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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Fully Raw Cannibals and My Obamacare Nightmare

Re: Conservative reactions to marriage equality, Atrios wrote the following last week:

Marriage equality was supposed to be a “conservative” gay rights issue. And, yes, more lefty queer people (speaking generally) weren’t initially thrilled with it becoming the central gay rights issue of our time. As homophobia is the last truly acceptable bigotry (deeply held sincere beliefs!!!), conservatives were never going to be on the correct side of that issue, no matter how many times Glenn Reynolds tells us that Dick Cheney was a gay marriage pioneer.

Unfortunately, homophobia is not the last truly acceptable bigotry. It is far more likely that fully raw cannibals will achieve acceptance and equality before women do.

***************************************

Now that Sebelius has taken the fall for the fiasco that is Obamacare, I thought I’d relate my own experience with it. Disclaimer: I am not a Republican. I don’t hate Obamacare because it is a government program that saps “freedom” (aka tax money) from Jahb Creaturz. No, I am in favor of a national health care policy that uses the best practices that other industrialized countries have put in place. You know, universal mandates for individuals AND employers, cost controls on the medical industry, public options. I was brought up on military medicine and if it was good enough for my sister with chronic severe asthma, by golly, it’s good enough for me. I don’t need frills.

Anyway…

I recently attended a younger cousin’s birthday party. My relatives sat around and compared plans. This group was a mix of ages, employment situations, number of dependents, personal wealth. The bad news for the Democrats is that no one likes Obamacare. Not one of them. In Pittsburgh, the effect of Obamacare is pronounced because two major insurance carriers in the region are battling and one of them, UPMC, refuses to contract with Highmark BC/BS. That leaves Highmark customers scrambling to find new doctors and praying that if they do have an emergency, they don’t get carted off to one of the ubiquitous UPMC hospitals where they will get socked with a massive out of network price structure. They played nicely before Obamacare but no more.

The problem of insurance plans is particularly acute for those of us who fall into the precariat class and Obamacare falls severely short there. Let me explain from my own experience.

Last year, I got a full time job. Unfortunately, it was a temp position. Temp positions mean no benefits and because it was pre-Obamacare, I paid premiums that were out the wazoo. Because it was a position in an academic lab that was facing economic stress from the sequester, it only lasted until December. Thank you, House of Representatives, Senate and Executive branch. At that time, I could no longer afford the $992/month premium on my health insurance policy. Fortunately, my now non-existent salary meant that kid now qualifies for Medicaid. Ok. Kid taken care of. Great. Now for me.

I went on the Obamacare website and looked for a new policy from my existing carrier. By the way, my carrier called me to tell me the “good news!” that due to Obamacare, they could shave the cost of my old policy down from $992/month to $750/month! Isn’t that great?? The new policy came with supercool new features too. I tried to explain to the customer service rep that I was between jobs and $750/month for a healthy person my age was out of the question but I don’t think she was really listening. I decided to try for a subsidy.

On the healthcare.gov site, I saw some policies in the $400-500 range with reasonable $1000/year deductibles. Great! With the amazing subsidies I’ve been hearing about, I should get a pretty reasonable rate. But I found that there’s always a glitch to these sites or something that needs to be explained to a real person so I decided to apply on the phone instead. This was a mistake.

The navigator asked me questions about my income, (um, non-existent? but only temporarily) and started going through the plans. They weren’t anything like the ones on the website. They were more expensive, had higher deductibles and even the silver plans sounded much more like the bronze plans. It was like the online site and the phone assistance sites were totally different. He quoted me a plan that was similar to the one I already had but it was a more restrictive HMO and the deductible is $3750/year. This was a silver plan. I asked him the price and as we were talking the price of the plan went up. Yeah, it was like buying a plane ticket. The price was changing before his eyes.

Then I asked him what kind of subsidy I was going to get. The answer: none. I was startled. Why am I not getting a subsidy?? Because, he said condescendingly, you don’t have an income and aren’t paying taxes.

I have to stop for a second, oh best beloveds, because I suddenly became livid remembering the decades past where I paid more in taxes in a year than I expect to make in income this year. That really scorched my oatmeal. Apparently, to this smug asshole, I am just a deadbeat.

Then he recommended that I just pay the penalty and skip signing up for a plan. That made me really mad. So, now I am going to be a burden on the taxpayers if my conversation with this navigator gives me a stroke and I end up in a UPMC hospital.

I considered my options. I don’t want medicaid for myself because I don’t want my heirs to end up penniless when the state of Pennsylvania swoops down to recover assets from my estate to cover the medicaid premium. This scenario reminds me of the starving Irish who had to give up the last quarter acre of land before they could get food in a workhouse. I worked very hard for decades for the house that I have. I do have money from the sale of my house in NJ in savings but due to the nature of the job market, I have to hold on to that money to pay for the now perpetually temporary nature of making a living. I have TAXES to pay to my municipality for trash pickup, libraries, roads and schools, all of which I am happy to finance.

