Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Monday, May 30, 2011

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Over sixty years ago the United Nations, following the invaluable leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, agreed to the principles set forth below:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, therefore,The General Assembly
This Universal Declaration of Human Rights
as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Article I
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Article 3
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 4
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 8
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Article 9
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 10
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Article 11
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
Article 12
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 13
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Article 14
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 15
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
Article 16
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Article 17
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Article 18
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 19
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 20
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
Article 21
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Article 22
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
Article 23
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 24
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
Article 25
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Article 26
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Article 27
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Article 28
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
Article 29
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 30
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
G.A. res. 217A (III), U.N. Doc A/810 at 71 (1948)

The respect and promotion of these rights was not merely an aspiration, but an expectation, when this Declaration was adopted by the U.N. in 1948. When anyone in the U.S. government, of either party, fails to uphold these rights they are in violation of U.S. law, which includes all treaties and declarations that the duly elected U.S. government has agreed to. The sad reality is that many of these articles are violated with impunity here and abroad, all the time. Read article 23 and see if Governors Walker, Snyder, et al. have acted in accordance with its clear directives. How does Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to end Medicare as we know it square with article 25?

We need to demand that our elected leaders work towards upholding those rights that the U.S. felt were indispensable for a peaceful world following W.W. II. Any who would argue that the world has changed too much, to meet these obligations, must seek to persuade the U.S. and all other U.N. members to formally put them aside. While the Declaration is still the law of the land we are justified in regarding those who would ignore it as traitors to the American people, and people everywhere.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tungsten Carbide and the class system

Maybe their most inspired sketch of all:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Louisiana enlightenment

There must be some very proud Louisiana schoolteachers watching this boy:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Education under siege

Linda Darling-Hammond recently gave a rousing commencement speech at Columbia University's Teachers College:

We live in a nation that is on the verge of forgetting its children.
The Unitrd States now has a far higher poverty
rate for children than any other
industrialized country (25 percent,
nearly double what it was thirty tears ago);
a more tattered safety net-- more who
are homeless, without healthcare and
without food security; a more
segregated and inequitable system of public
education (a 10:1 ratio in spending across the country); a larger
and more costly system of incarceraion than any country in the
world,including China (5percent of the world's population and
25% of its inmates), one that is now directly cutting into the
money we should be spending on education; a defense budget larger
than that of the next twenty countries combined; and greater
disparities in wealth than any other leading country... Our
leaders do not talk about these things. They simply say of poor
children, "Let them eat tests...." Meanwhile, the profession
of teaching and our system of public education are under siege from
another wave of scientific managers, who have forgotten that
education is about opening minds to inquiry and imagination, not stuffing
them like so many dead turkeys-- that teaching is about enabling
students to make sense of their experience, to use knowledge for their own
ends, and to learn to learn, rather than to spend their chidhoods
bubbling in Scantron sheets to feed the voracious data banks that
govern ever more decisions from the bowels of the bureaucracy.
These new scientific managers, like those of a century ago, prefer teachers
with little training-- who will come and go quickly, without costing
much money, without vesting in the pension system and without raising many questions
about an increasingly prescriptive system of testing and teaching that lines
the pockets of private entrepreneurs.... And the new scientific
managers cleverly construct systems that solve the problem of the
poor by blaming the teachers and schools that seek to serve them, calling
the deepening levels of severe poverty an "excuse," rewarding schools
that keep out and push out the highest-need students, and threatening
those who work with new immigrant students still learning English and the
growing number of those who are homeless, without healthcare or food
security. Are there lower scores in under-resourced schools with high-need students?
Fire the teachers and the principals. Close the schools. Don't look for supports
for their families and communities, equitable funding for public schools or
investments in professional learning.... Take heart in knowing that the arc of history is long, as King noted, but it bends towards justice. And take pride in
knowing, when the work is challenging and setbacks come-- as they must when
anything important is happening-- that you are building a better future for every child and family and community you touch.

Good public school teachers are already fighting the good fight across the country. Let's hope that those who heard this fine address will go forth and do their part.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The future according to Paul Ryan

I don't think the Democrats should waste a nickel on campaign ads for 2012. This powerful clip, featuring Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), behind Grandma's wheelchair, should do the trick:

I would ask Left-Siders this question: would the most effective 2012 strategy for Democrats at this point be to simply stay silent and let the Republicans go on about their craziness? Do you have any particularly shocking Rethug antics that you think should be shared with the nation's voters? Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rep. Kucinich tells it like it is

There are still a few representatives of the people (and not corporations) who work in Congress. This is what doing the people's work looks like:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Defeating the Corporate Power

If we can't create a real Utopia, without greed and massive inequality, is there anything we can do to live well and have a positive impact on our world? Bruce Levine suggests that we can organize our lives in such a way that we are able to fight back effectively against corporate greed. Here's step #3 in his 10 Steps to Defeat the Corporatocracy:

