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Tue May 05, 2015 at 11:30 AM PDT

On the Persistence of Racism, Part 1

by Bill Day

Reposted from Bill Day by grog Editor's Note: First part of the history of racial bias and exploitation of African Americans and how its echoes persist today. s:mom -- grog

(Note: This diary got so long that I decided to divide it in two. The first part will briefly recount US oppression of African Americans up to the Civil Rights movement of the sixties. The second part will discuss persistent and systemic marginalization of African Americans since the Civil Rights movement. Though either part should make sense alone, once both parts are up I will try to link them.)

Sixty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, fifty years after the voting rights act and affirmative action, and more than two years after we elected a black President for a second term, African Americans continue to struggle with poverty and marginalization. Conservatives, including the current Supreme Court, argue that the civil rights laws passed in the 60’s changed the system and that therefore the problem must be with impoverished people of color themselves and not with the system. I profoundly disagree. The problems suffered by impoverished African American communities today derive from our country’s long and continuing history of systemic and pervasive racial bias and resulting lack of opportunity, a history that still haunts us all.

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Reposted from Risen Tree by Susan Grigsby Editor's Note: Latest polling on unions. s:LK -- Susan Grigsby

One might think with all the union-bashing in corporate media, Faux News, multiple levels of government, and the general rhetoric, that unions are decidedly unpopular among Americans as a whole. Right?

According to a recent study by Pew Research, wrong. It's actually a lot stronger than some would think.

Here are a few highlights:

A very slight, 45-43 plurality--most likely within the margin of error--of Americans believe that "the large reduction in [the] share of unionized workers over the past 20 years has been mostly bad for the country." The opinion of its negative impact on workers themselves is stronger.

But maybe the surveyed people just had a moment of sympathy? America hates unions, right?

Wrong.

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Reposted from nancyjones by Susan Grigsby Editor's Note: Some things should not be profitable. s:LK -- Susan Grigsby
On Wednesday, the 29th of April, GEO Corporation held its annual shareholders' meeting in Boca Raton, Florida.

A little back story: GEO Corporation, if you don't know, is the largest prison for profit corporation in Florida. A couple of years ago, GEO Corporation thought it would be cool to have a stadium named after them, so they offered Florida Atlantic University (FAU), part of the public university system in Florida, $6 million to name their new stadium the GEO Stadium.

FAU administration said, "Cool! $6 million is a wadda bucks. Bring it on!"

FAU students said, "Not so fast. We kinda think it's not that great to profit from prisoners."

FAU administration said, "There, there. It's okay. We know what's best for you. Don't sweat this one."

FAU students and faculty and community members said, "You know what? It's NOT okay. You making profits by turning our loved ones into criminals is NOT okay. In fact, it's immoral."

Long story short, the students won and the stadium is not named after GEO. We need tons and tons of these victories so ...

Flash forward to two years later and the GEO shareholders' meeting that happened last Wednesday. We gotcher number, GEO. Lots of photos beneath the orange squiggle of justice.

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Mon May 04, 2015 at 07:30 PM PDT

Meditation-Inspired Activism

by Ooooh

Reposted from DKos Sangha by Susan Grigsby Editor's Note: A different kind of activism. s:LK -- Susan Grigsby

It is completely counter-intuitive to turn in to suffering. In fact, most people spend their entire lives trying to aim for pleasure and avoid suffering. The problem with that strategy is that suffering is a fact of life, we cannot avoid it. The best we can hope for is to learn to become free of our attachment to pleasure and our aversion to suffering. If that sounds like a hopeless premise, consider that once we learn to accept what is, we can simply relax in the moment with what ever is happening.

Good evening and welcome to Monday Group Meditation. We will be sitting from 7:30 to 11:00 PM Eastern Time. It is not necessary to sit for the entire extended time, which is set up to make it convenient for people in four North American Time Zones; sit for as long as you like and when it is most convenient for you. Monday Group Meditation is open to everyone, believers and non-believers, who are interested in gathering in silence. If you are new to meditation and would like to try it for yourself, Mindful Nature gave a good description of one way to meditate in an earlier diary, copied and pasted below:

                                                                "It is a matter of focusing attention mostly. In many traditions, the idea is to sit and focus on the rising and falling of the breath.  Not controlling it, but sitting in a relaxed fashion and merely observing experiences of breathing, sounds, etc.  Be aware of your thoughts, but don't engage in them.  When your mind wanders (it will, often), then return to focus on breath and repeat."

