Relaxed Gun Laws Mean Black People Can Get Guns Too!?

This Kansas City Star op-ed, while using Black Lives Matter language, makes the claim that pro-gun legislators only think of rural white hunters, and don’t consider that lax gun laws mean that Black people can get guns to murder with.

“White legislators do not care that black men in Kansas City and St. Louis can kill easier because of the laws passed in Jefferson City.”

Sigh.

Alternatives to Voting Democrat in the USA

Vote SocialistMany people believe there aren’t any organized alternatives to the corporate duopoly show that comes to town every election season. The good news is that there are many options, and the more votes that leftist parties get, the more legitimacy they gain in the media and the public eye, and the closer they get to being real challengers to the status quo. (Learn more about how that can happen here.)

A vote for a Democrat or a Republican is a vote for business as usual: systemic racism, patriarchal abuse of women, queers and trans folk, labor abuse, murderous military adventures abroad, destruction of public goods and services, and of course fat cat corporate oligarchy. Despite what liberals say, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO VOTE FOR THIS SYSTEM. Do not be emotionally blackmailed into another cycle of legitimizing this system only to watch it hurt the same people it always hurts. You have options, which include not voting (a legitimate choice in itself, called conscientious abstention), or voting for Progressive, Socialist or Communist parties. Below is a list of currently active leftist parties, with links and short self-descriptions.

The largest leftist party is the Green Party, which boasts over 100 elected officials in the United States.

Vote GreenFrom their website:

Committed to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organizing, Greens are renewing democracy without the support of corporate donors. Greens provide real solutions for real problems. Whether the issue is universal health care, corporate globalization, alternative energy, election reform or decent, living wages for workers, Greens have the courage and independence necessary to take on the powerful corporate interests.

But there are so many other options for Progressives, Socialists, Communists, and other Leftists. For example:

The Trotskyist Socialist Alternative, with a city council member in Seattle, Kshama Sawant.

We are a national organization fighting in our workplaces, communities, and campuses against the exploitation and injustices people face every day. We are community activists fighting against budget cuts in public services; we are activists campaigning for a $15/hour minimum wage and fighting, democratic unions; we are people of all colors speaking out against racism and attacks on immigrants, students organizing against tuition hikes and war, women and men fighting sexism and homophobia.

The New York-founded Working Families Party, which has a state Senator in New York, Letitia James.

Working Families is a growing progressive political organization that fights for an economy that works for all of us, and a democracy in which every voice matters. We believe that our children’s life chances must not be determined at birth, and that America must be a nation that allows all its people to thrive.

The Democratic-Socialist Socialist Party USA, which has an elected official in New Jersey, Pat Noble.

The Socialist Party stands for the abolition of every form of domination and exploitation, whether based on social class, gender, race/ethnicity, age, education, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.

The revolutionary-feminist Freedom Socialist Party

The Freedom Socialist Party is a working class organization composed of women and men of many races, nationalities, sexual orientations and ages who are fighting for a new, just social order that will serve the majority of the human race. In a time of environmental and economic crisis, perpetual war, high unemployment, immigrant scapegoating and rampant corporate theft, we reject despair and work collectively for a future cleansed of all oppression and violence.

Vote CommunistThe nearly 100-year-old Communist Party USA

A better and peaceful world is possible — a world where people and nature come before profits. That’s socialism. That’s our vision. We are the Communist Party USA.

The Marxist-Leninist Party for Socialism and Liberation

At the same time as we aim for revolution in this country, we stand for defense of the existing workers’ states, the national liberation movements, and for workers and oppressed people around the world. The magnitude of our tasks will be matched by our determination to win.

The Peace and Freedom Party, which has had such notable nominees for president as Leonard Peltier, Ralph Nader, and Roseann Barr.
Roseann Barr for President

The Peace and Freedom Party is committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism and racial equality. We represent the working class, those without capital in a capitalist society. We organize toward a world where cooperation replaces competition, a world where all people are well fed, clothed and housed; where all women and men have equal status; where all individuals may freely endeavor to fulfill their own talents and desires; a world of freedom and peace where every community retains its cultural integrity and lives with all others in harmony.

