The tragic consulate killings in Libya and America’s hierarchy of human life (via emmtotheatt)
Why wouldn’t TED Talks post these income inequality charts and the video of a TED presentation about how the American middle class has been left behind?
“We’ve had it backward for the last 30 years. Rich businesspeople like me don’t create jobs. Rather they are a consequence of an eco-systemic feedback loop animated by middle-class consumers, and when they thrive, businesses grow and hire, and owners profit. That’s why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich.
So here’s an idea worth spreading.
In a capitalist economy, the true job creators are consumers, the middle class. And taxing the rich to make investments that grow the middle class, is the single smartest thing we can do for the middle class, the poor and the rich.”
^Dude, yes. How fucking obvious could it be that no matter how much money the boss gets to keep, if the customers have none to spend your business is DEAD. Why would anyone hire more employees without consumer demand for their product or service? Even if you tax the shit out of the business owner, they will still have to/be able to hire more help to match increased demand. In short: it is demand that drives an economy, not supply. You could let a general contractor keep 100% of his profits, but if nobody is building or remodeling homes then what good does it do? Why would he hire more workers with the tax savings on money he’s not making?
The new issue of Newsweek features a cover photo of President Obama topped by a rainbow-colored halo and captioned “The First Gay President.” The halo and caption strike me as cheap sensationalism. I realize airport travelers look at a magazine for 2.2 seconds before moving on to the next one. I grant that this cover will probably get Newsweek a 4.4 second glance. I also understand that Newsweek is desperate for sales. Nevertheless, I doubt that the Newsweek of old, before it was sold for a dollar, would have pandered as shallowly.
The caption is a superficial way to characterize an important development of thought that the president — along with the country — has been making over recent years. It is also entirely wrong. Like the mini-furor a couple of months back about the claim that Richard Nixon was our first gay president, the story simply ignores that the U.S. already had a gay president more than a century ago.
There can be no doubt that James Buchanan was gay, before, during and after his four years in the White House. Moreover, the nation knew it, too — he was not far into the closet.
Today, I know no historian who has studied the matter and thinks Buchanan was heterosexual. Fifteen years ago, historian John Howard, author of “Men Like That,” a pioneering study of queer culture in Mississippi, shared with me the key documents, including Buchanan’s May 13, 1844, letter to a Mrs. Roosevelt. Describing his deteriorating social life after his great love, William Rufus King, senator from Alabama, had moved to Paris to become our ambassador to France, Buchanan wrote:
I am now “solitary and alone,” having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.
Tl;dr Newsweek go fuck yourself. We’ve had a gay president before. Stop being a sensationalist piece of shit.
“There are things that U.S. soldiers are allowed to talk about with the press and others they are not. One of the things they are not allowed to voice is their political opinion, especially if it goes against their commander in chief. In the privacy of latrine stalls on military bases in Iraq and Kuwait, however, it is quite a different story. I did not see any pro-Bush writings in any of the hundreds of latrines I photographed.”
Photography by Zoriah.
Noam Chomsky (via noam-chomsky)
To the homophobic Newt Gingrich and his homophobic campaign workers:
Tonight, I was a victim of blatant homophobia and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
When I heard the campaign was coming to Oklahoma City tonight, I jokingly texted a few of my politically-aware gay friends that we should go glitterbomb you (I’ll get to this form of “activism” later). While I was joking, one of the friends I contacted, Tyler, was serious about going and talked me into going up from Norman to see you. It should be noted ahead of time that I’m rather leftist and in fact think Obama is pretty moderate, but I’ve been to some town halls in my life, surrounded by people I probably don’t agree with much on. We went anyway. We’re Americans who wanted to actively engage in the political process. We are also college students who took time out of our busy schedules to go see you (yes, some college students are busy - I’m taking 17 hours, working 30, and have five extracurriculars).
Tyler and I got to the meeting, were approached by some Ron Paul supporters who were going to interrupt your event with singing and wanted us to join, but politely declined. We were there to see you. We stood in the back, eager to hear what you had to say, all the while taking in subtle judgmental looks from the occasional person in the crowd. (Neither Tyler or I are very flamboyant-presenting gays, but this shouldn’t matter anyway - something else I will mention later.) As you began your speech, you talked about how America “is the greatest country in the world” and how it’s a nation that since its creation has been fighting for justice and equality for all of its citizens. This was funny to perhaps the only homosexuals in the building who because of this aren’t afforded protections against hate crimes, job discrimination, marriage or its benefits, but we continued to listen. You talked about energy independence, job creation, foreign policy, national security, the Constitution, the difference between liberals and conservatives, and other talking points. To be honest, I don’t think I remember agreeing with anything you had to say but this is actually beside the point. Again, we were there to see you.
You served as Speaker of the House for four years and because of this, played a significant role in American policies and politics. Whether or not I agree with the policies implemented directly under your leadership is again beside the point. I acknowledge the fact that you did affect change in the United States. And indeed admire you for your leadership.
