100-Proof Blogging by Randle Aubrey

Friday, December 15, 2017

PINK ELEPHANTS PODCAST #03: THE COMPANY TOWNS OF TOMORROW





Here in the Silicon Valley, technology has reigned supreme for about as long as anyone can remember. As we’ve all come to find out over the years, the ways in which Big Data shadows and even influences our online activities can be both eerie and unsettling, blurring the lines between private and public life faster than anyone can easily contemplate.

Now, companies like Facebook and Google are looking to take their operations into the offline world, and they’re starting here at home, swallowing up local real estate at a rapid pace for creating mixed-used housing developments that they plan to lease to their employees. But what does that mean for the residents of Silicon Valley, only a small portion of which have any actual say over the policy implications of building an IT company town?

To find out, I spoke with Julianne Tveten, a freelance tech journalist for Current Affairs and In These Times, and author of a recent essay for The Baffler magazine called “Zucktown, USA,” where she connects Facebook and Google’s real estate ambitions with the company towns of the 19th century.


Julianne is also a frequent guest on This Is Hell, a long-running radio program based out of Chicago. You can find her work with them here.

To learn more about what you can do to have a say in Big Data’s real estate ambitions, visit any of the following websites:


MUSIC:
Tributaries – Sugar Cubism
Kat Robichaud & The Darling Misfits – Definition Of Pretty
Doctor Striker – The Futurist
Landon Wordswell – Guess Who

If you're an independent musician or band and you'd like to have your music featured on the program, drop me an e-mail at 100proofpink@gmail.com.

Pink Elephants is produced by Randle Aubrey with with additional support from Echoplex Media. Subscribe to the show on Stitcher Radio, iTunes, or Google Play by clicking the buttons below.

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/pink-elephants?refid=stpr
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pink-elephants/id1302223341
https://play.google.com/music/m/Irsbroubukh3njzahxcxzzdjhby?t=Pink_Elephants

Help support Pink Elephants by becoming a Patron at patreon.com/pinkelephants, or do it the old-fashioned way by making a donation to our PayPal account, and thank you!

www.patreon.com/pinkelephants

Friday, December 1, 2017

PINK ELEPHANTS PODCAST #002: "A VAST, BLACK ICEBERG"





When it comes to the history of the Civil Rights Movement, no single organization stands out with greater potency – or controversy – than the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

Tragically, the Panthers’ revolution ended almost as quickly as it began, when their founder Huey P. Newton was arrested and charged with the death penalty for murdering Oakland police officer Johnathan Frey barely a year into party’s foundation.

Newton’s murder trial would go on to become one of the most groundbreaking criminal court proceedings of the twentieth century, a trial whose ramifications can still be felt in our justice system today. Yet the story of the trial – and the story of the Panthers themselves – have been all but lost to time, and historical revisionism.

I sat down recently with lawyer, historian, and author Lise Pearlman to discuss her new book American Justice On Trial: People vs. Newton, where she tells the story of Newton’s trial with unprecedented depth, and gives the reader insight into a Black Panther Party that was as complicated – and unpredictable – as their founder himself.

American Justice On Trial: People vs. Newton can be found on Amazon in paperback and ebook form. Lise Pearlman is also working on a documentary film to support the book, which you can find out more about at www.americanjusticeontrial.com.

MUSIC:
Billy Sheen – Severing
Kenny Thomas & The Southern Baptists – Stick
5avcat – Symbiotic Connections
Little Spiral – Tossing & Turning
Rebelskamp – Sideways

If you're an independent musician or band and you'd like to have your music featured on the program, drop me an e-mail at 100proofpink@gmail.com.

Produced by Randle Aubrey with with additional support from Echoplex Media. Subscribe to Pink Elephants on Stitcher Radio, iTunes, or Google Play by clicking the buttons below.

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/pink-elephants?refid=stpr
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pink-elephants/id1302223341
https://play.google.com/music/m/Irsbroubukh3njzahxcxzzdjhby?t=Pink_Elephants

Help support the show by becoming a Patron at patreon.com/pinkelephants, or my making a one-time donation to our PayPal account, and thank you for your support.

www.patreon.com/pinkelephants

Monday, November 20, 2017

TRUMP'S FCC DIRECTOR WILL END NET NEUTRALITY UNLESS WE STOP HIM

I'm not often one to issue direct calls to action. But this cannot be allowed to pass:
"President Donald Trump-appointed Pai’s plan would jettison rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing web traffic or creating so-called paid internet fast lanes, the people familiar with the changes said.

