Category Archives: Civil Rights

Peace or Profit: Violence as Commodity

We are gathering to honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of non-violence as well as to recognize the 3rd year anniversary of the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.  Many times, especially in the aftermath of violence like the recent school shootings, it is difficult to see the big picture and the interconnectedness of events, as we are overwhelmed by sorrow and a marrow-deep feeling of helplessness, and at first blush, these two symbolic dates may seem unrelated.  They are not.

We recognize Dr. King’s birthday because he is a powerful symbol for peace and non-violent protest and we recognize the anniversary of Citizens United because it is a symbol of how out-of-control corporate influence and the pursuit of violence for profit is in this country.  The theme today is “Peace or Profit:  Violence as Commodity.”  We chose this title to highlight the fact that this is indeed the choice and that there is a bigger pattern at play that needs to be illuminated. We can choose peace, or we can choose to allow runaway corporate profiteering off violence in all its forms: endless wars, weapons, defense contracts, the war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on workers, the war on homeowners, the war on women and minorities, the war on the earth.

Some would say that we have peace here in America because we so aggressively protect our country from terrorism, but the truth is we are at war in the Middle East because of corporations protecting their oil interests and their profit margin and because they make billions from war itself.  But corporations are also at war with the citizens of this country, and anyone is expendable in the pursuit of profit.

Achieving peace requires treating people and the earth with respect, a willingness to share wealth, and cooperation that can come from only a democratic system based on fairness, a level playing field, and the rejection of exploitation and violence, including economic violence, which today is being perpetrated by the 1% onto the 99% in a massive redistribution of wealth from the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich. The corporate elite have subverted our democracy for their own uses and have distorted it into a plutocracy.

The corporate world and the military-industrial complex profit greatly from, and are addicted to, violence, which has been turned into a commodity to be traded and sold for the profit of the 1% at the expense of the 99%. Violence, exploitation, and coercion are hallmarks of unbridled capitalism and greed, and corporate greed for profit is poisoning our society by nurturing sociopathy and turning the entirety of civilization and the earth itself into a perpetual war zone.

What are we to do about this?  Many solutions are being proffered to address gun violence and campaign contributions, but while getting money out of politics and instituting some limits on the selling of any gun to anyone, are examples of how corporate abuse of our democratic system could be stemmed somewhat, there is a larger problem:  corporate “personhood” and money as “speech.” This goes back much further than the 2010 Citizens United decision, to 1886 in fact, when the Supreme Court declared in Southern Pacific Railroad v. Santa Clara County that corporations are “persons.” Since that time, thousands of subsequent decisions have reinforced this misguided notion and allowed corporations to exploit this illegitimate status by claiming they have “rights” under the Bill of Rights, which was meant exclusively for actual people, not artificial entities like corporations, which are legal fictions. The end result is we now have corporate rule of every aspect of our lives.  Let me give you an idea of the scope of the problem.

The Corporation controls:

