Category: corporate money

The Hunger Games: children are always on the front lines

By Nancy Bean

So far my summer “to do” list has served only as a bookmark in the Hunger Games Trilogy.

Set in a dystopian North America, the isolated and impoverished provinces serve the rich and powerful Capital. The Capital sponsors the annual Hunger Games with tributes drawn from the provinces. Two 16 year olds from each province are set down in a highly rigged and orchestrated arena of fighting to the death for the entertainment of the bored folks in the Capital and to maintain the power of fear and grief over the provinces.

The children are trained to view each other as the enemy as they vie with bloody competition for the limited resources and protections available in the arena.

Don’t think Tea Party disrespect for government; rather think Corporate Capital becoming the only person with a vote.

Think for profit prisons and schools and healthcare and security forces.

Think the imminent defunding of WIC and Headstart and Public schools.

Think dissolution of safety and health regulations.

Globally think of our unquenchable thirst for cheap goods and corporation’s ravishing pursuit of cheap labor pursued by any means necessary and always at the expense of the world’s peace and security, with starvation and homelessness of children as predictable first casualty.

On Sunday morning our pastor preached on David and Goliath. Although his sermon and the text was about how the battle belongs to the Lord and is not won with weaponry but with faith, I could only think about how every war is waged with children and “the least of these” on the front lines of harm’s way.

Suzanne Collins has crafted a story full of violence and adventure for her audience of young adults which has left this 57 year old reeling with the dark realities it reveals.

Zimmerman prosecution shows the power of principled protest


By Alan Bean

“We prosecute cases based on the relevant facts of each case and on the law of the state of Florida.”  So says State Attorney Angela B. Corey, the special prosecutor assigned to the George Zimmerman case.  It is unlikely that Zimmerman would ever have been charged had it not been for the national outcry that has rivetted attention on this case. 

Law enforcement and district attorneys dislike the Stand Your Ground law because it frustrates their efforts to arrest, investigate and prosecute cases in which the shooter claims self-defense.  But law enforcement was obviously intimidated by Stand Your Ground.  Even though Zimmerman jumped to unwarranted conclusions about Trayvon Martin, even though he defied a police dispatcher’s demand that he remain in his vehicle, even though Zimmerman clearly followed and confronted Martin, the appeal to self-defense worked like magic. 

Like any high-profile narrative, the Trayvon Martin case has revealed a troubling divide in public perception.   On one side of the fault line, people identify with George Zimmerman’s suspicion of young black males wearing hoodies.  On the other side, folks identify with a victim of racial profiling and vigilante justice. 

Those who identify with neither Zimmerman nor Martin generally take a “let the system handle it approach.”  Now that Zimmerman has been arrested it may appear that the dispassionate bystanders who trust established judicial processes called it right.  The Washington Post editorial below suggests, albeit cautiously, that the system is working as it should.  Zimmerman will have his day in court.  Prosecutors will have a hard time working around the prejudicial impact of the Stand Your Ground law.  A plea bargain may settle this thing.  Zimmerman’s mental issues may also surface as a major issue (the man is clearly unstable). 

But none of this would be happening apart from massive national protest. (more…)

The most influential civil rights champion you’ve never heard of

If you’ve never heard of Stetson Kennedy, you’ll feel as if you’ve known the man all your life after reading this wonderful eulogy by University of Florida professor Paul Ortiz.  Kennedy is generally remembered as a thorn in the side of the Ku Klux Klan, but as Professor Ortiz makes clear, his significance is much deeper and broader than that.  Until this morning, I had never heard Stetson Kennedy’s name mentioned in connection with racism, segregation, white supremacy or the civil rights movement.  How can that be?  AGB 

stetson_kennedy_typing.pngBy Paul OrtizStetson Kennedy passed away on Saturday, Aug. 27. He was 94 years old. Stetson died peacefully in the presence of his beloved wife, Sandra Parks, at Baptist Medical Center South in St. Augustine, Florida.