I reluctantly signed up for the $500 plan. Then I found a job. BUT it’s only part time and, of course, it doesn’t come with bennies. I don’t know if I can get a subsidy now and until my job situation improves, I’m very reluctant to pay the premium on this crappy plan. I am now without health insurance for the first time since 1986.

But wait! There’s more!

It turns out that temp jobs and part time work is very in fashion this year. It is extremely difficult to get a full time job with benefits. There are such jobs to be had but getting through the HR filters is like tilting at windmills. (If anyone in the Pittsburgh area has an opening, let me know. I have great references.) I think I got my current part time job because I aced the online assessment test. Unfortunately, not enough sites have such assessment tests so we are forced to mind read what most job posters have in mind.

So, my relatives and I compared plans. It turns out that I have the worst plan at the highest price. One cousin had to change her doctors completely. Another cousin has a serious heart condition but hasn’t landed any work yet, so, no coverage. When his prescription from another state expires in August, he’s screwed. Another cousin just lost his job. He’d been working for 6 months but just when his health benefits were supposed to kick in, he was laid off. How conveeeeenient. Ironically, it is my self-employed cousins who have the best policy. We share the same insurance carrier but, for some mysterious reason we can’t figure out, he pays something like $450/month for 4 people and has a low deductible. It makes me wonder how the rates are determined.

The relatives that are doing well under Obamacare are the young, single male relatives. Their rates are something under $100/month. The ones who are doing the worst are the ones 45-65 and who don’t have steady jobs. The number of relatives with crap jobs is steadily rising. If you own your own business, rates seem to be fairly reasonable when obtained directly from the carrier.

And here is where the rumors start. We are all convinced that the reason there is so much part time and temp work with impending layoffs just when you reach the bennies mark is because employers do not want to have to pay benefits and Obamacare means they don’t have to. The mandate only applies to the individual. It won’t kick in for employers for another year- if ever. BUT if you can only get part time and temp work, you do not have the money to pay for the premiums. It’s a catch 22 scenario.

Was there no one running the models when this law was written??

I really wish Paul Krugman would stop crowing about Obamacare. It’s a conservative Republican plan passed by Democrats and it now has a “liberal” sticker on it, whether it is deserved or not. It has opened the door to a race to the bottom in terms of benefits and it’s going to damage the Democratic party. It was an ill considered, poorly implemented plan with long ranging consequences to the working class (that is, everyone not making an income from their investments). AND since I read the new Michael Lewis book on compromised stock exchanges, it has dawned on me that the health care exchanges are equally prone to exploit the unaware. We don’t know what our neighbors are getting in terms of plans but it seems like each premium is calculated to optimize profits for someone.

You don’t have to be a Republican to hate Obamacare. Democrats should be very afraid.

 

 

 

 

Justice Ginsburg is right about Roe

It looks like my writer’s block is over.

The NYTimes has an editorial about Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s thoughts on Roe v. Wade.  This is prompted by her tepid approach to marriage equality and that a grand sweeping ruling may become the new political football that provokes a backlash.  I’m not sure that’s true in this case because as I wrote in my previous post, the right has some potentially good reasons for trying to steal the gay voting bloc away from Democrats.  They may try to present marriage equality as a fait accompli to their more religious base that is dying out anyway.

At any rate, half of the gay population is already in the privileged class simply because they are men.  As long as they kept their sexual orientation under the radar, there was nothing stopping gay men from partaking of all of the benefits of being male in this society.  In a way, I think the success of marriage equality depends on men standing their ground and refusing to give up those privileges.  The fact that lesbian couples may also benefit is just icing on the cake.  So, maybe Ginsberg’s concerns are less grounded this time around.  Besides, what are the Bible Belt states going to do?  Become more obstinate, belligerent and Republican than they already are towards gay couples?  Is that even possible?

But it’s a different story when it comes to Roe v. Wade.  My theory is that Roe dealt a huge blow to the movement for women’s equality because once it was decided, many women had the mistaken idea that the battle was won.  Instead, Roe became the political football for BOTH political parties.   It’s the primary criteria for which party voters decide they belong.  It’s the fear tactic that Democrats use to corral women to vote against their economic interests as much as it is the tactic that Republicans use to rally their constituents to feel power and control over other people’s lives.

