Archive for the ‘womens rights’ Category
How American Politics Constantly Neglects Black Women
Our political system is neglecting black women — and we can change it. No one is making this argument better than black women themselves. Women like Roxane Gay, Brittney Cooper and countless others have written powerfully and eloquently about the unique experience of being a black woman in America, and I would like to add my voice in solidarity. Because it’s important that black men publicly voice our support on these issues – not just in order to stand alongside our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends, but because it is the best thing for our nation.
A new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) entitled, “The State of African-American Women in the United States” highlights that the intersection of racial and gender disparities meets at the experience of black women. Despite this, in the last presidential election, they had the highest voter participation rate of any comparable group in the country.
Black women experience socioeconomic inequity more than anyone else, yet they vote more than all others (and almost always in favor of the Democratic candidate). There are two important implications in this reality. First, their policy concerns have gone largely unaddressed. Second, despite the evidence of the black electorate bellwether, there is little real effort by candidates to work hard for those votes. The Republican Party assumes it is unobtainable. The Democratic Party knows it can rely on overwhelming support from the black community because of precedent and, quite honestly, lack of a viable alternative.
These lead to the political alienation of black women. Their votes are taken for granted, and their most pressing socioeconomic concerns are unaddressed. This is not cool.
A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll from 2011 found the issues that black women worry about most include employment/personal finances, healthcare, and crime. Exit polls from last month’s Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections show the same concerns. These issues presumably influence how and for whom black women vote. Yet, voting has not reaped the results they – indeed, the nation writ large – deserve.
The CAP report states that 1 in 4 black women are uninsured. This is a primary contributor to them facing such issues as higher cancer mortality rates, the highest incidence of hypertension, and black babies dying at 2.5 times the rate of white babies. Though a fully implemented Affordable Care Act will help black women get insurance, the increasing doctor shortage will still disproportionately complicate their ability to receive care.
In education, black women are underrepresented in college degrees, have the slowest increase in graduation rates among all women, and are the most severely underrepresented in technical fields. Recent government cutbacks and student loan eligibility changes have left black students scrambling. This has contributed to a financial crunch in many historically black colleges and universities, a primary grantor of college degrees. Black women are hit especially hard since they comprise 66 percent of African Americans graduating with bachelor’s degrees, 71 percent of master’s, and 65 percent of doctorates.
On the economic front, black women have a higher rate of unemployment than white women – a rate that actually rose in 2013. Black women’s income is less than all men and white women, and their poverty rate is the highest in the nation. The national response? Cutbacks on funding for social safety nets, elimination of national programs that could help close economic gaps, and policies that exacerbate income inequality.
With all this evidence that black women are being ignored, they have plenty with which to be displeased. But square in the face of the despicable “angry black woman” trope, the Washington-Kaiser poll reveals quite the opposite. Nearly 3 in 4 black women felt it was a good time to be a black woman in America, and 85 percent report that they are satisfied with their lives as a whole.
Perhaps most interesting, black female entrepreneurs are the fastest growing segment of the women-owned business market. They are starting up at six times the national average, grew in number by 258 percent over the last 15 years, and generated nearly $45 billion of revenue this year.
So why hasn’t political alienation suppressed their vote? A Harvard Journal of African American Policy paper titled, “Political Cynicism and the Black Vote,” suggests a notable difference in black voting behavior. The authors argue that unlike other races, when black voters have high cynical attitudes – specifically the feeling of political alienation – they turn out in higher numbers. This might help explain why black women voting rates continue to rise despite the political alienation they experience.
This symbiotic relationship of cynicism and turnout, coupled with an uninterested Republican Party, leads to a continuation of a devalued vote and unaddressed concerns. This is the complex cycle that must be broken.
The only way to stop alienating black women is to have a targeted goal of reducing the inequity they experience. There are no shortcuts. There are no speeches or appearances at churches, conventions, or HBCUs that alone will allay concerns. The hard work of effecting real change must be done.