Sangha Co-hosts for meditation are:

7:30 - 10:00  Ooooh and davehouck

9:30 - 11:00  thanatokephaloides

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Mon May 04, 2015 at 05:30 PM PDT

The Slow Burn of Living Well

by TMatherne

Reposted from TMatherne by pico Editor's Note: Setting the record straight...s:sus -- pico

Hello world!

Although this is my first Daily Kos diary, I'm willing to bet at least a few people on this site have read my name before, even if you don't recognize it.  My name, by the way, is Tommie Matherne.  The reason that you may have heard of my name before is because it was included in a student loan hit piece in the Wall Street Journal a bit back.  While being interviewed for the piece, I was constantly told by the author that the purpose was to highlight the hardships faced by those taking out student loans and the financial pressures it induces.  Knowing what I do about the journalistic integrity of the Wall Street Journal, I can't say I'm really surprised at the lie.

You see, what the actual point of the article did was to denigrate and vilify those who have to use some of their student loans in order to make ends meet.  You know, because we should all be making as much as everyone else, or else it is our own faults, right?  RIGHT!  In the end, this article has been touted about in various places as a reference to further drag student loan recipients through hell as the horrible, terrible people we are.  I'll recap my indiscretions below the orange loan rider squiggle.

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Reposted from misneach by vcmvo2 Editor's Note: Ireland will have a vote on a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage.s:sus -- vcmvo2

For those of you that hadn't yet heard, on 22 May 2015 - less than 3 weeks from today - a public referendum will be held to amend the constitution of the Republic of Ireland to recognize same-sex marriage.  This is the first time in history a public vote has been called at a national level on marriage equality, and I confess that I am proud to live on the little island in the North Atlantic where this historical moment is happening.

One of the most amazing parts of this moment is the fact that only a couple of decades ago - a time when most of the music they play after midnight in the pubs here was released - such a vote would have been incomprehensible. The fact that 68% of the population (based on the most recent poll) supports the acceptance of marriage equality is even more amazing still.  That having been said, there is an historic danger that a complacency may envelop those who - in their hearts - support equality, and a regressive element may win the day.

In the US it's become up to the courts to make the decisions on this subject.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg may provide a refreshing view on the case Obergefell v. Hodges but I confess that I would worry about the outcome of a public referendum on the subject in the US at this particular moment.  In Ireland - in this moment - it's being put to the people (sorry, The People) to decide.

I post this because I know that there are 40 million (well, 39.6 by the most recently available census data) Irish-Americans, many of whom are forward-thinking individuals like the frequenters of this site, and who are people who have friends and family Back Home with whom they maintain contact.

I would like to ask that those of you who believe in Marriage Equality take a moment to give a call, send a message on Facebook, Skype, Twitter, etc., or drop an email to their contacts Back Home and implore them to step up in this historic moment.

Thank you, and may Equality win the day.

Discuss
Reposted from rjsigmund by Regina in a Sears Kit House Editor's Note: In depth reporting on current status of US domestic oil wells and supplies related to the market. s:p -- Regina in a Sears Kit House

on record inventories and near record production despite the collapse of oil patch activity

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Mon May 04, 2015 at 08:01 AM PDT

What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been!

by SlightKC

Reposted from Pain Patient Empowerment by Regina in a Sears Kit House Editor's Note: How pain becomes a dominant feature in a person's life.s:V -- Regina in a Sears Kit House
Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with Lupus.  Tomorrow afternoon, I meet my rheumatologist.  I have no idea what is going to happen, or if this is truly real; I feel like I’ve been living and moving in a fog since I got the news.  All I do know is it seems to be the perfect cap to my life since I turned 55 four years ago.
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Mon May 04, 2015 at 03:00 AM PDT

Taxing Exertions

by Robert Dobbs

Reposted from Robert Dobbs by Lorikeet Editor's Note: A little exercising and thoughts about putting propositions on the California ballot. s:rh -- Lorikeet

I like almost everything about the fitness center at University. I like the stylish two-story building: something like an Art Moderne airplane hangar. I like the stupendous view of the bay from the floor-to-ceiling windows on the second floor. I like the weights and equipment, and that everything's clean and in good shape.

I even like the students who work out alongside me. Many are athletes, so they're serious about training and hardly ever whip out an iPhone between sets. And I really like the price and availability: twenty bucks a month, and I can walk over from the office on my lunch hour.

