LA Progressive https://www.laprogressive.com Smart Content for Smart People Sun, 23 Sep 2018 16:25:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Betsy DeVos Department of Education Stripping Campus Sex Abuse Protections https://www.laprogressive.com/campus-sex-abuse-protections/ https://www.laprogressive.com/campus-sex-abuse-protections/#respond Sun, 23 Sep 2018 16:25:44 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319910 Campus Sex Abuse ProtectionsWendy McElroy: The thrust is to stiffen legal protections for an accused through more rigorous due process and to provide relief to lawsuit-prone schools that now function as police, judge and jury in assault investigations.

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Campus Sex Abuse ProtectionsAn Aug. 29 New York Times headline, ”New U.S. Sexual Misconduct Rules Bolster Rights of Accused and Protect Colleges,” foreshadows a controversy that is headed to Congress, probably after the midterms. A draft of proposed changes to Title IX policy leaked from the Department of Education (DOE) to the NYT, which described the draft as narrowing “the definition of sexual harassment, holding schools accountable only for formal complaints filed through proper authorities and for conduct said to have occurred on their campuses. They would also establish a higher legal standard to determine whether schools improperly addressed complaints.”

The final language of the changes may differ upon release in a few weeks, but the thrust is to stiffen legal protections for an accused through more rigorous due process and to provide relief to lawsuit-prone schools that now function as police, judge and jury in assault investigations.

The thrust is to stiffen legal protections for an accused through more rigorous due process and to provide relief to lawsuit-prone schools that now function as police, judge and jury in assault investigations.

DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos has promised to “correct” Obama-era campus policies, and the proposal constitutes her first comprehensive overhaul. The old policies instituted strict procedures on how schools must hold campus misconduct hearings, including lowering the legal protections for an accused; there was no right to cross-examine an accuser or witnesses, for example. DeVos referred to those policies as “federal overreach” that established quasi-judicial systems without judicial protections. Non-compliant schools were threatened with the possibility of withholding federal funds. Compliant schools were vulnerable to lawsuits from those who were found “guilty.”

The DeVos DOE wants to move back toward the 1972 law, with a comparatively limited definition of “sexual harassment.” The Obama DOE defined it as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” In short, a hostile environment. DeVos prefers the reigning Supreme Court definition of “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.” That is quite a difference.

With reference to campus protocol, DeVos previously has endorsed the use of mediation to resolve sexual misconduct complaints. An accuser and an accused would exchange evidence and, presumably, question each other about it. Schools would have more discretion in handling complaints, and they would be legally responsible only for investigating formal ones.

Victims’ and women’s rights advocates resoundingly applaud the Obama model which is accuser oriented with close to automatic credibility offered to an accuser. Predictably, the same voices decry the DeVos plan. Jess Davidson, the executive director of End Rape on Campus, calls DeVos’s policies “a tacit endorsement of making campuses a safer place to commit sexual assault, rather than a safer place to learn free from violence.”

Those are the battlegrounds, with differing perspectives. For the DeVos camp, it is due process for the accused versus bias favoring the accuser. For the status quo, it is victims — that is, accusers–versus sex abusers — that is, accuseds. For several years, federal agencies and Congress have sided strongly with the “victims.” Victim advocates in the Senate, such as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), have been powerful voices. But factors mitigate against history repeating itself.

First and foremost, it is now Trump’s DOE, not Obama’s. It reflects conservative policies, not progressive ones.

Second, court rulings and legal settlements are pressuring campus politics. A Sept. 7 ruling of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal, for example, favors DeVos. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the court “issued the strongest judicial opinion to date in support of the right to cross-examination in campus judicial proceedings that turn on credibility. The decision is also remarkable for…allowing students the active participation of an advisor, which would provide effective cross-examination while avoiding the potential problems with having the parties personally cross-examine one another.”

Secretary Betsy DeVos

The opinion also addressed an issue that haunts sexual misconduct hearings: lawsuits brought by accused students who cry “foul!” FIRE noted, “The court allowed John Doe’s Title IX sex discrimination claim against the university to proceed, noting not only that the university was under tremendous pressure due to a Title IX investigation by the Office for Civil Rights, but also that the appeals board exclusively credited the testimony of Jane Roe’s female witnesses while rejecting all the testimony of John Doe’s male witnesses.” Last year, a Washington Post headline read, “Expelled for sex assault, young men are filing more lawsuits to clear their names.” The article stated, “SAVE Services, a Maryland-based group that seeks to…protect the rights of the accused in sexual-assault cases, found in a survey that about 70 percent of these types of lawsuits filed against colleges from 1993 to 2015 ended in settlements or rulings that at least partially benefited the plaintiffs.”

Moreover, a string of high-profile rape-accusation cases have proven to be false. The tipping point was probably the 2014 “gang rape” at the University of Virginia (UVa), which a Rolling Stone article catapulted into a national sensation. One problem: the rape never happened. Lawsuits ensued, with Rolling Stone eventually paying settlements that included $3 million to UVa associate dean Nicole Eramo and $1.6 million to a fraternity. The true victim of the unsavory matter, however, was the credibility of rape accusers and anti-rape activists. A Delaware Online article (Dec. 9, 2014) by Margaret Carlson bore the headline “Rolling Stone may have crushed anti-rape bill,” which referred to a proposed anti-rape measure in the military.

Recent polls indicate a shift in public opinion, which used to favor aggressive prosecution. The Federalist (Sept. 27, 2017) reported a widely-circulated 2017 poll from the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy, which asked for reaction to the statement, “Students accused of crimes on college campuses should receive the same civil liberties protections from their colleges that they receive in the court system.” Sixty-five percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Republicans, and 67 percent of Independents agreed. Sixty-one percent of respondents thought that accused students should have the right to cross-examine accusers. And 71 percent thought accused students should be heard under the “clear and convincing” standard of evidence (highly and substantially more probably true than not) rather than the “preponderance of the evidence” one (51 percent probably true) currently used.

wendy mcelroyUnlike Obama’s policies, once public comment has ended, DeVos’s new rules will enjoy the force of law, even without an act of Congress. Change in how sexual misconduct is handled on campus seems inevitable. Controversy is also inevitable. Protesters on campus will carry signs proclaiming Trump and the DOE to be rape apologists, rape supporters. In Congress, champions of victims and women will cry out. But the new rules seem to be a fait accompli.

Wendy McElroy
The Independent

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Blasey-Ford Versus Kavanaugh: The Senate’s Real Role https://www.laprogressive.com/blasey-ford-versus-kavanaugh/ https://www.laprogressive.com/blasey-ford-versus-kavanaugh/#comments Sat, 22 Sep 2018 20:26:06 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319902 Blasey-Ford Versus KavanaughTom Hall: If Kavanaugh were honest about his history, would the proper response to the current accusation be his strident denial, or would it be an acknowledgment that he had times of conduct that he cannot remember, and that an unremembered event could have occurred?

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Blasey-Ford Versus KavanaughThe pundits wax long about what procedures are “fair” for questioning Brett Kavanaugh, and how best to pillory his accuser. Should there be “due process” in Senate confirmation hearings? What is proper senatorial due process: for a nominee; for a witness, for The People?