The Trotskyist Socialist Equality Party

The Socialist Equality Party is a political party of and for the working class. The SEP seeks not to reform capitalism, but to create a socialist, democratic and egalitarian society through the establishment of a workers’ government and the revolutionary transformation of world economy. We seek to unify workers in the United States and internationally in the common struggle for socialism—that is, for equality and the rational and democratic utilization of the wealth of the planet.

The Trotskyist Socialist Action with a youth affiliate, Youth for Socialist Action

Socialist Action is a national group of activists committed to the emancipation of workers and the oppressed. We strive to revitalize the anti-war, labor, anti-racist, feminist, student and other social movements. In the process we hope to bring activists together from different backgrounds into a revolutionary workers’ party that can successfully challenge the wealthy elite. Our ultimate goal is a truly democratic society organized to satisfy human needs, rather than corporate greed.

Justice Party

What the Justice Party envisions:

A peaceful nation and world where social, economic, and environmental justice prevail.

Time to change your party affiliation on your voter registration card? Who doesn’t want to be a card-carrying Communist??

Now I Know Who Mary Fallin Is

Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma, gained my notice by expressing this extremely creative history of Oklahoma at the Republican National Convention:

Governor Mary Fallin

“The history of my great state of Oklahoma offers a great example of pursuing the American Dream. It was built and settled by pioneers movibe west to seek better lives. During the Great Land Run of 1889, thousands of families rushed to put a stake down on empty plots of land. They built tent cities overnight. They farmed the land and they worked hard. And, in 1897, eight years after the land run, a handful of adventurous pioneers risked their own money — not the federal government’s money — to drill Oklahoma’s first oil well, the Nellie Johnstone. By doing so, these early-day pioneers changed the future and Oklahoma forever and today Oklahoma is one of the nation’s key energy producers and job creators. President Obama wants us to believe that Oklahomans owe that success to the federal government — to the Department Of Energy,to the EPA, to the IRS, or maybe even to him. Mr. President, we know better. As we say in Oklahoma, that dog won’t hunt.”

I recommend the following party game: have someone read this statement aloud (or play the youtube video!). Everytime Fallin says something that is TOTALLY MADE-UP AND/OR OBSCENELY OFFENSIVE, everyone takes a shot. The first person to black out loses.

ICE Agents Team with Nativists to Deport More Brown People!

I guess some ICE employees are itching to kick more brown people out of their United States. I’m supposing they got involved with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the hope of making life worse for people of darker hue, and then stuff like budgets and politics and human rights got in the way.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE “BROWN TIDE” and the DEMOGRAPHIC DISASTER??

The natural answer is to sue. Certain enterprising government employees at ICE established a natural link to the nativist organization, NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA, with extensive ties to racists of all types, is a big supporter of all the toughest anti-immigrant legislation, and has agreed to fund this lawsuit.

MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN HELL.

Top Quotes from “The Rich & the Rest of Us”

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West published a book called The Rich and the Rest of Us. I recently read this book, and here are my favorite quotes. I highly recommend this book as an excellent introduction into poverty issues and America’s class system.

” “There has been something crude and heartless and unfeeling in our haste to succeed and be great,” President Woodrow Wilson declared in 1913 at the beginning of the 20th century…”

“Poverty is 21st-century-style slavery; its eradication should serve as the battle cry of a new civil rights movement.”

“[A] condition of truth is to allow the suffering to speak.”

Who’s the Bigger Fraud?

From the AP:

The numbers suggest that the legitimate votes rejected by the [Voter ID] laws are far more numerous than are the cases of fraud that advocates of the rules say they are trying to prevent. Thousands more votes could be in jeopardy for this November, when more states with larger populations are looking to have similar rules in place.

So… doesn’t that indicate that Voter ID laws in fact perpetrate greater fraud than the “fraud” they’re supposedly fixing? Isn’t preventing someone from voting some sort of crime?

Just some thoughts.

Also from the article:

A Republican leader in Pennsylvania said recently that the state’s new ID law would allow Romney to win the state over President Barack Obama.

