Voices from Russia

Sunday, 13 July 2014

13 July 2014. A Point to Ponder… The Hobby Lobby Case Made “Evangelicals” a Class of Superior Citizens… Do You Want That?

00.01h Labor Day. Christ.

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00 Art Young. Jesus wanted poster. He stirreth up the people. 1913

Here’s the Christ that I believe in… David Green worships “Jayzuss”, the false idol of the American Radical Sectarians

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I took John Marshall Harlan’s famous dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson and changed the word “colour” to “religion”. It comes out as a ringing denunciation of the judicial travesty just committed by the Roberts Court:

In view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is colour-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his [religion] when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.

That is, everyone is equal before the law, regardless of their beliefs… that’s fundamental in the USA. However, Hobby Lobby ripped that to shreds. It says that people can weasel out of the law by blubbering about “freedom of religion”. We should fight such evil with all our talents and strength. For instance, people who belong to the “peace churches” must pay federal income taxes, even though much of that money goes to warmongering, which is against their religious beliefs. In like manner, their young men are liable to the draft (with special exemptions against combatant duty or with the option of doing vital civilian service). The peace churches didn’t do what the Greens did… they didn’t use shyster lawyers to wrangle an “exemption” from the law; they worked with the government to fulfil their obligations within the law.

You see, the US Constitution guarantees the rights of PEOPLE, not corporations. Under the US Constitution, Hobby Lobby as a corporation has no rights, for it isn’t a person… it’s only a legal construct fabricated to do business. It doesn’t go bump in the night. David Green certainly has a right to constitutionally protected religious expression and belief, but Hobby Lobby doesn’t, as it isn’t alive, it doesn’t have a soul, and so, it can’t have a religious faith. Hobby Lobby doesn’t attend mass… it doesn’t go to liturgy… it can’t go to services… it can’t go to shul on Shabbos or to the masjid for Friday prayers. To assert that Hobby Lobby has an exemption against a law because of religious faith is absurd, Kafkaesque, and downright weird.

It’s one thing to allow religious groups to “discriminate” in the ordination of their ministers… that’s an internal affair; it only affects members of that faith. However, many, if not most, of David Green’s employees don’t share his faith, so, for him to withhold a benefit on the grounds that it offends his conscience makes him an obstructer of the law… that means that he belongs in the slam. No one is limiting Mr Green’s free exercise of his religion. However, Mr Green is obstructing the free exercise rights of his employees, which means that he shits on the US Constitution and expects applause for so doing. What’s even shoddier is that he cloaks his nastiness in religious vesture, which makes it even worse. Let me reiterate, Mr Green, by vetoing contraceptives for his employees, engages in an illegal pressure tactic to ram his beliefs down his employees’ throats, and he expects the full backing of the state in so doing. That makes “Evangelicals” a privileged class, a situation that Mr Justice Harlan found repugnant. We should take equal outrage… no one should have the right to ram their personal religious notions down another’s throat… full stop.

I’m a believer… no doubt on that score. However, I have no right to ram my beliefs down another’s throat. That’s what David Green is doing. He deserves a Cossack horsewhip across his face for such evil. He brings shame and obloquy on all believers. He can rest easy… his money buys him “respect” and the legal muscle to silence his opponents. Nevertheless, it doesn’t make it right… Our Lord Christ said, Woe those who call good “evil” and evil “good”… don’t forget, the David Greens of His time tacked Him up to a cross for that…

BMD

Sunday, 10 November 2013

10 November 2013. A Point to Ponder… Justice Elena Kagan on Religious Neutrality in the Government

00 The Real Jesus. 10.11.13

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Firstly, let Justice Kagan speak:

Here’s what our… our country promises, our Constitution promises. It’s that, however we worship, we’re all equal and full citizens. I think we can all agree on that. That means that when we approach the government, when we petition the government, we do so not as a Christian, not as a Jew, not as a Muslim, not as a nonbeliever, only as an American. What troubles me about this case is that here a citizen is going to a local community board, supposed to be the closest, the most responsive institution of government that exists, and is immediately being asked, being forced, to identify whether she believes in the things that most of the people in the room believe in, whether she belongs to the same religious team as most of the people in the room do. It strikes me that that might be inconsistent with this understanding that when we relate to our government, we all do so as Americans, not as Jews, not as Christians, and not as nonbelievers.