Pai also will follow through on his plans to scrap the legal foundation that the FCC’s old Democratic majority adopted in 2015 to tighten federal oversight of internet service providers, a move he contends has deterred the industry from investing in broadband networks. Internet providers have feared that legal foundation, if left in place, could set the stage for possible government price regulation of internet service.

The chairman’s approach, to be voted on at the FCC’s Dec. 14 meeting, would also get rid of the so-called general conduct standard, which gives the FCC authority to police behavior by internet service providers it deems unreasonable. [...]
The move could also re-ignite interest in legislation to codify net neutrality rules, which Republican lawmakers and ISPs have pushed for this year. Some FCC watchers believe Pai’s dismantling of the rules could bring Democrats to the table to negotiate a legislative solution to the debate."
If the Dems are forced into a bargaining position over net neutrality, they'll lose. If they lose, we all lose. Please call/write the FCC and beg them not to allow this to happen. Unless you want to learn how to make a VPN just to make a dime online.

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

Ajit Pai, Chairman
Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov 

www.patreon.com/pinkelephants

Friday, November 17, 2017

PINK ELEPHANTS PODCAST EPISODE 001: A UNION STORY





On the first episode of Pink Elephants, I tackle labor organizing with Robert Hisle, a member of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Board of The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1414 in San Mateo, California, who also happens to be my dad.

In the late nineties, after years of having their protections and benefits stripped and of their reputation being dragged through the mud, Robert and his fellow machinists worked together to install the first labor union in thier company’s nearly century-long history.

He went on to serve as his union’s steward for another fourteen years until his retirement, and remains passionately dedicated to the pursuit of labor rights to this very day.

Music:
The Hoovers – Our Secret Someone
No Flow – Amplify
Rebelskamp – Oldest Trick (feat. Sean Black)
Sweet HayaH – Backwards

Produced by Randle Aubrey with with help from Dana Blackhart, Danny Gerz, and Joe Endeglow. Additional support comes from Echoplex Media. Subscribe to Pink Elephants on Stitcher Radio, iTunes, or Google Play by clicking the buttons below.

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/pink-elephants?refid=stpr
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pink-elephants/id1302223341
https://play.google.com/music/m/Irsbroubukh3njzahxcxzzdjhby?t=Pink_Elephants

Help support the show by becoming a Patron at patreon.com/pinkelephants, or my making a one-time donation to our PayPal account, and thank you for your support.

www.patreon.com/pinkelephants
Pink Elephants is powered by free, open-source software. For more information on what the open source community can to do elevate your computing experience, visit the Free Software Foundation website at www.fsf.org.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, CON'T.

Sound familiar?
“In all the various subconscious messages that Clinton’s election represented from the nation to itself, and for all the ways he is a metaphor for the deep-seated national conflicts we can stand to neither face nor finish, Clinton may be American democracy’s last futile and ineffectual grasp. He is neither visionary enough to transcend national rage nor depraved enough to exploit it; and because rage is exhilarating to an otherwise enervated nation, we’re not willing to give it up to anyone who can’t redeem or justify it. It doesn’t matter how often we are told by however many reliable sources that the national deficit has been reduced by nearly a third during the past two years; national surveys show we insist on believing it has grown larger. It doesn’t matter how often we are presented the facts that less that one in 50 of us had our income taxes raised in the 1993 budget, we insist on believing it was “the biggest tax increase in history.” In short, we insist on our rage in the same way we insist on our cynicism, because it is the last easy thing we know how to feel, the last simple emotion we can understand, and the last from which we can still draw a sense of power, no matter how fraudulent it may be. […<br />] 

In the shortest and meanest terms, all of this may be viewed as “merely” a partisan effort to destroy Clinton at any cost. In fact, it is worse. Questioning Clinton’s legitimacy, the leading spokesmen for the Right insidiously question the legitimacy of democracy itself. They speak of Clinton’s election as a kind of foreign coup -- an insinuation made by the new House Speaker in ever bolder variations on Republican National Committee Chairman Rich Bond’s comments two years ago about “real Americans,” and James G. Watt’s jocularity of the early ‘80s that there are two kinds of people: “Americans and liberals.” If Clinton’s presidency is the product of the democratic process and that product is illegitimate, then the process that produced it is by definition illegitimate; in essence, the Right argues that a democracy that produces a Clinton presidency invalidates itself. This is more than just ruthless partisan politics, more than the “same old thing” political opponents have been doing to each other for years. No one in a much more turbulent America similarly questioned the legitimacy of Nixon’s election in 1968, when he received a percentage of the vote resembling Clinton’s. Indeed, we may not have seen anything quite like it since the election of 1860, when half the country considered intolerable any democracy that would produce the likes of Abraham Lincoln (who received a smaller percentage than either Clinton or Nixon)."
For all intents and purposes, this could have been written about Hillary last summer and not in 1995, mere months before her husband would kick off his second successful presidential campaign. Read through this essay long enough and you’ll see that many of the same players are still involved, having managed to wriggle their way out from under one career-busting set of lies and deceits after another.

