Sunday, March 31, 2013

ANS -- State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America

Here is the first page of a four-page article.  the rest of it I recommend you read if you can stand it. I don't agree with all of the analysis in the article -- I think he is wrong on causes -- but then, he, himself, was part of the cause (he was Ronald Reagan's budget director).  I just wanted you to see the dire predictions that are going around -- and to note that he is trying to blame the government.  He is completely missing that the government wouldn't have had to spend all that money if the private sector hadn't failed us first.  This is the right-wing spin that is miss-framing the issue so that we all argue about what the government should be doing when it's really the private sector that's to blame.  He thinks the government should get out of the way and let the "free market" correct things -- but that doesn't work because what the free market does if you let it go free is produce feudalism.  Though, actually, his recommendations do include some serious regulations and getting money out of politics.  That's good stuff.  This guy is really a mixed bag -- and that makes the article interesting. Too bad, as he says, his recommendations "can't happen".  He does recommend getting out of the market.  (When? is the question....)
Notice that after all these years of tax cuts to the rich expressly so that they will fulfill their roles as "job creators", they haven't been creating any jobs to speak of.  That shows that cutting their taxes doesn't work to make jobs --it's time to try the opposite tack, and raise the taxes on the rich and see if that creates jobs -- it couldn't do any worse. 
This article was sent to me by one of our readers. 
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State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America

Mark Pernice


Published: March 30, 2013 378 Comments


The Dow Jones and Standard & Poor's 500 indexes reached record highs on Thursday, having completely erased the losses since the stock market's last peak, in 2007. But instead of cheering, we should be very afraid.

[]  Graphic

Indebtedness Dwarfs the Economy


Multimedia Feature: A Gallery of Economic Villains and Heroes

A gallery of "heroes" who championed sound money and fiscal rectitude and "villains" who led the United States down the path of insolvency.

Readers' Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

Over the last 13 years, the stock market has twice crashed and touched off a recession: American households lost $5 trillion in the 2000 dot-com bust and more than $7 trillion in the 2007 housing crash. Sooner or later ­ within a few years, I predict ­ this latest Wall Street bubble, inflated by an egregious flood of phony money from the Federal Reserve rather than real economic gains, will explode, too.

Since the S.&P. 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion). Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the "bottom" 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans.

So the Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants, unable to rein in either the warfare state or the welfare state or raise the taxes needed to pay the nation's bills. By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing. But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble.

When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008. Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even today's feeble remnants of economic growth.

THIS dyspeptic prospect results from the fact that we are now state-wrecked. With only brief interruptions, we've had eight decades of increasingly frenetic fiscal and monetary policy activism intended to counter the cyclical bumps and grinds of the free market and its purported tendency to underproduce jobs and economic output. The toll has been heavy.

As the federal government and its central-bank sidekick, the Fed, have groped for one goal after another ­ smoothing out the business cycle, minimizing inflation and unemployment at the same time, rolling out a giant social insurance blanket, promoting homeownership, subsidizing medical care, propping up old industries (agriculture, automobiles) and fostering new ones ("clean" energy, biotechnology) and, above all, bailing out Wall Street ­ they have now succumbed to overload, overreach and outside capture by powerful interests. The modern Keynesian state is broke, paralyzed and mired in empty ritual incantations about stimulating "demand," even as it fosters a mutant crony capitalism that periodically lavishes the top 1 percent with speculative windfalls.

The culprits are bipartisan, though you'd never guess that from the blather that passes for political discourse these days. The state-wreck originated in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt opted for fiat money (currency not fundamentally backed by gold), economic nationalism and capitalist cartels in agriculture and industry.

Under the exigencies of World War II (which did far more to end the Depression than the New Deal did), the state got hugely bloated, but remarkably, the bloat was put into brief remission during a midcentury golden era of sound money and fiscal rectitude with Dwight D. Eisenhower in the White House and William McChesney Martin Jr. at the Fed. Next Page »

David A. Stockman is a former Republican congressman from Michigan, President Ronald Reagan's budget director from 1981 to 1985 and the author, most recently, of "The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

ANS -- Many 'Green' Products Are Deceptive and Toxic

Here is some information, for what it's worth.  I mostly wanted to introduce the idea that just because it says it's natural or organic etc, doesn't mean it really is. 
find it here:   

Many 'Green' Products Are Deceptive and Toxic

By Elizabeth Renter, NaturalSociety

23 January 13


[] arketing is a clever science. Millions, if not billions, are spent by companies looking to better pitch their products to the masses. Today, we see more green products and "all natural" labels than ever before. While these are more common on food, they are being found on everything from your toilet paper to your all-purpose cleaning products. Many companies using these tactics have found in recent years that the whole "green" and "natural" movement is ripe for the picking.

Household cleaning products are a common source of chemical-quandary. After all, if the smell is such that you need to open a window while you clean, it can't be good for you, right? To this end and to corral health and environment-conscious consumers, cleaning product manufacturers have started labeling their products as being "natural" and "non-toxic". The labels might feature a tree or look like rough, recycled paper, all playing to your desire to have more natural and less harmful products. But many of these manufacturers are deceiving you.