Hear, hear! It’s time to stuff a rag in the collective mouths of the religious zanies, and I speak as a believer myself. We have a secular state… that’s how the US Constitution intended it. There’s no religious test allowed in our country, full stop. That’s why the law can’t follow the moral or doctrinal dictates of this or that religious confession. “This land was made for you and me”, as Woody Guthrie sang. It wasn’t made for a little religious clique to ram its potty nostrums down the throats of the rest of us. God WILL bless America… but only if we respect ALL races, ALL life stances (not just the religious one), and ALL legit POVs. “All races, all religions, that’s America to me”, as Paul Robeson sang.

Keep the religious nutters and their goofy notions out of the government. It’s what God demands of us…

BMD                                                               

Click here for the full article from whence I pulled the quote

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Labour’s Last Stand

00 inflatable rat moneybags

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Regular readers of Pravda.Ru will undoubtedly recall that during the past two years, I’ve written several articles condemning the US Supreme Court‘s egregious Citizens United decision, underscoring the destructive impact this decision will have on America… an impact that, as this article illustrates, is already being felt.

For those unfamiliar with Citizens United, on 21 January 2010, five of the most amoral, politicised, and ethically-corrupt “justices” in the history of the Supreme Court… Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy… ignored over one hundred years of legal precedent by decreeing that corporations have the same right to “freedom of speech” as flesh-and-blood human beings. In other words, corporations can now give unlimited financial support to political causes, candidates, and/or campaigns that promote their interests, or more correctly interest, because they have only one… profit. Supporters of this decision swiftly boasted that Citizens United not only expanded the free speech provisions of the Bill of Rights, it also “balanced the scales” by extending identical free speech rights to labour unions. However, both of these boasts are unmitigated lies.

The reality is that any expansion of the free speech rights of corporations diminishes the free speech rights of individuals. Although speech is most effective when read, heard, and/or seen by a significant portion of the population, nothing in the US Constitution requires the government to provide venues to persons wishing to exercise this right. This, in turn, either forces people into silence or requires them to disseminate their messages through the corporate-controlled media. Nevertheless, unlike the government, these media are not obligated to honour the Bill of Rights, and therefore can censor or dilute messages at will. Speakers and writers wishing to avoid such censorship or dilution can often only do so by buying expensive airtime or print space. Thanks to the unbridled corporate contributions allowed by Citizens United, the 2012 elections were the “most expensive on record”, with campaign spending, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, nearing six billion dollars (185.4 billion Roubles. 4.6 billion Euros. 3.7 billion UK Pounds). Moreover, all of this spending occurred in a nation where millions are unemployed or underemployed, where the middle-class is vanishing into the ranks of the poor, and where corporations are making record profits.

Left unchecked, corporate expenditures in future elections will only increase, displacing, or overwhelming the messages of labour unions and other lesser-funded advocacy groups. In addition, political candidates who don’t promote corporate interests will increasingly find themselves waging “David vs Goliath” political battles, except that Goliath will possess all the slings and arrows. Furthermore, any illusions that the Citizens United decision was intended to be “balanced” were rapidly dispelled by both the Supreme Court and the increasing number of states (the most recent being Michigan) that have passed, or are expressing their intention to pass, anti-labour “right-to-work” legislation. “Right-to-work” laws require labour unions to represent employees in union shops even when they refuse to pay union dues. It isn’t difficult to see how depleting the financial resources of labour unions through such laws would severely diminish their ability to disseminate effective political messages through the corporate-controlled media.

