Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is kicking @$$ in Washington D. C.

For most of American history, the federal government in the USA, including its Congress, has been a haven for elitist jerks with no interest in relating to the average American. Most members of Congress are millionaires, after all.

Enter Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young New York woman who was a waitress only a year ago, but who this year upset all expectations by overthrowing a member of the Democratic establishment in the primaries and then went on to win a seat in the House of Representatives. And what is she doing now to change things?

New Congresswoman Will Pay Her Interns $15 An Hour. Is That A Big Deal?

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes office next month, representing New York’s 14th District, she will be a part of the “blue wave” of new Democrats in the House. But the 29-year-old may end up being a part of a different kind of wave, too: a bipartisan effort for members of Congress to pay the interns they employ.

“Time to walk the walk,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “Very few members of Congress actually pay their interns. We will be one of them.” And she pledged more than just a stipend: Her interns will make $15 an hour.

Last year, two former unpaid House interns, Carlos Mark Vera and Guillermo Creamer, founded an organization called Pay Our Interns. They collected data about who pays what on Capitol Hill, and they found that about 90 percent of House offices don’t pay their interns at all — a figure that Creamer called “abysmal.”

The numbers are a bit better on the Senate side: Half of Senate Democrats pay their interns at least a stipend, while 55 percent of Senate Republicans do.

As for the $15 hourly wage, only three members of Congress currently pay their interns so well, Creamer tells NPR: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington state.

In the for-profit world, the Department of Labor’s rules on paying interns have been clarified in recent years to state that that an intern must be the “primary beneficiary” of the internship, rather than the company. If the company is the primary beneficiary, then that intern is really an employee, and employees are entitled to minimum wage and overtime.

But those laws exempt internships at nonprofits and in the public sector. Thus congressional offices are not obligated to pay interns, and often, they don’t.

The House and Senate both passed bills earlier this year appropriating money for intern pay. The House approved $8.8 million, giving each member’s office $20,000 per year to pay interns. The Senate version includes $5 million, to be allocated according to a state’s population, providing an average of $50,000 per office.

Despite those new pools of money, most members haven’t started to advertise paid internships, Creamer says, because they’re waiting for new guidelines about using the funds. And that’s an issue, because the congressional offices are accepting applications for the January class of interns right now.

He points out that Ocasio-Cortez isn’t waiting for guidelines: “Her intention was to pretty much pay her interns regardless, and that’s because they allocated that in their budget.”

Whether an internship pays has a profound effect on who is able to apply for and accept it. Young people without wealthy parents or a university footing their expenses may find themselves juggling second or third jobs in the evenings after their internship.

But a congressional internship can be an important step toward future opportunities in government or elsewhere. If such positions are open only to children of the wealthy, then the wealthy will very likely continue to be overrepresented as public officeholders.

As Congress prepares for the next session, Creamer urged its members to start making plans for paying their interns — something his organization is more than happy to assist with.

“They know the money’s there; they know the money is coming,” he said. “Why not try and start structuring it now?”

You’d think with slavery having been abolished after the American Civil War, unpaid interns would already have been illegal, and in any case, it should be.

Ocasio-Cortez should be only the beginning. Over the next few decades, more and more young people need to vote out the establishment members of Congress of both the Democratic and Republican parties and replace them with members of the working class that are like themselves. Then we will truly have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. And NO ONE should be in Congress for several decades anymore! Such power entrenchment is a disgrace!