The industry isn't tightly regulated and manufacturers aren't required to list all of their ingredients. So, in other words, if they wanted you to think they were providing a better, less harmful product, they could just not tell you about the "bad stuff" inside.

A study that analyzed cleaners and scented products found that even those that claimed to be natural, organic, or "green" contained chemicals with torrid pasts. About half of the products tested made these claims. And of all the products tested, an average of 17 chemicals were emitted during use, though only one made it to the label. In total, the 25 products tested emitted 133 chemicals of which 25% are classified as toxic or hazardous.

So, what can you do to truly lessen your exposure to chemicals like 2-butoxyethanol (used in Corexit 8527A and connected to damage to the liver, brain, respiratory system, and kidney) and other such toxins?

Know What You Are Looking For

Seek out products that list all of their ingredients and never choose those containing any of the following:
  • Phosphates
  • Phthalates
  • Ethanolamines
  • Parabens
  • Formaldehyde
  • Glycol ethers
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOC's) including chlorine and 1,4-dichlorobenzene
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE's)

For a truly all-natural cleaning solution that is completely budget friendly, try mixing up some white vinegar with a touch of lemon juice. Be sure to check out these home cleaning products to replace the toxic culprits.

Additional Sources:


We are concerned about a recent drift towards vitriol in the RSN Reader comments section. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship. No one likes a harsh or confrontational forum atmosphere. At the same time everyone wants to be able to express themselves freely. We'll start by encouraging good judgment. If that doesn't work we'll have to ramp up the moderation.

General guidelines: Avoid personal attacks on other forum members; Avoid remarks that are ethnically derogatory; Do not advocate violence, or any illegal activity.

Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.

- The RSN Team
+4 # Street Level 2013-01-23 21:22
I also check on the OCA's search bar. Organicconsumer
Many times Ronnie has done some research on the product and has input.
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+23 # Pancho 2013-01-23 23:32
I in a motel in Billings, Montana, a few years ago. There was an extra roll of toilet paper that claimed it was made of recycled material.

The manufacturer was Georgia Pacific, owned by the Koch brothers. They make Quilted Northern, Angel Soft and Soft'n'Gentle.

The anti-tax billionaire brothers are attacking all that is decent in democracy. The only Koch product that I would use to wipe my butt would be David H. or Charles de Ganahl Koch's tie, and then only if they were still wearing it.
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+1 # Malcolm 2013-01-24 13:39
I do not doubt that lots of green products are less than pure green. So true! HOwever, I see that is used as a reference. In my experience, this website is less than credible, in many (most?) green issues.

I recommend that, at a minimum, you read this: (formerly Newstarget) is a website founded and owned by self-proclaimed "health ranger" Mike "HealthDanger" Adams. The site promotes almost every sort of medical woo known, though it specializes in vaccine hysteria, AIDS denialism, and quack cancer medicine.[1][2] The site also promotes conspiracy theories about modern medicine, geared to gain sympathy for alternative medicine.[3]

While you're there, please read the founder (Mike Adams) spooky predictions for 2013 woo woooooo!
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

ANS -- Five Ugly Extremes of Inequality in America-- The Contrasts Will Drop Your Chin to the Floor

Here's a few facts to help you see, and feel, how unequal things are here in the bastion of equality.  Is one of the Koch brothers really worth three million times what an ordinary person is worth?  How do we justify the inequality?  Does it make any sense?
Find it here:  

AlterNet / By Paul Buchheit
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Five Ugly Extremes of Inequality in America-- The Contrasts Will Drop Your Chin to the Floor

Any of the ten richest Americans could pay a year's rent for all of America's Homeless with their 2012 income.
March 24, 2013  |  

The first step is to learn the facts, and then to get angry and to ask ourselves, as progressives and caring human beings, what we can do about the relentless transfer of wealth to a small group of well-positioned Americans.

1. $2.13 per hour vs. $3,000,000.00 per hour

Each of the Koch brothers saw his investments grow by $6 billion in one year, which is three million dollars per hour based on a 40-hour 'work' week. They used some of the money to try to kill renewable energystandards around the country.

Their income portrays them, in a society measured by economic status, as a million times more valuable than the restaurant server who cheers up our lunch hours while hoping to make enough in tips to pay the bills.

A comparison of top and bottom salaries within large corporations is much less severe, but a lot more common. For CEOs and minimum-wage workers, the difference is $5,000.00 per hour vs. $7.25 per hour.

2. A single top income could buy housing for every homeless person in the U.S.

On a winter day in 2012 over 633,000 people were homeless in the United States. Based on an annual single room occupancy (SRO) cost of $558 per month, any ONE of the ten richest Americans would have enough with his 2012 income to pay for a room for every homeless person in the U.S. for the entire year. These ten rich men together made more than our entire housing budget.

For anyone still believing "they earned it," it should be noted that most of the Forbes 400 earnings came from minimally-taxed, non-job-creating capital gains.

3. The poorest 47% of Americans have no wealth

In 1983 the poorest 47% of America had $15,000 per family, 2.5 percent of the nation's wealth.