Despite ultimately amounting to yet another hollow appeal to a smooth, creamy center that didn’t exist then and certainly doesn’t now, this essay still manages to produce a number of rather salient points. Lord knows I’ve read far less articulate claptrap on the Internet. And with that, I leave you with this to chew on:
"We find indignant solace in the single greatest myth of the contemporary political landscape, which holds that the problem with the country is the government and the politicians and the process as a whole. This myth, that the process has grown helplessly out of touch with what we really want and feel and need, is the opposite of the truth. The truth is that we are the problem with America. The process and politicians, the lobbyists and “special” interests -- by which we mean any interest that doesn’t penterain to us -- have reflected us all too perfectly; and we hate them for it."
I would ask that God save our woebegone republic, but she appears to have absconded for Sasketchewan some time ago. For the health care, of course.

www.patreon.com/pinkelephants

Monday, November 13, 2017

HOUSEKEEPING!

It pains me that I’ve had so little time to write as of late. Writing is seriously one of my favorite things in this world to do, and with the apple cart that is my life being completely upturned once again a few weeks ago, it’s been next to impossible to find the time.

However, it certainly hasn’t been for a lack of desire for productivity on my part. That energy’s just been devoted elsewhere, like getting a new job (Hallelujah!), dealing with the complexities of the medical system as a recently-uninsured patient (there are few things more maddening, lemme tell ya), and most importantly to you I imagine, putting the finishing touches on the first episode of my shiny, brand-new podcast.

I’m literally days from dropping the first episode, and I can’t begin to tell you how fucking excited I am. I’m bursting at the seams like I’ve had to pee for too long, and now my back teeth are floatin’. In light of recent events, I’ve had to make a few compromises regarding my release plans, so there won’t be any first-round binging in the works like I originally anticipated. There just won’t be enough time for me to make it happen.

But frankly, I don’t care. I’m just so excited to have come this far, and to be on the verge of making Pink Elephants happen for real. For years, I had convinced myself that there was no way I could produce a podcast on my own, that I didn’t have the knowledge or the resources or even the drive to make it happen. And while I haven’t done it on my own exactly, it couldn’t have happened without me.

Creating this show has been as much a process of self-discovery as it has a means to create something with which to entertain people, and that journey is only just beginning. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

As always, I want to give a 5,000-megaton shout out to everyone who has helped me along the way, whether you actually read this or not, and to all of my readers and prospective listeners, without whom none of this would be possible, let alone conceivable. Y’all are the unsung heroes of this operation, but if you want to change that, become a Patron or make a PayPal donation to Pink Elephants and you’ll get a shout out on Episode Two.

I’ve got some other exciting incentives in the works as well, but it all starts right here, right now, with your help. You’ve already done so much, I know. But if you believe in the work I’m doing here, then I hope you’ll believe it’s worth the round you know I’d have you back for in a heartbeat.

www.patreon.com/pinkelephants

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

RHYMES WITH "ATTITUDE"

The hardest part about gratitude is admitting that you have something to lose.

I am grateful for my home, a comfortable space with loving, supportive roommates in which I am able to work and create with few restrictions or limitations. Having just been laid off from a good job that has handsomely subsidized both my home and my ability to create, I am terrified of losing my home, and the closest thing I’ve had to family in quite some time.

I am grateful for my access to proper medical care, which has allowed me to manage both my physical and mental health in ways that are long overdue for someone who contends with ailments such as mine. I am terrified that, having just lost my job in a market that offers little for someone in my position, I may no longer have access to that care, and will once again be forced to operate under increasingly severe handicaps.

I am grateful for my parents, who will and have always done their part to ensure that things like this won’t happen to me, because they love and care for me and want to ensure that I am taken care of. I am terrified of losing them and their support some day, all the more so for having no say in the matter.

I am also grateful for my girlfriend, whose love and support for me has been unwavering practically since the moment we met and seems to grow with every passing day, and who can make me laugh longer and harder than anyone I have ever known. She makes me want to be a better person, and I am terrified of losing that, and her.

Lastly, I am grateful for myself, for having been able to build and maintain these relationships and create so much art throughout my life and somehow keep most of it – and me – intact, despite dealing with considerable adversity along the way. I am terrified of losing what I have gained, and I am even more terrified of losing myself in the process.

