Lawyers and 9/11 Victims’ Families File Petition for Federal Grand Jury Investigation

 

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Photo Credit: Malachy Beare

Seventeen years after 9/11, the topic of truth and justice still remains a contentious one among many Americans. I have been researching and studying evidence for over a year now and I am always learning new things. The evidence is overwhelming, compelling and maddening. In the beginning, I’d sometimes share my discoveries with others, but the condescending looks and disbelief I encountered were discouraging, so I stopped.

It bothered me, though. Why weren’t my family and friends as fascinated by this evidence as I was? Why was I meeting so much resistance? I was shocked at the number of people who brought up the ridiculous Popular Mechanics article debunking the 9/11 truth movement. Really folks? That’s the sum total of your investigative interest in the crime of the century? There are over 3,000 architects and engineers who have compiled scientific evidence into academic presentations for 9/11 justice and one Popular Mechanics article is the apparent Bible of the resistance. Most people I have spoken to have not looked at any evidence at all, yet insist that I must prove to them unequivocally, in 5 minutes or less, the whos, whats, and whys of this very complex chain of events.

In the end I had to stop pushing people to look at the evidence because I realized to accept that evidence was to accept something truly horrific about the constructs of our society, our safety, our world, our American truth. For a while, I accepted that people must come to the 9/11 evidence when they are ready and be responsible for their own education on these matters. Running around and beating people over the head with it only made me look crazy anyway. The truth movement certainly has its fair injection of nutcases, I’m well aware.

Yes, it takes time. More than most of you have, believe me – my examination has been exhaustive and I went down a lot of rabbit holes I shouldn’t have. By doing that, however, I also learned to spot the “fake” truthers. Those that put the craziest 9/11 theories out there, like stories about hologram planes, in order to inject hyperbole into the discourse and thereby discredit the credible evidence gatherers as part of the lunatic fray.

Having educated myself I continue to keep up with justice efforts and new evidence updates, which brings me to today’s unearthing of this grand jury petition by the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, filed back in July and completely blacked out by the media. One would think something as substantial as this would be widely covered.

I tried several search engines using “9/11 grand jury investigation” and came up with nothing from ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX, Washington Post or the New York Times. The most comprehensive official effort to redress the faulty claims of the 9/11 Commission and NIST has no national news coverage whatsoever. For those new to this, the 9/11 Commission report and the National Institute of Science & Technology reports were the Bush administration’s woefully handicapped investigations, initiated two years after 9/11 and riddled with errors and omissions. (By comparison, Pearl Harbor investigations began one day after the attack and the investigation into the assignation of JFK began one week later.)

From the petition executive summary:  “A primary focus of the Lawyers’ Committee is government accountability for the diligent investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the crimes related to 9/11 (whether those responsible are foreign or domestic individuals, corporations, or government entities).”

Also: “If any crime ever warranted a full special grand jury inquiry, the mass murder of thousands on our nation’s soil on 9/11 clearly does.” This petition is backed by “more than a dozen” family members (I could not find their names), 118 witnesses and over 100 NY Firefighters, listed in the Exhibits.

Some of the highlights from the exhibits are:

• Seismic evidence
• Witness and professional testimony from 100 NY firefighters
• Nano-thermite residue in samples from the debris
• Official explanation of the collapse violates scientific laws of motion
• Testimony from WTC worker William Rodriguez who experienced an explosion below him before the plane hit the building
• Near-symmetrical collapse of Tower 1, 2, and building 7

In reflecting upon the mere dozen or so family members who have signed on to this recent grand jury petition, one might consider that figure rather low. However, let us not forget the U.S. government has effectively gagged more than 5,500 people via the $7 billion Victim Compensation Fund, which prohibited beneficiaries from seeking legal redress. In other words, the U.S. government – before even forming the 9/11 Commission and investigating 9/11 – paid off families (those most likely to be interested in finding out exactly what happened) and legally prevented them from pressing for answers.

“It was…executing a government policy to shield from legal consequence two corporations that had failed to protect hundreds of their paying customers from being incinerated by suicidal maniacs. It was an unprecedented role for Kenneth Feinberg, the special master of the fund: He had to persuade thousands of angry, grief-stricken families to accept a sum that he himself would determine in exchange for waiving their right to sue United Airlines or American Airlines, the Port Authority, the architects of the World Trade Center, the United States government, the city of New York, or any other domestic entity.” – NY Magazine, “Holding Out” 9/27/2011

It’s unclear how quickly the NY district attorney will act upon this petition. The Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 inquiry is happy to give this some time, but with the former law firm partner of Rudy Guiliani as the current U.S. attorney, skepticism would be wise.

Perhaps this grand jury push will bolster families who previously pushed Congress to unanimously support bill S.2040 – Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act back in 2016, which addresses a 1976 law that gives other countries broad immunity from American lawsuits. It amends the law to allow for nations to be sued in federal courts if they are found to have played any role in terrorist attacks that killed Americans on home soil. It also allows Americans to direct financial claims against those who funded the attacks. (See Congress passes bill letting 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia, in face of veto threat and Congress Votes to Override Obama Veto on 9/11 Victims Bill.)

The bill was vetoed by Obama, who said it would present a threat to national security. Of course, we never question national security when we pen arms deals with Saudi Arabia. In fact, back in 2010 the U.S. and Saudis agreed to what was at that time, largest arms sale in American history estimated at $60.5 billion dollars. Another curious fact is that right after S.2040 passed in 2016, President Trump made his first foreign presidential visit not to Canada or Mexico, but to the Saudis, who welcomed him with much fanfare and inked yet another arms deal which seems to contrast starkly with the message that we need to hold terrorists accountable for their actions, especially those on U.S. soil. (See U.S. Approves $1.4 Billion Military Sale to Saudi Arabia to get acquainted with the details.)

Are arms deals benefiting Lockheed Martin more important than justice for the citizens of the United States of America? In 2010, several mainstream outlets’ reaction to Obama’s deal was seen as positive. In the wake of passing the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, The Hill, Bloomberg, and The Washington Post all had largely neutral or positive views of the arms deal, with The Hill basically saying that American defense manufacturers were hurting financially and could use this needed boost. No mainstream press outlet seemed to notice the hypocrisy of arming one of the most repressive regimes in the Middle East, especially on the heels of passing a bill that purportedly would be used to sue that regime.

