Bipartisanship: Ruining America and Your Brain

Bipartisanship caters to human’s natural binary thinking. We take comfort in the belief that there is always a right and wrong, a left and right, a black and white, etc. We hate cognitive dissonance. It is frustrating to acknowledge that both sides of an issue can be a little right, or that both sides are a little wrong. It makes decision making more difficult and critical analysis more necessary.

Blossoming out of that, we see our not-so-lovely two party system. The left tells all minorities and working class that they are progressive and will fight for their interests. The right tells those in positions of privilege that they will not allow them to be unfairly treated and inhibited in the spirit of “progressiveness”. In action, both sides don’t really differ that much. Rhetorically, elected officials say vastly different things and publicize vastly different agendas. hip inhibits your ability to reason. It was found that people executing math problems, story problems, were literally unable to solve the same problem if the answer went against their political affiliation. It literally makes sheep out of the populous. Otherwise intelligent people find that they can no longer reason for themselves. Bipartisanship makes people completely dependent on the agenda of the party to make their moral and political decisions for them. Humans are herd animals, group think is a large manipulator of how we develop opinions. So we need to be careful of this wherever we can. 

So, if you want to participate politically, do not affiliate with a party. Don’t even look at the hot-button issues that the parties throw at you as their template for who is right and who is wrong. Do some deeper digging into the morality and expertise of the people you are voting for, regardless of which of the two parties they affiliate with.

But ultimately, they both lie. They both manipulate and deceive. This is because both parties work within the same government to perpetuate the same incremental, bureaucratic, minimal changes that have always occurred  The structure never changes. The roots causes of oppression are never acknowledged. The two-party system exists to make people feel like they have a voice, when really the people haven’t had a voice in the way the government runs things in a long time. But that is an entirely different conversation.

Advertisements

The Undemocratic Horrors of the Trans Pacific Partnership

If you’ve seen the front page of Salt Lake Tribune lately, you may have noticed people protesting the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Secret meetings were being centered at the Grand America Hotel this past week, and the lack of transparency is appalling. The TPP, less than democratically, has been kept entirely secret from the public, even after five years of negotiations.. Only some 600 corporations, or
“trade advisiors” have access to its details. It is a large international “free trade” agreement that will pervade our lives on many fronts, being negociated by officials from the United States and 11 other countries. Countries include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. I’ve written briefly on NAFTA before, which caused the elimination of hundreds of thousands of US jobs, and millions of Mexican farmers who were no longer able to compete with heavily subsidized U.S. crops were displaced off their land, setting off a desperate wave of migration north. The TPP will be far worse.

Despite its charming title of “free trade agreement”, out of its 29 chapters, only five deal with traditional trade issues, the rest provide new corporate rights. Only through Wikileaks was the public ever able to get an idea about what a small portion of the TPP looks like. The results were disturbing.

It contains roll backs of food safety. Monsanto is one of the “trade advisors” with access to the document. Not very comforting. The TPP will undermine food safety protections by making it harder for countries to adopt regulations such as labeling laws or laws banning GMOs. This is wrong. If it is the peoples will to ban GMOs, then the government should see it done. Monsanto has no “right” to be protected from the will of the people.

The TPP would dismantle the “Buy Local” movement by overturning government laws designed to keep taxpayer dollars in the local economy.

It would curtail internet freedom. Remember how upset CISPA made people? This will only get worse. Anything published online will become copyrighted and unowned by you.).

It will cause roll backs of financial regulation- spurring further deregulation (like that which literally caused the economic catastrophe of 2008).

There will be more job off-shoring and costlier medicines. It would inhibit access to lifesaving medicine by extending monopolistic drug patents. The expansion of such patents will prevent third world countries from gaining access to generic medicines, which as you can imagine, is extremely harmful for all but the wealthy pharmaceutical companies.

All of our domestic policies and laws would be required to comply with TPP rules. So our state and federal government will lose power- the US Supreme court will be unable to challenge these corporation-favoring policies. Information was gained from www.ExposeTheTPP.org.

