Category Archives: Discrimination

The Punditry of Shithole Thinking

Our capitalist elites have used propaganda, money and the marginalizing of their critics to erase the first three of philosopher John Locke’s elements of the perfect state: liberty, equality and freedom. They exclusively empower the fourth, property. Liberty and freedom in the corporate state mean the liberty and freedom of corporations and the rich to exploit and pillage without government interference or regulatory oversight. And the single most important characteristic of government is its willingness to use force, at home and abroad, to protect the interests of the property classes.

— Chris Hedges, “Corpses of Souls”

Here’s a thought experiment for social workers assisting homeless, recovery (drug, alcohol), re-entry (coming out of prison), and those diagnosed with mental and physical health challenges: Take a college educated “professional,” George, and then a “homeless” person, Julia, and put them in the same tattered clothes, take away phone, ID, money, credit cards, blindfold them, transport them from say Portland, Oregon, and to Toronto, Canada, or Buffalo, NY, and drop them off in an alley in a run-down part of town at 3 am on a Monday. Then challenge them to get back to square “go.”

We know the homeless person, or the former incarcerated person, or the recovering addict will be home — Portland – within 48 hours. The professional, either in FIRE (finance insurance real estate) or any number of elite fields, will tank quickly. Especially if we were to drop that person off outside of town into a homeless camp.

In my field of social work, many employers I talk to would rather have a former inmate, a former felon, who has gotten his or her life back on track, on the job. Really. There are even Harvard (who cares that it’s Ivy League, by the way?) studies to that effect. Of course, the rationale is based on company loyalty; an ex-con would really appreciate his freedoms now; hard work – workaholic – since all that time in the lobotomizing prison system would kick in an obsessiveness toward keeping busy, keeping moving. Then, some employers I talk to think most workers or potential workers are the problem, would steal time, money, goods, and things from the company. So, the felon has already done time, knows the depravity of prison systems, and would stay on the up and up without jeopardizing incarceration. Plus, in the US, companies get a tax break for hiring former felons!

The fields of social work are growing, yet the pay is shrinking, the work conditions are ramped up, the management are bizarre examples of former social workers themselves (very anti worker, very hard on outside-the-box thinkers, and completely blank on what radical social work is and how to even apply the principles of that form of social work). Most non-profits do the dirty work of what a society is looking more and more to not provide for – mental health care for a bigger and bigger share of the USA population; disability services for a larger and larger swath of Americans mentally, psychologically, intellectually, socially, physically, and spiritually broken or disabled; financial, employment, education, housing assistance for an ever-growing population of humans who are not able to work and live and transport and find health care for themselves in this New Gilded Age.

The non-profits I have worked for are top-heavy, have very little money put aside or earmarked or grant-provided for the workers; many of the non-profits hire development associates, upper management shills, PR folk, marketing and events coordinators; many are in shining and remodeled digs while casting shadows on the street people they supposedly care about.

Some of us in social services have come from other professions, and like me, many are former teachers. Very few are radical thinkers, and many are just trying to hang on. When you work in an at-will state, where organizing and workplace coordinating is akin to communism, and when you work for people younger and the same age as yourself who once had their lives more or less put together but who are today on the streets, in shelters, in vans on the side of the road, and who have to pay for legal debts – hospital bills, legal financial obligations, debts coming at them via mean-assed debt collectors and repo men —  the idea of Six Degrees of Separation comes cold like melting glaciers as really Only One Degree of Separation.

Manfred Max Neef calls this country, USA — richest, biggest land rip off abusing, military mightiest, vastest financial thieving, culturally insanest — underdeveloping.

I mean, your country is the most dramatic example that you can find. I have gone as far as saying — and this is a chapter of a book of mine that is published next month in England, the title of which is Economics Unmasked. There is a chapter called “The United States, an Underdeveloping Nation,” which is a new category. We have developed, underdeveloped and developing. Now you have underdeveloping. And your country is an example, in which the one percent of the Americans, you know, are doing better and better and better, and the 99 percent is going down, in all sorts of manifestations. People living in their cars now and sleeping in their cars, you know, parked in front of the house that used to be their house — thousands of people. Millions of people, you know, have lost everything. But the speculators that brought about the whole mess, oh, they are fantastically well off. No problem. No problem.

This short piece – rare for me at DV, LA Progressive,  and other places, since I still believe that concision is not a favorable tool to understanding the complexities of our society and systems thinking – is all tied to really what many Americans WAY WAY before Trump’s family set foot in this country have always believed about Mexico or New Orleans or Dominican Republic or South Africa or Philippines or Afghanistan (just replace a country like Haiti with any number of 120 countries in the world) have said, stated, written and professed undiplomatically and through the Economic Hit Men: They are ALL shitholes.

I have had plenty of people in my 61 years living on this planet, after being in dozens of countries (I have lived and worked in), fellow (sic) Americans (sic) who thought my white skin and my little lists of three college degrees and my male status entitled my fellow Americans to rant on and on about how dirty, backward, primitive, slow-witted, poor, inefficient, shady, criminal this or that country is — countries from which I lived, traveled and worked and those many have not stepped foot in, beyond FOX News and Hollywood propaganda.

That Trump now voices what Americans have believed, and economists have practiced, and our military branches have reflected – America is Great, and the rest of the rabble (well, maybe not Norway or Finland — that’s about it for that pure white race places) are part and particle the shitholes Trump so undiplomatically states the world is.

In reality, though, if we look at the definition of “shit”/”hole,” it all comes back to this warring, militant, earth-killing, global lording over country called the United States of America. Infantilized, lobotomized, one-paycheck/broken bone/auto accident/employment termination/criminal justice involved/foreclosure AWAY from shithole status.

This poor white and now multi-race co-opting country of people who have zero idea how and why its more or less isolated little status among the global actors is set in their minds as “okay . . . Great/Yes We Can/Make It Great Again/Numero Uno” because of the shit we serve up to the rest of the world vis-à-vis military and economic and resource plundering insanity.

While our own country is full of shit-holes– full of systems of penury and debasement and depravity and delusion and destruction and increasing wrath upon its own populations – we see this spasm of protestations from the Liberal Democrats Who Support All Those Democratic Party apparatchiks of regime change and collateral damage carried out on what Bush or Obama see as the “shit hole Iraqis and Afghans and Libyans and Yeminis and Somalis.” Imagine, the democrats crying about Trump and his redneck Americanism.

Which party said we had to bomb them back to the stone age? Which party wrapped up Japanese Americans in barbed wire luxury? Which party helped to wipe out 3 million Vietnamese? Who bombed, razed, illegally mined, economically double-triple tapped the world’s other shit holes? Way-way before two-bit The Apprentice got raves and ratings and millions. It’s Trump who is still on record ranting about the Central Park Five, found to be falsely convicted and held in prison (now released), stating months ago, after the five men were acquitted, found to be innocent and released, that “they are guilty of the rape, man.” His Trump Faulty Towers Corp. paid or two full page ads in the NYT ranting about “their guilty” after they were found innocent.

Again, a reset button is necessary when looking at the big billionaire’s motley mind and fourth grade thinking style: who is he, how did he get here, where did he learn, how did he exist in this country, what is his American soul made of . . . . The who, why, when, what, where and how are questions Americans of all political stripes never ask.

We can tap dance around those “deplorables” voting for George Wallace or Barry Goldwater or George Bush or Donald Trump, or dance around those millionaires who see other shitholes producing other super predators, or two-step into more delusion when Super Rich Hollywood defines You and Me and Success and Failure, or when Amazon dot com comes crashing into your local bricks and mortar, or how the millionaire media or celebrities come into your living rooms via cable or iPhone and kidnap your loved ones, young and old.

Seriously, which shithole shall we concentrate on in the US of A, the engine of shit holes, the Mother of All Shitholes, coming to a neighborhood nearby, or Flint Michigan, or Charlottesville, or Fortune 1000 boardroom or dis-education college faculty and administration?

Who in your group of friends and acquaintances even knows what economics is for? Manfred Max Neef again:

One, the economy is to serve the people and not the people to serve the economy.

Two, development is about people and not about objects.

Three, growth is not the same as development, and development does not necessarily require growth.

Four, no economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services.

Five, the economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible.

And the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above the reverence of life.

I am sorry to say in my years as a journalist, college teacher, union organizer, social worker, environmentalist, urban planner, etc., I have run into more shithole thinkers in this country than all the countries I’ve been to combined, by far. If you want to run into real thugs, real criminals, real depravity, delusional thinking, disgusting thinking, real retrograde philosophy, real illiteracy, real infantilism, come to a town near me – Pacific Northwest, or Texas or Arizona, or anywhere I have done my time in.

Not many anti-Trump people would question the root cause of his shithole role running this shithole country, and the mirror is not large enough for self-reflection: biggest military in the world, biggest land mass stolen from original nations, biggest area cleared of natural ecosystems, biggest group of la-la-land thinkers. Magical thinkers, the lot of us, really.

Let the knee-jerking go on and on as Americans attempt to parse out who they are in that mirror mirror on the wall! Unless you have ended the mythical belief in this country’s prowess and greatness and stopped hiding from this society’s advanced malignant cancer called predatory and consumer capitalism, then you are the Trump in that mirror, without or without the orange glow!

Max-Neef: First of all, we need cultured economists again, who know the history, where they come from, how the ideas originated, who did what, and so on and so on; second, an economics now that understands itself very clearly as a subsystem of a larger system that is finite, the biosphere, hence economic growth as an impossibility; and third, a system that understands that it cannot function without the seriousness of ecosystems. And economists know nothing about ecosystems. They don’t know nothing about thermodynamics, you know, nothing about biodiversity or anything. I mean, they are totally ignorant in that respect. And I don’t see what harm it would do, you know, to an economist to know that if the beasts would disappear, he would disappear as well, because there wouldn’t be food anymore. But he doesn’t know that, you know, that we depend absolutely from nature. But for these economists we have, nature is a subsystem of the economy. I mean, it’s absolutely crazy.

A Tale of Two Americas: Where the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Go to Jail

It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.

― Nelson Mandela

This is the tale of two Americas, where the rich get richer and the poor go to jail.

Aided and abetted by the likes of Attorney General Jeff Sessions—a man who wouldn’t recognize the Constitution if it smacked him in the face—the American dream has become the American scheme: the rich are getting richer and more powerful, while anyone who doesn’t belong to the power elite gets poorer and more powerless to do anything about the nation’s steady slide towards fascism, authoritarianism and a profit-driven police state.