It doesn’t make sense, the thought of holding Saudi Arabia accountable (widely touted by broadcast media at the time when discussing the bill) even though their involvement hasn’t legally been proven – and all the while arming these same folks. Perhaps it didn’t raise any eyebrows because the U.S. has been Saudi Arabia’s top arms supplier for decades, supplying more than half the nation’s combat aircrafts. Perhaps it was not part of the approved talking points of broadcast journalists. But in the scope of 9/11 truth it warrants scrutiny.

I hope I’ve given you enough morsels to chew on for a bit. If you take away nothing else, I hope you’ll consider this: we never question the money for war mongering and weaponry like we question 9/11 “conspiracy theorists”. There is too much to unpack in one blog post, but I’ll be updating this post later with some of my favorite 9/11 sources for truth-seekers. In the meantime, join me and 2677 others in support of the grand jury petition here: GRAND JURY PETITION SUPPORTERS.


 

There are loads of websites, authors and documentaries out discussing 9/11 but not all of them are credible. Here are my picks for what I believe to be excellent sources for further inquiry.

 

Academic Papers:

Beyond Misinformation: What Science Says about the Destruction of World Trade Center 1,2, and 7 (PDF File, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth)

118 Witnesses: The Firefighters’ Testimonies to Explosions in the Twin Towers

The Propaganda Preparation of 9/11: The Mysterious Death of John O’Neill, FBI Counter-Terror Chief in Charge of Osama bin Laden Investigation (PDF File)

The Collapse of WTC 7: A Re-Examination of the “Simple Analysis” Approach

AE911Truth: Technical Articles – All (downloadable)

Government-sponsored reports: basis for the official explanation for 9/11.

The 9/11 Commission Report (PDF file)

Declassified – 28 pages redacted from original Commission report

NIST Final Report on the Collapse of WTC 7 (PDF)

 

Websites:

National Security Archives

James Perloff, 9/11 Simplified

Pilots for 9/11 Truth

9/11 Review: A Resource for Understanding the 9/11/01 Attack

Patriots Question 9/11

 

Documentaries:

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth : Anatomy of a Great Deception

AE911truth YouTube Channel: Experts Speak Out: A series of interviews parsed out into one playlist.

————–

The Corbett Report: a few one-hour documentary-style shows on various aspects of 9/11

NSA Whistleblower Supports 9/11 Truth – William Binney and Richard Gage on Global Research TV

Who Was Really Behind the 9/11 Attacks?

9/11 War Games

 

Authors:

Philip Marshall – The Big Bamboozle: 9/11 and the War on Terror

**Philip Marshall was a veteran airline pilot and government “special activities” contract pilot before publishing 3 books and penning a 4th before his untimely end. Marshall was found dead along with his two children and dog back in 2013, just before the release of his 4th book. The deaths were execution-style, yet ruled a murder-suicide by the police. Marshall’s hard drive with his manuscript went missing. There’s a 30 minute show that tells this story well: The Curious Case of Philip Marshall. The Big Bamboozle is detailed and sobering.

Christopher Lee Bollyn – Solving 9-11: The Deception That Changed the World

David Ray Griffin – Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory

John Perkins – New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Michael Ruppert – Crossing the Rubicon


 

 

 

(Those interested in digging deeper with me into defense funding will be interested in this additional sidebar:

The top five contractors for U.S. government are (in order) Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Co., General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co., and Northrop Grumman Corp. and in 2017 the grand total of taxpayer-funded contracts that were awarded to them was a whopping $337, 703, 070, 771 – source data linked below.

In future posts, I’ll be detailing government expenditures and contract payouts and sharing my analysis of the data I’ve been collecting. Linked below are two spreadsheets I’ve been tracking data on. Again, still a work in progress so please feel free to message me with ideas or if you spot any errors.)

Source Data: Top 100 Contractors

Top Five Companies Receiving Taxpayer Funded Contracts

Federal Procurement Data

 

The Nostalgia Tour I Won’t Be Attending

The Clintons

Hold on to your tin hats America, the Clintons are back. The dynamic duo that just won’t go away is going on tour – together! A 6-month speaking tour will launch soon, with the Clintons performing their usual shtick in 13 cities.

A description of the event says: “Attendees will have the opportunity to hear one-of-a-kind conversations with the two leaders as they tell their stories from some of the most impactful moments in modern history…” I can’t imagine these two getting up and telling folks across this country the hard truth about history.

It must have been an oversight that they didn’t call me for creative input. No matter. I’ve drawn up a list of anecdotes in a little hypothetical dialogue here. Topics I think the American people in all 13 cities would just love to hear about again and again.

Like, how about that time you tightened up those pesky mandatory sentencing laws for non-violent criminals? That was a hoot! And hey, I STILL crack up when I think about all the manufacturing jobs we sent to Mexico.

Ooh ooh! Please tell me we’re going to retell the financial fairy tales about the great dismantling of the Glass-Steagall Act (see the Riegle-Neal Act of 1994 and GLBA of 1999 for more).  I just get downright wistful when I look back on how well deregulating the banks worked out for the American people. And let’s see…they repaid us by bundling predatory mortgages into A+ rated financial instruments for the markets (A+ my ass but the sheeple don’t need to know that..), THEN pulled the ol’ one-two-magoo and short sold their own stock. Betting against themselves! That is rich, oh how we laughed.. those bankers are a wily bunch.

It was sheer genius how they stole everyone’s pensions and foreclosed on homes. And I’ll tell you, it’s because we respect these bankers’ game so much that the American taxpayer bailed them out. No one is complaining about the austerity and the wage stagnation – and if they are, bankers can’t hear them from the 35th floor anyway.

Now that we’re really talking – remind me, how many countries had regime leaders who toppled under your watch? Let’s see, Honduras, Columbia, Bosnia, Libya…we’re still working on Venezuela…I’m running out of fingers. But God damn those Che-lovers were stubborn. Venezuela is prime now though – Obama has been funding the minority opposition creating virtual havoc over there! They’re fired up! Gee, US hegemony is the greatest.

Another way to have fun whilst spreading the fertile seeds of democracy is by funding terrorists, right? Like Al Qaeda? Have any photos? Don’t be shy about putting up a little collage in the entry points at theaters. It will be a kicky conversation-starter.

Let’s not leave the African continent out. I’m sure the Sudanese people would love to discuss the bombing of the al-Shifa Pharmaceutical Factory, which completely obliterated medical stocks in this impoverished country. So what if they had to pay quadruple for outsourced drugs after that? Mr. C had faulty intelligence, it wasn’t his fault. Jeez, people are such complainers.

Ooh! You’ve got to tell attendees about Haiti. Tell the ticket-holders to your little 13-city circus: how did the Clinton Foundation manage to give $30 million in funds to contractor friends, and yet 70% of Haitians today still don’t have direct access to potable water!? That must be a hell of a yarn; hang on while I grab my tea.