While pundits fill hours of distraction with such questions, what of the substance of the whole business? What is the Senate’s Constitutional role in providing “Advice and consent” in the appointment of Supreme Court Justices?

The Senate is not a Court of Law, with legal procedures for examining witnesses, presenting evidence, and cross-examining, to search for the truth. As their zeal for profitable war investments made clear during the Cheney/Bush administration, truth is often something senators want to conceal, rather than find. Senator Grassley’s announcement that he and his Republican pals on the Judiciary Committee were not going to allow an FBI investigation of sex abuse allegations, or allow any witnesses other than the accuser and the nominee to testify, made clear that truth is, again, something to be feared and hidden.

This situation is not Anita Hill redux. When Clarence Thomas was nominated, a large percentage of interested people were willing to believe that Anita Hill, rather than Clarence Thomas was lying. But only days after Professor Blasey-Ford came out, even the rightwing blogosphere seems to be acknowledging that she’s telling the truth. Their task is now to discount the importance of Kavanaugh’s attack on her, at least long enough to get him onto the bench.

Anita Hill had to fight to rebuild her reputation. Professor Blasey-Ford will emerge from this nomination fight with a stronger reputation than she started with. Although Kavanaugh will probably be confirmed to the Court, his reputation has already been destroyed and has no place to go but further down.

If Kavanaugh were honest about his history, would the proper response to the current accusation be his strident denial, or would it be an acknowledgment that he had times of conduct that he cannot remember, and that an unremembered event could have occurred?

None of that addresses what the Senate should be doing. There is no Constitutional definition for “Advice and Consent.” Black’s Law Dictionary doesn’t even have an entry for the phrase. But we have Constitutional context for it. The president is supposed to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. The same section of the Constitution, Art. II, sec. 2, deals with appointments of ambassadors, cabinet officers and others who are essential to the government running well and effectively. So it must mean that the Senate is supposed to help the president select people who are qualified to do the jobs to which they are nominated.

What do we know about Brett Kavanaugh’s thinking about the role of a judge, and is that thinking appropriate for a justice of the highest court in the nation?

We know for a certainty that Brett Kavanaugh believes that lying, even under oath, is okay when it is done to achieve a personal goal. Thus, we have seen documentation that directly contradict’s Kavanaugh’s testimony about his role in the Cheney/Bush White House and the selection of appointees. The documents that prove his perjury were released by the current administration, even as they held back millions of pages of “worse” documents.

The released documents proved that he lied about his political work at the White House. That might be understandable—he was a political operative, and he now wants to be a partisan “justice.” But there is another lie that gives us clearer insight into his soul. Kavanaugh was a clerk to 9th Circuit Court of Appeal Justice Alex Kozinski. Kozinski retired from the Court after it became public knowledge that he was a constant sexual predator in the chambers of a United States Federal Court of Appeals.

Part of Kozinski’s behavior included maintaining an email list of people with whom he shared sexually abusive jokes and stories. Judicial clerks are famously close to their Judges. Kavanaugh considered Kozinski one of his mentors. Yet he now claims that he was unaware of the sexual harassment in which Kozinski routinely engaged, and which other clerks discussed. He claims that he was unaware of the infamous email list.

If the Senate Judiciary Committee actually wanted any investigation of the present controversy, they could easily ask the FBI to produce a copy of the email list that was part of the evidence that got Kozinski to retire from the Court. That list would show that Kavanaugh was or was not a participant.

Regardless of that email list that Senator Grassley and his Republican colleagues don’t want to review, Kavanaugh’s denial that he knew what every other clerk and secretary in the 9th Circuit Court knew reveals a man who will not accept the truth when it is not to his benefit.

Is that the proper character for a Supreme Court Justice? Is the Senate’s Advice to the president that that sort of human character is what we want on our highest Court?

Another of Kavanaugh’s mentors was Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy is a hero to many in the LGBTQ community, because he so forthrightly wrote that members of that community (those communities?) should be afforded equal rights with other white people. Kennedy may be less fondly remembered by non-white people, as he seemed unable to vote for their rights. He missed no opportunity to vote against minority rights other than LGBTQ rights. We would still have an effective Voting Rights Act except for Kennedy’s vote to destroy it, after even mainstream Republicans in congress voted to renew the Act. Kavanaugh has praised Kennedy as a mentor. He has not been asked if he shares Kennedy’s racism.

But he has ruled so as to show us where he stands. When a Latinx girl was placed in custody of ICE, and wanted to obtain an abortion for a pregnancy she didn’t want, the Texas Court system said that under Texas law, she was entitled to the abortion. But anti-immigrant activists asked the Federal Court to block the abortion. Kavanaugh wrote an opinion which expressly ignored facts that were in the case record, in order to conclude that the girl should be forced to carry the pregnancy to term. Kavanaugh lost that argument and the girl obtained a safe, medically overseen abortion.

If that under age child had been forced, as Kavanaugh wanted, to have the child, she would have spent decades raising the child, decades in which her life would have been greatly affected by a man who was willing to ignore facts in the record to impose on that girl HIS personal wishes.

Is that the sort of man we want on our nation’s highest court—a man who will ignore unwelcome parts of case evidence to achieve his own goals?

Many rightwing pundits lament the consequences of taking a 36-year-old attempted rape complaint seriously. Look how that accusation will affect this man’s life, they demand. But not one of them yet has spoken about how Kavanaugh wanted to affect the life of an underage child who was carrying a fetus that she didn’t want.

I agree with many people who have said that things done by children, including teens, should not rule the children’s lives for all time. We know that Kavanaugh was a teen in an environment which encouraged wanton drunkenness and drunken behavior. I have no problem imagining that Kavanaugh was often too drunk to know what he was doing.

But he is not drunk now. IF he were honest about his history, would the proper response to the current accusation be his strident denial, or would it be an acknowledgment that he had times of conduct that he cannot remember, and that an unremembered event could have occurred? Would people accept such an acknowledgment, especially if paired with a sincere apology to another teen, now adult, who does remember being victimized?

Which would make a better justice for our highest court, a man who can’t remember and so denies, or a man who acknowledges youthful misconduct, and has learned from it, and become a better person from that learning?

Tom HallKavanaugh presents us with a clear contrast with another American politician. Ku Klux Klan member Robert Byrd, who grew, learned and became Senator Robert Byrd, using his office to right some of the wrongs of his previous beliefs. Kavanaugh seems eager to use his new position to continue the wrongs of his previous beliefs.

Tom Hall

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The Climate Summit’s Inconvenient Truth: People Need Jobs https://www.laprogressive.com/climate-summit/ https://www.laprogressive.com/climate-summit/#comments Sat, 22 Sep 2018 14:55:06 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319898 Climate SummitJudith Lewis Mernit: Much of the recent gathering in San Francisco involved corporate and government backslapping — noble but too easily mocked.

