Thursday, October 15, 2009

Compassionate conservatism rearing its ugly head

Some of you may already know about the horrific and shocking tale of Jamie Leigh Jones, but for those who don't, here's a bit of info on her story.

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Yes, you read that right. The act itself, as it turns out, was a warm-up compared to what comes next in the story.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave. Jones described the container as sparely furnished with a bed, table and lamp.

Unfortunately, it gets more insulting. Under the Bush Department (lack) of Justice, her case was largely swept under the rug, and left for one group to settle the matter...Halliburton/KBR.

Jones is now trying to proceed with the case in civil court, but KBR is pushing for it to be heard in “private arbitration,” without a “public record or transcript.” Halliburton has “won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.”

Under a mandatory arbitration clause, if something happens to you - like the sexual abuse of Leigh Jones - under contract, you cannot sue the company for damages. Turns out its not just Halliburton that makes an arbitration clause mandatory in the workplace.
Hooters • Applebee's • KFC • Friendly Ice Cream Corporation • Circuit City • Neiman Marcus • Nordstrom • Hallmark Cards • Merrill Lynch • Citigroup • First usa • Ameriquest • Discover • Blue Cross Blue Shield • Aetna • Kaiser Permanente • AT&T • Ford • Daimler AG • Toyota • Clear Channel • General Electric • Halliburton • Bechtel • Rent-a-Center

Thankfully, last month, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in her favor over Halliburton, stating that her injuries were not covered by the arbitration clause.

Now what does this heartbreaking example of unchecked corporate accountability and another dark example of life under the Bush/Cheney era have to do with 'compassionate conservatism' rearing its ugly head yet again?

Junior Senator Al Franken of Minnesota introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would make it illegal for defense contractors to stop employees from taking sexual abuse, battery, and harassment up to court, in other words, to make sure that we don't have to hear about another Jamie Leigh Jones in the news. You would beleive in the Senate, that a bill that would stop defense contractors from restricting employees from pressing charges because of rape or assault, would be an instant, no-brainer, unanimous 'yes' vote, right?

The bill did pass a vote of 68-30.

30 Senators basically defended rapists.

And these 30 Senators were, drumrolls please.......

Old, white, Republicans lawmakers. Here's the full list of the Senators who had the audacity to vote no.

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

I'm not one to wish ill will on others, but in this case, I hope there's a special place in Hell for the people who have decided to place corporate interests over those of rape victims.

Jon Stewart does a great job taking these partisan hacks to task on their actions on last night's The Daily Show.

In addition to being the Party of unchecked corporate greed, torture, anti-minorities, obstructionists, and the angry, racist Southern white voter, the GOP can add defender of rape victims to that shameful list.

Again, how the hell can honestly look at these qualities, and still vote Republican?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Homosexuality? A lifestyle choice! Your religious views? You're born with it!

Your skin color. The color of your eyes. Your ethnic background(s). These three things, are among a long list of other traits of things that not one person can change about themselves. What you wear, what you eat, what musical tastes you have, etc. are among an even longer list of things that everyone can change, or changes dramatically, thought the course of a lifetime. In the ever-raging debate on equal rights for the gay/lesbian community, one of the arguments I cannot, for the life of me, understand, is the argument that gay men and women have chosen to be with the same sex.

Really? One chooses to be sexually attracted to the same sex overnight? It's not just a biological wiring that one person might have, but a choice, much like a person switching from Vans to Converse shoes?

This bullshit argument has raised a notch today with House Minority Leader John Boehner of Texas explaining his opposition to hate crime protections for the gay community that's being debated on Capitol Hill, and it's a bigger load of BS than the argument I just mentioned.

Last week, House Republican Leader John Boehner objected to House passage of a bill that would expand hate crime laws and make it a federal crime to assault people on the basis of their sexual orientation.....

In an email, Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said Boehner "supports existing federal protections (based on race, religion, gender, etc) based on immutable characteristics."

It should be noted that the current law does not include gender, though the expanded legislation would cover gender as well as sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.

"He does not support adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes," Smith continued.

Boehner's position, then, appears to be grounded in the notion that immutable characteristics should be protected under hate crimes laws. And while religion is an immutable characteristic, his office suggests, sexual orientation is not.

That's right. The House Minority Leader is convinced that one's religious background is an immutable characteristic, as opposed to being physically attracted to the same sex.

My dad was raised in a Baptist-Christian household, along with my mom. I was raised in the same religious household as my parents were. Because of those two factors, by Bohner's logic, I should be a Christian. Yet, I consider myself to being agnostic. How does Boehner explain that? Furthermore, how does he not think to himself and say aloud, "Well...i'm a 100% dumbass?"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize? Boooooooo!

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 24 hrs., you have already heard the news that President Obama, just nine months into his young presidency, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. With this award, he joins a very select group of former U.S. Presidents (Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, Woodrow Wilson in 1919, and Jimmy Carter in 2002) who have been awarded the Peace Prize.

I've heard the talk about the campfire (I, myself, have ashed the same question):
"What's he done this early on to deserve this award?"
"The nominations for the award end on February 2, Obama had been in office for a week and a half! What gives?"
"There are more people out there who have actually made accomplishments in steering the world towards peace, so why did they get the shaft?"

First, the Nobel Peace Prize is usually awarded, not for one's accomplishments, but for one's actions to bring about peace in the world, and to highlight the causes of the times. For example, take all the many people have won it for trying to bring about peace in the Middle East (Carter, Yasser Arafat, Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat of Egypt etc.), and we're no closer to having Israelis and Palestinians lay down their past grudges and weapons and work together to coexist in the same strip of land they are fighting and dying for.
Second, what ha Obama done to win this award? Here's what the people who give out the award, have to say:

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

In other words, he's not Bush Jr., where his idea of diplomacy could be equated to playing a game of Cowboys and Indians, and his attitude towards human rights were like that of his feeling about the Constitution he swore to uphold and defend - 'who gives a flying fuck, i'm the motherfucking President of the United States bitches, so I can do whatever the fuck I want, so suck on it, you damn foreigners!'

That's why he won the award. And it was well earned.

And one would beleive that everyone would feel a sense of pride that a sitting U.S. President has won this award, and set aside scoring political and partisan points with their respective base and congratulate the President on his achievement, right?

Well, with the Obstructionist Party...uh, I meant the Party of No...whoops, I mean the party that caters to un-Reconstructed Southern crackers...Ok, this isn't coming out right, let's rewind and start over...

It turns out with the Republican party, partisanship doesn't take a vacation (nailed it this time!).

Instead of going into some rant against the GOPricks, I'll just let one of my favorite songs from the British alternative rock band, Radiohead, express what I want to say in song.

I don't know why you bother
Nothing's ever good enough for you.
I was there, it wasn't like that.
You've come here just to start a fight
You had to piss on our parade,
You had to shred our big day
You had to ruin it for all concerned,
In a drunken punch-up at a wedding, yeah!

Hypocrite, opportunist
Don't infect me with your poison
A bully in a china shop
When I turn 'round you stay frozen to the spot
You had the pointless snide remarks
Of hammerheaded sharks
The pot will call the kettle black
It's a drunken punch-up at a wedding, yeah!

For a party that loves to hold claims on putting country first, they're like the kid who's mad that his prom date stood him up, so he pisses in the glass punch bowl to make everyone else's night miserable, because as the saying goes, "misery loves company."