I do have one question Billary – can I call you that? And you may not like this idea, but hear me out. Can you bill this as an apology tour? I think that’s the Christian thing to do. There’s a sub-story to all this historical “remembering when” that I think the both of you are uniquely qualified to share. The seeds of corporate fascism and today’s Trump presidency were sown on your watch. Neither of you strike me as the self-reflective type so I’ll explain:

Let’s hearken back to a time when Democrats were just sick of losing elections. It was a dark hour in liberal history.  Picture it: 1988. The Miracle of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis gets chided for being a “card carrying member of the ACLU” and was perceived as “soft” on defense. George Bush’s team was trying their best to get Dukakis’ mental health records out to the public and did a good job painting him as unstable. (Let’s face it: Kitty didn’t help.)

The Bush campaign struck political gold though, when an ad was run about Willie Horton, the first degree murderer from MA who committed another murder while out on a weekend furlough. Aye, twas the nail in Zorba’s coffin. It’s rather telling that in the era of the shoulder-pad, any whiff of sympathy for the plight of the oppressed the ACLU represented would read as a negative. The 80’s was a time of a glorified Wall Street, a time when women still expected to be sexually harassed in the workplace; a time of men being “tough” on defense and crime. Anything else was political suicide. God Bless the patriarchy, but I don’t miss the 80’s.

Vowing never to lose the Presidency of the United States again, Democrats became centrists, and led by the soundtrack of Fleetwood Mac, you crazy kids entered the 1993 presidential race. That shift to the middle seemed wise indeed at the time, and you, Mr. Bill, were as charming as Rhett Butler, a quality ol’ Bushy lacked. Sure, you took a hard line on crime, but you played the saxophone!

It was a glorious time. We Americans were transfixed by you Bill, and fair is fair: liberals co-signed your devilish ways like an abused spouse, making excuses for you any time you let us down. We even tolerated your cheatin’ on Hill’, mostly because she annoyed us, and didn’t let it get to us that you just might be a sexual predator.

The Clinton years gave America a deregulated SEC, FCC and ended consumer protections like Glass-Steagall, but most of us didn’t even know what those things were! How could the average American know that your irresponsible ways would sow the seeds for the 2008 financial crash, for the monopolization of the media which would eventually asphyxiate journalism, or for the over-policing that would fill American prisons to the brim with exploitable free labor for corporations? America’s love of identity politics and worship of symbol rather than substance is what greases the wheel of politics today.

But Bill, you got a little out of your depth with NAFTA. Voters may not be fiscally astute, but the de-industrialization of this country, that is etched on middle America’s memory. I know it must have been water under the bridge for America’s favorite power couple long ago, but I think it could have had a teensy hand in Hillary’s 2016 loss. Have you ever visited Camden, New Jersey? Pine Ridge, North Dakota? Anderson, Indiana? Probably not. Anyhoo, those Republican gerrymandering sons-of-bitches didn’t help either.

It turns out that pivoting to the middle sold out the working class people Democrats purportedly represented, but winning elections again was exciting, I’m not going to lie to you Billary. I was too young to vote but I instinctively disliked both Reagan and Bush. Even as a youngster, I had the makings of a solid future in giving the middle finger to authority. And though I knew absolutely nothing about policy, I was a big supporter of both of you. I even read a few of your books, and was especially inspired by you Hillary, back in the day.

The American people love a good show, and I was no different: I bet on my horse to WIN. I believed Hillary every time she went on the news and inferred conspiracy rather than take ownership. I knew those bad Republicans were just out to get you! Turns out that’s partially true but I was a blind devotee and like every other blowhard in America who seeks confirmation bias to validate my political ethos, I never questioned my loyalty. Looking back, it was an easier time: Google didn’t exist yet.

Do me a solid Hil’ and Bill: at least take some time, as I have, to reflect about this pivot to the center and take some ownership in front of American audiences rather than using this speaking gig to bolster your own demagogic images. Centrism has effectively pushed the entire Republican party to the right. Today’s establishment Democrats are entrenched in the middle, supported by the same corporate interests that polluted the once reasonable Republicans and ruined this country.

What happened? Liberals used to provide a much-needed balance to Capitalism, which inevitably grows like a cancer and devours everything in sight without some voice of reason. I know, I know, checks on power are soooo September 10th. What happened to the party of the working class? Equivocating and shifting to the center, saying certain measures of reform were impossible and thereby settling for the incremental, if anything at all. And all the while the Republican party never yielded an inch, and in fact has veered so far to the right that today’s Republican party bears no comparison to the Reagan years or anything before it. The fringe is running the asylum now, and they were birthed out of frustration to terrible mismanagement that has more to do with Democrats than Democrats would like to admit.

It’s easy to call today’s Republicans out: they do not conform to the PC. They are evangelical fighters who stick to their guns, pun intended. Yet Obama followed up after the Bush Jr. howdy-doody rodeo and continued to codify Bush’s damaging policies and policies in which our golden Clinton administration had previously firmly rooted itself. It was depressing. But few liberals called him out, perhaps out of relief to be rid of Bush, perhaps because of Obama’s chocolate charm. Yes, Obama possessed a gift for public speaking and charm that out-paced yours Billy boy, a terrific thing to watch.

Bush’s dismantling of the 4th Amendment with the Patriot Act got re-affirmed under Obama, with an additional burst of gusto from the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, a section of which was so invasive it prompted a group of investigative journalists to sue the Obama administration to take the section out lest the executive branch should unleash it’s power upon the American citizenry.

In the wake of criminal banking practices that crashed our economy in 08′, Obama’s bank bailout came immediately after his inauguration of “hope and change”, quickly dashing any hopes of change I may have held for justice. These bastards took bonuses from the taxpayers and did NOT reinvest the bailouts into helping mortgage holders or building back the economy.

I could go on ad nauseum but the point is, since the 90’s, Democrats have continued to sell themselves as the moral voice of our great nation while enacting the very policies that have brought us to our knees. That is some Ivy League level BS right there and yet the sheeple acolytes remain as devoted to the Red/Blue-two-party charade as we ever were. Good Republicans and Democrats alike still fight like cats and dogs over their favorite politicians, defending the honor of this country’s diluted, remorseless and dare I say criminal executive branch.