We can recover our self-respect and strength by regaining our integrity. This process requires a personal transformation to overcome our sense of powerlessness and fight for what we believe in. Integrity includes acts of courage resisting all illegitimate authorities. We must recognize that in virtually every aspect of our life in every day, we can either be on the side of authoritarianism and the corporatocracy or on the side of anti-authoritarianism and democracy. Specifically, we can question the legitimacy of government, media, religious, educational and other authorities in our lives, and if we establish that an authority is not legitimate, we can resist it. And we can support others who are resisting illegitimate authorities. A huge part of solidarity comes from supporting others who are resisting the illegitimate authorities in their lives. Walt Whitman had it right: "Resist much, obey little. Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved."

I encourage folks who are seeking a little reassurance in these trying times to read all 10 steps. Bruce Levine acknowledges the tremendous obstacles we face, but also points out how much power we have to adopt a positive and empowered attitude. This was just the tonic I needed, and I'm grateful to Bruce Levine for serving it up so well.

Monday, May 23, 2011


So is money the root of all evil? Consider this passage from St. Thomas More's Utopia:

“Though, to speak plainly my real sentiments, I must freely own that as long as there is any property, and while money is the standard of all other things, I cannot think that a nation can be governed either justly or happily: not justly, because the best things will fall to the share of the worst men; nor happily, because all things will be divided among a few (and even these are not in all respects happy), the rest being left to be absolutely miserable. Therefore, when I reflect on the wise and good constitution of the Utopians, among whom all things are so well governed and with so few laws, where virtue hath its due reward, and yet there is such an equality that every man lives in plenty—when I compare with them so many other nations that are still making new laws, and yet can never bring their constitution to a right regulation; where, notwithstanding every one has his property, yet all the laws that they can invent have not the power either to obtain or preserve it, or even to enable men certainly to distinguish what is their own from what is another’s, of which the many lawsuits that every day break out, and are eternally depending, give too plain a demonstration—when, I say, I balance all these things in my thoughts, I grow more favourable to Plato, and do not wonder that he resolved not to make any laws for such as would not submit to a community of all things; for so wise a man could not but foresee that the setting all upon a level was the only way to make a nation happy; which cannot be obtained so long as there is property, for when every man draws to himself all that he can compass, by one title or another, it must needs follow that, how plentiful soever a nation may be, yet a few dividing the wealth of it among themselves, the rest must fall into indigence. So that there will be two sorts of people among them, who deserve that their fortunes should be interchanged—the former useless, but wicked and ravenous; and the latter, who by their constant industry serve the public more than themselves, sincere and modest men—from whence I am persuaded that till property is taken away, there can be no equitable or just distribution of things, nor can the world be happily governed; for as long as that is maintained, the greatest and the far best part of mankind, will be still oppressed with a load of cares and anxieties. I confess, without taking it quite away, those pressures that lie on a great part of mankind may be made lighter, but they can never be quite removed; for if laws were made to determine at how great an extent in soil, and at how much money, every man must stop—to limit the prince, that he might not grow too great; and to restrain the people, that they might not become too insolent—and that none might factiously aspire to public employments, which ought neither to be sold nor made burdensome by a great expense, since otherwise those that serve in them would be tempted to reimburse themselves by cheats and violence, and it would become necessary to find out rich men for undergoing those employments, which ought rather to be trusted to the wise. These laws, I say, might have such effect as good diet and care might have on a sick man whose recovery is desperate; they might allay and mitigate the disease, but it could never be quite healed, nor the body politic be brought again to a good habit as long as property remains; and it will fall out, as in a complication of diseases, that by applying a remedy to one sore you will provoke another, and that which removes the one ill symptom produces others, while the strengthening one part of the body weakens the rest.”

I doubt we humans will ever form a Utopia where the struggle over money will cease to exist. Yet I don't think we need to surrender to a brutal and heartless dystopia, where a handful of haves watch multitudes of have-nots in their suffering. We can appeal to all to ensure that all are able to find honest work, and that all are able to live in dignity. In 21st century America this means we must insist that Medicare, Social Security and other programs are strengthened and not privatized. We must demand that our politicians pursue trade and economic policies that benefit workers, not just banks. We must strengthen unions in the private and public sector, as the only organizations directly devoted to improving the lives of workers. Finally, we must not allow a handful of plutocrats to divide the rest of us with racism, jealousy, fear, and ignorance.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Monty Python's mattress mayhem

Just another day in retail...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Recovering the Gilded Age