  • Our industry – small mom and pops and independent businesses have increasingly been taken over by large corporations like Wal-Mart and the laws have been re-written to favor them
  • Our banks – small, independent, local banks have been taken over by huge multinationals who have engaged in criminal practices that have crashed domestic and foreign economies and who continue to illegally foreclose on homeowners
  • Our energy sources and policy – big polluters fight greener alternatives, such as solar, wind, geothermal, rapid transit, while receiving government subsidies to continue to pollute
  • Our healthcare –big pharma pushes Rx drugs, insurance companies and hospitals are run as for-profit enterprises, research is corrupted, biotech companies patent life forms, including human genomes
  • Our food supply – agribusiness dominates with their use of GMO’s, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, preservatives=denatured, poisoned food
  • Our natural world – oil drilling and oil spilling in sensitive, pristine areas, fracking and destroying aquifers, spewing CO2 from industrial plants, slashing and burning the rainforest, dumping nuclear waste in the ocean, toxic waste in landfills, clearcutting forests, mountaintop removal mining
  • Our airwaves – corporate giants have taken over major networks: GE (NBC), Disney (ABC), Westinghouse (CBS), Time-Warner, individual media moguls like Rupert Murdoch control huge markets (FOX Networks, 20th Century FOX, etc.) and Pat Robertson (Christian Broadcasting Network) while simultaneously fighting to end public television and radio, which is one of the only independent alternatives
  • The Internet – Internet Service Providers like AT & T, Verizon, Time-Warner track usage, attempt to curtail or eliminate access, pressure the FCC for authority to control online activity, back bills like SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA
  • Our drug policy – corporate interests support the “war on drugs”, thereby perpetuating a black market and violent cartels and the criminalizing of substances like marijuana in order to maximize profits from legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco)
  • Our foreign policy – big oil, industrial giants who produce fuel, weapons, and equipment foment and profiteer from wars as they receive giant government contracts
  • Our commons – corporations bankrupt local governments, convert and take over public land, property, and infrastructure for private purposes and corporate gain; exploit natural resources—minerals, forests, oil, water–for private profit with no concern for environmental and health consequences while paying no royalties
  • Our government – Congress, the White House, and the Courts

1. Lobbying and the revolving door – corporations manipulate congress, regulatory agencies for the benefit of private enterprise to the detriment of the taxpayer and voter

2. Elections – corporations buy elections by funneling huge donations into campaigns while trying to suppress the vote of those who would oppose them

3. Representatives and justices – corporations buy influence by campaign contributions, perks, junkets

4. Legislation – corporations support and even write laws that benefit corporate interests rather than the interests of the people and fight passage of laws that would protect the citizenry

5. Ballot Initiatives – powerful corporate interests promote ballot initiatives that are often wolves in sheeps’ clothing that serve their interests at the people’s expense while dumping huge sums of money into defeating others like the tobacco industry did with Prop 29 in CA June 2012.

Corporate “personhood” and money as “speech” are at the core of this systemic sickness of profiting from violence, exploitation, and the stripping away of the constitutional rights of real people that has infected not only our nation but our world.  There have been plenty of attempts to try to legislate campaign contributions, as well as environmental rights, workers’ rights, gun control, protect our food supply, and many other issues, all to no avail because the corporate world can and does litigate all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary on the basis of their supposed “rights” as “persons” being abridged or denied.  “Personhood” was the prize they sought back in the 1800’s because they knew it would enable them to challenge every single law that local, state, or federal governments tried to pass to limit their abuses and protect the economy and the citizenry.

For example, money as “speech,” which was expanded upon in Citizens United, is based on the First Amendment, to which corporations have been enabled to claim they have a right because they have been recognized by the Supreme Court as “persons.”  This decision allowed corporate interests representing the 1% to contribute millions of dollars in this last election cycle and will continue to allow the outright buying of elections and representation until we pass an amendment to the Constitution correcting this misappropriation of personhood standing to artificial entities, because any legislation that is passed will be struck down by the courts until “personhood” that was wrongly awarded to corporations is abolished.

People who are aligned with corporations will be the last to acknowledge the clear choice between profit or peace and that violence has been turned into a commodity by corporate greed, but eventually even their denial will be shaken I believe as the dark side of the corporate world is exposed to the light of day. The recent shootings reveal this to an excruciating degree as weapons and munitions manufacturers profit exponentially in the wake of these tragedies like Newtown, something they bank on and which they work to ensure through organizations like the NRA.

The TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership “treaty”, also known as NAFTA on steroids, is another extreme current example of the insidious overreach of corporations and the extent to which they have infiltrated and control both major parties and run, and will even trump, government if TPP passes, as it will institute corporate world government where corporate tribunals will have the final say. It is vital that the public be made aware of these attempts to circumvent democracy and nullify the will of the people and the fact that nothing short of a constitutional amendment will remedy these abuses of power and unrelenting attacks on our freedoms.

