2009
01.31

I’m excited to announce that members of Socialist Party USA are meeting today at 4:30 p.m. at Full Circle Books in Oklahoma City to discuss the formation of a local chapter for Oklahoma.

I have been a dues paying member for the last 2 years (also FYI, I also am a member of the Oklahoma Green Party), but there has been a fair bit of new-found interest in the party.

To begin with, I think there has been a growing awareness of Oklahoma’s agrarian-socialist roots. Jim Bissett wrote an incredible book on the subject, Agrarian Socialism in America – Marx, Jefferson and Jesus in the Oklahoma Countryside. Then there is the work of Red Flag Press, which has told the sad story of Oklahoma’s first red scare during WWI (and now publishes The Revelator, a quarterly journal of progressive and original thought). And finally there was a quite good article recently in The Oklahoma Gazette by Greg Horton, “State Motto ‘Labor conquers all things’ has roots in Socialism”. And finally, someone just wrote a pretty good article on the Socialism in Oklahoma on Wikipedia.

Anyway I am cautiously excited about this development. My main concern is that a local SP chapter be inclusive of all shades of Socialism (not doctrinaire as some Socialist organizations can be) and not condescending (such as ISO can often be in talking to the public — I know some cool folks who are ISO members, but I also know some real jerks). I also hope that a SP chapter in Oklahoma can be committed to the cause of non-violence, as I think this is key to not having history repeat itself. (no matter how much you want revolution to happen, the other side always has more guns… which is why situations like the 1917 Green Corn Rebellion turn out so badly)

And most of all I hope a local Socialist chapter can develop new Socialist analysis to our problems that is rooted in our local experience in Oklahoma. This was the genius of the old Socialist Party of the 19-teens, in that they were really to find truly Oklahoma solutions to Oklahoma problems.

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll likely post pictures and news about the gathering here tonight.

2009
01.25

CNN: Israel prepares legal defense of soldiers

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Israel’s government on Sunday approved a measure that will give legal protection to its military officers if they are accused of war crimes during the Gaza incursion, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

“The state of Israel will completely back anyone that acted in its name,” Olmert said Sunday at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “The soldiers and commanders that were sent on missions in Gaza need to know that they are safe from different tribunals.

“Israel will assist them and protect them as they physically protected us during the operation in Gaza,” he said.

The logic here is pretty amazing and absurd.

The basics of International law, as codified under The Nuremburg Principles make it clear that “following orders” is not an excuse for war crimes.

Here are two portions of the Principles that are revelant here…

Principle II – The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law…

Principle IV – The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

To me the Israeli state’s decision to protect officers who may have committed war crimes (to say nothing of the culpable political leaders who are liable under principle III of the Nuremburg principles) is not a far stretch from the actions of those who helped Nazi war criminal escape justice by fleeing to South America.

As I have said before on this blog, I am not anti-Jewish. I do think in the end that some form of a two-state solution (provided that monetary compensation is made to displaced Palestinians for land that would be retained by Israel) is the best solution to the situation.

But I am disgusted to see the Israeli state continue to act without any sanction against the people of Palestine, and now to see the Israeli state defy international law like this is beyond the pale.

I know that irony is not the right word to describe this, but it is absurd to see a nation created as a refuge for victims of the holocaust, now use the very tactics of the Nazis to defend their actions. It is shameful and must be called for what it is.

2009
01.23

GIRightsLawyer.com: Links to 22 minute Youtube video, split into 4 parts

I also should mention that Daniel did his final time in the Army prison system at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Even more crazy was the fact that he was released from prison only 15 minutes before Obama became President! (Daniel and I ran back to my Lawton residence just in time to get to see the ceremony)

2009
01.23

Life. . .

I won’t be blogging much in the next week or so as my client work has really ramped a bunch very quickly. I will be posting more regular comments on twitter though at www.twitter.com/jmbzinedotcom

2009
01.22

 
I normally have a policy of not allowing JMBzine.com readers to post threatening messages in the comments (which I started after a few overly excited folks decided to post threats during the Sally Kern controversy), but I now have a reader who is directing threats at me.

I think likely the threats are just a crazy chickenhawk wannabe-badass shooting off his or her mouth, but all the same this person shouldn’t be posting this crap.

Here is the post with the comments in question

Here is the text of the comment with threat in it (#17)…

p.s. ill be coming for you so watch your back right below the neck in the carotid artery

As for the identity of the commenter, the emails provided are obviously bogus, but i do have the IP # of the person. Commnents #16, 17, 18 & 19 were all posted by…

68.110.201.109

between 7:14 and 7:21 p.m. today.

According to the whois, this IP number is assigned to Cox Communications, so this is likely posted by a local person. I will be contacting Cox obviously, but thought I would go ahead and post this information publicly as well to hopefully shame the person who hides behind an anonymous handle to post threatening remarks.

Seriously, do you think this will shut me up. If I’m not afraid of the US government, I sure am not afraid of you.