So this new international trade pact is essentially being crafted by multinational corporations. So much for government of the people, for the people. Not about trade at all, the TPP is a corporate power grab that undermines national sovereignty. If ratified, it would create a system of international tribunals that would allow corporations to challenge laws, regulations, and even court decisions of any member nation, if they are deemed to negatively impact the corporation’s expected future profits. So, imagine this, a state decides to pass an anti-fracking law, banning all fracking of natural gas in favor of greener energy solutions. In fact, let’s bring this home. Everyone knows how disgusting our air quality becomes here in Salt Lake City during the winters. We become one of the most, if not the most, polluted cities in the nation. Apart from how ugly it is, it is quite detrimental to the health of our residents. Last winter, when the inversion was worse that what we have seen in recent years, our charming Representatives turned their backs on the smoke stacks of the Chevron oil refinery. They turned their backs from the Kennecott coppermine, a cause of 1/3 of the valleys polution, and offered us other solutions to the very clear and serious problem. They offered us tax credits on using public transportation, and proposed free public transportation in January and July when the inversion is at its worst. They offered us very Kumbayah solutions of working together, one small step at a time, with reminders that idling our car is bad. If perhaps one day, they decide to wake up and stop conning our residents and give us real talk– if one day they decide to pass a law banning large scale toxin vomiting production that we see by the fossil fuel industry and the mining industry, in exchange for something cleaner, then enters the TPP. The companies can challenge that and say, “Look, who needs blue skies? Who needs to acknowledge the direct correlation between cancer and the polluted environment? We can’t imagine the miasma leaving Salt Lake City, making it more appealing to tourists (as well as full time new residents) and making us less of a laughing stock for the rest of the world. We can’t imagine it because it is our right to not have our corporate profits impeded on.” And, unfortunately, Utah, and the residents within, would lose. The corporations would make their paychecks. The irresponsibility and failing health would continue. In fact, the TPP would allow corporations to hold preemptive lawsuits against proposed government actions before they even take place.  Judges of the TPP tribunals would consist of corporate lawyers on temporary leave from their normal jobs with multinational corporations, and their decisions would supersede that of domestic courts and even possibly the US Supreme County.

That was a lot of information. But in short, the TPP will allow multinational corporations’ will to supersede the will of the people of this and 11 other sovereign nations. They will have more authority than we do– than our governments do. They will stand above the law. If that’s not a frightening thought, you’re not reading this correctly.

The TPP is being negotiated under extreme secrecy because previous attempts at such “free trade” pacts were met by widespread public opposition. So the Obama Administration plans to bypass congressional review and public debate entirely. This is called a “fast track” vote.

Everyone must know about this and everyone must fight it.

GET INVOLVED- for more information visit:

flushthetpp.org

citizenstrade.org

citizen.org/tpp

eff.org/issues/tpp

The Wage Gap: Beyond the Numbers

I’ve recently had a conversation with someone about the wage gap. Everyone is up in arms about women making but a percentage of what men make. The idea of women making 78 cents out of every dollar that men makes is upsetting, naturally. But what my interlocutor argued to me was that women tend to work part-time more and work lower skilled jobs. So considering the wage gap doesn’t account for either of those factors, it is rendered invalid. He argued that it was up to women to decide to take on more professional roles in the workplace, demand raises, etc.

While it’s true that the wage gap statistic doesn’t acknowledge those factors, it definitely does not render it invalid. Professionalism in the workplace revolves around the perspective of a man. A class I’m taking defines this as androcentrism. This means that because men got there first, the industry naturally caters to them. While it is believed that the wage gap goes away with increased education, stats show that while the gap narrows, it is still present. We also need to be able to acknowledge institutions that socialize women into certain positions. Women may chose to work lower skilled jobs than men, but that is because they have been raised with the idea of men holding professional positions. We all know that the way male babies and children are treated is different than the way female babies and children are.

While I was at the rock climbing gym the other day, little kids ran around chasing after each other. This one little girl, looking down at her feet as she ran, stopped in her tracks in front of my friend and jumped– flinching at his presence. We giggled as she quickly ran around him to follow the pack. I couldn’t help but think that I have never seen a little boy react in such a manner. Granted, my view is subjective and nonscientific, but when a little boy stops in the midst of his running, he does not flinch at the presence of an adult. He stops, looks up, and continues on. So even in young children, I’ve seen how gender norms have been engrained in little boys to be gutsy and adventurous, and little girls to be more delicate and fearful. Sure, it’s cute that she flinched now, but it’s not so cute when she feels the need to carry around pepper spray a young adult for fear that she might need to defend herself from threatening people in the world. Women are raised with a different perspective of walking around at night, with a different perspective of what their physical and psychological abilities are. While little girls aren’t taught that they cannot be president explicitly, socially they are. There are statistics that show that when children are about five years old, an equal number of both boys and girls wish to be president. At age fifteen, a large gap develops, with more boys wishing to be president than girls.