Not content to merely pander to law enforcement and add to its military largesse with weaponry and equipment designed for war, Sessions has made a concerted effort to expand the police state’s power to search, strip, seize, raid, steal from, arrest and jail Americans for any infraction, no matter how insignificant.

Now Sessions has given state courts the green light to resume their practice of jailing individuals who are unable to pay the hefty fines imposed by the American police state. In doing so, Sessions has once again shown himself to be not only a shill for the Deep State but an enemy of the people.

First, some background on debtors’ prisons, which jail people who cannot afford to pay the exorbitant fines imposed on them by courts and other government agencies.

Congress banned debtors’ prisons in 1833.

In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the practice to be unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection clause.

“Despite prior attempts on the federal level and across the country to prevent the profound injustice of locking people in cages because they are too poor to pay a debt,” concludes The Atlantic, “the practice persists every day.”

Where things began to change, according to The Marshall Project, was with the rise of “mass incarceration.” As attorney Alec Karakatsanis stated:

In the 1970s and 1980s, we started to imprison more people for lesser crimes. In the process, we were lowering our standards for what constituted an offense deserving of imprisonment, and, more broadly, we were losing our sense of how serious, how truly serious, it is to incarcerate. If we can imprison for possession of marijuana, why can’t we imprison for not paying back a loan?

By the late 1980s and early 90s, “there was a dramatic increase in the number of statutes listing a prison term as a possible sentence for failure to repay criminal-justice debt.” During the 2000s, the courts started cashing in big-time “by using the threat of jail time – established in those statutes – to squeeze cash out of small-time debtors.”

Fast-forward to the present day which finds us saddled with not only profit-driven private prisons and a prison-industrial complex but also, as investigative reporter Eli Hager notes:

The birth of a new brand of ‘offender-funded’ justice [which] has created a market for private probation companies. Purporting to save taxpayer dollars, these outfits force the offenders themselves to foot the bill for parole, reentry, drug rehab, electronic monitoring, and other services (some of which are not even assigned by a judge). When the offenders can’t pay for all of this, they may be jailed – even if they have already served their time for the offense.

Follow the money trail. It always points the way.

Whether you’re talking about the government’s war on terrorism, the war on drugs, or some other phantom danger dreamed up by enterprising bureaucrats, there is always a profit-incentive involved.

The same goes for the war on crime.

At one time, the American penal system operated under the idea that dangerous criminals needed to be put under lock and key in order to protect society. Today, the flawed yet retributive American “system of justice” is being replaced by an even more flawed and insidious form of mass punishment based upon profit and expediency.

Sessions’ latest gambit plays right into the hands of those who make a profit by jailing Americans.

Sharnalle Mitchell was one such victim of a system for whom the plight of the average American is measured in dollars and cents. As the Harvard Law Review recounts:

On January 26, 2014, Sharnalle Mitchell was with her children in Montgomery, Alabama when police showed up at her home to arrest her. Mitchell was not accused of a crime. Instead, the police came to her home because she had not fully paid a traffic ticket from 2010. The single mother was handcuffed in front of her children (aged one and four) and taken to jail. She was ordered to either pay $2,800 or sit her debt out in jail at a rate of fifty dollars a day for fifty-nine days. Unable to pay, Mitchell wrote out the numbers one to fifty-eight on the back of her court documents and began counting days.

This is not justice.

This is yet another example of how greed and profit-incentives have not only perverted policing in America but have corrupted the entire criminal justice system.

As the Harvard Law Review concludes:

[A]s policing becomes a way to generate revenue, police start to “see the people they’re supposed to be serving not as citizens with rights, but as potential sources of revenue, as lawbreakers to be caught.” This approach creates a fugitive underclass on the run from police not to hide illicit activity but to avoid arrest for debt or seizure of their purportedly suspicious assets… In turn, communities … begin to see police not as trusted partners but as an occupying army constantly harassing them to raise money to pay their salaries and buy new weapons. This needs to end.

Unfortunately, the criminal justice system has been operating as a for-profit enterprise for years now, covertly padding its pockets through penalty-riddled programs aimed at maximizing revenue rather than ensuring public safety.

All of those seemingly hard-working police officers and code-enforcement officers and truancy officers and traffic cops handing out ticket after ticket after ticket: they’re not working to make your communities safer—they’ve got quotas to fill.

Same goes for the courts, which have come to rely on fines, fees and exorbitant late penalties as a means of increased revenue. The power of these courts, magnified in recent years through the introduction of specialty courts beyond your run-of-the-mill traffic court (drug court, homeless court, veterans court, mental health court, criminal court, teen court, gambling court, prostitution court, community court, domestic violence court, truancy court), is “reshaping the American legal system—with little oversight,” concludes the Boston Globe.

And for those who can’t afford to pay the court fines heaped on top of the penalties ($302 for jaywalking, $531 for an overgrown yard, or $120 for arriving a few minutes late to court), there’s probation (managed by profit-run companies that tack on their own fees, which are often more than double the original fine) or jail time (run by profit-run companies that charge inmates for everything from food and housing to phone calls at outrageous markups), which only adds to the financial burdens of those already unable to navigate a costly carceral state.

“When bail is set unreasonably high, people are behind bars only because they are poor,” stated former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “Not because they’re a danger or a flight risk — only because they are poor. They don’t have money to get out of jail, and they certainly don’t have money to flee anywhere. Other people who do have the means can avoid the system, setting inequality in place from the beginning.”

In “Policing and Profit,” the Harvard Law Review documents in chilling detail the criminal justice system’s efforts to turn a profit at the expense of those who can least afford to pay, thereby entrapping them in a cycle of debt that starts with one minor infraction:

In the late 1980s, Missouri became one of the first states to let private companies purchase the probation systems of local governments. In these arrangements, municipalities impose debt on individuals through criminal proceedings and then sell this debt to private businesses, which pad the debt with fees and interest. This debt can stem from fines for offenses as minor as rolling through a stop sign or failing to enroll in the right trash collection service. In Ferguson, residents who fall behind on fines and don’t appear in court after a warrant is issued for their arrest (or arrive in court after the courtroom doors close, which often happens just five minutes after the session is set to start for the day) are charged an additional $120 to $130 fine, along with a $50 fee for a new arrest warrant and 56 cents for each mile that police drive to serve it. Once arrested, everyone who can’t pay their fines or post bail (which is usually set to equal the amount of their total debt) is imprisoned until the next court session (which happens three days a month). Anyone who is imprisoned is charged $30 to $60 a night by the jail. If an arrestee owes fines in more than one of St. Louis County’s eighty-one municipal courts, they are passed from one jail to another to await hearings in each town.

Ask yourself this: at a time when crime rates across the country remain at historic lows (despite Sessions’ inaccurate claims to the contrary), why does the prison population continue to grow?

The prison population continues to grow because of a glut of laws that criminalize activities that should certainly not be outlawed, let alone result in jail time. Over-criminalization continues to plague the country because of legislators who work hand-in-hand with corporations to adopt laws that favor the corporate balance sheet. And when it comes to incarceration, the corporate balance sheet weighs heavily in favor of locking up more individuals in government-run and private prisons.

As Time reports:

The companies that build and run private prisons have a financial interest in the continued growth of mass incarceration. That is why the two major players in this game—the Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group—invest heavily in lobbying for punitive criminal justice policies and make hefty contributions to political campaigns that will increase reliance on prisons.

It’s a vicious cycle that grows more vicious by the day.

According to The Atlantic, “America spends $80 billion a year incarcerating 2.4 million people.” But the costs don’t end there. “When someone goes to prison, nearly 65 percent of families are suddenly unable to pay for basic needs such as food and housing… About 70 percent of those families are caring for children under the age of 18.”

Then there are the marked-up costs levied against the inmate by private companies that provide services and products to government prisons. Cereal and soup for five times the market price. $15 for a short phone call.

The Center for Public Integrity found that “prison bankers collect tens of millions of dollars every year from inmates’ families in fees for basic financial services. To make payments, some forego medical care, skip utility bills and limit contact with their imprisoned relatives… Inmates earn as little as 12 cents per hour in many places, wages that have not increased for decades. The prices they pay for goods to meet their basic needs continue to increase.”

Worse, as human rights attorney Jessica Jackson points out, “the fines and fees system has turned local governments into the equivalent of predatory lenders.” For instance, Jackson cites:

Washington state charges a 12% interest rate on all its criminal debt. Florida adds a 40% fee that goes into the pockets of a private collections agency. In California, penalties can raise a $100 fine to $490, or $815 if the initial deadline is missed. A $500 traffic ticket can actually cost $1,953, even if it is paid on time. And so we are left with countless tales of lives ruined—people living paycheck to paycheck who cannot afford a minor fine, and so face ballooning penalties, increasing amounts owed, a suspended license, jail time, and being fired from their jobs or unable to find work.

This isn’t the American Dream I grew up believing in.

This certainly isn’t the American Dream my parents and grandparents and those before them worked and fought and sacrificed to achieve.

This is a cold, calculated system of profit and losses.

Now you can shrug all of this away as a consequence of committing a crime, but that just doesn’t cut it. Especially not when average Americans are being jailed for such so-called crimes as eating SpaghettiOs (police mistook them for methamphetamine), not wearing a seat belt, littering, jaywalking, having homemade soap (police mistook the soap for cocaine), profanity, spitting on the ground, farting, loitering and twerking.

There is no room in the American police state for self-righteousness. Not when we are all guilty until proven innocent.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is no longer a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

It is fast becoming a government “of the rich, by the elite, for the corporations,” and its rise to power is predicated on shackling the American taxpayer to a debtors’ prison guarded by a phalanx of politicians, bureaucrats and militarized police with no hope of parole and no chance for escape

Welcome to the Unpeople

America’s history is rife with discrimination. When Europeans came to America, the native people had large populations and well developed societies and agriculture. The Europeans did not understand their cultures, their religions or their languages. Nor did they want to. The Europeans had better technologies, so the natives were considered savages, something less than people, unpeople. Historians have used the term unpeople to describe the indifference developed societies have for the lives of their victims for many years. The American indigenous people were just something to be disposed of, and they were.

Black Africans were the next unpeople in America. Their enslavement created much of the early wealth. In spite of the Emancipation proclamation, they have never achieved equality under the law or in the society. The “Black Lives Matter” protests are a way of saying, “Hey, we are not unpeople.”. But the evidence of their treatment indicates otherwise.

After World War II, the efforts of America to conquer the rest of the world, have led to the slaughter of some 55 million unpeople, in places as diverse as Vietnam, Nicaragua, Iraq, and Libya. Almost no country has escaped our efforts to make the world safe for laissez-faire capitalism. We now have more than 1000 military bases, in more than 150 countries. We need regional command centers and mobile command centers to keep track of them. The Pentagon identified 140 countries that special operations groups have operated in, two years in a row.