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Climate Summit

Photo by Judith Lewis Mernit

Amid the swell of protesters demanding that California put an end to oil, and a police force growing irritated with their monotonous chanting (“I’m going to be singing that one in my sleep,” quipped one officer), the Global Climate Action Summit kicked off last week in San Francisco. The international gathering of climate activists, elected officials, and corporate leaders had come to the city’s George Moscone Center committed to holding the United States to the terms of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, Trump and his administration be damned.

Much of the summit was simple corporate and government backslapping — noble but too easily mocked. What does it matter if General Electric presents its climate ideals when the company refuses to back down on plans for a new coal plant in Kenya? Starbucks might have banned plastic straws, but emissions still accumulate in the long lines at its many drive-throughs. And McDonald’s…really?

For protesters outside the fences, maintaining global temperature below the point-of-no-return threshold means that, in some cases, entire industries have to be shut down. “We have to keep 80 percent of the fossil-fuel reserves that we know about underground,” the noted author and climate warrior Bill McKibben has written. “If we don’t—if we dig up the coal and oil and gas and burn them—we will overwhelm the planet’s physical systems, heating the Earth far past the red lines drawn by scientists and governments.”

Much of the recent gathering in San Francisco involved corporate and government backslapping — noble but too easily mocked.

The problem with that strategy is that with those industries, oil and coal, come many thousands of well-paying, often union jobs. “Climate strategies that leave coal miners’ pension funds bankrupt, power plant workers unemployed, construction workers making less than they do now,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a speech on opening day, “fundamentally undermine the power of the political coalition needed to address the climate crisis.” The issue of the climate versus jobs will be used by the foes of both labor and clean energy to divide the country, Trumka noted. It already has.

In the near term, if oil extraction were to suddenly come to an end in California, 30,000 people would lose their livelihoods, and thousands more will be out of work in places where industries depend on California oil. In the long term, jobs wouldn’t be available to a new generation full of people like Theodore Hunt, a 28-year-old mechanic who services San Francisco’s network of electric bikes. Hunt told me he can earn as much as $800 on a busy week and, if he meshes his maintenance duties with a food-delivery service, like Uber Eats, he might make $1,200 in a week. That’s a decent living wage almost anywhere besides San Francisco, where he can’t afford to live.

But the big weeks are rare, and if Hunt gets sick, or injured, or takes a mental-health break, he doesn’t get paid at all. He belongs to the 8.5 percent of California workers whom the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center calls the “unincorporated self-employed.” He gets paid when he delivers a meal or services a bike. He does not get paid when he stops to eat lunch. If he wants health insurance, he must buy it himself.

Hunt likes his job: The hours vary, he gets to be outside, he interacts with people. Like so many other “green” jobs, Hunt’s is many times more pleasant and safer than mining coal, or working on an oil rig. But it’s not a steady living on which to buy a house or support a family.

Nor is installing solar panels on rooftops, a job that generally pays $14 to $20 and hour, rarely with benefits. Trumka told the summit that 4,000 megawatts of solar had been installed in the San Joaquin Valley over the last two decades. “Fifteen million job-hours of union work, at union wages and with union benefits, made that possible,” he said. But once those plants are built, it takes only a few people to keep them operating, and no one has to mine the fuel. The same math applies to wind farms: Once the turbines are up, most of the work is done.

Paul Getsos, national director of the People’s Climate Movement, has spent more than a decade thinking through what it means to bring the labor movement into the climate fight by way of a just transition for workers. He organized in disadvantaged communities around the Obama administration’s stimulus package. Later, he assessed green jobs for the Center for Community Change, and found that “the promise of ‘green jobs’ wasn’t fulfilled for a lot of communities. There’s a very narrow view of what a ‘green job’ is.” The solution to the worker-transition conundrum for a 100 percent clean energy economy is to expand that definition. “Manufacturing electric cars is a ‘green job,’ said Getsos. “Rebuilding infrastructure in North Carolina to keep people safe from coal ash — that’s a ‘green job.’”

Retrofitting homes and business to use less energy is also a green job — and one of the best, according to Getsos: “[Energy efficiency] is one of the areas where there is access to new jobs that don’t require higher education.” It’s also ripe for job growth. In New York City, a mandate to retrofit the city’s buildings — which account for two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions — will yield 17,000 jobs between now and 2030.

Energy efficiency isn’t a big field in some of the smaller towns where dirty fossil-fuel plants exist. In Centralia, Washington, where a coal plant employing 300 workers making $80,000 a year will begin shutting down in 2020, environmentalists and labor negotiated an agreement with the city and the plant operator, TransAlta, to invest $55 million in worker retraining and community development in exchange for an expedited permit to build a natural gas plant on the same site. (Natural gas isn’t perfect, but for the climate it’s better than coal.)

Legislators could also intervene with laws granting benefits and collective bargaining rights to people like Theodore Hunt. As smart technology expands further into transportation and utilities, some necessary jobs will become more fluid for employers and less rewarding for workers. California Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher has introduced two bills over the past few years to give contract employees workers’ compensation benefits and the right to form and join unions, and Assemblymember Evan Low last session brought up a bill that would guarantee contract workers portable benefits. None have yet made it to the governor’s desk.

“We can’t just say ‘green jobs’,” Getsos said. “We need to say green jobs, good jobs and worker access.”

Those principles might be as consequential to the clean-energy economy as are the protesters’ demands.

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Anti-Trump Movement Can’t Take Seniors’ Vote for Granted https://www.laprogressive.com/anti-trump-movement/ https://www.laprogressive.com/anti-trump-movement/#respond Sat, 22 Sep 2018 14:34:45 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319893 Anti-Trump MovementEric A. Gordon: Nationally, Donald Trump took 53 percent of the 50-plus vote, compared with Hillary Clinton’s 44 percent. There wasn’t a significant difference in voting patterns between voters ages 50-64 and those 65-plus.

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Anti-Trump Movement

Senior voters listen as President Barack Obama discussed the Affordable Care Act at a national tele-town hall meeting at the Holiday Park Multipurpose Senior Center in Wheaton, Md., June 8, 2010. | Pete Souza / White House

Seniors vote. Seniors, vote! This is more than a lesson about punctuation. It’s about the future of our country. As State Senator Steven Bradford recently told a Carson gathering of almost 100 members of the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA), “You guys are the high propensity voters.”

Seniors are America’s most consistent voters in election after election. It could be just habit, imbibed early in life from earnest civics teachers in our public schools. It could be that maturity lends a certain gravitas to the process as with each turn of the electoral wheel, ever more critical issues face our nation. Seniors have seen enough races decided by a fraction of a percentage point to convince them of the importance of their showing up at the polls or mailing in their absentee ballot. And seniors have seen whole classes of American citizens disenfranchised. To them, the vote is a sacred right and duty that people have died for.

And then, too, it could be that seniors have living memory of their grandparents and parents being “too poor to live” without Social Security and Medicare, the two foundational programs that keep seniors (and others) alive and well. They know that those programs relieve the next generation from becoming financially and emotionally overburdened, for the young ’uns have issues of their own to deal with, like substandard healthcare coverage, student and consumer debt, out of sight housing, and the so-called “gig economy” which has turned so many workers out of well paying union jobs into the precarious freefall marketplace.