In 2009 the poorest 47% of America owned ZERO PERCENT of the nation's wealth (their debt exceeded their assets).

At the other extreme, the 400 wealthiest Americans own as much wealth as 80 million families -- 62% of America. The reason, once again, is the stock market. Since 1980 the American GDP has approximately doubled. Inflation-adjusted wages have gone down. But the stock market has increased by over ten times, and the richest quintile of Americans owns 93% of it.

4. The U.S. is nearly the most wealth-unequal country in the entire world

Out of 141 countries, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.

Yet the financial industry keeps creating new wealth for its millionaires. According to the authors of the Global Wealth Report, the world's wealth has doubled in ten years, from $113 trillion to $223 trillion, and is expected to reach $330 trillion by 2017.

5. A can of soup for a black or Hispanic woman, a mansion and yacht for the businessman

That's literally true. For every one dollar of assets owned by a single black or Hispanic woman, a member of the Forbes 400 has over forty million dollars.

Minority families once had substantial equity in their homes, but after Wall Street caused the housing crash, median wealth fell 66% for Hispanic households and 53% for black households. Now the average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 in net worth.

What to do?

End the capital gains giveaway, which benefits the wealthy almost exclusively.

Institute a Financial Speculation Tax, both to raise needed funds from a currently untaxed subsidy on stock purchases, and to reduce the risk of the irresponsible trading that nearly brought down the economy.

Perhaps above all, we progressives have to choose one strategy and pursue it in a cohesive, unrelenting attack on greed. Only this will heal the ugly gash of inequality that has split our country in two.
Paul Buchheit teaches economic inequality at DePaul University. He is the founder and developer of the Web sites, and, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

ANS -- Have We Ever Gotten to the Bottom of Exactly 'Why' Bush and the Neocons Disastrously Invaded Iraq?

Here is the first page of a four-page article.  I think it's an important article, but one page was all I could stand to read.  If you want to read more, go to the page and it will get you to the rest of the article.  It's a bunch of high level schoolboys jockeying for position in a hierarchy of viciousness.  It's bully politics, and despicable.  I guess it's how it works, but it shouldn't be that way. It's disgusting.  
Find it here:  

Consortium News / By Robert Parry
comments_image   280 COMMENTS

Have We Ever Gotten to the Bottom of Exactly 'Why' Bush and the Neocons Disastrously Invaded Iraq?

The true purpose of the Iraq invasion remains opaque. Here's a theory why.

iraqi funeral
March 22, 2013  |  

A decade after President George W. Bush ordered the unprovoked invasion of Iraq, one of the enduring mysteries has been why. There was the rationale sold to a frightened American people in 2002-2003 – that Saddam Hussein was plotting to attack them with WMDs – but no one in power really believed that.

There have been other more plausible explanations: George Bush the Younger wanted to avenge a perceived slight to George Bush the Elder, while also outdoing his father as a "war president"; Vice President Dick Cheney had his eye on Iraq's oil wealth; and the Republican Party saw an opportunity to create its "permanent majority" behind a glorious victory in the Middle East.

Though George W. Bush's defenders vigorously denied being motivated by such crass thinking, those rationales do seem closer to the truth. However, there was another driving force behind the desire to conquer Iraq: the neoconservative belief that the conquest would be a first step toward installing compliant pro-U.S. regimes throughout the Middle East and letting Israel dictate final peace terms to its neighbors.

That rationale has often been dressed up as "democratizing" the Middle East, but the idea was more a form of "neocolonialism," in which American proconsuls would make sure that a favored leader, like the Iraqi National Congress' Ahmed Chalabi, would control each country and align the nations' positions with the interests of the United States and Israel.

Some analysts have traced this idea back to the neocon Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s, which advocated for "regime change" in Iraq. But the idea's origins go back to the early 1990s and to two seminal events.

The first game-changing moment came in 1990-91 when President George H.W. Bush showed off the unprecedented advancements in U.S. military technology. Almost from the moment that Iraq's Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the Iraqi dictator began signaling his willingness to withdraw after having taught the arrogant al-Sabah ruling family in Kuwait a lesson in power politics.

But the Bush-41 administration wasn't willing to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Kuwait invasion. Instead of letting Hussein arrange an orderly withdrawal, Bush-41 began baiting him with insults and blocking any face-saving way for a retreat.

Peace feelers from Hussein and later from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev were rebuffed as Bush-41 waited his chance to demonstrate the stunning military realities of his New World Order. Even the U.S. field commander, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, favored Gorbachev's plan for letting Iraqi forces pull back, but Bush-41 was determined to have a ground war.

So, Gorbachev's plan was bypassed and the ground war commenced with the slaughter of Iraqi troops, many of them draftees who were mowed down and incinerated as they fled back toward Iraq. After 100 hours, Bush-41 ordered a halt to the massacre. He then revealed a key part of his motivation by declaring: "We've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all." [For details, see Robert Parry's  Secrecy & Privilege.]