Huh. YOU DON’T SAY.

Male Senator from Wisconsin Is Expert On Women’s Natural Stupidity & Sneakiness

Wisconsin State Senator Glenn GrothmanWisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman is an unusually intelligent man. And we both know that men are usually intelligent.

How intelligent is he? Let me count the ways.

1. He authored a bill to label single parenthood “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” 31% of children in his state live in single parent homes.

2. He blames single parenthood on “the choice of the women”.

3. He identifies the government of making the “single motherhood lifestyle” desirable. (What about single fathers? Well, they’re men, so there’s no need to criticize them.)

4. He illuminates that women actually don’t have unplanned pregnancies. They just lie and say the pregnancies were unplanned. Because they’re women. Lying’s what they do.

5. He draws the fine line that women are dumb enough not to know that it’s hard to be a single parent, but smart enough to have a country-wide conspiracy to lie about their covertly-planned unplanned pregnancies for reasons that they have as of yet not revealed. No word yet on single fathers or the baby daddies of these nefarious single mothers. Which is probably because these smart-stupid single ladies have found a way to reproduce that doesn’t even involve men, meaning that we are only a short journey away from a dystopian future of feminazi fascism and male slavery.

Why do I think I hear the infamous welfare queen lurking behind his words?

Criminalizing the Poor Is Good Politics

Uh, hello, even Fox News can tell this is a bad idea:

Nearly two dozen states are considering plans this session that would make drug testing mandatory for welfare recipients, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And Wyoming lawmakers advanced such a proposal this week.

Driving the measures is a perception that people on public assistance are misusing the funds and that cutting off their benefits would save money for tight state budgets — even as statistics have largely proved both notions untrue.

…The issue has come up in the Republican presidential campaign, with front-runner Mitt Romney saying it’s an “excellent idea.”

Of course the millionaire thinks it’s okay to invade the privacy of people in desperate situations and treat them like criminals for being poor.

There’s a word for that: classism.

Statistics indicate that people who receive public assistance are no more likely to use drugs than the general population. Budget analysis shows that testing is so expensive, and so few people actually fail the test and get kicked off assistance, that it costs much more than it saves. Additionally, there is a trend of these laws getting ruled unconstitutional in court.

So why would Republicans still support bills that discriminate pointlessly, add cost to state budgets, and will probably get declared unconstitutional?

Because they are counting on the existence of stereotypes about the poor, and that this discrimination will win them short-term political points.

Huzzah!

Some state politicians have tried to add in drug testing for state legislators, who receive even more money from the government than recipients of public assistance. None of these measure have been adopted or seen the same kind of vigorous support as drug testing for the poor. Huh.

Felonious Birth Control

In Texas…

A high school girls basketball coach [and math teacher] is facing a felony charge for giving a “morning-after pill” to a student who was worried that she was pregnant, according to an arrest affidavit released today.

The girl was 16, and the law is that not until you are 17 are you able to get emergency contraception over the counter. The criminal teacher’s bail was set at $15,000.

Return of the ‘Welfare Queen’

John Blake has something insightful to say about racially-coded language in presidential campaigns at CNN.

He discusses Reagan’s “welfare queen” myth and how subsequent presidents and president-wannabes have used language that is “colorblind” on the surface – insofar as it doesn’t explicitly refer to people by the name of their race – but yet uses commonly understood code-words for race. So politicians can still appeal to that (rather large) racist vote while still reserving plausible deniability for the not-so-racist vote.

By the 80s, it was pretty hard to be an electable candidate for major office and still be openly racist. So racists or racist-panderers had to find some sort of middle ground. And that ground was first broken by the “welfare queen” image, what Blake describes as the “lazy African-American woman who refuses to get a job and keeps having kids”.

Several Republican presidential wannabes have gone right back to tread this well-worn ground, still depending on the false but commonly-held notion that the majority of public assistance recipients are black. Both Santorum and Romney have criticized people who depend on “entitlements” or “somebody else’s money”. Of course, clearly Gingrich has taken it to the max with his “food stamp president” comment and his talk of abolishing child labor laws and putting “poor” children to work in the schools that they should rather be attending.