Until then, I will keep gratitude in close company, for knowing that I have so much to lose means knowing that, for me, there’s still so much to live for. I’d very nearly forgotten what that felt like. Now that I remember, I am terrified of forgetting again.

www.patreon.com/pinkelephants

Thursday, October 26, 2017

THE PINK ELEPHANTS PODCAST: COMING SOON TO SOME HEADPHONES NEAR YOU



That's right, folks: the podcast is about to arrive. Get the inside scoop on who I am and what the show's about in this brand-spankin' new trailer, and please, please, PLEASE share it with all of your friends and loved ones and strangers and your cat. 

Especially your cat.

Music:
Little Spiral - Arrive
Town Crier - Can't Make You Love Me (My old band, now-defunct) 
Kenny Thomas And The Southern Baptists - Chocolate

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/pink-elephants?refid=stpr
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pink-elephants/id1302223341
https://play.google.com/music/m/Irsbroubukh3njzahxcxzzdjhby?t=Pink_Elephants

Please consider supporting Pink Elephants by becoming a donor through our Patreon page, www.patreon.com/pinkelephants. Or, you can do it the old-fashioned way, and drop a few bucks in our PayPal account. Every bit counts, even more than you might think.

www.patreon.com/pinkelephants

GRIN AND BEAR IT

(PHOTO: Current Affairs)
Beyond a certain point, we're not going to have much of a choice.
"As a practical matter, to write off a population as broad as “Trump voters” or even “white supremacists” is politically irresponsible.  With respect to Trump voters, post election analysis has proven that an electorally significant percentage were once Obama supporters. This means that either racism isn’t as fixed as implied, or, in the alternative, that racists might be motivated by something other than hate at the ballot box. And although the idea of courting white supremacists is, of course, distasteful, doing so feels less controversial once you consider “white supremacy” to include a spectrum of beliefs from which few people are excluded. If everybody is racist, to refrain from talking to racists is to retreat from politics entirely. [...]

The Republican Party may get the vast majority of the Klan vote these days, but the ideology of white supremacy is bipartisan. White supremacy is deeply ingrained in people of all political stripes, because it’s such an inextricable part of the American subconscious. It can be found in the presumption that urban black and Latino youths are uniquely lacking in empathy, making them “super-predators,” or that a black presidential candidate wouldn’t be “clean” or “articulate,” or that the achievement gap is due to innate, biological factors...Speaking to these people is clearly a feature of doing politics, and a refusal to do so simply cedes these people to the other side, to disastrous consequence. [...]

...when members of an online group called “Upper East Side moms” were called “racist” for downplaying the importance of white supremacy, they did not immediately “check their privilege” and repent. Instead, they threatened legal action. If the Upper East Side moms can’t be shamed out of their racist beliefs, it’s unlikely to work on a man wielding a Tiki torch."
For your own health and safety, however, I'd recommend a slightly more passive approach to engaging the bigoted masses if you're not a member of the media. Best to let them bang on your door. Trust me, they will.

There is an argument to be made within this article about active listening and leading with your values, even if for purely tactical reasons. What's tricky is doing this at all times, even when you have nothing to lose and especially amongst members of your own coalition. 

The only way to prepare for such the naked, white-hot antagonism of the right is to ensure that there are little to no undercurrents of it within the ranks of the left. The failure in policing liberal values away from effete intellectualism has been its greatest gift to the right. 

Without getting back to what really matters - defining themselves as something other than opposition to the "deplorables" - the slippery slope to fascism will remain heavily greased by those who swear they're trying to talk the nation off the ledge.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A HOME FOR ALL* CREATORS

The crowdfunding site Patreon recently updated their terms in a manner that threatens to shut down a number of members who use the site to facilitate sex work. For a long time, their guidelines for acceptable content were fairly broad; they merely asked that you add an NSFW tag to your profile so that users could decide for themselves what they wished to see.

They went after the obviously-illegal stuff of course, like incest and bestiality and the like. But the rest was considered fair play, and investigated on a case-by-case instance.

Now, the guidelines are much more, as the site EnGadget put it, "proscriptive":
Users are now prohibited from selling "pornographic material," as a reward for their patrons. In addition, they cannot use cash from the site to "produce pornographic material, such as maintaining a website, funding [...] movies or providing a private webcam session."

