Friday, May 11, 2007

Treatment, Not Jail, For Paris Hilton!!

Paris Hilton's is appealing to get out of jail but she probably won't.

But maybe she shouldn't go to 45 days in jail. This might not be best, actually. Because the rightwing way of jailing people doesn't always work. After 45 days, she'll be back on the streets, and she might drive without a license again.

Just as the Progressives gave us parole and probation they also taught us a thing or two about rehabilitation. They brought this into our democracy.

I have thought for a long time that some people should get treatment, not jail. Drug addicts, especially marijuana addicts, should probably have treatment programs if they get caught, especially. Under the current law, a lot of these people are not even rehabilitated! They are caught and then let go after paying some fine or something. Real compassion would mean having them learn how to become better citizens, happy people so they don't need drugs.

And as with Paris Hilton, it's basically the same principle involved. Hilton will be in jail but will soon enough be out without having learned anything. So we need to replace a 45 day jail policy with maybe a 90 day treatment policy. I imagine several components for a real progressive policy on this:

• It should be a 90 day term at a treatment location.
• The patient should be allowed to have visitors at certain hours each day.
• There should be teachers – fully funded, not underpaid – to give lessons on the problems with driving without a license or drugs or littering or whatever the offense. This should be about eight hours a day, maybe, but with breaks for exercise.
• Patients should get to talk with each other at designated times.
• Food should be provided that is nutritious and balanced. Vegan should probably be an option. (No cruel and unusual punishment!)
• There should be instructional videos and a test
• Mental screening for all patients, just to see if they truly have mental problems (we need to nip this in the bud right off! We might find another Cho or McVeigh before he kills dozens or hundreds of people. Then we can treat them before they kill!!)
• Everything should be integrated so no one's Civil Rights are in jeopardy
• After discharge from the hospital, the patient should check in once a week for a year or two, just so the government knows he's reformed

This would be a humane way to go about it. And it would help us actually address the problem of why people disobey the democractic rules of America. It would bring us back to the progressive vision of the progressive men and women who first tried to reform our system to make the sick people who commit crimes reform themselves instead of just be punished or pay off their victims, that way they can pay off their debt to society too and become upstanding citizens. We can find problems before they start.

Our progressive forefathers and mothers knew you had to go right for the inner workings of the person to bring him in line with social needs, which is why they tried (and tragically failed) to get rid of alcohol addiction. They were ahead of their time, but they should have used more treatment there. They were progressive though because they knew alcohol was probably more bad than even marijuana and so needed to be a addressed. Today's rightwingers have it backwards! They jail you for marijuana but let you drink as much liquor as you want! (Probably because corporate rightwingers have stock in liquor and bars!)

In Paris' case, a good bit of treatment might make her understand the importance of road safety. Also maybe she can be taught not to abuse her body, too, which is a bad example for all the girls. Eventually, maybe we can have treatment to find out why women objectify themselves which is bad for all kids to learn from.

Treatment, not just jail: It's the progressive way to actually change people's behavior for the common good.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Would Teddy Be Welcome in Today's GOP?

It was quite something I must say to see the Republican debate. None of them in any way of course, compared with Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln or the Republican heroes of an earlier time in America.

John McCain did have the guts to attack special interests and oppose the religious fanatics on stem cell research. Rudy Giuliani boldly defended a woman's right to choose.
But there was no global warming talk. No talk about sending troops to where they're really needed, in Darfur. And the real conservative guy from Texas sounded like he didn't want government to protect us at all, not from terrorists, not from corporate greed. He said something about Wall Street being well off because of some tax and because of inflation. HELLO! Earth to rightwingers! Of course Wall Street benefits from inflation. The corporations raise prices, we all have to pay those higher prices, so there we see it: of course they love inflation. But why would they want taxes? It makes no sense. Big business in America wants nothing more than a Republican to shrink government even more than Bush has, cut taxes, and let them enslave the rest of us in the fascism of free enterprise.

It's sad that Teddy Roosevelt would be so out of place in this party. Maybe McCain and Giuliani have some of his progressive qualities, but obviously the Republicans will end up picking the most rightwing of the bunch. At least this means Hillary or Obama might finally come in and clean up. That is, if the Democrats finally come around to have the decency and courage to nominate someone who isn't just a corporate asset and shill for the status quo.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

'The most important moral, ethical, spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced'

Terrorism? War? Obviously it's not these. Bush might say so, but my president, the one who deserves to be in the White House because more Americans actually voted for him, says the truth and stands up against the corporate media, with all its anti-Gore and anti-Earth bias:
A 10-year University of California study found that essentially zero percent of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles disagreed that global warming exists, whereas, another study found that 53 percent of mainstream newspaper articles disagreed the global warming premise.

He noted that recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fourth unanimous report calling on world leaders to take action on global warming.

