Nel's New Day

May 21, 2011

Rapture Continued

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:46 PM

It’s after 6:00 PST, and I’m pretty sure that the “rapture” didn’t arrive. Although I do have a friend who wonders if it actually did, leaving everyone else here on the same playing field of sinning. That would be something that I’d like to believe, but I just checked outside and didn’t find any huge stinging insects. Just a peaceful sunset.

I also want to correct my last message about the time of the rapture. According to 89-year-old Harold Camping, the grand predictor of this event, it should have started with a global earthquake hitting New Zealand at 6:00 pm, May 21, 2011, their time. That would make the arrival on the U.S. West Coast at 11:00 pm last night. I don’t think it did.

Gary Trudeau has spent the week satirizing today’s end of the world with one of his characters giving away all his possessions. Unfortunately, many people have done exactly that, even quitting their jobs a year ago and spending all their money. A New York man spent $140,000 of his own money on billboards to tell everyone about the approaching end of the world.

Others who plan to stay here while the religious disappear are profiting off the “end.” For example, a “registered” atheist is charging $135 to care for a “raptured” person’s pets.

Probably the biggest money-maker is Camping. His single radio station in San Francisco escalated to more than 200 plus two television stations. His most recent IRS disclosure reveals over $34 million in investments, $56 million in assets, and $29 million in mortgages. With over $100 million in donations during the past seven years, he seems to be ahead of the game.

But don’t let your guard down. Ronald Weinland of Church of God declared that the correct date for the “rapture” is May 27, 2012. And there’s still December 21, 2012, if you believe in the Mayan calendar. According to Bob Thiel, Jesus cannot return prior to 2016 and the Great Tribulation cannot begin prior to 2013, but those dates are pretty close. The end of the world has been predicted more than 100 times in the last 100 years. Camping’s last prediction was in 1994, but this time he’s positive that it will happen.

We’ll just have to get up every morning and wonder. But it might be wise to keep working and keep our possessions—just in case.

May 19, 2011

World Ends 5/21/11

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:37 PM

Heads up! Those who believe that the world will end on 12/21/12, based on the Mayan calendar, may not have that long to wait. According to Christian fundamentalist radio host Harold Camping, you have only two more days for this process to begin. He puts the deadline 19 months earlier than the Mayans at 6:00 pm (PST) on 5/21/11 for the “rapture.” The end of the world will be completed on 10/10/11.

What will happen this Saturday evening? Two percent of the population (about 200 million) will be “raptured” into heaven. The rest of us will be writhing in a misery of plagues—boils, frogs, and stinging by horse-like locusts with scorpion’s teeth and lion’s tales. (A column called The Edge recommends stocking up on Raid.)

Camping was wrong in 1994 with his belief that the flooding would end the world, but he decided that he had miscalculated this event. And he may be wrong this year although the rapture fans will probably just grow stronger in their belief as they did last time. In case he’s right, I may not have a blog entry on Sunday if I’m fighting off the plague.

May 18, 2011

Detroit Closes School for Pregnant Girls

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:54 PM

Let’s imagine that a school has a 90-percent graduation record and a 100-percent college acceptance rate. Pretty good, right? Well, that was one of the schools closed by dictator Gov. Rick Snyder’s “Emergency Financial Manager” Robert Bobb earlier this year. The legislature gave the governor  the right to remove any elected official and name an EFM replacement anywhere in the state.

Maybe Bobb thought the school wasn’t important because everyone who attended is female. The Catherine Ferguson Academy, unique in the nation, was designed for pregnant girls and their children. In addition to their class work, students worked on an urban “farm” with animals, gardens, and beehives. Proceeds from the farm provide school funding. The school serves up to 400 students and 200 babies.

Understandably upset, eight of the pregnant students with their children and some faculty members held a sit-in to protest the school’s closure after letter-writing and petition campaigns failed. What should be done with protesters who don’t want their school closed? The pregnant girls were handcuffed, put in squad cars, and taken to jail. They didn’t resist; they were just hauled off. The Detroit Police spokesman told them that instead of protesting, they should talk to Robert Bobb and show that their school needs to stay open. That doesn’t seem to have succeeded.