Not only is Roe a political football, it has had major repercussions in setting back women’s equality.  Because abortion has been such a cultural hot potato, we tend to see women as a collection of body parts, primarily reproductive body parts.  We are uteruses and vaginas and breasts and all of our discussion is about who gets to control those body parts.  I am not a man or a male hiring manager but I have to wonder what crosses men’s minds when they see a female colleague.  Do they consider her intelligence, determination, ingenuity and hard work or do they secretly thank god that they weren’t born with ovaries that are subject to religious and governmental regulation?  There are things the state can compel or forbid a woman from doing that men don’t have to worry about.  I cannot believe that this doesn’t have an effect on how women are perceived in all the various aspects of her life.  Maybe if she were a bit smarter, she wouldn’t have to put up with that.

I do not agree with the NYTimes editorial board that women wouldn’t have won their reproductive freedom without Roe.  This is going to sound weird but when I was on the cusp of puberty back in 1970 when New York allowed abortions, feminism was vibrantly alive and kicking, unlike 2013 when it’s barely visible, tepid and calling yourself a feminist is outré and derogatory.  You younguns don’t even know.  You had to be there.  Women were on a roll. I was brought up in a religiously fundamentalist household and yet I was a raging feminist back in the early 70s just like many of my friends.  The world was our oyster and we could do anything. The zeitgeist was definitely and defiantly feminist.  Roe brought that to a screeching halt.  If Roe had failed, there would still have been states where you could have gotten an abortion and the fight would have intensified, not slackened because the effects of abortion restrictions elsewhere would still be vividly real.

So, if Bader-Ginsburg’s concerns are that Roe short circuited the political drive and momentum for women’s full equality, then I totally agree with her.  There were a million reasons why Roe should have been decided as the law of the land but the best one is that women are free and equal persons whose rights should not be abridged simply because they have different genitalia.

Instead, what we have is a hollowed out right to abortion and no equality because we stopped fighting.

Dump Roe.  Revive the ERA.

Attention New Jersey Voters- Rocky Anderson will be on the ballot

Anderson/Rodriguez ballot positions

Democrats in Exile who want to vote for a candidate who more closely represents their point of view and values, should check out Rocky Anderson’s page.  He has a map that shows where he is now on the ballot for the fall election.  He will be on the ballot in New Jersey, probably in a dark, obscure corner in 9pt font.  You will need to be determined to find him but at least you will have an option.

You won’t need to vote for the crazy party with the whip kissing authoritarian, mean spirited, hard hearted judgmental, religious nutcases who worship greed and ignorance and crave for someone to beat them, beat them *hhhharder*.

Nor will you be forced to sign on to your own severe haircut courtesy of your former party who doesn’t have the guts to impose one on the banking industry that bought their candidate.  (Anyone who still thinks Hillary wouldn’t have been different isn’t seeing the whole picture yet.  There’s no chance in Hell the bankers were going to let a potential New New Dealer get anywhere near the mechanisms of government.  You’ve been HAD, guys.  Deal with it.)

The ability to exercise a choice is what separates free people from unfree people.  It separates democracies from single party governments and authoritarian regimes.  Right now, the major parties *think* they have you cornered.  You either vote for ugly or son of ugly.  And the son of ugly party isn’t going to offer you a better choice because son of ugly is firmly in the grips of the people who now own both parties.  As long as the Democrats do their financiers’ bidding, they’re going to keep offering you son of ugly candidates.  And if that’s the route they’re going to go, they’re going to make themselves irrelevant because no matter how you vote, you’re going to end up with the same thing: rule by rich, powerful MEN.

The Democrats think this strategy is working for them.  As long as they’re in power, they won’t challenge their masters.  If it looks like they’re going to lose, maybe they will.

Whatever.

I can almost hear the Democratic loyalists screaming, “Don’t throw your vote away!  If you do, the Republicans will win and the world will end and bad things will happen, you stupid, racist, low information voter!”

Let’s see, I’m a single divorced mother in the little Depression and I’ve lost my job in an industry that is deserting the US at an accelerated pace and is never coming back and I’m paying over $900/month for COBRA.  AND I live in New Jersey where the cost of living is ridiculous.  How can it get any worse??  Obama has been a disaster for me and my two daughters.  If the Democrats are really worried that they will lose the White House in November because some of us can’t stomach the thought of signing on to four more years of the party’s demands for self-evisceration, then they should seriously consider asking their candidate to step aside, just as they asked Jon Corzine to step aside in NJ in 2009 before he lost to Chris Christie.  In the meantime, I have to think about the future and make my decisions based on what will constitute my own future happiness and without any reference to the happiness of politicians indentured to the bonus class.  I don’t feel obligated to sacrifice any more to a party who treats me like a child and keeps telling me I must eat my beets before I can have broccolli.

