Weak Democrats vs. Strong Progressives Open Thread

Representative Alan Grayson:

There are no more popular government programs than Social Security and Medicare, and frankly, for any democrat, it should be a no brainer to say, 'These are the programs that I must support, that I must protect with every breath I have while I'm in office.'



Hellraisers Journal: Hannah Silverman "The Joan d' Arc of the Silk Strike."

You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Sunday June 21, 1903
From The Outlook: "Forced Labor in West Virginia"

This is Part II of our discussion of the article by Gino C. Speranza which appeared in the June 13th issue of The Outlook.

Yesterday we were relieved to see that the men, tied up by the contractor and bound to a mule to be dragged back to the work camp, were cut free by "the squire" who had issued the arrest warrants. But yet, that same officer of the court urged the men to return to the camp to work out their "debt." No action was taken against the contractor who had no authority to tie them up and drag them away at the point of a gun.

Mr. Speranza came to West Virginia from New York this past April as an investigator for the Society for the Protection of Italian Immigrants. He found this sort of maltreatment to be the rule and not the exception. The demand for labor exceeds the supply in West Virginia, and, rather than recruiting workers through good pay and decent working conditions, the contractors choose these brutal methods to retain their labor force.

The men arrive already in debt for the cost of their transportation. More debt is piled on for the cost of food and shelter, such as it is. The workers are even charged for the expense to the company of hiring the brutal company gun thugs that hold them in bondage...




Kenyan judge rules that strip-searching transgender woman to determine her gender undignified

 photo kenya_zpsf42e6253.jpgRecently I wrote about Audrey Mbugua of Kenya in my Transgender Heroes series.

Audrey has been busy. Not content to sit on her laurels, Audrey has formed a lobby group, called Transgender Education and Advocacy, to advocate for the rights of transgender Kenyans. It is said to be "at an advanced stage of registration" with the NGO board.

We currently have over 40 members across the country. Our mission is to reduce the stigma and tell the transgender victims that we are stronger together.

--Audrey Mbugua

And low and behold, her group has already paid dividends. Alexander Ngungu Nthungi (legal name) won a case in Kenyan High Court against police, who were declared to have violated her rights and dignity by stripping her naked in public to determine her gender.



The Self-Creating War of Terror Eternally Renews Itself

From Amy Goodman:

Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashoohouras heard US officials say that Yemeni government is not stable enough or strong enough to make sure the released prisoners don’t take up arms against America. They have told her that even if some of the prisoners were totally innocent and unjustly imprisoned, now—after 11 years behind bars—they probably hate the US so much that they’ll want revenge. In our meeting with Mashoohour she threw up her arms in exasperation. “So you abuse these men and then you keep abusing them because they might hate you for your abuse? Is that the way the US justice system works?,” she asked.



"Tranny bashing" at iconic corner

 photo Vivian-Diegox400_zps1d989d9d.jpgA transgender woman identified as Vivian Diego, 22, was the victim of a vicious attack on May 31, around 2:15 am, near Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles. Vivian was waling along Hollywood towards Vine when four men started following her near Ivar.

She became involved in a verbal confrontation.
At that point [after Vivian walked away from them towards Vine], one of the males ran up behind Vivian, striking her from behind, knocking her unconscious, it appears on the video, to the ground. And then the rest of the group joined in and brutally assaulted Vivian by kicking and punching her.
--Lt. Marc Reina, LAPD

Vivian worked under her male identity as a barista at Eva Longoria's Beso restaurant. After work that night, she went to a friend's apartment to get dressed for a night of clubbing.

Vivian spent a week in the hospital as a result of the beating. Police are trying to determine if it was a hate crime.

Well, duh!

Trigger warning due to the videos on the inside.



Hellraisers Journal: Forced Labor in WV, Six Italian Laborers Tied Together and Hitched to a Mule

You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Saturday June 20, 1903
From The Outlook: "Forced Labor in West Virgina"

For the next few days we will be presenting this article by Gino C Speranza from the June 13, 1903 issue of The Outlook. Mr. Speranza is the Corresponding Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Italian Immigrants. After reviewing this article, we will plainly see why Italian immigrants (or any other immigrant workers) need protecting.

