ISIS That No One Should Be Embarrassed To Ask

UPDATE:
John Kerry Says U.S. Is ‘At War’ With ISIS. Last week he claimed just the opposite.

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America’s Political Autism and Obama’s ISIS Response

The President’s approach to ISIS is a symptom of national failure, intellectual, institutional and leadership fatigue engulfing the US. The idea that we can do something, anything, about ISIS is an illusion.

Johan Galtung:

There are other factors, but the common denominator is us, US.

Change that policy and the world would be easier to cope with.

But, the problem is whether Washington is too autistic to think thoughts beyond its bombing-droning-sniping obsession.

The Guardian, 9 July 2014: “Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. Social science is being militarized to develop social tools to target peaceful activists and protest movements.” The US military is turning inward, obviously to protect the white 1% who feeds them.

Galtung sees the phenomenon of mass shootings in the US as a symptom of our political problems:

Moreover, it comes on top of another sad phenomenon in the USA: the increasing collective shootings all over the country, geographically and socially, in addition to the usual homicides and suicides, bad enough. The standard analysis is to psychiatrize the murderer, searching for a profile and its likes in society to prevent more shootings.

Another approach would focus on the shootings as a collective, slow suicide of a US incapable of solving its countless problems, even addressing them, to the point that people simply give a damn, kill what they see as the problem including, often, themselves. General demoralization has such consequences, like the suicide epidemic at the end of the Austrian-Hungarian empire and beyond, lasting to our days.

The US can solve the problems facing us. We have to admit that the problems exist before we can solve them. The end of empire is a delicate time. We have the wit, the innovation, the intellect to navigate successfully. Do we have the will?

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Undoing Citizens United

Citizens United was a disastrously bad Supreme Court decision. The Senate is voting today on a Constitutional Amendment that would restore the right of Congress to regulate campaigns.

Anyone betting Republicans vote against it?

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President Obama’s Endless Summer

The Endless Summer (1966)
“The Endless Summer” (1966)

This is the perfect time to pay homage to the classic documentary by Bruce Brown. I love summer, and every year it ends too soon. However, the point of this post is to criticize President Obama for political cowardice, again. Last June, the President postponed the possibility of executive action on immigration until the end of summer.

The right-wing noise machine and the Tea-GOP loudly reacted as if Obama had actually done something. They threatened impeachment proceedings, and then another government shutdown over the immigration issue.

Now the rumor from the White House is that maybe, maybe, something will be done after the November election. This is typical nonsense we are used to from the Democrats. I get it in the form of fundraising pitches over the phone. “Support our candidates,” the script goes, “and then later, someday, you might get some good policy.” I always tell them: “Do something good NOW, and later, if I’m happy about it, I might vote for a Democrat.”

The demoralizing spectacle of a President and his party in retreat on the immigration issue isn’t going to get them many progressive voters in November. We’ll be reading about the “enthusiasm gap” again, and the reason for it won’t be a mystery.

Worst of all, President Obama has set records as the “Deporter in Chief.” The Obama administration took just over five years to exceed the 2 million deportations that took place under all eight years of the Bush administration, which held the previous record after ramping up deportations following the 9/11 attacks. Every month of delay brings thousands more deportations and broken families.

UPDATE:
President Obama caves to Tea-GOP threats, does nothing to stop deportations

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abandoning his pledge to act by the end of summer, President Barack Obama has decided to delay any executive action on immigration until after the November congressional elections, White House officials said.

After the Dems lose the Senate, will they wonder why there was an “enthusiasm gap” and progressives didn’t come out to vote?

96 Comments

Labor Day

Seeing as it is Labor Day, a post on labor seems appropriate.

Courtesty of some friends, I recommend this article at Salon. The article recounts the bizarre vote at the VW plant in Tennessee in which anti-union organizers used regional political, cultural and racial resentment to defeat a union vote. The stats show pay and safety at union shops are better than non-union shops. Unions are good for workers.

18 Comments

Facts About The Low-Wage Economy

The high cost of low wages

According to the National Employment Law Project (PDF), low-wage jobs made up 22 percent of job losses from Bush’s Great Recession, but accounted for 44 percent of employment growth after the recession. Today, lower-wage industries employ 1.85 million more workers than at the start of the recession.

On FDL today, Peter Van Buren points out some facts about the low-wage economy:

  • One in four U.S. employees are low-wage workers. That is 20 percent higher than in the United Kingdom, and the highest percentage among industrialized nations.
  • The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009.
  • In 1968 the federal minimum was $1.60 per hour, approximately $10.70 in 2013 dollars
  • 88 percent of minimum-wage workers are adults, with more than a third over age 40.
  • The percentage of low-wage workers with at least some college education spiked 71 percent since 1979, to 43.2 percent today.
  • The way you functionally subsidize companies paying low-wages to workers– ponying up the difference between what McDonald’s and others pay and what those workers need to live via taxpayer-paid SNAP (food stamps) and other benefits– is a hidden cost in plain sight.
  • If the nation’s largest private employer Wal-Mart increased wages to $12 per hour it would cost the company only about one percent, so that made-in-China $10 item would run you all of $10.01.
  • A Paychex/IHS survey, which looks at employment in small businesses, found that the state with the highest percentage of annual job growth was Washington, which also has the highest statewide minimum wage.
  • Nationwide, even a small hike to $10.10 an hour would put some $24 billion a year into workers’ hands to spend and lift 4.6 million Americans out of poverty. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of our economy.
  • Two-thirds of all minimum wage workers are not employed by small businesses. Better yet, one survey shows three out of five small business owners favor raising the minimum wage; their profits depend on a strong local economy, which requires more money in local consumers’ hands.

64 Comments

Opposition to Common Core Based on Misunderstanding of Common Core

The Tribune published a short article pointing out that while many Utahns are opposed to the Common Core standards, they don’t actually know what the Common Core standards are or how they were devised: Read the rest of this entry »

3 Comments

Are we (finally) seeing the end of US Imperialism?

No.

The Obama administration’s foreign policy approach (Don’t do stupid stuff) has been unbelievably better than the Bush administration’s approach (do as much stupid stuff as possible).
Read the rest of this entry »

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