So if anyone tries to argue with you the way I was argued with, fighting the validity of the wage gap numbers, start to talk beyond the numbers, and the root causes of them. The fact that the stat doesn’t cover it all, does NOT mean that there isn’t a very real problem with the way men and women work and earn money in this society.

NSA: Should YOU be scared?

The NSA leak is now old news. What I find curious is the lack of change. I suppose its because many people believe that ultimately, the government is here to protect us. And after all, if you’ve got nothing to hide, who cares if the government watches what you do? Perhaps criminals are up in arms about the privacy violations.

False. I’m here to tell you that there is plenty to be concerned about. Here is my counter to “I’ve got nothing to hide!” Well, that’s all well and good. But it doesn’t matter if you think that you have nothing to hide. What matters is whether or not the federal government thinks you have nothing to hide. They determine this by things such as your last name, the things you Google, or the speeches you listen to. So for example, if you learn about Stokely Carmichael, a radical activist from the 1960s, or the Black Panthers, and realizing you were never taught about them in high school you want to look up the true history of this country online, that’s grounds for spying. So you may respond with, “regardless, I know that I was just curious. I wasn’t plotting against the government. So I’ve got nothing to hide still.” That’s cute, but you don’t have to have done much of anything to be arrested for thinking about doing something against the government. How does the government know what you think? They don’t. And that’s where it gets frightening.

Have you ever heard of a grand jury trial? Grand juries are secret trials in which you have no right to defense, and there is no judge present, only a prosecutor. “Conspirators” have been arrested via grand jury for doing nothing but allegedly planning to overthrow the government. Sounds like a big brother fantasy doesn’t it? Sadly, it’s reality. A grand jury can seize you, and accuse you for all kinds of things based on google searches and associations.

You’ve got nothing to hide? Well, that’s what people said about the Nazis when they started tracking people as well. But it wasn’t about what the people wanted. It was about what the government felt was in it’s best interest.

The fourth amendment of the US constitution prohibits unwarranted searches from the police. Technology didn’t allow the kind of snooping we see today, but that amendment displays an inherent right to privacy for all citizens of the country. The founding fathers didn’t wish to have peoples privacy infringed on because the police had some sort of a hunch. That was a little too close to tyrannical by their definition. But now, with newer technology being used as a loophole, and with the snooping being so subtle, people can live their lives pretending it isn’t even happening. But that doesn’t make it any more wrong.

The government is a body composed of the people of a nation. The government is supposed to be us. That is why transparency is so important. But some think not in terms of international relations. Where do you stand?

The Dirty Secrets of United States Colonization: The Unlawful Conviction of Leonard Peltier

Have you heard of Nelson Mandela? How about Leonard Peltier? Because every american ought to know who he is, a native political prisoner.

In 1973, the Lakota-Sioux Indian reservation had the highest per-capita murder rate in the nation. Dick Wilson, the chief of tribal police, and his GOON squad, the Guardians of the Oglala Nation, murdered over 70 democracy activists. Traditional Oglala women asked for the aid of members of the American Indian Movement, activists fighting for indigenous sovereignty. A cadre of men and women set up camp at Jumping Bull Ranch in response. In what politically engaged actor and writer, Peter Coyote, described as a “climate of murder and intimidation“, an unmarked FBI vehicle approached the camp. Two guys hopped out of the unmarked car with long guns in hand.

The feds were apparently searching for Jimmy Eagle, a young AIM activist, who after a physical altercation, stole a pair of cowboy boots. Far from a federal offense, one must consider the other reasons why an FBI vehicle might arrive at that site that day as they did. Here’s a potential reason: a distraction from Dick Wilson illegally signing away Uranium mining rights of the tribe in Washington. Cowboy boots was no reason for the FBI to pull into an armed camp in the manner that they did. They were obviously trying to spring a trap.

While there were fifty tribal police on the edge of Jumping Bull ranch, when the gunfight started, they fled. Leaving the FBI members surrounded, wounded, and ultimately executed. AIM didn’t know they were feds until the deed was done. Terrified AIM leaders fled, and all hell broke loose on the reservation. Quoting Peter Coyote once more:

 “the reservation was taken over by government forces. They fired 100,000 rounds of ammunition. They stripped Native elders naked. They broke down houses.”

Because sovereignty isn’t real if you make the United States government angry. AIM members, Bob Robideau and Darrell Butler were arrested for the deaths of the two feds, but they were acquited by a white jury. In line with the all-american tradition of scapegoating innocent people so that the feds can feel more competent, the turned their focus towards Leonard Peltier.