Ironically, the Catherine Ferguson Academy is named after a freed slave who, although illiterate, dedicated her life to educating others in the early 1800s. Almost two centuries ago, many people in the United States were determined to keep slaves from education. In the 21st century, corporate America wants to keep pregnant women from having the education they deserve.

The Catherine Ferguson Academy is not the only special Detroit school under attack. The Detroit Day School for the Deaf, opened in 1898, is also on Bobb’s chopping block. How will Bobb save money in administering Detroit’s schools? Lay off thousands of teachers and cut back salaries and benefits for those who work at charter schools. Help the economy by providing the wealthy and corporations with more money while teachers pay for all this money.

Robert Bobb makes a $145,000 salary from the Broad Foundation, which promotes school choice and privatization (read much smaller teacher salaries) plus his $280,000 government salary. After almost two years, he leaves Detroit to his successor this next month to return to hisWashington,D.C.home. He plans to write a book about his experiences being the Detroit schools EFM.

May 17, 2011

Koch Brothers – Schools for Sale

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:31 PM

Every young person should go to college—that’s what some people believe. In the past legislators maintained the importance of providing high-quality, low-cost education to children of working and middle class families. One Founding Father who promoted this philosophy is Thomas Jefferson who believed that educated people were vital for a democracy.

College/university attendance has increased dramatically during the recession of the past few years because many people cannot find jobs. At the same time money put into institutions of higher learning annually shrinks. How much less varies greatly: funding per student can be as much as $2,000 lower than or $4,000 higher than the national average.

So what can desperate schools do? Sell themselves, of course. And the Koch brothers are only too willing to purchase them—if the schools follow the brothers’ conservative bent. These are the billionaire men who bankrolled the Tea Party movement, anonymously until someone outed them. They are the same people who told their 50,000 employees how to vote, now a legal situation thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in United Citizens (a real misnomer) v. Federal Election Commission. Despite the brothers’ opposition to government meddling in business, their business meddles in a government entity.

A prime example is publically-funded Florida State University. Using the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, brother Charles pays $1.5 million to the university’s economics department—with the proviso that he maintains control on hires and fires for a program promoting “political economy and free enterprise.” Goodbye academic freedom.

The agreement, signed three years ago, was kept out of the public eye until two professors complained. One of them is retired; the other will probably be looking for a job soon. The Koch brothers have help from BB&T, the bank holding company who provides $150,000 a year during the next ten years for an instructor plus a separate grant that funds a class on ethics and economics. Their requirement? That the coursework make Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged required reading. For those unfamiliar with the book, popular during the mid-twentieth century, the novel describes the collapse of society because of government’s infringement on free enterprise. Don’t want to read the over 1,000 pages? See the movie being marketed to Tea Partiers.

The Koch brothers started its takeover of public universities with giving George Mason University, a public university inVirginia, over $30 million during the past 20 years. At George Mason, the money “allows” faculty to study “how institutions affect the freedom to prosper” as part of the Mercatus Center. (Think deregulation.)

Other lucky public university recipients of the brothers’ generosity include West Virginia University ($480,000) where economics professor Russell Sobel argues that less mine safety regulations result in greater safety for coal miners; Brown University ($419,254), where the Political Theory Project promulgates the belief that the Great Depression was worse because of the New Deal and bank deregulation has helped the poor; Troy University ($3.6 million with the Manuel Johnson and the BB&T Foundation), where the Center for Political Economy’s goal is to stop deregulation for markets; and Utah State University ($700,000), where the Koch-funded Huntsman School of Business teaches Charles Koch’s “Science of Liberty” management theory, a book that Forbes described as proclaiming a Marxist faith in fixed laws that govern human well-being.

Fortunately for them, the Koch brothers have support in high places, including House Speaker John Boehner

The Koch brothers aren’t the only ones purchasing schools. Detroit (MI) has put 45 schools up for auction, hoping that charter school management companies will take them over. Eighteen companies have shown an interest. Other Michigan schools are being taken over by the state governor under the new law that allows him to appoint Emergency Financial Managers (think Benton Harbor) anytime he wants control. Last week Gov. Rick Snyder listed 23 financially-distressed school districts that he will take over, 18 of them in Detroit.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the schools in Detroit that EFMs have already closed, including a highly-successful one for pregnant girls.