The Foundational Lie at the Center of all Conservative Politics

One of the biggest problems with our modern society is the limited vision far too many people seem to have and their unwillingness to look beyond that vision and outside their comfort zone to see all of reality and what it involves.
For example, the average white person in the USA rarely deals with black people on a personal level and thus has no idea of how racism affects blacks on a frequent basis. Because their dealings with police are usually pleasant or at least respectful, they assume that blacks are treated the same way by police. So when they hear of cops shooting unarmed blacks, they assume that the black suspect must have provolked the cop in some way. But even if that were true, being defiant towards a cop should not merit the death penalty, so the excusing of the killings is racist on its face.
Let me emphasize one important point about those in the media who defend the political status quo and those who are privledged because of that status quo; they are ALL liars. Because those in power want to feel comfortable about their power, these media thugs rush to tell their followers what they already assume to be true, thus the followers express confirmation bias rather than looking for objective truth to take all the facts into account.
Rush Limbaugh is a liar.
Ann Coulter is a liar.
Bill O’Reilly is a liar.
Shawn Hannity is a liar.
Michael Savage is a liar.
Dinesh D’Souza is a liar.
I could go on with dozens more names of media personalities as well as hundreds of names of officials in our various federal, state, and local governments, but you get the point, right?
And what are all these different conservatives lying about? One basic concept, which can be summed up as follows.
“There is no need to reform or improve society, what we have right now (or had in the past at some point) is what we should have forever in the future, because change will be too painful for us to endure.”
Doesn’t that sound like self-serving cowardice to you?
In the 1960s, there was a tremendous struggle over civil rights for blacks in America, especially in the south where they were kept in dire poverty and even denied voting rights in most cases, as well as cut off from the same opportunities whites enjoyed. The U S Supreme Court ruled against these racist institutions and forced most of them to change. Afterwards, most whites across America thought the racial problems had been solved. But the white supremacists, while they were down, were certainly not our and they began to strike back.
Indeed, I have come to believe that the Religious Right of the 1980s and the Tea Party that rose up in response to Barack Obama becoming President were both scams that enabled white supremacists to sneak into and take over the Republican Party and then through that to grab control of the entire political apparatus of the United States federal government, not merely taking back control of the southern states. And with Donald Trump they have finally succeeded.
Why is conservatism so harmful to society? Because human nature is corrupt and abusive. When people allow themselves to act according to their default biological programming, the result is always tribalism, the placing of members of your own group above outsiders instead of promoting equal justice for everyone.
Ironically, Christianity, which most American conservatives claim to believe in, teaches this very thing, that we are all sinners who can’t be trusted to control ourselves without guidance from above. However, it is clear that even authorities in conservative forms of Christianity can’t always be trusted; they promote religious bigotry rooted in the past instead of ethical standards that fit the real needs of real people in this present age (ironic, considering that Christianity itself started as a rebellion against Jewish legalism). That’s what secular humanism does. And democracy is a humanist ideal.
Whenever people believe, for any reason, that society is good enough and needs no improvement, they actually open the door for society to become corrupt and abusive later; the only sure way to protect the people is to constantly look for ways and means to improve society. I am therefore a champion of “perpetual revolution”; the American Revolution of the 18th Century was only the beginning of reforms and progress and should never end as long as we have viable societies of any kind. There should be NO place whatsoever for Conservatism in American politics, period. To be consistent, the aforementioned conservatives in the media should be bowing down to the British government that Americans rebelled against in 1776, but they don’t because they are hypocrites.

What will it take to end the abuse?

Look at this disturbing news story:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/04/america-minority-rule-voter-suppression-gerrymandering-supreme-court

Rigging the vote: how the American right is on the way to permanent minority rule

Underhand Republican tactics – gerrymandering, voter suppression, more – underpin a vice-like grip on power

The American right is in the midst of a formidable project: installing permanent minority rule, guaranteeing control of the government even as the number of actual human beings who support their political program dwindles.

Voter suppression is one, but only one, loathsome tactic in this effort, which goes far beyond just winning one election. Minority rule is the result of interlocking and mutually reinforcing strategies which must be understood together to understand the full picture of what the American right wants to achieve.

Examples are everywhere. Take North Dakota. In 2012, Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, won a surprise victory in a Senate race by just 2,994 votes. Her two largest county wins were in the Standing Rock and Turtle Mountain Reservations, where she won more than 80% of the vote. Her overall vote margin in counties containing Native reservations was more than 4,500 votes.