Americans do not concern themselves much with the unpeople we are killing. They were concerned about Vietnam largely because of the 50,000 Americans killed there, not the one to three million other people. (We do not count unpeople accurately.) The Pentagon solved that by switching to more mercenaries, and pitting indigenous groups against each other, in targeted countries.

All of that is changed now. The Pentagon and the U. S. intelligence agencies are no longer representing America. They are truly international in scope, and represent the wealthy of all nations. All of the rest of us are insurgents, unpeople. The poor and middle class of America are seen as no more important than the poor and middle class of Iraq were. Democratic governments are to be eliminated, or at least their influence.

You might think I am exaggerating, but look at our Government. The president is a spokes model, the Congress cannot or will not do anything for the people. The people have been clear. They want an end to war, they want the economy back, they want the infrastructure repaired, they want affordable health care, they want their pensions secure, they want the money out of politics, and they want the environment protected. None of that is even under consideration. It is untouchable. Recently several congressmen admitted that the wealthy want their tax cuts, and they are going to get them. This is not democracy.

Our Government has no control over the Pentagon or the Intelligence agencies and it ignores the Constitution and all other international and domestic laws. Our elected Government has no control over foreign policy or of many aspects of domestic policy. When did Congress vote to make the Wolfowitz doctrine and “Full Spectrum Dominance” the foundation of our foreign policy? When did they vote to overthrow the government of Ukraine? When did they vote to destroy Syria, Libya, or Somalia? When did they vote to stop manufacturing and become a debtor nation? When did they vote to make the U. S. a police state? When Congress does get to vote, they do not get to know what they are voting for. They do not get a chance to review the Defense budget, the intelligence budgets, or trade pacts. Ten years ago, a plan surfaced to destroy the social democracies of Europe by overrunning them with refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Today that is reality. Did Congress get to vote on that?

The Bankers’ military-industrial-intelligence complex does not report to any government. It is ruled by elites of all countries. After WWII, George Kennan and others, warned that the Earth could not support all of its’ projected population in the style to which Americans were accustomed. It was a call to America to be ruthless and protect itself at the expense of other nations. I think the elite have modified that theory. They now plan to sacrifice the common people of all nations to protect the elite of all nations. That way, all nations’ assets can be developed, and their people enslaved.

I think George Kennan was wrong and the solution being pursued by the wealthy is wrong. The Earth does have limited resources. But humans only slow their population growth when they reach a certain comfort level. Secondly, everything can be recycled. The American model is buy things cheap, throw them away and buy more. If we stop unsolicited advertising and make good quality, lasting products, it will make a huge difference. Sufficient energy is free. We just have to learn to use it. The Earth can support plenty of humans and still have room for nature, but if people are having to scramble for every crumb, nothing will ever be safe. Not even the Earth itself.

So what can we do? First, the people have to learn the truth. Then we have to establish a democracy. That will mean getting ALL money out of politics and even restricting wealth. We need to get the psychopaths out of government elect only people who do not want to be elected. We need to go to Washington and throw the psychopaths out in the streets.

Whitewashing: The Media’s Two Narratives on Terrorism

Within hours after Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi immigrant, allegedly detonated a pipe bomb in New York City on December 11, severely injuring himself and wounding four others, a most comprehensive official and media narrative emerged.

The formulation of the narrative concerning Ullah’s motives, radicalization and assumed hate for the US was so immaculate, one would have thought it took authorities months, not hours to compile such demanding evidence.

Strangely, Ullah’s own family was surprised by the accusation concerning their son.

However, the exact nature of what truly happened matters little. Not only was Ullah instantly found guilty by the media, all Muslims and immigrants, in fact, were.

Following each attack of this nature, Muslims in the US mobilize to fend off accusations concerning their faith, their values and their allegiance to the country in which they live.

But it is not an easy fight to win. When President Donald Trump is constantly tweeting anti-Muslim propaganda, while his administration exploits every opportunity to advance anti-immigrant initiatives, the beleaguered small community of Muslims in the US can do little to stop the rising tide of Islamophobia.

The media has played a major role in propagating the negative attitudes towards Muslims and Islam, which, in turn, provide the much-needed public support for the government to continue with its anti-Muslim measures.

Compare such attitudes with the way in which mass shootings carried out by white American men is communicated by the government and media alike.

Although mass killings by white males have proven to be the deadliest in the US, the discussion generated in the media and official discourses are centered mostly on mental illness of white attackers. In other words, there is consensus that violence perpetrated by members of the white community is not inherent to that community’s race, culture or religion.

Five years after Adam Lazna killed 20 first graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, many are still at work trying to analyze Lanza’s supposed mental illness that drove him to commit such a reprehensible act.

The fact that Lanza was carrying more than 30 pounds of weapons seemed superfluous. Many pundits and politicians still refuse to engage in a discussion about guns.

The ‘mental health’ argument in also championed by Trump himself.

“Mental health is your problem here”, Trump said in a statement in response to a mass shooting by Devin Kelly, a white male who killed more than two dozen people in a Texas church last November.

Resorting to easy answers when white men kill is now the norm. Killers of other races, skin colors and nationalities, however, get entirely different treatment.

As soon as the news emerged of Ullah’s alleged bombing in New York, the Trump administration moved in full force to target immigrants. It called on Congress to end the diversity immigration lottery program, and to also shoot down chain migration – a government program that allows for easier immigration based on family connection.

The incessant media coverage and stubborn government targeting of Muslims have led to an unprecedented hysteria which, in turn, led to numerous incidents of Muslims being targeted because of their faith. Many accounts of Muslims being thrown out of airplanes, often kicking and screaming, is becoming a fact of life in the US.

When Khairuldeen Makhzoomi was kicked out of a Southwest Airlines flight last year for speaking Arabic on the phone, the agent who escorted him reprimanded him for using his mother tongue in public considering “today’s political climate.”

Anila Dualatzai was dragged down the aisle of a plane heading to Los Angeles. She was “profiled, abused, interrogated, detained, and subjected to false reporting and the trauma of racist, vitriolic public shaming precisely because she is a woman, a person of color, and a Muslim,” her attorney told the Washington Post.

While this hysteria plays well into the hands of opportunistic politicians like Trump, actual facts suggest that violence is hardly a Muslim phenomenon.

Newsweek reported on statistics showing that white men have committed most of the country’s mass killings. Since 1982, the “majority of mass shootings – 54 percent – were committed by white men,” numbers show.

Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old white man who massacred 58 people and wounded hundreds more at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas last October, was only one of an ever-growing list.

Countless government officials and journalists have fanned out to find out why Paddock would carry out such a heinous act, as if a white man’s violence is a rare event in a country supposedly threatened by Blacks, Mexicans and Muslims.

Yet the truth is that the white man’s profile is the most violent in the US.

“White men commit mass shootings out of a sense of entitlement,” John Haltiwanger wrote in Newsweek.

Research conducted by Eric Madfis from the University of Washington argued in 2014 that, in the US, “middle-class Caucasian heterosexual males in their teenage years and in middle age commit mass murder … in numbers disproportionately high relative to their share of the population.”

He ascribed this finding to “white entitlement” and “heterosexual masculinity”, among other reasons.

Still, a whole race, gender and religion are not held suspect; a rule that applies to some and excludes others.

Certainly, anti-Arab and Muslim sentiment in the US has been around for generations, but it has risen sharply in the last two decades. Arabs and Muslims have become an easy scapegoat for all of America’s instabilities and failures.

But demonizing and humiliating brown-skinned men and women is certainly not the way out of the economic, political and foreign policy quagmires which American ruling elites have invited upon their country.

Such unlawful and undemocratic behavior may feed anti-Muslim hysteria a little longer, and give the likes of Trump more fodder for their useless efforts in targeting innocent men and women. But, in the long run, it will do the country much harm, damaging its democratic institutions and contributing to the culture of violence, founded on entitled white men touting guns and killing innocent people.

The Weinstein (Company) Effect: Only Women Need Apply

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me
And I’m feeling good
I’m feeling good

— Nina Simone, Feeling Good, 1965

The idiocy of our times – those tick-tick-tock-tock empty cranial caverns of the American collective delusion – have us clear thinkers and revolutionaries at heart on the ropes. How do we even sleep walk through the carnival that is Facebook, Saturday Night Live, endless Black Fridays, malls and movies, the spectacle that is un-news and the infantile capacity of adults from Ellen to Trump, from Rachel to Tom Friedman, from MSM punks to you-name-it-still-employed economist to control vast hundreds of millions – check that, billions – of destinies.

Looting the tax coffers, hollowing out the middle class, rampant perpetual poverty and indebtedness, chronic illness, crashing climate, and a shit-storm of a planet now that we all think Capitalism is the only solution to death.

We fiddle with holiday deals while holocaust looms, and we sit, kneel, genuflect, roll over, lie down and plead in our hog-tied American way. Bombs from the suburbs lifted into space with the deadly drone god while Southern California burns, Phoenix evaporates, and both ends of the country flop around like lice-plagued GMO fish on the sinking deck.

Prognostication, this is the daily bread, by the millions – blogs, WoP, WSJ, NYT, endless on-line mutterings of the controlled opposition. We have become Pokémon dealers, shuffling the next culling of the economy, or placing bets on the insanity plea of Trump and Company, hoping for black rain and Sunday bloody Sunday.

This is the time of Botox broadcasters, the male and female versions of the same plastic people, there, in their million dollar flats at night, conjuring up more of the same silly and insane narratives about things they know nothing about. They ply their trade like traveling prostitutes, selling their bits of Cellophane wisdom and glowing manicured selves like jesters, clowns. The more they try and sound Ivy League and display Driveling Room Temperature IQ, the more difficult it is to understand them.

The elite is not some gang of point-one One Percenters. They are in the several millions, count, sixty million of them in the USA, held together with the thieving accountants and hired hands of the legal-illegal class. They are wannabe’s and blue collar millionaires, two doctor heads of households, high end business owners, the traders of guns, pharmaceuticals, laws and other lies.

We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.

— US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Yet, we have to listen endlessly to the We Are the Ninety-nine, which is the absurdity of double-think. One percent isn’t holding up the house of cards. The minions, and the mighty masses supporting these titans of industry and billionaires, they are the Twenty-Solid (& Hard) Percent, in their glory, libertarians and thieves and unwilling to be the blood coming from their proverbial onion hearts.

