Friday, June 28, 2013

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) There are moments when history palpably turns a page. Today is just such a moment.

2) In the event Nelson Mandela does not survive much longer, I would like to throw my wishes into the air and hope they drift on a gentle breeze to his bedside. As I live in a nation that is sitting idly by while the rights of minorities are ripped from their grasp, while we actually wonder whether a bloodthirsty racist is guilty of killing a young man whose only crime was walking down a sidewalk, and the murdered child’s girlfriend is mocked for her command of English, I look to Nelson Mandela and pray to my Lord that somehow his spirit finds its way to America. We have apartheid of the worst kind: hidden, nearly-invisible. And this apartheid is not just racial or ethnic, but economic, egged on by people who would stand to most benefit from true freedom.

3) Irony of ironies: A group of South African Muslim lawyers has called for President Obama to be arrested for war crimes by the Pretoria regime.

4) For me, Sunday will be a day where I am either out on my bike or glued to my TeeVee: the Tour de France will televise its second stage, and then a dream match of reigning World Champion Spain v. 2014 World Cup host and perennial powerhouse Brazil in the finals of the Confederations Cup. In Brazil. Where there have been major protests.

5) The Egyptian Spring seems to be turning into a long hot summer.

6) As odious as provisions of the newly-passed immigration bill are, it seems that Chuck Schumer laid some mines for House Republicans. Good on him.

7) The universe may be stranger than we can know.

8) Could Rand Paul, who pisses off just about everyone except his fanbois, be the 2016 Republican Presidential candidate? God, I hope so! It would be like going into the lion’s mouth and pulling all his teeth to kick his ass.

9) Now that he’s about to be suspended for, well, basically forever, whither A-Rod?

10) The freude, it schadens.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can We Stop Calling Them "Gay" Now?

I mean, Jeez, they’ve earned the right to be as miserable as the rest of us!

With the expected addition of California’s citizens after Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling, some 30 percent of Americans will live in states offering same-sex marriage.

Now the two sides of the marriage wars are gearing up to resume the costly state-by-state battles that could, in the hopes of each, spread marriage equality to several more states in the next few years, or reveal a brick wall of traditional values that cannot be breached.

There is wide agreement from both sides on where the next battlefields will be.

I want to point out something that has gone unnoticed in the coverage of these decisions. While I could not be happier that there is an overt acknowledgement by the SCOTUS that gay people are as human as I am, I’m disheartened by the time it took to get here. We still have a long way to go.

DoMA was passed in 1996. It is now nearly twenty years later that the Court has overturned key provisions of the Act. Keep that in mind as the focus shifts to the states, not just on this issue but on abortion.

It’s hard to believe in the 21st century that we’re still battling for individual sovereignty, for the individual’s right to live life unmolested by antediluvian mores and customs of other people who happen to have a megaphone.

And don’t think the right wing is going to go quietly on any of these issues. Same article:

The opponents of same-sex marriage, while unhappy that the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act and opened the door to gay marriage in California, are taking heart that the court did not declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right.

After a recent succession of stinging defeats in Delaware, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Washington State — after political campaigns in which they were heavily outspent — the groups have also vowed to step up fund-raising for advertising and mobilizing supporters.

“These court decisions could be a real boon to our fund-raising,” said Frank Schubert, a conservative political consultant and vice president of the National Organization for Marriage. “People tend to react when the wolf is at the door.”

And this isn’t nearly as big an issue as a women’s right to choose. After all, one has merely to look at the heroic efforts of Texas state senator Wendy Davis the other evening, and the concomitant reaction of Hair-for Brains governor Rick Perry, his lieutenant governor David “Do The” Dewhurst, and state senator….ummmmm…uhhhhhh….I forgot. Oops!

That it took DoMA, a prima facie unconstitutional law, three decades to be overturned means we have to double down to protect the rights we supposedly cherish, particularly in this day and age when we’ve given so many of them away for free.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dear Senator Reid

It ain’t working.

That’s the way you do it.

Helped by a marathon speech, Texas Democrats have managed to block a bill that would shut most of the abortion clinics in the state.

Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis spoke for more than 10 hours, in a stalling speech known as a filibuster, at the state capitol in Austin.

Republicans then scrambled to pass the bill, but the vote was ruled too late for a midnight deadline.

