The Revolution Is Not Being Televised

22 06 2016

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It started with an old fashioned sit in, and it turned into one of the most outrageous examples of censorship in recent American history. Not censorship of an individual citizen – censorship of the entire Democratic Party’s pro-gun control Representatives. While inside Congress. And it’s not over.

Democrat after Democrat are getting up to the podium and talking about why gun control laws are an important part of the country’s future. Led by Representative John Lewis of Georgia, their rally cries echo the criticism of the Senate’s failure to pass gun control measures just a few days before.

“We’re not pointing fingers – we’re saying ‘come with us!’, ‘join us!'” one Rep shouted.

“They won’t even allow us to vote! … They’re calling Rep. John Lewis a terrorist, because he’s getting in the way…Well if he’s a terrorist then I guess we’re all terrorists!” said another.

“What is stopping democracy today is the failure to even bring the issue forward for a vote…To my fellow colleagues…have the political courage to do your job. Where are you? Where are you?” said yet another.

During a very brief interview, Representative John Lewis said, “By sitting down, we’re really standing up.”

It began around just before noon, and that’s when the C-SPAN cameras were turned off. The policy of the House is that the cameras and microphones broadcast only while the house is “in session”. The Republican Representative of Texas, Ted Poe, who was presiding over the chamber, declared that the House was now “in recess”. So, the cameras were turned off.

C-SPAN sent out a message on Twitter, for clarity: “C-SPAN has no control over the U.S. House TV cameras.”

Soon after, the Periscope feed of Democratic Representative Scott Peters of California became the focus of anyone who wanted to know what was actually going on inside the chamber of democracy in the United States.

And at the bottom of the Periscope live stream of the sit in, there is the C-SPAN logo and an alert that reads “CAMERAS IN CHAMBER CONTROLLED BY HOUSE”. It’s chilling that the majority party can just turn off the cameras of the country’s primary news source for Congressional matters. No single party should be able to silence dissent, or blind citizens to lawful, peaceful, civil disobedience on their behalf.

 

 

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Unqualified

7 04 2016


So, up until now I’ve been pulling for Clinton but I hadn’t been rooting against Sanders. There’s a lot about his ideas that I like and the spirit of his campaign was, for a time, admirable. Each time he won a primary I thought, “oh, good for him!”, because I really was happy that someone so far left was gaining traction. Each time Clinton won, I felt torn. For as happy as I was for her primary wins, I just couldn’t bring myself to celebrate his losses. Until now. Fuck Sanders. Fuck him and his unyielding descent into the bowels of right-wing anti-woman dog-whistling tone-deaf short-sighted win-at-all-costs sub-partisan self-indulgent Chernobyl-level toxic attacks. I hope he goes down in f-l-a-m-e-s.





Hillary Clinton Announces 2016 Presidential Bid

14 04 2015

It was no surprise that former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton announced her bid for the 2016 Presidential Election. What was a surprise, however, was the way in which she chose to (formally) announce it:

News organizations and political blogs have no shortage of opinions about every facet of her potential campaign and her past. Publications like The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Washington Post all say more or less the same thing: “We knew this was coming, and here are her challenges.”

But one of the more forthright characterizations of both the pre-announcement tone and supporters’ perspectives comes from The Onion:  “If you shitheads can just get in line, we can breeze through this whole campaign in 19 months and be done with it.”

Let the race begin.





The Responsible & Those Irresponsible

9 01 2011

Tragedy is common. Wars rage and subside, then rage again. Individuals align themselves with groups and battle against other individuals in another group. Disagreements escalate among people in one culture or another every day, sometimes resulting in not just psychological but also physical violence. It happens all the time.

Yet our worlds keep turning – as they should. A shooting in Mattapan, MA doesn’t prevent a street in Moss Point, MS from reopening after its own shooting. One of humanity’s greatest strengths is that we can endure more than we can imagine. However, like all kinds of strength, our ability to endure tragic circumstance improves only with practice.

It is easier to simply react. Hell, it’s more fun. To simply embrace one’s first reaction and cease contemplation soon after is a luxury reserved for those with very little adult responsibility. Much like eating dessert for breakfast, the consequence quickly outweighs it’s novelty.