Black women have clearly made their most pressing concerns known: among other things, they need health insurance and more access to doctors, reduction of violent crime, equal access and opportunity to quality education, and a paycheck that does not discriminate against them for being black and female.
Not only is this not too much to ask, it’s the very least the country can do.
If there are doubters that think an effort to specifically boost black women is unfair in some way, there is a straightforward response to this concern, founded in three truisms. First, there is little more unfair than the disparities black women face across the socioeconomic spectrum. Though they are not the most marginalized in every instance – for example, Hispanic women have lower incomes on average – the confluence of all the factors makes their American experience especially imbalanced.
Second, an effort must be specific to black women (in addition to those for black Americans in general), because when considering the number of registered voters and participation rate, the political voice of black women is extraordinarily strong: In the 2012 presidential election, the voting rate of black women was almost 10 percent higher than that of black men.
Third, when black and white men and women were asked whether they identify more with their race or gender, the results were clear. Nine out of ten white men and women identified with gender first, not race. Black women, however, identified with race over gender at the highest rate, even 25 percent more than black men.
These three points taken together mean that when black women speak, they show up in numbers, they highlight issues of national importance, and they pinpoint a unique perspective of inequity that, if addressed, will close the gaps for all Americans. Long overdue, treating black women fairly is the right thing on its own merits, and also the best thing for the nation.
The political alienation of black women may prove beneficial to the winners who are swept into office from their high turnout, but the failure to adequately address the disparities they experience dooms any attempt at sound social policy. The nation would do well to ensure this alienation does not continue, but instead, as Toni Morrison once declared, go on and ensure the necessary work gets done.
© 2013, agentleman.
AUTHOR: STEPHEN D. FOSTER JR.
The separation of church and state is one of the cornerstones of America’s foundation. Conservative Christian fundamentalists have sought to crush this cornerstone in the hopes of establishing Christianity as the state religion, an action that would threaten the rest of the foundation that makes up the Constitution. These conservatives contend that the Founding Fathers dreamed of making America a Christian state at the expense of those who practice other religions or none at all.
So here are 35 quotes from the Founding Fathers. Perhaps your first thoughts are the first four Presidents and maybe Benjamin Franklin, but there were many other Founding Fathers. Many were signers of the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence. They were lawyers, judges, soldiers, merchants, farmers, and some were even clergy. And the great majority of them signed the Constitution knowing that matters of government and matters of religion would be separate.
1. “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
~George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789
2. “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
~George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792
3. “We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”
~George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793
4. “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788
5. “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams
6. “Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”
~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)
7. “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for
honors and power we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.”
~John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785
8. “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802
9. “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
~Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814
10. “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787
11. “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799
12. “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”
-Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813
13. “Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual.
State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”
~Thomas Jefferson: in a speech to the Virginia Baptists, 1808
14. “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814,
15. “The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
~James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”
16. “And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”
~James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822
17. “Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.”
~James Madison, letter, 1822
18. “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.”
~James Madison; Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical
19. “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.”
~James Monroe, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1817
20. “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
~Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780
21. “Manufacturers, who listening to the powerful invitations of a better price for their fabrics, or their labor, of greater cheapness of provisions and raw materials, of an exemption from the chief part of the taxes burdens and restraints, which they endure in the old world, of greater personal independence and consequence, under the operation of a more equal government, and of what is far more precious than mere religious toleration–a perfect equality of religious privileges; would probably flock from Europe to the United States to pursue their own trades or professions, if they were once made sensible of the advantages they would enjoy, and were inspired with an assurance of encouragement and employment, will, with difficulty, be induced to transplant themselves, with a view to becoming cultivators of the land.”
~Alexander Hamilton: Report on the Subject of Manufacturers December 5,
22. “In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind.”
~Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)
23. “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forebearance, love, and charity towards each other.”
~George Mason, Virginia Bill of Rights, 1776
24. “It is contrary to the principles of reason and justice that any should be compelled to contribute to the maintenance of a church with which their consciences will not permit them to join, and from which they can derive no benefit; for remedy whereof, and that equal liberty as well religious as civil, may be universally extended to all the good people of this commonwealth.”