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

You probably thought it was quaint when Rand Paul stood up and filibustered for 13 hours. Of course, it didn’t help that Paul couldn’t help but aggrandize his actions. It makes it easy to minimize the effort when he inflates its importance.

But here, here we have a bona fide filibuster that actually accomplished what it set out to do: to establish a firewall for a basic human right, the right to decide what to do with one’s own body.

You want to weed out the nonsense “filibusters” just being done to screw with the Democratic agenda? Force Senators who oppose a bill to stand their asses up and start talking about why. Passionate filibusters have a time honored place in American culture, not just in politics. Americans respect, even if they ultimately don’t agree with, someone who has strong and deep feelings about something.

Your mealymouthed status quo-centric pass on the whole issue of filibuster reform was ludicrous. It’s not about what happens when Republicans take back power (if not them, then someone.)

It’s about believing in your cause. It’s about knowing that the legislation you bring to bear is important enough to withstand tactical attacks like a filibuster.

It’s about, in the end, honesty. Honesty is a quality you seem to minimize as much as you minimize Rand Paul’s rage.

You ought to try it, Senator. It does a body politic good.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Probably Not An Admission He'd Want To Make

Attention: American Labour

This is the way you do it:

Beijing (CNN) -- Dozens of Chinese workers angry over a pay dispute have held their U.S. boss hostage for five days, the American businessman said.

Chip Starnes, co-founder and president of Specialty Medical Supplies China, has been trapped in the company's suburban Beijing factory since Friday. He told CNN it's all because of a misunderstanding about layoffs and severance packages.

"I tried to leave a day and a half ago, and there was like 60 or 70 of them here inside every entrance, and every exit was barricaded," Starnes said Tuesday from behind the gates of the factory. "I can't go anywhere."

Starnes decided his labor costs would be lower in India, so he outsourced 30 jobs and laid off a concomitant number of Chinese workers. Naturally, there are disputes over what happens next to the plant: workers say no materials have arrived in many days and so they fear the plant is closing, Starnes says the plant is fully operational, and so on.

There’s a lesson here for American workers: if you don’t want your job outsourced, don’t go gently into that goodbye. Fight, claw, kick, scratch. You care about your job, and failing the job existing any longer, you care about how you’re treated.

Hell, this is China, fercrissake! A land filled with people who are obeisant to authority and who value even the crappiest jobs, and these folks are putting up a fight!

So why won’t you?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Just Wondering

It seems as though Edward Snowden, the NSA “whistleblower” who has secreted documents to Glenn Greenwald in exchange for his moment in the spotlight, has decided the spotlight was too harsh for him. He has left Hong Kong for parts unknown.

He could be – probably is, at least temporarily – in Moscow.

He might end up in Ecuador.

He apparently “false flagged” an escape to Cuba.

The best guesses are that he is in Russia and looking for asylum in Ecuador. Russia refused to extradite him, probably because the United States had nothing to offer in exchange, and Snowden has far more valuable intelligence to give up in exchange for the cooperation of Russian authorities. Iceland threw up roadblocks to his asylum request, which scared him off it seems.

One thing seems pretty clear from events over the weekend: there are a lot of people very angry at Edward Snowden, people he believed would embrace him with open arms and wallets. Hong Kong authorities, no doubt with significant input from the Beijing government, all but expelled him over the weekend, after he revealed American attempts to hack the Chinese and Hong Konese government. He's a hot potato and no one will want to be left holding him.

I’m not sure what he was thinking through all this: as more and more of his revelations fall flat in terms of the value of their intelligence, and as more and more of his backstory falls apart under the smell test, it begins to look as if Snowden is an incompetent flunky who stumbled across what he thought was vital intelligence and decided to take the money and run, literally.

He’s no hero. He’s no Bradley Manning or even Daniel Ellsberg, people who stayed and faced the consequences, despite Ellsberg’s vocal support. For one thing, Ellsberg was a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard, a Ph D in Economics who worked closely with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. When he leaked documents, he thoroughly understood what he was leaking. Snowden, a high school dropout with less than three years’ experience in any job, has dumped and pumped.

The endgame here looks pretty simple: Snowden in a ditch after a “car accident”. The government may not be able to bring him home but there’s no way he can’t be touched.