They maliciously stitched together fabricated evidence against him.

  • They tied a fifteen year old boy to a chair, coerced, and threatened him until he gave a testimony against Peltier, which he later recanted. Two other witnesses later recanted due to the same cause.
  • They told the jury they had been looking for a red and white van, which peltier had been seen driving, when in reality that they they had been looking for a red pickup truck.
  • The jury was not allowed to hear about other cases in which the FBI had tampered with evidence and witnesses.
  • A definitive ballistics report was not done at the time, due to the gun being allegedly damaged. So the superficial FBI report said the ballistics from the bodies matched Peltier’s gun. Years later, it was proven that not only was a definitive report possible, but it proved that there was no match. This evidence was surpressed.
  • The prosecutor explicitely said in closing  “We proved that he went down to the bodies and executed those two young men at point blank range.” when in reality, they later admited that they had no clue who killed the agents. at the appellate hearing, the government attorney conceded, “We had a murder. We had numerous shooters. We do not know who specifically fired what killing shots…We do not know who shot the agents.”.
  • Peltier, who was in Canada, was extradited based on a false affadavit signed my Myrtle Poor Bear, who claimed to have dating Peltier and to have witnessed the murders. She later admitted the FBI pressured her into giving false statements. Canada is still suing the United States for the false affadavit.

So, now that we know that the FBI got grumpy and lied on numerous occasions to put Peltier away, hasn’t he been released? No. He’s been imprisoned since 1977, serving two life sentences. He’s suffered a severe beating and the distress of living every day in a cage, since 1977. The Pennsylvannia Parole Commission denied Peltier parole in 1993, saying that he “participated in the premeditated and cold blooded execution of those two officers.” Though they have since stated that they “recognize… that the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that [Peltier] personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.”

Why is this happening? The perjury and deceipt that occured in the process of incarcerating Peltier is not radical propaganda. It’s in the books. It’s academia. When the US government said that they had no idea who killed the agents, Peltier should have been released that day. It is known that he was framed, but he still lives every day of his life in a cage. Why? Because William Webster, head of the FBI, has vindictive desire to keep him there. That’s why. Because when you fight the FBI, they’ll put you away. No evidence necessary. That’s why.

The campaign to free Leonard Peltier is ongoing. The campaign is backed by Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Bono, Calvin Klein, Michael Moore, Yoko Ono Lennon, Cher, Peter Gabriel, Madonna, Sting, Richard Branson, Amnesty International. Learn more at http://www.campaigntofreeleonardpeltier.com/.

The Dirty Secrets of United States Colonization: The Mexico/US Border

We are indigenous no european borders

There are so many ways that the United States perpetuates catastrophes along the Mexico/US border, so here are a few in brief.

NAFTA

The United States creates “illegal” immigration every day. It starts with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which eliminated tariffs between Canada, the US, and Mexico, allowing for marvelous “free trade”. This has been destructive for Mexico, leading to American companies sending machine parts to Mexico to be assembled cheaply (i.e. sweat shop conditions) and shipped right back. These are called Maquiladoras, where mostly impoverished women work. In the city of Juarez, near the border, women are raped and murdered on their way to and from these Maquiladoras at disturbing rates. Agriculture in Mexico has plummeted, as farmers are forced to drop the prices of their products due to United States agriculture subsidies that cause US corporations to monopolize the market. These dreadful conditions caused by the US leads people, not surprisingly, to cross over the border to try and live prosperously.

Instead of acknowledging any kind of fault, the US criminalizes these immigrants, detaining them without representation, deporting them, and of course, killing them at the border. Ironic, considering almost the whole of the western United States was once Mexico, and only belongs to the US now, because, to put it bluntly, they wanted it. They saw Mexico was a weaker nation, and they wanted to own land from coast to coast.

DIVISION OF TOHONO O’ODHAM

The last territorial acquisition of the US was the Gadsden Purchase, which expanded the border of Arizona and Mexico further south. As per usual, the Natives of the area were completely undermined. The Tohono O’Odham Nation resides on the Sonora desert, between Arizona and Mexico, so the border slices the nation in two arbitrary chunks. Tribal members were not granted dual citizenship. Increased militarization of the border has lead to tribal members not being able to traverse their nation as they wish. They are stopped by border patrol and physically separated from their families and ritual sites. The O’Odham are forced to spend their limited funds handling increasing immigration through the desert, and receive 1/3 of what they are spending in subsidies from the US government.