"I believe that is one of the principal reasons why political leaders around the world have not yet taken action," Gore said. "There are many reasons, but one of the principal reasons in my view is more than half of the mainstream media have rejected the scientific consensus implicitly — and I say 'rejected,' perhaps it's the wrong word. They have failed to report that it is the consensus and instead have chosen … balance as bias.

"I don't think that any of the editors or reporters responsible for one of these stories saying, 'It may be real, it may not be real,' is unethical. But I think they made the wrong choice, and I think the consequences are severe.

"I think if it is important to look at the pressures that made it more likely than not that mainstream journalists in the United States would convey a wholly inaccurate conclusion about the most important moral, ethical, spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced."

There you have it, clear as day. Not a single real scientist doubts the Inconvenient Truth of global warming caused by human greed. But the big media are always lying by putting "balance" ahead of human need. And so we get the bias view that global warming may or not be real.

This is a travesty of journalistic justice. Who benefits from a burning up earth and no response from Bush's America to the disaster? Well, big media loves to sell papers. I just wish they realized when the earth burns, they'll have plenty of papers to sell, but no one left to sell them to. But they don't care, they'll just be counting their money.

This really is the biggest issue facing us all, for what is social justice, equality, peace and eco sustainability if the whole earth melts? Nothing, that's what.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Another Setback for Pro-Choicers

When the Supreme Court ruled against a woman's right to choose recently, overturning the right of every woman to an abortion and to choice, we knew it wouldn't be long before all our civil rights were threatened.

Did anyone think though, that the prolife rightwing would take away our freedom of speech?

We find out here that "Sen. Claire McCaskill was uninvited from speaking at her daughter’s Catholic high school commencement because her positions on abortion and embryonic stem cell research are at odds with those of the church."

Hey! What about our free speech rights? What about the separation of church and state?

We shouldn't let religion into the schools. This is the problem with vouchers and Catholic schools.

They should let Claire McCaskill speak! Just because she believes a woman's right to choose, doesn't mean she should ne censored!

This really is outrageous. I suppose the Catholics just don't understand this is a country with a First Amendment. I guess they never heard of "Roe vs. Wade", which gives all women a constitutional right to choose. By trying to cut funding for stem cell research, and for abortion, they have long showed they want to kill the separation of church and state, on top of ignoring Roe vs. Wade. But this is the last straw.

What a shame in our so-called democracy. When even a Senator is censored by the prolife religious fanatics.

You Go, Woman!

Sometimes the female feminists really impress me with what they say about how ingrained we are in sexism as a society. At the wonderful Pandagon blog, Amanda Marcotte writes:
In the world of anti-feminist literature that denies that sexism exists, few tropes are more irritating then the people who try to disprove sexism causes the pay gap between men and women by referring instead to “other” causes for the pay gap that are caused by….sexism. Now I’m not talking about honest disagreement about which flavor of sexism is most responsible and how to attack that, but the people who are trying to wave their hands and pretend that it’s not a problem that women make so much less than men on average. (Even though the ramifications are more far-reaching than that basic injustice, ranging from the fact that women have less bargaining power, less retirement money and less ability to walk out of abusive marriages, even though they are far more likely to be abused.) The latest article that attempts to distract from the sexism underlying the pay gap by pointing to the sexism that causes it is by Steve Chapman, writing for Reason. Lest you think I’m kidding that he’s going to deny outright that sexism causes the sexism that causes the pay gap, here’s his thesis:
And the effort got new fuel from a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation, which says women are paid less starting with their first jobs out of college, and that the deficit only grows with time. Pay discrimination, says AAUW, is still “a serious problem for women in the work force.”

In reality, that’s not clear at all. What we know from an array of evidence, including this report, is that most if not all of the discrepancy can be traced to factors other than sexism.

Emphasis mine, because I’m not sure that the factors he lists are “other than sexism” at all.

I couldn't have said it better if I said it myself. Any claim that there is no pay gap is contradicted by this chart I found online which shows it only getting worse:
It's time for us new progressives to have some new ideas about how to address the gender wage gap. There seem to be two basic policy options:

• Pay Men Less
• Pay Women More

Some men, it should go without saying, are actually paid too little too. I'm thinking of the schoolteachers in public schools where there's not as much of a sex pay gap because of the democratic pressure in the government that doesn't exist in the marketplace. (The free market, after all, is a jungle where instead of invisible helping hands what we really have is glass ceilings -- invisible, yes, but not in a helping-hand way.)

Also, a lot of people get paid not enough, which is why minimum wage is so important to raise their wages. So maybe lowering wages for men is a bad idea, though a tax on rich men espeically might help to pay public women employees more (and men too, if they deserve it!)