Income inequality in the U.S. is now the worst it has ever been since the 1890's. While the economic consequences of this are grim enough, the social consequences of this situation are just beginning to emerge. While middle-class parents still cling to the notion that taking on massive debt to send their kids to college makes sense, they may be wrong. Why struggle to become an unemployed architect? Why not, instead, learn the fine art of sucking up to rich people? Here's a fascinating report by Max Abelson of Bloomberg Businessweek:

Christopher Ely is prone to philosophizing about his life's work. "You should be invisible, to a certain point," he explains carefully, wearing a navy blue pinstriped suit and well-polished shoes. "You exist, of course, but you don't." Ely, of course, is describing the secrets of the manservant trade. As one of New York's most famous butlers, he's enjoyed a storied career that began as a footman at Buckingham Palace and led to a job as the butler and estate manager for philanthropist and power widow Brooke Astor. Ely, 48, does not use the term "manservant." The word, he says, "has such connotation to it."

This is one of the many tips Ely is preparing to pass on to the next generation of butlers, housekeepers, chauffeurs, governesses, housemen, personal assistants, laundresses, and chefs. This week he and Manhattan's French Culinary Institute inaugurate the Estate Management Studies program. Tired of hearing people tell him, "We couldn't get good staff," Ely says, he set out to reinvigorate the entire domestic-service industry with a curriculum that combines its ancient hallmarks—efficiency, decorum, and discretion—with what the institute calls the "contemporary skills necessary to manage modern-day residences."

Ely and FCI founder and Chief Executive Officer Dorothy Cann Hamilton have already developed courses on laundry, household cleaning, and the "practice of being a private chef"—25 hours and $1,750 each—in addition to a $1,995, 30-hour "culinary essentials" tutorial. Ely believes he can enlighten and "elevate" his students through his intimate knowledge of linen steaming, towel folding, seafood canapĂ© preparation, and the all-important butlering tenet: invisibility. "It's not like a waiter in a restaurant that's bothering you every two seconds," he says firmly. In all, the FCI is planning a 12-course curriculum.

It also expects a regiment of willing pupils. After a recent hiccup, the help business is on the rise. "It's incredible," says Keith Greenhouse, CEO of the Pavillion Agency, a New York staff placement firm. In the first quarter of 2011, he says, Pavillion received 487 job orders, compared with 283 in the same period in 2009. Through the agency, one young family is looking for someone to "work for both Mr. in his business and Mrs. at home" and "respond to the family's needs at odd hours." A "formal Park Avenue family" wants a cook who can clean silver. The CEO of a fashion house needs a "formally trained housekeeper" to supplant the live-in nanny. According to Ely, a "good" butler should command a salary of about $80,000 a year.

The resurgence of rich people has triggered a rebirth elsewhere in the industry. "When we hit last summer, that's when all of a sudden the economy really changed. And so by the time we were into September of last year, the placement orders went through the roof. It was like, 'Oh, my God,'" says Charles MacPherson, founder of Charles MacPherson Associates, a Toronto-based butlering academy and placement agency. "People just needed to move on," he says, "and start living their lives again." MacPherson isn't alone in his gratitude for rich people remembering just how rich they are. "From September 2008 until January or maybe even February 2009, I doubt that I made a placement. Not one," says Mary Louise Starkey, president of Starkey International Institute for Household Management in Denver. Starkey, whose organization refers to her either as "Mrs. Starkey" or "the First Lady of Service," says her 2011 first-quarter revenues have "darn near close to doubled" over the same period last year.

While the GOP will surely applaud this resurgence in domestic service employment, it may have one consequence they don't like. It may turn out to be a boon for the hated PBS, who can now remarket "Upstairs, Downstairs" as a contemporary drama.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bernie Sanders explains the SuperPacs

Unlimited money threatens the continued existence of our representative republic:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

JP MorganChase meets behind a moat

So freewheelin' foreclosers ("Titles? We don't need no stinkin' titles!") JPMorganChase, thought they'd be clever and hold their annual shareholders meeting in a building protected from protestors by a moat. The peasants were more clever, though, and stormed the castle! This clip makes be proud to be an American:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Here's a little thing we can do to make our local schools better: write letters to the editor, letters to the school board, praising teachers and public education. Make it clear you see funding public education as a crucial investment in our future, not a drain on taxpayers' money. The other side is counting on us being too busy to kick up a fuss as they privatize education. Good luck, and thanks for the help!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Onward Christian Soldiers

St Peter at the Beautiful Gate
Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

One of the more dangerous trends in American politics is the alliance of the Christian Right with the plutocrats. This leads to absurd situations of stunning hypocrisy, where "Christian" corporate shills take the money of religious-minded folks and spend it covering up all sorts of adulterous, and other misbehaviors (see the recent Sen. Ensign resignation for a classic example). Yet I think smug denunciations of hypocrisy won't help us on the left, to challenge the Right's assertion of representing "Christian values." We need to point out to American Christians (most of whom are neither right nor left) that the Christian Left can offer a promising alternative to the wealth glorification and bigotry promoted by the Christian Right. Here's a concise summary of the Biblical support for this argument:

Some who call themselves Christians in America have taken to raging against the threat they believe socialism poses to America and to Christianity. They see socialism as the antithesis of all things Christian and they are not entirely off base in their fears. Some movements and countries that have called themselves socialist have been explicitly anti-religious. The former Soviet Union is a clear example of this. Religious people (as well as many others, it is worth noting) were oppressed, imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their beliefs. But even so, does it stand that Christianity and socialism must always be opposed? In short, no. Christianity and socialism actually have much in common.