Neocons Celebrate

Official Washington took note of the new realities and the renewed public enthusiasm for war. In a post-war edition, Newsweek devoted a full page to up-and-down arrows in its "Conventional Wisdom Watch." Bush got a big up arrow with the snappy comment: "Master of all he surveys. Look at my polls, ye Democrats, and despair."

For his last-minute stab at a negotiated Iraqi withdrawal, Gorbachev got a down arrow: "Give back your Nobel, Comrade Backstabber. P.S. Your tanks stink." Vietnam also got a down arrow: "Where's that? You mean there was a war there too? Who cares?"

ANS -- Former legislator Sheila Kuehl to run for Westside supervisor seat

she's cool. 
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Former legislator Sheila Kuehl to run for Westside supervisor seat

January 10, 2013 |  6:19 pm
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Former state legislator Sheila Kuehl Former state legislator Sheila Kuehl has announced plans to run for the Westside Los Angeles County Supervisor seat held by Zev Yaroslavsky when he leaves office in 2014.

Kuehl was the first openly gay person elected to the Legislature, where she served a total of 14 years in both houses before she was forced out by term limits in 2008. She had a varied career before that, including working as a women's rights attorney and as an actress -- she was best known for her role as Zelda in the television sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis."

"Honestly speaking, I probably made the decision several years ago" to run for the Board of Supervisors, Kuehl told The Times on Thursday. She said she plans to set up her campaign committee and begin fundraising this month, with veteran political consultant Parke Skelton running her campaign.

Kuehl's plans to launch an official campaign were first reported by public radio station KPCC. 

With four out of the five current county supervisors set to be termed out by 2016, Kuehl said she thought her experience would help her bring a "sense of stability" to the county, and to deal with issues important to the 3rd District including health and human services, environmental protection and transportation.

Yaroslavsky has a longstanding good relationship with Kuehl, but has not said if he will endorse her.

Kuehl said she had spoken to the supervisor several times about issues facing the county, including the contentious issue of prison realignment, which transferred responsibility for some nonviolent offenders from the state to counties.

"I see the next year and a half as not only a campaign, but as a deeply educational time for me," she said.

Former Santa Monica councilman and Kennedy family member Bobby Shriver has also spoken about a possible run for the seat.

Speculation has also begun around the other county seat opening in 2014, the Eastside district of Gloria Molina. When Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced her resignation Wednesday, speculation began that she was planning a run for Molina's seat.

ANS -- Monsanto Found Guilty of Chemical Poisoning in Landmark Case

Here is a fairly short article on Monsanto and poison and a farmer in France who sued Monsanto.  Convincingly, apparently. 
Find it here:   

13,000 People Exposed to Big Pharma Shots Contaminated with Rare Fungal Meningitis
Scientists Warn Geo-Engineering Can Kill Billions of People

Monsanto Found Guilty of Chemical Poisoning in Landmark Case

October 9th, 2012
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A French farmer who can no longer perform his routine farming duties because of permanent pesticide injuries has had his day in court, literally, and the perpetrator of his injuries found guilty of chemical poisoning. The French court in Lyon ruled that Monsanto's Lasso weedkiller formula, which contains the active ingredient alachlor, caused Paul Francois to develop lifelong neurological damage that manifests as persistent memory loss, headaches, and stuttering during speech.

Reports indicate that the 47-year-old farmer sued Monsanto back in 2004 after inhaling the Lasso product while cleaning his sprayer tank equipment. Not long after, Francois began experiencing lasting symptoms that prevented him from working, which he says were directly linked to exposure to the chemical. Since Lasso's packaging did not bear adequate warnings about the dangers of exposure, Francois alleged at the time that Monsanto was essentially negligent in providing adequate protection for its customers.

To the surprise of many, the French court agreed with the claims and evidence presented before it, declaring earlier this year that "Monsanto is responsible for Paul Francois' suffering after he inhaled the Lasso product ... and must entirely compensate him." The court is said to be seeking expert opinion on how to gauge Francois' losses in order to determine precisely how much Monsanto will be required to compensate him in the case.

"It is a historic decision in so far as it is the first time that a (pesticide) maker is found guilty of such a poisoning," said Francois Lafforgue, Paul Francois' lawyer, to Reuters earlier in the year.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to alachlor can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, spleen, and eyes, and may lead to the development of anemia and even cancer. The EPA apparently views alachlor as so dangerous, in fact, that the agency has set the maximum contaminant level goals (MCLG) for alachlor to zero in order to "prevent potential health problems." ( )

In 2007, France officially banned Lasso from use in the country in accordance with a European Union (EU) directive enacted in 2006 prohibiting the chemical from further use on crops in any member countries. But despite all the evidence proving that alachlor can disrupt hormonal balance, induce reproductive or developmental problems, and cause cancer, the chemical is still being used on conventional crops throughout the U.S. to this very day. (

"I am alive today, but part of the farming population is going to be sacrificed and is going to die because of (alachlor)," added Francois to Reuters.