As we learn more about Friday’s assassination attempt on Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona, and as we hear various theories on why it happened, who was killed, who was injured and who is responsible, it’s important to think four moves ahead. Yes, Sarah Palin is among those guilty of the incendiary remarks that encourage physical violence against those with whom she disagrees. Yes, these people should be ashamed and embarrassed by their past actions. Now, what are you going to do about it? Hit someone? Shoot someone? Use your car to run over someone with whom you philosophically disagree about healthcare, reproductive rights, gay marriage and a myriad of other crucial ideas?

Go home. Sit down. Have a cup of something warm, caffeine free, and non-alcoholic. Remember that each of us has the power to just say no to that way of life. Because they’re out there – those who choose to take the easy path, the irresponsible path, as we endure the violence they embrace.





One Wrong Step

25 03 2010

Walk down your street. Cross the road. Step onto a sidewalk. Now step off the sidewalk. Oops – you’re paralyzed from the waist down.

Too extreme? Get into your car. Drive down a 40 mph road. Oops – you got a flat front tire, swirved into a ditch, and now you’re a quadriplegic.

This is how fast, and how randomly, it happens to people every day. A physical disability is just one step off a curb away from anybody. When it happens, you’re going to need help. Just don’t ask these guys.

“If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong part of town. Nothing for free. You have to work for everything you get,” one teabagger chided, bending over to get in the face of the seated older man. The next Tea Partier dropped a dollar in his face, saying, “Start a pot, I’ll pay for you. I’ll decide when to give you money,” in a mocking tone of voice. After some grumbling about “Communism,” an offscreen teabagger yelled, “No more handouts!”

Really? This is the best we can do in this country? Now I’m not saying you should never yell at someone with a disability. People are people and all people piss off some people sometimes – I think that’s a variation on an old saying – but yelling these remarks at someone who is peacefully rallying for health care reform that will help his situation is unreasonable at best.

First of all, you want to talk about handouts? AIG is now like Dick Cheney in that the name is a punchline in itself, no set up required. And you might not want to call it a hand out to someone who was a nuclear engineer and may have done more for our economy than a lot of us will ever be able to claim – that is until a degenerative disease started attacking his body through no fault of his own. Maybe he’d be your daughters’ physics professor right now had his life not taken a path that was totally outside his control. There is nothing humanly possible that anyone with Parkinson’s disease could have done to prevent it. Nothing.

The randomness with which disabilites occur is a terrifying idea to many people, which could explain why some try to control as much of their world as possible, sometimes rigidly. With that in mind, let’s address the “I’ll decide when to give you money” thing. We all pay taxes. No, wait – let’s start simpler. We all buy groceries. You go to the store and pick up your cage free, organic, vegetarian fed eggs. Someone else buys some toilet paper and paper towels. Yet another person buys some ground beef chuck for dinner tonight, maybe a nice stew. All of you are giving money to the same store, and the store gives you all that you need even though each of you needs different things. If you are a vegetarian you cannot stop someone from buying meat, even though you yourself are against it and would never buy it. Despite being a paying customer, you cannot stop the store from providing meat to other customers who want meat. Likewise, other customers cannot stop you from buying your brand of eggs, or butter, or milk, or veggieburgers. All customers pay money to the same store, and that store provides different things for different people. The store takes revenue from individual sales and pools it together to buy proportionately more of everything sold. There is a lot of overlap (chips, vegetables, juice, bread, gift cards?) for many people’s grocery lists, and the store puts its resources into those areas more than any other, but it’s the little items that make such a big difference to so many of us. I don’t need to buy pull-ups, but what would happen if my grocery store stopped carrying them? I bet my brand of such-and-such would eventually go away, because there wouldn’t be enough general revenue – pooled together – to provide for the idiosyncratic items that so many of us need. Same. With. Taxes.

You may never buy wheat-free soy sauce. I hope you never have to. However, if your daughter is diagnosed as allergic (not just intolerant) to wheat – watch how fast you start reading every single food label.

Shock aside, attacks like those at the Tea Party rally are dangerous not because anyone can develop – at any time – a physical disability, but because it sanctions the infantilizing of those who do need assistance from those who don’t (yet).