In the book of Acts, it can be seen that Christ’s Apostles, lived in a communal way. The book states that “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” and “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common” (Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:32). Holding things in common, giving to anyone who had need, that seems very similar to the radical socialist notion of mutual aid, often expressed in the phrase “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

The accounts in Acts are born out in the Pauline and the Catholic epistles. Paul, in 2 Corinthians, reiterates the egalitarian spirit of the early Christian commune, saying, “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, ‘He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.’” (8:13-15). In 1 Timothy, Paul condemns greed, proclaiming “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” before exhorting Timothy to “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (6:10, 6:17-18).

And Paul is not alone in his epistolary encouragement of equality and charity. James says “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (2:15-18). Peter writes in his first epistle, “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (4:9-10). In 1 John, we are again told “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (3:17-18).

From the Acts of the Apostles through the Epistles it is clear that the Apostles and the early Church believed that charity and a striving for material equality were requirements for being a good Christian. However, this parallel between Christianity and socialism did not arise from Jesus’ followers, but rather from their faith in God’s teachings. Christ himself is the wellspring for Christian socialists.

Christ, in His teachings, repeatedly condemns the rich and the accumulation of wealth. In Luke, Christ declares “But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation” (6:24). In Matthew He states, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” and “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (19:23-24, 6:24). In describing the final judgement, Christ tells of how He will deal with the greedy by saying, “‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’…And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:41-43,46). Christ’s wrath against greed also takes tangible form when He drives the merchants from the Temple, crying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers” and “Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (Mark 11:17, John 2:16).

By the same token, Jesus extols generosity and sharing throughout His teachings. In Mark, He tells His followers to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (12:31). In Matthew, He tells a rich, young man “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (25:21-22). In Luke, He advises giving to those who cannot give back when He says, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (14:12-14). He further promised eternal salvation to the generous, saying “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me…Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:34-36,40).

Through His teachings and actions, Jesus made it clear that to be righteous the prosperous must distribute their wealth to the poor. This teaching was not some new innovation, but a continuation of God’s teachings as given through the Prophets, David, and Moses. Indeed, in declaring His mission, Jesus cites Isaiah, announcing “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
God’s condemnation of greed and selfishness can be seen in Ezekiel when He states He destroyed Sodom due to its people’s greed. He declares “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (16:49). His anger can be seen again in Isaiah when God rails against those who would oppress the poor and weak, declaring, “Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, Who write misfortune, Which they have prescribed To rob the needy of justice, And to take what is right from the poor of My people, That widows may be their prey, And that they may rob the fatherless” (10:1-2). But God also encourages the righteous to “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).

Through the Psalms, one may again find God’s mercy to the poor and to the generous. Psalm 41 states “Blessed is he who considers the poor; The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” Indeed, the Lord Himself considers the poor. Psalm 35 praises God’s protection of the poor when it says, “All my bones shall say, ‘LORD, who is like You, Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?’” God’s protection of the poor is echoed in Psalm 12 which says “‘For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, Now I will arise,” says the LORD; ‘I will set him in the safety for which he yearns’” and in Psalm 146 when it proclaims “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God…Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.”

While the Prophets and Psalms proclaim the wickedness of greed and the goodness of generosity, it is through Moses that God explicitly proclaims the need to create equality by redistributing wealth. In Leviticus 25, God tells Moses that every 49 to 50 years land sold by the poor shall be returned to them even if they cannot pay for it. He tells Moses, “The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me. And in all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption of the land. But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession.” God goes on to tell Moses that “‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit…And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave” (25:35-37,39).

Even before this, God tells Moses that the Israelites must share amongst themselves in a way that is remarkably similar to ““From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” In Exodus, God commands that when gathering manna the Israelites must divide the heavenly food equally. God commanded “Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent” and “Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need” (Exodus 16:16-18).

There is, then, a clear message throughout the Bible that to be righteous and to find salvation, those who have much must share it with those who are in need. Those who bow to greed and turn their backs on the poor, betray God and and face eternal punishment in “the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Does this mean that a Christian must be a socialist? Not necessarily, there may be other ways to structure an economy that is fair and insure the equality of all people. But it does mean that socialism is an economic arrangement that is completely in harmony with the teachings of Christ, the commandments of the Father, and the faith of the Apostles. The same cannot be said for capitalism with its foundation of greed and inequality.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

FreeMasonic fun from Monty Python

Note the handshake at the end!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

If we won't help them, who will?

