Thursday, May 31, 2007

I'm calmer now...

And I'm ready to talk. No, make that ready to listen. I have nothing to say.

That's not "I have nothing to say to you" that's "I don't know what to say anymore." I have followed the directions in the Democracy 101 handbook -- as have a large number of my fellow citizens -- and it has gotten us bupkiss. I mean, if I felt I were alone.... But polls show consistently that a majority of people in this country oppose the war. What has that gotten us? A "surge"! And a Congress too lily-livered to actually stare down the president, even though only one in three Americans approve of the job the man is doing. So if you were a Bush supporter, and now aren't, and can think of anything at all to do that might actually change things, short of violence or overthrowing the government, I'm all ears.

In any case, I decided to post tonight not because I had all that much to say but because I really did not want last night's -- er, this very early morning's -- rant to sit all atop my blog for days on end. I'm not going to take it down; I figure I need to live with my mistakes as long as they're not actionable, but on the other hand I don't want it to be the first thing I see for n days until I can get the next post of substance finished.

So, just odds and ends...

Substantive posts I am working on, to be finished on Island Time, are about the upcoming Florida Democratic primary election and how that's screwed six ways to Sunday already and it's not even 2008. And about Cindy Sheehan folding her tents and heading home and what it means for everyone else who opposes the war. And about, what else? voting rights and what it means in the context of the Supreme Court, and ways in which the FEC has been politicized under the current administration. Oh, and at some point I want to do a post about what the Justices did before they became Justices, and what that means for the country. Hopefully at least one of those will see the light of day.

Oh, and one on Wikipedia and Devon Island, but that one is taking a while. I was going to do one on SixApart/LiveJournal and their tendency to run around like chickens without heads, but that seems a little pointless now.

On a more frivolous note, I have taken up beading.

(That would be sodalite, freshwater pearl, sterling silver balls and wire, and carnelian and lapis lazuli chips.)

You should see the aragonite, aventurine, and mother of pearl sterling silver bracelet I made. I'll post a picture once I get around to scanning one in.

It's getting late, and I'm getting tired, so I think I'll turn in before I get cranky again.

Sleep tight, boys and girls, and don't let the bedbugs bite. Or anything else for that matter.

I don't want to hear it.

It's very late, and I'm very tired, and very angry, and shouldn't be posting at all, but you know what?

If you are as completely, wordlessly outraged by the Ledbetter decision as I am, or the Attorney General Scandal, or the insanity that is the "surge" in Iraq and...

You voted for Bush in either of the last two elections? I don't want to hear what you have to say. You have forfeited all claim to complain to me of this man's actions. There is no way in hell we would be in the place where we are if GWB were not in the Oval Office. Okay, so I am willing to cut people slack for 2000, even though I think a lot of his actions over the next seven years were predictable even before he took office, since the press did a piss-poor job of actually covering, you know, the ISSUES. But 2004? No way in hell. You people had four years to watch the man in office. And you voted for him anyway.

And the effect of that lapse of judgment on your part will be with us for a very long time: those two new justices Bush appointed created the most reactionary court since... I don't know when... a majority made up of men who live in a cloud-cuckooland where Congressmen are better able to make medical decisions for women than their own doctors and where women will of course know the moment they are being paid in a discriminatory manner so they can file suit before the six-months statute of limitations runs. And those men? Are all relatively young. We will have to put up with a Supreme Court that doesn't give a damn about actual living human beings -- as opposed to fetuses and corporations -- for the next decade, at least, probably two.

And you people who voted for a third party candidate? Revel in your sense of superiority. I don't want to hear from you either. Politics is messy. And yes, the system is not perfect, and yes there are a great many things I am not happy about with the Democratic party both in 2004 and now. (A very big one would be the non-filibuster that did not keep Alito off the Court.) But sometimes the choice between the lesser of two evils is a very stark one indeed. By declaring yourself above the fray, you helped throw it for the other side. Feel good about that, do you?

And you people who did not bother to vote at all? I really don't want to hear from you. There were people who were unfairly denied the right to vote (through erroneous roll purges in Florida and other voter suppression tactics) and people in our history have died to get people the right to vote and you treat it like it doesn't matter. It mattered. Oh, God, how it mattered. How it matters still.

I know I will get over this, and be able to talk to people with other viewpoints, soon, but right now, I just need to get all this down... primal scream therapy for the politically strangled soul.

I'll be back to normal soon. I hope.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's been twenty-four hours since I found out, and I still can't believe it.

I expected the ban on partial-birth abortions to be upheld. I was hoping it wouldn't be, but I thought the chances with the new make-up of the Supreme Court of it being struck down were slim at best.

But this....

Yesterday, the Supreme Court in all its wisdom essentially gutted the right of employees to sue over discriminatory pay. Well, five of them did, and that's all that's needed.

In Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire, the Supreme Court stated that the six-month statute of limitations for bringing claims did not arise from discovery of the pay disparity, or from continuing discrimination, but from the date the discriminatory act -- the original awarding of less pay for equal work -- occurred.

Lily Ledbetter was originally paid the same as her male counterparts, but over time received smaller raises than they were. After 19 years, she was being paid $6,000 less than the lowest paid man at the same position. Performance, said Goodyear. (Performance? If she was so bad, why did you keep her around for 19 years?) Gender, said Ms. Ledbetter, and a jury agreed with her to the tune of roughly 200K compensatory and a whopping 3.3 million punitive damages.

Take special note of those punitive damages. We're not talking about a minor mishap. Clearly what the tire giant did was outrageous enough to inspire a jury to try and send a message to Goodyear Corporation.

Too bad, said SCOTUS. She sued too late. It didn't matter that they had been systematically paying her less than her coworkers for years, she had to have sued within six months of the first time they decided to pay her less than her male colleagues.

Talk about not living in the real world. A woman -- or a black man, or an older person -- may become aware of discrimination only after the statutory 180 days has run. According to this ruling, that woman (or black man, or older worker) is just shit out of luck, now, isn't she (or he)?

This decision gives an employer a way out for years of discrimination. If future pay raises are based on pay decisions made earlier (i.e., when raises are percentage of wages), all an employer has to do is state that their current pay decisions are equitable and ignore the effects of old injustices.

As Ruth Bader Ginsberg pointed out -- in a dissent read from the bench, which is usually reserved for opinions which the writer feels particularly strong about -- pay discrimination is categorically different than discrimination in promotion or firing/hiring. Who works for a company, and what position they hold, is pretty much public knowledge, pretty quickly. As for who gets paid what....

Why, yes, my employer makes all of their salaries public -- doesn't yours? No? Well, actually, mine doesn't either. I have no idea what my co-workers at the small nonprofit where I work make. I have never worked in place where information about other people's salaries were readily available, or certainly not in close enough to real time to allow for a lawsuit under the reading of the statute that the idiots in the majority have adopted.

Ginsburg is right about something else -- this paves the way for more discrimination lawsuits, not fewer: "Today's decision counsels: Sue early on, when it is uncertain whether discrimination accounts for the pay disparity you are experiencing." From a worker's perspective, it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario: without clear evidence that discrimination is behind the pay disparity, what lawyer will take the case? By the time the discrimination becomes established enough to be worth having a case, though, you are barred by the statute of limitations.

All of which will be quite good for employer/worker relations, I suppose. Not to mention productivity.

Ginsburg urged Congress to take action. I do too -- and please contact your House members and Senators so we can fix this NOW.

It's too late for Lily Ledbetter. But not for the rest of us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fifteen second movie review...

I saw Shrek the Third over the weekend. All I can say is...

Best use of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" ever.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hi ho, hi ho...

After several years away from the paid job market, I'm working for money again. It's the first time I've worked in an office in over a decade (my last paid job was freelance -- I only went to the office once in two-years to work out a payroll problem).

Okay, so it's a minimal part-time job, it's still a job. I'm working for a nonprofit that I've been volunteering at for nearly a year.

It's amazing how being paid changes my perspective. Before I was completely confident -- what were they going to do if I screwed up, dock my pay? Fire me? Yeah, right. Now, of course, they can do those things. And I find I'm nervous to the point of driving myself to drink. Well, not really, but I think about it. I've driven myself to chocolate, certainly.

I really like the work I've been assigned. I feel a need to do it as well as possible and therefore am probably taking longer than I might otherwise, but by golly I am going to do this right. This is a problem.

It's a problem because I could easily see myself putting in a lot of uncompensated overtime. Not because I was asked to, mind you, just because I really want to get this done, and done well. I have trouble walking away before I have gotten to "a good stopping point," and have trouble not fretting about it when I am not at work. I have to resist the temptation to go in to work when I am not required to be there.

Obsessive, much?

It's going to be a struggle for me, finding a good work/life balance here. And I am worried that the stress I am subjecting myself to will make me stupid -- it's already doing so. And I'm worried about burnout -- and that if I burnout, it will be from self-induced stress, not from the work itself.

Still, a job! What fun.

"Hi ho, hi ho..."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Just a thought...

Whenever anyone starts decrying the fact that those numbers about the monetary value of the work that stay-at-home mothers do are just so much hooey,* and that the real problem is that working mothers are never paid enough to "make their labor profitable" (as I heard a commentator on NPR say yesterday), and yet in their entire five-minute diatribe didn't utter the word "fathers" once, it means they really don't get it.

As long as we as women -- as mothers -- allow the discussion to be framed (or have it framed for us) as a matter of how to structure motherhood, instead of how to structure parenthood and family life in general, nothing will really change. Single parenting aside (and I recognize it's a big aside, but the nastiest battles in the mommy wars are fought between women who are married but who made different choices), raising a family is a joint responsibility between (and among, I suppose, in multi-partner households) the adults responsible for the children.

All the adults. Not just those with two X chromosomes.

* Which they are. The commentator -- whose name escapes me -- rightly observed that the accurate cost of what a stay-at-home mother's labor is worth is what you would pay a nanny and housekeeper. Hers made $35K a year, not over $130K. Of course, there is a question of whether or not she underpays her help, but in general her point is well-taken.