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in relatively few hands. As of 2013, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 36.7% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 52.2%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 89%, leaving only 11% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.8%

I dance through this mumbo-jumbo Hollywood and Single-Screen-Scroll-after-Scroll mush we call culture, and I hurdle over the Eichmann’s, big and small, and I end up in the same place I started more than 45 years ago – all thieves and charlatans, but with that big all-you-can-eat American cafeteria grin, the lives set in drive through coffee, grease and drugs delivery.

This country, ripe for the taking, after genocide after genocide, and then the War is a Racket turned into America is the King Pin, the Biggest Racket of them All. Blue blood in her circulatory system, ever the slave-trading mindset, dredged in Puritanical and Crypto-Zionism.

Promised Land is the Disney Effect, and chosen people come and go, as the drive-in’s turn to weeds and the ever-present huckster and PT Barnum and Lying Lynching Legal class rule over the entire mess, over all of the stars and tycoons. Beady-eyed money changers, and those sniveling ones making markets out of nothing, the very steps we take, breaths we exhale, lives we shed.

There will be blood is the banker’s credo now, backed by Smith and Wesson and plethora of rockets bursting in air from every corner of the White Man’s/Christian/Jewish world.

Cops and coaches, captains and CEOs, we know their kind, and no matter which XX or XY you attempt to rationalize into the madness of Capitalism, no matter which Gender or Identity serves the point-one One Percent class, the project is all cornered and flayed because Capitalism is the breeder of the heathens, the reckless and ruthless, the smiling and sincerely elitist crew.

Yet, we hear endless drivel now about Groping A and Groping B, the slithering tongues of these Capitalists on steroids and amyl nitrate and human growth hormones and T-cells, and lubricated eggs from virgin sturgeon. These people in the center of that millionaire goo, in that trade of body and soul for the spin around the rotunda or jaunt down Sunset Boulevard, no matter which Charlie Rose or Dustin Hoffman or Sean Penn you end up with in the same room or office or court of law, unfortunately, they are all the same, groping or masturbating or climaxing or exhibitionisming or peeping tomming or S & M-ing, no matter how you run with them, these elites will eventually get under your skin like pin worms and chiggers.

We’ll be seeing the fallout now of the alleged perversions and sexual overtures and manipulations and cajoling and assaults and rapes, wherever they go with those gag rule clauses after the payoffs and silence money.

Just out on this day of infamy, Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, stories on John Travolta, one of the richest guys in Hollywood with 5 planes and jets, and his own runway in Florida. This is the microcosm of what Americans are, what they watch, what they believe.

Imagine he and his wife, Kelly Preston, living their multimillionaire tax-evading, money-sheltering, cash-gouging lives. So, old John (the Italian-American actor) is accused of attacking masseuses, and he is now in the pig wash slurry of more scandal, as his movie on John Gotti is being dropped (by Lionsgate) because of the allegations swirling around old John (Travolta) attacking guys coming to his hotel rooms for massages (professional):

Mafia leader Gotti was brought to trial multiple times throughout the 1980s, only to be acquitted.

Travolta, 63, plays Gotti in multiple stages of his life, including when he finally went to prison in 1992.

Gotti died of throat cancer, while still incarcerated, in 2002.

Last month Travolta was named in a criminal complaint by a 21-year-old masseur who accused the actor of sexual battery that reportedly took place in 2000.

According to the bombshell police report, the masseur alleged that Travolta groped his bare buttocks and indecently exposed himself during a deep body massage at the LaQuinta Hotel in Palm Springs, California.

During the alleged incident, Travolta, 63, also made lewd remarks about gay fantasies while at the hotel’s spa facility around 1:30 am on February 15, 2000.

The masseur reported the incident to the Palm Springs Sheriff’s Department.

Officer Mark Peters went to the hotel to speak with Travolta, who had already checked out by the time he arrived.

This isn’t the first time Travolta has been accused of misconduct while getting a massage.

In 2012, Travolta was sued over accusations that he tried to have sex with a male masseur during a therapy session at the luxury Beverly Hills Hotel.

Okorie Okorcha, the lawyer representing the masseur said: ‘My client is afraid of John Travolta’.

He added: ‘Mr. Travolta made very explicit threats against my client, which are contained in the lawsuit.

‘Specifically, John Travolta told my client that Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity.

‘Let’s face it, John Travolta is an extremely powerful man, and my client absolutely felt threatened by Mr. Travolta. My client was sexually assaulted by Mr. Travolta and he needs to be held accountable for his actions.’

Read more:

I bring this most recent case up to illustrate the insane and perverse and surreal aspect of American society, and the money made by talent-less actors who are in bizarre relationships with spouses (arranged marriage with Preston per Scientology), who have the lives of the rich and famous all bundled up in their wacko ways. Do we want to sit through two hours of Gotti, at $12 a pop per movie ticket? Do we have no common sense in this country? The poor and the rich are the mad crowd, the spectacle now conjoined as aberrations of humanity.

Travolta, a deacon in the Scientology cult. Do Americans boycott these people, these companies, these ideas, these death by a thousand cuts philosophies and this repressive un-culture to our own humanity?

Boys will be boys, and then some. How many men have made the news for their alleged crimes of groping, harassing, cajoling, blackmailing?

How many rabbis are speaking out against the large amount of Jewish men caught up in the allegations? How many preachers and priests are speaking up? What about the school teachers, and those university faculty? Mothers? Daughters? Aunts? Any Trump family out there willing to go out on a limb? Where is that ethical code humanity universally has to live with to make sure we do no harm?

Golden Rule, Seven Sins of Gandhi ?

On October 22, 1925, Gandhi published a list he called the Seven Social Sins in his weekly newspaper Young India.

Politics without principles
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Commerce without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice

The list sprung from a correspondence that Gandhi had with someone only identified as a “fair friend.” He published the list without commentary save for the following line: “Naturally, the friend does not want the readers to know these things merely through the intellect but to know them through the heart so as to avoid them.”

Unlike the Catholic Church’s list, Gandhi’s list is expressly focused on the conduct of the individual in society. Gandhi preached non-violence and interdependence and every single one of these sins are examples of selfishness winning out over the common good.

It’s also a list that, if fully absorbed, will make the folks over at the US Chamber of Commerce and Ayn Rand Institute itch. After all, “Wealth without work,” is a pretty accurate description of America’s 1%. (Investments ain’t work. Ask Thomas Piketty.) “Commerce without morality” sounds a lot like every single oil company out there and “knowledge without character” describes half the hacks on cable news. “Politics without principles” describes the other half.

In 1947, Gandhi gave his fifth grandson, Arun Gandhi, a slip of paper with this same list on it, saying that it contained “the seven blunders that human society commits, and that cause all the violence.” The next day, Arun returned to his home in South Africa. Three months later, Gandhi was shot to death by a Hindu extremist.

The law of reciprocity, and where does that fall on American culture, whether through the lens of millionaire men or millionaire women?

One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (positive or directive form).

One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (negative or prohibitive form).

What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself (empathic or responsive form).

The Golden Rule differs from the maxim of reciprocity captured in do ut des—”I give so that you will give in return”—and is rather a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of the other without the expectation of anything in return.

The fall-out in this dog-eat-dog, one man/woman for him or herself stolen land, which is the undertow of predatory capitalism, unfortunately, is all (unduly so) on the shoulders of all men – fathers and uncles, teachers and social workers, sons and uncles, all of us, righteous and far from any capitalist usury mindset, divorced from the take-take-take that is America, seemingly embraced by every boy or girl, man or woman, all intersexuals and transsexuals.

The voyeurism, titillation, exhibitionism, proclivities toward gender and self debasement, and the ejaculatory and phallus aims of those tainted elites, and not so elite, are tied to the usury, exploitative and downright greed in every human or business transaction in Capitalism. Men, alas, the patriarchy, are all tied up with what we in America have become along all gender and sexual identities: paranoid, exceptionalist, supremacist, imperial and self-important, warring, and supercilious, superficial and shallow.  It’s an epigenetic cause and effect relationship, inside the DNA code of most red-blooded Americans, gay, straight, lesbian, trans-sexual, and what have you!

Scam, flimflam, extort, fine, levy, tax, fee-fee-fee, and then, we steal from our futures, bankrupt our own retirements, rip off generations yet born, dredge the lake for that last caviar-producing fish, and we put it all out there in Google-land, Selfie the Entire Disaster, go on Twitter Tizzies, and then ask for more, and order it all on Amazon, trucked to the door and drone-delivered to the balcony.

Funny, how conservative guys like Paul Craig Roberts see this next spasm of looting with the Republicans throwing down their true colors and the Pelosi-Schumer schemers in the Big D club yawning about their protected investments/millionaire and yammering about Russia, here at Counterpunch:

What we are witnessing is the complete looting of America and the entirety of the West.  While the Western World collapses, the insouciant, submissive people sit there sucking their thumbs while they are being ruined.

Nothing is left of the West except looters at work.

This tax bill is an abomination, an act of brutal plunder.  Its sponsors should be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, if not hung from a lamp post.

If we really break this down, really, what is that tar and feather routine? Imagine, a real world where we aren’t going to take it anymore, one where the tar is 200 degrees and the feathers are all knife sharp and hardened. Imagine the dunking of those thieves-murderers in vats of their fossil fuel gunk, near boiling temperature.

I wonder if that’s what Craig Roberts is asking for?

And, then, really, what does it mean to be hung on a lamp post? The old ways put the tarred and feathered tied to a lamp post, but hung evokes a lynching. Is that what this staid and conservative Paul Craig Roberts is asking for?

Hmm, a call to action, violence?

The reality is Americans love their thug royalty, all the Bushes and Clintons and Obamas and the endless Kennedys and now the Trumps. This country not only tars and feathers dissidents, but we’re strung up to dry on the vine. I have lost jobs for speaking out, for advocating as a teacher or journalist or social worker. I write about this all the time, and many places I’ve called my work place were havens for women, me being in the super minority. I have no bended knee and favoritism for the female side of capitalism, like many now are gaggling about.

I have been face to face with ameliorating, middling, and in many cases malfeasance prone supervisors and HR directors with the XX gene, and I am not about to go on a tirade of reverse stupidity and count all men as Harvey Weinsteins or John Conyers.

We are living up to our collective reputation as mushy thinkers, in this next Tweeting for the Highest Scream for grope x, y and z. Untethered bathrobes, full-on kisses, and all the other pathetic pranks and sexist fun (sic) these leaders of the free world engage in. But . . . .

Bombing the world, gutting the world, and possibly stealing all the world’s things, and we talk about Al Franken the Bumbler.