May 16, 2011

War against Women

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 1:37 PM

Last week I spent away from the computer and came back to way too much information about the persecution of women in the United States. The number of anti-choice laws proposed across the nation has risen above 1,000. An outstanding overview of the assault against women between puberty and menopause is “10 Worst States To Be a Woman.”

With the third highest teen birth rate and the fifth highest maternal mortality rate and STD transmissions, Mississippi has two abortion providers. And one in three Mississippi children lives in poverty. The huge state of Texas was this blog’s subject several days ago, but there’s worse news: by slashing family planning funding and eradicating state funding for low income women’s reproductive care, lawmakers will guarantee that the 35 percent of uninsured women in childbearing years will only grow. Crisis pregnancy centers—the ones that prevent women from having abortions for any reason—will keep its funding, and Texas women will be required to have an ultrasound (for their own money) to get an abortion.

Earlier we also talked about the 72-hour waiting period and the lack of abortion providers in South Dakota. The required counseling for an abortion must be done by the aforementioned crisis pregnancy centers—which will only counsel against all abortions. Indiana has found a way to drive more women to have abortions. (What would happen if the state treated gun owners the same way that they treat women who need abortions—counseling, a waiting period, and then no access? Wait! Maybe a good idea!)

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (a maybe Republican presidential candidate) not only has signed a bill to stop abortions after 20 weeks but also cut off federal funding for family planning—which means no federal funding for contraception. With teen pregnancy projected 21 percent higher in the state because of this lack, about 3,500 additional abortions in the state are projected. The law also requires doctors to tell women that life begins at fertilization (freedom of speech? small government?) and that a fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Kansas is following Daniels’ leadership in refusing Planned Parenthood its funding, and earlier in the spring other states such as New Jersey and New Hampshire had introduced bills toward this end.

Minnesota also passed an abortion ban after 20 weeks (unconstitutional because the Supreme Court gives viability as the criterion), going so far as to deny an abortion for fetuses with fatal abnormalities or the mother’s health. The governor has not yet signed the bill. Perhaps there is some sanity in the world, but one would not know it by listening to state Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R) when he informs the “ladies” about the seven U.S. Supreme Court members who voted in favor of Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion. “Men, a certain percentage, have developed a perverted view of women and what abortion tells men is they can use women and lose them.”

At the same time Oklahoma is attacking not only women but also their children by introducing a bill denying Planned Parenthood the right to distribute nutrition vouchers for the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

With its new law mandating that women cannot get abortions based on the fetuses’ race or gender, Arizona just skates over these problems in this state: 23 percent of women of child-bearing age have no insurance coverage, and 23 percent of the children live in poverty. Arizona also has the third highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country. Georgia tried for the same law as Arizona but failed. Nevertheless, Georgia still has the highest maternal mortality rate. Another Southern state, Louisiana, ranks only 46 in maternal mortality (at least four states have more women die in childbirth), but Gov. Bobby Jindal would love lots of anti-choice laws, including the same one as Arizona. Evidently lots of women are demanding abortions because they don’t like the ethnic background of their fetuses.

Meanwhile how does a far-right politician stop people from talking about his votes against gays, family planning, Medicare, and all the other things that far-right people hate? Rep. Aaron Schock (IL-18) used this cheesecake image on the cover of Men’s Health to divert criticism from his political positions. This is evidently not the first time that he’s enjoyed exposing his body to photographers. His positions are made clear, however, on the DCCC’s website. Can you imagine the reaction if any Congresswoman were to pose in a provocative manner? Perhaps the representative is just going for schocking name recognition.

May 8, 2011

Mothers in Youth Fiction

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:38 PM

Today is Mothers’ Day, and I’m celebrating it by describing a few books about exceptional mothers in fiction for young people. The first four are picture books that you can share with little ones; the last one is an outstanding graphic novel series about a loving mother-daughter relationship as the young girl grows up.

This entry will be the last for a few days. Have a good week!