Other people have already analyzed this well. Check out:

The Crunk Feminist Collective

Jason Eastman at Sociological Images

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite at the Washington Post

US Press Freedom Rating Plummets

Reporters Without Borders released the Press Freedom Index this week.

Regarding the United State’s drop to #47 on their list, the report states that the US “owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests.”

Which puts us behind my homeland the Czech Republic (#14), Niger (#29), Papua New Guinea (#35), and El Salvador (#37), among others. Hey, at least we beat Haiti, Timor, and Iran!

Takeways from The New Jim Crow

New Jim Crow book coverI just finished Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. I can’t recommend it enough. For everyone. READ IT NOW!

Here are some quotes that struck me:

“One in three young African American men is currently under the control of the criminal justice system – in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole – yet mass incarceration tends to be categorized as a criminal justice issue as opposed to a racial justice or civil rights issue (or crisis).” Pg.9

“What is key to America’s understanding of class is the persistent belief – despite all evidence to the contrary – that anyone, with the proper discipline and drive, can move from a lower class to a higher class.” Pg.13

The rest are here:
Continue reading

When the Tea Party Controls Your School Board

Interesting things happen when local Tea Party affiliates infiltrate your school board:

  • They implement racial and economic segregation in one of the most integrated school systems in America: Wake County School District in North Carolina. (With the financial backing of a wealthy Libertarian.)

You may recall that we have former Tuscon School District Superintendent Tom Horne (supported by his local Tea Party) to thank for this mess.  His legacy is being dutifully carried forward by current Superintendent John Huppenthal, “who threatened to withhold millions of dollars if TUSD didn’t terminate the nationally acclaimed [Mexican-American studies] program immediately.”

Then Tuscon school administrator Lupita Garcia comes out and actually says: “This country is called America, okay? And they study US history. If you were to go back to Mexico… you would study Mexican history.”

  • They remove mention of racial minorities and critique of wealthy whites from history books in Tennessee.

Here is some of their actual curriculum criteria:

“No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

Also:

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the [coalition of Tennessee Tea Party’s] lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.

  • And how can we forget that last year, Tea Party affiliates in Texas attempted to edit out the word “slavery” from their textbooks and replace it instead with the term “Atlantic Triangular Trade“.

Just So’s We’re Clear

Just so that we’re clear:

Being PRO-CHOICE means that you believe individual women should be free to make their own reproductive choices, which may include birth control or abortion or having any number of children. You believe each woman should make her own choices, even if you do not personally think abortion is right, and/or you would never make that choice for yourself.

Being PRO-LIFE means you believe women should NOT have certain reproductive options (abortion, perhaps emergency contraception, sometimes even all forms of birth control). You do not believe individual women should be able to make their own choices based on their beliefs, instead you wish to outlaw abortion and/or certain other reproductive options.

If a politician says they are “pro-life”, they are clearly communicating that they wish to end abortion rights, and maybe some or all birth control rights as well.

Or, for example, a devout Catholic could be completely against abortion, but yet still be pro-choice because they do not want to prevent all women from making their own decisions based on their own beliefs.

One position is about increasing freedom, and another is about reducing it. Just so’s we’re all clear on that

Democracy in America

I recently read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. I pulled out some interesting quotes that seem relevant to America’s current political situation.

Occupy Wall Street’s critique of the superrich and wealth inequality

“The picture of American society has, if I may so speak, a surface covering of democracy, beneath which the old aristocratic colors sometimes peep out.” Pg.47

“But beneath this artificial enthusiasm and these obsequious attentions to the preponderating power [the interests of the middle & working classes], it is easy to perceive that the rich have a a hearty dislike of the democratic institutions of their country.” Pg.187

Centralizing power and removing citizens’ rights

” “The will of the nation” is one of those phrases that have been most largely abused by the wily and the despotic of every age. Some have seen the expression of it in the purchased suffrages of a few of the satellites of power; others, in the votes of a timid or an interested minority; and some have even discovered it in the silence of a people, on the supposition that the fact of submission established the right to command.” Pg.57