You know, today I started feeling a bit guilty over making fun of super wealthy people and their low tax rates. I mean-- plutocrats have feelings too, right? So to make up for being so mean I want to introduce you to a charity dedicated to serving this often misunderstood population. Here's Bill Maher to tell you all about it:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Increasing the maximum wage

I think one problem that advocates of tax justice in the U.S. have is that most people simply can't wrap their mind around just how much money the super wealthy are actually hoarding in this country. This little factoid about John Paulson, the hedge-fund manager, might help. In 2010 John Paulson made $2.4 million an hour. Yes, you read that right, not $2.4 million per year, month, or week, all of which would seem like a lot, but $2.4 million an hour. In the interest of fairness, we could pretend (on no evidence) that Mr. Paulson takes no vacations, and works through lunch and weekends. In this case his hourly rate would come down to under $2 million, but still well over $1million an hour. And the beauty part? All of this money is considered capital gains and is taxed by the feds at the same marginal rate (15%) of somebody earning $10/hr! Glad to see that "shared sacrifice" thing is really happening! Well, yeah, Ulysses, but we don't want to discourage a JOB CREATOR with punitive taxation, do we? I don't know-- hedge-fund managers' reckless speculations, in the sub-prime securities market, tanked the economy a couple years back. We're still many many millions of jobs in the hole. Mr. Paulson could buy a new Cadillac, and build a boat-house, every day for the rest of his life-- and his trickling down on the rest of us will never begin to make up for the devastation he's caused to our nation.

So next time you complain about paying the plumber, think of Mr. Paulson's hourly rate and maybe you'll feel a bit better!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Governor Lynch does the right thing in New Hampshire

I should introduce this post by pointing out something about New Hampshire Governor Lynch's background. John Lynch is a multi-millionaire CEO, with a MBA from Harvard. He owes nothing at all to organized labor in terms of his political success. Yet he is an intelligent man-- who is not consumed by a sick hatred of working people, unlike the Governor of nearby Maine. Here's his explanation of his veto of a proposed "right-to-work" bill in the Granite State:

Governor Lynch's Veto Message Regarding HB 474

By the authority vested in me, pursuant to part II, Article 44 of the New Hampshire Constitution, on May 11, 2011, I vetoed HB 474.

States should not interfere with the rights of businesses and their employees to freely negotiate contracts. That is unless there is a compelling public interest, and there is no compelling public interest in passing this legislation.

There is no evidence that this legislation will offer any benefits to New Hampshire's economy or workers.

As I have said repeatedly, New Hampshire has an economic strategy that is working. New Hampshire has one of the strongest and fastest-growing economies in the nation. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates and one of the highest median incomes in the nation. We are considered one of the safest states and one of the healthiest states, and a high percentage of our citizens have private health insurance.

New Hampshire has a lower unemployment rate and a stronger economy than most states with so-called right-to-work laws. In states with a right-to-work law, workers on average have a lower standard of living, bringing home less in their paychecks and going without health insurance more frequently.

In my time as a CEO, in my years spent in the private sector turning around companies, and in my seven years as Governor, I have never seen the so-called right-to-work law serve as a valuable economic development tool.

In the last seven years of recruiting businesses to move to New Hampshire, not one business leader has ever even asked me if New Hampshire had a right-to-work law, let alone suggested it was a factor in the company's location decision. No New Hampshire business leaders have ever told me that the lack of a so-called right-to-work law prevented them from expanding or hiring new workers here in New Hampshire. And no New Hampshire workers have ever told me they couldn't get a job because New Hampshire doesn't have a so-called right-to-work law.

The debate over the so-called right-to-work bill in New Hampshire appears to be largely driven by national outside interest groups, and is not a result of problems facing New Hampshire businesses or workers.

There is no justification in this case for state government to interfere with the right of private businesses to freely negotiate
and enter into contracts with their employees. Therefore, I am vetoing HB 474.

It's reassuring to know that we still have a few sane Governors left!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The privatization of Benton Harbor, MI

Stephen Colbert makes us laugh, at what is really an alarming abuse of power:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Autocratic for the People
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

What Gov. Snyder of Michigan has done in Benton Harbor is nothing less than abolish the people's right to self-government. If this unconstitutional power grab is allowed to stand, then there is little hope left for preserving the American Republic. I encourage everyone, even those who live thousands of miles away from Michigan, to fight back hard. Even the kings of medieval England allowed some local self-government in the shires and towns. We have an emergency, alright. The plutocrats and their puppets have stopped playing by the familiar rules. They used to be content with distorting and corrupting our government with their money. Now bribing a mayor seems like too much work. Better to simply abolish an entire duly elected government and sell off the people's assets to developers for pennies on the dollar.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A new dawn?

