OTHER WORDS--It’s time — past time, really — to name the person of the year. (TIME Magazine does it. Why not me?)

There were many worthy candidates in 2015: the Pope, the Donald, and Luke Skywalker, to name just a few. But only one symbolized the spirit of the year.

I speak, of course, of Martin Shkreli.

For those of you with short-term memory problems, he’s the weasel/drug honcho who bought the rights to a life-saving drug that had been on the market for years, and immediately raised its $13.50-a-pill price to $750 — a 5,000 percent hike.

He said he’d use the extra money for research to develop a life-saving drug of his own, but nobody believed him. He was just doing what a long line of drug company executives do — gouge desperately sick people.

There’s nothing illegal about this, and it’s not even the worst example. Questcor Pharmaceuticals paid $100,000 for an existing drug that treated breathing problems in newborns and raised its price over a relatively short time from $40 a vial to $23,000. New cancer drugs often cost $10,000 a month or more.

Drug companies are allowed to charge whatever they can get away with, so long as they claim they’re using the profits to develop new drugs. They don’t have to actually do it. All they need to do is say that’s their intent. It’s the American way.

What sets Shkreli apart is that making a fortune by cheating people legally wasn’t enough for him. He fancied himself a financial wizard and set up a hedge fund scheme that allowed him to lie, cheat, and steal his way to another fortune. This one was illegal.

The whole thing finally caught up with the 32-year-old in December. The feds showed up and threw him in jail, from which he’s been released on $5 million bail.

Now I’m asking you: Does that make Shkreli the person of the year or what?

The only real surprise is that he isn’t running for president on the Republican ticket as the leader of the Stick-It-to-Sick-People caucus. I’m sure he’d be right up there with Donald Trump in the polls.

If I hadn’t picked Shkreli for this honor, I suppose I’d have been forced to choose the entire GOP slate of presidential candidates. What a hoot they are.

They’ve been fighting for the better part of a year now over who’s the toughest kid on the block.

No sooner does one of them come up with a mean proposal, like building a fence across the southern boundary of the United States to keep out Mexicans, then another says: “Oh yeah? I’d not only build a fence, I’d round up all the Mexicans here illegally and send them back where they came from.”

To which another will say: “I’d not only do all that, I’d make Mexico pay for the fence. Besides which, I wouldn’t let any Muslims in either.”

Which leads another to add, “I’d make the ones already here register and wear name tags.”

Apparently, all that tough talk wasn’t enough, because the last Republican “debate” sounded like a strategy meeting of Mafia warlords.

One of the candidates wanted to “carpet bomb” the terrorists. Another not only wanted to kill all the terrorists, he wanted to seek out their children and kill them too. Sort of a family plan.

All of them agreed that President Barack Obama wasn’t being tough enough and that any one of them would be tougher. At any moment I expected one of them to jump up and say, “Let’s go to the mattresses.”

For all that toughness, no one thought to say an unkind word about the role that unfettered gun ownership is playing in the serial massacres we keep experiencing. Or a kind word about attempts to slow down global warming before it kills us all.

And just think, we’ve got nearly a year to go before the election.

Happy New Year.

(Donald Kaul writes for OtherWords … where this column originated.)

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 14 Issue 1

Pub: Jan 1, 2016

In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, there has been a crushing backlash against refugees from the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. A cartoon has been circulating on social media showing a Native American man greeting a Pilgrim, saying, “Sorry, but we’re not accepting refugees.” 

As Americans prepare for one of the most popular national holidays, Thanksgiving, which commemorates the support and nourishment provided by the indigenous people to English refugees seeking a better life free from religious persecution, a wave of xenophobia is sweeping the country.

In the U.S. Congress, no less than six separate bills have been put forward to block any federal funding to resettle refugees from Syria or Iraq, and to empower states to deny entry into their “territory.” Imagine if all of a sudden we had 50 “statelets” creating their own border checkpoints, stopping all travelers, looking for anyone suspicious, i.e., any and all Syrians. So far, 31 state governors have essentially demanded this.

Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued an executive order forbidding any agency of state government from cooperating in any way with Syrian refugee support efforts. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have called for a pause in the Syrian refugee program, with the support of Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer.

In Europe, similar policies are being proposed, with an announcement from Poland that it would pull back from the Europe-wide commitment to take in Syrian refugees. Far-right-wing parties in France and Holland have gained traction with their anti-immigrant rhetoric as well.

“It’s both morally reprehensible and factually wrong to equate these people with terrorists,” Peter Bouckaert told us on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. Bouckaert is the emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, and has spent the past few months in the Balkans and Greece, closely monitoring the refugee crisis firsthand. “They’re actually fleeing from the terrorists, and they’ve faced horrors of war in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan. Many of them are coming with their families, trying to bring them to safety and a better future in Europe. And they should be welcomed. They will contribute to our society, and they have a right to asylum,” he said.

While the cartoon of the indigenous man and the pilgrim may be humorous, the crisis is not, and the imagery from the wars and the flight of the refugees is numbing. Bouckaert was one of the first people to share the photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi after he drowned, lying face down on the sand in the Turkish beach town of Bodrum. Last September, the Kurdi family was trying to reach Greece, just a dozen miles across the Aegean Sea. They bought passage on a smuggler’s small boat, which capsized. Aylan, his brother and mother drowned, along with at least two others. The photos of Aylan’s corpse, first in the sand, then being carried by a Turkish soldier, shocked the conscience of the world. “That is still the reality on the beaches of Europe, two Aylan Kurdis are still drowning every day,” Bouckaert said.

{module [1177]}

A core argument by those who would deny entry to Syrian refugees was a passport found at the scene of one of the suicide bombers in Paris last week. It was a Syrian passport, and contributes to the belief that violent jihadists can enter Europe posing as refugees. “That’s exactly why they left a fake Syrian passport at the scene of their attacks, because they would love it if we shut the door on the people who are fleeing their so-called Islamic caliphate,” Bouckaert explained. “Our most powerful tool in the war against Islamic extremism, are our values. It’s not our military planes and our bombs. The only way we can fight against this brutality, this barbarism, is with our values. And if we’re going to shut the door on these refugees, we’re giving a propaganda victory to ISIS.”