Observing that Heitkamp literally owed her seat to Native voters, North Dakota’s Republican legislature enacted a voter ID law that requires voters to present identification showing their name, birth date and residential address. There’s the rub: many Native voters do not have traditional residential addresses, so this law effectively disenfranchises them.

Or take Georgia, where the Republican nominee for governor, Brian Kemp, is the secretary of state and in that capacity has placed more than 50,000 voter registrations on hold, many from urban areas with high black populations. That is in keeping with Kemp’s privately expressed “concern” that high voter turnout will favor his opponent – Stacey Abrams, running strongly to be the first black female governor in US history.

Exacerbating voter suppression is the ongoing partisan gerrymandering effortthe redrawing of electoral maps to favor one party over another. After the 2010 census, the Wisconsin legislature (controlled by Republicans) drew a map for the state’s legislative districts explicitly designed to ensure they would retain control of the legislature even if they received a minority of votes. It worked: in 2012, despite receiving only 48.6% of the vote, they won 60 of 99 seats. Democrats won an outright majority of votes cast but secured just 39 seats.

To this, Wisconsin added a voter ID requirement designed to make it harder to vote at all. Voila: voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election was the lowest since 2000 and Donald Trump carried the state. (To be sure, there were other factors at work.) The combined, national effect of partisan gerrymandering is such that in the 2018 midterms, the Democrats might win the popular vote by 10 points and still not control the House.

Legislative maps designed to promote minority rule plus voter suppression of the constituencies opposed to it is a potent combination. And there’s more.

The two most recent Republican presidents have entered office despite receiving fewer votes than their opponent in a national election, thanks to the electoral college, which systematically over-represents small states. (California gets one electoral vote per 712,000 people; Wyoming gets one per 195,000.) With the presidency in hand in the run-up to the 2020 census, minority rule will be further entrenched by adding a citizenship question to the census. This will result in systematic undercounting of the population in heavily Democratic areas, which will in turn further reduce their influence as legislatures draw maps based on the data.

Then there’s the Senate. Because of its bias toward smaller, rural states, a resident of Wyoming has 66 times the voting power in Senate elections as one in California. Thus, in 2016, the Democratic party got 51.4 million votes for its Senate candidates. The Republicans got 40 million. And despite losing by more than 11 million votes, the Republicans won a supermajority (22 of 36) of the seats up for election, holding their majority in the chamber.

The hideously malapportioned Senate and electoral college permit the last piece of the minority rule puzzle to snap into place: the supreme court. In 2016, after losing the contest for the presidency and the Senate by millions of votes, the Republicans were able to install two supreme court justices. There may be more.

In fact, when the Senate confirmed Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, it was a watershed moment in American history. For the first time, a president who lost the popular vote had a supreme court nominee confirmed by senators who received fewer votes – nearly 22 million fewer – than the senators that voted against him. And by now, it will not surprise you to discover that the senators who voted for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh represent 38 million fewer people than the ones who voted no.

With the supreme court in hand, all those other tactics – partisan gerrymandering, voter ID and the rest – are protected from the only institution that could really threaten them. But it doesn’t stop there. The supreme court can be used to do more than approve the minority rule laws that come before it. It can further the project on its own.

In 2015, the court came within one vote of holding that independent redistricting commissions (which reduce partisan gerrymandering) are actually unconstitutional. The swing vote in that case, Anthony Kennedy, is gone. And the court in 2013 famously invalidated a major portion of the Voting Rights Act which put checks on voter-suppression efforts of the kind now taking place all over the country.

Taken together, this is a powerful set of tools. Draw maps that let you win even when you lose. Use the resulting power to enact measures to suppress the vote of the other side further. Count on a minority rule president to undercount your opponents in the census, and a minority-rule Senate to confirm justices who will strike down any obstacles to the plan.

