Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Naomi Wolf's recent article, entitled Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps, is all the more chilling because she carefully limits her analysis of what could happen to logical extensions of what is already happening. If you haven't already read this fascinating piece, I urge you to do it now. In particular, note this gentle plea for us to wake up: "Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too." Some of our most fundamental constitutional liberties are not only threatened, they are actually being dismantled in front of our noses.

Bush and his henchmen have begun to demolish centuries of progress towards democracy made by generations of brave Americans. Those who notice, and protest, are met with assertions that "9/11 changed everything." Too many of our fellow citizens have been terrorized by this ill-defined "war on terror," accepting without challenge the big lie that sacrificing liberty for "security" is now essential to keep America "safe." America is more than a place to consume, be silent and let an arrogant bully "decide" what we need. No!! The United States of America is our republic. It was never meant to be neat and orderly with "everyone on the same page." An atmosphere of open, healthy debate, with a constant critical spotlight put on the actions of those to whom the people have surrendered certain limited powers is the only environment that will allow our "noble experiment" to endure.

Justice Ginsburg outraged

Conservative politicians love to slam those in the judiciary they consider to be liberal "activist judges legislating from the bench." In Tuesday's supreme court decision you have a very clear example of 5 conservative justices (re)legislating from the bench, deliberately undermining the clear intent of federal legislation to protect workers from pay discrimination.

From an article in Tuesday's New York Times: "WASHINGTON, May 29 — The Supreme Court made it harder today for many workers to sue their employers for discrimination in pay, insisting in a 5-to-4 decision on a tight timeframe to file such cases. Dissenters said the ruling ignored workplace realities.

The decision came in a case involving a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., the only woman among 15 men, who was paid less than any of her colleagues, including those with less seniority. She learned that fact late in a career of nearly 20 years — too late, according to the Supreme Court’s majority.
The court held today that employees may not bring suit under the principal federal anti-discrimination law unless they have filed a formal complaint with a federal agency within 180 days after their pay was set. The timeline applies, according to the decision, even if the effects of the initial discriminatory act were not immediately apparent to the worker and even if they continue to the present day."

What the five men in the court's conservative majority did was to use their judicial power to further erode the limited protections afforded U.S. workers under the Civil Right Act of 1964. In particular Justices Alito, Thomas, Scalia, Roberts and Kennedy decided to ignore decades of legal precedent and enforcement practice related to Title VII of this Act. This part of the Act specifically declares discrimination in pay based on gender to be unlawful. Because the language of this part of Title VII also refers to discrete acts of discrimination, such as a decision not to promote, or an improper dismissal, the language includes provisions requiring the timely filing of charges following the alleged act(s) of discrimination.

The brief for the petitioner in this case merely repeats the common-sense interpretation of how this statute applies to pay discrimination:
"[E]ach paycheck that offers a woman less pay than a similarly situated man because of her sex is a separate violation of Title VII with its own limitations period, regardless of whether the paycheck simply implements a prior discriminatory decision made outside the limitations period." Brief is quoted in Alito's decision, found here. This is the only sensible way to interpret the law, and is indeed how the law has been interpreted for more than 40 years.

Think about it. If a decision is made by a big city mayor many years ago to coerce annual "contributions" to his campaign fund from all vendors doing business with the city, and his successors continue this same corrupt practice, are they no longer guilty of extortion because their continued collection of graft merely "implements a prior decision."?!! According to Alito's twisted logic this would be the case.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg deserves kudos for her excellent dissenting opinion in this case, and for her brave decision to read the dissent aloud.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

An Encouraging Sign?

In New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton just put out her "vision for economic growth with fairness." In her fact sheet, posted here on her campaign's website, Senator Clinton points out:

  • The fruits of our modern global economy are showing up in the corporate bottom line, not in workers’ paychecks. CEOs have seen their pay go from 24 times the typical worker’s in 1965 to 262 times the typical worker’s in 2005. Last year, the share of national income going to corporate profits was the highest since 1929 – while the share going to the salaries of American workers was the lowest.

  • Globalization and economic policy dynamics are generating rising income inequality. In 2005, all income gains went to the top 10% of households, while the bottom 90% saw their income decline – despite the fact that worker productivity has increased for six years. In 1970, the top 1% of households held roughly 9% of our nation’s income. In 2005, they held 22% -- the highest level since 1929.

  • Harder for America’s middle-class and working-class families to make ends meet. Costs are up: health care premiums are up 87 percent since 2000. While productivity growth has gone up 18%, family incomes have gone down $1,300.

  • This Administration’s policies have fostered these economic outcomes.

  • Large corporate interests receive protection and benefits

  • No-bid contracts to Halliburton

  • Significant tax breaks to oil companies

  • Tax incentives to corporations shipping jobs overseas

  • A $1,000-per-patient subsidy to private Medicare plans

  • Every baby born today starts life with $29,000 of our national debt on his or her shoulders – the largest birth tax in our nation’s history."