Sources for this article include:

Monday, March 18, 2013

ANS -- A Letter To My Sons About Stopping Rape

You know how everyone has been saying we need  to teach boys not to rape, and to respect girls?  Here's a letter from a mother to her boys.  It's very touching.  I've included the comments, because they add some interesting stuff.
Find it here:   

A Letter To My Sons About Stopping Rape

Dear Boys,

Some really horrible things happened to someone who could be one of your friends, and it was done by some people who could be your friends. You're 11 and almost-8 now, so the incident that made me write this letter isn't something you've heard about, but this stuff keeps happening, unfortunately. So I need to talk to you about it.

First of all, I know we talk all the time about how special your bodies are, and how you're the only one who gets to decide what to do with your body. I've never made you put anything in your mouth that you didn't want to, or touch anyone you didn't want to, or talk to anyone you didn't want to, because I wanted you to understand that you and you alone control your boundaries. We worked on blowing a kiss so you could show that you liked someone without having to touch them, and high fives if you were ok touching them but only with your hand. We talked all the time about not letting people tell you that what you wanted was wrong or that they knew better, and that you should always always tell your dad or grandma or me if anyone makes you feel uncomfortable.

And we talk all the time about making sure that if you're touching someone else that they want you to be touching them. That if they say "No" you have to stop right away (even if it's just fake-punching your brother) and that even if they aren't saying "No" you need to make sure they're still enjoying it. You know how sometimes you like to be tickled and sometimes you don't? Well, everyone's like that, so even if they liked it when you did it yesterday, you should still make sure they really want you to today, whatever kind of touching it is.

Now I'm going to talk about sex. I know you know "how it works" because we've been talking about it ever since you two were little, since before you could read, and you know all about sperm and eggs and penises and vaginas and vulvas and orgasms and condoms and all that. And I know I told you it feels good and you had a hard time seeing how that could be true but took my word for it. Well, the thing I didn't tell you is that it feels unbelievably amazing when you're doing it with someone who really wants to be doing it with you. Like, better than popcorn followed by ice cream, or a Supah Ninjas marathon, or two snow days in a row. You know how excited I get when I get a new pair of shoes? It's like 500 times better than that, when the person you're doing it with is so excited to be doing it with you that they start asking you for it.

This is what I want you to wait for. I want you to wait to have sex until the person you're with asks you for it. Tells you they need you now, and that they can't wait, and they want it. Calls you by your name and asks for it.

If you're ever in a situation in which someone is asking you for it and you don't want to have sex with that person, don't do it. And if you're ever in a situation in which you want to have sex but the other person doesn't ask you for it, don't do it. It's only good if you both want it, and can tell each other you want it, and are sure you both want it. Otherwise someone's going to get hurt. And romance is weird enough without hurting other people when you can stop yourself (and you can always stop yourself--that goes along with having opposable thumbs).

This letter is almost over but this next part is super-important: Not everyone you know has been taught all the stuff we've talked about. You are going to know people, and maybe even be friends with people, who think it's ok to hurt other people in a lot of ways. One of those ways is sex. I know you're going to hear other boys say things about girls, or sometimes about other boys, that means they don't care about those girls' feelings or bodies. When you do, I need you to step in. All you have to do is say something like, "Dude, that's not cool" or something that lets the person saying something nasty know that it's not ok. Remember that everyone wants to fit in. If you can take control of the mood in the room by letting them know nasty talk isn't ok, they'll stop so they don't look like an idiot.

Remember how we talk all the time about how we're the people who help, who fix things when there's a problem or someone's in trouble? You may get the chance to do that someday. Because those boys who say nasty things about girls may actually do something to those girls. If you are ever anywhere where boys start hurting a girl, or touching her in any way that she doesn't want, you need to step in. If she's asleep or drunk or passed out or drugged and can't say "no," you need to step in. Remember, it's not good unless both people can say they want it. If a girl isn't saying anything, that doesn't mean she wants it. If she isn't saying specifically that she wants it, then it's wrong.

Here's how you should step in:

1. If it's safe for you to say something, say something. In a loud, commanding voice, tell the guy who's doing it to stop, and make sure he knows it's not ok and he can't be an asshole (sorry to curse, but by the time you're in this situation you'll be cursing, too). Then help the girl get to someplace safe, and call her parents. (Even if she thinks she's going to get in trouble, call her parents. If they're mad at her, I can talk to them and take care of it.)

2. If it's not safe for you to say something, leave the room quietly and calmly and call me. I do not care if you're someplace you're not supposed to be, or not the place you told me you were, or in Canada or someplace that would normally get you in a lot of trouble. You get immunity if you're calling for help. My phone is always on, and it does not matter what time of day or night it is. If I don't pick up right away, call your dad, and the same immunity rules apply. Call one of us and give us the address of where you are and we will come help. Then hang up and call 911. Tell them the address and that there's an assault going on. They might want you to stay on the line with them until the police get there.

3. Even if you don't like the girl, step in. Even if she's been mean to you or snobby, or someone told you she did something you think is gross. No matter what she did, no one should hurt her. If you step in, the next day you can go back to hating her. If you don't step in, well, how are you any different from the loser who's hurting her? You know who you are. Step in.