Imagine now, a few days ago, that parading multimillionaire, mutilating man, Obama, calling for more women to be elected to office. “. . . because men seem to be having some problems these days.” In all his neoliberal, girl child killing, female wedding party murdering, undocumented woman deporting glee, he sits on the pile of manure that is American retro-thinking and makes these declarations worthy of the nonsense that overrules everything in this country.

Hollande treats Obama to three-star French cuisine

This is Obama at a private event in Paris on Saturday, and he, of course, was referring to the sexual misconduct allegations made against many high-profile men he golfs with, rubs elbows with, hobnobs for.  Here, this is a must read, his eleventh-grade wisdom and drearily daft psychology:

“Not to generalize but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialization.”

Here he is, commenting on the plethora of misdeeds and worse of the great elite class, those champions of perversion like Weinstein or the Franken fellow or Alabama Crimson Tide Moore and Company. This is in Paris, speaking to his elites, arranged by a network of communications professionals known as the Les Napoleons. Millionaires, and many of them perverted on many levels.

You think one of these boys and girls club acolytes have a bone of humanism left?

Listening to wise scriptures, austerity, sacrifice, respectful faith, social welfare, forgiveness, purity of intent, compassion, truth and self-control—are the ten wealth of character (self). O king aim for these, may you be steadfast in these qualities. These are the basis of prosperity and rightful living. These are highest attainable things. All worlds are balanced on dharma, dharma encompasses ways to prosperity as well. O King, dharma is the best quality to have, wealth the medium and desire (kāma) the lowest. Hence, (keeping these in mind), by self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself.

— Mahābhārata Shānti-Parva 167:9

This is 21st Century Google Man, Obama, at his best and most hypocritical, somehow declaring that I as a man should not run for local office or be involved in social change at the political level because of a few perverts making the Twitter feeds? He declares men seemingly have a few problems, and so, this wise American Murder Incorporated CEO (ex) is asking me to stand down as a male and wait for the female leaders, because women have a better grasp on socialization? What the hell does that mean? Where do these Gollum characters come from, this Barak and his Michelle and the millions of shekels shoved into their pockets for their mere existences, for a few hiccuped words ghost-written into Number One Best Seller Hardbacks?

The socialization of women like Madeline Albright, Chancellor Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Janet Reno, and, well, the reader can generate his-her-their own list. Socialization of these fine ladies shine a light on their incredible lightness of goodness? This is side-mouth, PC, identity politics talk.

These are loopy times, and we’ve been in them for decades, really, since Eisenhauer, as undertow after riptide produced the death of integrity, the death of common thinking, the inability of the American trite and superficial man and woman to advance to a level of sophistication or deep thinking or even wisdom or common sage sense.

Image result for Obama with Goldman Sachs

Look at these fellows and women running the world into the ground while they stash-stash-stash away retirement money enough to feed the world 50 billion times over.  Look at how they are not us and they indeed want us prostrate and afraid and on the run and now in their goofy show of faux integrity. All for one, one for all women.

Image result for Obama with Goldman Sachs

Here’s a run down of some of those so-so better socialized women Obama is calling on. I need not go into their dirty deeds, their recklessness, their thieving and in many cases direct connection to murdering thousands and structurally and violently assaulting millions and millions more. That other gender Obama is asking for help from, the female persuasion, is now front and center the only gender to be socially and structurally ready for service to the country, as Obama blurts out during one of his Point One Percent Meetings in France . . .  because men seem to be having some problems these days.

Madeleine Albright  Condoleezza Rice Hillary Clinton .

Arizona governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security

Margaret Spellings Secretary of Education

Betsy DeVos  Secretary of Education

Susan E. Rice, Loretta E. Lynch, Laura Bush, Karen Hughes (Bush Women)

Samantha Power? (Wow, what a bastion of integrity . . . I had to throw that in).

More rah-rah bullshit from mainstream propaganda:

Forbes USA Most Powerful Women

Fortune’s Most Powerful Women

And, the following from other lists, imagine, the power they wield, and because they are women, according to Barak Obama’s calculus, are stalwarts of humanity! Merkel, May, Gates, Trump — bastions of integrity!

Angela Merkel is still the most powerful woman in the world.

The German Chancellor has held the top spot on the Forbes Most Powerful Women List for seven consecutive years, and 12 years in total. Another prominent political leader, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, ranked second. It is her first time appearing on Forbes‘s annual list.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is the highest-ranking American woman, taking the third spot. Seven of the world’s 10 most powerful women are American, according to the Forbes list.

Forbes determines its ranking by evaluating four categories: money — which covers net worth, company revenues, assets under management or GDP — media presence, influence and impact.

Of the 100 women on the list, nearly half are from the United States. Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to and daughter of President Donald Trump.

Here’s the David Letterman Countdown, Top Ten. Gates Foundation, Facebook, GM, YouTube, Fidelity Investments, IMF, Bank, IBM. Just think of those companies, and how unjust, how predatory, and how destructive they are, but with women in higher up positions and even as CEOs, well, according to Obama, we all can sleep better tonight now that women are at the helm!

  1. Angela Merkel: Chancellor, Germany
  2. Theresa May: Prime Minister, U.K.
  3. Melinda Gates: Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S.
  4. Sheryl Sandberg: COO, Facebook, U.S.
  5. Mary Barra: CEO, General Motors, U.S.
  6. Susan Wojcicki: CEO, YouTube, U.S.
  7. Abigail Johnson: CEO, Fidelity Investments, U.S.
  8. Christine Lagarde: Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, U.S.
  9. Ana Patricia Botín: Chair, Santander Group, Banco Santander, Spain
  10. Ginni Rometty: CEO, IBM, U.S.

Here, an interesting list, with, of course, a few amazing human beings lumped into the superficial and super-rich — Addams, Aquino, Carson, Curie, Mead, Parks, Wolff. But it’s Time Magazine, so we know what that means (run by a woman, or has she been replaced?)

Jane Addams (1860-1935)

Corazon Aquino (1933-2009)

Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

Julia Child (1912-2004)

Hillary Clinton (1947-Present)

Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Aretha Franklin (1942-Present)

Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)

Estée Lauder (1908-2004)

Madonna (1958-Present)

Margaret Mead (1901-1978)

Golda Meir (1898-1978)

Angela Merkel (1954-Present)

Sandra Day O’Connor (1930-Present)

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

Jiang Qing (1914-1991)

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

Gloria Steinem (1934-Present)

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)

Martha Stewart (1941-Present)

Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Margaret Thatcher (1925-Present)

Oprah Winfrey (1954-Present)

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Most Powerful Women According to Fortune Magazine, 2010!

Highest paid, take a look at that loot, again, as Obama proclaims, why not have them all (women) run the senate, congress, Supreme Court and the Executive Branch?

See the source image

Carol Bartz, Yahoo, $47.2 million
Safra Catz, Oracle, $36.4 million
Carrie Cox, Schering-Plough, $23 million
Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods, $22.1 million
Wellington Denahan-Norris, Annaly Capital Management, $21.6 million
Pamela Patsley, Moneygram International, $17.9 million
Susan Ivey, Reynolds American, $16.2 million
Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics, $15.8 million
Carol Meyrowitz, TJX Companies, $14.8 million
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo, $14.2 million
Angela Braly, WellPoint, $13.1 million
Brenda Barnes, Sara Lee, $11.5 million
Linda Chen, Wynn Resorts, $11.2 million
Patricia Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland, $11.0 million
Kim Sinatra, Wynn Resorts, $10.5 million
Mary Callahan Erdoes, JPMorgan Chase, $10.4 million
Nancy Wysenski, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, $10.2 million
Jackwyn Nemerov, Polo Ralph Lauren, $10.1 million
Ursula Burns, Xerox, $9.9 million
Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, $9.7 m
Ann Livermore, Hewlett-Packard, $9.7 million
Doreen Toben, Verizon Communications, $9.2 million
Katherine Krill, AnnTaylor Stores, $9.1 million
Kathryn Fagan, Annaly Capital Management, $8.6 million
Ellen Kullman, DuPont, $8.3 million

You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.

— Nina Simone

See the source image

Note 1:  Give it to the New York Daily News to call this “the Weinstein Effect as Sexual McCarthyism”;

Note 2:  In case the reader thinks I am just stuck on this satirical look at the fading empire, USA, I have been hard at work fighting the good fight against my own wrongful termination, at the hands of majority’s worth of females from both the former non-profit I worked at and triggered by Planned Parenthood: “Falling into the Planned Parenthood Gardasil Snake Pit“.

“Say the Word”: What the Rohingya Struggle is Really About

Pope Francis lost a historical opportunity to truly set his legacy apart from previous popes. Alas, for him, too, political expediency trumped all else. In his visit to Burma (Myanmar) on November 27, he refrained from using the word ‘Rohingya.’

But what’s in a name?

In our frenzied attempts at understanding and articulating the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma, we often, perhaps inadvertently, ignore the heart of the matter: The struggle of the Rohingya is essentially a fight for identity.

Burma’s Buddhist majority and its representatives, including the powerful military and the country’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, understand this well. They use a strictly-guarded discourse in which the Rohingya are never recognized as a unique group with pressing political aspirations.

Thus, they refer to the Rohingya as ‘Bengali‘, claiming that the Muslim minority are immigrants from Bangladesh who entered the country illegally. Nothing could be further from the truth.

But historical accuracy, at least for the Buddhist majority, is beside the point. By stripping the Rohingya from any name affiliation that makes them a unique collective, it becomes possible, then, to deny them their rights, to dehumanize them and, eventually, ethnically cleanse them as has been the case for years.

Since August, over 650,000 members of the Rohingya community have been driven out of their homeland in Burma by a joint and systematic operation involving the military, the police and various Buddhist nationalist groups. They call it “Clearance Operations.”

Thousands of Rohingya have been killed in this grave act of genocide, some in most abhorrent and inhumane ways imaginable.

The United Nations Human Rights Council Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has recently referred to the purges in Burma as a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing. There can be no other interpretation of this horrendous campaign of government-led violence.

But as thousands were pushed into the jungles or the open sea, the silence was deafening.

Only recently, US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who visited Burma last November decided to label the massive human rights violations against the Rohingya as ‘ethnic cleansing.’

Although his statement labeled the government-centered genocide as “abuses by some among the Burmese military,” it was still a clear departure from past failure to even address the issue altogether.

Still, it was a major disappointment that the Pope abstained from mentioning the Rohingya by name while in Burma. He only stated their name when he crossed the border to Dhaka. In Bangladesh, using the word ‘Rohingya’ seemed like a safe political strategy.