Though the process is difficult and requires a sustained effort, the fix to the massive amount of problems we face is elegantly simple because all of them are traceable back to the abuse of the misguided notion of corporate “personhood.” Once this is corrected, laws can be passed to regulate corporate excesses and they will stick, because there won’t be any basis upon which to challenge them. Our non-partisan organization, Move to Amend, is building a grassroots movement towards this end, and keeps its eye singlemindedly on the goal of returning the power to the people via constitutional amendment to end corporate “personhood” and money as “speech.”

Our government has been bought and has allowed the corporate world to monopolize every sector of our economy and commit unspeakable crimes against humanity and the environment while escaping all accountability, paying no taxes, shipping our jobs overseas, and bankrupting our country while getting government contracts, subsidies, and bailouts. All of this has been made possible by the expansion of the unconstitutional concept of corporate rights. This insanity has to end.

Honoring peace, remembering our dead who are victims of all the forms of violence, and finding solutions means not only addressing the immediate crisis, but turning away from violence for profit and illuminating the clear choice between profit or peace by expanding the conversation to all of the ways in which violence is perpetrated, not simply by individuals with guns. We are either building peace and non-violence, or we are destroying it through pursuing profit through violence. As long as corporations and the profit motive rule, we will never have peace.

We must amend the Constitution to end the corporate takeover that has allowed the wealthy elite to ruin our economy, strangle our democracy, commodify and profit from violence and destroy our society, our country, and our world.  Join us at Move to Amend in reclaiming our democracy by working for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate “personhood” and money as “speech” so that we may build a healthy society and world not based on profit, but on peace!  Thank you.

This non-partisan event was co-sponsored by Veterans for Peace, Move On, Progressive Democrats of America, Occupy Coachella Valley, and Move to Amend Coachella Valley.

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Filed under Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Corporate Personhood, Environment, Nature, & Health, Frankenfood, GMO's, Government Corruption, Hormones, Human Rights, Peace, Pesticides, Preservatives, Social Justice, The Wealthy Parasitic 1%, The Wealthy Power Elite, Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, Women's Rights

THE WOMEN’S REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN

MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENT for Immediate Release August 12, 2012

CONTACT:  Sandy Oestreich, President, National Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Alliance—727/ 804-3052

 Women Rally at the U.S. Capitol to Protest surge of “NEO-MEDIEVAL PERSECUTION”, the current all-too-real legislative War on Women

WHEN:  SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WHERE:  U.S. CAPITOL WEST LAWN, Washington, DC

WHAT:    LARGE RALLY to PROTEST current partisan legislative WAR ON WOMEN and FAMILIES (e.g., 916 anti-woman, anti-family bills over just 3-month period, ongoing) 

The Capitol (Washington, DC)—The Woman’s Revolution against the partisan very real War on Women–916 anti-woman, anti-family bills IN JUST 3 MONTHS–  kicks off August 18, 2012 at the U.S. Capitol West Lawn, starting Saturday at 10 a.m.  No laughing matter to these women.

 Four sassy, savvy young women are in full rebellion against the War on Women.  A bare few months ago, they came together, hopping-mad, as a grassroots organization at www.WeAreWoman.us to foment a Woman’s Revolution against the stingingly partisan legislative War on Women.  

 Their Rally-Protest at the Capitol will bring busloads of women and men from across the nation. Expect banners, music, balloons, bull horns, cowbells and decorated umbrellas.

 Legendary speakers will represent National Women’s Political Caucus, Planned Parenthood, Huffington Post, National Organization for Women, National Equal Rights Amendment Alliance, Feminist Majority, and others protesting partisan legislators’ actions. Betty Jean Kling (PA) asserts that the ongoing War on Women that “is now gone over the top, absolutely IMMORAL to voters.”  “Engage to be The Change you want to see” is her motto.