The American people do love their Clintons, oh yes they do. I suspect you two already know that, which is why you’re running this timely tour. You can probably guess, I’m not exactly an enthusiast but I clearly remember being proud and excited to vote for Bill in my youth. He was my first, and you know how that goes… I guess I saw both of you through rose colored glasses. Not so much now, but let’s face it – having the wool pulled over my eyes all those years was making my face itch. As they say in manufacturing plants in Mexico, no bueno.

I beg of you Billary, try to think of us when you’re out there on the road. You’ve both had your dances on the dark side. Somehow I doubt you’ll heed my creative counsel and go your own way though; the show must go on.

So America, if you’re still reading… I know you’re all pumped up from the adderall and  another round of Yankee-Doodle-Yackee from the King and Queen of foreign donor relations with oppressive regimes sounds like just the panacea for your Trumpian malaise. But I warn you: this myopic view of our current situation has a steep price. I ask you, Liberal, to repent your ways now. The hour is at hand. And if changing your mind about Democrats and political parties is not your thing, I get it. I hope you enjoy it, I really do, but I’m going to sit out the celebrational side show with the surprise guest appearance by Oprah. I’m tired.

And hey – if you miss out on the Clinton’s speaking tour, fear not. A Broadway play is in the works about the happy couple. It’s true! It’s too early to tell if this is meant to be historical or hysterical but stay tuned, my friends. Stay tuned.

The Clinton years…aah. Those were the days.

 

Bill and Hillary Clinton set to begin 6-month speaking tour – USA TODAY

 

Rules Without Question

Author’s Disclaimer: Today’s post is philosophical in nature. Please don’t use it for inspiration to wreak havoc on others. Let the havoc you wreak be upon your own soul.

See Sacred Texts website for image definition: http://sacred-texts.com/tarot/pkt/pktar05.htm.

The fact that I even had pause over today’s post, enough so to write the above disclaimer, is irritating me. The stupidity of society at large is pretty irritating, almost as irritating as respecting rules set by those who don’t follow them or live in hypocrisy. In the presence of those types, I set my own rules which are guided by my values. I write this today because in the midst of planetary tension and transition that I think we are all feeling, there is another type of spiritual tension occurring. Because for all our religious institutions and rules, many of us are in a spiritual crisis.

My values are not the values of my parents. I’m a child of the 70’s, and grew up with lots of freedom; some might say too much. It didn’t matter. What wasn’t given to me I took without a second thought about who I hurt or what danger lie in my choices. I was fearless, I suppose. But it was the type of fearlessness that accompanies naivete and curiosity.

Today, as a parent myself, I often shudder when remembering particular moments in my life. Like the time I got stuck on a slender shelf no wider than my 9 year-old feet on the face of a mountain in the woods for hours. Or at 19, when I accidentally almost blew my own head off with a gun. The very fact that I remain in my human vessel is suprising to me.  Some might even call me “lucky”, a word I despise because it fails to recognize my will, or give me any credit at all for the choices I have made. “Lucky” gives all the credit to an invisible God, who may or may not exist, never mind give an actual fuck.

Given the kind of person I was, and the kind of people I had for parents, they were ill-equipped to deal with the particulars of bringing me up to deal with the sort of mind I had. I was brought up to follow the rules, strictly. To repress anger. To become something decent in this world – what was expected of me, not only by my parents but what they felt was expected of their child by the familial bonds of authority they adhered to all their lives without question. I began questioning my given religion in the third grade, and these questions were always unwelcomed and shut down by both the church and my family. So, I found my own avenues of Earthly knowledge and hid much of who I was, and who I was becoming, from my family.

This is not an indictment of my parents. They were doing as they were told by their own parents. They were following rules they never took the time to criticize or question. The path to happiness was not varied: it was clearly defined by those who raised them as the path of least conflict, least resistance, most obedient, least individualized.

Part of this happened, I believe, as a result of their parents having lived through WWII. My grandfathers both served: my father’s father in the Greek Army, and my mother’s in the U.S. Navy. Things were very difficult for people in Greece in the 40’s and Dad’s parents desired for my father to come to “America” rather than be an Air Force pilot and risk life and limb. He obeyed and came here in 1969, and he and my mother obeyed years later when the Catholic church threatened excommunication if my parents baptized me as a Greek Orthodox.

I think the one rule my parents ever broke was their marriage itself, which was frowned upon by both sides of my family. Alas, my mother was already pregnant with me, and cardinal rule no matter what your ethnic background in 1974 was to keep things respectable. Abandoning the pregnancy and the responsibility of duty to be a married, two-parent household would have meant an emotional hardship and ostracization from their communities that would have been deeply difficult to bear.

For as long as its been around, shame as a tool has never stopped anyone from doing anything shameful. It simply goes dark, the disobedience. And I mean dark in the sense of secretive or even illegal actions, and also those which are psychologically rested within the subconscious. The subconscious is where the repressed turns deviant and acts as an Executive Director to the Ego, manifesting in all sorts of quirky behavior that people are blind to in themselves.

When we shame someone into following the rules, we attempt to control them through fear. It’s not a fair fight, in my opinion. But we also live in a world where the God-figure of most people’s religion is a deity of preference and judgement, both very human characteristics, ironically. We humans accept all sorts of unfairness in our lives, without question.

I’ve broken all the rules, and eventually learned to be a true rebel sometimes you need to follow the rules – or at least enough of them to get near the marrow of the rules you really want to break. Breaking the right rules – and that means what I deem to be the “right” rules – is much more effective than I could have ever dreamed. I live by my values, and those values were not handed down. They were closely examined and set by me, who, as co-creator with the Divine, am the ultimate judge and master of my soul.

A life without examination is not worth living; feed your soul! Test your boundaries. Give your head a chance to expand and explode and then put it all back together again. It’s completely spiritual work and will bring you closer to the God of your choosing than you ever could have dreamed. Heck, you might even witness a miracle. I know I have. And believe me, I am not special.

Just don’t ever tell me, “just because” or “that’s the way it’s done” because I will overthrow any chains that bind me very quickly and unapologetically. I remain respectful to myself and those around me, of course.

In the workplace, I don’t refuse my boss’ request for me to do something a certain way, for example. But I do point out that there might be a better way and sometimes argue my point before doing exactly as I am told. If asked to do something which diverges from my core values, then I simply refuse. And yes, I have quit before when in toxic work situations. Explosively so, in one case, but that’s a story for another day.

We can apply this attitude to politics, our churches of choosing, our communities and our families. The effects ripple right out. People are more flexible than we imagine them to be, and often the outcomes we fear are not even close to what occurs when we honor our personal truths.