It is understood that refraining from using the word ‘Rohingya’ while in Burma was done as a “concession to the country’s Catholics”, reported the Washington Post. The logic goes: by challenging the popular narrative that cast the Rohingya as foreigners, the Pope would have ignited the ire of the Buddhists against the country’s Christian minority, itself persecuted, at least in two Burmese states.

If the Rohingya are to be named0, it means that the core of the issue would have better chances of being directly addressed. The moment they retain their collective identity is the moment that the Rohingya become a political entity, subject to the rights and freedoms of any minority, anywhere.

The Pope, as bold as he has been regarding other issues, has the moral authority to challenge the permeating – yet disconcerting – narrative in Burma that has dehumanized the Rohingya for generations. In 1982, the embattled minority group was denied the status of a minority group and was stripped of its citizenship, paving the way for eventual ethnic cleansing.

Alas, in the end, the Pope joined the regional and international powers that insist on understanding the Rohingya crisis outside the realm of political solutions, pertaining to political rights and identity.

Indeed, he is not alone. ASEAN leaders meeting in Manila, Philippines in mid-November made no mention of the Rohingya by name. Worse, in their 26-page final document, they mentioned the crisis in the Northern Rakhine State – the epicenter of the Rohingya genocide – in passing:

We … extend appreciation for the prompt response in the delivery of relief items for Northern Vietnam flash floods and landslides … as well as the affected communities in Northern Rakhine State.

That is how the Southeast Asian leaders respond to one of the worse political and humanitarian disasters in Southeast Asia in recent decades. Pitiful.

Standing proudly in the final photo with the rest of the leaders was Aung San Suu Kyi, who was promoted by western media for many years as a ‘democracy icon’. The ‘Lady of Burma’ who challenged the military junta and spent years under house arrest for her defiance has, in recent years, found a convenient political formula that allows her to share power with the military.

A political opportunist at best, Aung San Suu Kyi, too, does not call the Rohingya by their name. Worse, her government has played a major role in dehumanizing the Rohingya and, at times, blamed them for their own suffering.

Last September, in a last-ditch effort at salvaging her tattered reputation, she gave a 30-minute televised speech in which she explained her position using a most confused logic.

The best she came up with was, “We are a young and fragile country facing many problems … We cannot just concentrate on the few.” The “few”, of course, being the Rohingya.

When the Pope arrived in Bangladesh, a man by the name of Mohammed Ayub was awaiting him as part of a small delegation of Rohingya refugees.

Mohammed’s 3-year-old son was killed by the Burmese military. The father’s message to the Pope was not seeking humanitarian relief for despairing refugees, or even justice for his own child, but something else entirely.

“He should say the word as we are, Rohingya,” Mohammed told the Catholic Crux Now. “We have been Rohingya for generations, my father and my grandfather.”

In Dhaka, the Pope attempted to reclaim that missed opportunity.

“The presence of God today is also called Rohingya,” he said.

The Row Over Jerusalem gives American Jews a Tough Choice

For decades most American Jews have claimed an “Israel exemption”: resolutely progressive on domestic issues, they are hawks on their cherished cause. Racism they would vigorously oppose if applied in the United States is welcomed in Israel.

Reports at the weekend suggested that Donald Trump was about to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, throwing a wrench in any peace plan.

If true, the US president will have decisively prioritised support for Israel – and pro-Israel lobbies at home – over outrage from Palestinians and the Arab world. But paradoxically, just as American Jews look close to winning the battle domestically on behalf of Israel, many feel more alienated from a Jewish state than ever before.

There has long been a minority whose concerns focused on the occupation, but most American Jews’ support for Israel itself was unwavering. A Law of Return denies non-Jews the right to migrate to Israel. Admissions committees bar Palestinian citizens – one in five of Israel’s population – from hundreds of communities. A refusal of family reunification has torn apart Palestinian families in cases where one partner lives in Israel and the other in the occupied territories.

Most Jews have justified to themselves these and many other affronts on the grounds that, after the European holocaust, they deserved a strong homeland. Palestinians had to pay the price.

Given that half the world’s Jews live outside Israel – the great majority in the US – their support for Israel is critical. They have donated enormous sums, helping to build cities and plant forests. And they have lobbied aggressively at home to ensure diplomatic, financial and military support for their cause. But it is becoming ever harder for them to ignore their hypocrisy.

The rift has grown into a chasm as Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government widens its assault on civil rights. It now targets not just Palestinians but the remnants of liberal Jewish society in Israel – in open contempt for the values of American Jews.

The peculiar catalyst is a battle over the most significant surviving symbol of Jewishness: the Western Wall, a supporting wall of a long-lost temple in Jerusalem.

Jews in the US mostly subscribe to the progressive tenets of Reform Judaism. In Israel, by contrast, the hard-line Orthodox rule supreme on religious matters.

Since the 1967 occupation, Israel’s Orthodox rabbis have controlled prayers at the Western Wall, marginalising women and other streams of Judaism. That has deeply offended Jewish opinion in the US.

Trapped between American donors and Israel’s powerful rabbis, Mr Netanyahu initially agreed to create a mixed prayer space at the wall for non-Orthodox Jews. But as opposition mounted at home over the summer, he caved in. The shock waves are still reverberating.

Avraham Infeld, a veteran Israeli liaison with the US Jewish community, told the Haaretz newspaper this week that the crisis in relations was “unprecedented”. American Jews have concluded “Israel doesn’t give a damn about them”.

Now a close ally of Mr Netanyahu’s has stoked the storm. In a TV interview last month, Tzipi Hotovely, the deputy foreign minister, all but accused American Jews of being freeloaders. She condemned their failure to fight in the US or Israeli militaries, saying they preferred “convenient lives”.

Her comments caused uproar. They echo those of leading Orthodox rabbis, who argue that Reform Jews are not real Jews – and are possibly even an enemy.

The Israeli right has opened a Pandora’s box. Its mounting attacks on liberal Jews in Israel – echoing Mr Trump’s rhetoric and policies towards minorities in the US – are gradually forcing American Jews to reassess their longstanding double standard.

For some time the Israeli government has tarred Israeli anti-occupation organisations like B’Tselem and the soldier whistle-blowing group Breaking the Silence as traitors. Last week it widened the assault.

The education minister accused the veteran legal group Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) – Israel’s version of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – of “supporting terrorists”. Forty years of ACRI programmes in schools are in jeopardy.

The move follows recent decisions to allow pupils to provide racist answers in civics exams and to expand gender-segregation to universities. Meanwhile, two new bills from Mr Netanyahu’s party would crack down on free speech for Israelis promoting a boycott, even of the settlements. One proposes seven years in jail, the other a fine of $150,000.

Defence minister Avigdor Lieberman is seeking stronger powers against political activists, Jews and Palestinians alike, including draconian restraining orders and detention without charge or trial.

And for the first time, overseas Jews are being grilled on arrival at Israel’s airport about their political views. Some have signed a “good behaviour oath” – a pledge to avoid anti-occupation activities. Already Jewish supporters of boycotts can be denied entry.

The Netanyahu government, it seems, prefers as allies Christian evangelicals and the US alt-right, which loves Israel as much as it appears to despise Jews.

Israel is plotting a future in which American Jews will have to make hard choices. Can they continue to identify with a state that openly turns its back on them?

• First published in The National

Bury All Fossil Fuel Protesters in the Ground

What do you say about this fellow – practicing to be a Jesuit priest. Yale Law School. His family involved in California politics since the 1930s. His great-grandfather here from Germany for the great California Gold Rush, 1852.

Yes, that genocidal, land-thieving time of California’s history

Gold’s a devilish sort of thing. You lose your sense of values and character changes entirely. Your soul stops being the same as it was before.

— The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

The attacking party rushed upon them, blowing out their brains and splitting their heads with tomahawks. Little children in baskets, even babies had their heads smashed to pieces or cut open. Mothers and infants shared the same phenomenon…many of the fugitives were chased and shot as they ran…The children, scarcely able to run, toddled towards the squaw for protection, crying with fright, but were overtaken, slaughtered like wild animals, and thrown into piles… One woman got into a pond hole, where she hid herself under the grass, and concealed her papoose on the bank in a basket, she was discovered and her head blown to pieces, the muzzle of the gun being placed against her skull and the child was drowned in the pond.

— Captain Jarboe among the Achomawi people of the North-east.

Oh, these bizarre and ignorant politicians, like Brown, yesterday (11/13/17), in Bonn, setting up his philosophy in life, after 79 years on planet earth, 79 years on the stolen lands of native indigenous peoples massacred for gold, for land, and poisoned by the tailings and mercury of the Gold Lust, and, well, the fact that California, thanks to German immigrants like Jerry Brown’s great grandfather, August Schuckman, went from 150,000 Natives right before the Rush down to 16,000 by 1900.

The following are some examples of this mini holocaust.

Clear Lake Massacre ended in disaster as more than a hundred Indians, women, and children were murdered,1852.

The Hayforlk Massacre ended up in even more disaster, following the killing of a white settler, more than one-hundred and fifty Indians were killed, with that they took the three last remaining survivors, most likely to have been a woman and her two children who were sold as slaves.

In 1854 Indian Agent R. McKee plead to the troops to keep peace between the Indians and the settlers, after the Massacre of Klamath River which was the result of forty or fifty brutal Native’s deaths. Any Indians who attempted to seek justice and made amends for their mistakes were rejected by the whites who depended on genocide, or the death to the pleading Indians as the solution to the problem.

The Fresno Massacre of 1854, began when white settlers attempted to bring perpetrators to justice, they invaded and killed an unspecified number of Native Americans, this was the effect of the invasions failure for justice. Klamath County citizens resolved by killing all Indians carrying guns, which most Indians were armed.

Here he was, the great Green Governor, on an 11-day trip around the world, dealing with people – Native Americans and water protectors and those fighting on the front lines of climate change – chanting “keep it in the ground . . . keep it in the ground” (fossil fuels, and the byproducts of fracking) during his speech at the “American Pledge” event.

The protestors had banners, yelled “keep it in the ground” and other chants, as a clear reference to Jerry Brown’s backing of fracking, both offshore and on land in California, and also the governor’s cap-and-trade policies that just might prove catastrophic to the Huni Kui People of Acre, Brazil, and other indigenous communities around the globe.

Brown strongly supports the fossil fuel industry in California, and his recent talk with right-wing, radical anti-climate change activist Ryan Zinke, US Interior Secretary under Trump, belies Brown’s inability to hold on to anything spiritual around this existential threat or critical of these Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Capitalism, War, Climate Warming, Environmental/Cultural Genocide.