Google "Patreon + Webcam Session" and you'll find plenty of adult content providers that offer such incentives to their users. It's not just webcams, as some offer access to, for instance, a private Snapchat account that may do a similar job. It's not clear how many performers are affected by the change, but it's likely that we'll be seeing the effects of the crackdown in the near future.
Sarcasm aside, I have conflicted feelings about this. First off, I don't think Patreon's creators ever intended for the site to become a pay haven for cam girls and indie porn houses. The fact that the site has become such a thing strikes me as a greater indictment against cultural attitudes against sex work than against Patreon itself, whose sudden narrowing of what constitutes pornography on their website is merely a reaction to their unexpected success in that arena and the inevitable backlash it causes.

All the same, if Patreon won't take social responsibility for ensuring that sex work - which isn't going anywhere, whether anyone likes it or not - is safely and legally paid for, then who will? It's not like there's some kinkster billionaire out there ready to drop serious venture capital on VendMo for sex workers. Chances are that guy's a Republican, anyway.

Pushing sex work deeper into the black market only makes it more dangerous for everyone involved, and is in fact extremely perverse in the way that it satisfies our nation's collective fetish for punishing "bad people" in order to feel better about ourselves.

Ultimately, what Patreon and the rest of the nation need to understand is that people fuck. Furthermore, some people do it for money. Some even do it for the camera. And a whole lot of people do it for both. It's about time we got over it, especially if we're not going to give so many of them any other options to earn a living. We're only hurting ourselves in the process, which I guess feels pretty good considering how constantly we go about it. And here I thought masturbation was a sin. 

*some restrictions apply

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, CON'T.


"This point is less an indictment of bad things that Americans have done in the past than it is a cautionary tale about the bad things that we might do in the future.

When the protester is being beaten up there's a little boy in the crowd who I zoomed on in the edit. You can see him rub his hands together, doing an excited little dance, unable to contain the giddy excitement that comes from being part of a mob. And when the protester is finally thrown off stage, there's a long slow pan across the crowd that is laughing, clapping, cheering, like they're at a World Wrestling Federation match.

We'd like to believe that there are sharp lines between good people and bad people. But I think most humans have dark passions inside us, waiting to be stirred up by a demagogue who is funny and mean, who can convince us that decency is for the weak, that democracy is naïve, and that kindness and respect for others are just ridiculous political correctness.

Events like this should remind us not to be complacent — that the things we care about have to be nurtured and defended regularly — because even seemingly good people have the potential to do hideous things."
If this video doesn't make your blood run ice fucking cold, chances are you're a part of the problem.

(H/T Gothamist)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

DOWN IN IT


There are things in life that no amount of preparation can make you ready to deal with the reality of, like the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job in a rapidly shrinking economy. You can plan, you can reason with yourself, you can stiffen your upper lip all you like, but when the thing hits you, it’s always so much harder than you imagined.

Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with the former in several years now, although the gray in my beard and the bags beneath my eyes remind me every day that death is indeed inevitable. But as of yesterday afternoon, I was laid off from my rather lucrative day job, where I had barely been for long enough to get settled in.

There’s been a massive sea change in my industry that stood to upend my company completely, and in the interest of battening down the hatches, my employer decided to forego the projects I’d been working on in favor of a leaner operation. I can’t say I blame him; I was quite literally the fifth wheel of our five-man operation, and the project I was working on involved building our business in a direction we could no longer go. Therefore, I had to go.

My boss was kind enough to pay me through the end of the month – essentially an entire paycheck – plus I’m pretty sure he gave me a little bonus on top of it. Along with a good reference and the work portfolio I’ve put together, I suppose it’s better than I could have hoped for. I’ve known it was coming for a while now, and had been scrambling to jump ship well in advance. But being a year from forty with no college education and no specialty skill set tends to keep my resume low in the stack, and as they say, the rest is history.

All things considered, things could be a whole lot worse, up to and including my handling of the situation. This is the sixth job I’ve either been fired or laid off from in the last five years. It gets harder and harder to bounce back from that every time. But over the last couple of years, I’ve done more to prepare myself for the sad inevitability of events like this than I have in literal decades. I’ve got nearly two years of therapy under my belt, and I’ve finally started taking the right medications that allow me to get my head on straight and keep it that way.

I’ve also got a great support system in the form of several lovely people that have come into my life over the last year or so, like my girlfriend, who is my much champion as I am hers; my lovely roommates, with whom I’ve started to form quite the happy little dysfunctional family; and of course, my parents, whom I’m finally beginning to realize that I’m never going to stop needing as long as I live. They are my everything, warts and all, and I wouldn’t trade either of them for the world.

Obviously, it’s too soon to tell how all of this will play out. It’s time for me to batten down my hatches as well, and take things one day at a time. The silver lining in all this is that I suddenly have a lot more free time with which to rev up production on the podcast, and hopefully get it out sooner than anticipated. It also means that if you were ever thinking about supporting Pink Elephants, now would be a very, very good time.