So? Has the good Senator from New York begun reading my blog (where two of New York State's most beautiful waterfalls are prominently featured) and decided to throw caution to the winds, squarely take on the plutocrats and bring a heady populist campaign to the streets? Maybe she's convinced that my argument posted on Saturday has merit? Sadly, probably not... Nonetheless, at least she is willing to depart from the corporate "mainstream" message far enough to acknowledge the dismal reality faced by nine out of ten Americans. That's a start.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

I hope this Memorial Day holiday finds all of you in the blogosphere enjoying moments of peace and merriment.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

All's well inside my head

Meanwhile, back at the ranch everything is hunky-dory, peachy-keen in Bushland...

Those of us on the left who criticize this administration are used to being ignored by the objects of our scorn. Yet what is really frightening about our current leaders is how little they seem to care what anybody thinks. Even a Reagan-worshiping conservative wanker like Andrew Sullivan sees Dubya and his cronies as totally worthless:

Bush and his acolytes have poisoned the brand of conservatism for the foreseeable future. When you take a few steps back and look closely, you realize that Bush has managed both to betray conservatism and stigmatize it all at once. That's some achievement.

While Bush hasn't betrayed the billionare plutocrats who share his disdain for us common folk, he has indeed abandoned any shred of libertarian respect for individual rights, while at the same time not even pretending to care about careful stewardship of taxpayer's money. I mean, why bother when the filthy rich owners of Halliburton see no shame in draining billions from our Treasury while moving their headquarters to Dubai. This is why anyone in the presidential race who seeks a winning strategy cannot avoid taking on directly the kleptocracy that currently "governs" our nation. Pandering to the tiny fraction of 1% of people who control so much of our nation's wealth might help loosen the purse-strings of fatcat donors. But even Diebold couldn't rig an election against an unapologetic populist who had awoken the American masses to swarm into the polls in huge numbers.

Alert Alison from Chapel Hill, N.C. informed me of a missed opportunity to question Monica Goodling on some of the voter suppression shenanigans the RNC was involved with in 2004. Greg Palast has all the details in this post on BradBlog. For a good overview of Bush's theft of the 2004 elections, and the shameful reluctance of mainstream U.S. news organizations to pursue the story, see this account by R.F. Kennedy Jr. It's not too early to get busy making sure we don't get screwed in '08!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Reactions to yesterday's passage of funding bill

Here's what John Edwards had to say: "Washington failed America today when Congress surrendered to the president's demand for another blank check that prolongs the war in Iraq. It is time for this war to end. Congress should immediately use its funding power to cap troop levels in Iraq at 100,000, stop the ongoing surge, and force an immediate drawdown of 40-50,000 troops, followed by a complete withdrawal in about a year. The American people's call for a new course in Iraq was not answered today, but Congress still has the power to end this war. Our security and democracy alike demand it."

The reactions of other democratic primary candidates can be read here.

It's tough not to feel very let down by the congressional cave-in on Iraq war funding. We'll see how the immediate disenchantment carries over into the 2008 election cycle. Bad news for all Democratic candidates. Yet Jason from Tacoma suggests to me that even the right-wingnutters aren't a cinch to turn out in large numbers for the G.O.P. Here's what he found on the wingnutter site Maxed Out Mama : "What we need are candidates with much broader experience than our current frontrunners. We want governors. We want people with some expertise in making things work. We don't need to hit home runs, we just need to keep getting runners on base. Right now the whole country seems stalled. If it takes an Independent candidate to accomplish that, I'm all for it and I am not alone in my frustration." Note that Mitt Romney apparently doesn't qualify as a governor with "some expertise in making things work."!! Where's Ross Perot when we need him!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

58 Arabic translators fired by military

And now this!! A small group of capable Arabic language specialists are decimated by "don't ask, don't tell." Amazing to think that if the ancient Greeks were as narrow-minded as some of today's Pentagon brass, Alexander the Great would never have led an army.

Common Sense

Ian Walsh has a nice analysis of John Edwards' latest foreign policy speech here. Edwards isn't saying anything radical, he's just asking us to honor principles that we should be able to agree are essential for any decent nation-state to follow.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It just doesn't get much better than this ! How much longer do you think the AG will twist in the wind?!

Welcome one and all!

Let me introduce myself to all you good people. My blogger handle is Ulysses because I hail from Ithaca. Ithaca, New York, that is-- a small upstate college town, not the beautiful Greek island made famous by Homer. While my own personal ambitions are small, the scope of this blog is much more expansive. The hope is that folks can come here for a dose of stimulating information, debate, and analysis every day. They should also find links galore to other blogs, noteworthy news items, and get a chance to comment on the increasingly absurd antics of Dubya, his cronies, and other assorted wingnuts.