I’m short-handing this post, because it’s not simple to switch into this rule-breaking mindset. This post is brief; I’ve read a couple hundred spiritual texts to aid in the development of my particular mindset. One has to question their intentions unremittingly and be willing to call themselves out at the slightest whiff of bullshit. This takes a little practice because our Egos are in the driver’s seat and the Ego wants to win, always.

Spiritually I’ve got a Buddhist-Pagan vibe going on, and that’s where I blend detachment with potential outcome to arrive at my decisions. I’m not Wiccan but part of the Wiccan rede seems a fitting summation for today’s thoughts: “Do what ye will and harm none.” It asks us to evaluate the morality of a decision, before taking any action.

 

Federal Prisons Continue Contracting with Private Industry // Clinton-Era Setencing Rules That Just Won’t Die


The Trump administration has quickly abandoned the Obama administration’s resolve to no longer contract with for-profit private prisons. Companies like The GEO Group and CoreCivic Inc. lead the industry and have contracts with the federal government, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Obama announced the move away from the private prison system last September. It came shortly after a Mother Jones undercover investigative report (June 2016) took Americans inside one of the country’s most dangerous, run by Corrections Corporation of America in Alabama.

With Trump green-lighting private prisons in the federal system once again, there seems to be little hope that for-profit prison’s history of cutting corners (CO pay, overcrowding, safety violations, keeping inmates after their sentences are up) will see desperately-needed reform.

Already a source of major profits for shareholders who make more money from higher occupancy rates, many major companies (Whole Foods, AT&T, Walmart) now utilize prison labor, somewhat under the radar from the public. Under scrutiny for paying wages as low as 16 cents/hr in some cases, the rules surrounding fair pay for inmate labor favor businesses rather than protect laborers – and I’m guessing (no data on this) it impacts American jobs and salaries.

There are laws that govern prison wages, such as the Percy Amendment, but these are outdated. Private companies contracting prison labor must meet minimum wage requirements or something close to it,  but there are tax breaks that companies get for using this labor. Laborers which are not declared as official “employees” and thus do not have to pay unemployment taxes, for example.

Additionally, up to 80% of prison pay is deducted from their checks for various fees that go back to the prison, like room & board. This seems like double dipping to me, at least in the case of private prisons since they are already given a guaranteed stipend from the state they’re in based on minimum contracted occupancy levels. Also if there is a room and board charge only for those who work, it is unfair and inconsistently applied.

I have firsthand observed how stressful it is for inmates to successfully assimilate back into society and meet financial obligations upon release. Finding a place to live, meeting the terms of parole and fines imposed by the courts are heavy responsibilities for someone with no income. Recidivism could be greatly reduced if the corporations leveraging prison labor were forced to acknowledge them as actual employees, making prisoners eligible for unemployment benefits upon release.

And that brings us to this past Friday, when a two-page memo was released by Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructing US attorneys to, among other things, “immediately” adhere to mandatory sentencing guidelines which have been proven ineffective.


He asserted in a statement to the public that he was looking to punish drug traffickers, but the Clinton-era crackdown on crime has long been proven a total disaster. Minimum mandatory sentencing laws disproportionately jailed people of color and non-violent drug users who pose no threat to public safety.

Former AG Eric Holder said the easing of mandatory minimums for non violent offenders has enabled the Justice Department to jail more high-level drug dealers.

Muddying the prison pot are Session’s investments, which might prove a serious conflict of interest. I’m trying to track down if he followed up on orders to divest once he took the AG office, but the jury is still out…here’s what I did find:

Sessions has considerable holdings in Vanguard, the largest purveyor of funds with investment in the private prison industry.

  • iVanguard Total Stock Market Index Admiral Shares – consists of both GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc. stocks worth over $164,000,000. Sessions investment value is from $15,001 – $50,000.
  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Admiral Shares – same fund as above, but Sessions lists investment value between $1,001 – $15,000.
  • Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares – consisits of stocks from The GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc. valued at over $173,500,000. Sessions shows investments valued from $15,000 – $50,000.
  • Vanguard Total International Stock Index Admiral Shares – contains GEO Holdings Corporation stock valued at over $4,400,000. Sessions owns $1,001 – $15,000 of this fund.

Vice Motherboard reported in January (2017), Sessions failed to disclose the 600-acres of subsurface oil and mineral reserves located beneath a wildlife refuge in Alabama. I’m not super-wealthy, so I have no idea what it’s like to completely forget I have land worth more than I could dare to guess. But Sessions does not adhere to the same strict rule of law for himself as he is ready to impose on others.

I am not aware of any reports that he divested from his Vanguard funds listed above, and if he hasn’t it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s a story I’m watching with a weary eye.

The two-page Sessions memo is linked via NPR:
https://apps.npr.org/documents/document.html?id=3719268-AG-Memo-on-Department-Charging-and-Sentencing

Spotlight on Sex Slaves Around the World

I understand you might have errands to run today so if you want to catch the key part of this almost two-hour Senate hearing, Ashton Kutcher’s opening remarks begin around the 27 minute mark and last for just over 15 minutes. It’s unpleasant to think about but 24 million people are trapped in the sex trade against their will and forced into slavery, and 27 million people are enslaved overall worldwide. That, to me, is unacceptable.

Kutcher’s THORN foundation has developed a technology called Spotlight that has already tracked down thousands of victims in the last few months. He’s only got 25% of the data in thus far so it stands to reason those numbers might be quite a bit higher. I watched this at 5am this morning and it really hit a nerve. I’ve been doing too much research into the depravity of humankind lately, but I’ve gotta say, abducting people and molesting them has got to be the lowest expression of the evil we can get up to.

I got to thinking about the Podesta emails, which I had downloaded from WikiLeaks and read just for kicks last month. I went so far down that rabbit hole I came back up and said, no way…this can’t be true. It’s utterly ridiculous. But then again, with the arrest of former Speaker of the House and friend-to-Podesta, the Dennis Hastert case serves as a reminder that there are dots to connect here. And the recent LA Child Trafficking sting in which 474 people were arrested basically screamed “this is not a fringe issue!!” into my heart, though mainstream cable media will not cover it.

Then I remembered when I used to do illegal things I had a motto: Hide In Plain Sight. Yup! Seriously, the next time you’re in Ibiza trying to pass your friend a pill or have an adult refreshment, don’t try to be sneaky about it. Just do your business and get on with your evening, OK? Acting all furtive and paranoid only calls the wrong kind of attention to you, and nobody wants to get pulled into a back room by security goons or a police officer. Just be cool. Nothing to see here.