4. Do not worry that everyone will hate you if you stop the cool kids from doing something. Stopping someone from hurting another person makes you a hero. This is what you're here to do. And if there are people who don't like it, screw them. Your dad and I will do anything it takes to make sure that anyone who doesn't like your being a hero stays away from you and keeps their mouths shut.

We have been practicing for this for a long time, for being the ones who help.  Remember when we were in the middle of the knife fight on the subway and we got the other mom and kid out of the way? Remember when we helped my friend move away from her scary husband? Remember all those times we took pictures of those freaky dudes staring at the little kids at the playground? We've been practicing to step in and help someone else. You can do it. I have faith in you.



March 16, 2013 | Permalink



Tears are rolling down my cheeks, Magda. YOu are an amazing mom and an amazing woman.

Posted by: MM | March 16, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Julia Roberts  

Yes. This. THIS!

And this: "You get immunity if you're calling for help."

I love this so much.

Posted by: Julia Roberts | March 16, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Nancy Kirk  

You've been practicing for this for a long time,and I think you've made Carnegie Hall. Makes me cry and sends chills. Everyone should copy.

Posted by: Nancy Kirk | March 16, 2013 at 09:30 PM

This moves me so much!! As two sisters, a "letter" from our mom to us was very different, more on the lines of "protect yourself because there are a lot of beasts out there". But as a mom of a son, this is exactly what I wish every mother would tell their sons. I don't know if I ever will be quite as eloquent or clear as you are, but I now know how to approach this when my son is old enough.

One question though - at what age did you start talking to your boys about their bodies and sex and in general the physical touch? Just wondering when would be the right time for me to initiate this type of conversation.

Posted by: Sonal | March 16, 2013 at 09:35 PM

*tears* So beautiful.

Posted by: P. | March 16, 2013 at 09:39 PM

Sonal, I started talking to them about their bodies from the very beginning. People in NYC would want to reach out and touch their faces even when they were in a carrier on me! So I started reinforcing verbally to them before they could even talk that they never had to let anyone touch them that they didn't know or want to, and we started blowing kisses instead of touching people when they could, maybe around a year or so.

Posted by: Moxie | March 16, 2013 at 09:52 PM

This is the message I hope gets passed on from the parents of the boys with whom my daughter will eventually socialize.


Posted by: Blanche | March 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Elizabeth Mosier  

Thank you, Magda!

Elizabeth Mosier
Bryn Mawr '84

Posted by: Elizabeth Mosier | March 16, 2013 at 10:09 PM

Awesome. Thank you for this. You are a role model for me as I raise my boys. Thank you for (often) giving me words to use with them.

Posted by: Lisa | March 16, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Maureen Basedow  

Add: If someone is asking for it, but he or she is looking incapacitated by alcohol, drugs or anything else - don't do it. It is not technically or legally rape, but it can be pretty close.

Posted by: Maureen Basedow | March 16, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Magda, this is wonderful. Thank you -- the tips at the end, in particular, and your rule about immunity if you need help will be adapted for my 6 and 3 year olds immediately!

Posted by: Indigo Felle | March 16, 2013 at 10:45 PM

This is so right. Thank you, Madga.

Posted by: Wokie | March 16, 2013 at 10:57 PM

This is absolutely amazingly well said. Thank you for sharing and for inspiring so many of us.

Posted by: Erin | March 16, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Another mom who cried. Thank you again for giving us a voice when we can't find the words.

Posted by: Melanie | March 17, 2013 at 12:19 AM

I am so glad you are raising boys! I hope I can also communicate to my girls that they are helpers, and they can help other girls, and boys, but I am hopeful that they will meet boys and girls raised by mothers like you.

Posted by: Alice | March 17, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Liz Nutting  

Wonderful piece! It makes me think of how proud we all were of my niece when she stepped in to stop a gay bashing. She was just a month or two into her freshman year of high school, and one day she rounded a corner and came across two football players beating the c*^p out of a boy simply because he was gay. She didn't think twice, but immediately stepped into the middle, got up in the face of the guy throwing the most punches, and loudly and forcefully told him to stop. (Granted, it helps that she's 5'10" and kind of punk in her appearance, but still a brave move.) She attracted the attention of a teacher, who was able to intervene. Later, she rather sheepishly admitted to her mom that she'd used some curse words when confronting the bully, and she was relieved when mom said she was cool with that. You're raising your boys to have that same sense of justice and empathy that makes my niece such an amazing young woman.

Posted by: Liz Nutting | March 17, 2013 at 02:42 AM

I have 3 girls. I hope the boys they hang out with are helpers too and have learned these things.
I really like the idea in general about teaching our kids to be helpers. My oldest is not a natural leader (as I am) so I can't use the same approach of "be a leader" that my mom used with me because it just terrifies her and goes against her natural nature. But she's a helper by nature, so using that phrase with her would bring about the positive result I'm looking for. Thank you!

Posted by: Melanna | March 17, 2013 at 05:26 AM

I agree with you on most of the things your letter says, but I have trouble with the enthusiastic description about sex.