Storms like these always come. I’m just glad that this time, I have somewhere to go.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION

Governor Jerry Brown of California. (PHOTO: ABC News)
With all the extinction-level fuckery taking place on Capitol Hill at the moment, it can be difficult to remember at times that America’s 45th Official Political Goat Rodeo, as captivatingly horrible as it might be, is not the only news worth paying attention to at the moment. Nor are other newsworthy political happenings so uniformly awful as what is transpiring at the federal level.

For example: California Governor Jerry Brown’s recent signing of what’s known as “ban-the-box” legislation, which will prevent employers from requiring applicants to admit to prior criminal convictions on their initial employment application. Given that an estimated one in three adults in the state have some form of arrest or conviction record, and are – as per usual – low-level, disproportionately black and Latino ex-offenders, this is a big step in not only reducing recidivism, but in reversing discrimination more broadly against ex-cons and people of color.
“[This bill] will eliminate barriers to employment, reduce recidivism and give people with conviction histories an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to become productive, contributing members of our society." – Assemblyman Kevin McCarty of Sacramento, lead author of the “ban-the-box” bill
This isn’t the first step that California has taken towards expanding opportunity for the states ex-cons; this current “ban-the-box” bill is building off the success of 2013’s AB 218, which applied the same rules to government employers. Los Angeles also passed its own version of the legislation for private employers, which took effect in January. All three laws state that employers cannot conduct any sort of background checks on prospective employees until after they’ve been extended a job offer, which offers them greater protections under America’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines.

According to the EEOC, employers can be found in violation of anti-discrimination laws if it can be determined that “screening people based on criminal records is having disproportionate impact on people of color,” according to Beth Avery of the National Employment Law Project. Additionally, those who feel they’ve faced discrimination as the result of an employment background check can file a complaint with California’s fair employment agency, which they would not be able to do if denied a job based on their initial application.

“There are people who are struggling with old convictions not related to the job, but who are still being denied employment,” according to Avery. “The problem is applicants are being denied at step one of the process. They have no chance to point out, ‘Hey, this is what happened.’ Employers just see that box checked.”

The desire to remake one’s self in light of past hardships and mistakes is as fundamentally human as any other. To deny people their right to do so is to deny them the right of life, liberty, and most especially, the pursuit of happiness. California’s bold step in allowing its ex-cons the “right to be forgotten” by a society that views them as irredeemable upholds their ability to make that pursuit in a way that would make our nation’s founders proud.

Monday, October 16, 2017

GLASS HOUSES

A lot of you may not be old enough to remember when Joe Biden left Anita Hill in the lurch when she reached out to him for guidance during her testimony against SCOTUS nominee Clarence Thomas, but I do.

As much as I appreciate him speaking out against Harvey Weinstein now that the latter’s officially been hung out to dry, there was a time where his silence as a rising star in the Democratic Party could also be construed as complicity.

The only his stone-throwing hasn’t broken the walls of his glass house yet is due only to the fact that they’ve been frosted by a collectively foggy memory.

HANGING GAYS? THAT'S JUST "LOCKER ROOM TALK"

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of this administration…

The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer just released a profile on Vice President* Mike “I Call My Wife Mother” Pence, which is about as unsurprisingly disturbing as you might expect. I won’t horrify you with too many details; if you’re in the mood for a proper TL;DR hate read, that link is your for the clicking. But I’d like to direct your attention to a particular paragraph near the end of the piece that is particularly illuminating for a number of disturbing reasons:
“Trump thinks Pence is great,” Bannon told me. But, according to a longtime associate, Trump also likes to “let Pence know who’s boss.” A staff member from Trump’s campaign recalls him mocking Pence’s religiosity. He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence’s office, Trump would ask them, “Did Mike make you pray?” Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. “You see?” Trump asked Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.” When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”
Honestly, you can skip the rest of the profile; this is the important part. Obviously the critical takeaway is an incredibly revealing glimpse into the depths of Pence’s anti-LGBTQ fanaticism by way of Trump’s typically boorish remarks. Regardless of how seriously a comment like Pence wanting to “hang them all” should be taken, there’s no denying that the nation’s top theocrat has had a hair up his ass (among other things, perhaps? #justsaying) for the Rainbow Coalition for a long time now.

"Who has two thumbs and a hard-on for
gays...er, gay-bashing? This guy!"
Among the more notorious efforts of his Indiana gubernatorial run was 2015’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which essentially legalized discrimination against homosexuals by businesses in the state. The backlash against the bill was massive, forcing even his own supporters in the legislature against him and nearly tanking his political career. Mayer writes that according to hate-wing radio host Steve Deace, Pence “had no chance at national office after that, other than getting on the Trump ticket.” Lucky for him, that particular gravy train pulled into the station not long after.