And that’s how Americans are able to brush off a lot of intense news, because it gets reported so casually that even the people involved don’t lose their cool. With some of the more technically intense stories, like the logistics behind 9/11 for example – it is probably way beyond the scope of most American’s understanding of how structurally things work in our government, or to know chain-of-command and procedural protocols should we be under threat. Also, the U.S. being way behind other countries when it comes to science education crippled our ability to even know what questions to ask. Generally speaking, people accepted whatever story the press laid out, and if certain details didn’t get discussed we certainly didn’t miss them. Like the fact that three buildings collapsed, not two. I’m guilty – I didn’t even remember WTC building 7 until I dug into the story again 15 years later.

So you see, that “nothing to see here” approach works quite well in our churn and burn news cycle. But the reporting on the tragedy that occurred on 9/11 was probably the worst journalism ever…with a close second being the 2008 financial crisis that absolutely nobody saw coming. Aye. Well, I want to talk PizzaGate all day long until I figure out that there is either something to it or there isn’t. But I’m like a dog with a chewy toy: I’m not letting go.

Maybe writing this and talking about things without censorship is my way of calling out to the collective for a level-headed approach to emerge. Can we give life in the news to so-called conspiracies like PizzaGate in a way that doesn’t feel bombastic or hyperbolic? A single reporter – Ben Swann – discussed the landscape of the evidence available on a local affiliate news station in Atlanta and was immediately ridiculed and threatened. He’s actually missing now, and all his social media has gone dark. Scary!

I spent a long LONG time researching 9/11 and I will say this:  getting data dumps of declassified documents and learning physics only to get a collective eye roll from the people around me as though I’m out of my mind – it does sting a little. But evidence is compelling nonetheless. So if I look a little silly to you, that’s OK with me. I’m going to ignore your look of condescension because I’m not crazy.

Back to the video. Kutcher’s passion really shines and he’s very educated on this topic, especially in drawing a direct line from foster care to sex crimes and trafficking. He rightly points out that our current corporate culture of manufacturing abroad in poor conditions is contributing, which I thought was a really smart connection to make.

Years ago I used to think by not shopping at Walmart I was making a political statement. My daughter went in Walmart for the first time when she was 10,  only because I was desperate for a router. I realize my well-meaning protest is just a small whisper into the gaping abyss of human suffering that is inherent in EVERY thing we buy. I can not absolve myself; I am absolutely contributing to slavery no matter where I shop.

I think by holding America’s largest corporation’s feet to the fire, we could get the Walmarts and Apples of the world to lead the way for the rest. For American companies and American citizens to condone working conditions that are anything less than the conditions we demanded for ourselves at the turn of the 19th century is uncivilized. Why would we want to buy goods from manufacturers that are not following good business practices worldwide?

Maybe you’re the type of person who thinks that people in other countries should be treated and paid an inferior wage, because they had nothing before and so now at least they have jobs. If you are this type of person, contact me for a hug, seriously. By pressing for ethical business practices we not only show our humanity, but we might just get some of those jobs back here in the states and get those corporations to pay their taxes.

Leveraging poor people for profit and acting like it’s a favor is a ridiculous notion that feeds into American exceptionalism,  a description I loathe because it sounds so self-indulgent. We can have patriotic pride without making the leap to exceptionalism that basically says to the world “it’s all about me.”

People are jumping out of the windows to commit suicide and getting burned alive in fires so they can make less than a living wage simply because that is better than nothing. It’s standard operating procedure for a parent company to contract a third party vendor with little to zero oversight, absolving themselves of responsibility for the conditions in factories  and ultimately, these people’s deaths. And for half their pay, employees get to live in these shitholes, dormitory-style. Sometimes they don’t get paid at all. Migrant workers will often leave one country to go to a neighboring country to work and get totally used. President Trump’s  Dubai project is a nightmare, for example. Workers on that project can’t even get their passports back to go home because they’re being held from them by their employer.

These are the conditions that both women and men find themselves in across the planet and American “fast fashion” is a big part of this equation. It’s easy to kidnap young boys and girls working in these environments. Just like it’s easy to leverage foster kids in the system here in the states for unsavory ends, or look at the Catholic church’s record of abusing lots of troubled kids over their years.

Censoring these stories or not covering them because of political or corporate pressure is a failure to protect these lives and their inherent freedom to self-determine. The Podesta emails are pretty odd, and it could be a coincidence in some cases. But there was a few emails that appeared to be discussing something in code. The infamous Comet Ping Pong Pizza has a strange website and a sister store two doors down – also selling pizza, by the way – called Buck’s Camping and Fishing. They’ve scrubbed their website since a crazed lunatic (or Podesta political plant, haha) ran into the place with a gun one afternoon last month. I found an archived version of the old Comet Pizza website and their “Friends” section was still intact somewhat – check it out, it’s weird. I don’t get why any of those links are affiliated with a pizza place, but it’s possible I’m not hip enough.

I’m not saying there’s a Hillary Clinton photo in a compromising position: I AM saying there is something fishy here. It’s global. And Podesta’s associate has already been implicated. I’m not a fan of jumping to conclusions and I will ALWAYS question a received reality. There is so much more beneath the glib surface.

How can we do better? Stop buying so much crap at Walmart and use the money you save to travel. One thing I’ve learned working for low pay at a nonprofit these last 6 years was how to live on less. I mean, roughly $30,000 less than I made when I was 25 years old. I really wanted to change my career and nothing I did before lent itself to what I did at my last job so I chose to start over rather than do something I didn’t want to do. That’s a First-World problem for ya. It’s nice to have choices, but it’s also a burden to have so much abundance. Our task is to be responsible with that abundance.

Here are some ways I humbled myself to my new pay grade: I drove an embarrassingly shitty car for a few years while I saved money to buy my sassy, gently-used Acura last year.  I didn’t lease, I bought it outright. I don’t have cable. I buy new clothes seasonally, not weekly. If there’s an event or a festival I want to go to I apply to volunteer so I can donate some time and grab a free pass. Readers who know me will note that do enjoy travel a lot. But in my 4th decade I learned how to love the adventure of meeting new people in youth hostels or I will sleep on a friend’s floor or couch.  Five-star hotels are for pussies, and you know what happens to those under the current administration.

Below is a link about an initiative working it’s way through appropriations in Congress right now. If I can find some grassroots corporate activism happening “out there” I will add them later. To create new business practices will require some serious organization. We can’t just slap on our collective pussy hats and march, though that often helps too. In conjunction with demonstrations, I predict activists have got to take a page from the Koch Brother’s manual to be effective. Well, minus the short-sightedness. And the dishonesty. And pretty much everything they stand for. OK then… Stay tuned for updates on this topic.