As always, these pedicured politicians cannot deal with The People, with the noise that is supposed to be democracy, expression and free speech, even a politician like Brown who once hung around the New Age scene and was called Moonbeam, all of which was parodied in the rock scene in a piece called “California Über Alles”, written by Jello Biafra and performed by him with his punk rock band Dead Kennedys.

Here, the typical capitalist, typical Yale graduate of legal misgivings, Brown, today in Bonn:

I wish we have could have no pollution, but we have to have our automobiles. In the ground, I agree with you. In the ground. Let’s put you in the ground so we can get on with the show here.

This is very California. Thanks for bringing the diversity of dissent here, the visibly disturbed Brown continued.

A video of Brown’s reaction to the protest is available here.

This is the sum total of California’s love of this man (the state has been re-electing him forever), whose family has been riding roughshod over politics, in the legal arena and in the state’s planning for decades. Brown earlier this year went after critics of his oil industry-written cap-and-trade bill, AB 398.

Again, the Governor who wants water protectors and other indigenous groups protesting him “put in the ground,” states it like it is with NPR in July 2017: Critics are using “forms of political terrorism that are conspiring to undermine the American system of governance.” In an interview with David Greene of NPR (National Public Radio).

They can joke, like Weinstein jokes, but, these comments are windows into these devils’ souls. Again, this simple-minded and racist approach to seeing the 80 percent of the world is Brown’s in a nutshell, and all the others in the political arena making pacts with the devil:

“When cities and states combine together and then join with powerful corporations, that’s how we get stuff done,” said Governor Brown at today’s event at the U.S. Climate Action Pavilion, the exhibition space sponsored by U.S. non-federal leaders at COP23. “We’re here, we’re in and we’re not going away.”

Those darn powerful corporations. Tell that to the more than 100 tribes in California before the Spanish invasion, and the Gold Rush a hundred years later:

The estimated number of Indians killed by new diseases passed on by settlers is around 60% of all the Natives living combined. The white settlers killed and sold the scalps and severed heads of Native Americans, at 25 cents for the scalps, and at more than $5 for the severed heads. $1,000,000 were recovered to the government for the selling of these items. An estimated 4,000 Native children were sold as slaves to settlers. The prices the enslaved children were up to $60 for the young boys and up to $200 for young girls.

Brown’s refused to ban fracking, and all that toxic waste from oil companies put into underground water supplies have gotten a green light from the Gov. He’s incentivizing oil and gas big time in California. According to a news release from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

His cap-and-trade extension includes provisions written by oil lobbyists that prevent state and local agencies from directly limiting carbon emissions from oil refineries. He has also failed to shut down the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, where the largest methane leak in U.S. history forced thousands to flee their homes in 2015.

Just five days ago at Bonn, a newly released Center for Biological Diversity report points to more than three-quarters of California’s oil is as “climate-damaging” as Canadian tar sands crude. “Oil Stain: How Dirty Crude Undercuts California’s Climate Progress” pinpoints eight of the state’s 10 largest-producing oil fields that are producing “very dirty crude with greenhouse gas emissions comparable to tar sands oil.”

This is the state of America, calling for Native American environmental groups, indigenous groups from around the world and their non-native allies to be buried in the ground. Funny stuff from old California (not).

Ninawa Nuneshuni Kui, President of the Huni Kui People of Acre, Brazil, told reporters at Bonn yesterday (11/13/17) that Jerry Brown’s “American Pledge” –which is based on this smoke and mirrors and environmentally racist carbon trading deal — would inevitably precipitate destruction and displacement: both of the land and the cultural resources and the people.

I wanted to leave a message here, for humanity and all of planet, that the peoples need to join to defend Mother Nature, the soil, water and air because they are being threatened. And humanity needs Nature to survive. So I want to say that Nature and the air are not a means of commerce for anyone and it’s every human’s right to live in peace. Jerry Brown’s ‘American Pledge’ will lead to the displacement of my people and the destruction of my territory. We need to respect the rights of Nature and humans beings that need her to survive.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s report claims that twenty-six energy companies including the state’s three major investor-owned utilities, Occidental, Chevron, and NRG—all with business before the state—donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor.

Download the report here.

Read the report “How Green Is Jerry Brown?” at Consumer Watchdog.

For more information on Jerry Brown’s environmental policies, go here.

In the end, though, these climate summits and all the dickering with the devils — giant multinational outfits in finance, banking, Big energy, Big Military Industrial Complex, Big Ag, Big Medicine, Big Chemicals, Big PR, Big War — will get you the same comments from the same people in power:  “If we don’t extract the minerals and the oil and gas and cut down the timber, then the Chinese and Russians will.”

That’s the folly of this game, this Kabuki Theater, these COP 23’s or COP 30s or COP 99s:

“Most of these critics ride around in cars and fly in airplanes, so what we have to do is get the end goal in sight,” Brown later said of the protesters.

This is how these elites roll, my friend. And until we are serious about the destruction of species and cultures, destruction of land and soil, and until we rip the bowels from the billionaires and the military and financial mercenaries, and until we downsize, retrench, go very local, shift the paradigms, and reinvent humanity to think small and be small, then that’s their bottom line, is it not?

The millionaires and billionaires and their Little Eichmann’s have us trumped: We all drive, we all go on Disney cruises, we all throw away things, we all consume, we all can’t wait for Black Friday, we all invest, we all benefit from war-weapons-weather disruption, we all are Americans, we all are for technology, we all live better lives through chemistry and computing and genetic engineering and nanotechnology; we all are willing to give up our freedoms, our rights, our agency, if we can still get to the all-you-can-eat drive-through after Black Friday’s great consumer orgy.

hallelujah, hhallelujah la olam, masha’allah

Stemming the Tide of Hate

A Chinese Proverb says, “May you live in Interesting Times.” Today in the “Age of Donald Trump” and a rise of right-wing political parties across the Globe we are seeing a resurgence of right wing views, anti-Immigrant sentiments and veiled discrimination against “The Other” and the trampling on the rights of various minorities. These minorities include the Rohinga Muslims in Myanmar, Palestinians in the Holy Land, refugees in Europe, Muslims in many countries, Arabs, even Christians in the Middle East, conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims, attacks against Blacks and vilification of Mexicans and other Hispanics in the United States, and discrimination and even persecution of other minorities.

Frequently these attacks are presented against a perceived threat of crime or “Terrorism” or as a defense against a “Tide of Islam” that threatens Western values and sparks fear in many predominantly White societies. This fear has given rise to “White Nationalism” and Conservative movements that claim to be based on Christianity but do not live up to Christian principles. In fact, the majority of acts of terrorism committed in the United States have been by White Nationalists while the media whips up fear about Islamic Terrorism which exists more in myth than reality.

There are many frightening parallels to the 1930s where we saw persecution of Jews in Europe and the rise of Fascist regimes today. The Nazis once ordered that all Jews had to wear a yellow star. Even Canada is not immune to these developments.

In the province of Quebec Bill 62 was passed on October 18, 2017. The law has spawned another highly charged, difficult discussion about religious differences, inclusion and equality. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by section 2 of the Charter. I would also argue that the law is in violation of freedom of expression which is also a Section 2 Charter protected right.  Such law can be saved by Section 1 of the Charter, the “notwithstanding clause” if the government can prove a “pressing and substantial objective” is being served by the law. It is useful to review part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Rights and freedoms in Canada

  1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Fundamental Freedoms

  1. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
  • (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
  • (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
  • (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and,
  • (d) freedom of association.

Laws in Canada that are in violation of any Charter protected right can be saved “only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

If there is no overriding strong safety or security purpose served by the Bill my expectation is that Court challenges to the Quebec law will succeed in having it declared illegal and in violation of both the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Bill 62 was the Quebec Liberal government’s follow-up to the aborted Charter of Quebec Values, proposed by the Parti Québécois in 2013. That law would have banned overt religious symbols of all kinds in the Quebec public service and some government-funded agencies. The proposed 2013 law sparked a strong reaction from many religious communities who wear religious items and many threatened to leave the province. That exodus of observant Jews, Sikhs, and Muslims etc. would have wreaked havoc on Quebec’s health system and other social services. Many critics attacked the proposed law as thinly veiled discrimination.

The new Quebec law is at once more narrow and more broad. Instead of purporting to target all religious symbols, it attacks only “face covering.” However, the law applies to many more sites of public interaction, including universities, community centres, libraries and even public transit. The Law applies not only to those who work for the state but to those who receive its services.

The new law gives rise to obvious legal problems. Its focus on a particular behaviour — face covering — suggests a desire to single out the one religious group that actually engages in that practice: Muslim women. There are some Orthodox Jews who also follow a similar practice of covering the face and even wearing clothing identical to Burkas. If this behavior is targeted because of its religious or cultural aspects that would be an instance of state objective that is both illegal and unconstitutional.

Faced with questions about this intention, provincial officials have stretched the definition of “face covering” to absurd lengths, suggesting that even sunglasses and balaclavas would be prohibited. What about Halloween masks, gas masks, masks to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, surgical masks and ski masks?

Since 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada has rejected the idea that courts ought to delve into what are, essentially, issues of religious dogma. The Court has held, instead, that the Charter protects any sincere practice that someone thinks furthers their connection to the “divine.” This highly individualistic approach is one about which reasonable people can disagree. But the Court is unlikely to depart from it as it protects sincerely held religious beliefs and religious freedom.

The sheer breadth of services covered by the Quebec Bill 62 should be enough to tip the balance away from a “trivial” interference to one that is pervasive, continuing and even profound. Banning face coverings on public transit does not serve any demonstratable public need. The law is targeting only a minuscule part of the Quebec population but it does, fan the flames of Islamophobia. There are ways to accommodate concerns of safety and respect religious and cultural pactices.

Today the election of US President Donald Trump has given many groups formerly on the fringes of society a veneer of legitimacy. White Nationalists, Conservative Christians, even groups like the Klu Klux Klan have been emboldened to assert themselves politically and press their agenda on the United States. Much of this activity is a backlash to the election of Barack Obama, a Black President, and has spurred on the aggressive “White Nationalist” political agenda that many had thought not possible.

These developments have also had unfortunately an impact in Canada. This is not just about the election of Stephen Harper and his fellow travellers but has impacted virtually all aspects of political and social life in Canada and beyond.