2009
01.12

From: Comment #307 – Rep. Sally Kern’s ugly anti-gay speech is made public on the internet (emphasis added is my own)

kaeboo@hotmail.com said… Rep. Kerns and her husband is absolutely right. We need to stamp out homosexuality indefinately. People’s bodies were designed for reproduction purposes under GOD’s standards because GOD created humans. God finds homosexuality detestable. Homoesexuals are spreading like a disease, the same as hatred. Then, their desires are masked: First they wanted their rights. Okay, we gave them that. Asking for Gay Rights was only a mask for the intention to ask for Gay Marriage. So they vote Pres. Elect Obama into office in the hopes of getting what they want. They don’t even know who stupid that was. Obama was never for gay marriage. Now they are upset about Rick Warren to speak at the inaguration. Warren and Obama share the same views. Where’s the confusion here??

Homosexuals are sick and should be put into mandatory treatment centers. Nothing scarry about it. Find out what causes people to be gay and get treatment for it so they can join the majority that is straight. They don’t have to live as God wants them to live but at least be normal. I don’t believe gay people want to be gay, plain and simple. Who would? I think Kerns speech was dead on.

2009
01.08

Daniel Sandate is a client of mine who was convicted of desertion after fleeing to Canada to avoid a second Iraq war deployment.

Here are a few media accounts that tell his background:

Courage to Resist: Mentally ill soldier sentenced to 8 months in stockade

Colorado Springs Independent: Trading uniforms
Two Fort Carson desertion trials shed light on the route from post to prison – by J. Adrian Stanley

War Resisters International: Listing for Daniel Sandate, prisoner of conscience

Anyway, I asked Daniel to write a statement about his experiences and what he now believes about the war in Iraq. The following statement is in PDF format and is a scan of what he wrote while in prison:

http://www.jmbzine.com/sandate/sandateonwar.pdf

As it stand now, Daniel is scheduled to be released from prison at Ft. Sill on January 20th. Local supporters in Oklahoma have scheduled a celebratory potluck dinner on Janaury 22nd. The dinner will be held at Joy Mennonite Church at 504 NE 16th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73104. We will hold a press conference at 5 p.m. and then the dinner will start at 6. All who support freedom of conscience are encouraged to come.

2009
01.07

This is an update to an earlier blog post.

I have been reviewing the initial case documents in this case and I am stunned. I think the allegations are likely true, but if even 10% of the allegations are true, this is a horrible, horrible travesty that must be addressed.

The complaint includes accounts of gross sexual harassment (and I would argue even assault when a male professor uses in appropriate physical contact with a female professor) of other professors, law students and undergraduate work study students; sexual discrimination (including a practice of promoting equally qualified male professors over female professors and paying male professors more than female professors); and an atmosphere that mocks and belittles those who think that women and racial minorities have a place at the table for events like Constitution Day.

Since these documents are in the public domain (see pacer.resource.org), I am publishing them here. OCU Law apparentely has done its best to minimize these complaints and brush them under the rug. I think it is time to shine some light on this situation.

* Document 1-1 – “The Complaint”
* Document 1-2 – “Confidential Memo to William J. Conger dated October 17, 2007”
* Document 1-3 – “Grievane for Sexual and Racial Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation and Failure to Following University Policies and Procedures, dated April 16, 2008”
* Document 1-4 – “Protocol: Procedures for Faculty-Discrimination panels convened under subsection IX(A) of the Faculty Handbook”
* Document 1-5 – “OCU Whistle Blowing Policy”
* Document 1-6 – “Letter to OCU Law Faculty from William J. Conger”
* Document 1-7 – “EEOC Charge of Discrimination”
* Document 1-8 – “EEOC Dismissal”
* Document 1-9 – “Civil Cover Sheet”

I will publish later case documents as well as my finances permit (PACER charges 8 cents per page to access these documents in the public domain). Certainly it is fair to hear the responses to the complaint by Dean Hellman and OCU Law.

2009
01.07

MarjorieCohn.com: Israel’s Collective Punishment of Gaza

. . . The targeting of civilians violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel cannot distinguish between civilians and military targets, they are illegal. But Israel’s air and ground attack in Gaza violates Geneva in four ways. First, it constitutes collective punishment of the entire population in Gaza for the acts of a few militants. Second, it targets civilians, as evidenced by the large numbers of civilian casualties. Third, it is a disproportionate response to the rockets fired into Israel. Fourth, an occupying power has an obligation to ensure food and medical supplies to the occupied population; Israel’s blockade has created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Israel’s airstrikes and ground assault on the people of Gaza have little to do with the Gazan rockets, which hadn’t killed any Israelis for a year before Israel’s current military operation. Israel’s leaders are bombing and attacking Gaza in order to gain an advantage in the upcoming Israeli elections in February.