First it was the firefighters:

The nation’s main firefighters’ union, long a strong supporter of Democratic candidates, announced on Tuesday that it would indefinitely suspend all contributions to federal candidates out of frustration with Congressional Democrats who, union officials say, have not fought harder against budget cuts and anti-union legislation.

The union, the International Association of Fire Fighters, said it would focus its contributions and energies on state and local races because many legislatures have sought to curtail collective bargaining or otherwise weaken public-sector unions.

Harold A. Schaitberger, the president of the 300,000-member union, said in an interview that he was dismayed with Democrats in Congress for not fighting harder against Republican budget cuts and efforts to weaken unions in more than a dozen state legislatures.

We’re tired that our friends have not been willing to stand up and fight back on our behalf with the same ferocity, the same commitment that our enemies have in trying to destroy our members’ rights,” he said. “Quite frankly, our enemies are trying to kill us as a labor movement and union trying to represent workers and help the middle class.”

Now it's Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, America's largest labor organization:

(President Trumka) It's actually going to be fun. You'll see us giving less to party structure, and more to our own structure. Let's say we give three-fourths of the recorded money to the party structure or to the candidate, what do we have the day after Election Day?

(Interviewer) Promises?


(Interviewer) Handshakes? Smiles?

Maybe. But you won't see that [in 2012]. You'll see more of labor's money put into its own structure right now, and less being set aside for candidates and party structure. What you're about to see is, we're going to do a full-time, around the calendar political program that's going to be mobilizing and educating people 12 months a year, 24 months a cycle, as opposed to doing it till Election Day and dismantling it. We're going to keep people in place, and actually make people pay a price [if they don't keep promises]. We'll start running some of our own, in state races.

I hope that this is the start of a new chapter in American labor history. For decades workers have given of their time and money to help elect Democrats to federal office. Very few of these Democrats have done much for workers in return. Dick Gephardt, Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Ted Kennedy, stand out as rare examples of reliable advocates for workers in Washington D.C. Most national Democrats, like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, have repaid the support of labor by selling out American workers left and right, doing nothing to halt the aggressive union-busting, and outsourcing of good jobs that has devastated the middle class. President Obama's betrayal of teacher unions is particularly troublesome, as he teams up with Bill Gates and other education "reform" advocates who wish to privatize the nation's schools.

While it is probably premature to run a labor candidate for President, it is well past time to turn off the labor money spigot to Democrats who think of workers only as an afterthought, when they are done counting their money from Wall Street.

The biggest danger in this new independence, of course, is that it could make it easier for Republicans to get elected. Yet I would argue that Democrats should stop even trying to match Republicans in campaign spending. A strong voting record, of standing up for workers, is worth far more than slick marketing campaigns on T.V. Nearly half of eligible U.S. voters don't come out for elections. This isn't because Republicans or Democrats aren't spending enough on elections. It's because they're not doing enough to help average Americans between elections.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

GOP loses a supporter in the Granite State

Although not so dominant as it once was, the New Hampshire GOP is still very powerful in the Granite State. However, the state GOP's recent attacks on labor may be starting to cost it support. New Hampshire may be more conservative than neighboring Massachusetts, but it also has a lot less millionaires. Demonizing working people who stick together may work with some of the wealthy suburbanites in the southern part of the state, many others in New Hampshire find it offensive. Here's a recent letter to the Nashua Telegraph:

Dear NH GOP:

It’s over. We had a good run, you and I. We saw so many things the same way: taxes, gun rights, immigration, seat belt laws and even the occasional social issue. We’ve been together for 20 years, but now I have to end it.

You have labeled me public enemy No. 1 because I’m a union member. I belong to IBEW 2320. I’m also a homeowner, I work and live in New Hampshire, and the wages you think are too good for me go right back into our economy.

In the five short months since Dec. 1, I’ve been called a thug, a criminal, an animal and a goon. My intelligence has been called into question, as well as my morality.

I’ve been accused of violence and intimidation, and the responsibility for the financial woes of this state has been laid on my shoulders. You’ve tried to silence those among you who would stand up for me, like Rep. Lee Quandt, R-Exeter.

You tell me not to take it personally, but it could not be more personal. This goes way beyond ideology. You have insulted me, my family and my friends again and again, you have embraced every negative stereotype you can find about us, and even though a great many of us are the reason you have your majority, you stubbornly refuse to believe that any union member would ever vote Republican.

I will continue to support those who supported me, but to the rest of you: Goodbye.