Founder- president of the National Equal Rights Amendment Alliance (FL) which works to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the U.S. Constitution says they will attend with banners flying.  President Sandy Oestreich (FL) says, “This War is sex discrimination to the max.  ERA makes sex discrimination (male and female alike) a violation of the U.S. Constitution. If we had ERA they would not dare strike at women like this.” Dr. Dorie Rothman (NJ) affirms, “NOTHING else has the power to change this shameful American hobby of treating women/girls as ‘less than’ men and boys.”

According to the National ERA Alliance web site, www.2PassERA,  ERA is still “viable and contemporaneous”,  and since no state has ever rescinded its vote, ratification by just three more state legislatures passes ERA into the U.S. Constitution.   Oestreich declares ERA will finally codify gender-equal treatment “across the board” and put American “females’ birthrights in the nation’s contract with its People.  Without Constitutional backing, women and girls can continue to be subjected to sieges against our personhood from every quarter.  There’s no getting used to that.”

 The site details ERA’s benefits to the economy:  can boost tax revenues, cut Medicare/Medicaid and court costs, raise the  Gross Domestic Product as in other countries, and ERA uniquely requires no funding.     “What’s not to LIKE?”

ERA undergirds all women’s issues, says Wendy Cartright, one of the four WeAreWoman.us founders, “This Rally says we are not going away until women are in the nation’s contract with its people, protected from continued exploitation, harassment, rape and violence. Period.” Tennessee’s Bud Fields of BlogTalkRadio says “We’ve got to become Americans again.  Keeping half the nation’s talents hog-tied is against America’s best interests.  Shouldn’t we be electing ADULTS?”  

www.WeAreWoman.us, info@WeAreWoman.us

www.2PassERA.org, SandyO@PassERA.org

Bud Fields, kybudman@gmail.com   Call in to his BlogTalkRadio Sun. Aug. 19 at 4:30 for the Wrap-up on the Women’s Revolution, (347) 426-3348 

 

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Saudi Arabia: Hooray for Female Olympic Athletes? | Care2 Causes

Saudi Arabia remains a bastion of male supremacy and, as pointed out in this article, only complied with sending a couple of tokens to the Olympics because they were forced to in order to participate.  It is a disgusting example of a culture steeped in a repressive patriarchal religion and the  absence of freedom that results  when the church rules the state–a cautionary tale for this country which is well on its way to becoming a theocracy.  Saudi Arabia needs to become secularized in order to join the 21st century and make some real changes like voting rights, driving rights, and educational rights for women if they want to show the world they are serious about progress.

Saudi Arabia: Hooray for Female Olympic Athletes? | Care2 Causes

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Suggest a Grievance – The 99% Declaration

We must address the current war on women going on in this country and in congress and why I entitled a grievance, “Occupy Patriarchy:  End the War on Women” as women’s civil rights as a group are under serious attack and women are being specifically targeted for discrimination.  Patriarchy is the underlying framework upon which war, environmental degradation, denigration of women, authoritarian hierarchy, rapacious corporate practices, exploitation, and subjugation of individuals, groups, and countries are based.  The passage of the Equal Rights Amendment is fundamental to women achieving true parity and is long past due and should be part of this grievance in my opinion, and should not be put off for any reason, any more than any of the rest of our demands should be.  Women have waited long enough for the yolk of patriarchy to be lifted and we must rise up and claim our full citizenship.  After all, we are 52% of the 99%!