My mother told me the same about sex (she talked The Talk very often, too often for my liking), how amazing wonderful it is and blah blah until I could no longer stand it. When it was my time to be sexual active, I was very disappointed in sex, as it was blown up so much by my mother.

I tell my daughters that sex is different for everybody. Some like it very much and want it all he time, others not so much. I also tell them that you have to learn sex, and that it is different with every new person.

I don't want to put pressure on them to like sex, as in our families there are some people who you could describe as asexual.

Posted by: Stefanie | March 17, 2013 at 06:12 AM
Maureen Basedow  

Excellent piece and one which i look forward to sharing. One friendly suggestion: Boys are also victims, far more than I think we realize. Might you consider editing/tweaking this most powerful letter to make it clearer that we should speak out whenever someone is being victimized, regardless of who or why and that boys can be victims too? (I tell you, some of what my students have reported to me re: what happens in the context of organized sports just chills me. And it too, is so very wrong. We need to socialize our young people to speak up when it happens.) best, jeanne

Posted by: jeanne | March 17, 2013 at 09:07 AM

Wonderful piece. Thank you for sharing. Two weeks ago, I saw a "game" on my 17-yr old nephew's FB page where you think of your favorite band, and then substitute the word "rape" for one of the words in the band's name (Rape Maiden or Iron Rape was the example given). Thousands had commented. I sent my nephew a private msg telling him how wrong this type of game is. He hasn't spoken to me in two weeks. I will be forwarding this piece to my brother so they can talk about it. Thanks again.

Posted by: Cindy | March 17, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Moxie, question: I've got a baby boy who I'm planning to teach the whole "your body, your choices" ethos. But one thing has me stumped: when it comes to medical care, it really isn't up to them what happens to their bodies. Much as I dislike thinking of it this way, I can imagine my boy as a 2-year old who adamantly chants, "No shot, no shot!", but this would not move me at all when it comes to the immunizations he needs. When he's older, he'll be able to understand stuff like, "This might hurt now, but it needs to happen," but I can't imagine he'll be able to wrap his little head around that till he's school-aged. How do you teach "your body, your choices" while still enforcing (sometimes painful) medical care??

Posted by: Marissa | March 17, 2013 at 12:02 PM

You're doing it exactly right.

Carry on.

Posted by: John D Salt | March 17, 2013 at 12:03 PM

@Marissa - I think it's pretty straight forward. Even small kids can understand that they have autonomy most of the times but that some things are non-negotiable. The doctors' office isn't the only situation - they also cannot break away from you and run across the street. They have to wear their car seats. Their diaper needs to be changed. All of these are situations in which they may be man-handled against their will. I think if you explain the rule to them (simply and clearly) then they get it, and get the difference between someone kissing them and someone giving them a shot. Believe me, I had to help physically restrain my toddler while he screamed & struggled as he got stitches. It felt terrible to take away all his autonomy, but it wasn't a choice type deal.

Posted by: Erin | March 17, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Liz Nutting  

@Marissa - Actually, a 2-year-old can begin to understand the idea "This might hurt now, but it needs to happen" about the immunizations that protect us all. There is a wonderful children's show on PBS called "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood," for children ages 2 to 4+. My kids, who are 3 and 5, recently watched a great episode on this very topic called "Daniel Gets a Shot" --

There is also a fabulous episode on "Be a Vegetable Taster" that got my kids to ask to try some new foods. TV gets a bad rap on the internets, but current research shows that educational programming, such as age-appropriate PBS shows like "DTN", has been shown to help curb aggressive behaviors in at-risk boys.

Posted by: hush | March 17, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Maureen Basedow  

this is a great post that i will pass along to the kids in my sex ed class.

@Maureen in many states being asleep, drunk etc is considered unable to consent and therefore it is rape. I think the FBI definition also reflects this. regardless of the legal definition, too, it is vital to teach boys--and girls--that some classes of people cannot consent and therefore it is always rape. Children, animals, people who are drunk/high, people who are asleep, and people with some forms of cognitive disabilities cannot consent.

We also need to teach the concept of "enthusiastic consent" e.g. waiting to hear yes instead of waiting to hear no.

Finally, I strongly suggest tht anyone interested in these issues find your local Unitarian Universalist church. We have a program called Our Whole Lives that teaches comprehensive, research based sex ed. It is a truly amazing program. The main class is for 7-9th grades (just 8th graders at big enough churches, small churches may have mixed grade classes) but OWL is usually offered at different levels. We teach not only about contraception, STIs, etc but also relationship and decision making skills, peer pressure etc, all in a very safe and supportive environment with specially trained teachers. We talk a lot about consent, rape, abuse etc. Our kids LOVE this class. We usually see teenagers happy to show up at church at 9am on a Sunday! It is a really life changing class and most churches will happily take non UU kids.