“Unlimited power is in itself a bad and dangerous thing. Human beings are not competent to exercise it with discretion.” Pg.270

Jingoism and nationalism

“Patriotism… is frequently a mere extension of individual selfishness.” Pg.402

Intolerance of difference

“In the United States… all parties are willing to recognize the rights of the majority, because they all hope at some time to be able to exercise them to their own advantage. The majority in that country, therefore, exercise a prodigious actual authority, and a power of opinion which is nearly as great; no obstacles exist which can impede or even retard its progress, so as to make it heed the complaints of those whom it crushes upon its path. This state of things is harmful in itself and dangerous for the future.” Pg.266

Some sound advice from George Washington that should be applied to Israel & Palestine

“…Washington makes this admirable and just remark: “The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.” ” Pg.242

Some Conservatives Kindly Took the Time out of their Day to Broadcast to the World that They Are Racist & Islamophobic

Newt Gingrich helpfully informed the confused world that there need be no more concern about the Palestinians displaced and mistreated by the Israeli state, because Palestinians don’t exist.

Remember, there was no Palestine existing as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. We’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places.

He went ahead and renamed these 11 million non-people, “a group of terrorists that are firing missiles every day.”

Somebody go tell all those confused fake Palestinians with their totally fake grievances! My Palestinian friends are going to be pretty surprised to hear that they don’t exist, but that they nevertheless spend their days firing missiles!

Fun fact: Israel as a state didn’t exist until 1948. Does this mean that Israelis are an “invented people” too?

In related news, The Learning Channel (TLC) is running a reality show about 5 Muslim families in Michigan called “All-American Muslim”. EVERYBODY PANIC!

The Florida Family Association, for one, is panicking.

The Learning Channel’s new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law. The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.

Wow. They don’t even address how many of the people featured on the show don’t even exist, because of their fake Palestinian roots.

The FFA has started a boycott campaign to erase this threat of tolerance and diversity from television. Lowe’s has enthusiastically jumped on board, saying that “there are certain programs that do not meet Lowe’s advertising guidelines, including the show you [the FFA] brought to our attention.”

I would love to hear a more thorough explanation of exactly why that is. No really. I’m sure it would be fascinating.

The FFA kindly provides a list of companies that have dared to continue advertising, even after they were warned that the show depicts MUSLIMS. I recommend taking time out of your day to support those companies or send them a note of thanks.

Assess the danger level yourself:

Active Voter Suppression in America

Did you know the NAACP is going to petition the UN about the USA restricting the right to vote for voters of color? Year check: 2011.

The NAACP claims:

Fourteen states have passed a total of 25 measures that will unfairly restrict the right to vote, among black and Hispanic voters in particular.

In addition, the lawmakers of Texas would like to demonstrate their priorities, once again, to the world at large:

In Texas, a law has been passed that prevents students from voting on the basis of their college ID cards, while allowing anyone to cast their ballot if they can show a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

“Patriarchal, Racist & Mean-Spirited” Law Temporarily Blocked in Florida

Florida’s brand new Tea Party-approved law requiring all food stamp and other public assistance applicants to pass a drug test before accessing aid has been temporarily blocked. It seems Federal Judge Mary Scriven was concerned it violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure.

Before signing the law, [Governor Rick] Scott made several references to people on welfare using drugs at a higher rate than the general population. Maria Kayanan, of the ACLU in Florida, called the law “patriarchal, racist and mean-spirited.”

Pre-judicial block, while the law was in operation, over 99% of applicants passed their tests. (6,968 out of 7,000)

This Tea Party-approved measure is estimated to cost the Florida government $178 million a year.

Sounds like a small-government, cut-wasteful-spending, fiscal-conservative type of measure to me. That’s why I’m certain it has nothing to do with poor-bashing, stereotypes, or racism. Just the cold hard facts!

It’s not like we need myths about the good-for-nothingness of the poor to prop up the solid truth of our tots meritocratic capitalist economic system.

Oh, and FYI, Gov. Scott founded the company, Solantic, that has the sole government contract to do this testing.