Arbitration is the Devil

Sued over Old Debt and Blocked From Suing Back.  Example number the infinity on how business has every advantage over the individual in this country. Ironic that the people who get their panties in a bunch over “big government” vote for the same people who bring you “MASSIVE AND UNSTOPPABLE BUSINESS.”

Between right wing legislators and Federalist Society-spawned judges, arbitration language is universal in consumer contracts and class action suits are harder than ever to certify, so it’s harder now since the 19th century for an individual to fight back.

The result, The New York Times found in an investigation last month, is that banks, car dealers, online retailers, cellphone service providers and scores of other companies have insulated themselves from challenges to illegal or deceptive business practices. Once a class action was dismantled, court and arbitration records showed, few if any of the individual plaintiffs pursued arbitration.

But the absolute slime kings are debt collectors, who use the full power of the system against people who often don’t even know it’s happening.

In the last few years, debt collectors have pushed the parameters of that legal strategy into audacious new territory. Perhaps more than any other industry, debt collectors use the courts while invoking arbitration to deny court access to others. The companies file lawsuits seeking to force borrowers to pay debts. Because borrowers seldom show up to challenge the lawsuits, the collectors win almost every case, transforming debts that banks had given up on into big profits.

Oh my God do these people need to be fucked! I’m not generally a fan of the excesses of the French Revolution, but there are debt collectors for whom, come the revolution, the guillotine would be way too humane.

One of the Polislice progeny was sued for student debts by a truly unscrupulous shit heal debt collector. They hire completely unqualified people to perform service of notice, which they do badly and not up to court requirements. So the upshot was that we got completely lucky to get the notice because it was improperly served. And yet the judge didn’t give two shits about the improper service. Master Polislice was one of the fortunate few who had knowledgeable guidance on the suit, but still had to cough up a chunk of change that he could not afford to pay, because PAY US!!!

[Whereas, a much, much. much larger lender that was owed much, much, much more money just wrote the debt off rather than go after people who can’t really pay or they, you know, would pay.]

Bye Bye Miami

Of all American cities, Miami is the most at jeopardy from climate change. Yet, Florida GOPers have their heads buried in Florida’s porous limestone firmament.

 Wanless, who is seventy-three, has spent nearly half a century studying how South Florida came into being. From this, he’s concluded that much of the region may have less than half a century more to go.

Miami Beach is building pumps so the constant and predictable flooding that already takes place will not be as big a nuisance as they are. Landscaping is expensive and the residents are tired of saltwater in their yards. But this is just the beginning and the pumps are expensive band aids. The Mayor, who campaigned on the frustration with the flooding, bides his time offering the silly “human innovation” non-answer.

“I believe in human innovation,” Levine responded. “If, thirty or forty years ago, I’d told you that you were going to be able to communicate with your friends around the world by looking at your watch or with an iPad or an iPhone, you would think I was out of my mind.” Thirty or forty years from now, he said, “We’re going to have innovative solutions to fight back against sea-level rise that we cannot even imagine today.”

And if there aren’t? Then the nothing that is being done right now by idiots like Governor Rick Scott and Senator Marco Rubio will look pretty irresponsible.

Marco Rubio was asked to explain a statement he had made about climate change. He offered the following: “What I said is, humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe, for the following reason: I believe that climate is changing because there’s never been a moment where the climate is not changing.”

The Governor himself has ordered state workers not to use the words “climate change.” Which makes for some awkward state meetings when people want to know what’s being done to prevent an area that is at or below sea level from becoming part of the sea.

France not as scared as Republicans

In the initial days after the Paris attacks racist extremists in France like Marine LePen were looking like they were going to ride fear into power.

Here Trump and other Le Pen imitators ride the  polls that have created that 16 point jump in people who now say that terrorism is a major problem from a measly 4% to a solid 20%

But apparently France aren’t quite wetting themselves. 

Marine Le Pen’s far right National Front collapsed in regional elections Sunday…

Funny how the French are supposed to be cowards, but they aren’t nearly as eager to throw away their heritage for the comfort of fascists as a chunk of France hating Americans is.

It’s December 12?

Sitting in my backyard drinking coffee on a beautiful 60 degree day… in December.

Everybody gets that this is not normal, even if they enjoy it. Heard a woman at the gym rationalize that fall is extended, so winter will be extended and it’ll be colder in April. But that’s not how it works. Last year was warmest on record. It didn’t even out somehow. Looking at warmest months in history in November and December. Doubt we’ll have the coldest April, even Steven. We may get some freak unseasonal storms, but that doesn’t exactly make it better.