When the Democratic party gets serious again about representing its base, they will let me know in a significant way.  Having Bill Clinton speak at the convention isn’t going to cut it.  It’s going to have to be a MUCH bigger signal than that.  After all, Obama, the *presumptive* nominee, would still be on the ballot and I don’t trust anything that comes out of Obama’s mouth.  After four years, there’s no reason to trust him. And if his plans to cut the deficit are true, I’d have to be a pretty gullible sucker to vote for him.  With either party, I’m going to be forced to sacrifice very deeply, painfully and to my ultimate detriment.  Why should I sign on to that?  If the Democrats want me to vote for them again, they’re going to have to reestablish my trust.  They aren’t making any moves in that direction.

So, why shouldn’t I put my efforts in to changing the system, starting now, even if it takes a long time?  I’ve got decades until retirement. I might as well look after my own interests from now on, not some major party’s.

I’m not interested in playing games or jumping to the financiers’ tune.  I’m interested in putting the country back to work, holding people accountable for their actions, ending the wars that are sucking us dry, and equality for all people regardless of sex or sexual orientation.  And now, I have a choice just like all the other voters in NJ, and Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and FLORIDA!  If you’re in Minnesota, Idaho, Vermont and Rhode Island, the campaign is looking for volunteers to get petitions to get on the ballot.  In some of the other states, like NY and PA, your write in vote will count.  But there are still some big states out there, like California and Texas, where the state still needs petitions signed to allow Anderson’s vote to be counted as a write in.

Think about it.  Ugly, son of ugly or something completely different.  Don’t let anyone tell you that unless you vote for one of the major parties that your vote doesn’t matter.  Now, you have two viable alternatives: Anderson or Jill Stein.

*********************

And while the Obama campaign is burning through money like there’s no tomorrow, throwing everything it can at Mitt Romney, it’s barely moving the needle in the polls.

New results from surveys over the past week in Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin, combined with surveys last week in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, show that Mr. Romney so far appears to be holding his own with that group, but running no stronger than Senator John McCain did four years ago.

Similarly, Mr. Romney is trying to peel off as many female voters as possible from Mr. Obama’s electoral coalition, hoping to offset the president’s advantages among single and nonwhite women by appealing to married and white women with a message about economic security and pocketbook issues.

But while the poll suggests that Mr. Romney is making inroads among women in Colorado, where he is also showing strength against Mr. Obama by several other measures, support for Mr. Obama among women has otherwise held up in the battleground states. As a result, Mr. Obama has so far been able to stave off bigger losses in the most hotly contested states, in particular among independents, who are divided in Colorado and Wisconsin and supporting Mr. Romney in Virginia, and white men, who are supporting Mr. Romney by double digits over the president in all three states.

Take a look at that sentence in bold.  That right there is the nugget that keeps getting buried by all of the Democratic loyalists who make it sounds like he’s on track for term two.  Obama is not going to battle to victory.  He’s spending obscene gobs of cash and he *still* can’t keep from sliding in the polls.  He’s just not sliding as badly.  His campaign has Jon Corzine written all over it.  Far from ensuring a Democratic victory in November, the Democrats are making a Republican one more likely by running with a guy we can’t trust who is without a shadow of a doubt in the pocket of the very same assholes who created the mess in the first place.

Sure, it may be tricky to change horses mid stream but not when you have a much stronger candidate available.

*********************

How to stand up to intense pressure and ridiculous arguments from the aristocratic rich with dignity, courtesy of Jane Austen:

The gender wage gap and “female bodied people”

There was a recent study on the wages of men vs women and surprise, surprise!  The gap is stubbornly stuck at about 85 cents per dollar for women for every dollar men make.  This is after all other factors have been taken into consideration.  From the NYTimes article:

But the study, based on an analysis of Labor Department data, could not determine whether other factors, like previous work experience or other choices made by women in the workplace, were keeping their wages from achieving closer parity, or whether there was still some other discriminatory effect.

Senator Robert P. Casey Jr., chairman of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which commissioned the G.A.O. report, said that he was surprised that despite higher levels of education, the gap between men’s and women’s pay hadn’t narrowed much more. “I would have said we would have seen more progress,” said Senator Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat.

He said the findings made the need for Congressional action on job creation more acute. “Every week that goes by where you don’t have progress on those measures is obviously going to make the situation worse for everyone,” he said. “But low-wage workers are having some of the most difficult challenges, and those challenges just get more significant.”

Yes, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is scratching his head.  This makes no sense.  No, it doesn’t.  It also doesn’t make sense that men are recovering from this prolonged recession better than women are.  I mean, it makes sense because they are more likely to be able to tap into their Old Boys’ Network to find new jobs.  But why women don’t have the same access to those same jobs?  No, that makes no sense.