~George Mason, Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776
25. “A man of abilities and character, of any sect whatever, may be admitted to any office or public trust under the United States. I am a friend to a variety of sects, because they keep one another in order. How many different sects are we composed of throughout the United States? How many different sects will be in congress? We cannot enumerate the sects that may be in congress. And there are so many now in the United States that they will prevent the establishment of any one sect in prejudice to the rest, and will forever oppose all attempts to infringe religious liberty. If such an attempt be made, will not the alarm be sounded throughout America? If congress be as wicked as we are foretold they will, they would not run the risk of exciting the resentment of all, or most of the religious sects in America.”
~Edmund Randolph, address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June
26. “I never liked the Hierarchy of the Church — an equality in the teacher of Religion, and a dependence on the people, are republican sentiments — but if the Clergy combine, they will have their influence on Government”
~Rufus King, Rufus King: American Federalist, pp. 56-57
27. A general toleration of Religion appears to me the best means of peopling our country… The free exercise of religion hath stocked the Northern part of the continent with inhabitants; and altho’ Europe hath in great measure adopted a more moderate policy, yet the profession of Protestantism is extremely inconvenient in many places there. A Calvinist, a Lutheran, or Quaker, who hath felt these inconveniences in Europe, sails not to Virginia, where they are felt perhaps in a (greater degree).”
~Patrick Henry, observing that immigrants flock to places where there is no established religion, Religious Tolerance, 1766
28. “No religious doctrine shall be established by law.”
~Elbridge Gerry, Annals of Congress 1:729-731
29. “Knowledge and liberty are so prevalent in this country, that I do not believe that the United States would ever be disposed to establish one religious sect, and lay all others under legal disabilities. But as we know not what may take place hereafter, and any such test would be exceedingly injurious to the rights of free citizens, I cannot think it altogether superfluous to have added a clause, which secures us from the possibility of such oppression.”
~Oliver Wolcott, Connecticut Ratifying Convention, 9 January 1788
30. “Some very worthy persons, who have not had great advantages for information, have objected against that clause in the constitution
which provides, that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. They have been afraid that this clause is unfavorable to religion. But my countrymen, the sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution, and to secure to you the important right of religious
liberty. We are almost the only people in the world, who have a full enjoyment of this important right of human nature. In our country every man has a right to worship God in that way which is most agreeable to his conscience. If he be a good and peaceable person he is liable to no penalties or incapacities on account of his religious sentiments; or in other words, he is not subject to persecution. But in other parts of the world, it has been, and still is, far different. Systems of religious error have been adopted, in times of ignorance. It has been the interest of tyrannical kings, popes, and prelates, to maintain these errors. When the clouds of ignorance began to vanish, and the people grew more enlightened, there was no other way to keep them in error, but to prohibit their altering their religious opinions by severe persecuting laws. In this way persecution became general throughout Europe.”
~Oliver Ellsworth, Philip B Kurland and Ralph Lerner (eds.), The Founder’s Constitution, University of Chicago Press, 1987, Vol. 4, p.
31. “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”
~Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791
32. “God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government.”
~Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773
33. “Congress has no power to make any religious establishments.”
~Roger Sherman, Congress, August 19, 1789
34. “The American states have gone far in assisting the progress of truth; but they have stopped short of perfection. They ought to have given every honest citizen an equal right to enjoy his religion and an equal title to all civil emoluments, without obliging him to tell his religion. Every interference of the civil power in regulating opinion, is an impious attempt to take the business of the Deity out of his own hands; and every preference given to any religious denomination, is so far slavery and bigotry.”
~Noah Webster, calling for no religious tests to serve in public office, Sketches of American Policy, 1785
35. “The legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion.”