U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragán, from California’s 44th Congressional District, speaking from Washington via prerecorded video, shared the fact that her own mom, 76, relies on Social Security and Medicare. That’s a good part of the reason why the representative (and candidate for re-election) endorses Medicare for All and calls it “a basic human right.”

Dave Campbell, 69, secretary-treasurer of United Steel Workers Local 675, in whose headquarters CARA met on Sept. 17, greeted his guests, saying, “Policy does not change unless there’s a mass movement to change it.”

Seniors are standing strong in that mass movement. There’s a lot at stake.

But before we get too sanguine about the senior vote, and expect too much from it, we need to remind ourselves, as AARP analyzed it soon after the 2016 election, “Nearly half (45 percent) of the electorate this year was 50 or older. 50-64-year-olds comprised 30 percent, while voters 65 and older made up 15 percent. Nationally, Donald Trump took 53 percent of the 50-plus vote, compared with Hillary Clinton’s 44 percent. There wasn’t a significant difference in voting patterns between voters ages 50-64 and those 65-plus.”

Election Day voting at Baltimore’s Waxter Senior Center, Tuesday, November 8, 2016. | Elvert Barnes / Creative Commons

Sixty-one percent of citizens 65 and older voted in 2016. By contrast, just 37 percent of those ages 25-44 voted; and not even a quarter—21 percent—of citizens ages 18-24 got themselves to the polls.Those numbers do not apply equally across the board taking race and ethnicity into account. Still, seniors overall are susceptible to some of the same faux populist siren songs as the rest of the nation. It’s a sober reminder that the senior vote must still be actively courted; it cannot be taken for granted.

Politicians on the right have often appealed fearfully to their base by saying Candidate X is “just trying to push the Black agenda,” or Candidate Y “the gay agenda,” etc. When you actually look at what Candidates X and Y are advocating, it’s always the same thing: safe streets, excellent public schools, a fair-minded government and justice system, good jobs, decent, affordable housing, progress toward providing the highest quality medical care to everyone, keeping the country out of unnecessary, unprovoked wars, a secure retirement after a lifetime of work, and above all, an end to discrimination of all kinds.

These “agendas,” in other words, are simply the recipe for a well run society in which all can take their dignified place. The “senior agenda” is essentially no different, but with this additional factor: What seniors are able to achieve for their generation now will also be there for their children and grandchildren to count on and build upon in the future.

Two years of disaster

From a senior point of view, the last two years have been no less a disaster than they have been to everyone else. Even if Donald Trump is able to bargain for somewhat more favorable trade terms for the United States in the administration’s negotiations with Canada, Mexico, China, the European Union, and other nations, those benefits will accrue to the One Percent. Working people and seniors will see little to cheer about as commodity prices rise and cost-of-living increases will be ruled out.

Domestically, the Trump/GOP agenda has served to the detriment of most people. How has he hurt us? With a nod to blogger David L. Smith, let us count the ways:

  • Deregulating and easing environmental and worker safety standards;
  • weakening Dodd-Frank, opening the economy up to exactly the kinds of financial practices that gave us the Great Recession of 2008;
  • demoting the authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, allowing for greater unscrupulous abuses; re-privatization of prisons (meaning that people of color will be disproportionately affected);
  • appointing corporate-cozy, Federalist Society-approved judges to our courts;
  • deporting immigrants en masse and caging their children; hacking away at the Affordable Care Act, raising premiums and lowering coverage for many;
  • increasing the disparity between public and private education, permanently giving favor to the rich;
  • opening up our national parks to commercial exploitation;
  • pushing polluting fossil fuels and discouraging renewable energy sources, thus increasing global warming and catastrophic weather;
  • tax “reform” that was just a massive giveaway to Trump’s fellow elite—the resulting deficit from which has provided an excuse to cut Social Security, Medicare, and other threads in the social safety net; and
  • pumping up the military, defunding FEMA and many social programs.

From a senior point of view, the last two years have been no less a disaster than they have been to everyone else.

All but the super-rich will be negatively affected by these GOP-corporate policies for which Donald Trump serves as figurehead. If Republicans continue in power, and also consolidate their ideology—which by now verges on the fascistic—in the Supreme Court, a new economic and political meltdown can be anticipated.

Returning to Smith: “Beyond economics, I’m appalled by Trump’s divisiveness, mendacity, misogyny, immorality, and pathological narcissism; the trashing of norms of civility and presidential decorum and mores; the drift to autocracy; the abuse of presidential power in attacking the press and political opponents; the encouragement given to white supremacism, racism, xenophobia, and attacks on LGBTQ rights; the inadequate response to the devastation of Puerto Rico; the separation of immigrant children from their parents; the termination of the DACA program; the hard line on drug enforcement and sentencing; the inaction on gun control; the appointment of hard-right judges; the voter suppression and gerrymandering perpetuating undemocratic Republican minority rule; the undermining of women’s right to privacy and choice; the White House’s deliberate inaction on cyber-interference in the electoral process and cyber-warfare generally by the Russians and other state actors; the blurring of the line of separation between church and state; the threats to our alliances and cozying up to dictators; the acquiescence to Putin’s agenda; the attacks on DoJ, FBI, and the Mueller investigation; the lowly and base character of individuals appointed to high office and position in the Trump administration and campaign; the spinelessness of Republicans in Congress in failing to restrain Trump’s worst instincts.”

Two more years?

If the GOP holds the Congress after November, what does it have in store for seniors? The two main concerns are Social Security and healthcare.

Republicans want to increase the retirement age. The average lifespan has lengthened in the years since Social Security was established, but for many workers employed in dangerous and strenuous jobs, and for those who have not enjoyed access to optimal healthcare all their lives, life expectancy has barely budged for decades. Members of “despised” groups statistically die up to a decade or more earlier than other Americans. Raising the retirement age will mean millions of workers dying before they ever get a chance to retire, or enjoying retirement for a very brief time before they pass on.

Another issue is the Republican plan to institute the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI), which would, according to the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), “result in a benefit cut—which compounded would equal roughly 3 percent after 10 years, about 6 percent after 20 years, and close to 9 percent after 30 years.”

And then there’s the payroll tax cap. “Right now,” says the ARA, “a billionaire pays the same amount of money in payroll taxes as someone making $128,400 a year. That’s not right. If we scrap the payroll tax cap, we can make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years.” The extremely wealthy in America complete their annual Social Security payroll payments literally in the first few hours of the year.

Finally, Social Security should be expanded, not cut: Cost of living adjustments should be made annually, and a minimum benefit should be introduced to reduce senior poverty.

As for Medicare, ARA says, “Congress should reject proposals that could cut Medicare funding by turning it into a voucher program: It takes away your guaranteed Medicare benefits and replaces them with a limited stipend with which to purchase insurance in the private marketplace or stay on traditional Medicare. The benefits would not keep up with medical inflation, and every year, seniors would pay more and more money out-of-pocket.”

In addition, Congress should reject proposals to raise the eligibility age for Medicare. If anything, Medicare should be expanded to cover everyone of all ages. And Congress should finally enact the Medicare drug rebate program and negotiate, as the largest single healthcare insurance provider, for lower drug prices.