What I don't like? It's too small, half the size it should be for a campus of 17,000. I have to step over and around grunting, wriggling bodies to even get a dumbbell much less find a free bench-press or squat station. I took the pictures in this post at 5 pm on Saturday evening, and the place was as crowded as it ever is.

I'm old: just fighting a rear-guard action against the mercilesss insults of time. So, given the crowds, I just do whatever kind of workout I can manage: grab a pair of dumbbells, find an empty patch of floor, and do some shoulder presses. Or, do progressive lunges down the center aisle while the kids stream past me in search of workout stations or cardio machines.

The fitness center wasn't big enough when it was built, 15 years ago. Since then, enrollment grew 50 percent. The administration hoped money for expansion would appear. Never happened. Times have been rough in California.

And they've been rough for the staff and students of University, what with budget cuts and staff cuts, increased fees and decreased opportunities. I've been there for nine years; feels like 20.

This was on my mind as I stumbled back to my office from a noon workout last week. My route took me through the central plaza, which was a circus of political advocates and frat boys and student clubs, all handing out leaflets or seeking recruits.

A couple of brash young anti-abortion advocates had come up from town with a six-foot color poster of an aborted fetus. It was meant to be shocking; it looked like a barbecued chicken. I pushed my way past the swirl of argument and commotion that they'd made. It was hot. I was tired. I'd just got clear when somebody shoved a clipboard in my face ."Sign this. It's for the kids."

"Which ones?" I asked wearily. His partner showed me some literature. It was an petition to float a ballot initiative for school construction bonds. Three billion for the public schools, two billion for the universities, another chunk for the community colleges. Something for everybody. At a cost to the general fund of a mere $500 million a year for a very, very long time. But hey: University might get a better fitness center out of it. Win-win, right?

Forty years ago I would have thought so. Now, I see the problems.

Ballot initiatives in California used to be a sort of grass-roots legislation, where citizens could vote something into law that the legislature refused to deal with. But now special interests just use it as a way to bypass the governing process. If you've got the money you can take your proposition straight to the people without all those pesky hearings and debates and newspaper analyses.

And so initiatives are big business. The man and woman with the petition were professional signature gatherers. They get one buck, two bucks, even four bucks a signature to qualify a proposition for the ballot. I've asked; petition gatherers are common on campus right now. Idealistic young college students like to help others, especially when it's as easy as signing a petition. That's how I used to feel.

And then you learn more. It turns out that Governor Brown has said he'd veto money in the state budget for new school construction; he doesn't want the state to take on more debt. He thinks the cities and counties should fund their own construction. So the education lobbies are going around him to the voters by funding the ballot initiative. They know that people like to vote for school construction initiatives, and will.

People like to do it because, they think it's free. Sure, the state's on the hook for another half-billion a year, but good things happen and their taxes don't go up. (Their local taxes would indeed have to go up if local districts had to fund their own construction.)

The same goes for money for state parks and other public works, plus guarantees that certain programs will get X percentage of the state budget "no matter what." There's no immediate cost to the voters. So, they ask themselves on some level, why worry?

But when California ran out of money a few years ago, government could do very little to shuffle money around to put out the worst fires because so much of it was tied up in mandatory bond payments and unalterable funding formulas that were mandated by the voters. But which were created and sold to the voters by small groups of people with lots of money and influence.

If it were up to me, I'd definitely have more school construction. And more help for the poor, more public works, better roads, and on and on. But you don't get that by saying "make it so" on your ballot, like some starship captain. You do it by getting more money in the door. You do it by raising taxes on those who should be paying more.

In California's case, you also do it by closing tax loopholes and exceptions that are a mile wide. I won't go into details — if you live here, you know them — but I will say that, thanks to California's infamous Proposition 13 and some aggressive lawyering, commercial property owners have reduced their share of state-wide property tax receipts from roughly half to a third or less in the last few decades. We need that money back.

Proposition 13 limited the ability of politicians to raise taxes, and even made it much harder for voters to increase local taxes in their communities. But it didn't stop voters from spending unlimited "free money" by voting for expensive propositions that the state -- not their town or school district or county or transit district -- had to pay for. This has to stop, one way or the other.

But we do not need more sales taxes for struggling households to pay. We do need to get money out of the people who've wangled themselves cushy tax breaks that we can no longer afford to let them have.