~Charles Pinckney, Constitutional Convention, 1787
These are hardly the words of men who allegedly believed that America should be a Christian nation governed by the Bible as conservatives constantly claim. On the contrary, the great majority of the Founders believed strongly in separation of church and state. So keep in mind that this country has survived for over two centuries under the principle of separation and it is only now when conservatives are attempting to destroy that very cornerstone that we find America becoming ever more divided and more politically charged than ever before. If this right-wing faction has their way, America as we know it will cease to exist and the freedoms we have enjoyed because of the Constitution will erode. The Founding Fathers had a vision of this
nation and trusted that the people would protect that vision and improve upon it. Now is not the time to fail them. Because the day the people fail, so does America.
© 2013, agentleman.
The Ten Key Values of the Green Party
Originally ratified at the Green Party Convention in Denver, Colorado, June 2000
1. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.
2. SOCIAL JUSTICE AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.
3. ECOLOGICAL WISDOM
Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.
It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society’s current patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.
Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.
6. COMMUNITY-BASED ECONOMICS AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living for all people while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. A successful economic system will offer meaningful work with dignity, while paying a “living wage” which reflects the real value of a person’s work.
Local communities must look to economic development that assures protection of the environment and workers’ rights; broad citizen participation in planning; and enhancement of our “quality of life.” We support independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible, as well as co-operatives and public enterprises that distribute resources and control to more people through democratic participation.
7. FEMINISM AND GENDER EQUITY
We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.
8. RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY
We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines.
We believe that the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms than our own and the preservation of biodiversity.
9. PERSONAL AND GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY
We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well-being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.
10. FUTURE FOCUS AND SUSTAINABILITY
Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or “unmaking” all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions.
© 2013, agentleman.
And that is PRECISELY why we should oppose Christie.
What did Reagan do?
Exceed the criminal convictions of the Nixon administration!
(No small task).
“By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations. In terms of number of officials involved, the record of his administration was the worst ever.”
1. Lyn Nofziger–White House Press Secretary – Convicted on charges of illegal lobbying of White House in Wedtech scandal. The lobbying would not have been illegal had he not been White House Press Secretary.
2. Michael Deaver, Reagan’s Chief of Staff, received three years’ probation and was fined one hundred thousand dollars after being convicted for lying to a congressional subcommittee and a federal grand jury about his lobbying activities after leaving the White House. Same as with Lyn Nofziger.
3. James Watt, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior was indicted on 41 felony counts for using connections at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help his private clients seek federal funds for housing projects in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Watt conceded that he had received $500,000 from clients who were granted very favorable housing contracts after he had intervened on their behalf. Watt was eventually sentenced to five years in prison and 500 hours of community service.
4. John Poindexter, Reagan’s national security advisor, guilty of five criminal counts involving conspiracy to mislead Congress, obstructing congressional inquiries, lying to lawmakers, used “high national security” to mask deceit and wrong-doing…
5. Richard Secord pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to Congress over Iran-Contra. Appointed by William Casey to assist Oliver North.
6. Elliott Abrams was appointed by President Reagan in 1985 to head the State Department’s Latin American Bureau. He was closely linked with ex-White House aide Lt. Col. Oliver North’s covert movement to aid the Contras. Working for North, Abrams coordinated inter-agency support for the contras and helped solicit illegal funding from foreign powers as well as domestic contributors. Abrams agreed to cooperate with Iran-Contra investigators and pled guilty to two charges reduced to misdemeanors. He was sentenced in 1991 to two years probation and 100 hours of community service but was pardoned by President George Bush…
7. Robert C. McFarlane, Reagan’s National Security Advisor, pled guilty to four misdemeanors and was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service. He was also fined $20,000. He received a blanket pardon from President George Bush…
8. Alan D. Fiers was the Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Central American Task Force. Fiers pled guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information from congress about Oliver North’s activities and the diversion of Iran arms sale money to aid the Contras. He was sentenced to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service. Alan Fiers received a blanket pardon for his crimes from President Bush…
1. Thomas G. Clines: convicted of four counts of tax-related offenses for failing to report income from the operations;
1. Carl R. Channel – Office of Public Diplomacy , partner in International Business- first person convicted in the Iran/Contra scandal, pleaded guilty of one count of defrauding the United States
1. Richard R. Miller – Partner with Oliver North in IBC, a Office of Public Diplomacy front group, convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
1. Frank Gomez
13.. Donald Fortier
1. Clair George was Chief of the CIA’s Division of Covert Operations under President Reagan. George was convicted of lying to two congressional committees in 1986. George faced a maximum five year federal prison sentence and a $20,000 fine for each of the two convictions. Jurors cleared George of five other charges including two counts of lying to a federal grand jury. Clair George received a blanket pardon for his crimes from President George Bush…
1. Rita Lavelle was indicted, tried and convicted of lying to Congress and served three months of a six-month prison sentence.