Bet she drives a huge SUV. Starts her day with a heaping spoonful of rationalization.



What I’m Reading – “The Sixties” by Todd Gitlin

The full title is “The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage”

This is not to be confused with CNN’s series “The Sixties”, historian Todd Gitlin wrote a combination history book/memoir about America’s, and his own experience of struggle and rage as a front line witness to the beginning of the counter culture, the anti-war and racial equality movements.

A few takeaways that have struck me as essential to the story of that period are the early Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) dictum that it was all about love. Nothing could be achieved without it. The entire reason for activism and struggle was love. Love of country, love of freedom and knowledge, love of the person working next to you and the persons your work would bring a better life to. Love of the people of Cuba and North Viet Nam as well as Birmingham and Berkeley.

It takes a moment to step back but yeah, it’s all about love. Everything we do even in the mundane work world is about love. I would not be working in the jobs I’ve taken, and commuted to and from, if not for my love of my family. Whenever I have gotten the consciousness to march or give or work for a cause it’s about love for that cause. Love can heal wounds and make ancient enmities melt away. Anger only goes so far. Love has to be the prime motivator.

A saying of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was “freedom is an endless meeting.” Democracy is hard, a constant struggle of education and activism. Think about how few of us do the basics of reading newspapers, voting and jury duty. Other than paying taxes, that’s really all democracy demands of us, but it’s too much for most of us. This is why strong man dictators hold such fascination, they’re easy. The gray despair of a totalitarian regime that asks for nothing but loyalty and compliance is easier for many people, and attractive. The struggle for a government that reflected an evolving society and a society that reflected the promised ideals of justice and equality were seemingly out of reach. There was hope in activism and consciousness raising. But the forces of the status quo were militaristic and hellbent on maintaining the order of the past.

Also, it’s very hard to internalize just how much more chaotic and full of peril the world of the Sixties was perceived to be. Everyone lived with the threat of global nuclear annihilation hanging over their heads. Everybody held their breath for 10 days during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The young also had the war in Viet Nam reverberating constantly around them. The draft and draft registration and what you would do if… was always there.

The threat of violence was all around the activists, in the South always, and especially after 1966, in the cities of the North. We all know about the riots around the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, and Kent State, but those were the tip of the iceberg of anger, rage and confrontation between culture and counter-culture.  As bad as the abortion wars and our other confrontations are today, they do not compare to the vitriol, hatred and violence of the Sixties.  People died in the struggle for justice in Detroit, Newark, Oakland, Watts, Chicago, Berkeley, everywhere.

Imagine a world where just wearing your hair long could incite an attack from hardhats.  What you wore, what music you listened to, everything was a statement, was a flashpoint, in a society that was splitting along lines of confrontation, everywhere.

How the government under Johnson, Hoover and Nixon treated everyone who spoke out as an enemy of the state – traitors worthy of the full power of the military/police state.  Police waded into non-violent protests swinging clubs, everyday. There were Ferguson style-riots,  daily. Chicago made Ferguson look like a child’s birthday party.*

We also don’t have to deal politically with the stigma of communism. Of course, that word and “socialism” get bandied about as insults. But it’s not the same as earlier decades when the New Left groups of student activists had to come to terms with Old Left groups of activists who had been around since the New Deal, who really had been, some of them, members of the Communist Party, who really had grown up with affinities for the Soviet Union and had lived through the dark days of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC).  Many of the New Left were “Red Diaper” babies, kids who grew up with parents who were old style communists of communist sympathizers. The constant debate of communism versus anti-communism wracked the New Left and liberals throughout the ’60’s.  This intellectual/ideological struggle was real, especially as applied to the anti-war struggle and finding the viable balance between being anti-war and being pro-America.  Are you communist, anti-communist or anti-anti-communist? You had to pick a side and argue your case. Debate, debate, debate. The activists of the Sixties argued with each other, about ideology and tactics, as much or more than they actually argued with the opposition.

Our inner debates are nowhere near as complex today. Today the greatest obstacle to justice seems to be apathy itself. We have struggles, of course, including the existential struggle against global climate change. And we’re still fighting many of the same fights whose first shots were fired in the Sixties. But it seems to me that we have come a very long way from the world of constant conflict that was America in the Sixties. And for the most part, the forces of light, freedom and equality have won and are continuing to win a battle of ideology, and attrition.


*Chicago’s current police brutality problems show that nothing has changed from the brutal days of Richard Daley, who ordered Chicago police to “shoot to kill” unarmed, non-violent protesters. Former Chicago police testified that they had an arrest quota even for non-violent protests.  The police made every attempt at free speech a battle zone.


Happy Friday

Already a good day. Got tickets for the Boss for MSG in January.


From “The announcement of the tour coincides with today’s release of “The Ties That Bind: The River Collection,” a comprehensive look at the era of the 1980 “The River” album that “Rolling Stone” calls “Springsteen’s best archival release yet.”

“The original The River Tour began Oct. 3, 1980, two weeks before the release of Springsteen’s fifth album, and continued through Sept. 4, 1981. With sets that regularly approached the four-hour range, the 140-date international tour firmly established a reputation for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band as marathon performers.”

Indeed, saw the original tour at MSG and what was then the Brendan Byrne Arena at the Meadowlands.  Think I might have seen it at the Nassau Coliseum as well.

Got a shirt too, still have it. Doesn’t fit that well, would never wear it in public. But I will find that sucker.


Supreme Court Declines to Hear Assault Weapons Ban


This story flew under the radar this week. Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson has it. The Supreme Court declined (by a 7-2 margin) to hear a Seventh Circuit case that held that a ban on assault weapons in Highland Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago, was consistent with the Heller case and the Second Amendment.

Through this inaction, the Supreme Court has cleared a path for other communities across the nation to:

—outlaw assault weapons and high capacity magazines,

—declare these arms contraband and confiscate them,

—and hit violators with jail time and/or a sizable fine.

The 2013 ordinance reads “No person shall manufacture, sell, offer for display for sale, give, lend, transfer ownership of, acquire or possess any Assault Weapon or Large Capacity Magazine…”

So, if any city or community, or state across thew country wants to copy this, as Connecticut has, they are within the Supreme Court’s scope of reasonable gun control legislation.

That, of course, doesn’t shield legislators and executives from the fallout of crossing the NRA, which is the bigger threat for responsible politicians in our great American democracy. The Court has no problem with the tons of money that will array against you as a legislator that voted to ban, regulate, or looked cross-eyed at a weapon. Not to mention the threats of violence from patriotic death penis “enthusiasts.”

Certainly, a patchwork of towns, counties, cities and states doing this achieves little in the overall battle as people who just have to have an assault style death penis will travel over state lines to get them.

Localities and states that are run by responsible and brave public servants will take note and take action.

“We hope that this emboldens communities to take action,” McLively says. “There is not the constitutional issue the gun lobby would have them believe.”

It’s Begining to Look a lot like Schismas

A few weeks ago I despaired that the Trump monster had grown so outrageous that the GOP had no choice but to find a way to push him off a cliff and have one of their own get the nomination.

[By the way, the possibility of a brokered convention such as hasn’t been seen in our lifetimes strikes this history buff as completely fascinating. The cut and dried, commercially packaged conventions we’re used to bare no resemblance to what was common at one time with bargaining, in fighting, dozens of ballots and the nomination completely up for grabs for several action packed days.]

However, there are two tantalizing possibilities that could bring the slow boil of GOP schism up to a full frothing:

  1. Trump is simply too powerful, and his followers too loyal to bypass; and
  2. If they do bypass him he goes independent.

he had made noises about that months ago and then he took the oath he wouldn’t, but now he’s roaring again and the GOP is cowering in a corner.

In either scenario the GOP goes into 2016 with the potential to fall below 40%. Obviously an independent run would split Republican and conservative votes in a way that would doom them. But if they appease Trump and he is the nominee, continuing to campaign with the crazy set up to 11, then his ceiling for attracting the independents the GOP needs, not to win, but to make a respectable showing, is in question.

As I’ve noted before, demographics point away from another 53-47 election unless the GOP nominates someone way more attractive than Mitt Romney or John McCain was. Right now 1-2% of people who voted GOP in 2008 and 2012 are already off the voter rolls due to death. Some number more have simply stopped self-identifying as Republican.

There is no way on Earth that a Trump candidacy breaks 45% and I am being very generous.

A disastrous 2016 and/or a true party schism is the only way to give the Kevorkian treatment the Republican Party so deserves.

I am once again hopeful that Schismas is coming!!

Merry Schismas!!!!

P.S. Actually I lied, for my lifetime anyway, the 1976 GOP convention was a brokered convention. Reagan and Ford went to the convention with differing counts of delegates, both claiming to have enough for the nomination. Ford did have the edge, but both were unsure and bluffing while making all sorts of backroom deals and appeals to delegations to solidify behind one candidate.