But isn’t Senator Casey one of those pro-life Democrats?  Like, what does that have to do with it?  Oh, I don’t know.  But it seems like women have spent the last 40 years battling for equality based on whether or not they can get an abortion.  By the way, there’s no law on earth that will stop women from getting abortions, unless you incarcerate them and put them in straight jackets for being pregnant.  Technically, we may not be equal yet but I don’t think even Mississippi can do that.  So, I think it’s about time that the pro-lifers out there start facing up to the fact that a stupid little measure like making a fertilized egg a person is not going to stop a desperate girl from raking her uterus with a coathanger.  What pro-lifers REALLY want is something that is unattainable.  They want women to be mothers and they want them to *like* it.

That’s where this term “female bodied person” comes in.  I first heard the term “female bodied person” (FBP) on a segment of the Colbert Report the other day when Stephen interviewed an occupier from OWS who called herself “Ketchup”.  I had an “ah-hah!” moment.  That’s the concept that so many feminist have not been promoting.  Instead, they’ve been acting like their whole existence depended on Roe v. Wade.  No, non, nyet.  What we need to get across is that there are people, equal people and minds, encased in female bodies.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like my female body.  I like it very much.  And I don’t really want to change.  But it is just my body.  About a decade ago, my brother, ex, sister-in-law and I took some kind of pop psychology quiz that determined whether our minds were more male or female.  My sister-in-law was solidly female, the ex was male,  But I scored more on the male side of the spectrum than my brother did and he’s a masculine guy.  Pop psych or not, I think it is facet of our personalities that tends to get obscured by the bodies we wear.  What was funny to me was when I finally showed up in Denver for the convention and people met me in person, a lot of them were surprised that I looked like a girl.  They didn’t exactly say it that way but I knew what they meant.  I don’t write like one so maybe I wouldn’t look like one.

Does it matter if you look like a girl when it comes to employment?  It shouldn’t but we have some evidence that it does.  It used to be that orchestras would hire predominantly male musicians.  Women were thought not to possess that certain technical or artistic ability as men.  In the past two decades, more and more orchestras are hiring based on a blind audition.  In this case, the applicants for a seat in an orchestra audition behind a screen and the seat goes to the best musician based on music.  In the year 2000, the number of women in orchestras had jumped from 10% to 35% as a result of blind auditions.

So, if we know that physical appearance can affect one’s career prospects, can we apply the concept of the blind audition to the workforce in general?  An orchestra is probably an easy case.  Most differences in employment opportunities based on gender are not so clearly detectable as they are in an orchestra, or maybe even a restaurant.  Most ways in which employers discriminate against women are very subtle and the managers themselves may not even be aware that they are doing it.  Even a manager who feels himself to value equality may be affecting his female employees’ career prospects and salaries.  We have seen how the Obama administration does it quite openly and unapologetically by supporting an Old Boys’ Club and by cultivating younger men, allowing them to steal projects from women and present more frequently at meetings.  They also socialize more with the powerbrokers.  We can also see this happening in the left blogosphere where the bloggers who have moved on to steady jobs in the media have been guys.  Very few female bloggers have made this transition.

We may not be able to do much about the blogosphere but in the average workplace, there are ways to measure virtually anything from where people sit to how much desk space they have to how much access they have to the power centers to how many times their emails are answered and responded to.  If there are discrepancies in salaries and promotions, quantifying the parameters of the work environment should lead to some answers as to why these discrepancies develop.  Returning to my new favorite country, Finland, we can find a government program that does just this kind of study.  It’s called Gender Glasses.   The goal of a program like gender glasses should be to detect the factors and behaviors that lead to treating people based on the body they’re in and not the persons they are.

Of course, the United States has a long way to go to get to the stage where a program using measurement and statistics can be used to eliminate gender based differences in the work place.  Before we get to that, we have to agree that women are more than just the bodies they inhabit and that biology isn’t destiny.  And getting rid of Roe v. Wade, even for those of us who are pro-choice, is something we need to consider.  We need to take the focus off our bodies and put it back on our minds.  Like I said before, abortion is not going away, no matter what some bible thumping Mississippian thinks or even what some Catholic senator thinks.  All that’s going to happen is more people will be forced to travel or do it themselves.  But once the Roe issue is out of the way, we can get back to the issue of equality.  Equality has been stalled for four decades while the right tried to force us into motherhood based on our body parts.  If Senator Casey is serious about discovering why there is a gender wage gap, maybe he needs to start by examining his own attitudes towards “female bodied people”.