1. Philip Winn – Assistant HUD Secretary. Pleaded guilty to one count of scheming to give illegal gratuities.
1. Thomas Demery – Assistand HUD Secretary – pleaded guilty to steering HUD subsidies to politically connected donors.
1. Deborah Gore Dean – executive assistant to Samuel Pierce – indicted on thirteen counts, three counts of conspiracy, one count of accepting an illegal gratuity, four counts of perjury, and five counts of concealing articles. She was convicted on twelve accounts. She appealed and prevailed on several accounts but the convictions for conspiracy remained.
1. Catalina Villaponda – Former US Treasurer
1. Joseph A. Strauss – Accepting kickbacks from developers
1. Oliver North – He was indicted on sixteen felony counts and on May 4, 1989, he was convicted of three: accepting an illegal gratuity, aiding and abetting in the obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and destruction of documents (by his secretary, Fawn Hall, on his instructions). He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell on July 5, 1989, to a three-year suspended prison term, two years probation, $150,000 in fines, and 1,200 hours community service. His conviction was later overturned.
© 2013, agentleman.
The Heritage Foundation, arguably the most powerful ideological forcein the modern conservative movement, has declared war against LGBT workplace rights.
Heritage’s Action Fund announced on Friday it would “score” an upcoming Senate vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), meaning that any Republican who votes for ENDA would get a black mark on Heritage’s influential legislative scorecard. Though protecting LGBT Americans from being fired on solely on the basis of the sexual or gender identity is massively popular, Heritage’s threat could scare off Senate Republicans wary of a Tea Party primary challenger.
This move is distressing, but not surprising. What’s more interesting is Heritage’s reason for opposing ENDA, which boils down to an astonishingly anachronistic demand for gay and transgender Americans to jump back in the closet and stay there. It’s argument for a certain kind of corporate feudalism that’s incompatible with the ideals of individual rights Heritage so often claims as its lodestar.
Heritage Action’s decision is entirely sourced to a Heritage paper written by Ryan Anderson, the Foundation’s go-to expert on LGBT issues and a leader in the campaign against marriage equality. The core of Anderson’s argument, as it has to be, is that gay people do not deserve the same federal workplace protections as racial minorities or women. This is explicit, not my interpretation: the core section of Anderson’s paper is titled “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unlike Other Classes.”
The reason this argument is the critical step in Anderson’s argument is obvious. He cites an employer’s right to put up “a letter from his Congresswoman expressing reservations about homosexuals in the military” in the office as the sort of behavior he wants to defend. I think we’d all agree that, if an employer put up a letter “expressing reservations” about black people’s presence in the military, that’d create a hostile work environment for African-American employees. So Anderson needs to explain why racist employer behavior we’d obvious want to prohibit is different from the same actions aimed at gay employees.
Some of his arguments to this effect are just laughable. To wit, “America has no similar [to Jim Crow] history of society-wide legal prohibitions on employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.” Well, sure, but that’s because LGBT Americans were simply assumed not to exist or were actively repressed. There wasn’t any need to ban LGBT employment, in other words, because social stigma against LGBT people was so universal that they were forced to hide who they were for fear of being fired or worse.
That being said, the United States does have a sordid history of legal discrimination against LGBT citizens. Take the federal government itself as an example. In 1950, Congress issued a report titled “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government,” defining homosexuality as a mental illness and suggesting the “afflicted” posed a national security threat to the United States. Afterwards, around 5,000 LGBT individuals were fired from their government jobs or discharged from the military. In 1953, President Eisenhower issued an executive order banning gays and lesbians from working for the federal government or any federal contractors.