Suggest a Grievance – The 99% Declaration

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Sexism vs. Racism: A Study in Contrasts

Despite the common perception that racism is a worse problem than sexism, there are a number of historical and current facts that support the argument that sexism is far more entrenched than racism. The current war on women in congress ought to be enough to end any debate.  Can anyone imagine what might be happening if this kind of discrimination were aimed at an ethnic group?  The arrogance of these lawmakers to openly attack all the gains of the women’s movement to date exposes the incredible level of sexist mentality to which they fall prey and the widespread acceptance of it.  But to remind everyone that this has long been the case historically, let me point out some facts:  black male former slaves got the right (at least on paper) to vote 50 years before women did, got recognized under the 14th amendment as “persons” over a century before women did, black civil rights got recognized before women’s civil rights, we still don’t have the equal rights amendment which would be equivalent to the Civil Rights Act, we have two holidays set aside for men of color (in addition to all the ones for white men) and not a single one recognizing a woman, we elected a black male President before a white female President, women are far less represented in Congress per capita than are blacks and latinos, pompous talk show hosts who would be afraid to raise the issue of race mock and denigrate women with impunity, race-motivated crimes make big news while violent crimes against women are so commonplace they are not even considered newsworthy, crimes targeting women just recently were recognized by congress as hate crimes while crimes targeting racial groups have long been seen as such, and the murder of the tens of millions of women during the witch hunts is barely spoken of while we hear endlessly of the suffering of other groups.

Some interesting history is that the Civil Rights Act (passed in 1964) is the rough equivalent to the ERA (first introduced in 1923 and still not passed), while the 15th amendment assuring the vote for men regardless of race (passed in 1870) is the equivalent of the 19th amendment for women (not passed until 1920).  The  passage of the 14th amendment actually made things worse for women by specifically guaranteeing the rights of men (regardless of race) while leaving women out, despite the efforts of suffragists to get women included as citizens and to use it to exercise the right to vote.  Some woman suffragists even opposed the 15th amendment because they wanted voting rights extended to everyone, but had to abandon this as black men getting the vote had more public support.  The 2008 elections are one of the most recent blatant examples of sexism being more pronounced than racism with a previously unknown black male candidate muscling out the white female frontrunner, elbowing her aside and getting fawned over by news anchors while she was severely scrutinized and criticized at every turn.  Even many bigoted white men were willing to vote for a black man over a white woman and people on the left, blind to their sexism, saw voting for a black man even greater proof of their open-mindedness than voting for a white woman.

In the spirit of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Women’s History Month, I say it is high time that women be recognized under the law as having equal rights to men, that women’s rights finally be given the attention they deserve, and that sexism be identified and denounced as much as racism is.  We demand equal acknowledgment and protection by society and under the law.  It is time to pass THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT!

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Occupy Patriarchy—End the War on Women!

The attempts to roll back the gains of the women’s movement have been going on for a long time now, almost immediately after Roe v. Wade was passed, but it has become increasingly escalated lately with attacks now being leveled against not only reproductive rights (including contraception) but women’s health care, and even programs for victims of violence and rape being dismantled. It is time for us to stand up.  Today is International Women’s Day, this is Women’s History month, and we are speaking up, taking to the airways, and taking action to help raise the awareness that this onslaught is about patriarchal dominance, not “religious freedom”.

 Women are steadily making gains in other parts of the world, one of the most heartening examples being the women of the Congo, who have risen up in the face of wartime torture against the violence that has been directed at them, demanding an end to rape.[1]  We see women making strides towards freedom in the Middle East with Tunisia granting equal rights to men and women, and in India, despite much discrimination, women currently holding all three of the high offices of President, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and Leader of the Opposition, while here in the U. S. women are seeing our rights and gains erode and to this day are the most under-represented group in government and the poorest members of society.

Today, in America, we are contending with attacks on women’s human rights such as the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed any employer to refuse to cover any kind of health care service by citing “moral reasons”; fetal “personhood” bills; bills requiring ultrasound, including invasive vaginal probes, prior to allowing abortions; bills outlawing abortions after 20 weeks; bills allowing health care providers to refuse to perform abortions[2] and hospitals to refuse to perform emergency abortions, even in the case of the mother’s life being at stake in the “Let Women Die Bill” that passed in the U. S. House of Representatives; the defunding of Planned Parenthood, including the Susan V. Komen Foundation dropping planned parenthood funding for cancer screenings; the continuing harassment, arson attacks, bombings and shootings of family planning staff and doctors, four of whom have been murdered between 1993 and 2009.[3]

