Tag Archives: SNAP

Global Handles are Proving Good Tactics, Even if not Huge Leverage

Jay Leno joins a demonstration Monday calling for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel over the human-rights record of the government of Brunei, which owns the hotel. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Jay Leno joins a demonstration Monday calling for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel over the human-rights record of the government of Brunei, which owns the hotel. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

New Orleans   Talking to Steve Early, labor journalist and activist, recently on Wade’s World about the debate over the value of global leverage in organizing drives by the UAW at Volkswagen and CWA at T-Mobile, got me looking around for other examples of organizations grabbing global handles to increase the pressure in their campaigns.  

One that is getting a surprising amount of traction from an unlikely source is SNAP, the Survivors’ Network of Abuse by Priests, which has been waging a relentless effort to hold the Catholic Church accountable for sexual abuse for decades now.  Even in the feel good embrace of the new administration of the Vatican by Pope Francis from Argentina, SNAP with the legal assistance of the New York based Center for Constitutional Rights has managed to give the Vatican huge headaches and public relations nightmares by appealing to the United Nations, more specifically the UN Committee on Torture.  Thus far they have already succeeded in getting this UN committee to classify sexual abuse as equivalent to some forms of torture, which is an accomplishment in and of itself, and, frankly, not so far-fetched.    Moreover they seem to have scored a coup as well by recently prevailing on the UN committee to see the Vatican’s responsibility as the entire holy Catholic church worldwide, surprising the Archbishop trying to do damage control before the UN committee and narrowing the inquiry to only the couple of hundred employees and church staff. 

SNAP has clearly been the bulldog attached to the robes of the church in the United States for years and critical in winning multi-million dollar judgments for its members, but has been exasperated at the continued unwillingness of the church to accept full accountability.  For example SNAP even viewed the recent committee appointed by Pope Francis skeptically as too limited and another evasion.  Recent reports by committee members indicate that they believe they are making progress in coming up with real protocols within the church for dealing with sexual abuse, but given the long history of this campaign, SNAP is not wrong to be worried.   Their gambit with the United Nations may finally put them within reach of the top-to-bottom acceptance of responsibility and full accountability they have sought for so long.  Talk about finding friends in strange places!

In another case of a horrendous issue searching for a handle, the Gill Action Fund, an LGBT group, has triggered a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, home of the Hollywood favorite, Polo Club, because its owner, an investment vehicle of the Sultan of Brunei, is implementing more provisions of sharia law in that country including stoning for adultery and any kind of hanky-panky by same sex couples.  Big name, headliner groups run by the likes of Jay Leno and his wife, have already pulled out, and other properties owned by the Sultan in London and Paris, are increasingly persona non grata for the elite and one-percenters not wanting to look all “Donald Sterling” on this issue.  Brunei is a long, long way from Hollywood out there in the South China Sea on the tip of Borneo calling Indonesia and Malaysia its neighbors, so it’s a cinch not many A-listers had every set foot on its soil or had any plans to do so, but thanks to an evolving sophistication in global campaigning, even long distance no matter how remote cannot protect evil forever.

Smart tactics and persistent campaigns are finding pressure points, so let’s hope they can build the leverage to bring home the victories.


Republicans Declare War on Poor with Attacks on Food and Health

waronthepoorNew Orleans   We’re way across the line now.  The place where we could have just shrugged and said it’s all just politics was many miles ago.  I’m not sure what it is but the Republicans have plain and simply declared war on the poor.  

            It’s not just that they can’t stand them.   It’s gone way past that. They are trying to kill them off now.

When you look at the Simon Legree efforts to take food away from the poor by eviscerating the food stamp or so-called SNAP program, it is impossible to escape this conclusion.   The Administration started the ball rolling with an unconscionable cut of $4 billion over 10 years, even while we’re reeling from the recession still.   The Republicans took that and went 10 times worse by concocting an amendment going to vote now that would take off $40 billion over the same period and push 2 million people off of food assistance.  Their view is “what recession?” it seems.  An individual would be barred from food stamps in their proposal after 90 days if they were between 19 and 50 years old and didn’t have a job.  They could get unemployment, but not food stamps!  What dark place these folks are living in.  It’s these Republican Congressmen who should be unemployed!

 And, if they can’t starve the poor, they want to take away any hope of health care.  Once again Republicans in the House want to see if they can shutdown the government by holding the American people hostage to their quixotic effort to try and defund the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as they call it.  Reports indicate that 80 of these scalawags have hijacked House Speaker Boehner on this crazy deal where they promise they will not extend the debt ceiling unless ACA is defunded.   We run out of debt in mid-October.  No one thinks this is smart.   It can’t get through the Senate.  What the heck?

            All of this is in the wake of daily reports about the widening gap between the rich and poor.  The average household income of a little more than $51000 is the same now as it was 25 years ago in 1988.  In a place like Manhattan in New York City the income gap is the widest of any county in the country with the bottom 20% of the population averaging less than $10,000 in household income and the top 20% averaging $389,000 with the top 5% hitting about $800,000 for the family.  You wonder why Bill de Blasio won the recent Democratic primary arguing that there are a “tale of two cities” rich and poor.


            When it seems everyone is realizing that the country’s riches have to be spread around, we have one of the major parties staking its reputation and politics on starving Americans and leaving them at death’s door by declaring a war on the poor?  Who will stand with us against this attack?