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Friday, November 1, 2013

Context in interpreting the American Founding Fathers

It's often exhausting when debating people on Progressive initiatives who want to invoke the founding fathers as an argument against a particular said initiative, healthcare for example; of course this is an absurd argument, the founding fathers would have as much to say about a the healthcare system as they would the atomic theory and NASA.

But instead of accepting the premise of that argument, maybe we should take a closer look at 'some' of the things the founders actually did advocate for.  Here are just a few quotes on political participation for the general population in the 18th century Paul Le Blanc illustrated in a talk of his done back in 2010:

"The mob begin to think and to reason. Poor reptiles! it is with them a vernal morning; they are struggling to cast off their winter's slough, they bask in the sunshine, and ere noon they will bite, depend upon it. The gentry begin to fear this. Their Committee will be appointed, they will deceive the people, and again forfeit a share of their confidence. And if these instances of what with one side is policy, with the other perfidy, shall continue to increase, and become more frequent, farewell aristocracy. I see, and I see it with fear and trembling, that if the disputes with Great Britain continue, we shall be under the worst of all possible dominions; we shall be under the domination of a riotous mob." -Gouverneur Morris

"As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our Struggle has loosened the bands of Government every where. That Children and Apprentices were disobedient-that schools and Colledges were grown turbulent- that Indians slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters. But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerfull than all the rest were grown discontented .-This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out," -John Adams

"Women will demand a Vote. Lads from 12 to 21 will think their Rights not enough attended to, and every Man, who has not a Farthing, will demand an equal Voice with any other in all Acts of State. It tends to confound and destroy all Distinctions, and prostrate all Ranks, to one common Levell." -John Adams

"Men in general in every Society, who are wholly destitute of Property, are also too little acquainted with public Affairs to form a Right Judgment, and too dependent upon other Men to have a Will of their own? If this is a Fact, if you give to every Man, who has no Property, a Vote, will you not make a fine encouraging Provision for Corruption by your fundamental Law? Such is the Frailty of the human Heart, that very few Men, who have no Property, have any Judgment of their own. They talk and vote as they are directed by Some Man of Property, who has attached their Minds to his Interest." -John Adams

"To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, —the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and; the fruits acquired by it.'" -Thomas Jefferson

Least we forget, from a populist point of view; the American Revolution was one started by the mercantile and agrarian elites in the American colonies who were resentful of their British equivalents who would't grant them a seat in the British Parliament.

Wildly popular pieces like Thomas Paine's 'Common Sense' wakened an otherwise ignorant class of common people within the American colonists to question hierarchical authority altogether.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rural Inheritance: Gender Disparities in Farm Transmission

No doubt a theme in the rural areas of Kentucky;

Hannah Alsgaard's piece on Rural Inheritance in regards to gender disparities, here's the abstract:

"Farmers are farmers’ sons. Notable in our modern day, heralded by many as a gender-neutral society, it is farmers’ sons, not farmers’ daughters, who become farmers and take over ownership and management of the family farm. It has long been true that agricultural knowledge and land have passed through generations of men. In contrast, daughters, even today, are neither considered to be farmers nor likely to inherit family farmland. This Article begins by chronicling how farmland is inherited (by sons) then discusses why the pattern of excluding women continues. There have been substantial legal changes in the United States impacting land inheritance and ownership, culminating with the Equal Protection Clause’s extension to gender discrimination and the gender-neutral Uniform Probate Code. Social changes have also been tremendous, but even legal and social developments have been unable to correct gender disparity in farm inheritance. After exploring many legal and social factors, I conclude it is grooming – at the familial, governmental, and social levels – that plays the most vital role in training future farmers and mainly accounts for the gender difference in farm inheritance and the farming profession. This Article ultimately proposes girls must be groomed to farm in order to rectify the vast gender disparity in the ownership and management of family farms. A three pronged approach will be needed to remedy the situation, specifically: changing the role of lawyers, educating girls and women, and educating testators. What remains most important is that daughters are given the same opportunity as sons to farm based on merit, rather than being excluded from farm inheritance merely because of their gender."

Jump here:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

We found the yellowcake! And some Imperialism...