Individuals who are concerned about the rising tide of hate and discrimination against minorities must be vigilant and fight hard to maintain a Canada that respects minority rights, political freedoms and fights discrimination against Native Canadians, people of colour, Islamophobia and intolerance towards gays and other discriminated groups. There is much work to do. However, it is fair to say that we live in interesting and even dangerous times

An Open Letter to the White Working Class

I’m writing this letter as the proud son of the working class. My father, who never attended college and was our family’s breadwinner, worked as a Greyhound Bus ticket seller, part-time mail carrier and grocery store stock boy. When he died of a sudden heart attack at age 47, he was working the night shift as a hospital orderly. I was 12 years old and my younger brother was seven.

Because my dad was a World War Two vet, we had a very modest house purchased under the G.I. Bill’s Home Loan Guaranty Program. Under provisions of the Social Security Act’s Aid to Widows with Children, my mother received some scant relief, but never beyond the maximum legal amount of $200 per month. As recipients, single moms were not to work outside the home.  It wasn’t easy but I shudder to imagine our lives without these Federal government programs. It also taught me that a government responsive to its citizens can be a positive, make-or-break difference.

After growing up a poor kid in Fargo, North Dakota, I managed to achieve some success through hard work, sacrifice and determination, but I certainly displayed no more grit than you’ve expended.  Earlier this year, my wife and I retired to a comfortable lifestyle, with all that implies.

Changing Times, Change Outcomes

I mention this background only because I think it conveys an important lesson: Had my “back in the day” working class existence occurred thirty-five years ago instead of sixty years ago, all my determined self-improvement wouldn’t have produced the same positive outcome. Why? Because times changed. A long economic decline occurred and you’ve been working harder for decreasing wages and benefits. Just how bad is it? When you total up their debt and total up their assets, 40% of Americans (4 in 10) have zero dollars. Zilch. They’ve been cheated out of opportunities that once were available to me and other members of the white working class. That America no longer exists. Now, is it possible to determine with precision’s just who’s to blame for this state of affairs? You betcha.

One more thing: had I been the child of a black veteran, my situation would’ve been truly grim. I’m embarrassed to admit that for most my adult life I was ignorant of the fact that racial exclusion provisions of the Social Security Act meant that throughout the South and elsewhere, black mothers were virtually excluded from these benefits. Widows who’d been “working” in the cotton fields or as house maids were legally ineligible. States were allowed to refuse mothers based only on race and routinely did so.

Likewise, African-American vets were denied many of the G.I. Bill’s benefits. They were prevented from gaining access to mortgages, bank loans, and educational opportunities. Formal and informal segregation excluded blacks from the suburbs where most new housing was being built. That’s only the tip of the iceberg that fostered a wealth gap between whites and blacks which continues to this day.

I should add that I’m a recovering Democrat, a longstanding member of Democrats Anonymous. But I haven’t been immune to (very) temporary seductions by smooth-talking presidential candidates, the last being Obama in 2008. In 2016, however, I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in either the primary or general election.

How does race play into our political situation?

If your high school education was similar to mine, you’ll be as surprised as I was to learn that there was no “white race” in our country until the idea was invented by white plantation owners in Virginia around 1676. Before their arrival here, the Europeans had never thought of themselves as white.

Ninety percent of the colonial population in Virginia consisted of Africans, some of them enslaved and others indentured servants, and poor European tenants and laborers. Not only did they share deep grievances against the ruling plantation owners; for three generations, blacks and whites had inter-married, worked, celebrated and mourned together. It may be hard to imagine today, but questioning any of this simply wouldn’t have entered their minds. Notions of mutual aid and common cause was second nature. So what happened?

A small army of poor (black) Africans and poor (white) English frontiersmen realized they were getting their asses whupped by the landed aristocracy. This ragtag militia, led by the Englishman-turned-rebel, Nathanial Bacon, attacked the royal English government and burned Jamestown to the ground. Ultimately, the overmatched uprising failed. Bacon died of illness, but 23 of his followers were hanged as traitors. This is known as Bacon’s Rebellion.

Recognizing that another insurrection was possible and might spread, the now-terrified ruling circle of plantation owners came up with a solution. Their great trick was to drive a wedge between white and black workers. On the one hand, draconian laws were passed that punished whites for associating with blacks. On the other hand, financial rewards were bestowed on whites who captured runaway slaves. Furthermore, perks like owning a tiny plot of land and a few minor legal rights were granted to whites, and their status versus blacks was elevated. Over time, an artificial bond was created between elites and the white working class. This was the genesis and evil genius of creating “white identity” where none had existed. Gradually, poor whites came to believe they were better human beings by virtue of their skin color. This strategy has been working for 400 years even though there’s nothing “natural,” nothing biological about it.

What about the white working class today and Donald Trump?

It’s well known that the white working class makes up one-third of the American adult population and they supported Donald Trump by a margin of two to one.  Their votes in the key electoral states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin tipped the election to Trump. Hillary Clinton had dissed two-thirds of Americans without college degrees, including those in these states.

Hillary Clinton had written off voters like yourselves. Why? Because she had nothing of substance to offer you. Wall Street’s Mistress promised “ladders of opportunity,” but you knew from painful experience that those ladders had been kicked away long ago by leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Members of the posh, immensely privileged, white upper class were reaping all the benefits of policies enacted by the Republicrats.

I may be mistaken but based on my own reading, some Trump voters also found merit in Bernie Sanders’ program. But with Sanders off the ballot, they reasoned – “Hey, what do I have to lose?”  I’m also given to understand that many Trump voters also didn’t believe he would be a great or even good president, but voted for him anyway to poke a finger in the Establishment’s eye. An Ohio voter clarified that it was the middle finger. If so, good for you!

I trust you to correct me, but my take is that Trump offered hope with his “I’m not a politician” maverick outsider status. Policies of both major parties diminished your livelihoods, leaving you unable to afford child care, housing, and education. Many Trump supporters are one medical emergency away from economic disaster. Whatever your household income, the future seemed precarious, headed in an inevitable downward spiral, and prospects of a better future for your kids slipping away. For decades, no one was listening, but Trump seemed different in his pledge to get matters “under control.”

But what has Trump actually done since taking office? Here are just three examples among many: During the campaign he demonized Hillary Clinton for being in bed with Goldman Sachs (she was), the financial firm that “robs our working class” (it does). Yet we’ve recently learned that Trump’s long awaited tax cut plan was written by former Goldman investment bankers now on his team. The tax plan is an obscene giveaway of trillions of dollars that will, in the words of economist Jack Rasmus, “redistribute income massively upward from the middle and working classes to the rich.”

Meanwhile, Trump wants a spending cut of $1 trillion in Medicaid over the next decade and continues to shred what’s left of the social safety net after Bill Clinton’s devastating cuts in 1996.  By any measure, Trump’s economic agenda is “largely Goldman’s agenda.” In fact, I agree with those who argue that Goldman Sachs and the military-industrial complex now administer the presidency. I don’t believe this is what you were voting for.

Further, in explaining his startling decision to reverse a solemn campaign pledge to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan, Trump said, “Decisions look different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.” Indeed. Whatever one’s intentions, one quickly learns to obey the wishes of the deeply imbedded, unelected power structure in Washington, or face daunting consequences.

Finally, you might recall that Trump proclaimed he would be “the greatest jobs’ President that God ever created.” Well, we’re still waiting.  And so are the 1.5 million workers who lost jobs during Obama’s administration, another “jobs creator.” Many of them have fallen into poverty and opiate addition, and have suffered permanent psychic scarring. More and more jobs are being outsourced or converted to part-time, seasonal, and low-wage, while still others are being replaced by robotics.

Just yesterday, here in my hometown of Bethlehem, PA, 460 workers at the Wells Fargo call center were told to report to the cafeteria, where they were abruptly fired. Many left the meeting in tears. Nancy Jenkins, 53, was one of them and told the local newspaper, “We have a lot of single parents who worry they’ll have to take a minimum wage job and aren’t sure how they’ll make it.” Jennings herself recently had a kidney transplant and worries she’ll be unable to pay for anti-rejection meds. Jennings’s starting salary at Wells Fargo: $13.82 per hour. Wells Fargo’s profit just this quarter: $4.47 billion.

You may have seen Trump’s recent late night response to all of this when he tweeted, “Stock Market at an ALL-TIME high!”  How much stock do you own?

But after having reported this, I must add that Trump is not the central problem, but only the predictable outcome of a much deeper crisis, one created by several preceding administrations. I’m suggesting that, consciously or not, Trump (or, really, his media guru, Steve Bannon) sold the white working class a bill of goods, and he encouraged you to scapegoat immigrants and black people for your entirely justified grievances. After poring over this material, I can say that no evidence exists to support these charges and reams of data refute them.

If Trump’s vision succeeds, there will be only one noteworthy change: a different 1% will rule the country. We have no skin in this game. All of this reinforces the conclusion reached by numerous nonpartisan political science studies: ordinary citizens have no influence over the government in Washington. As things stand, voting is essentially meaningless.

So, what’s next?

I’m not the first person to say there is one tiny minority that presents a danger to you. It’s the wealthy, privileged, and overwhelmingly white oligarchy that rules over all of us. Other than worrying that you might catch on that immigrants, Muslims and people of color are not threatening your well-being, they have never given a rat’s ass about us, our children or our grandchildren. All they want from us is our labor, and that only if the price is low enough.

As the late George Carlin famously quipped, “No matter how hard you work, no matter how hard you try, you’re screwed because it’s all fixed. There is a club and you ain’t it.” Tim Wise, a close student of race matters, notes that by virtue of their experience, brown and black people have always known this. The white working class, owing to conditions more recently thrust upon them, has only begun to entertain this truth and the troubling questions and doubts surrounding it.

Given all of the above, I would respectfully ask you to consider the following: the pain and fears of the white working class are real, but the diagnosis is wrong, and, if not corrected, terribly dangerous. This letter was my attempt to offer a second opinion, one which goes beyond symptoms towards pinpointing the actual cause, those who own and benefit from our deeply dysfunctional economic system. I wrote these paragraphs not to cast blame or make judgments about Trump supporters, but to begin a much needed conversation about our country’s future.

There are people, including some I know, who depict Trump sympathizers as bigoted, ignorant, gullible rubes, almost congenitally incapable of empathy. In fact, a few individuals advised me not to bother with this letter because “Trump supporters are fact-resistant and won’t give you the time of day.”

I don’t buy this, and the sweeping claim that all 62 million Trump voters are incapable of thinking and acting in their own interest is not only bullshit, but smugly condescending.

I’ve never doubted that white working class folks, if privy to all the facts, constitute one pillar in constructing the basis for a social movement that — operating outside the hopeless two party system — can fundamentally change our country. For me, that feels like our last and best hope.