In view of such attacks, one might think we lived in a country ruled by an Ayatollah rather than in the United States where there is supposed to be a government of, for, and by the people with the separation of church and state.  But, as it turns out, the Christian fundamentalists who have made inroads into our government have been steadily blurring this line and are little different from their Muslim counterparts in their determination to restrict the freedoms of their respective female citizens.  Patriarchal religion has historically often been friendly to fascism and feudalism and hostile to the values of freedom and enlightenment, particularly of course with regard to women.

Patriarchy is about domination and the abuse of power and we wish to raise the awareness of the public that the war on women is about the attempt to control women’s lives, whether it be by redefining rape, slashing funding for planned parenthood, eliminating crucial health screening and services for women, attempting to restrict and even criminalize abortion, denying access to contraception, or doing away with programs to help victims of domestic violence and rape.  We will not sit by and allow women’s human rights to be treated as if they are expendable or ignore the sexist mentality that fuels these attacks.  It is time for us to Occupy Patriarchy and end the War on Women.


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Filed under Civil Rights, Occupy Wall Street, Separation of Church & State, The Radical Religious Right, Women's Rights

Occupy Wall Street

I am so happy to see people beginning to stand up and reclaim their government!  I was online for several hours on Sunday with the people chatting on the Occupy Los Angeles livestreaming chat and sharing ideas regarding the protests and demands that are being formulated.  My own thinking on this is in view of the urgency with regard to the exercising of our civil rights, that repealing the Patriot Act should be at the top of the list along with preserving our ability to communicate with one another via the Internet.  There is currently a “resolution of disapproval” that has been ramrodded through the House of Representatives by big Telecom that undermines the Net Neutrality regulations that currently exist as well as banning the FCC from enacting future protections.  Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison  is pushing for a vote in the Senate and we must stop this and any other such legislation from passing the Senate as it is a serious assault on our civil liberties and the level playing field to which we are all accustomed on the Internet.  So, because our right to assemble peaceably and to communicate freely are vital to the pursuit of any other goals, my two top recommendations for OWS demands are to repeal the Patriot Act and to save the Internet.

There are many other demands that we need to make in order to reclaim our democracy, and I think the one I would place third would be the reason behind occupying Wall Street, to end corporate greed by holding Wall Street and the Banks accountable by prosecuting them for wrongdoing and demanding they pay their fair share of taxes.

Another demand I think is essential is the revocation of corporate personhood, as this is a cancer that has metastasized throughout our system until the corporation runs our government while it pays few of the taxes, pays no royalties on mining and oil on public lands, pollutes our environment, and receives huge amounts of government money in subsidies and contracts.

Ending war would save lives as well as money and help us invest in rebuilding our country and democracy both at home and around the world.

These are the demands with which I would start that double as good slogans for the movement to reclaim our democracy:

  1. REPEAL THE SO-CALLED PATRIOT ACT! RESTORE THE BILL OF RIGHTS!
  2. A FREE AND OPEN INTERNET! SAVE NET NEUTRALITY!
  3. MAKE THE BANKS & WALL STREET PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE!
  4. PROSECUTE WALL STREET! PROSECUTE THE BANKS!
  5. END CORPORATE WELFARE! STOP SUBSIDIZING GREED!
  6. CLEAN UP THE ENVIRONMENT! MAKE POLLUTERS PAY!
  7. TAX THE RICHEST 1%! SUPPORT THE BUFFETT RULE!
  8. END ALL THE WARS! BRING THE TROOPS AND MONEY HOME!
  9. REVOKE CORPORATE PERSONHOOD! PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHTS!

WE are the change we can believe in!!

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Filed under Civil Rights, Corporate Personhood, Free & Open Internet, Occupy Wall Street, The Corporate Criminal Class, The Wealthy Parasitic 1%, War