Mr Speranza tells the story of 23 Italian laborers who were shipped (and he uses that word advisedly) from New York to Raleigh County, West Virginia last March. The men had been told that they were not going far away from New York, so they sensed a betrayal when they arrived in Beckley two days later. They were then driven to the isolated Harmon Camp and began working under the watchful eye of a contractor with a revolver stuck ostentatiously in his breast pocket. They were surrounded by armed guards. The work of drilling and grading was nothing like it had been represented.

They arrived in debt due to the cost of their transportation, and they were forced to incur more debt through the exorbitant prices at the camp commissary. They had not yet been paid, but decided that conditions were unbearable, and they made up their minds to leave. Little did they realize that through the "Boarding-House Law" of West Virginia, they had been turned into debt slaves.

Never mind that the so-called "Boarding-Houses" were actually shanty shacks, and that the men had money coming to them, an arrest warrant was, never-the-less, soon issued. They were arrested in Beckley and charged with non-payment of board.

Mr Speranza describes the amazing events which followed their arrest:




Historian Rick Perlstein Uses the Nation to Whine About My Tweet

I have to admit, I was surprised to be notified that Historian Rick Perlstein of Nixonland fame, devoted an entire column in the Nation to two tweets replying to him; one from myself and one from another commentator on twitter. It's also surprising, because I have been a fan of some of what Perlstein has written in the past, and I have cited him before. However, after this, I and certainly a lot of other people surprised at this lack of professionalism from an established writer, won't do it again.

After all, one doesn't normally read columns by established historians devoting entire pieces to complaints about tweets they received or people on twitter. Especially, one tweet that was merely a question about a widely cited article at CNET. I certainly don't know why Rick Perlstein was so offended by that to devote an entire piece in the Nation to mine and one other tweet he received. I have to wonder if he realizes how unprofessional he looks by doing so. The excellent responses to Perlstein's shoddy piece in the comments section certainly speak to that.

On Glenn Greenwald and His Fans

Read another tweet:

“NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants cnet.co/1agOFCy via @CNET What say you, @RickPerlstein ?”

I think we can detect here an accusatory tone, especially given the way the tweeter, “therealpriceman,” fawns over Glenn Greenwald generally. (Though you can never be sure on the Internet, and besides, why do people pursue political arguments on Twitter anyway? I’ll never understand how, for instance, “When u talk gun violence lk in mirror PA here we cling to guns-apologz to PRES O”—another tweet directed my way, apparently somehow meant to respond to this—could possibly contribute anything useful to our common political life.) I detect in this message: even the NSA says you’re wrong about Glenn Greenwald, so when are you going to apologize? And if I’m reading right, that’s some really smelly stupidity. Because the whole point of my original post was that there was plenty Greenwald had “nailed dead to rights” in his reporting. What I had in mind when I wrote that (I should have specified this, I think) was the stuff on Verizon turning over metadata to the NSA. And yet what therealpriceman links to is an article suggesting something that Greenwald has not (yet?) claimed, and which still remains controversial and undetermined: that the NSA has acknowledged that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a claim sourced to Representative Jerrold Nadler, which Nadler based on a classified briefing he and other Congressmen received, but which it has since been established Nadler probably just misunderstood.


And given that perspective, I would love to know why Glenn Greenwald thinks the establishment cannot do to him, a relative flyspeck in the grand scheme of things, what they did to Dan Rather, a towering giant of Washington reporting going back to Watergate. Which is: consign him to the outer darkness, where the only people who care about what he has to say are the likes of my good friends @therealpriceman and @runtodaylight.

He starts out by assuring the audience that he has thick skin, but then goes on to prove just how thin it really is. By whining for 13 paragraphs or so about criticism, criticism from a couple of tweets he received days ago, it really doesn't show the maturity he was initially hoping to espouse. So since I apparently hurt his fee fees so bad, in 140 characters or less, I'll go ahead and put his suppositions to the test.



Hellraisers Journal: Senator Maritine and Coal Operator Come Close to Blows

Friday June 19, 1903
From The New York Times: Lowell Textile Laborers Ready to End Strike

The New York Times is reporting this sad news from Lowell, Massachusetts:

The end of the Lowell textile strike seems to be near. The rank and file of the strikers are planning to enter the mill gates Monday morning.

The local Cotton Manufacturing Association received today a communication from the Textile Council asking for a conference with the mill agents. The strikers refuse to discuss the contents, but the mill men regard the note as an overture for peace. It is said that in their communication the strikers ask only for their old places.





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