Category Archives: Politics

Still I am Grateful

I know that the African-American women and men who won this election did not do it for me or my angst about the morality of my nation. I know that did not do it for Mr. Jones. That even if they considered a larger political strategy, the pressing concern was personal and local. It was an act of self-preservation. It was a hope for marginalized communities.

I know that Alabama–no, the marginalized voters of Alabama–was hard hit by Shelby County, the 2013 SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Act. I’ve done day-of-election protection, where you witness and report where voters are lied to about their rights or about their polling place, and I know that VRA or no VRA, white people in this country are trying very hard to keep black people from voting.

I know that a lot of people have trouble leaving their workplace on voting day (I have no trouble leaving my workplace on any day). I know that a lot of people have to do a lot more than cross the street to get to their polling place. I know that a lot of people have to coordinate their child care with voting. I know that all these difficulties increase as one’s privilege decreases.

I know that for all it’s a right, voting is not simple for the many citizens threatened by men like Roy Moore. I am ashamed of and sorry for the white women who don’t know these things, don’t care about these things, or are so racist they remain unmoved by these things.

I know that the African-American women and men who swayed and saved this election did it despite the white voters who have long voted against their interests, white voters who have accepted without protest violence against African-American communities, white voters who sustain institutions designed to shut out or oppress non-whites. We owe them more than relief and gratitude.

Yet I am grateful for those who voted for Doug Jones. I am grateful for those who drove voters to the polls. Grateful for those who organized door-knocking, postcard-writing, phone-banking campaigns. And for those who participated in those campaigns. Grateful for the attorneys who still pursue voting rights litigation, who volunteer with election protection activities, who are working with states to correct extreme gerrymandering.

I am not yet hopeful myself, but I am grateful for the hope and strength of others.

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CWTA Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2017

WOMEN’S FORUM STATS REFLECT DIVIDED ELECTORATE

Participation/Viewership Reflects Women as Growing Political Force

Chicago…A room filled to capacity, thousands more watching on cable television or on-line, underscore the oft-mentioned fact that this year women are attuned to politics and judging candidates on the basis of their answer to questions on issues important to women. The December 9th Women’s Gubernatorial Forum, sponsored by the Chicago Women Take Action (CWTA) Alliance, an alliance of 44 of Chicago’s leading women’s organizations, garnered more than 800 attendees, 6,000 viewers on CWTA’s and Indivisible’s Facebook livestreams and reached more than 21,000 through those channels, CAN TV and other sites. The forum participants were Biss, Pritzker, Kennedy and Hardiman. Gov. Bruce Rauner and State Rep. Jeanne Ives declined invitations.

At the forum, which was moderated by WNBC’s Mary Ann Ahern and Jacqui Algee of Chicago Women Take Action, the candidates were asked their stands on issues important to women, from sexual harassment to health care to economic issues. The conversation also touched on property taxes and the role of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

During and for an hour after the conclusion of the event, a non-scientific straw poll was conducted to determine whom, after hearing the candidates, attendees and others would vote for if the election were held that day.. They were asked to choose among the four candidates at the forum, though they could also select “none of the above” (that option received .4 per cent of the vote).

The straw poll taken between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday garnered 554 votes, with Daniel Biss receiving 256 votes or 46%; JB Pritzker receiving 161 votes or 29 %; Chris Kennedy receiving 129 or 23% of the vote and Tio Hardiman trailing with 4 votes or .7 percent. Four people chose ‘none of the above’.

In addition, 139 votes were cast before the event and therefore not counted in the official tally as the respondents had not yet heard the candidates.  Of those votes, 75 votes were cast for Pritzker and 62 for Biss.  Kennedy and ‘none of the above” each received one vote.

“For us in the Alliance, the Forum was everything we wanted it to be.  The reach and audience were great.  The candidates were thoughtful and respectful.  And through our partnership the 44 groups have established a firm bond with which to tackle the issues and elections ahead,”  says CWTA convener Marilyn Katz.  “For us now, it’s on to January 20th – the next Chicago Women’s March, then onto the elections of March and November.”

The Forum will be rebroadcast by CAN TV on December 14th at 8 p.m. (Channel 27)

For further information, call Marilyn Katz 312-822-0505 or 312-953-1225 or email at Mkatz@mkcpr.com.

QotD

“The fact that both parties are willing to defend on partisan grounds rapists and sexual offenders based on their political views, in my mind is exhibit A that this indeed is a rape culture. And rape culture always has been bipartisan.”–person on a message board, discussing an article about Bill Clinton’s history of sexual harassment and assault.