Peggy McCarthy


This conservative voter will never be knocking on doors for progressive Democrats. Yet she, and maybe her friends and family, will no longer be a reliable vote for the GOP. My guess is that she represents what will become a serious "enthusiasm gap" for Republicans in 2012. Do they care about this? Or is serving the interests of their corporate masters now more important to the Rethugs than their own political survival? It could be they see the long-term gains from destroying labor as so great as to justify risking short-term political losses.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Paul Krugman on unions

I think of Paul Krugman as a keen observer of U.S. economics and politics. He has never been especially hostile to labor, yet he is a Princeton professor, and NYT columnist, who is far removed from the world of union activists. When he says that recent GOP assaults on organized labor may well backfire, it gives me real hope for this country.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

21st century disenchantment?

Income inequality in the U.S. has been rising steadily for 30 years. It is now worse than it has ever been since before the Great Depression. Yet, the strange truth is that public alarm over this situation has only recently become widespread. Why the delayed reaction? During the '80s and '90s, many Americans were reluctant to admit they were unlikely to share in the good fortune of those at the top. Now, more Americans have put aside their rose-colored glasses. Here's an observation from a French economist:

Like cholesterol, there is a "good" and a "bad" kind of inequality, according to Francois Facchini, an economist at the University of Paris.

The "good" kind is aspirational. It encourages people to strive toward success, like Graham's Bill Gates analogy. The "bad" kind fosters disillusionment, a feeling that no matter how hard you work, you cannot win.

Pollster John Zogby sees a growing number of Americans falling into the second category. He calls them the "Dreamless Dead," those who no longer believe in the existence of the American Dream of hard work begetting success.

Those who work hard but fail to get ahead lose faith in the dream, he said. Beginning in the 1990s, Zogby noticed an increase in the percentage of people who said they were working in jobs that paid less than previous positions.

"That's when I started to zero in on the American Dream because my assumption was it was going up in smoke," he said.

In the early 1990s, 14 percent of those polled by Zogby said they were making less money than they had before. After the recession, the percentage had more than doubled.

Janet Townsend, who has worked at General Motors for 34 years, is one of those faced with the prospect of a drastic pay cut. She was told she'd have to take a 50 percent wage reduction because GM wanted to sell the Indianapolis plant where she works to a private investor. Union workers opposed the deal. The plant will be shut next year.

"I haven't seen any auto executives or Wall Street bankers taking a paycut, in fact their pay seems to keep going up," she said. "This country is built on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

"But when a corporation tries to make me take a 50 percent pay cut, then you're taking away my right to pursue happiness while enhancing your own."

Any politician who has failed to notice this shift in attitude may be in for a rude awakening. Americans are still far too tolerant of social and economic injustice. Some Americans, however, are starting to recognize the sheer obscenity of a system in which the 400 richest individuals control more wealth than the bottom half of the U.S. population. We've started to notice that these plutocrats are not really "job creators" in the U.S. All of the flags we wave on the 4th of July are "Made in China." Maybe what's good for Wall Street, isn't what Main Street needs after all?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The People's Budget

The Main Street Insider reveals something that our mainstream media has been careful to hide-- there exists right now a reasonable, balanced proposal that would put our nation's fiscal house in order, without demolishing what's left of the New Deal and the Great Society. It was put together by the House Progressive Caucus, and it's called the "People's Budget."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Clearer words were never spoken

Every historical moment is unique. Yet certain themes recur with stunning regularity across space and time. The unholy alliance of excessive economic dominance, and government power, is one such familiar spectacle. If Eugene Debs returned to us tomorrow, he could pretty much dust off the same speech he gave in Chicago on November 22, 1895:

If liberty is a birthright which has been wrested from the weak by the strong, or has been placed in peril by those who were commissioned to guard it as Gheber priests watch the sacred fires they worship, what is to be done? Leaving all other nations, kindred and tongues out of the question, what is the duty of Americans? Above all, what is the duty of American workingmen whose liberties have been placed in peril? They are not hereditary bondsmen. Their fathers were free born—their sovereignty none denied and their children yet have the ballot. It has been called “a weapon that executes a free man’s will as lighting does the will of God.” It is a metaphor pregnant with life and truth. There is nothing in our government it can not remove or amend. It can make and unmake presidents and congresses and courts. It can abolish unjust laws and consign to eternal odium and oblivion unjust judges, strip from them their robes and gowns and send them forth unclean as lepers to bear the burden of merited obloquy as Cain with the mark of a murderer. It can sweep away trusts, syndicates, corporations, monopolies, and every other abnormal development of the money power designed to abridge the liberties of workingmen and enslave them by the degradation incident to poverty and enforced idleness, as cyclones scatter the leaves of the forest. The ballot can do all this and more. It can give our civilization its crowning glory—the co—operative commonwealth.