And yet, the U.S., French and Russian response to terror is to pummel the city of Raqqa, considered the capital of the so-called Islamic State, but also home to hundreds of thousands of civilians who will now become terrorized refugees themselves. They will follow the millions who have already fled, only to find they have no place to go. Add to that the refugees from countries like Iraq and Afghanistan: people fleeing for their lives from the wars being waged by the United States.

It has been almost 400 years since that first, fateful Thanksgiving feast in Massachusetts. Xenophobic policies like those threatening to shut out refugees from these wars, if allowed to stand, should serve as a shameful centerpiece at every Thanksgiving table this year.

(Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,300 stations. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan, of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.)

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 94

Pub: Nov 20, 2015

WHO WE ARE--On December 2 2015, 14 people were killed and more than 20 wounded in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Mass shootings have become routine in the United States and speak to a society that both lives by violence and uses it as tool to feed the coffers of the merchants of death. 

Violence runs through American society like an electric current offering instant pleasure from all sources of the culture, whether it be the nightly news and Hollywood fanfare or television series that glorify serial killers. At a policy level, violence drives an arms industry, a militaristic foreign policy, and is increasingly the punishing state’s major tool to enforce its hyped-up brand of domestic terrorism, especially against Black youth. 

The United States is utterly wedded to a neoliberal culture in which cruelty is viewed as virtue, mass incarceration the default welfare program and chief mechanism to “institutionalize obedience.” At the same time, a shark-like mode of competition replaces any viable notion of solidarity, and a sabotaging notion self-interest pushes society into the false lure of mass consumerism. All of these forces point to modes authoritarianism and registers of state violence and an increasing number of mass shootings that are symptomatic of a society engulfed in racism, fear, militarism, bigotry, and massive inequities in wealth and power.

Moderate calls for reining in the gun culture and its political advocates amount to band aid solutions that do not address the roots of the violence causing so much carnage in the United States, especially among children and teens. For example, Hilary Clinton’s much publicized call for controlling the gun lobby and background checks, however well intentioned, have nothing to say about a culture of lawlessness and violence reproduced by the government, the financial elites, the defense industries, or a casino capitalism that is built on corruption and produces massive amounts of human misery and suffering. Moreover, none of the calls to eliminate gun violence in the United States link such violence to the broader war on youth, especially poor minorities in the United States.

In spite of ample reporting of gun violence, what has flown under the radar is that in the last three years 1 child under 12 years-old has been killed every other day by a firearm, which amounts to 555 children killed by guns in three years. An even more frightening statistic and example of a shocking moral and political perversity was noted in data provided by the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), which stated that “2,525 children and teens died by gunfire in [the United States] in 2014; one child or teen death every 3 hours and 28 minutes, nearly 7 a day, 48 a week.” In addition, 58 people are lost to firearms every day.

Such figures indicate that too many youth in America occupy what might be called war zones in which guns and violence proliferate. In this scenario, guns and its insane culture of violence and hyper-masculinity are given more support than young people and life itself.

The predominance of a relatively unchecked gun culture and a morally perverse and politically obscene culture of violence is particularly evident in the power of the gun lobby and its gun rights political advocates to pass legislation in eight states that allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons “into classrooms, dormitories and other buildings” on campuses. Texas lawmakers, for instance, passed one such “campus carry bill,” which will take effect in August of 2016. Such laws not only reflect “the seemingly limitless legislative clout of gun interests,” but also a rather deranged return to the violence-laden culture of the “wild west.” As in the past, individuals will be allowed to walk the streets openly carrying guns and packing heat as a measure of their love of guns and their reliance upon violence as the best way to address any perceived threat to their security.

This return to the deadly practices of the “wild west” is neither a matter of individual choice nor some far-fetched yet allegedly legitimate appeal to the second amendment. On the contrary, mass violence in America has to be placed within a broader historical, economic, and political context in order to address the totality of forces that produce it. Focusing merely on the mass shootings, or the passing of potentially dangerous gun legislation does not get to the root of the systemic forces that produce America’s love affair with violence and the ideologies and criminogenic institutions that produce it.

Imperial policies that promote aggression all across the globe are now matched by increasing levels of lawlessness and state repression, which mutually feed each other. On the home front, civil society is degenerating into a military organization, a space of lawlessness and war-like practices, organized primarily for the production of violence. For instance, as Steve Martinot observes, the police now use their discourse of command and power to criminalize behavior; in addition, they use military weapons and surveillance tools as if they are preparing for war, and create a culture of fear in which militaristic principles replace legal principles. He writes:

This suggests that there is an institutional insecurity that seeks to cover itself through social control, for which individual interactions with the police are the means. Indeed, with their command position over people, the cops act out this insecurity by criminalizing individuals in advance. No legal principle need be involved. There is only the militarist principle. When the pregnant woman steps away from the cop, she is breaking no law. To force her to ground and handcuff her is far from anything intended by the principle of due process in the Constitution.

The Constitution provided for law enforcement, but not for police impunity. When police shoot a fleeing subject and claim they are acting in self-defense (i.e. threatened), it is not their person but the command and control principle that is threatened. To defend that control through assault or murderous action against a disobedient person implies that the cop’s own identity is wholly immersed in its paradigm. There is nothing psychological about this. Self-worth or insecurity is not the issue. There is only the military ethic of power, imposed on civil society through an assumption of impunity. It is the ethos of democracy, of human self-respect, that is the threat.

Violence feeds on corporate controlled disimagination machines that celebrate it as a sport while upping the pleasure quotient for the public. Americans do not merely engage in violence, they are also entertained by it. This kind of toxic irrationality and lure of violence is mimicked in America’s aggressive foreign policy, in the sanctioning of state torture, and in the gruesome killings of civilians by drones. As my colleague David L. Clark pointed out to me in a private email correspondence, “bombing make-believe countries is not a symptom of muddled confusion but, quite to the contrary, a sign of unerring precision. It describes the desire to militarize nothing less than the imagination and to target the minutiae of our dreams.”