Top Ten votes in Congress

Not every Democratic candidate seeking to replace a Republican in Congress, in state houses, on school boards, etc., is going to resemble New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Boston’s Ayanna Pressley in their progressive views on almost every topic. This one may be cautious on advancing too fast toward Medicare for All. That one may sound a little too trigger-happy when it comes to foreign military adventures. And the other may be a charter schools supporter. Many of them are going to be too timid right now to speak up for Palestinian national rights. We all have our particular concerns, but we cannot be single-issue voters.

Senior voters—like all voters—have to become ever better educated strategic voters, the way families compromise for a win-win over household priorities or where to vacation this year, or the way unions bargain for workers’ rights knowing they won’t necessarily wind up with every one of their demands written into the contract.

Speaking personally (and as a senior), I am a modest donor to numerous advocacy groups and charitable organizations. Even if my donations are small, I feel it is important to be counted as a supporter to bolster their lobbying power. Every year, from several of them—environmental, feminist, LGBTQ, human rights, civil rights, church-state, foreign policy, etc.—I receive a Congressional scorecard: How did our representatives and senators vote on our Top Ten issues? And there it is, spread out across several pages: Democrats in the House and the Senate voting with us 90-100 percent of the time, and Republicans voting with us 0-20 percent at best. It couldn’t be clearer.

For the legislative year 2017, the national Alliance for Retired Americans released such a Congressional Voting Record. The ARA’s Top Ten issues in the House were the following: Retirement Rule Repeal, Association Health Plans, Health Care Repeal, Fiduciary Rule Repeal, Medical Malpractice Limit, Anti-Retiree Budget I, Anti-Retiree Budget II, Medicare Means-Testing, End Medical Deductions, and Skewed Tax Cuts. On each of these bills put forth by the GOP the recommended ARA position was No.

Let me cite a few examples: Connecticut, where I was born, has five representatives, all Democrats. Each one of them scored 100 percent. By contrast, similar size states of Arkansas and Utah, with four representatives each, all Republicans: Their score, a unanimous 0 percent.

An AARP rally to defend Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. | AARP

In several states, representation reflects the polarization of our politics, varying wildly, largely because of gerrymandering and voter suppression. The big cities are Democratic, the rest of the state Republican. Indiana, for instance: Out of nine representatives, two are Democrats, and they each voted 100 percent with ARA; every single one of the other seven, Republicans, voted 0 percent. Same with Louisiana’s six House members: One Democrat at 100 percent, five Republicans at 0 percent.

Even in a big state such as California, where I live, the priorities are highly divided, showing how much or how little elected officials feel they have to accommodate to their constituencies. It’s almost unanimously straight party line: Out of 53 House members, 14 are in the GOP: One of them scored 10 percent, and two scored 20 percent, meaning that out of 140 votes (14 Reps. x 10 issues), California’s GOP voted against senior interests 135 times. By contrast, among the 39 Democrats, three came in at 90 percent, and one at 89 (he had missed voting on all ten), and all the rest at 100.

These are just examples, but across the board that’s the general picture: The GOP is not with the “senior agenda.”

Pennsylvania is a true swing state, so we see slightly more flexibility in its representatives’ voting: All five of its Democrats voted 100 percent with ARA, and among the 13 Republicans there are three at 30 percent, one at 20 percent, and one at 11 (he had also missed one of the ten votes).

In the Senate, the Top Ten votes were on different pieces of legislation affecting seniors, but the same pattern holds: In Florida, the Democrat Bill Nelson scores 100, while Republican Marco Rubio gives his Sunbelt seniors a big goose egg.

These are just examples, but across the board that’s the general picture: The GOP is not with the “senior agenda.” The other “agenda”-oriented scorecards from other organizations will show the same thing. I might mention a rare anomaly in Republican Walter Jones Jr. of North Carolina’s 3rd C.D., who is generally a centrist in his party, but on the ARA scorecard rates a 70 for this year (his lifetime score is only 36, which is still far above the single-digit lifetime scores of all the other Republicans).

It’s not realistic to think we’ll agree with every position of every Democrat. But on balance, once in the majority, the valence will change. The GOP-Trump agenda will be forced to slow down or grind to a halt. Maybe not on every single issue, but on most; and there will be some lame duck executive orders we will be powerless to prevent from being issued. The stage will be set for the next round of victory, and the next and the next.

Between now and Tuesday, November 6 our work is cut out for us: By every means at our disposal, to put a dent in the Republican juggernaut, to disable it. It means explaining over and over again how vile and harmful Trump’s agenda is to ourselves and our children’s children.

For further information on the Alliance for Retired Americans, see their website. ARA has affiliates in almost every state.

Eric A. Gordon
People’s World

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Knowing Others Care About the Environment Encourages People to Use Less Energy https://www.laprogressive.com/great-northern-insulation/ https://www.laprogressive.com/great-northern-insulation/#respond Sat, 22 Sep 2018 14:04:13 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319889 Great Northern InsulatonCynthia Madison: The public has become more environmentally conscious. This translates into the fact that they are worried about the environment and are interested in protecting it.

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Great Northern InsulatonAt present, people are self-centered. They care only about themselves and their affairs. Therefore, it is surprising to understand that individuals are concerned with something other than their own desires, needs or interests. But it is true. They do not always put themselves first. This is the one thing that regular individuals care for the most: the environment. In the 1970s, millions took to the street in order to demand environmental protection.

Almost half a century later, things have not changed too much. As a matter of fact, it can be argued that the public cares for Mother Earth more than ever. They are making considerable efforts to reduce energy consumption and they encourage others to follow their example. It is needless to say that this is a good thing. Saving energy helps save the environment. Even if it may not seem evident, there is a close connection between energy use and the environment. More specifically, the less energy is consumed, power plants release fewer toxic fumes.

Even with all the gadgets, people are using less energy

Technology has its place in the modern world. It is impossible to imagine life without it. Owing to machinery and devices, individuals can stay connected with their friends and family, travel, and cure illnesses. Virtually everything that we own is plugged in and connected to the Internet. This is not an exaggeration. Ordinary objects collect and share data by means of cheap processors and wireless networks.

The public has become more environmentally conscious. This translates into the fact that they are worried about the environment and are interested in protecting it.

Taking into consideration the context, it is a little bit shocking to find out that citizens are using less electricity than they did 10 years ago. How can this be? Well, there are two explanations. One explanation is that modern devices are more efficient. Basically, they are designed so as to not increase utility bills. Another explanation lies in the fact that the public has become more environmentally conscious. This translates into the fact that they are worried about the environment and are interested in protecting it.

Canadians, for instance, are doing their best to protect Mother Earth. Government of Canada partners have recently launched a tool that enables students to find out more about plastic pollution. It has been acknowledged that plastic pollution is a serious issue, negatively impacting the health of oceans, lakes, and rivers. Getting back on topic, Canadians have a love for the outdoors and take care of the environment so that future generations can enjoy it as well. From an early age, kids are taught about the consequences of landfill waste, as well as toxic waste. Adults, for their part, resort to using energy types that emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions. And they insulate thoroughly in the home. Experts at Great Northern Insulation recommend using blown-in insulation, as it is made from recycled paper and reduces landfill waste.