With the deck this stacked, it isn’t enough to win. Wresting control back from the entrenched minority will take overwhelming victory. It may take, in other words, a genuine political revolution.

  • Ian Samuel is Associate Professor of Law at Indiana University Bloomington’s Maurer School of Law. He is also the co-host of @FirstMondaysFM
In short, the USA is  becoming the 21st Century version of South Africa under apartheid.
Which brings up the obvious question: Who will be the American version of Nelson Mandela? Who will be willing to fight, to be imprisoned, or even to die to put an end to the Republicans’ efforts to destroy democracy and freedom among us?

We can start here:
Then proceed with:
More details on gerrymandering:
And also see:
Unless and until people of all colors, both genders, various religions and even different social classes are finally willing to rise up and OVERTHROW the Republican Party and its march towards fascism, we won’t have freedom, period. We can only truly be free if we fight for it.

 

Debunking Libertarian Economic Bogosity

The title of this blog entry refers to this earlier one:

Shane Killian sells out!

It’s time to revisit that issue. Look at this meme:
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The whole premise of that meme is a lie. Capitalism and corporatism are one and the same and have been for at least 300 years. The attempt to make a distinction between them is profoundly dishonest, implying that “real” capitalism does not exist. If so, it never did and never will. The only real alternative to crony capitalism is Democratic Socialism, period.

Here’s what really happens:

A individual has an idea.

That individual forms a company and makes a product with that idea.

Consumers give the company money for the product.

The company becomes successful.

Someone else has a better idea and creates a better product.

The first company uses its money to buy out the new product from its inventor and sells it in addition to or even instead of the original product, increasing its profitability and leaving the actual inventor with almost nothing later.

As a result, the company makes money no matter what product it sells.

Always remember this:  Those who already have a lot of money will always have an unfair advantage over those who don’t.

Government corruption does NOT produce corporatism. Tyranny and abuses can also come from economic forces too if government does nothing to stop them with policies such as “trust-busting” and progressive income taxation, among other tools at government’s disposal to redistribute wealth. That is why Libertarianism is worthless.

“Good Guy” vs. “Strong Guy” Dichotomy

In my younger days, I was often rejected by girls and young women even though I tried to be as loving towards them as possible. I assumed that it might have been because they thought I was ugly or weak. But the real issue seems to be something I often see in politics too.

Women naturally want men that are strong to protect them and their children, and our culture seems to depict men that have a strong sense of empathy and compassion for others to be “weak”, therefore such men are not considered as suitable for a domestic partnership as men that are highly aggressive towards others.

Likewise, people generally want a leader that is highly aggressive for the same reason. That explains why George McGovern lost so badly to Richard Nixon in 1972 despite having a much better character and this was repeated with Jimmy Carter losing to Ronald Reagan in 1980, and Donald Trump winning his election in 2016.

But what people often fail to consider is that the same aggressive attitude that makes a man look strong can be twisted to hurt or abandon the very ones the man is supposed to be protecting, including his love partner and their children. By contrast, a loving, empathic man can encourage a woman to stand up for herself rather than just let a man fight for her. And he would not leave her as long as she loved him just as deeply.

I have known several cases of women who used to see me as just a friend who after being abused and/or neglected by the men in their life, later took another look at me and decided I would have been the better partner for them after all. And I would consider it an honor to help care for them.

Likewise, I am hopeful that the American people will stop being seduced by the mere appearance of strength and seek in future Presidents the most powerful character trait anyone can have: LOVE! Its being seen as weakness is sheer ignorance. Have you ever seen a mother bear fight to protect her cubs?

My political beliefs

I would like right wing conservatives to read the following. It explains my beliefs in a nutshell and in an even tempered, logical way.

Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of conservatives lying about what liberalism is or should be. Spoiler alert: Not every Liberal is the same, though the majority of Liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:

1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period. No one is disposable, period!

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