Increasing immigration through the desert has caused alleged tensions between the O’Odham and migrants. And as time goes on, their nation becomes a police state under the guise of border enforcement.

US BORDER MILITARIZATION

The increasing traffic of immigrants entering through the desert is a direct result of increased border militarization, including, but not limited to watchtowers, drone surveillance, and that abominable wall, that have created a funnel effect. So where those entering through the desert was once a couple of hundred per day, now it is more like 1500. US Border Patrol have participated in disgusting acts against humanity, such as slashing water jugs left by humanitarians along desert trails. In other words, one of United States’ tactics to reduce traffic is to kill them. The US has put these policies in place- forced people to trek through the dangerous desert- in hopes that they die, thus reducing the likelihood of people crossing in the future. But NAFTA policies are still in place, the Mexican economy still crumbling, and the US has done nothing to address those root causes.

There is a direct correlation number of boots on the border and the number of border deaths. So to support more “border security” is in a very direct way, supporting more deaths. Increased spending on border security equals more corpses in the desert- women, children, men, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins… With less migrants entering through the border than before, the deaths at the border remain the same- meaning that the US government has been killing more people. So when the militarization of the Mexico/US border is referred to as murderous, it is not an exaggeration.

I’ll leave you with one final thought. There is no, US Drone Services, Inc. directly funded by taxpayer dollars. There is a military industrial complex that makes money off of building fences, building drones, and building watchtowers. The militarization is clearly a bandaid- a murderous, evil, disgusting, bandaid that doesn’t acknowledge the root causes of “illegal” immigration. Now that that has been made clear- one is forced to ask, who benefits from border enforcement expansion? Where do all those precious taxpayer dollars go? In the pockets of those corporations that provide these vile services. I encourage you to try and find out how many of their interests are sitting in congressional seats.

There are many companies that gladly make money off of killing innocent people. There are even expos where these companies can table and promote their services. It’s nothing short of horrifying.

 

The Dirty Secrets of United States Colonization: The Maze of Injustice That is Tribal Law Enforcement

The atrocities committed against Red Nations on the North American Continent can be endlessly listed throughout history. What’s not as often discussed is what is intentionally being perpetuated by the United States Government today. Most Americans, which at one point included myself, buy into the myth that our history of cruelty against the native people of this country remains buried in the distant past.

Currently, rates of sexual assault and domestic violence among native women are more than double the national average. A disturbing statistic of one in three native women will be sexually assaulted and 40 percent will be victims of domestic violence. Police follow-through on reports of sexual assault are pitifully nonexistent. 

The way law enforcement works on the reservations works against justice in every way. Tribal law enforcement are pawns, with nearly no real authority. Among the native population, they are only allowed to persecute minor crimes. Federal crimes, such as rape and murder, are required to be investigated by the FBI. This is just one way that the United States Government treats indigenous sovereignty as a big fat joke. What often happens is the FBI receives these cases and says “not my department”, leaving people with no sense of justice. According to this article,

“When you look at the whole country, the Justice Department says that arrests are made for 35 percent of rapes reported by black women and 32 percent of those reported by white women. The rate for Native American women? Just 13 percent.”

Considering there is concrete evidence that native women are sexually assaulted in astonishingly higher numbers than the rest of the country, that statistic is 100 percent unacceptable. 

Apart from that, federal law continues to favor the white man. Federal law does not allow tribal law enforcement to prosecute non-native people for most crimes. The most they can do is either drop the non-native off at the border of the reservation, or hold that person for up to 72 hours, in hopes that the FBI will show up (but they most likely won’t, considering it’s “not their department”) before letting that person go.

In other words, the reservation is free reign for any non-native person. A non-native is free to come and go and wreak havoc as they wish, because there is essentially no legal repercussion to come from it. 

So with this new information, and considering how many racial conflicts exist on areas bordering reservations– i.e. considering how many racists consider themselves superior to natives in those areas, who do you really think are committing these crimes?

Why was the law written this way in the first place? Why has it remained this way? As recently as 2012, House Republicans axed provisions in the Violence Against Women Act that would extend Tribal Authority to protect women assaulted by non-natives, because they felt it was a “dangerous” extension of tribal authority. Where is the justice there? Recently, it was decided that non-natives could be prosecuted for domestic violence IF they live on the res. So “tourists”, modern day cowboys, can still do whatever they darn well please. If this upsets or disturbs you, good. That means you are a decent and reasonable person.

So for all of those who think that abuses against natives ended back in the colonial days ought to know that this only scratches the surface of United States injustices against natives, and that colonization is alive an well.