What motivates them to save energy anyway?

It seems that it is not necessary to persuade individuals to save energy because they do it anyway. What is the factor of motivation? In this case, information is what drives positive behaviour. To be more precise, the public receives details relating to how much gas or electricity their neighbours are currently using.

The moment that they understand that their peers are wasting no time when it comes to saving Mother Earth, they start behaving in the same way. Examples empower and this is a truth that cannot be denied. If you ask people themselves, they will say that money is the strongest motivator behind reducing energy consumption. Put simply, they will not admit to the truth.

Whether they like to admit it or not, people follow social norms. They follow the unwritten rules even when they make absolutely no sense. The reason for this is that they want to feel accepted. Therefore, if a study highlights the fact that ordinary individuals behave pro-environmentally, there will be much more pro-environmental behaviour. The point is that what others do matters a lot.

In the United States, there is a firm that informs the population about each member’s energy consumption. This existent practice has not been copied in other parts of the world, but there is hope that it will happen very soon. Frequently, the behaviour of others has adverse effects. When it comes down to the environment, things are a little bit different.

Using less energy has never been easier

The general opinion is that reducing energy consumption is hard. It is not difficult, yet it requires changing something that is deeply embedded in the behaviour. The vast majority of people are happy to make an effort. Unfortunately, there are still individuals who cannot be bothered to do anything. Using less energy is a good thing. So, how can society reduce energy consumption? Here are just a few suggestions worth considering.

  • Insulating the home – A property can never be too well-insulated. Most owners do not realize that their dwellings are under-insulated. They believe that the utility bills are high due to other reasons. A great percentage is lost in a home that is not properly insulated through the walls. Saving energy is, thus, achieved by insulating.
  • Identifying energy-efficient appliances – The amount of energy consumption can be significantly reduced by using Energy Star appliances – in other words, devices that use less energy and provide improved performance. It is advisable to look for the logo when purchasing appliances.
  • Avoiding the use of space heaters – Regardless of the model, space heaters are very expensive to operate. They heat up the space by heating the air, which is why they consume so much energy. What is more, it is highly dangerous to operate close to inflammable material.

It goes without saying that there are plenty of other means by which people can use less energy. The means is not as important as the final result. It is important for people once and for all to understand that the environment is essential to human living and that we are blessed to live on a planet that provides us everything we need in order to survive.

 Cynthia Madison

Sponsored

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Organizing at Church: Some Legal, Theological and Ethical Issues https://www.laprogressive.com/ethical-issues/ https://www.laprogressive.com/ethical-issues/#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:41:31 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319876 organizing at churchRich Procida: From abolition to the civil rights movement, liberation theology to the poor people’s campaign, religious and spiritual people have worked for social justice throughout history.

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Ethical IssuesThe first thing we need to recognize is that religion is political. It has always has been political. It is political now, and it will be political into the foreseeable future. The issue is not whether religion is or should be political, the question is what kind of politics will it be?

When I say political I’m not talking about politicians or parties. I’m speaking about addressing the issues we confront around the world, from poverty to war and every kind of injustice. These are the concerns of spiritually aware people.

Religion is not merely about our personal salvation and spiritual development. It’s about the salvation of the world. We are to be concerned about others, and this leads us to be concerned about the public policies and government actions that affect people.

This does not mean that churches should be involved in promoting candidates for public office. That is a question of whether churches want to maintain their tax status. IRS rules prohibit charities from promoting individual candidates for political office.

The free exercise and establishment clauses, on the other hand, prohibit only the State. Governments may not prohibit the free exercise of, or respect the establishment of, religion. Churches, on the other hand, are free to involve themselves in a wide array of social causes.

From abolition to the civil rights movement, liberation theology to the poor people’s campaign, religious and spiritual people have worked for social justice throughout history.

Some may say they focus on charity or do their work separate from their religious activities, but none of this outweighs the fact that as spiritual and religious people we are ethically called to take issue with the actions of our governments and be concerned about the effects of our nation’s domestic and foreign policy. To accept responsibility and to take action is what it means to be a spiritually mature person.

When people think of Christians, they often think of evangelicals, but there is also a liberal tradition in the church. From abolition to the civil rights movement, liberation theology to the poor people’s campaign, religious and spiritual people have worked for social justice throughout history. This is central to our calling as religious and spiritual people and it is also the mission of the church so that it makes sense that the church is involved.

Evangelicals seem ignorant of the basic biblical message of the gospel, to care for the poor, bring down the powerful, and lift up the lowly. That’s why I believe this struggle is winnable. Everyone already knows the Bible commands us to provide for the needy, to welcome the stranger, and to love our neighbors. Conservative evangelicals should be hard-pressed to push their agenda when confronted with the true message of the gospel, of Jesus’ ministry, and the Bible.

So we are talking about “ethics,” particularly Christian ethics but also spiritual ethics and social ethics. What are we as human beings, as spiritual people, or as Christians morally obligated or called to do? Are we to be concerned about the welfare of others, to love our neighbors, and what does that mean when applied to our collective activities as a community, a people, or a nation?

organizing at churchBeing spiritual is not about personal morality, purity, or experience without concern for the larger community. Being a spiritual person or being a Christian means loving one another. There’s plenty of biblical support this, and the golden rule is a fundamental ethical principle of many religions.

Isaiah describes the heavens as belonging to God, and the earth as God’s footstool. According to the Bible, God created the nations, even setting their boundaries. God promised to make Israel a blessing to all the nations of the world, to be “a light to the nations” so that God’s “salvation might “reach the ends of the earth.” As such, God called the nation of Israel to be a model nation for people to look to for what it means to be ruled by God.

Some of the worst and most horrendous atrocities in the world occur at the hands of governments and other corporate entities. The things we human beings do to each other in the name of God, or nation, or ideology, or profit are the demonic results of our collective political acts and failures to act. We are responsible not only for the things we do, but also for the things others do in our name and on our behalf.

The Bible is an ancient sacred blood-soaked book that is dangerous in the wrong hands. We must wrest it from those who misuse it. Progressive Christians can provide a counter-narrative to the conservative evangelicalism.

The Church has a checkered history, but it’s not alone in its penchant for blood. History is full of bloodshed. Blood has also been shed over ideology, money, and power. The state is the biggest perpetrator of violence in the world.

The question is not “when will religion, and all such foolishness, go away?” The question is to what use will we put our faith? To what use will we put the Church? To what use will we put God?

The Church has a role to play, but it is not a social service agency. It doesn’t have beds, social workers, and doctors. Instead, churches have pulpits and pews.

The Church is an organizing institution charged to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Like the state, religion isn’t evil, but it can be corrupted and put to evil ends. It’s up to us to resist its tendency toward evil and to lead it toward what is right.

Rich Procida

Rich Procida is an attorney and author who writes about religion, politics and the supernatural at Modernlectionaries.blogspot.com. He also produces”Bible Study for Progressives,” a podcast where moderates, liberals and leftist of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality and politics.