War-like values no longer suggest a flirtation with a kind of mad irrationality or danger. On the contrary, they have become normalized.  For instance, the United States government is willing to lock down a major city such as Boston in order to catch a terrorist or prevent a terrorist attack, but refuses to pass gun control bills that would significantly lower the number of Americans who die each year as a result of gun violence.

As Michael Cohen observes, it is truly a symptom of irrationality when politicians can lose their heads over the threat of terrorism, even sacrificing civil liberties, but ignore the fact that “30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year (compared to the 17 who died [in 2012) in terrorist attacks.” It gets worse. As the threat of terrorism is used by the American government to construct a surveillance state, suspend civil liberties, and accelerate the forces of authoritarianism, the fear of personal and collective violence has no rational bearing on addressing the morbid acceleration of gun and other forms of unnecessary violence in the United States. In fact, the fear of terrorism appears to feed, recuperate, and expand a toxic culture of violence produced, in part, by the wide and unchecked availability of guns.

America’s fascination with guns and violence functions as a form of sport and entertainment, while offering the false promise of security, which even trumps a more general fear of violence on the part of terrorists. In this logic one not only kills terrorists with drones, but also makes sure that patriotic Americans are individually armed so they can use force to protect themselves against the dangers whipped up in a culture of fear and hysteria promoted by right-wing politicians, pundits, and the corporate controlled media.

Rather than bring violence into a political debate that would limit its production, various states increase its possibilities by taking a plunge into insanity with the passing of laws that allow “guns at places from bars to houses of worship.”

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, based on the notion that one should shoot first and ask questions later is a morbid reflection of America’s national psychosis regarding the adulation of gun culture and the paranoiac fears that fuel it. This fascination with guns and violence has produced a pathology that reaches the highest levels of government and serves to further anti-democratic and authoritarian forces.

The U. S. government’s warfare state is propelled by a military-industrial complex that cannot spend enough on weapons of death and destruction. Super modern planes such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter cost up to $228 million each and are plagued by mechanical problems and yet are supported by a military and defense establishment.

As Gabriel Kolko observes such war-like investments “reflect a pathology and culture that is expressed in spending more money regardless” of how it contributes to running up the debt or for that matter thrives on “the energies of the dead.” Militarism provides ideological support for policies that protect gun owners and sellers rather than children.

The Children’s Defense Fund is right in stating “Where is our anti-war movement here at home? Why does a nation with the largest military budget in the world refuse to protect its children from relentless gun violence and terrorism at home? No external enemy ever killed thousands of children in their neighborhoods, streets and schools year in and year out.”

There is a not so hidden structure of politics at work in this type of sanctioned irrationality. Advocating for gun rights provides a convenient discourse for ignoring a “harsh neoliberal corporate-state order that routinely generates pervasive material suffering, social dislocation, and psychological despair—worsening conditions that ensure violence in its many expressions.”

It says nothing about the corrupt bankers and hedge fund managers who invest in the industries of death and trade in profits at the expense of human life, all the while contributing to the United States being the largest arms exporter in the world. More specifically, the call for gun rights also conveniently side steps and ignores criticizing a popular culture and corporate controlled media which uses violence to attract viewers, increase television ratings, produce Hollywood blockbusters, and sell video games that celebrate first person shooters.

While it would be wrong to suggest that the violence that saturates popular culture directly causes violence in the larger society, it is arguable that such violence serves not only to produce an insensitivity to real life violence but also functions to normalize violence as both a source of pleasure and as a practice for addressing social issues. When young people and others begin to believe that a world of extreme violence, vengeance, lawlessness, and revenge is the only world they inhabit, the culture and practice of real-life violence is more difficult to scrutinize, resist, and transform.

Many critics have argued that a popular culture that endlessly trades in violence runs the risk of blurring the lines between the world of fantasies and the world we live in. What they often miss is that when violence is celebrated in its myriad registers and platforms in a society, even though it lacks any sense of rationality, a formative culture is put in place that is amenable to the pathology of totalitarianism.

That is, a culture that thrives on violence runs the risk of losing its capacity to separate politics from violence: A. O. Scott recognizes such a connection between gun violence and popular culture, but he fails to register the deeper significance of the relationship. He writes:

…it is absurd to pretend that gun culture is unrelated to popular culture, or that make-believe violence has nothing to do with its real-world correlative. Guns have symbolic as well as actual power, and the practical business of hunting, law enforcement and self-defense has less purchase in our civic life than fantasies of righteous vengeance or brave resistance….[Violent] fantasies have proliferated and intensified even as our daily existence has become more regulated and standardized — and also less dangerous. Perhaps they offer an escape from the boredom and regimentation of work and consumption.

Popular culture not only trades in violence as entertainment, it also delivers violence to a society addicted to an endless barrage of sensations, the lure of instant gratification, and a pleasure principle steeped in graphic and extreme images of human suffering, mayhem, and torture. Violence is now represented without the need for either subtlety or critical examination.

Relieved of the pedagogical necessity to instruct, violence is split from its moral significance, just as it becomes more plentiful and lurid in order to provide infuse the pleasure quotient with more shocks. Americans now live in “a culture of the immediate” which functions “as an escape from the past” and a view of the future as one of menace, insecurity, and potential violence. In an age of cruel precarity and uncertainty, the present becomes the only register of hope, politics, and survival.

Americans now “look to the future with worry and suspicion and cling to the present with the anguish of those who are afraid of losing what they have,” all the while considering those deemed “other” as a threat to their security.

Under such circumstances, trust and mutual respect disappear, democratic public spheres wither, and democracy becomes a cover for false promises and the swindle of fulfillment. Another consequence is the merging of pleasure and cruelty in the most barbarous spectacles of violence. One telling example of this can be found in those films in which the use of waterboarding has become a prime stable of torture.

While the Obama administration banned waterboarding as an interrogation method in January 2009, it appears to be thriving as a legitimate procedure in a number of recent Hollywood films including, GI Jane, Safe House, Zero Dark Thirty, and Taken 3. In a world in which nothing matters but a survival-of-the-fittest ethos, pleasure and gratification slide into boredom, shielding a pornography of violence from any sense of moral and public accountability.