To the unified hosts of American workingmen fate has committed the charge of rescuing American liberties from the grasp of the vandal horde that have placed them in peril, by seizing the ballot and wielding it to regain the priceless heritage and to preserve and transmit it without scar or blemish to the generations yet to come....

Defeated at every point, their plans all frustrated, out—generaled in tactics and strategy, while the hopes of labor were brightening and victory was in sight, the corporations, goaded to desperation, played their last card in the game of oppression by an appeal to the federal judiciary and to the federal administration. To this appeal the response came quick as lightning from a storm cloud. It was an exhibition of the debauching power of money which the country had never before beheld.

The people had long been familiar with such expressions as “money talks,” “money rules,” and they had seen the effects of its power in legislatures and in congress. They were conversant with Jay Gould’s methods of gaining his legal victories by. “buying a judge” in critical cases. They had tracked this money power, this behemoth beast of prey, into every corporate enterprise evolved by our modern civilization, as hunters track tigers in India jungles, but never before in the history of the country had they seen it grasp with paws and jaws the government of the United States and bend it to its will and make it a mere travesty of its pristine grandeur.

The people had seen this money power enter the church, touch the robed priest at the altar, blotch his soul, freeze his heart and make him a traitor to his consecrated vows and send him forth a Judas with a bag containing the price of his treason; or, if true to his conviction, ideas and ideals, to suffer the penalty of ostracism, to be blacklisted and to seek in vain for a sanctuary in which to expound Christ’s doctrine of the brotherhood of man.

The people had seen this money power enter a university and grasp a professor and hurl him headlong into the street because every faculty of mind, redeemed by education and consecrated to truth, pointed out and illumined new pathways to the goal of human happiness and national glory.

The people had seen this money power practicing every art of duplicity, growing more arrogant and despotic as it robbed one and crushed another, building its fortifications of the bones of its victims, and its palaces out of the profits of its piracies, until purple and fine linen on the one side and rags upon the other side, defined conditions as mountain ranges and rivers define the boundaries of nations—palaces on the hills, with music and dancing and the luxuries of all clinics, earth, air and sea—huts in the valley, dark and dismal, where the music is the dolorous “song of the shirt” and the luxuries rags and crusts.

If not for the pioneering efforts of Eugene Debs, our nation could never have embraced the less radical New Deal of FDR. What we need in 2012 is someone to clearly advocate for working people in the public sphere. Not just in defense of unions, but on behalf of all of us who produce the wealth so greedily snatched up by those who pile it up in their off-shore accounts.

Monday, May 2, 2011

bin Laden v. Bill of Rights

Today's news-- that Osama bin Laden's compound was successfully raided, and that he was killed, will hopefully bring some closure to the families of 9/11 victims. Yet bin Laden's horrific act of terror didn't just kill thousands who were at the WTC. It created a political climate where too many Americans were willing to surrender basic civil liberties in the interest of preventing similar attacks. Now we have learned that the sweeping spy powers granted the government in the Patriot Act have already been abused, and there's a very real potential for greater abuses in the future. Fortunately, Rep. Rush Holt introduced legislation in the last Congress that would mitigate at least some of the Patriot Act's most pernicious effects. We can help ensure that this sensible legislation is reintroduced in this Congress, by asking our Representatives to consider co-sponsoring the Holt bill now. Here's a summary of JUSTICE ( Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts Act):

Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts Act of 2009 or the JUSTICE Act - Revises requirements for the issuance of and public reporting on national security letters and for judicial review of requirements for nondisclosure of the receipt of a national security letter. Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to revise requirements for obtaining orders for business records in counterterrorism investigations. Amends the federal criminal code to reduce from 30 to 7 days the period for notifying the target of a criminal investigation of the issuance of a search warrant. Prohibits the use of evidence in judicial and administrative proceedings if notice of a search warrant is delayed. Amends FISA to: (1) impose limits on roving electronic surveillance and the use of pen registers and trap and trace devices (devices for recording incoming and outgoing telephone numbers); (2) repeal provisions granting retroactive immunity to telecommunication providers for illegal disclosure of subscriber records; (3) prohibit the warrantless collection of certain communications of U.S. citizens known to reside in the United States; and (5) revise certain reporting and evidentiary requirements. Permits the recipient of a subpoena, order, or warrant issued under FISA to bring a challenge in either the district in which the subpoena, order, or warrant was issued or the district in which it was served. Amends the federal criminal code to: (1) redefine "domestic terrorism" as involving acts dangerous to human life that constitute a federal crime of terrorism; and (2) revise the crime of providing material support or resources to foreign terrorism organizations to require knowledge or intent that such support or resources will be used to carry out terrorist activity.

These modest reforms won't put Big Brother out of business, but they might at least force Big Brother to go before a judge-- to explain why he needs to tap the phones, and read the mail of people who aren't even suspected of any crime.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lion Tamer

Chartered Accountant tries to change: