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Rights Come with Responsibilities; the Right Shirks Theirs

8:49 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

Five years ago, a 47-year-old Missouri woman began a duplicitous on-line courtship through MySpace with a 13-year-old neighbor who once had been friends with the woman’s daughter.

The adult, Lori Drew, flirted with the 13-year-old, Megan Meier, through the guise of a fictitious, 16-year-old character named Josh Evans. Suddenly, “Josh” broke up with Miss Meier, writing to her, “the world would be a better place without you.” Just hours later, Miss Meier hung herself in her bedroom.

Words have consequences.

Drew wasn’t charged with the child’s death. In fact, a judge reversed her conviction on computer fraud charges, saying the law was intended to deal with hacking, not murder. But for most Americans, there is something deeply disturbing, something morally, if not criminally, wrong with deliberate torment, with predatory viciousness. Drew eluded accountability the same way conservatives are seeking to evade culpability after their irresponsible speech has provoked the delusional to violence.

It’s hard to draw a line directly from Drew’s cruel words to the noose around Miss Meier’s neck. Similarly, it’s difficult to directly link violent political rhetoric like Sarah Palin’s illustration showing gun sight cross hairs on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ Arizona district to the shattering of Giffords’ office door after her vote for health insurance reform last March or Jared L. Loughner’s shooting spree last weekend that left six dead and Giffords and 13 others wounded.

What is clear, however, is that vile and threatening communication that becomes so repetitive that it’s routine has the effect of sanctioning an atmosphere of violence. . . . Read the rest of this entry →

On Labor Day, Work to Save the Middle Class

8:31 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

This Labor Day feels gloomy. It’s a celebration of work when there is not enough of it, a day off when too many desperately seek a day on.

America has commemorated two Labor Days since this brutal recession began near the end of George Bush’s presidency in December of 2007. Now the relentless high unemployment, the ever-rising foreclosures, the unremitting wage and benefit take-backs have replaced American optimism and enthusiasm with fear and anger.

Happy Labor Day.

On this holiday, we can rant with Glenn Beck, kick the dog and hate the neighbor lucky enough to retain his job. Or we can do something different. We can join with our neighbors, employed and unemployed, our foreclosed-on children, our elderly parents fearing cuts in their Social Security lifeline and our fellow workers worrying that the furlough ax will strike them next. Together we can organize and mobilize and create a grassroots groundswell that gives government no choice but to respond to our needs, the needs of working people.

We can do what workers did during the Great Depression to provoke change, to create programs like Social Security and achieve recognition of rights like collective bargaining. These changes were sought by groups to benefit groups. In a civil society, people care for one another. And America is such a society – one where people routinely donate blood to aid anonymous strangers, children set up lemonade stands to contribute to Katrina victims and working families find a few bucks for United Way.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Jobless Organize to Remove Republican Royalists From Their Jobs

10:59 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

Glenn Beck made it official on Fox News last week: He’s seeking the office of 21st Century Marie Antoinette.

The queen of France, beheaded during the revolution, attained infamy for insensitivity toward hungry peasants. Glenn Beck, the Fox talk show host, achieved celebrity for his callousness toward unemployed Americans.

Beck leads a pack of royalist Republicans who have spent the summer mocking, vilifying and denigrating the nation’s 14.5 million unemployed workers. It is the moneyed class smacking down the working class in an attempt to disempower and disenfranchise them. Dispirited workers are less likely to vote – which could give Beck and his gang of royalist Republicans control of Congress.

The unemployed, like France’s 18th Century peasants, are fighting back, however. The Union of the Unemployed and Working America are organizing the jobless to vote this fall and to demand help from lawmakers. They’re not out to behead Beck and the royalist Republicans, just dethrone them.

Two and a half years after wanton recklessness by Wall Street banksters crashed the economy, the official unemployment rate remains stuck at 9.5 percent. It rises to 17 percent when statisticians add part-time workers seeking full-time jobs and the jobless who’ve abandoned the search out of hopelessness. With the help of a taxpayer bailout, Wall Street has recovered, and those banksters are taking home multi-million dollar bonuses again. But on Main Street, there still are five unemployed workers for every job vacancy, so no matter how hard the jobless try, there are no openings for 80 percent of them.

Routinely, crowds line up before dawn when job openings are announced. In June, in Longmont, Colo., hundreds queued up to vie for 100 low-paid clerk and stock jobs at a new SmartCo Foods. Hundreds of Louisville residents gathered in the dark on Aug. 9 at the Kentucky Exposition Center to apply for 450 state fair jobs paying $7.25 an hour and lasting a total of 20 days.

In addition to jobs, the people on Main Street are losing their homes and life savings at increasing rates. Bankruptcy filings nationwide reached the highest level in five years between April and June. Banks repossessed 92,858 homes in July, up 6 percent from July 2009. For too many, the situation is so desperate that they’re discussing plans for suicide on an on-line forum for the jobless.

Glenn Beck and the royalist Republicans don’t care about all that. Here’s Beck ranting about those who lose unemployment benefits at 99 weeks:

"Have you heard of the 99ers? These people, some of which I, frankly, I bet you would be ashamed to call them Americans, they think 99 weeks of unemployment benefists are not enough. . .Two years is plenty of time to have lived off your neighbors’ wallets."


Video of Beck slamming the "99ers" begins at 2 minutes and 33 seconds into this clip.

Beck went on to argue that the jobless who protested last week on Wall Street were not "regular people," like him and his friends:

“Are they just regular people? . . They are socialists and anti-capitalists.”

Then, incongruously, Beck condemned a protestor seeking jobs for all unemployed workers with a sign asserting, “A job is a right.”

“No, a job is not a right,” insisted Beck, making it clear that in his world, the unemployed are “un-American” for not landing jobs, but, simultaneously, it’s perfectly moral and fair that the American economy has failed to produce enough jobs for them to fill.

Beck is the TV mouthpiece for the royalist Republicans who champion this view: a job is not a right, and it’s not right to aid the jobless. Republicans, virtually as a block, oppose extending unemployment benefits for the jobless while they support extending tax breaks for the moneyed class – themselves. They opposed legislation to save the jobs of 319,000 public servants – the people who educate our children and protect our lives — teachers, police officers, firefighters. Democrats in Congress paid to preserve those jobs by eliminating $11 billion in tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas — a provision that ultimately could create jobs in the United States.

Like Beck, they’ve announced their loathing for the unemployed. Royalists Sharron Angle, Jon Kyl, Andre Bauer, Tom Corbett and Orrin Hatch have derided the unemployed as lazy, spoiled, stupid drug users.

The jobless, however, are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore. They’re organizing. The Union of the Unemployed and Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, are mobilizing the jobless.

The Union of the Unemployed is launching a “Bite Back” campaign, targeting those in Congress who tried repeatedly to cut off unemployment insurance and other aid to the jobless. “They will never see us coming,” the first Bite Back ad says, “After all, the politicians whose policies destroyed our lives think we’re ‘lazy’ ‘drug users’ and ‘hobos.’ They are counting on us to be docile as lambs and so depressed we’ll stay in bed on election day.”

Working America, whose members are not in unions but align themselves with the political philosophy of the AFL-CIO, plans to organize hundreds of thousands of the jobless across the nation to vote in workers’ interests. Field organizers will ask the jobless to fill out “Help Wanted” petitions to send to their congressmen and senators asking exactly what they’ve done to create jobs and assist the unemployed.

The jobless removing the royalists from their jobs – nothing could be sweeter, unless this revolution also included dispatching Glenn Beck to his unemployment office.