Guns are certainly a major problem in the United States, but they are symptomatic of a much larger crisis, one that suggests not only that democracy is broken in the United States but that the country has tipped over into forms of domestic and foreign terrorism characteristic of a new and deadly form of authoritarianism. We have become one of the most violent cultures on the planet and regulating guns does not get to the root of the problem. Zhiwa Woodbury touches on this issue when he writes:

In truth, the gun issue is an easy chimera that allows us to avoid looking in the mirror. It is much easier for us to imagine that this is an unfortunate political or regulatory issue than it is to ask what our own complicity in this ongoing, slow motion slaughter of innocents might be. Think about this. We are a country of approximately 300 million people with approximately 300 million firearms – a third of which are concealable handguns.

Each one of these guns is made for one purpose only – to kill as quickly and effectively as possible. The idea that some magical regulatory scheme, short of confiscation, will somehow prevent guns from being used to kill people is laughable, regardless of what you think of the NRA. Similarly, mentally ill individuals are responsible for less than 5% of the 30,000+ gunned down in the U.S. every year.

In the current historical conjuncture, war, bigotry, and the call to violence is embraced by many including Donald Trump, the leading Republican Party presidential candidate making it clear as John Pilger has argued that in America “an insidious modern fascism is now an accelerating danger.” It is difficult to watch both Trump and the corporate coverage of his fascistic assaults and actions.

What is truly crucial to recognize is that there are ideological, economic, social, political, and cultural forces at work in the United States that have created the formative culture in which this kind of authoritarian populism and its embrace of symbolic and material violence thrives. Surely, two of the major crises of our times are the crisis of agency and civic literacy, on the one hand, and the withering of public values, trust, and democratic public spheres on the other.

The drumbeat of fascism and its embrace of violence does not rely only on mimicking the infamous brownshirts of Nazi Germany but also on the collapse of democratic politics, the concentration of power in the hands of the few, the myth that only individuals are responsible for the systemic assaults they have to weather, and that self-interest is the only value that matters. Consumerism becomes a form of soma, memory no longer serves as a moral witness, and politics is in the hands of the 1 per cent, utterly corrupted by money and power.

Traces of a totalitarianism now appear, stripped of memory and the horrors they produced. In their new forms, the threats they pose go unrecognizable and are tolerated as politics as usual, only with less civility. Under such conditions, the social withers, solidarity is replaced by shark like competition, and state violence and the spectacle of violence become normalized. We live in a time of monsters and Trump is simply symptomatic of the financial class he represents and the history we refuse to learn from.

As I have said elsewhere, violence has arisen from the breakdown of public space, the erasure of public goods, the embrace of a deadly war psychology, and a growing disdain for the common good. Gratuitous violence has become central to a society that trades on fear and fetishizes hyper-violent and punitive practices and social relations. Brutal masculine authority now rules American society and wages a war against women’s reproductive rights, civil liberties, poor black and brown youth, and Mexican immigrants.

Americans inhabit society run by a financial elite that refuses to recognize that war is a descent into madness and the scope and breadth of the violence it produces infects our language, values, social relations, and democracy itself. War has become an all-embracing ideal that feeds the most totalitarian practices and shores up an authoritarian state. As an organizing principle of society, the politics and culture of violence unravels the fabric of democracy suggesting that America is at war with itself, its children, and its future. The political stooges who have become lapdogs of corporate and financial must be held accountable for the deaths taking place in a toxic culture of gun violence.

The condemnation of violence cannot be limited to police brutality. Violence does not just come from the police. In the United States there are other dangers emanating from state power that punishes whistle blowers, intelligence agencies that encourage the arrests of those who protest against the abuse of corporate and state power, and a corporate controlled media that that trades in ignorance, lies, and falsehoods, all the while demanding and generally “receiving unwavering support from their citizens.”

Yet, the only reforms we hear about are for safer gun policies, mandatory body cameras worn by the police, and more background checks. These may be well-intentioned reforms but they do not get to the root of the problem, which is a social and economic system that trades in death in order to accumulate profits. What we don’t hear about are the people who trade their conscience for supporting the gun lobby, particularly the National Rifle Association.

These are the politicians in congress who create the conditions for mass shootings and gun violence because they have been bought and sold by the apostles of the death industry. These are the same politicians who support the militarization of everyday life, who trade in torture, who bow down slavishly to the arms industries, and who wallow in the handouts provided by the military-industrial-academic complex.

These utterly corrupted politicians are killers in suits whose test of courage and toughness was captured in one of the recent Republican Party presidential debates, when Ben Carson, was asked by Hugh Hewett, a reactionary right-wing talk show host, if he would be willing to kill thousands of children in the name of exercising tough leadership. As if killing innocent children is a legitimate test for leadership. This is what the war-mongering politics of hysterical fear with its unbridled focus on terrorism has come to–a future that will be defined by moral and political zombies who represent the real face of terrorism, domestic and otherwise.

Clearly the cause of violence in America will not stop by merely holding the politicians responsible. America has become a society in which the illegitimacy of violence is matched by the illegitimacy and lawlessness of politics. What is needed is a mass political movement willing to challenge and replace a broken system that gives corrupt and war mongering politicians excessive and corrupting political and economic power.

Democracy and justice are on life support and the challenge is to bring them back to life not by reforming the system but by replacing it. This will only take place with the development of politics in which the obligation to justice is matched by an endless responsibility to collective struggle, one with a politics and social formation that speaks to the highest ideals of a democratic socialism.

(Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014). His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.  [[hotlink]] This piece was originated at CounterPunch)

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 105

Pub: Dec 29, 2015

SEXISM AND THE SYSTEM-As a lot of the world now knows, last Saturday night, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was late returning to the stage at the Democratic Debate after a five-minute break. Almost immediately media reported that she was delayed because of a line at the women's bathroom. As the break came to a close, with Clinton nowhere in sight, the moderators of the debate started without her. Within minutes, Clinton walked back onto the stage, smiling, and said, "Sorry," to knowing laughter. Women, the laughter acknowledged, live in the interstitial spaces of a world shaped by and for men. 