As we listened to you speak, we later reflected that we remember feeling like we were being watched from the minute we walked in. Your security personnel monitored us from the back and front of the room the entire time you were speaking. As your speech ended, we made our way to the front of the room to meet you like everyone else. We waited our turn and even remained patient as other people asserted themselves in front of us to get to you, the entire time being shadowed and eavesdropped on by a rather indiscreet plainclothes security officer. (The reason I was so hyper-aware of all the security is due to the fact of my travels to seventeen countries as a study abroad student in the past year - you learn to watch your back.) Tyler took a picture of the sign that was hanging on your podium which read “Drill here. Drill now. Pay less.” Again, while we didn’t agree, we were to get a better perspective of conservative ideology and this one was aspect. Almost immediately after Tyler had taken the picture, one of your aides came over, made eye contact with us, and held some paper over the sign as another took it down and eyeballed us some more. The entire time we were waiting, we both kept receiving what felt like judgmental gazes and whispers into coat sleeves and blazers.
As we got closer to you, we endured ever-increasing monitoring and stern glances. At one point, one of your female security personnel pushed herself between Tyler and me (for what reason, I have no idea). Again, we endured ever-increasing monitoring and what seemed to be judgmental gazes by your personnel. Tyler laughed that it felt like as we got closer, there was a magnetic force pushing you towards the door with our advances. I won’t go on to describe the whispers, giggles, and more gazes we endured, Speaker Gingrich. But I will note that Tyler and I both made eye contact with you personally. You met Tyler’s gaze as you were taking pictures with a couple of children. Smiling, your face quickly turned stern and somber. I received the same reaction. Your staff were similar. The closer we got to you, the closer you got to the door. We simply wanted to have our picture taken with the former Speaker of the House. Eventually, I guess we got too close for comfort (don’t want to catch the gay, huh?). Your (I assume to be) senior staffer made final eye contact with me, whispered something in your ear, and the announcement was made that you were leaving.
My coming out story is pretty bland and supportive with a couple exceptions. But never in my life have I experienced such blatant discrimination and homophobia. Never in my life have I ever felt so second-class, marginalized, or judged. I realize that your staff were trying to avoid another glitter bombing incident. But there are several things to say to this.
- Not all gays who go to your rallies are glitter bombers. In fact, I would dare to say most are not. How very fatalist of you.
- In my opinion, glitter bombing is a terrible form of activism, however peaceful or comedic its intentions. It’s a terrible reinforcer of gay stereotypes.
- Regardless of how Tyler or I were dressed or what mannerisms we presented, discrimination is wrong. I don’t care if we were in assless chaps and S&M clothes. (We were actually both dressed in slacks and button-down shirts.) The fact remains that we were Americans who wanted to engage in the political process and to meet the former Speaker of the House and Presidential-hopeful.
- Discrimination is not a quality of a leader and most certainly isn’t conduct worthy of a President.
- Just as glitter-bombing reinforces gay stereotypes, your discrimination against my friend and I reinforces the stereotype that conservatives are homophobes and bigots.
As stated previously, I knew about you and your policy stances coming in tonight, but any chance you had at redemption as a decent human being in my eyes has been lost. I hope in the future you will come around to actually believing your own rhetoric about Americans and equality. Because until you embrace homosexuals and diversity the same as you embrace all the white people in the audience tonight (I counted maybe five individuals of racial minorities), that’s exactly what equality is to you: rhetoric.
My Guantánamo Nightmare
By LAKHDAR BOUMEDIENE
ON Wednesday, America’s detention camp at Guantánamo Bay will have been open for 10 years. For seven of them, I was held there without explanation or charge. During that time my daughters grew up without me. They were toddlers when I was imprisoned, and were never allowed to visit or speak to me by phone. Most of their letters were returned as “undeliverable,” and the few that I received were so thoroughly and thoughtlessly censored that their messages of love and support were lost.
Some American politicians say that people at Guantánamo are terrorists, but I have never been a terrorist. Had I been brought before a court when I was seized, my children’s lives would not have been torn apart, and my family would not have been thrown into poverty. It was only after the United States Supreme Court ordered the government to defend its actions before a federal judge that I was finally able to clear my name and be with them again.
I left Algeria in 1990 to work abroad. In 1997 my family and I moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina at the request of my employer, the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates. I served in the Sarajevo office as director of humanitarian aid for children who had lost relatives to violence during the Balkan conflicts. In 1998, I became a Bosnian citizen. We had a good life, but all of that changed after 9/11.
When I arrived at work on the morning of Oct. 19, 2001, an intelligence officer was waiting for me. He asked me to accompany him to answer questions. I did so, voluntarily — but afterward I was told that I could not go home. The United States had demanded that local authorities arrest me and five other men. News reports at the time said the United States believed that I was plotting to blow up its embassy in Sarajevo. I had never — for a second — considered this.