Postscript:  I notice that Digby has written something tangential to this about blogging while female.  And while I understand that women are conditioned to “feel” it when someone insults them, I see no reason why Digby, talented writer that she is, should waste even one nanosecond of sleeptime turning over any mean spirited insult in her head.  Here are my few words of wisdom to female bloggers: People insult you because they know it hurts and they want you to feel badly.  But the truth is that they don’t know you and even if they occasionally hit the mark, so what?  The internet is the great equalizer.  Unlike the real world, when someone says something nasty to you in cyberspace, you have the time to whip up a devastating response.  And you should use it.  Your blog is your own personal space.  No one can chase you from it.  You can say whatever you want and make whatever rules you like and there’s not a damn thing that the rude commenter can do about it.  You can banish people and never have to worry about accusations of censorship.  It’s a big blogosphere out there.

Finally, no matter what they say to you, they are only little black pixels on a screen.  They cannot hurt you.   With a click of a mouse, they are gone forever.

Trying to stick a “Far Left” label on Righteous Indignation

The New York Times Opinionator blog aggregator has detected a nascent revolt in the Democratic party.  The Times is only 18 months late.  The PUMAs were ahead of the curve the day the DNC RBC knifed its own voters and installed Barack Obama as the nominee over the objections of slightly more than half of the Democratic primary voters.  I’ll get back to why this moment was important.  The Opinionator follows up on this week’s off-off-year election results and reports that it appears that the Democrats are losing their far left flank.

(First, they came for the so-called “Reagan Democrats”, then they came for the women and the gays.)

Can I just say what a stupid narrative this is?  Sometimes, I read this crap in the paper and I think, do these reporters just take dictation from Rahm Emannuel or do they make this $^&* up to conform to their view of the world where things have to go into neat little boxes?

What the hell is the far-left anyway?  If you believe that equal treatment under the law should apply to all citizens regardless of gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, race, creed or disability because they are all persons born with unalienable rights, that is hardly a “far left” position.  Isn’t that a uniquely American position?  Didn’t we all pledge allegiance to the flag that promised “liberty and justice for all”?  And if that is true, doesn’t that put us on the side of everything that is good about America and those that oppose those things horribly mislead?

My idea of “far-left” is based on my childhood impressions of news reports of the Weather Underground and defenders of Karl Marx.  Far lefties, to me, are people who are rigid ideologues who want to enforce some strange form of a socialist utopian nanny state on the rest of us. And I am referring to a REAL communist-socialist state, not some bizarre Republican  misinterpretation of one. Far lefties are militant pacifists.  They hang out in trees and feed their children macrobiotic organic fruititarian diets.  They are green Martha Stewart’s who think everyone has time to grow their own clothes and walk to work.   They’re people who can’t be reasoned with.  They’re oblivious to real life and are as fundamentalist in their world view as the religious right.

The closest I can find to a far-lefty these days is the Obot who still thinks that the main problem plaguing the country right now is the issue of race.  Where have these people been in the last year?  Did they miss that sincerely awe inspiring election of the first African-American for president?  Don’t they know what the unemployment rate is? Have they tried to find jobs lately?  Feed their kids?  Pay for a doctor?  Save for college?  They’re stuck with the mindset that we are not finished with their teachable moment on race as if all other oppressed demographic groups don’t have  grievances that need to be addressed.  If only we would let go of our prejudices, which for the most part do not exist on the center-left, President Obama could get on with his job and we’ll all be happier. Anyone who opposes Obama doesn’t have a legitimate reason for doing so.  They’re just racists or stupid old women.  That’s the far-left.  They are so stuck in the weeds of their own perfect world they are incapable of seeing the floor torn out from beneath their feet by the big business friends of Obama who installed him in office.

Let’s talk about those big business friends of Obama.  They were in control of the primary and general election season last year.  I think we can all see that in retrospect.  Raise your hand if that isn’t perfectly clear to you by now.  Their massive infusions of cash bought the Democratic National Committee, which unbeknownst to the average voter was up for sale.  The Democratic National Committee violated just about every principle it stood for in order to install Obama as the nominee including dumping millions of Hillary Clinton’s voters.  I’m going to keep harping on this until the Times boys get it.  The party dumped its base last year.   That is why there is trouble brewing in the party.  Some of us have left the party over what happened last year.  You just didn’t see it in the presidential election because the economy tanked.

Apparently, that “some of us” made the difference in NJ.  It isn’t that there were so many more voters voting Republican in NJ.  There weren’t.  It’s that Democrats just didn’t turn out or that the truly disgusted ones, such as myself, voted for a fiscally responsible, socially liberal Chris Daggett.  Now, some may argue that Corzine lost due to local issues.  And that is true.  But the reason he was such a failure at resolving local issues is because he is typical of the kind of Democratic politician we’ve become accustomed to voting for in the Democratic party.  He is beholden to the status quo and big money, a compromiser, an incrementalist, insufficiently bold, doesn’t look out for the middle class and all too willing to ignore the voters when their will is inconvenient to him.