Ability is a funny thing. No one can predict, let alone control, their own needs in the future when it comes to disabilities, whether it’s at the grocery store or the doctor’s office. Not even a rocket scientist. What we can predict is that we will all be on the receiving end eventually – if we’re lucky.





U.S. Senators Who Support Rape

4 11 2009
Jamie Leigh Jones

Jones survived a gang rape by fellow employees of KBR (Halliburton)

In 2005 KBR, a taxpayer-endowed contractor (as well as the largest non-union construction company) attempted to cover up employee-on-employee gang rape by locking up the victim in a shipping container without food and water and threatening her with reprisals if she reported the incident. And that’s OK.

Newly elected Senator Al Franken introduced an amendment that would forbid federal contractors from forcing victims of sexual assault, battery and discrimination to submit to binding arbitration (where a third-party typically chosen by the contractor adjudicates) and thereby prohibiting them from going to court.

And 30 (t-h-i-r-t-y) senators voted against it.

Credit new Senator Al Franken however, for introducing an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would punish contractors if they “restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” You’d think that this would be a no-brainer, actually, but that didn’t stop [Senator] Jeff Sessions from labeling Franken’s effort a “political attack directed at Halliburton.” Franken, of course, pointed out that his amendment would apply broadly, to all contractors…

Some senators and their supporters argue that the reason they voted against such an amendment was that it was unenforceable. Well… so what?

Who cares if the amendment is unenforceable? What unenforceable really means is that not every occurrance of the action can be prevented. Other examples of this include flag burning, gay sex, and speeding. None can be successfully prevented, and yet much can be done legally to a) disuade people from doing it and b) make peoples lives very difficult if they do.

Sometimes amendments are unenforceable because the U.S. Supreme court strikes down a similar law in another state, as was the case with Alabama’s 1901 ban on interracial marriage.  The law was unenforceable as of 1967, but an amendment to eliminate it from Alabama’s state constitution in 1999 was still unanimously voted upon and put into effect.

It starts with the idea and journeys through what can be done in both legislative and judicial branches of our government. If more legislation is needed in order to arrive at an enforceable amendment, so be it. But why would you vote against something you agree with just because you believe it is not 100% enforceable? If there was an amendment to save all puppies from drowning, would you vote against it because, jeeze, we’ll never be able to enforce that? No. You vote ‘yay’ and go on to support initiatives that align with that point of view.

The silver lining is that on September 15, 2009, the 5th Circuit Court of appeals ruled in favor of Jones, in a 2 to 1 ruling, and found that her alleged injuries were not, in fact, in any way related to her employment and thus, not covered by the contract. (Please note: 1 judge actually ruled against that.) In addition, in October of 2009 the Franken Amendment did pass, but it was not unanimous as it should have been. As usual, see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for the funny version.

The following is a list of Senators who voted against the Franken Amendment. All 30 are Republicans who were elected to office by voters in 19 states. More than half of those voters were women and all of those voters are able to be raped, assaulted, and discriminated against. If it were up to the boys and girls on this list (yes, there are women who voted against this, too.) those voters would never see the inside of a court room.

Rogues Gallery:

Alexander, Lamar – (R – TN)  Class II
455 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4944

Barrasso, John – (R – WY)  Class I
307 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6441

Bond, Christopher S. – (R – MO)  Class III
274 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5721

Brownback, Sam – (R – KS)  Class III
303 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6521

Bunning, Jim – (R – KY)  Class III
316 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 
(202) 224-4343

Burr, Richard – (R – NC)  Class III
217 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3154

Chambliss, Saxby – (R – GA)  Class II
416 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3521

Coburn, Tom – (R – OK)  Class III
172 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5754

Cochran, Thad – (R – MS)  Class II
113 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5054

Corker, Bob – (R – TN)  Class I
185 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3344

Cornyn, John – (R – TX)  Class II
517 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 
(202) 224-2934

Crapo, Mike – (R – ID)  Class III
239 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6142

DeMint, Jim – (R – SC)  Class III
340 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6121

Ensign, John – (R – NV)  Class I
119 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6244