Shockingly, this record of bigotry against LGBT workers has left a mark. Somewhere between 15 and 43 percent of LGBT workers, depending on the survey, have experienced discrimination on the job. Between eight and 17 were fired or missed out on promotions because of their sexual or gender identities. An extraordinary 90 percent of transgender individuals have been harassed at work.
So there’s a real, undeniable, and horrifying level of discrimination against gay workers. We can go home — the argument’s done, right? Not so fast, Anderson says. The problem with ENDA in his eyes that being gay simply isn’t the kind of identity that the federal government can possibly protect from discrimination.
Here’s what he means. Sexual orientation and gender identity refer to “voluntary behaviors as well as thoughts and inclinations,” whereas “race” and “sex” are obvious “traits.” Therefore, ENDA would protect LGBT individuals’ right to publicly express their sexual orientation, which Anderson implies is somehow a reason to reject the law.
But as any LGBT person knows, being gay or transgender is neither a “voluntary behavior” nor merely having certain “thoughts and inclinations;” it’s an identity every bit as important to someone’s life as their race, religion, or sex. Allowing employers to discriminate against LGBT employees literally empowers them to shove their employees back in the closet. Hide your gayness, on pain of firing.
That’s an extraordinary admission of what Anderson’s position is really about. Though he throws up risible claims about ENDA turning America’s labor market into France’s and silencing free speech, the core of the debate is about whether employers should have the right to determine whether their employees can be out in the workplace. It’s about replacing individual control over one’s sexual orientation and gender identity in the place where most Americans spend the vast bulk of their day with employer control.
This can’t be squared with a concern for individual rights. The employee-employer relationship grants the employer immense amounts of power over their workers, who depend on their boss’ good will for their livelihood. Allowing employers power to fire employees who come out of the closet, full stop, subjects LGBT employees to immense coercive pressure. Their most basic right to conscience, the right to express a core part of their identity, is obliterated.
Anderson suggests this is in tension with the rights of religious employers to express their beliefs, but ENDA contains unprecedentedprotections for religious institutions. What’s at issue here is the right of LGBT Americans to openly and freely express who they are — a right that I had hoped was no longer seriously in question.
© 2013, agentleman.
Why Atheists Can’t Be Republicans
By CJ Werleman
We atheists like to chastise the religious for their child-like belief in an imaginary friend, but, equally, the time has come for the atheist movement to grow up.
It’s understood that the so-called new atheist movement began at the start of the new millennium with the mainstream emergence of luminaries Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and others. For much of the first decade of the new century, the atheist movement behaved like a curious child in search of meaning to its own existence. Now that the child is a teenager on its way to adulthood, it needs to start acting like a grown up.
The atheist movement comprises more than 2,000 groups and organizations in the U.S. today, but the movement, in composition and purpose, has failed to establish a coherent cause outside of validating non-belief and offering platitudes towards protecting the separation of church and state. Another thing one notices with the atheist movement is the fact it is predominantly upwardly middle-class, white and male. Sikivu Hutchinson writes, in her essay “Prayer Warriors and Freethinkers”: “If mainstream freethought and humanism continue to reflect the narrow cultural interests of white elites who have disposable income to go to conferences then the secular movement is destined to remain marginal and insular.”
The movement has an image problem. An image that isn’t helped by the ceaseless and over-simplified fear-mongering over Islamic terrorism from the likes of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins — rhetoric that not only ignores our long history of foreign policy blunders in the Middle East, but also echoes the neo-conservatives, the Israel lobby and the entire right-wing echo chamber. Nathan Lean, author of “The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims,” writes, “The New Atheists became the new Islamophobes, their invectives against Muslims resembling the rowdy, uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect, rationality and reason.”
It’s time for the movement to address bigger and real issues, and the biggest issue of our time is income inequality. Of all the developed nations, the U.S. has the most unequal distribution of income. In the past decade, 95 percent of all economic gains have gone to the top 1 percent. A mere 400 individuals own one-half of the entire nation’s wealth. Meanwhile, median household income keeps falling, and our poverty levels resemble that of the Great Depression era. In other words, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and the middle class is being decimated.