This international law perspective to me is very helpful. Certainly as a pacifist, I oppose both the actions of Hamas and the state of Israel, but Cohn helps to articulate the severity of the wrong of Israel’s disproportionate response to the Hamas rocket attacks. Also if you read a few paragraphs further, Cohn explains that Israel is using F-16’s and Apache helicopters purchased from the US in this war and that the US is both directly (through its weaponry) and indirectly (through our government’s virtual silence and sometimes open support of the Israeli attacks).

In other words, we are all sinners. We all are guilty, and as such we all have the responsibility o try to right thing wrong.

(Also I should note that Marjorie is the current President of the National Lawyers Guild)

2009
01.07

This post was edited to improve the grammar and to strengthen my arguments at 4:51 a.m.

NewsOK: Memo to Oklahoma City University attorney details gender issues (thanks to Workplace law prof blog for this link)

DiverseEducation.com/AP: OCU law professor alleges discrimination

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A law professor at Oklahoma City University has filed a federal lawsuit against the university and its law school dean, claiming sexual discrimination and violation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.Danne L. Johnson, as associated professor of law since 2003, contends male law professors at the school make as much as 52 percent more than their female counterparts at OCU. . .

It apparently began last year when Johnson complained to law school Dean Lawrence Hellman about the lack of racial or gender diversity on a Constitution Day panel in September 2007. All five professors on the panel were white men, according to the lawsuit.Johnson and three other female professors requested a meeting with Hellman and OCU general counsel William J. Conger in October 2007.

Conger excused the lack of female or minority panelists by calling the Constitution Day event “meaningless,” the lawsuit states, while Hellman refused to distribute an e-mail encouraging the faculty to be more mindful of diversity when choosing speakers and panel members. . .

OCU Law is such a weird place. I graduated there in Dec. ’05. Some professors and administrators were committed to equality and a positive classroom environment, but others weren’t. It is the “bad apples” and the school’s refusal to get rid of those bad apples, that makes me very hesitant to recommend the school to prospective students (despite the many positive experiences I had there). I don’t understand why law students are still subjected to abusive treatment, or why such treatment is considered “par for the course.”

And the dominance of white male voices on the teaching faculty is downright wrong. (Unfortunately, OU law is even worse. I attended a graduation there a few years ago and it was the whitest event I’ve been to in a long time.)

If these allegations are found to be true, OCU Law has a lot of amends to make. And even if the courts don’t find cause for the suit, the general issues raised by the suit only help to highlight bigger looming problems. Here are my suggestions on some solutions…

1. It may be time for a change in the composition of the administration (again this is assuming that the allegations are true) — My own experiences in dealing with the OCU Law administration were mostly positive (I was a activist as a student and often had to be an advocate with the administration for causes I believed in) but the allegations raised in this suit are beyond the pale. Dismissing serious bonfide complaints about discrimination and allowing a hostile environment against women and minorities is not good leadership.

2. Implement a real non-discrimination policy with teeth. Mere platitudes won’t cut it. A good place to start would be equal pay for equal work. A pay gap of over 50% is in excusable.

3. Fire professors that refuse to treat students and colleagues with basic dignity and respect. The legal profession is supposed to be about civility and respect. Most professors model this to their students, but a few don’t. And the few that don’t, are pretty atrocious violators. Tenure should be a shield for the professionally abusive.

4. Hire more professors of color and more female professors, and then make sure that those professors are given equal opportunity.

5. Recover the school’s Methodist heritage — Make OCU Law students would never know it, but OCU law is part of OCU, a United Methodist college. I think it is high time that the larger college took seriously its commitment to the radical inclusive teachings of Christ and reigned in the current abuses of the law school. Abusive teaching styles and racial/gender discrimination is completely contrary to this identity.

6. Commit to being a law school for the people, and not just spoiled rich kids who can afford outrageous tuition prices — OCU Law has had a proud history of having a night school program and its alums have been at the forefront of fighting for basic justice. OCU must reexamine its current tuition policies and ask if they are perpetuating injustice. There may be a debate on the merits of the case brought over gender/racial discrimination, but there is no doubt that OCU Law practices class discrimination. (I barely got out without going under financially, and I will be taking college classes forever the way it looks right now to avoid paying my outrageous student loans. This isn’t right.)

I know, these are crazy demands. But as a fan of OCU and a proud alum, I think it is time to demand more than what we are seeing today from the school.

And I hope my criticisms are heard out of my concern for my alma mater and the legal profession. OCU does many things very well. I think the LR&W curriculum is top-notch and the Dean’s Public Interest Summer Fellowship is incredible. And certainly the best of the professors (such as Professor Von Creel or recently retired Professor Coulson (click here to watch his retirement lecture)) are worthy of praise.

But there has to be change too. Legal education must be at the forefront of the legal profession. Law schools should set the example for workplace equality, for civility, and especially for basic justice for the poor.

A school that charges over ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS per credit hour (when fees are included) is out of reach for not only poor Oklahomans but the middle-class, and this kind of systematic economic in justice ensure that most future graduates of OCU Law likely won’t care about the poor, because they are far removed from due to our society’s class system.