Yellow Cake from Nick Cross on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Peace rally in Lexington, no war with Syria

Some Lexingtontonians came out today to say no to an attack on Syria, video and pictures below:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Noam Chomsky's Q and A on student loans

LIK: Current student loan debt has hit record levels. As you know, these levels are unsustainable. Why, then, would policy makers insist on maintaining these levels, even at the expense of the well-being of the overall economy? Is this a case of "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people" by the ruling elites as you have quoted Adam Smith as saying? Could this be an attempt by the corporate state to leverage coercive power against it's citizens, is this purposeful policy and if so to do what?

Noam Chomsky: Lots of factors converge. The corporatization of the universities and the neoliberal campaign to undermine the public sector all conform to Smith’s “vile maxim of the masters of mankind,” who often act in ways that will harm their own long term interests – creating environmental catastrophe for short-term gain, for example. Debt is also a disciplinary technique, imposing obedience and conformity, thus strengthening the rule of the masters.

LIK: The Vietnam War protests grew over the course of several years, finally resulting in some significant socio-political change. Much of the Occupy movement was driven by the student loan crisis. Could this crushing debt be the catalyst for a new wave of social change? Could it rally otherwise apathetic and unengaged citizens?

Noam Chomsky: I’d like to believe it. That was true in Mexico, recently in Quebec, and is having a major impact in Chile. Not here as yet. This is a highly atomized and very frightened society.

LIK: What would you want to say to young people who are beginning their adult lives already burdened by debt of the current magnitude? When every attempt is being made to atomize Millennials, making them feel alone and helpless, what would you suggest they do to fight back against their circumstances?

Noam Chomsky: There’s only one known form of advice, the advice followed in the cases I just mentioned, and often in our own history: organizing, acting as appropriate. No magic keys have ever been discovered.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Spousal Privilege Doesn't Count When the State Doesn't Recognize Your Marriage

One indicator of heteronormative privilege many straight married couples take for granted is the spousal privilege law exempting spouses from testifying against one another in court. Frequently we also call this law "husband-wife" privilege, which further emphasizes how in many states such a privilege only applies to heterosexual couples. Typically what this means is that if you are married to one of the defendants in either a civil or a criminal case, and you choose not to testify against your spouse, then your right to do so is protected by state law. However, in states that do not recognize non-heterosexual marriages, like our own beloved Kentucky [totally stated without irony], partners who were married elsewhere may be forced to testify against their spouses.

Case in point: Bobbie Jo Clary and Geneva Case. Clary is charged with the murder of a Louisville man, George Murphy. Clary contends that Murphy was trying to rape her, and she used a hammer to defend herself. Then Clary stole Murphy's van, presumably trying to flee the scene of her rape and the violence she perpetrated in self-defense. Later, Clary admitted to her wife Case that she had killed the man. Normally, such an admission would be protected by spousal privilege, but since the events took place in Kentucky, the courts do not recognize their decade-old marriage from Vermont. See ABC local affiliate WHAS's video here.

This is because, as many of you know, in 2004 our legislators passed a law by referendum which bans all same-sex marriages and civil unions, making Clary and Case's marriage unconstitutional under Kentucky law. While the Jefferson County prosecutor's office fights to get Case to testify, the state Attorney General's office may well fight to protect Case's spousal rights. But, then again, they might not. Attorney General Jack Conway might be a Democrat, but he doesn't seem particularly liberal when it comes to women's rights and GLBTQ rights. For instance: while Conway supports legal, safe abortions, he opposes late-term abortions, i.e. anything after the first trimester. Likewise, while Conway says he abhors discrimination, particularly DADT, he still thinks marriage should be a sacred institution joining one man to one woman. Or at least this was the case in 2010 when he ran against Rand Paul for U.S. Senator.

Case's testimony is on hold until mid-August while the AG's office prepares its position, but Case's attorney Bryan Gatewood is willing to take this fight to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. Since DOMA has had its teeth pulled, we can certainly hope that the USSC will find in favor of Case's spousal privilege to not testify.  BUT - hope is not all we can do. Contact Attorney General Conway's offices and let them know what you think.