Stetson Kennedy spent the better part of the 20th century doing battle with racism, class oppression, corporate domination, and environmental degradation in the American South. By mid-century Stetson had become our country’s fiercest tribune of hard truths; vilified by the powerful, Stetson did not have the capacity to look away from injustice. His belief in the dignity of the South’s battered sharecroppers, migrant laborers, and turpentine workers made him the region’s most sensitive and effective folklorist.

Stetson was so relentless, so full of life, that some of us thought that he would trick death the way that he had once fooled the Ku Klux Klan into exposing their lurid secrets to the listeners of the Adventures of Superman radio program in 1947. As recently as April, Stetson gave a fiery speech to hundreds of farm workers and their supporters at a rally in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Tampa. Standing in solidarity with Latina/o and Haitian agricultural workers affirmed Stetson’s ironclad belief in the intersections between labor organizing, racial justice, and economic equity. (more…)

Is Grover Norquist controlling the government he hates

Grover Norquist

In this New York Times article, Frank Bruni points up just how ideological Grover Norquist really is. He is obsessed with strangling the federal government, “reducing it in size until you could drown it in a bathtub,” as Norquist puts it.

In a post awhile back, Alan Bean argued that Norquist has captured the U. S. Government. I took exception to that claim. But, however the debt ceiling battle turns out, Norquist has won.

Will his victory be permanent, or a Pyrrhic victory which turns back on the Groverians when people see the perils of that philosophy when it moves beyond a right wing rant to actually being enacted? Even if it is rejected in two, four, or six years I fear it will cost the most vulnerable among us dearly in the meantime.

But read Bruni for yourselves.

Charles Kiker

Retired pastor, founding board member of Friends of Justice

Taxes, and a Dangerous Purity


Published: July 30, 2011

WHAT does the face of antitax absolutism look like?

It has a tentative beard, more shadow than shag, like an awkward weigh station on the road from callow to professorial. It wears blunt glasses over narrowed eyes that glint mischievously, and its mouth is rarely still, because there’s no end to the jeremiads pouring forth: about the peril of Obama, the profligacy of Democrats and the paramount importance of opposing all tax increases, even ones that close the loopiest of loopholes.        (more…)

Obama’s problem with white folks

By Alan Bean

A new Pew Poll shows that Barack Obama isn’t connecting with white voters.  This is hardly big news: Obama won just 43% of the white vote in the 2008 election.  But his popularity rating with white voters now rests at 38%.  Even more chilling, if you’re a Democrat, a full 60% of the white electorate backed Republican candidates in the 2010 midterm election.

What’s going on here?  Two things. 

First, as we commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Republican Party is still advertising itself (surreptitiously, of course) as the Party of White.  

In the short run, this makes a lot of political sense.  Baby boomers, the demographic currently controlling American politics, are 75% white.  But the “Party of White” strategy will shortly run out of gas.   From the earliest days of European colonization, America has been a majority white nation.  Not for long.  A slight majority of Americans 18 and younger are people of color.  These rapidly shifting demographic patterns have injected a strong dose of cognitive dissonance into the hearts and minds of white folk.  We feel we are losing control.  We pull the red lever because we hope it will preserve the white-dominated world we were born into. (more…)

Ghost-writing the law: ALEC and the conservative legislative agenda

Paul Weyrich

Is it a coincidence that conservative governors across the land are proposing remarkably similar legislation in 2011? 

Bill Berkowitz at Talk to Action doesn’t believe in coincidence. 

While the much-heralded Koch brothers from Wichita, KS. have invested untold millions in shaping pro-corporate, anti-public sector legislation, they are by no means the only players in the game.  According to Berkowitz, a Washington DC-based outfit called ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) has been shaping and coordinating conservative legislative efforts across the nation since it was founded by the late Paul Weyrich in 1973.

So, if this ALEC outfit is such a major player, why haven’t you heard about the organization?  Simple, they work very hard to retain their anonymity.  Although the conservative movement has done a remarkable job of convincing middle class white folks that the federal government is their enemy, the wave of rage currently sweeping over America was sparked by a fiscal tsunami emanating from the corporate world.  It is amazing how lies prosper when backed by massive funding and how the unfunded truth can be so easily swept away in the backwash. (more…)