Initially it appeared that Citizens United might have provided the legal ammunition to abolish existing “right-to-work” laws and prohibit the passage of new ones. Legal precedent once dictated that the government could not enact legislation that acts as a “prior restraint” or has a “chilling effect” on the exercise of the right to freedom of speech. This has historically been interpreted to mean the federal and state governments can’t, through the passage of laws, promote, or favour one political message over another. Impeding the ability of labour unions to raise and spend money on political causes and/or campaigns, when such restrictions are absent when it comes to corporate spending, clearly exhibits such favouritism. Unfortunately, we are talking about an American “justice” system that habitually favours property rights over human rights and the interests of the rich and powerful over the poor and oppressed, as well as a Supreme Court whose “conservative” majority incessantly disregards legal precedent to promote its own political agendas. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising when this court, in decisions subsequent to Citizens United, actually made it even more difficult for labour unions to raise and spend money on political causes and campaigns. As Labour Law professor Susan Carle explained, these decisions are “an interesting contrast to [the court’s] other opinions in the line of Citizens United [that] is making it much easier for corporations to spend money for political purposes without much accountability to their shareholders at all. It’s a very interesting unlevelling of the playing field quite deliberately”.

So, what do workers have in America? Wal-Mart gloats over the fact that union-organised “Black Friday” protests designed to draw attention to its labour practises were largely unsuccessful, a plethora of jobs that fail to pay a living wage or provide benefits, and a proliferation of “at-will” employees who can legally lose their jobs “for any reason, good or bad, or for no reason at all”. The corporate corruption and usurpation of the political process sanctioned by Citizens United has caused “right-to-work” laws to spread like a cancer throughout the USA, even when the reprobates who advocate these laws so conspicuously lie about their motives for doing so. One such lie alleges that “right-to-work” laws make a state more economically attractive to businesses. However, if the path America is now on remains unchecked, soon every state in the union will have “right-to-work” laws. Since this will mean there is no economic advantage to operating in a “right-to-work” state, greedy corporations will once again migrate to states that permit the greatest exploitation and abuses of their workers, igniting a new “competition” that’ll diminish the rights of labour even further.

Another lie, currently being promulgated in Michigan, is that “right-to-work” laws are “pro-worker”. However, American history has demonstrated, time and again, that most businesses are repelled by laws that favour workers like vampires are repelled by crucifixes. If concern about anything but profit truly influenced business decisions, America wouldn’t be seeing the exodus of its companies to countries where environmental laws are lax, where child labour thrives, where wages are low, where governments are corrupt, and where laws protecting workers are nonexistent. The unvarnished truth is the only goal behind “right-to-work” laws is to destroy the free speech rights of labour unions, which, in essence, destroys the free speech rights of anyone financially incapable of accessing the corporate-controlled media. Wal-Mart’s vice-president of communications is already pontificating about how the labour unions behind the “Black Friday” protests don’t speak for Wal-Mart’s “more than 1.3 million workers.” (South Bend Tribune, 24 November 2012). The problem is that nobody speaks for these workers. Moreover, given the corrupting influence of Citizens United, nobody ever will.

Make no mistake about it… Citizens United and “right-to-work” laws are destined to sink America even deeper into the cesspool of plutocracy where the only voice effectively resounding in the political arena is the voice of corporate interests. Since the venal Republican Party would be the primary beneficiary of this plutocracy, it isn’t surprising that Republican politicians are the most ardent proponents of “right-to-work” laws. Thus, it isn’t only the future of labour unions, but also the future of democracy that’s at stake. Yet, even though numerous pundits emphasised how labour unions played an influential role in the re-election of Barack Obama, it’s doubtful, given his conduct during his first term, that he’ll get this message. As I stated in my recent Pravda.Ru article To Vote or to Waste Vote, even though I once optimistically supported Obama, today, I consider him ”one of the biggest frauds and criminals in the history of the USA”. Although he reached out to progressive interests in order to get elected in 2008, he did almost nothing to promote those interests, and, in fact, often acted in direct opposition to them.

According to some political analysts, I’m not alone in this assessment. As the 2012 election neared, even many African-American and Hispanic voters were disillusioned with Obama. However, what eventually drove them to the polls were the efforts of many Republican legislators and governors to create laws covertly designed to disenfranchise minority voters, which made Obama and the Democratic Party the lesser of two evils. Yet, even as some Republicans are arguing that racial inclusiveness is crucial to the Party’s future success, far too many others have decided that if they can’t diminish the right to vote, they can at least control the message being sent to the voters. So, if Obama does nothing but pay lip service to progressive interests during his second term, it’d most likely be the last stand for labour and the Bill of Rights as America inexorably continues down its pathway of becoming a third-world economy where the government is controlled by the rich; the middle class is extinct; the working poor suffer ruthless exploitation and live in perpetual fear of losing their jobs; and the impoverished have absolutely no opportunities to better their lives.