The fact that the United States had made a mistake was clear from the beginning. Bosnia’s highest court investigated the American claim, found that there was no evidence against me and ordered my release. But instead, the moment I was released American agents seized me and the five others. We were tied up like animals and flown to Guantánamo, the American naval base in Cuba. I arrived on Jan. 20, 2002.
I still had faith in American justice. I believed my captors would quickly realize their mistake and let me go. But when I would not give the interrogators the answers they wanted — how could I, when I had done nothing wrong? — they became more and more brutal. I was kept awake for many days straight. I was forced to remain in painful positions for hours at a time. These are things I do not want to write about; I want only to forget.
I went on a hunger strike for two years because no one would tell me why I was being imprisoned. Twice each day my captors would shove a tube up my nose, down my throat and into my stomach so they could pour food into me. It was excruciating, but I was innocent and so I kept up my protest.
In 2008, my demand for a fair legal process went all the way to America’s highest court. In a decision that bears my name, the Supreme Court declared that “the laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.” It ruled that prisoners like me, no matter how serious the accusations, have a right to a day in court. The Supreme Court recognized a basic truth: the government makes mistakes. And the court said that because “the consequence of error may be detention of persons for the duration of hostilities that may last a generation or more, this is a risk too significant to ignore.”
Five months later, Judge Richard J. Leon, of the Federal District Court in Washington, reviewed all of the reasons offered to justify my imprisonment, including secret information I never saw or heard. The government abandoned its claim of an embassy bomb plot just before the judge could hear it. After the hearing, he ordered the government to free me and four other men who had been arrested in Bosnia.
I will never forget sitting with the four other men in a squalid room at Guantánamo, listening over a fuzzy speaker as Judge Leon read his decision in a Washington courtroom. He implored the government not to appeal his ruling, because “seven years of waiting for our legal system to give them an answer to a question so important is, in my judgment, more than plenty.” I was freed, at last, on May 15, 2009.
Today, I live in Provence with my wife and children. France has given us a home, and a new start. I have experienced the pleasure of reacquainting myself with my daughters and, in August 2010, the joy of welcoming a new son, Yousef. I am learning to drive, attending vocational training and rebuilding my life. I hope to work again serving others, but so far the fact that I spent seven and a half years as a Guantánamo prisoner has meant that only a few human rights organizations have seriously considered hiring me. I do not like to think of Guantánamo. The memories are filled with pain. But I share my story because 171 men remain there. Among them is Belkacem Bensayah, who was seized in Bosnia and sent to Guantánamo with me.
About 90 prisoners have been cleared for transfer out of Guantánamo. Some of them are from countries like Syria or China — where they would face torture if sent home — or Yemen, which the United States considers unstable. And so they sit as captives, with no end in sight — not because they are dangerous, not because they attacked America, but because the stigma of Guantánamo means they have no place to go, and America will not give a home to even one of them.
I’m told that my Supreme Court case is now read in law schools. Perhaps one day that will give me satisfaction, but so long as Guantánamo stays open and innocent men remain there, my thoughts will be with those left behind in that place of suffering and injustice.
A Baptist church in North Carolina has voted to stop legally marrying anyone until homosexuals have marriage equality.
“As people of faith, affirming the Christian teaching that before God all people are equal, we will no longer participate in this discrimination,” the church’s statement says.
The vote was unanimous and brought tears to the eyes of some of the 100 or so members who stood to vote in favor of the “statement on marriage ceremonies.”
Just thought you guys would all like to see this.
LOVE this. Fuck tradition.
PRAISE GOD. (From whom all blessings flow.) This is such an encouragement to someone who has basically lost all faith in the American Christian church. Next thing you know, there will be churches who are advocating to giving to the poor as opposed to the prosperity doctrine. Change is happening, legally, socially, and even spiritually. The conversation is there. The activism is there (even if in small doses). And people’s hearts are behind it. This gives me such hope.
When the Census Bureau this month released a new measure of poverty, meant to better count disposable income, it began altering the portrait of national need. Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people — one in three Americans — either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.
After a lost decade of flat wages and the worst downturn since the Great Depression, the findings can be thought of as putting numbers to the bleak national mood — quantifying the expressions of unease erupting in protests and political swings. They convey levels of economic stress sharply felt but until now hard to measure.
The Census Bureau, which published the poverty data two weeks ago, produced the analysis of those with somewhat higher income at the request of The New York Times. The size of the near-poor population took even the bureau’s number crunchers by surprise.
GRAPHIC: If U.S. land were divided like U.S. wealth
In response to the Occupy Wall Street movements-
Xinhua (China’s state news agency) said they showed “a clear need for Washington, which habitually rushes to demand other governments to change when there are popular protests in their countries, to put its own house in order.”
DAMN. When CHINA calls you out, you know there’s something wrong.