Poetry of narrative and visuals make Before You Came, written by Patricia Maclachlan and Emily Maclachlan Charest and illustrated by David Diaz (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, 2011) a wonderful gift for any new mother. The Maclachlans describe a woman’s reliving her pregnancy in her life with her husband, cats, dog, and birds in a house with a flower garden by the edge of a river. The deep pinks of the skin and browns of the mother’s hair are surrounded by luminous purples, reds, greens, and blues, and the story of the mother waiting for the child’s birth is equally lovely. This book is the perfect way to celebrate a child coming into this world.

Angela McAllister tells about the relationship of two snow leopards, mother and son, in Little Mistillustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies (Knopf, 2010). Guided and protected by his mother, a sweet-faced, wide-eyed cub discovers his new world—glistening snow, mountain streams, and cloud forests. Little Mist is a sweet-faced snow leopard cub who is wide-eyed with wonder at the world before him. Mother reassures her baby that some day he will rule the mountains. The beauty of the bond between kit and mother is highlighted by the soft watercolor and pencil illustrations of the charming creatures and the magnificent scenery.

Seven little mice are afraid to venture far from their home in Haruo Yamashita’s Seven Little Mice Go to School, illustrated by Kazuo Iwamura (NorthSouth, 2011) But the loving mother saves the situation by creating a “mouse train” with yarn, giving them the courage to go. The details of mouse clothing and household items are charming, and Mother Mouse’s gentle caring is very special. There are also other books in this series that also tell about the seven little mice’s father.

School is also an issue in Anna Dewdney’s third book about these wonderful characters, Llama Llama Misses Mama (Viking, 2009).  When Mama Llama leaves Llama Llama there, he is frightened and alone.  This wonderful introduction for a child leaving a parent for the first time begins with Mama waking up Llama Llama, and the story ends with his telling his mother about the great adventures he had during the day.  Dewdney’s illustrations express the series of emotions as Llama Llama suffers separation anxiety and then overcomes it, especially when Mama returns.  A true delight!

Every book is a gift filled with surprises. The Story of Life on the Golden Fields, a trilogy of coming-of-age manhwa (a Korean graphic novel), is a a grand surprise, a magnificent work sure to be a classic.  The first in the series, Kim Dong Hwa’s The Color of Earth translated by Lauren Na (First Second Books/Roaring Brook, 2009), chronicles the lives of a daughter,  Ehwa from age seven through fourteen, and her widowed mother who is looked down upon by the men at the rural tavern that she owns and runs.  The closeness of these two women show love from two perspectives, one who is experiencing it for the first time and the other who longs for a man in her life.

Throughout this stunning novel, set in pastoral Korea at the beginning of the twentieth century, delicate black-and-white illustrations and lyrical text follow Ehwa’s discoveries of the physical differences between boys and girls and her struggles with an attraction to both a young Buddhist monk and the wealthy son of an orchard owner.  She is helped to understand her knowledge through conversations with her mother who also finds joy in the attention of an artistic traveling salesman.  Kim has captured both the attitudes and emotions of his female characters as well as the beautiful landscape.

A bonus to the work is the afterword by Hwang Min-Ho that discusses the symbolism of the rain and flowers, the feminism in the book similar to that of Jane Campion’s The Piano, and the contrast between this graphic novel and other manhwa.  The trilogy is completed in The Color of Water and The Color of Heaven.

Nicola describes the impact of this book well:  “I can’t quite know how to say just how beautiful a story this was. A little girl’s curiosity about her body, the difference between boys and girls, grown-up things she over hears and how she goes straight to her mother with her questions and confusion is a tender love story in itself. The mother/daughter relationship presented here is truly touching and really the backbone of this volume.”

May 7, 2011

Updates H.R. 3/Corporate Profits/Wisconsin/Benton Harbor

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:50 PM

Tracking some of the issues I’ve written about during the past month, I discovered the following:

Update H.R. 3: The House actually passed the anti-woman bill in its attempt to permanently keep any federal funds from providing abortions. Earlier I described the role that the IRS will play in abortions if the bill becomes law, but I missed a few of the other vicious parts in H.R. 3.

Any small business that purchases a health insurance policy that covers abortion—as 87 percent of the private insurance plans do—will not receive any tax credits for this insurance. Nor would money in tax-exempt health savings accounts to allowed to be used for abortions. Women in the military cannot have abortions on federal property, including military bases—even if they pay for the abortions themselves.

You might want to thank your Congressperson for voting against this horrendous bill (there were 175 of them) or tell the others what you think of them.

Update Oil Profits: When I talked about the egregious profits oil corporations are making, I failed to mention that profits at the largest 500 corporations grew by 81 percent in 2010. Should we then expect an 81-percent increase in jobs from them?

Update Wisconsin: I could spend the rest of the year writing just about the craziness of a formerly sane state. Since Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican minions took over the capitol (literally because they won’t let people in!), the recall attempts for six Republican state Senators have enough signatures to be considered for an election. The first Democrat has also been elected to the Assembly since the debacle began four months ago: Steve Doyle beat GOP candidate John Lautz 54 percent to 56 percent in a special election after Walker appointed GOP incumbent Mike Huebsch to secretary of administration. Doyle won despite the mailers sent by outside interest group Jobs First Coalition that claimed Doyle had not paid property taxes on time in 2009. The taxes were paid on time, and the Wisconsin Democratic Party has called for a criminal investigation. Two other empty Assembly seats formerly held by Republicans were replaced with candidates from the same party.

Meanwhile the Wisconsin Democratic Party is challenging all three recall petitions filed against Democratic state Senators, citing fraud in signature-gatherers’ misleading signers. The Republicans are also challenging petitions for four of the Democrats, saying that the necessary paperwork wasn’t filed. Elections were scheduled for July 12, but these challenges may delay that date.

Justice David Prosser (the man who magically got over 7,500 votes two days after the election) lost ten votes when 18 votes from nuns at Valley of Our Lady Monastery in Prairie du Sac could not be counted. When they voted absentee, they failed to get a witness for their signatures, and no one noticed until after the election.

And of course there’s the incompetence around the county that magically found the votes to elect Prosser. The numbers don’t match. Are we surprised?

Update Benton Harbor: Now that Michigan has passed a law allowing the governor to become dictator over all cities and towns in the state, Jesse Jackson is leading the charge to keep Benton Harbor free from the control of the Emergency Financial Manager appointed to make all decisions in that city.

May 6, 2011

GOP Backs Down on Medicare

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:55 PM

During the Congressional recess, I watched with fascination as the Republican legislators were confronted with angry people in town-hall meetings, a reversal of last year’s Tea Party abuse of the Democrats. I had planned to write about the downward slide of the Tea Party influence because of Paul Ryan’s “courageous” move to destroy Medicare, but there’s even more news since the GOP’s fear of the people changed their position about Medicare, showing that they will cave in to pressure.

The GOP position toward the destruction of Medicare has taken a 180-degree turn in the last three weeks. To quote a GOP aide, “Things are unraveling.” Paul Ryan’s “courageous” plan to replace Medicare with vouchers is, for now, history, according to GOP party leaders. Reps. Dave Camp (R-MI) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) blame President Obama for their decision to drop the voucher idea because he “excoriated our budget plan and the Medicare proposal in the plan.” But they wouldn’t have dropped their goal of destroying Medicare if their constituency had wanted it. Instead the GOP  chose a scapegoat for their reversal. (The elephant is still in the room because the House has already voted for the plan!)

Daniel Webster (R-FL) is a prime example of this fear. Florida conservatives frightened the seniors into voting for them by stating that the Democrats would not fiscally support them. Sen Mario Rubio (R-FL) campaigned on maintaining the Medicare Advantage (read expensive and private) health program for seniors. Webster has voted for the Ryan plan, which included exorbitantly charging seniors for health care, but he unfortunately still benefits from lots of anonymous political broadcasts (can we believe it could be Koch brothers paying) that states Webster “voted to protect Medicare.”

“My town halls are being disrupted by Democrats,” complained Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) who has tried to persuade people that the anger at the town-hall meetings is orchestrated by liberals instead of representing what people think. Barletta shows that he doesn’t represent everyone in his district—just the potential voters. But Republicans have taken up hiding from the people who elected them like the Democrats had to do after they voted in favor of the current health plan. Alan West (R-FL) is now taking only written questions screened in advance instead of participating in an open forum.