So I think the better policy option is to pay women more, not pay men less. Maybe what we need is the government to handle more of the economy, like it does with public schools, that way it can treat men and women equally the way they were meant to be treated.

Another option is to make a law to make corporations not pay men and women differently. That way, we could once again save capitalism from itself, like the first Progressive Era did and also like FDR's New Deal.

These are serious questions and need require serious thinking. The first step though is to admit there's a sexist problem, but the corporate media probably won't let this story come out because they are also run by men (and I bet they're run by men who get paid more than women would for doing just as good (or bad) of a job, depending on your perspective.)

Time for Another New Deal

I've said it once and I'll say it over and over and we all should until the rightwing backs down. Laissez faire = poisoned food.

We find out that the "get government off our backs" Bush administration has screwed us once again, this time by allowing chickens that American children eat regularly to feed on contaminated chicken feed. CNN reports:
People have eaten millions of chickens that were given feed tainted with recalled pet food, federal officials said Tuesday, though they said the threat to human health is minimal.

Minimal? Minimal??? Tell that to the people who die in third world countries because they don't even have a USDA to protect them!!

Now for a little history lesson for a change. During the 1930s, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was doing all he can to bring America out of the poverty that the laissez faire Republicans had been responsible for, there was a Supreme Court case very relevant to our present discussion. The federal government wanted to protect people from eating sick chickens back then, too, but the conservatives said that the Interstate Commerice Clause only applied to trade between states!! This narrow, strict constructionist social Darwinian attitude was that Americans shouldn't need protection from eating sick chicken meat because they could just trust big businesses to feed them clean meat. The Supreme Court, in the worst decision since the one that said African Americans had no rights, also went along with this, and let the company keep selling sick chicken meats! Roosevelt responded by trying to get more progressives on the Supreme Court. As he understood, the Constitution was a living, breathing document with its own heart and soul, which would, like all of us, have to adapt and progress with the times.

There are still naive rightwingers who say we can trust corporate America not to poison their customers. Yeah, right. We see what this means -- sick chickens and pretty soon sick kids and dead fish like with DDT and E Coli, too. The Bird Flu only makes this case all the more pressing and urgent. We need a real USDA, with a fully funded budget for a change! (Let's not forget, though, that these public servants brought this to the attention of the people, not the corporate media, so they deserve our thanks and more support!)

Support the troops on the front lines of the meat inspection war!

From the looks of where our food industry is going, getting worse and worse, it sounds like we need another New Deal, to finally put the sick chickens to rest, as it were.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Progressive War in Afghanistan

As some of my progressive friends have known all too well, I have been completely against the ulilateral Bush policy in Iraq since the beginning. So much senseless killing, and without United Nations approval to boot. That's what really drives me up the wall!

The Progressives gave us such great tools for bringing peace and democracy throughout the world: The UN, NATO, and international diplomacy. When Clinton (despite the rightwing) stopped genocide all throughout Yugoslavia he knew how to get it done: with NATO helping along, with other countries sharing the burdens!

After 9/11, we new progressives saw great chances to create more social awareness and a better social democracy at home. But we also knew there was a rightwing in Afghanistan even more rightwing than Bush (if you don't believe me, check out this article by Sam Harris, a progressive (he's against religious intolerance) who has written a lot about how nonprogressive some Muslims in other countries actually are). Since we saw that there was a lot of progress to be made there, we saw that the war abroad could do much to promote women's rights, minority rights, and other humanitarian causes. This was one reason the Russians tried to do their own reforms in Afghanistan, but unfortunately the rightwing in America couldn't stand to see the Russians challenge the supremacy of unbridled capitalism that the United States has come to represent.

The unilitaral Bush policy has almost squandered this opportunity to bring progressive values to Afghanistan and Iraq. They don't even do body counts in Iraq, showing their amazing incompetence at anything.

But in Afghanistan, NATO reported that they counted zero casualties in their Monday assault. They are paying attention! (Surprise surprise. In progressive Europe, there's more concern for people's lives and good government than you'll find in the corporate Bush family.)

It looks now like NATO actually killed 30 civilians, which is unfortunatey but this underscores a good point. At least NATO cared!

Isn't it obvious it's time to start withdrawing troops from Iraq and putting them where the real war is in Afghanistan? Or, more to the point -- maybe it's time we put NATO in charge of the Iraq War?

The rightwing will hate it, because they hate engaging with the rest of the world, but it would go far in repairing our relations with the rest of the world. And at least NATO does body counts and is trying hard to do a good job, not just give all the money to oil companies and Haliburton, the way Bush is.

War is hell, but it is a good policy tool, but not in the hands of the "Get the Government Off My Back" people. We need a new progressive internationalism, and no more of the brute force and jingoism of the Bush people. Teddy Roosevelt would not approve of such jingoism, so neither should we.