Therefore, at least one (and preferably all three) of the following must be accomplished before it is too late:

  • A federal statute must be enacted that nullifies “right-to-work” laws in every state where they now exist and bans the passage of new ones
  • A federal law or constitutional amendment must invalidate the egregious Citizens United decision, or, at the very least, minimise the political corruption it engenders
  • The draconian doctrine of “at-will” employment must be abolished so workers can speak out without fear of retaliation about the abuses they witness or suffer.

A true democracy, and a just society, should demand nothing less.

12 December 2012

David Hoffman

Pravda.ru

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/12-12-2012/123120-labor_last_stand-0/

Note to Orthodox People:

This is why I oppose Paffhausen, Lyonyo, Potapov, Mattingly, Reardon, Dreher, and Whiteford so bitterly. They’re shills for the Corporate Moloch… to speak honestly, Lebedeff and Bobby aren’t as bad. Mind you, the last two-named are corrupt and one should never turn ones back on them, but they’re not cheerleaders for the Hard Right. They’re merely mendacious ecclesial apparatchiki (Lebedeff is a competent canonist and historian, and Bobby is a whiz at church politics… do give the devils their due). Whiteford isn’t as bad as the others I named… he’s just deluded and loud.

The others are true believers in the Hard Right vision, and all decent people should oppose them. Engaging them in dialogue is fruitless (everyone saw how Potapov used the official ROCOR website to attack a Rodzianko clansman)… the only thing that one can do is to oppose them. They worship the Almighty Dollar… not Almighty God. They’d smash their boot into the face of an undocumented Mexican labourer and giggle away, if it put money in their pockets. That’s why people voted for Obama… he’s not the greatest, but he isn’t a Republican. Yes… there’s a difference between the two main parties, and I prefer the one that gives ordinary working folk a little more wiggle-room than the other one does. If you vote for contemporary Republicans, you vote for objective evil… the only thing that exists for them is MONEY.

I voted for kinda-bad to avoid stark evil. That’s the best that one can do in this fallen world. Let anyone criticise that if they dare… perfection isn’t attainable here. As for the people I named at the head of this note… I, and many others, oppose them.

I’ll see you at the barricades…

BMD  

Thursday, 22 September 2011

22 September 2011. You Can’t Make Shit Like This Up…

Read these:

http://news.yahoo.com/singer-pat-boone-insists-obama-born-kenya-141751702.html

http://news.yahoo.com/sheriff-joe-arpaio-appoints-cold-case-posse-probe-204214796.html

http://news.yahoo.com/gop-congressman-scraping-only-400-000-taxes-172044706.html

Let’s dispose of the first two in a sentence… these people are unhinged nutters, full stop. If there’d been any actual evidence of Barack Obama being foreign-born, the GOP would be in the Supreme Court in a heartbeat, and the Roberts court would be sympathetic to them. The Republican Party refuses to repudiate these bozos, for the simple reason that a hefty proportion of the knuckle-draggers make up the Tea Party base. As for the congressman… he ONLY has 400 Gs to invest after he uses 200 Gs for his family. He expects us to sympathise with him… he views any “wealth tax” like that in the Scandinavian countries (the most well-off countries in the world, by the way) as “class warfare”. I’ll tell you what “class warfare” is… the top earners increased their proportion of the national income from 8 percent to 23 percent. Where did it come from?

IT CAME FROM YOU AND ME.

Remember that the next time you drive past a McMansion or a gated development. You’ll know what to do next November. You can start by pulling the plug on Faux News and Rush Limboob. Oh… Rush earned 154 mill last year, that’s about 400 Gs a DAY. Do you make that much in a year? Or two? Or three? We CAN have the American Dream back… but are we willing to pay the cost to slay the dragon?

BMD

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