Sean Duffy (R-WI) is another one of those representatives who think lying to the voters is a good idea. When confronted about the voucher system that he voted in favor of, he responded, “It’s a premium support it’s not a voucher. The bottom line is if we do nothing, if we do nothing, you can all say this is all fine and dandy, you can get it and I know any young people here you can all get this program.” When a man disagreed with his lies, Duffy shouted, “When you have your town hall you can stand up and give your presentation.” This is also the man who believes that he is in poverty with his $174,000 annual salary because of his debts while he also gets free health care!

The Congressional confrontation is just beginning. August 2 is the deadline for legislation to increase theU.S.borrowing capacity to pay the country’s loans or go into an economic cris because the country loses its credit rating. The conservatives are sure to continue repeating their falsehoods to try to destroy the people in the United States.

May 5, 2011

Texas Legal Craziness

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:05 PM

What is it withTexas? Is it just because it’s so big that it presents such colossal idiocy to the world? Or is their stupidity just more noticeable than in other states? “Good thing we’ve still got politics inTexas—finest form of free entertainment ever invented,” said columnist Molly Ivins, who left the world poorer when she died at the age of 63 in 2007. One of her joys was writing about the Texas Legislature, “The Lege”: “Practice, practice, practice, that’s what Texas provides when it comes to sleaze and stink. Who can forget such great explanations as ‘Well, I’ll just make a little bit of money, I won’t make a whole lot?’” Ivins would have had a field day writing about the current antics of the Texas legislature. I miss her.

Last year I marveled as I watched Gov. Rick Perry declare that they should secede from the Union, an act that would save the U.S. money because the state gets $1 more per person from federal taxes than they pay in. But I really started paying attention when a friend sent me news that Gov. Perry was asking everyone in Texas to pray for rain, declaring the last weekend of April as Days of Prayer for Rain. (I don’t know if it paid off.)

Texas has the worst state budget crisis since World War II. The Texas House has decided that the solution to this problem will be huge cuts to education, nursing homes, and health care for the poor and—pay attention—a tax break for anyone who wants to buy yachts costing $250,000 or more. They call it “economic development” because Texans may start buying their yachts in Florida. This act will lose $1.4 billion to add to the $27 billion shortfall they currently have. But think of all those happy yacht-owners.

Then Texas decided a sex change wasn’t a change. It was one of the last states to allow transgender people use proof of their surgery to get a marriage license. But then came the terror of same-sex marriage. “The Texas Constitution,” Sen. Tommy Williams said, “clearly defines marriage between one man and one woman.” He wants the biological gender of a person to be used in perpetuity. I got to thinking. A man becomes a woman but still wants to marry a woman. In a real world, that would make this person a lesbian and unable to legally marry in most of the United States. But she can marry a woman in Texas because that state declares that person a man. Voila! Legal same-sex marriage!

Still focusing on “sex,” the Texas House passed a budget bill requiring any public college with a  student center on “alternative” sexuality to provide equal funding for centers to promote “traditional values.” A column in The Texas Observer said, “Imagine the plight of the heterosexual student stepping on to a college campus for the first time. How will he fit in? Should he tell his new roommate about his alternative hetero lifestyle?” Others have asked if this would mean that public colleges with “Christian Centers” should also require “Atheist Centers.”

Private parts seem to be an ongoing concern to Texan politicians as shown by the proposed law to prevent security pat-downs at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. HB 1937 would make it a felony for a security officer to intentionally touch someone’s “junk”—even on top of clothing—unless there is cause to believe that there is something illegal in the area of the “junk.” In case you’re interested, of the 61,000,000 plus entries about the subject on the Internet, the bill opposing invasive pat-downs captured the majority of these entries, hands down.

And women’s rights? The Texas Senate has passed the bill requiring doctors to perform a sonogram 24 hours before an abortion to “allow” a woman to see the fetus. There’s no “allow” to it: women are required to look at the sonogram and hear a detailed explanation of any limbs or internal organs that have formed. Patrick Duncan, who commented on an article about the bill, got it right: “Conservative legislators in Texas get between a doctor and their patient, proving they are hypocrites when it comes to less government interfering with our lives. A tragedy for women’s rights to privacy with their doctor.”