Clinton's wry smile and later explanation, "You know, it does take me a little longer. That's all I can say," sent tetchy sexist commentators, and more egalitarian commentators, aflutter.

Rand Paul wrote a popular tweet, going straight for the tried and true conservative "women cat fighting" narrative, that read, "@CarlyFiorina has ZERO trouble making it back from commercial breaks @HillaryClinton." Because everyone knows women pee competitively.

Mike Huckabee opined that Clinton's "best moment in the entire night was when she was in the restroom."

Donald Trump, it goes without saying, made the biggest splash. He took the opportunity, once again, to put his bottomless reservoir of shame and misogyny on public display. "I know where she went, it's disgusting, I don't want to talk about it," Trump said, talking about it. "No, it's too disgusting. Don't say it, it's disgusting, let's not talk." Bodily fluids freak Trump out, but women's in particular. This summer, Trump told a lawyer who needed a breast pump that she was disgusting and after Megyn Kelly challenged him on his sexist record during the first GOP presidential debate, he jumped to, "you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."

Bernie Sanders joined the fray, saying that Trump "must have a very unusual relationship with women," if he doesn't realize they pee. "I guess I'm a man, men are allowed to go to the bathroom."  Bless him for pointing out the double standard.

Today, writing in the New York Times, Frank Bruni began his column simply, "Everybody pees."

One of the only women commenting on the debate situation was Jennifer Weiner who included the episode in a recap simply titled, "The Year of the Toilet," following up on a November piece by Emily Bazelon on the broader need to make public spaces more welcoming and egalitarian to diverse populations. Weiner was in a small minority however.

When Clinton said, "That's all I can say," she knows what she's talking about. Pointing out subtle, implicit and structural sexism doesn't make you any friends. After Megyn Kelly asked Trump about his history of derogatory and demeaning comments towards women, references to her as a "cunt," "whore," "bitch," and "slut," skyrocketed in social media.

I write and talk about controversial subjects all the time - violence, rape, race - but I have never received as vitriolic a response as last summer, when I wrote about the disparity in public facilities for men and women, The Everyday Sexism of Women Waiting in Bathroom Lines; it was a piece about norms and knowledge.  Angry people, mostly men, by the hundreds, wrote to tell me I was vulgar, stupid, and ignorant and should learn to stand in order to pee, because it's superior. It continued for weeks, until I wrote a follow-up piece on the ten most sexist responses.

People may think that women no longer face sexism in media or politics when they speak, but that ignores the very obvious fact that even before women say anything they have already, in split seconds, jumped through hundreds of "what if I said something about sexism" hoops. Can you imagine the backlash and media frenzy if Clinton had actually, in some detail, pointed out that the women's room was farther away or that there is often, especially at large public events like this debate, a line that women patiently wait in while men flit in and out and make jokes about women's vanity? That the micro aggressive hostility evident, structurally, in so many of our legacy public spaces is relevant to women every day. "Bathroom codes enforce archaic and institutionalized gender norms," wrote Princeton students Monica Shi & Amanda Shi about their school's systemic sexism this year.

Fiorina, the only other woman candidate, hasn't uttered a word about the subject of Clinton's delay. She's fighting her own battle against people in her own camp. Steve Deace, a radio host and Ted Cruz supporter, tweeted during the GOP debate that Fiorina had gone "full vagina" when she made an allusion to sexism, saying she'd been "called every b-word in the book." Fiorina, apparently failing to understand that her own choice of expression buttresses the very problem she faces, shot back with, "I've now been called the V-word as well by the Cruz campaign, yes V, and I won't say that word either." It's too bad, really, we could have had a more meaningful #Vaginagate redux.

Many people, like Trump, believe it would be so much better if we just kept pretending women were simply a messier version of men who should continue to deal, in quiet, small and private spaces, with their needs, discomfort and difference. That they should speak when spoken to, look pretty. Always.  And not curse. Many men can go through their entire lives having no idea what women's needs are.  No one, particularly, it routinely seems, conservative men, really wants to know about what makes women women or human. Women, too, as subject to the culture's misogyny often likewise cringe when faced with words like "vagina," "rape," "menstruation."

But, it goes further than just not knowing or wanting to know.

Trump specifically used the word "disgust," which, politically expedient, has a particular resonance in conservative circles. Disgust is having a moment. Studies show that the word is a particularly powerful one for conservatives who tend, far more than liberals, to respond viscerally to descriptions that illicit shame, fear and horror.

Second, Trump was talking not just to Clinton, but about women. Disgust, and the stereotypes it both relies on and perpetuates, distances women from men, the dominant societal and political group that he is so proudly part of. Disgust is step one of othering people, step one of justifying injustice. While it can be applied to distance oneself from virtually any other group, "the locus classicus of group-directed projective," wrote Philosopher Martha Nussbaum in her book, Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law, "is misogynistic disgust."

A profoundly conservative disgust and ignorance about women is why women like Purvi Patel are jailed for decades. It's why a woman in Tennessee just used a coat hanger for an abortion and is being charged with murder. It's why thousands of women in Texas have had to figure out how to give themselves abortions. It's why millions of already impoverished women face even more dire economic circumstances if their access to safe and affordable medical care specific to women's complicated, repugnant and disgusting bodies. It's why maternal mortality in the country has risen by 136% in the past 25 years, while the rest of the world's has declined, with black women experiencing four times the risk. It's why three UN investigators recently reported that they found the degraded status of women's rights in the United States "shocking" and "myth-shattering."

Disgust about women's bodies, hardly limited to Trump, is inseparable from a cultivated and politically useful ignorance. The GOP's party platform is shaped around the idea that women are not competent adults, capable of moral reasoning and autonomous decision making, but, rather, are stuck somewhere between children and men, in need of eternal male intervention. It is filled with men passing oppressive anti-women laws who admit to never having thought about women's lives or bodies. The party's paternalism, its fundamental reliance on notions of complementary and binary gender roles, relies on maintaining ignorance, sometimes referred to as "mystery," about the "opposite sex."

Keeping people ignorant of women's bodies and bodily habits is the polite thing to do. But, we aren't talking about people. Women already know. We're talking about keeping men ignorant. Men run the world, and, for women, it's an unsafe and uncomfortable one. But, insisting that the way men do things is inadequate for meeting our human needs is so whiny, a word mainly associated with the high-pitched plaintiff keening of dogs.