Atheists like to talk about building a better world, one that is absent of religiosity in the public square, but where are the atheist groups on helping tackle the single biggest tear in the fabric of our society — wealth disparity? They are nowhere. Its absence on the most pressing moral issue of our time makes it difficult for the movement to establish meaningful partnerships with other moral communities.
To remain white, middle class, intellectually smug and mostly apolitical will not only serve to alienate atheism from minorities and the poor, but will also ensure it remains a politically impotent movement that is incapable of building a better America. Growing up means less time and money spent on self-righteous billboard campaigns, and, instead, more resources allocated to fighting the political conditions that have caused this nation’s middle class and infrastructure to resemble that of a hyper-religious Third World nation.
Christopher Hitchens wrote that the intellectual advantage of atheism is its ability to reject unprovable assertions on face value. It’s why we don’t believe in the supernatural. Equally, it’s why we shouldn’t believe in a myth that is causing greater harm than creationism — the myth of trickle-down economics, which remains the economic blueprint for today’s Republican Party, despite the world’s leading economists lampooning it as an abject failure.
In the four decades that followed FDR’s New Deal, our middle class became the envy of the world. In an op-ed titled “Abject Failure of Reaganomics,” Robert Parry writes, “It was the federal government that essentially created the Great American Middle Class — from the New Deal policies of the 1930s through other reforms of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, from Social Security to Wall Street regulation to labor rights to the GI Bill to the Interstate Highway System to the space program’s technological advances to Medicare and Medicaid to the minimum wage to civil rights.” But then came the period of Reagan’s holy trinity — privatization, deregulation, and free trade. Now here we are today — facing the largest economic crisis since the 1930s.
Atheists are secularists, and a secularist cannot be a member of today’s Republican Party. You’re either one or the other. You cannot be both. Now, I am acutely aware that a great number of atheists identify with the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, but this is comical. A lack of evidence is why atheists don’t believe in God. But to believe in libertarianism is in itself an act of faith, because libertarianism has not only never been tried anywhere, but an overwhelming number of economists reject the philosophy as little more than “capitalism with the gloves off” — a condition that would only exacerbate the winner-takes-all society we have today.
If an atheist is looking for political evidence, the evidence we have is that not only is today’s Republican Party a theocratic sponsor, it’s also a party that has been proven wrong on just about everything in the past three decades or more: from evolution to climate change, trickle-down economics, that the Iraqis would greet us as liberators, that the Bush tax cuts would lead to jobs. It didn’t. It added $3 trillion to the debt. They were wrong that the stimulus would trigger inflation, that austerity stimulates an economy and that universal healthcare is worse than slavery.
It’s time for the atheist movement to get off the political sidelines. It’s time to truly help this country become a better place to live for all its citizens. The recent Values Voter Summit demonstrated that the likely 2016 GOP frontrunners and its base wish to transform America’s secular state into a tyrannical theocracy — a nirvana absent gays, liberals, immigrants, Muslims and science books. If the atheist movement doesn’t evolve into a politically agitated, unified and mobilized Secular Left, then the Christian Right might just get its way.
In fighting for truly meaningful social justice, such as income equality and the rights of minorities, the movement can form partnerships with communities that share common causes. For instance, building a bridge with certain religious communities that are equally concerned with fighting against class inequality and social injustice. This would broaden the appeal of the atheism movement, and might just get people to like us a little more.
Walter Bristol, an atheist interfaith activist, wrote, “Economic inequality is one of the most imminent issues facing Western society today. Any progressive movement that chooses to dismiss it is and will be rightfully dismissed themselves.”
Atheists are the fastest growing minority in the country. We now have the critical mass to shape elections and policy. Either we seize our potential political power, thus acting like the grown up in the room, or we can continue to focus on the ‘pettier’ or issues, thus continuing to act like a petulant child.
© 2013, agentleman.