But there’s another aspect of this that I’d like to direct your attention to, which is what the president*’s remarks reveal not about Pence, but about himself and his relationship with the glassy-eyed zealots that have set aside everything holy in their support for him. Not that this is terribly surprising to hear, but the only chance of reaffirming that Trump is not in fact the Second Coming Of Moses is to repeat observations like these as often and as loudly as possible.

For example: Trump riding Pence for having “wasted all this time and energy” on overturning Roe V. Wade makes it crystal clear that Donald Trump could give a shit about challenging abortion rights, which is the one issue above any others that Pence built his career on. Over the years, he’s backed so-called “personhood” legislation banning all abortions, including in the case of rape and or incest; he sponsored an ACA amendment to allow government-funded hospitals to deny abortion coverage’ he even once signed a bill that barred women from abortion fetuses with developmental disabilities. As if that isn’t heinous enough, the bill also required that all aborted fetuses be either buried or cremated, at the mother’s expense. It’s since been ruled constitutional, but…yeesh.

With everyone now taking bets on how long until he’s discovered stumbling through the West Wing talking to potted plants about what a cuck Grover Norquist is, a whole lot of eyes are nervously eyeing Pence’s potential succession with increasing seriousness. As the Martin to Trump’s Lewis, he’s done a great job of making himself appear, well…sane for starters, along with eminently reasonable by contrast. But make no mistake: the nation’s top theocrat has had his eyes on the POTUS prize for a very long time, and while he might feel constrained enough by the office to not behave like an adolescent baboon once installed, he’s also savvy enough and savage enough to work the levers of executive power in ways that Trump could never dream of. And the way will be more than clear enough for him to do so, if out of nothing other than sheer gratitude that ding, dong, that big orange bitch is dead.

MEDIA BROWN-OUT

L to R: Jorge Ramos (Univision), the president*, Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL). (PHOTO: Media Matters)
It’s a well-known fact that despite Donald Trump’s numerous declarations that the mainstream press are “the enemy of the American People,” not only would he not be president* were it not for their largely unblemished coverage, he would be nothing without them, period. (Let’s not forget CNN’s long, loving shots of empty podiums at Trump’s rallies while the commentariat blathered endlessly about Hillary’s e-mails, shall we?) He is a media parasite, who has learned to adopt “controversial” stances to generate the heat that drives mainstream media narratives, regardless of the cost or the consequences. In pursuit of this charade, he’s even now gone so far as threaten using the power of the FCC to revoke the licenses of networks who say things about him that he doesn’t like.

Now, this threat may more or less be toothless, but that doesn’t mean the public shouldn’t be concerned. However, what’s more concerning is what the president* and his Congressional goon squad are able to do in order to shut down and/or restrict negative press coverage surrounding his administration, and nowhere is that better evidenced than in today’s domestic Hispanic media.

From the moment Donald Trump announced his 2016 presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” (a move that to this day still baffles the mind for its sheer arrogance alone), he’s ground his axe the sharpest against Hispanic journalists, and the Republican party has not hesitated to follow suit. From the leadership on down, the attacks have been sustained, intense, and largely ignored by mainstream media outlets that are otherwise so “unfair” to him.

Trump’s rhetoric has inspired a horde of imitators among the electorate who, not bound by the what remains of media protocol, have unleashed all manner of hateful rhetoric against journalists like Henry Gomez, a senior political writer for Cleveland.com. In September last year, Gomez wrote an article describing the influx of hate mail that had poured in from hundreds, if not thousands of angry bigots for his critical coverage of Trump during the election, a broad swath of what he called “Donald Trump’s greatest hits.” When his article was released, he made the rounds through nearly every mainstream media outlet except for one: Fox News. Whatever the chatter on the crotch couch was that day, I’m not certain. But odds are good that it wasn’t especially simpatico with the plight of brown-skinned journalists and the liberals who love them.

The most notorious of Trump’s battles with Latin journalists would have to be his feud with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, widely thought of as the Walter Cronkite of Hispanic media. Ramos began using his platform to roundly criticize Trump from the moment his campaign began, to the point where Trump had Ramos ejected for a press conference shortly thereafter for refusing to suck up the man’s mouth farts like the rest of the Good Germans in the room. Trump proceeded to categorically deny Ramos any interviews despite being Latin America’s preeminent newsman, and in fact went on to blacklist nearly every Hispanic media outlet for the remainder of campaign, only doing two interviews with Spanish-language networks after the incident. The rest of the conservative movement, eager to prove that they, too wouldn’t take no shit from no Mex-i-cans, proceeded to pile on Ramos left, right, and center, culminating in a failed Media Research Center campaign to force his resignation.