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Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh Is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From https://www.laprogressive.com/christine-blasey-ford/ https://www.laprogressive.com/christine-blasey-ford/#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:20:05 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319873 Christine Blasey FordTed Rall: If and when America gets its spectacle — Monday, Monday, Monday! Ford vs. Kavanaugh! Visit the concession stand! — we will know nothing more than we do today. She says it happened. He says it didn’t.

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Christine Blasey FordChristine Blasey Ford accuses Brett Kavanaugh of trying to rape her during a party while they were in prep school. The political stakes are high: if Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote fails in the Senate and Democrats win the body back in November, conservatives will watch their dream of a solidly reliable 5-4 majority go up in smoke.

What makes the research psychologist’s charge culturally interesting — why people can’t talk about much else this week — are its many layers of debatability.

Is it right to derail a man’s career, or anyone’s anything, over a charge that can’t be verified? Is “innocent until proven guilty” still a thing?

Assuming Ford is truthful (and no new victims of Kavanaugh’s alleged piggery step forward), is a single disgraceful act by a 17-year-old (she was 15) a dealbreaker? 17-year-olds are more aggressive and impulsive than adults. It’s not their fault. It’s their brains’. Out-of-control teens don’t necessarily become crazy adults. That’s why we have a separate justice system for children. On the other hand, most of the people I knew as kids haven’t changed that much.

If Kavanaugh’s school buddy hadn’t busted up the scene, would he have raped Ford? Maybe, maybe not. But what she alleges, pinning her down and covering her mouth, would be unlawful restraint — a serious criminal offense.

I don’t know what happened. If this were a jury instructed to convict beyond a reasonable doubt, I’d have to let Kavanaugh walk.

My gut tells me Ford is telling the truth. She told her own shrink in 2012. She passed a polygraph. Her account describes an encounter that, though terrifying, could have gone worse. If she wanted to destroy Kavanaugh’s bid for the high court, she could claim that he’d raped her. Kavanaugh was a prep boy. He’s still a douche. Ford’s description sounds like vintage late-1970s/early-1980s douchbaggery. Douches gonna douche.

Again, I don’t know.

If and when America gets its spectacle — Monday, Monday, Monday! Ford vs. Kavanaugh! Visit the concession stand! — we will know nothing more than we do today. She says it happened. He says it didn’t.

But here’s the thing: we can’t know. He said-she said is a cliché for a reason. This took place, or didn’t, in an age before smartphones and security cameras. People had privacy. Which they sometimes abused.

Republicans want the he and the she to testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 24th. Anita Hill 2.0! Ford’s lawyer says that’s too soon because her client wouldn’t have enough time to prepare. For what it’s worth, Ford’s lawyer is right; Kavanaugh had months to prepare for his cakewalk; she deserves the same before getting grilled.

If and when America gets its spectacle — Monday, Monday, Monday! Ford vs. Kavanaugh! Visit the concession stand! — we will know nothing more than we do today. She says it happened. He says it didn’t. She can’t prove it did. He can’t prove it didn’t.

What’s really on trial here is #MeToo.

Some dude, a pompous, angry “white knight,” tweeted the semi-official motto of #MeToo the other day: “BELIEVE ALL WOMEN! DISCUSSION OVER.” Nice try, but fascism isn’t the law yet. Discussion continues. Discussion will continue for the foreseeable future.

Because this discussion is inherently unresolveable.

It will not be resolved. But it will end.

#MeToo will end with a whimper. Give us a few more Aziz Ansaris and we’ll be too exhausted to continue. Yet #MeToo will have accomplished a lot. Its “Believe All Women” battle cry will be dismissed as the ridiculous attempted overcorrection it obviously is. No one deserves to be believed, not at face value, not without evidence, just because they’re a woman (or a man).

What people need and deserve, accuser and accused alike, is to be respected, taken seriously, and listened to. Pre-#MeToo, too many female accusers were dismissed out of hand, even mocked, frequently disrespected and revictimized. Too many male offenders were believed simply for belonging to the half of the population privileged under patriarchy.

Society needs to arrive at a place where people of underprivileged status are heard as much and as intelligently as those with wealth and power. Well, society really needs to eliminate differences in social and economic status. But until then, equal respect and dignity will have to suffice. #MeToo will help us get there.

In the meantime, we’ll have Ford vs. Kavanaugh.

Ted Rall
RallBlog

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Shut Up and Step Up: Right Whines It’s ‘Open Season’ on White Men https://www.laprogressive.com/white-men/ https://www.laprogressive.com/white-men/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2018 17:00:07 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319869 white menSikivu Hutchinson: The demonization of Ford by the right is yet another indication of how low the GOP fascists are willing to go to gut human and civil rights.

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white men

Senators Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch

In a year that has seen the toppling of numerous “untouchable” male power brokers over sexual harassment and violence, Senator Mazie Hirono’s demand that men “Shut up and step up” concerning the sexual assault allegations against SCOTUS candidate Brett Kavanaugh is a call to action.

To all the “enlightened” males who publicly deplore violence against women, yet sit back and cosign sexist behavior and benefit from a culture of normalized sexual violence, it is a message that you are being watched and held accountable.

And to all the white women who have jumped on the character witness bandwagon to valorize Kavanaugh it should be a reminder that simply being assigned female at birth doesn’t exempt you from complicity with patriarchy and the silencing of sexual violence survivors.

While the death threats Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford has received for speaking her truth are deeply reprehensible, they have been buttressed by female voices.  For the past 24 hours, the major cable news networks have ramped up air time of pro-Kavanaugh ads produced by the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.

The most prominent ad features respectable white women waxing about how upstanding and morally unimpeachable Kavanaugh is.  The not so subtle implication is that Kavanaugh can’t be a sexual predator, misogynist or threat to women’s equality if he’s been an “advocate” for women in his personal and professional relationships. He can’t have attempted a brutal sexual assault because he’s been an upstanding champion of female colleagues.

Kavanaugh, like elite ivory tower brethren Brock Turner (the former Stanford University student whose lenient six-month prison sentence for sexual assault elicited a firestorm and led to the recall of Judge Aaron Persky), has an impeccable pedigree and should be forgiven youthful “peccadillos”.

For survivors, this paradox of exhibiting personal “integrity” while propping up racist, sexist, misogynist policies and practices is a familiar narrative.  Of course, central to victim shaming and blaming is the narrative that there are fundamentally good men who never cross the line but for the sluttish behavior of irresponsible women and girls.

The demonization of Ford by the right is yet another indication of how low the GOP fascists are willing to go to gut human and civil rights.

According to this view, predators are easy to spot, wear scarlet letters, and are always outwardly loathsome, reptilian individuals.  The only predators are serial predators and displays of decency, civility and good manners always attest to moral character.  And even respectable white women like Ford must comply with the code of silence protecting toxic masculinity.