Who does that sound like?

The party has lost its way and now that enough of its voters know that the party is no longer listening to them, there have been defections.  And let’s not mistake who the defectors are.  Most of us are FDR, Clinton style Democrats, moderate to  liberal but hardly “far-left”.  We’re in Paul Krugman’s camp.  Recently, some of the feminist Obama supporters have woken up and smelled the coffee.  We welcome them and only regret that they weren’t paying attention last year when references to abortion and reproductive rights were scrubbed from Democratic candidates web sites. (Read past the quote) They ridiculed the PUMAs last year.  They’re starting to sound just like them now.  Gay voters have been wary of Obama since he rolled out  Donny McClurkin but many fell prey to the “Obama is an historic candidate but Hillary Clinton is an old bitch” propaganda.  Do they now regret their over the top rants against her? Is it possible that she was just a legitimate candidate who stood for traditional core Democratic principles and was not sent by Satan to rain on Barack Obama’s glorious golden specialness?  Is it possible that her supporters deserved to be treated like persons and their votes respected?

The party’s civil war started the day the RBC tossed our votes out, May 31, 2008.  The day they made one candidate’s voters more equal than the others, the day they violated every principle they had over voting rights, the day they selectively broke and enforced their rules and decided to not listen to their voters, and got away with it, was the day the party started down the path to disunity.  It only took some time before the Obama cheerleaders realized that they had given the party permission to completely ignore them in the future.  And now the party should not be surprised that they have a civil war on their hands.

Bring. It. On.

 

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A Storm is Gaythering

Some of you may have all ready seen this hilariously homophobic ad by the National Organization for Marriage. (According to Egalia from TGW, NOM also is also prejudiced towards single mothers):

OH, Fear Mongering. Doncha just love it? I love the woman who says, “I am a Massachusetts mother helplessly watching Public Schools Teach my Son… that Same Sex Marriage is okay.”

Well, my Public School did nothing when four different students from my graduating class committed suicide. Three boys and one girl, two of them were harassed so relentlessly with anti-gay slurs that parents are now trying to force my (former) High School to increase funding for a better anti-bullying program with a lawsuit (our current one was aimed at children in elementary schools. Obviously ineffective.) The father was quoted in an ABC news article that I have on file as saying that it’s a shame he had to use a lawsuit to get my school to pay attention to it’s “problem”, but it just struck him as strange that they could spend a million dollars on a new football field, but couldn’t bother to increase funding for student harassment prevention. Particularly since violent fights broke out in my school on an almost monthly basis and were something of a spectator sport.

Those terrible events happened when I was a Junior. The girl that killed herself was a Lesbian, and also personally deeply Religious. I cared about her very much. She had been a close friend of mine since we were eight years old, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her and think of her.

But I am getting ahead of myself. The NOM Ad has been parodied in several hilarious ways, but this one was my favorite:

But this all leads me back to this silly controversy over Perez Hilton and Miss California. Now, I just want to set the record straight. I don’t do Beauty Pageants. But a couple of days ago I got an email from my BFF, and she gave me links to what Miss California had said, and the subject line was, “what do you think of this?”

I clicked on it, expecting some stupid rant similar to the one above in NOM’s Marriage Ad, but all she really said was, “I was raised to believe that Marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

Well, obviously I disagree. I do support Gay Marriage personally. I don’t always agree with Wanda Sykes, but I like what she says, “If you’re against same sex marriage, then don’t marry someone of the same sex!” And I do think that Same Sex Marriage Laws should be left to the states, but I think equality of benefits is a right.

Continue reading

Ledbetter Act without the Paycheck Fairness Act = A nice car without wheels

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Dearest Conflucians,  our great MadamaB left a comment in DakiniKat’s Madelin Laundries post yesterday:

madamab, on January 29th, 2009 at 5:26 pm Said:

Kat – Amazingly, Senate Democrats gave away the Paycheck Fairness Act in order to get the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Can you believe this sh*t? And no one is talking about it.

Link

Everything he does, you have to ask “what’s the catch?”

Some in Obama-lala-land (I will not link, but you know the cult sites) are claiming that we should just STFU and be happy that Obama is throwing us a bone with the Ledbetter Act – actually, they make it out to be Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s all rolled up into one.

But there’s a problem.  Here an excerpt pointing out the differences between the two:

Rather, the Court held that when an employer issues paychecks pursuant to a pay system that is facially nondiscriminatory and neutrally applied, the mere fact that such paychecks may give present effect to past discrimination occurring outside the charging period is insufficient to restart the statute of limitations.  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act expressly overturns this decision and provides that every paycheck continues a distinct discriminatory practice. Such a rule virtually eliminates the statute of limitations on some pay discrimination claims. Indeed, current employees – and even retirees who still receive pay or benefits – could conceivably file lawsuits based on discriminatory practices that occurred decades earlier, provided such plaintiffs could link their claims to compensation received within the statute of limitations. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would apply to pay discrimination claims brought under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which amends the Equal Pay Act, also targets unequal pay practices through a number of provisions.

  • The bill increases the potential damages for EPA claims by allowing the recovery of unlimited compensatory and punitive damages.
  • It eliminates a key affirmative defense. Employers currently can defend EPA claims by proving they based their compensation decisions on “any factor other than sex.” The Paycheck Fairness Act replaces this defense with the “bona fide factor other than sex” defense, which only applies if the employer demonstrates the decision-making factor: (a) is not based upon or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation; (b) is job-related with respect to the position in question; and (c) is consistent with business necessity. But, this defense would not apply if the employee establishes the employer refused to adopt an alternative employment practice serving the same business purpose that would not create a pay differential.
  • The bill prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation with co-workers.
  • It expressly permits class actions wherein similarly situated employees who do not wish to participate in the action would have to “opt out” of the action. This is an expansion because employees must presently “opt in” to collective actions under the EPA.

I’m no labor attorney, nor a politician, nor a law scholar (paging Heidi Li Feldman!), just a laid-off Juanita Lunchbucket who wants equal pay for equal work so I can earn my arroz and habichuelas just like the guy/gal in my same position and experience.

Help me understand this if I’m wrong:  the Paycheck Fairness Act enforces and strengthens unequal pay claims while the Ledbetter Act just buys the claimant more time.  Is that right? If that’s the case, it’s a another bamboozle by the Bamboozler -in-Chief.

Here’s what the NYT says (again, h/t MadamaB):

After signing the corrective measure, Mr. Obama ought to press Congress to continue the fight for equal pay for equal work by passing a second bill — the Paycheck Fairness Act — that would further strengthen current laws against gender-based wage discrimination. Among other things, this bill, which Mr. Obama co-sponsored while in the Senate, would make stronger remedies available under the existing Equal Pay Act; ensure that courts require employers to show that wage disparities are job-related, not sex-based, and consistent with business needs; and protect employees who discuss salary information from retaliation.

These changes may not please some business interests. But women still make, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men for performing substantially the same work. To narrow that yawning wage gap, tighter rules are plainly in order.

The House, to its credit, passed both bills. But Democratic leaders in the Senate peeled off the Paycheck Fairness Act after determining that pairing the two measures could jeopardize the chamber’s approval of the more familiar Ledbetter bill.

The new president can play a useful role in helping to rally Senate Democrats not to rest on their Ledbetter laurels and to persuade Republicans to come on board. In the House, only three Republicans voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In the Senate, five did. By now, Republican opposition to civil rights and pay equity is not surprising. That makes it all the sadder.

(ACK!!!!!!!  Here they go again with the damn blame shifting?  Obama doesn’t NEED Republican support, he has Congress & House!)

And without the Paycheck Fairness Act, Ledbetter Act is just garnish, IMHO. It’s like being sold a car without wheels.   Ledbetter allows 180 day extension on every paycheck that was allegedly discriminated due to pay, but without the Paycheck Fairness Act, women have no increased protection against wage discrimination – and it will make it harder for women to sue an employer who is discriminating.

UPDATE for the PUMA paparazzi stalkers: If Obama co-endorsed the Paycheck Fairness act as a senator, what’s stopping him from signing it into law – from forcing the Senate to vote on behalf of the Paycheck Fairness Act like Obama did to House Democrats when he ordered them to drop the Family Planning Provision?:

Democratic Leaders Likely To Remove Family Planning Provision From Economic Stimulus Proposal

President Obama has asked House Democrats to cut a provision of their economic stimulus proposal that would give states more flexibility to expand Medicaid coverage of family planning services, the AP/Austin American-Statesman reports. According to the AP/American-Statesman, several Democratic officials said that House leaders likely would abandon the provision at Obama’s request, which was made “at a time when the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.” A final decision is expected on Tuesday, when Obama is scheduled to meet separately with House and Senate Republicans.

Why sell us a car without the wheels?  What good is it?

And if we don’t fight for the whole enchilada,  healthcare, equal pay, equal rights, voter rights, civil rights, etc.,  we’ll be fed kibbles and bits worth sold to us  as Equality filet mignon.

Equality is not something you can fragment into pieces.  Either we have equal rights, or we don’t.  And guess what?  WE DON’T.

If women want any rights more than they’s got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it.


Sojourner Truth

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