Fight Slavery Now! website with information about the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Striking a Balance in Uncertain Times

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I took an unintentional hiatus from writing, dear readers. I had so many ideas. Too many ideas. As many of you know, I am a news and politics junkie. Having no designated horse in last year’s presidential race, I thought the ideal thing to do here would be to discuss politics in a way that could divest us from the sheer emotionality of it. I wrote several essays I never published about facts, digging into history, blah blah blah… I came off preachy; at least I realized it before I hit the “publish” button.

Part of being a writer is being an observer, but at the beginning of this year my observational compass was askew. The sheer volume and volatility of the daily news necessitated that I respond before the topic got stale, something very difficult to do given that I have few resources that other journalists have.

So I turned inward. I needed to work on myself or nothing I put out as a creative writer or a news-commentator will be without bias. True, it’s impossible to eliminate it entirely. But a self-aware person who is mindful of their intentions can create something of value to both themselves and their community.

That’s where things began to come into focus. I have always said, “You can’t change what’s happening in Afghanistan, but you CAN be a good neighbor.” I had forgotten my own commitment to community in the midst of election hoopla. Resolving to re-commit to mine, I reconsidered current commitments (Malden Cultural Council) and pondered the stories that were happening all around me that were not being told. Stories that deserved life, I felt. I am a proud Maldonian, and so I set out to discover my local scene again, never-minding the national drama.

For $30 I signed up for a class at MATV called “Writing Local History.” Currently working on a historic-fiction-genre novel, this class has turned out to be right up my proverbial alley and – bonus –  is being taught by Globe reporter and author Stephanie Schorow.

I feel blessed that a course of this caliber is being offered for such short change; I’m getting a lot more out of this class than the one I spent $2K for at Harvard last year (insert eye roll). My plan is to roll my historical novel research and interviews right into my class project, which is to write a local history piece for Neighborhood View. I’ve received so many contacts of WWII vets right here in Malden – it lends itself perfectly to a story about them for my class-related feature. What the details or theme will be will emerge as I write and interview my subjects. Part of the process is not holding on too tightly to preconceived notions so I can allow the best of these interviews to emerge. (Sidebar: contact me if you know or ARE a WWII veteran interested in being interviewed for my project.)

I recently attended Mayor Christenson’s “State of the City” breakfast and emerged with many notes about stories I wanted to investigate and potentially write about. Look for these in local outlets like the Patch or the Advocate soon.

Yet another project in development is a podcast called “In My Head” which will empty out the contents of my brain for an hour-long weekly format I hope to take to radio airwaves one day. The concept is still a secret but it will not be dull; I promise you will laugh, and you will learn something – my two favorite things to do.

So you see, I found the best way to continue is to simply add value to the world I live in. Bitching and moaning on Facebook does not change anything. I encourage readers to stop un-following and un-friending folks who hold a different worldview from you. Human beings are not here on this planet for safety or consistency, (though we crave it with every fiber of our survivalist-programmed selves). We are here to stretch, to grow, to evolve, to change, to become a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday. Anything less than that and we live in sin, which in ancient Greek means to “miss the point of existence”.

Seek to understand your neighbor, and when you don’t? Love them anyway. That is what the Creator calls us to do, if you’re into the whole God thing. And if you’re not then just be a decent fucking person – you’ve only got one go-around, eh? I have been good and I have been bad – being in the Light is much more fun, believe me.

In the meantime, since someone else developed an online database much more quickly than I ever could (ahem, Michael Moore), I will leave a couple of links below to get your political mojo active, if that’s your cup of tea.

Myself, I’m taking a step back. As a critic and commentator I think it’s important to my readers that I remain independent – for now. I may change my mind, as I often do. But that is what balance is about: minute adjustments made on a moment-to-moment basis allow me to stay in the center. Have a blessed day.

The Resistance Calendar

The Action Group Network – activist network created by House of Cards writer Beau Willimon, who’s taking a break from writing to get involved in grassroots work nationwide.

5 Calls App – **the best activist hack, like, ever…

You Down With TPP? Me Neither.

TPP

 

Bad grammar and old rap references aside, why I’m not down with TPP is made pretty clear in the transcript (below) of my letter to my district’s Rep. and state Senators, sent recently via email to all three (Warren, Markey and Clark). I wanted to share my letter with readers, and to show that my assertions did not come out of thin air, I’ve linked sources throughout the letter itself and included a pretty extensive set of footnotes. Whether you support the TPP or not, I hope it inspires you to write a letter of your own or to generally get involved in grassroots action in whatever way that makes sense for you. – JP

————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Dear Senators and Representative:

 

First off, I’d like to thank you for your continued service on behalf of the people of Massachusetts. As a registered Independent voter I have voted for all of you, and I consider myself fortunate to live in our “purple-ish” state where reason can play a part in the political process.

With regards to the TPP, I think I already know how your vote will go and hope that I am correct in assuming you will vote against this horrific (and binding) agreement. As I learn more about the details I am left scratching my head in wonder trying to understand why our supposedly Democratic President would think this agreement is a good idea.

Never mind wonder – it alarms me that your fellow colleagues might also be supporting this agreement along with our President. I implore you to reach out to them and convince them this would be a disaster for not only our country, but people around the world. Rising cost of medicines, US industrial farming pushing small eco-friendly farmers out of the market, and potential for more fracking are all a likely by-product of this agreement.

I am currently reading through the Intellectual Property section on Wiki Leaks, and though I’m not a lawyer I can understand that digital rights and freedom of expression will be inhibited under the terms, and that copyright infringement will be treated as a criminal offense. Sanctions against those who “misuse” digital property accessed from a computer (which seems deliberately vague) could ostensibly harm what’s left of our free press. As a writer myself, I find this unacceptable.

We all know how the political process has been corrupted by special interests, and in this case we are not only inviting them in for a hot meal but also handing them the keys to the castle. It infuriates me that the will of the people would be LEGALLY overruled by corporate interests. We the People already have so little influence on outcomes: academic studies have shown the average citizen literally has a net zero effect on current policies enacted. (It’s under 1%.)

The fact that a multi-national corporation could sue the United States for infringement on their profits is not just a possibility, but a sure thing under the provisions of the TPP. TransCanada has already sued us under NAFTA for blocking fracking and Wall Street crybabies have had hearings to fight reduction in subsidies to their industry. These companies get to bid on taxpayer funded contracts and/or benefit from tax breaks and subsidies, and then they follow up with lawsuits against our government because they want more… Talk about ridiculous.