In some countries a lack of facilities for girls and women means girls can't go to school, women can't move freely and safety in their own neighborhoods, their ability to get food, water and work all compromised by the dangers of seeking out safe sanitation. In militarized zones and refugee camps, a trip to the bathroom for a child or woman carries with it the almost certain risk of sexual assault and possibly death. Girls and women, in an effort to stop having to use toilets, stop drinking, making themselves sick with dehydration and other ailments. In wealthy nations, the effects on women aren't nearly so blunt or harsh, but they are meaningful none-the-less.

The argument, "it's biology, get over it" is a silly one. Biology, as one reader put it, "doesn't design restrooms." Biology also doesn't write laws. That, too, is relevant.

As scholar Judith Plaskow wrote in a paper on sanitation, toilets and social justice, "Not only does the absence of women's bathrooms signify the exclusion of women from certain professions and halls of power, but it also has functioned as an explicit argument against hiring women or admitting them into previously all-male organizations."

On Saturday, Clinton and other women also had to travel farther than their male peers, whose restroom was conveniently located much closer to the stage. Her career as a senator came to an end in 2009, two years before the 76 women who were then serving in the House finally got a bathroom even remotely close to the Speaker's Lobby. As Representative Donna M. Christensen, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands, tweeted two days after, "The first woman came to Congress in 1917. We are finally getting a ladies restroom near the floor of the House."

Male members, if you'll forgive the expression, could take for granted the fact that if and when they needed a bathroom it was close and would not impede their ability to listen to or participate in debates or vote on legislation. The men's room was not only near but, had a fireplace, a shoeshine stand, and televised floor proceedings. There was also an attendant who warned men if session breaks were coming to an end.

The male-centeredness of our opinion making and public space continues to reflect the male-centeredness of our understanding of the world.

(Soraya Chemaly writes about gender, sexual violence, free speech and the role that gender plays in media, politics, religion and education. Her work appears in TIME, The Guardian, Salon and Role Reboot among other media. She is the Director of the Women's Media Center Speech Project. This piece first appeared in the Huffington Post.)  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

-cw

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 105

Pub: Dec 29, 2015

NEW GEOGRAPHY--In the aftermath of San Bernardino and Paris massacres, our cognitive leaders – from President Obama on down – have warned Americans not to engage in what Hillary Clinton has described as “a clash of civilizations.” But you can’t have a real clash when one side – ours – seems compelled to demean its traditions and values.

Leaders in America and Europe don’t want to confront Islamic fundamentalism, or other nasty manifestations of post-Western thinking, because they increasingly no longer believe in our own core values. At the same time, devoted to the climate issue, they are squandering our new energy revolution by attempting to “decarbonize,” essentially leaving the field and the financial windfall to our friends in Riyadh, Moscow, Tehran and Raqqa.

Western ethos deconstructed

As the great 15th century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun observed, societies that get rich also tend to get soft, both in the physical sense and in the head. Over the past two centuries, Western societies, propelled by the twin forces of technology and capitalist “animal spirits,” have created a diffusion of wealth unprecedented in world history. A massive middle class emerged, and the working class received valuable protections, not only in Europe and America, but throughout parts of the world, notably East Asia, which adopted at least some of the Western ethos.

The current massive movement of people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia to Western countries suggests the enduring appeal of this model. After all, people from developing countries aren’t risking their lives to move to North Korea, Russia or China. The West remains a powerful beacon in the “clash of civilizations.”

Yet a portion of these newcomers ultimately reject our culture and, in some cases, seek to liquidate it. They do this in countries where multiculturalism urges immigrants to register as “victims,” and not indulge in Western culture, as did most previous immigrant waves. After all, why assimilate into a culture that much of the cultural elite believes to be evil?

Perhaps the biggest disconnect may involve young immigrants and their offspring, particularly students. Rather than be integrated in some ways into society, they are able, and even encouraged, not to learn about “Western civilization,” which is all but gone from campuses, with barely 2 percent retaining this requirement.

The dominant ideology on college campus – “cultural relativism” – leaves little room for anything other than a nasty take on Western history and culture. Many students, whether of immigrant parentage or descendants of the Mayflower, have only vague appreciation or knowledge of Western civilization, making them highly vulnerable to such pleading. They often go through college now with only the vaguest notion of our history, the writings of the American founders, the philosophy of the Enlightenment, our vast cultural heritage or the fundamental principles of Christianity or, if you will, Judeo-Christianity.

This extends beyond religion to the very basics – like respect for the First Amendment – that underpin our social order. Two in five millennials, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, believe the government “should be able to prevent people from saying ... statements that are offensive to minority groups.” A third of millennials opined that government should prevent speech “offensive to your religion or beliefs.”

The media and much of the nonprofit world share this perspective. For all the talk about Rupert Murdoch – the aging last remnant of contrarian journalism – and the Koch brothers, the cultural wars have been entirely won by the far larger, better-funded and protected progressive media and nonprofit establishment. In virtually every part of the West, more traditional values, from the primacy of the family to religion and belief in the efficacy of market capitalism, are being undermined, with increasingly disastrous results.

Psychological deindustrialization

Over a decade ago, the British historian Martin Weiner proffered his theory of “psychological deindustrialization” to explain the decline of the British capitalist class. In Weiner’s estimation, the great 19th century industrial expansion of that remarkable island nation lost its momentum as the scions of the capitalist class lost their taste for manufacturing, preferring the comforts of country estates, the clubby world of London and high-minded charity.

In the West today, the children of the rich, and often the rich themselves, embrace causes, notably climate change alarmism, that work against the whole ethos of progress and mass affluence. Now many of these people – notably in Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Hollywood and other centers of absurd wealth – are determined to “save” the planet by regulating and taxing the middle class back to the 19th century. That this effort is led by groups like the Rockefeller brothers, who owe their fortunes to black gold, is ironic, to say the least.