Religion (as earlier shown by the need to pray for rain) is another focus of Texas politicians. State Rep. Leo Berman (R) has introduced a bill to protect the state from Sharia law, prohibiting a Texas court “from enforcing, considering, or applying a religious or cultural law.”  “We want to prevent it from ever happening inTexas,” he said. (He had heard on the radio that Dearborn, Michigan, was being ruled by Sharia law.) To give Texas a little leeway, 15 other states, including its neighbor Oklahoma, are joining this collective insanity. If the legislature passes the bill, it could appear on the ballot in Texas this fall. I assume that their intent is to protect their state from the Islam culture, but does passing this ballot measure prevent ruling by Christian law?

In keeping with the ignorance demonstrated during the Sharia law debate is the bill protecting from discrimination any teacher or professor who doesn’t believe in evolution. It appears that right-wing conservatives have their own definition of “diversity,” one that avoids facts. More ignorance? The Texas Senate has tentatively approved a bill allowing jurors in sexual assault cases to hear testimony about similar allegations against the defendant. It doesn’t matter whether the previous incident resulted in a conviction or even criminal charges—just any old accusation could be used against a defendant.

Texas does wish to avoid the federal Department of Justice (DOJ). One state bill would circumvent the DOJ by directing its redistricting or Voter ID bills to a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. for “pre-clearance” under the 1965 Voting Rights Act. (This requires Texas and some other mostly southern states to get federal approval before making major election law changes.) With great speed Texas passed a bill requiring photo ID from voters last January. The urgency of this issue led the Senate to suspend key rules and omit regular committee hearings while it rushed the bill through in two days. The House concurred in March.

Population control seems to be of interest to Texas legislators. A current bills would raise the speed limit to 85 mph from 80 mph on some highways. During 2009 nearly 450 people were killed in Texas because of speeding. Raising the limit should continue to decrease the number of Texas residents. (They did miss their chance to get rid of more people when they decided to shelve the bill allowing concealed handguns on college campuses.)

A bill of great practicality for any Texas wishing cheap servants (or maybe slaves) came from Tea Party favorite Debbie Riddle (R-TX). House Bill 2012 would jail anyone who employed illegal workers—except employers who hire “help” for their homes, including those who garden, clean the house, and care for children.

A friend asked me if Texas laws were worse than Florida laws. She can decide after reading this. Each state has its approaches: Wisconsin wants to bust unions, Michigan wants the governor to be a dictator, and Texas? Texas just applies a scattershot approach toward craziness in legislating.

May 4, 2011

SCOTUS Loves Corporations

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:22 PM

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court once again showed their love for corporate America and their disdain for consumers. AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion did away with class-action suits, erasing laws in 20 states. The 5-4 decision (what else would they have in a case that favors conservatives?) supports corporate ability to deny “the little people” and non-union members the right to protest excessive wrongdoing and discrimination. In the past people who made very little money and thus could not afford to sue a huge corporation with billions of dollars in profits could band together for a law suit. No more. Legislative bodies might as well quit enacting laws about consumers’ rights because most people do not have the money to enforce them.

The decision did permit arbitration. Care to guess who wins in this process?

This AT&T decision will probably make the Wal-Mart sex-bias class-action case moot. Even when the court heard the case this spring they appeared inclined to rule that the company could not be found liable for illegal sex bias because the store managers decided on promotions and pay raises, not Wal-Mart corporate leaders. Ironically, it was the male justices who questioned the feasibility of this case, justifying their skepticism on the basis of Wal-Mart’s policy that the company does not discriminate. Yet several years ago when the class-action suit was first brought against Wal-Mart, women comprised almost 70 percent of the workforce but only 14 percent of store managers. Their salaries across the country were also lower than those of the men. That shows what happens without the ability to have class-action suits.

The love that Supreme Court justices demonstrate for corporations was made crystal clear over a year ago when they decreed that corporations could make unlimited, anonymous donations for political broadcasts. Conservatives are fond of saying that this is an equal playing field because Citizens United v Federal Election Commission allows unions the same benefits. However, corporations were known for paying five times as much for lobbying as unions before this case. The unequal distribution of political donations between conservatives and liberals will worsen incrementally with this court decision and the conservative determination to destroyU.S. unions.

Let’s watch to see how much more havoc the Bush court can create!

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