I don’t even know if you will read this letter. I expect that a lot of these mass-emails get lost in the shuffle. But I wanted to speak up and will continue to pay attention and do my part as a citizen to keep the pressure on. The fact of the matter is, sadly, is that less-than-1% influence I referenced is shrinking even as I write this. Please ask yourselves and your colleagues to call upon integrity now and fight for the rights of folks who have no voice. Don’t let the voice and will of the People completely disappear.

 

Respectfully,

Jennifer Psallidas

Footnotes

Care to blow off a little steam of your own? Write a letter to your state reps in the House and the Senate and let them know you are paying attention. Also linked below are some other references of potential interest.

LOCAL – Find House of Reps from your district by entering your zip code here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

NATIONAL – Find your state’s elected Congress officials here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

The academic study I referred to is by Gilens and Page: Average Citizens have little impact on public policy. Published in Perspectives on Politics, April 9, 2014.  PDF of study is linked in my letter but the abstract can be found here: http://www.pnhp.org/news/2014/april/gilens-and-page-average-citizens-have-little-impact-on-public-policy

The TPP – or most of it – is available on Wiki Leaks, and notably was not made public initially by the current U.S. administration. https://wikileaks.org/tpp/.

Electronic Frontier Foundation: a website dedicated to understanding rights in the digital world, breaks down key elements of the Intellectual Property chapter of the TPP. https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp

Footnote about Bank subsidies: this relates back to the comments in my letter about businesses being able to sue the U.S. Government – read: the taxpayers – when their profits are at stake. The example I cited in the letter is possibly a little vague for readers but I expected the state Reps to know what I was referring to. A brief history of my perspective follows:

1913: Entitlements: 6%, just for showing up: The banks receive an annual dividend of 6% from the Federal Reserve, which totals roughly $350 million apiece for JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. It was first established in 1913 as a reward for banks, just for joining the Federal Reserve system. Readers should note that Federal Reserve is an incredibly independent government agency which is not audited by Congress and can basically create money out of thin air. But I digress.

The Fed payouts to banks are not structured to exert any influence or encourage banks to push the benefit out to the public in any way. This is just one example of the types of kickbacks and payouts our taxes support. There are many more. (Sort of outrageous when one considers the outcry against welfare for the poor, which is comparably only 5% of the entire federal budget. Hypocrisy rules this country.)

In the meantime, our infrastructure needs improvement and people need good-paying jobs.

2014: White House Fact Sheet: President Obama’s Infrastructure plan, laid out in February of 2014 lays out the initiative to improve American infrastructure and funnel funding to the states for local projects, the by-product of which would be more blue-collar jobs. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/26/fact-sheet-president-obama-lays-out-vision-21st-century-transportation-i.

2015: Senator Sanders proposes a deficit-neutral Amendment to the Infrastructure Bill: Bernie Sanders is the ranking member of the Senate’s Budget Committee, and asked the Finance Committee to close corporate tax breaks for companies to fund the proposal. He was denied, even though the federal Highway Trust Fund is nearly depleted. The members of the Finance Committee would not budge on long-term subsidies for big business, saying it would be a “tax increase” on business, which is an incorrect twisting of semantics – it is a subsidy decrease. Subsidies are kickbacks to companies from our government. The newest proposal by Obama was that the funding would come from the Fed’s 6% payout, which would not suddenly end, but rather decrease over a period of time. 2016 would be the first year the cutback in the payout would take effect. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/478b-infrastructure-bill-blocked-senate-123000148.html

2016: Banks fight back with a letter from Rob Nichols, CEO of the American Banking Association arguing for banks’ 5th Amendment rights under the Constitution of the United States. He argues that the 6% Fed payout is protected under the 5th Amendment and that these funds should not be diverted to boost America’s failing infrastructure. Link to ABA for all kinds of interesting info: www.aba.con.

I have to say, calling upon the 5th Amendment and claiming that taking the payout away is akin to theft is pretty fucking genius. These bankers have serious chutzpah. When recently asked about the payouts (July, Wall Street Journal article), Fed Chair Janet Yellen lamely said that she didn’t want to discourage banks from participating in the Federal Reserve system — even though the Fed has the same oversight powers over banks whether they take part or not.

 

 

Purple Rain and Bathroom Politics

After watching Purple Rain last night I’m having a hard time believing the “who’s in what bathroom” drama has just started bothering the masses now. Has it occurred to anyone what a gender-bending  decade the 80’s was? I mean, seriously: in today’s world, what bathroom would Prince have been able to use without getting into some hypothetical trouble?

purple rain

I saw a video posted on Facebook yesterday in which a woman who looked masculine was pulled out of a line for the bathroom by police, presumably at a club but I couldn’t tell. When she refused to produce an ID proving she was indeed a woman, she was physically removed from the premises and called “sir”and “son”.  Barring the usual questions about the validity of the video’s source, I was horrified by what I saw: this woman was being treated pretty badly after hurting no one.

As a longtime friend of the gay and transgender community, I’ve been in many gender-fluid bathrooms and never once was I in danger. Everyone is doing their thing and minding their business, even if (in a club setting) maybe doing “their thing” includes drugs. But no one is trying to hurt anyone, and as I think about the public debate at hand I am hard-pressed to understand what particular threat exists in this situation. Stirring up blind fear seems to be at the heart of the agenda, and that is some ugly paranoia.

I bet if a transgender person was relieving themselves in a lady stall next to anyone, most people wouldn’t even know. Even if one suspects, I doubt any issue would be raised by those who are most likely to be affected by the transgender bathroom blitzkrieg: women.

halter prince

Of course, women tend to be more flexible in their attitudes – which is interesting when you think about it, because most of what’s driving the conversation is hate toward men who change themselves to be more like women.  This makes me wonder even further if at the deepest core of this hatred lies misogyny. Yes, that’s probably me making it about myself, but this isn’t The Atlantic: I am speaking through my personal life-lense here.

At the core, most of life’s evil is rooted in misogyny, twisted and dark as it is. Just look at religion and you’ll be lost for days on all the ways we’ve found to make a woman the lesser of two genders. I can’t imagine why a man would want to live their lives in our malignant lady-shoes. But if he does want to be a she, I’m fine with her peeing just one stall over, instead of say, on Mars or in a ditch or only in their own homes.

All said and done it’s not that big of a deal where anyone pees, but I am so wary of the timing of this particular debate in a politicized world where nothing is discussed by accident. Let’s not find yet another reason to turn against each other.