In this intellectual climate, it is no shock that at the recent Paris climate conference, Western capitalism was blamed entirely for climate change. This has sparked the demand for “climate reparations” without a thought that, over the past two decades, this same capitalism has helped a billion people out of poverty, mostly in the developing world.

The blame-the-West-first trend extends well beyond environmental concerns. Disbelief in the system of democratic give and take to address climate change reflects views on a whole set of issues, from feminism and gender to race. No surprise that draconian proposals to address the climate “crisis” often see little need to deal with Congress, legal due process, even free speech.

So, rather than address how to improve the environment without eviscerating our own middle class, we expend enormous energy on peripheral issues like transgender rights, often exaggerated claims surrounding “a war on women,” and whether the lives of African Americans matter more. A writer in a recent article in the New York Times, cogitating on racial privilege, opined, “For me, whiteness is not an identity but a moral problem.”

Such attitudes have been around a long time. It’s been almost a half century since the late Susan Sontag opined that the “white race is the cancer of human history,” for everything from eradicating “autonomous civilizations” and upsetting “the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.” But in 1966, when these views were first expressed, they were in a minority, even on campuses. Today, they have evolved into holy writ.

As such views have become mainstream, it’s not surprising that there is little interest, at least in the culture’s higher circles, in protecting the Western heritage, even when under direct assault. One painful example is the pathetic nonresponse to the gradual genocide being carried out in the Middle East against Christians. Threatened with the abolition of the West’s dominant religion does not seem to motivate mainstream Christians often more worried about the evils of Islamophobia and climate change than mass killings of their own co-religionists.

Long-term implications

A society that no longer believes in its core beliefs cannot prevail against rivals who, although less wealthy and far less technologically advanced, embrace their core ideals. A West that rejects (and sometimes is unaware of) its own heritage cannot overcome those who, for religious or national reasons, have a powerful belief in theirs.

Some people in Western countries are reacting to this abandonment of culture and heritage. Unfortunately, many of them are attracted to demagogues like Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front whose anti-immigrant xenophobia now has potent analogues in countries from the eastern frontier of Poland, Slovakia and Hungry to seeming secure reaches of Scandinavia. Given the cultural dominance of the relativist Left and the post-Christian nature of the culture, none of these movements will likely do more than make noise and inspire “tut-tuts” among the intelligentsia

Ultimately, we can only confront the challenge from authoritarian forces – whether in the Middle East, China or Russia – when we once again embrace our cultural values as important and worthy of protection. Our opponents – and that’s what they are – may be fundamentally weaker than us, but can count on the advantage of belief in their destiny. To save ours, Western culture needs to stay, not be put away.

(Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. He is also executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is also author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.)

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 105

Pub: Dec 29, 2015

THE BUSINESS OF FAMILY LEAVE-Kirsten Calkins was about five months pregnant with her first child, working as an executive coordinator at a small nonprofit in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Like many working parents in the U.S., she worried about how she’d manage having less money coming in while she cared for a new infant.

Her employer, the International Association of Privacy Professionals, offered four weeks fully paid leave, then five weeks at 60 percent pay and then, if you could swing it, an additional three weeks unpaid.

But Calkins was lucky to become pregnant in 2015: the year companies, particularly in tech, woke up and realized that you can’t strand workers facing huge personal challenges.

In January, IAPP -- which counts many tech companies as members -- started giving all its workers 12 weeks fully paid leave after the arrival of a new child.

“The level of excitement is hard to put into words,” Calkins told The Huffington Post. “Not having to juggle a life altering experience like having a baby with budgeting for a new expense with less income. It was like a weight was lifted.”

The U.S. is one of a handful of countries that offers mothers no paid maternity leave. It is the only developed country without a paid leave policy. The lack of support causes a significant percentage of working parents to fall into poverty. It puts the health of parents and infants at risk.

Finally, in 2015, policymakers and companies started to pay attention -- we may someday look back and see this past year as a tipping point in the movement toward paid leave for all. 

A significant number of businesses -- from Adobe to Netflix to Microsoft to Goldman Sachs -- announced they would expand paid benefits for their employees. Twenty-one percent of companies surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management were offering paid maternity leave in 2015, up from 16 percent in 2011.

And, for the first time a U.S. President got serious about paid parental leave and sick leave. “Today, we are the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers,” Obama said in January’s State of the Union address. “And that forces too many parents to make [a] gut-wrenching choice.” 

The Department of Labor started offering grants to states looking to study how paid family leave would work. Three states currently have paid family leave policies in place: California, Rhode Island and New Jersey -- where the policy is so popular that Republican governor Chris Christie never followed through on his promise to get rid of it when he was voted into office. Eighteen other states are considering paid leave initiatives.

Political candidates, on both sides of the aisle, now find they can no longer ignore the issue. Hillary Clinton called for paid leave in her first major economic speech as a presidential candidate this year. She’d never pushed for it as a senator. One Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, is calling for a company tax credit for offering paid leave.

Candidates who support paid leave, were eight percent more likely to win, according to projections from The National Partnership for Women & Families, cited in a New Republic piece earlier this year. In Connecticut, Dan Malloy is believed to have won the race for governor on the back of his support for paid sick leave.

“It’s kind of a new thing. We’ve always pushed to increase quality of life for our members, but the spotlight has fallen on leave,” Robert Daraio, a local representative of the News Guild of New York, told HuffPost. Daraio helped negotiate four months' paid parental leave for employees at the liberal magazine The Nation in December. “We’re pushing for this in all contracts going forward,” he said.

It seems almost daily a company issues a press release announcing more time for parents and caretakers.

“It was a good year,” said Ellen Bravo, the director of Family Values @ Work, a nonprofit coalition of groups pushing for paid parental and sick leave in the U.S.

Perhaps one of the most outspoken proponents of paid leave, Bravo said that family leave came to prominence thanks to a spiral of factors -- most notably the Obama administration, as well as the many states and municipalities taking action on this. She credits “millennials,” -- young adults -- who are demanding employers give them paid time off to care for children and family members.

Some companies have always had this benefit, Bravo said. “The interest in making announcements public is what’s new. Part of that comes from their desire to say to millennials come here, we’re paying attention to this.”