Also this:

Posted by: vanessa | March 17, 2013 at 03:12 PM

I'm saving this for when I have kids, hopefully soon. One of my concerns as I ready myself to be a parent is addressing exactly these sorts of things and preparing my children to be independent, and healthy with appropriate boundaries - but still ready and willing to help others in need. Cried a lot while reading it and just passed it on to my fiance

Posted by: Kirsten | March 17, 2013 at 03:28 PM

This was beautiful and very well written. Thank you. I have a 14yr old son and 7yr old daughter and have been trying to teach them about these issues their whole lives. I plan on printing this letter for my son to read- as a starting point for conversation. I think the personal responsibility message is huge, but I love how you have brought the idea of stepping in when you see a wrong being committed. We always think of the negative influences other kids can have on our kids, but if we give our kids the tools, they can become positive influences on the lives of their peers. Thank you, and I hope this continues to be shared.

Posted by: Jennifer | March 17, 2013 at 03:53 PM

Ugly cry.

Posted by: Kate | March 17, 2013 at 04:01 PM

This is so much what I wish my rapist's mother would have said.

Posted by: Maggie | March 17, 2013 at 05:09 PM

Thank you for this. Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts, and thank you so, SO much for talking to your kids about this and helping to make the future a better one. I hope to someday see a world in which every single person's life is full of role models who do the same.

Posted by: Rachel | March 17, 2013 at 05:34 PM

If more boys were raised like this, less women would have to be afraid.

Posted by: Foster | March 17, 2013 at 08:30 PM

Thanks Moxie. As a woman, a mother of a boy and a feminist, I loved reading this letter. I've stashed a copy away for when the time comes in our family.

Posted by: Rivka | March 17, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Nancy Kirk  

You are brilliant. Thank you.

Posted by: Tammy Noble | March 17, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Elizabeth Mosier  

You are going to get your kids stabbed, just sayin

Posted by: Damonii Ayreborn | March 18, 2013 at 05:14 AM

I love that you're teaching your kids to step up, but could you explain the logic of having them call you or LOD first and 911 second?
Am ignoring the troll, perfect illustration of certain things though he is.

Posted by: Slim | March 18, 2013 at 07:11 AM

*Love* so much of what you said. It's spot on, but agree with the PPs about the too-broad breadth of stepping in. Having also lived in and around NYC for many, many years, I tell my kids to call 911 FIRST, then try to think on your feet. My dear friend lost her son to a hold-up in a bodega--he tried to step in instead of calling the police.

Help, yes, but always be careful and don't put anyone's life at risk. What if YOU had been stabbed and killed when you intervened in the knife fight? What impact would that have had on your family, especially on your young children who would have witnessed their mom being attacked? What would their ensuing life be like without you?

Posted by: Ann | March 18, 2013 at 08:45 AM

Lovely all round. You omit suggesting your boys ask for sex - they are to wait for other to ask. Its important we all feel ok to ask, and are prepared to listen to and observe any answer. Well done :)

Posted by: Stefan | March 18, 2013 at 09:17 AM

Typing with gentle tears rolling and a heart expanding! Having the talk with my son & daughters! Sharing with my friends!

Posted by: Robin | March 18, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Great letter-- I just wish you had told them to call 911 FIRST and then to call you. If a woman is being raped, every second counts... and the cops can get there faster (don't have to obey traffic laws) and have better training for this situation.

Posted by: Hill | March 18, 2013 at 10:11 AM

You are amazing Magda! I love it. I hope to share with my two boys.

Posted by: Miriam | March 18, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Lovely -- will be sharing.

For posters with younger children asking about boundaries, the book "I Said No!" is written from a young boy's perspective and does a nice job talking about what parts of their bodies are private and how to assert themselves if anyone wants to touch them, bribe them, etc., including one of their friends. If kids are secure and understand boundaries with respect to themselves (especially how to discuss those boundaries), it can be easier for them to understand respecting the boundaries of others -- at least, it gives us as parents a vocabulary and base with which to discuss such things, which is helpful too.

Posted by: Ellen | March 18, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Wonderful. Thank you.

Posted by: Kate | March 18, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Maureen Basedow  

Magda. You are amazing. I want everybody I know to read this, and I'm going to annoy them until they do!

Posted by: Tine | March 18, 2013 at 01:11 PM

Thank you for writing this. I have two little boys. One of them was adopted. He was conceived as a result of rape. I want nothing more than for them to understand how vitally important it is to respect both women and themselves, even when others do not.

Posted by: Megan | March 18, 2013 at 01:11 PM

You're an amzing Mom, I work with my boy on these things as well. Sharing your post.

Posted by: DeAnne Knapp | March 18, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Liz Nutting  

Wow. Thank you for writing this.

Posted by: Jessica | March 18, 2013 at 01:46 PM

Thank you.

Posted by: Aimee Giese | Greeblemonkey | March 18, 2013 at 01:52 PM

Not enough "like" in the world for this. Thank you for giving many of us the words!

Posted by: MemeGRL | March 18, 2013 at 02:11 PM

Perfect. As a mom of boys, this is perfect. May all of our boys become the men we hope: heroes and not assholes.

Posted by: tracey | March 18, 2013 at 02:52 PM

Not a mom. Cried anyway because I hope that when & if I am, I have it in me to be the kind of mom you are. Your sons - & the world who receives them - is so luck you have you. THANK YOU for this.

Posted by: Kate @ | March 18, 2013 at 03:32 PM
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