Trump wasn’t alone in his Hispanic media blackout, either. Back in March, a top anchor at Univision named Enrique Acevedo told Tiger Beat On The Potomac (thanks, Charlie!) that “it’s harder to get access to Republicans than it is to get access to Democrats” nowadays, noting that it’s “happened more since the inauguration.”

Sure enough, he’s not wrong. Media Matters did a review of appearances by Republican officials on Univision and Telemundo during Hispanic Heritage Month in both 2014 and 2017 which demonstrated that, while an equal number of Republican officials and elected Democratic officials appeared on their Sunday chat shows in 2014, that number was down by 60% for Republicans. As the official marketing firm for American white supremacy, the Republican party has had zero interest in reaching out to people who don’t look, act, think or fuck like them, period. And wow that they’ve managed to use their propaganda arm to gain control both houses of the presidency and legislature and the judiciary and the electoral college, they have even less incentive to do so.

The saddest part of all this is how easy it would be for mainstream media outlets to offer greater support and solidarity to their colleagues in Hispanic media. Not only would they certainly be grateful for the support, but coordinated coverage between both parties could easily turn Trump into burnt orange tomato paste. Of course, that would require a fundamental shift in the goal mainstream press away from providing for-profit cover fire for crooked conservatives to something along the lines of honest reporting. And frankly, there’s just no money to be made in that.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A ROLLING CATASTROPHE, CON'T.

U.S. Army Special Forces co-ordinating supply deliveries in Utuado, Puerto Rico. (PHOTO: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
You know how I know the president* and his people don’t give a single crap about the disaster in Puerto Rico?

‘Cause Bloomberg Media done got the receipts, that’s how.

Apparently, communications people in the Pentagon accidentally included Bloomberg’s climate reporter Christopher Flavelle on one of their internal distribution lists, where DOD and FEMA officials where discussing their evolving responses to Hurricane Maria’s devastation.

Bloomberg repeatedly notified the Pentagon about the gaffe, who didn’t respond to them for five whole days. Even better? Every single message was marked “unclassified.” If there is a Hell, somewhere in its depths Joseph Pulitzer is gleefully rubbing his fingers together, and having a good chortle at the sheer absurdity of it all.

Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Bloomberg published a series of passages from the e-mails, tied to various events federal officials were trying to spin. Get a load of this pure horse pucky right here:
Sept. 28: Eight days after Maria hit, coverage of the federal government’s response is getting more negative.
The Government Message: Pentagon officials tell staff to emphasize “coverage of life-saving/life-sustaining operations” and for spokespeople to avoid language about awaiting instructions from FEMA, “as that goes against the teamwork top-line message.”

Sept. 29: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz criticizes Washington’s spin, calling Puerto Rico a “people-are-dying story.”
The Government Message: FEMA talking points ignore Cruz, instructing its officials to say that “the federal government’s full attention is on Hurricane Maria response.”

Sept. 30: Trump attacks the mayor’s “poor leadership ability.” The Pentagon worries that Trump’s “dialogue” with Cruz is becoming the story, with “many criticizing his lack of empathy.”
The Government Message: FEMA stresses its success in reaching “all municipalities in Puerto Rico.”

Oct. 1: Trump calls critics of the response “politically motivated ingrates.”
The Government Message: Defense staff admit that “the perception of USG response continues to be negative.” Spokespeople are told to say, “I am very proud of our DOD forces,” before conceding “there are some challenges to work through.”

Oct. 2: The massacre in Las Vegas dominates the headlines.
The Government Message: The shooting “has drawn mainstream TV attention away from Puerto Rico response,” FEMA says. Still, the roundup seems to have lost some of its previous optimism. It concludes, simply: “Negative tonality.”
This is everything Bloomberg has published so far. With any luck, there will be plenty of juicy bits to come, immediately proceeding the usual protestations and walkbacks that accompany these sort of reveals. Don’t buy any of it.

When coupled with reports coming in from on the ground in Puerto Rico, these revelations pretty much destroy any semblance of compassion or respect that anyone in a position to offer aid to the island might have for its people. Meanwhile, most of the island is still without power, clean drinking water has already become a myth, and residents of the island have taken to drinking from EPA superfund waste sites in their desperation. But at least they have plenty of paper towels. Thank you, Mr. President*.

Grab your popcorn, folks: we’re in for a Category Five media spin cycle any moment now…