In the business sector, tech companies fell over themselves in 2015 offering more generous benefits. When Netflix this summer announced it would offer 12 months of leave to new parents, regardless of gender, the news was widely picked up and a flurry of other companies raced to improve their offerings -- including Microsoft and Amazon.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is right now taking a highly publicized paternity leave that Bravo said set a great example for fathers, who are seen as a crucial part of the paid leave movement.

Banks got in on the trend, too. Private equity shop KKR and Credit Suisse both beefed up their offerings for parents this year.

“We knew it started in tech, but then we started seeing businesses in financial services and banking, which are typically conservative, saying we need to do this, too,” said Melinda Figely, who consults on human resource issues as a vice-president at NFP, an insurance brokerage with clients in banking. "As employers adopt it what they see is people actually come back to work in higher numbers and they're happier and less stressed."

One thing critical about the new momentum on leave: It's not just for birth mothers, but for adoptive parents, for fathers, and for those who need time off to take care of loved ones. Paid parental leave -- not "maternity" leave -- is the hot new thing for companies, Figely said.

The change stems from the country's opening up to gay couples in recent years and people of various gender identities, Figely said. "The barriers are coming down and people aren't so narrow in their thinking that there's one kind of family or only one way to do maternity leave."

Yet for all the positive momentum on leave, the data still looks bleak. An overwhelming majority of employers don’t offer paid leave. Most states don’t offer paid leave. The U.S. unpaid leave law -- the Family and Medical Leave Act  -- only covers 60 percent of workers.

About nine percent of workers who take time off to care for a family member end up on public assistance, according to Labor Department data cited by The New Republic. The Family Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D – Conn.) that would pay for federally mandated leave by taking a few cents out of employee paychecks, is stalled out.

“We haven’t yet reached a polio moment or a moonshot moment where the country comes together and says we can’t let this go on anymore,” Bravo said. “The good news is we don’t need a vaccine. We know the solution. It’s a social insurance fund that can make this possible.”

Bravo hopes that by 2020, the U.S. will make this happen. “We need to do it.”

(Emily Peck is Executive Business & Technology Editor of The Huffington Post where this piece was originally posted.)  CSA Images via Getty Images.  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

-cw

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 105

Pub: Dec 29, 2015

 

MUSING WITH MIRISCH--It must be something in the water.

Propagandistic special interest groups such as Restore the Delta are on a single-minded mission to stop the twin-tunnel plan that would ensure a steady supply of water to Southern California.

Notwithstanding the guise of false environmentalism, it is self-interest, opportunism and something else entirely that are at play here.

What is being portrayed as an environmental battle is really something very different, indeed.

Time to tell it like it is, and, even though the discussion finally gives us a chance to use such neglected adjectives as "riparian," it's pretty darn simple. This is about North vs. South. This is about Northern California not wanting Southern California to "steal" what they consider to be "their" water, as characterized on the group's website as "the fight against the L.A. invasion on our water" (by a commenter who in a homophobic aside describes former California Assembly Speaker Angeleno John Perez as "a fat lesbian in drag as a man.")  

In Southern California, we are not brought up to hate San Francisco and Northern California. Sure, some of us Dodgers faithful aren't big fans of Halloween because of the black and orange, but we respect the rivalry and generally have a positive attitude when we think of Northern California - if we think of Northern California.

Not so, it seems with some Northerners in this state. While we Southerners tend to be laid back about nonbaseball intrastate rivalries, Northerners seem to have been bred to hate all things Southern Californian, including the Dodgers and especially the fact that some of our water comes from Northern California. This inborn resentment of Southern California is a bit befuddling to us down here.

Restore the Delta, by the way, has a disingenuous if not downright misleading name. Most of the board members are Northern California farmers and it is the farming over the past hundred-plus years that is largely responsible for such ecological problems as massive subsidence, along with the environmental unsustainability it creates. The farming has caused delta islands to sink to 30 feet or more below sea level. If the members of Restore the Delta were really looking to restore the delta, then they would try to create the ecosystem that existed before farming caused the natural landscape to lose its kilter.

Northern opposition to allowing the conveyance of water in a reliable fashion to Southern California is nothing new. In fact, Restore the Delta board members pride themselves on having successfully opposed the proposed Peripheral Canal in the '70s - all so that the "old ways" of delta farming could continue unabated while the farmland's sea level plays catch up with Death Valley. Ironically, the tunnels would actually do a better job of restoring the delta area than the current levee patch-and-fixes approach.

For all this dumping on Southern California, it is interesting to note that not one member or executive of Restore the Delta seems to have a problem when state resources flow from the South northwards. As protective as they seem to be about "their" water, they don't have any problem taking, for example, our Southern California tax dollars and spending them on delta levee maintenance. Southern Californian ratepayers would finance the tunnels, while the maintenance of private levees is paid for by the state's taxpayers. This is an absurd and unfair situation and the the state's legislators should take immediate action to stop the public financing of private levee maintenance.

Some common-sense proposals for water conservation embraced by the anti-tunnel groups should be (and in many cases already are being) adopted on a statewide basis; but this is a tactical distraction. Water conservation and other efficiencies do not mean that the need for upgraded infrastructure should be dismissed and that Southern California should not be allowed through reliable conveyance to access water to which it has a right.

Perhaps most hypocritical of all, while these groups continue spouting off about "water theft," "death tunnels" and the "vampire plan," we haven't heard a peep out of any of them about the single biggest instance of statewide water-related theft of all. Of course, that would be the damming and damning of Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy valley a hundred years ago, which deprived all Americans of an integral part of our greatest national park forever. All so that San Francisco could be assured of ... a steady supply of water.

Let's continue going about our business, keeping the faith that our Dodgers will finally bring us a long-awaited world championship and working towards the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's infrastructure upgrades. Let's ignore the bogus arguments, false eco-concern, provincial selfishness and regional resentment that are the true causes of Northern Californian opposition toward the tunnels.

What else can you do? Haters gonna hate. ...

(John Mirisch is the Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills and an occasional contributor to CityWatch. This piece was posted earlier at Los Angeles Business Journal and Huffington Post)

-cw

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 105

Pub: Dec 29, 2015

 

More Articles ...