Jerry Brown got Californians to blink a couple of years back when he said, "You will vote in a temporary tax increase, or I must make massive cuts to everything." No governor had said that to Californians in decades. The pols always found a temporary trick to keep the money flowing without raising taxes, and carried on until the next crisis. And citizens reviled the "spend-thrift politicians." But nobody can call Jerry Brown a spendthrift. They believed him when he said he'd cut massively. And they caved.

That was a one-time burst of sanity -- or fear. Sometimes the two go together. But my fellow Californians are going to have to wise up permanently, or overcrowded university gyms will be the least of it. Actually, they are the least of it. The students and I can always get a workout somehow. University is built on hills; even walking to lunch can get you your daily cardio.

And I think they will wise up, or soon enough find themselves back where they were six years ago. And not able to tell themselves, this time, that "spendthrift politicians" deserve all the blame.

Discuss

Mon May 04, 2015 at 01:00 AM PDT

Ayn Randed Part 4: Substance Abuse

by DaveElder

Reposted from DaveElder by Lorikeet Editor's Note: Ayn Rand, substance abuse, and mental health. s:rh -- Lorikeet

During the short space in my early 20s when I took Ayn Rand's philosophy seriously, it occurred to me more than once that perhaps I found it appealing because I could understand it. Kant? No, I can't, and never could. Maybe I could handle Martin Buber, but with Objectivism, I could grasp the whole thing quite easily, without feeling like any of it had slipped through my fingers. This appealing simplicity, however, soon enough unraveled in the face of life experiences and the company of people who didn't fit into the floor plan.

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Reposted from campskunk2 by watercarrier4diogenes Editor's Note: News not likely to make any of us happy. s:sus -- watercarrier4diogenes

Talk about a flat learning curve - the US auto industry was bailed out back in 2009 as part of the TARP stimulus package for the banking and auto industry, but they're right back to the same business practices that made them vulnerable to global marketing pressures. If things went south again, they'd be right back in the same pickle. Why?

Well, GM, Chrysler and Ford like to do things the old-fashioned way. Every time gas prices dropped, Detroit made bigger, less fuel-efficient vehicles, and sold them on styling. No need for the average urbanite to drive a sensible vehicle when s/he can have a two ton behemoth to pop down to the corner store for a loaf of bread in. I mean, you look GOOD in that SUV, right? In 2008 there were hundreds of thousands of gas-guzzling high-clearance 4WD vehicles sitting in garages all over the country that have never been off the pavement, thanks to the domestic auto industry's marketing and the public's gullibility. Hummers, Lincoln Navigators, Ford Expeditions - these vehicles are large enough to be seen from the moon.

When the 2008 crisis hit, Detroit was caught flat-footed. Gas prices soared, financing dried up, and people were worried about their jobs - IF they still had one. All Detroit had to sell was the same old boats. Car dealerships looked like marinas with hundreds of unsold yachts docked there permanently. The remaining auto market was leaner and heavily skewed toward smaller, more fuel-efficient imports.

The auto industry bailout required $80 billion of taxpayers money, all but $11.7 billion of which was recovered. That's actually a good deal, compared to the alternative - vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney picking over the carcasses, 4.15 million jobs down the toilet, and a $105.3 billion hit to government revenues if the whole industry had collapsed.

You'd think GM, Ford and Chrysler would have learned their lesson, and gone with a different vehicle lineup post-bailout, but NOOOO, gas prices are low and they're cranking out the behemoths again.

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Reposted from Jjc2006 by watercarrier4diogenes Editor's Note: Not that we'll see it during the primary campaign, but here's a clear statement of what we should see on Daily Kos. s:sus -- watercarrier4diogenes

Here's the thing.  I love Bernie and have been supporting him for some time.  But just because I love Bernie, will support/work for and vote for him does not mean I have to trash Hillary.   This is what the right wants.  This is what disturbs me.  I have seen here, some so called progressives, echoing right wing talking points against Hillary for a while. Maybe it is for the sake of pushing their choice; maybe they are trolls; maybe there is left over resentment from 2008.  Don't know why.  Don't care.  Just hope it stops and this is why I loved Bernie even more when he explained he would not be trashing Hillary; he is not running against Hillary but FOR US.

I had originally started this as a comment in another diary.  Lost it (glitch) and decided to just do a diary.  

More below the squiggly!!

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