Enzi, Michael B. – (R – WY)  Class II
379A RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3424

Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC)  Class II
290 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5972

Gregg, Judd – (R – NH)  Class III
201 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3324

Inhofe, James M. – (R – OK)  Class II
453 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4721

Isakson, Johnny – (R – GA)  Class III
120 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3643

Johanns, Mike – (R – NE)  Class II
404 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4224

Kyl, Jon – (R – AZ)  Class I
730 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4521

McCain, John – (R – AZ)  Class III
241 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2235

McConnell, Mitch – (R – KY)  Class II
361A RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2541

Risch, James E. – (R – ID)  Class II
483 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2752

Roberts, Pat – (R – KS)  Class II
109 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4774

Sessions, Jeff – (R – AL)  Class II
335 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4124

Shelby, Richard C. – (R – AL)  Class III
304 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5744

Thune, John – (R – SD)  Class III
493 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2321

Vitter, David – (R – LA)  Class III
516 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4623

Wicker, Roger F. – (R – MS)  Class I
555 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6253

What is a class? – Article I, section 3 of the Constitution requires the Senate to be divided into three classes for purposes of elections.  Senators are elected to six-year terms, and every two years the members of one class—approximately one-third of the Senators—face election or reelection.  Terms for Senators in Class I expire in 2013, Class II in 2015, and Class III in 2011.





Women and Children Last

31 01 2009

On Thursday President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Act – just a day after The Medicaid Family Planning State Option was stripped from the $819 billion stimulus. Does President Obama think that buys his administration enough political capital to yank Family Planning funding from this economic stimulus package?

Women’s health just lost out. The Medicaid Family Planning State Option, a simple, commonsense measure that would have expanded access to health care to more women in these increasingly desperate times, has been stripped from the economic stimulus bill.

The reason? It was a victim of misleading attacks and partisan politics.

As ThinkProgress points out, “… conservatives are distorting and simplifying the facts…. this measure would not only aid states, but also provide preventative, cost-saving health care to help low-income women support their families and keep working.”

So $819 billion is ok – but $819.2 billion is ridiculous? Actually, come to think of it, that sounds a hell of a lot like spending $50 on a date and then penny pinching by buying a cheap brand X condom.

House Republicans are the iceberg to Obama’s Titanic.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) falsely claimed that the Medicaid Family Planning State Option would cost hundreds of millions of dollars — when the Congressional Budget Office estimates it would save the federal government $700 million over 10 years.”

Immediately following Obama’s meeting with Congress, Boehner said, “How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives? How does that stimulate the economy?”

Wow.

I like jokes, which is why I was able to survive Bush’s administration, but Representative Gingrey (of the 11th district in Georgia) is making the old argument that providing access to contraceptives will encourage people to have more sex, and that having more sex is bad. It’s one of those ideas that makes your brain do a double-take. Having sex twice a week for a year using a 97% effective condom is much safer than having sex once a month without protection. Just is. If you think sex is evil, that’s a different argument, which I will be happy to hear – because I like jokes.

Garbage in, garbage out

Republicans who opposed family planning funding in the stimulus tended to represent states with the highest STD rates.

Not counting AIDS (which gravitates mostly to major cities in Texas, Florida,  Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York), the rates of infection for Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Clamydia are highest in red states:

Gonorrhea: Seven out of the top ten states (Mississippi, S. Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri) are red.

Chlamydia: Six out of the top ten states (Alaska, Mississippi,S. Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee) are red.

Syphilis: Five out of the top ten states (Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee) are red.

Commenting on the inclusion of The Medicaid Family Planning State Option for the economic stimulus bill, an investment of $200 million which would save states money in the long run because they would not be burdened by unplanned childbirths by families who cannot afford to take care of children:

“Indeed that may stimulate something,” Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, “but I don’t think it’s going to stimulate the economy.”

Like I said, I like jokes.

And in honor of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a final moment of zen:

Rush Limbaugh said that if Pelosi “wants fewer births, I have the way to do this and it won’t require any contraception: You simply put pictures of Nancy Pelosi…in every cheap motel room. … That will keep birthrates down because that picture will keep a lot of things down.”

Original Planned Parenthood article:
http://linkee.com/e6c