The demonization of Ford by the right is yet another indication of how low the GOP fascists are willing to go to gut human and civil rights. According to ReproAction Network, Kavanaugh’s repugnant record on women’s rights puts him lockstep with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  His now well-documented insidious appellate court decisions include voting against abortion access for an undocumented teenager and in favor of forced abortions for disabled women, as well as judgments opposing affirmative action, workers’ rights, disability rights, and the Affordable Care Act.

According to conservative ideologue Ann Coulter, the fate of white men’s public integrity as a whole is at stake because of the “attack” on Kavanaugh.  In this Democratic-engineered, deep state witch hunt, it’s open season on white men and “any white male” can find himself roasting at the stake.

Coulter’s injection of white patriarchal anxiety into the controversy is fitting because it speaks to the way the mainstream hijacking of #MeToo both flouts and reinforces white supremacy—to how white nationhood, as represented by white male dominance and white female submission, must always be validated and protected at all costs.

It’s no surprise that some of the most “compelling” spokespeople in this enterprise are the white women who handed Trump the presidency.

Sikivu Hutchinson
BlackFemLens

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Dear Mister President: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream https://www.laprogressive.com/trump-dream/ https://www.laprogressive.com/trump-dream/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2018 13:27:47 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319859 Dan Embree: Now that Manafort has flipped, I’ll pardon him and the rest of them and destroy the whole Witch Hunt in one stroke. Then I’ll order Maria Butina freed from federal custody and fly to Moscow with her on Air Force One.

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Friday, 21 September 2018

Dear Mr President,

Two a.m. in Washington. Dark and still in the aftermath of the hurricane. But some unquiet souls are awake.

Paul Manafort lies in the upper bunk of his cell in Alexandria: “By cooperating with Mueller, I’m forcing Trump to pardon me. Otherwise I spill the deal with the Russians in Trump Tower, the Ukraine deal at the convention, and his money laundering deals in Kazakhstan. I’ll get to keep all my mansions and my ostrich coat, and the book deal with Pecker will pay off the Russians. Trump has no choice. What a loser!”

Now that Manafort has flipped, I’ll pardon him and destroy the whole Witch Hunt in one stroke. Then I’ll order Maria Butina freed from federal custody and fly to Moscow with her.

Donald Trump lies in his president-size bed in the West Wing, alone: “Now that Manafort has flipped, I’ll pardon him and the rest of them and destroy the whole Witch Hunt in one stroke. Then I’ll order Maria Butina freed from federal custody and fly to Moscow with her on Air Force One. Kellyanne will write the book I’ve promised Pecker, and I’ll live off the proceeds by the Black Sea. Pence will be left praying over the pieces. What a pious prick!”

Mike Pence paces the halls of the Vice Presidential residence, too excited to sleep: “Now that Manafort is ratting, Trump will pardon him and the others. Even Maria Butina – he thinks she’s hot – and she is! Then he’ll have to flee for obstructing justice. Once he’s in Moscow, impeachment won’t take a day. I’ll let Putin keep Air Force One as a gift from his new best friend. Then Sarah H. will write my book for Pecker. Fortunately, Mueller has never noticed me. What a moron! Oh, and thank you Jesus.”

Robert Mueller leans back in his office chair and stares at the ceiling: “Now that Manafort is talking, Trump will think he has to pardon him to keep me from learning the really bad stuff. Once he figures out I already have it, he’ll flee. When he lands in Moscow, Putin will lock him up in the Ritz with a couple of hookers. Maria Butina will write Trump’s Pecker book to Putin’s order. I’ll subpoena Pence for his part in the cover-up and re-arrest Manafort on the new charges. What predictable clowns!”

Dan Embree

Received by the White House at 2:06 AM EST, 21 September 2018

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Friday Feedback: Kavanaugh Channels Thomas https://www.laprogressive.com/kavanaugh-channels-thomas/ https://www.laprogressive.com/kavanaugh-channels-thomas/#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 04:05:06 +0000 https://www.laprogressive.com/?p=319857 Clarence Thomas Brett KavanaughTom Hall: As we all clamor to watch the salacious arguments about what Kavanaugh may have done as a drunken teen, let us not loose sight of the fact that in his writings, he has been CLEAR, he thinks that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be reversed.

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Clarence Thomas Brett Kavanaugh

Each week, LA Progressive’s editors pick what they regard as a particularly insightful comment from one of our readers, both to draw attention to one particular reader’s thoughts and to encourage more readers to weigh in with their opinions. This week’s pithy “Feedback Friday” response comes from Tom Hall, who commented on the article by Michael T. Hertz, “Parallels Between Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.”

Thanks for an important commentary. We read so much about grand concepts, justifying actions that would destroy the concepts.

Sex is an important reality in human life, even if some people want us to exclude it from the workplace or other parts of life. It’s bleakly humorous that so many people want to ban sex from the workplace, while seemingly all Fundagelicals want to ban it from private bedrooms. But we can’t ban sexual differences, or sexual feelings from either place.

What we can to is figure out and implement rules for making workplaces, play places, family places and private places more accommodating to all people, including women who have long been the subjects of discrimination, harassment and abuse in all of those places. And let’s not leave out children, who should be able to feel safe everywhere, even in Catholic Cathedrals.

We have some rules. One important rule has been that every person is innocent until / unless proven guilty. But according to many people today, sex is so much more important that the rule of law, that an accusation of sexual misconduct should be treated the same as a conviction. No need for trial or presentation of evidence. According to them, we should abandon the notion of due process.

As we all clamor to watch the salacious arguments about what Kavanaugh may have done as a drunken teen, let us not lose sight of the fact that in his writings, he has been CLEAR, he thinks that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be reversed.

What Kavanaugh stands accused of is very bad behavior. His eager supporters want him to be acquitted without the bother of any exploration of the evidence for or against the accusation. Some of his detractors want him to be convicted without the bother of any exploration of the evidence. Such agreed positions, that the presumption of innocence should be discarded over a “higher principle,” serves only those who eagerly seek an end to the principle – and maybe to the rule of law.

As we all clamor to watch the salacious arguments about what Kavanaugh may have done as a drunken teen, let us not lose sight of the fact that in his writings, he has been CLEAR, he thinks that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be reversed. He wants to be appointed to a court from which he could vote to reverse Roe v. Wade.

AND, during his confirmation hearing, he stated clearly that he does not / will not distinguish between abortion and contraception. In his mind, and thus in his Supreme Court voting, both sex-related activities are equally bad, evil and both should be outlawed.

Kavanaugh is a profoundly regressive Republican politician. He wants to do away with things that our laws have evolved to allow, over recent decades: Pollution controls; Non-white Voting rights; Personal rights to control one’s body. A kavanaugh “justice” would be a clear and constant danger even to such “settled” rulings as Brown v. Board of Education.

We should not support the current Republican push for an end to the rule of law by demanding Kavanaugh’s head on a platter without any right to due process. Due process is ALWAYS an enemy to the forces of right wing corporatism. Let us demand that there be a full evidential exploration of his past conduct, and of it’s relevance to his current nomination for the Supreme Court. Let that evidential record stand, for all to see, whether or not his nomination is confirmed.

The post Friday Feedback: Kavanaugh Channels Thomas appeared first on LA Progressive.

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