Additional reading (which is not the article being discussed by the person quoted above):
“Most of all, as a [male] citizen I’ve come to see that the scandal was never about infidelity or perjury — or at least, it shouldn’t have been. It was about power in the workplace and its use. The policy case that Democrats needed Clinton in office was weak, and the message that driving him from office would have sent would have been profound and welcome. That this view was not commonplace at the time shows that we did not, as a society, give the most important part of the story the weight it deserved. “–Bill Clinton Should Have Resigned, Matthew Yglesias

i\I’ve added “male” to this sentence because in 1998, when I was in law school, small groups of women were quietly calling what happened to Monica Lewinsky what it was: vicious sexual harassment of the sort we should expect when we went to the Hill (I went to law school in DC) or at Big Law. I recall becoming quite angry at a (male) friend who laid most of the blame on the women (Lewinsky, Tripp, Jones and Mrs Clinton), reserving the rest for Republicans who were blowing things out of proportion.

Yglesias is right: Bill Clinton should have resigned; his party should have demanded it. Yglesias is right, as well, that in re-evaluating the situation, we can’t change the past but we should be clear about it. That means recognizing that those of us who saw Bill Clinton for what he was at the time were ignored, shouted down, dismissed as man-haters or of so little consequence in power structures, no-one cared.

But this is a change I never thought I’d see in my lifetime: the recognition of this constant noise and pressure and threat which comes from casual sexism and everyday misogyny. The understanding that yes, every woman is treated this way; that many of us are seriously damaged by it but that all of us are harmed by it. The realization that it is your job not to let it continue.

I still favor repeal

As I understand it (from professional colleagues and other sources), this link between domestic violence and gun violence (whether against a partner or humans generally) is pretty well established–it’s simply a failure of political will to do anything about it. Illinois revokes your gun license when you’re served with an Order of Protection (which is available in a broad variety of relationship contexts–whether familial, romantic or residential). It’s ahead of many states in both this steps, but an OP is not always possible for a variety of reasons (there’s a lot of tension between the “fix things for victims of domestic violence” camp and the “fix all these structural oppressions in the criminal justice system” camp, also for a variety of reasons).

Nonetheless, I find that Mike Quigley is generally stepping up in our bizarro world.

As you may recall, the CDC stopped researching firearms as a health crisis in 1996 when Congress threatened to pull its funding after the NRA accused the CDC of promoting gun control. Sidestepping to the DOJ might be a good idea, but I prefer the CDC be protected in doing its job and that Congress just generally start telling the NRA to fuck off.

The Duty of Care

Today we remember Dr. George Tiller, murdered 8 years ago, who never wavered in his conviction that safe abortions must be available for all.

In his memory, I give quarterly donations to Medical Students for Choice. Although abortion services are a routine medical need any time a pregnancy goes wrong, although abortions are legal in the United States, although abortion is a safe medical procedure, it is not a regular part of the medical school curriculum. When women need late term abortions because something has gone catastrophically wrong with their pregnancy, or when women need emergency D&E s because a pregnancy has miscarried, they deserve skill– or at least competent–care from doctors who were taught how to treat them in medical school. There are fewer and fewer of those doctors available.

And now the GOP wants to make it more expensive and harder for women to get contraception. So the need for abortions, and the need for doctors who can competently treat women who have accessed back-alley abortions, will keep growing.

The USA in 2017 is a cruel and despicable place. I throw my tiny handfuls of small bills toward the people trying to make it less cruel and less despicable.

My Letter to Senators Durbin & Duckworth & Rep Quigley

Please speak out in support of public service loan forgiveness which is now threatened by the proposed budget and by the ill-advised agenda of Betsy DeVos. The people who will be eligible for forgiveness will dedicate a minimum of ten years to a public service career, making sacrifices in income and retirement savings in order to serve and improve our communities. Loan forgiveness not only compensates them for the work on our behalf, but also demonstrates that our society values the commitment they make to our communities. PSLF also says to the teachers, public defenders, social workers and other public interest professionals working in chronically underfunded and overburdened–but essential–services that we, as a society, value their work and demonstrates that can support our communities by supporting their work.

Gutting PSLF and income-based/income-driven repayment programs will drain talent and skilled professionals out of civic and community institutions, particularly in cities with a high concentration nonprofits and high cost of living. This will diminish the quality of these institutions and harm our communities. Investment in public and public interest organization–through support of their skilled professionals–pays off by strengthening our communities.

I work at a four-person 501(c)(3) court reform organization, as an attorney. The organization cannot offer a retirement plan. Even with the ACA, it is unable to afford platinum health insurance plans and no dental or vision plans. PSLF and income-based repayment are the only reason I am able to save for retirement on my own. I have invested in myself and relied upon the promise of loan forgiveness in choosing a career that allows me to invest in my city. Please tell me you will stand up for me and others who have done the same.

This administration and the GOP generally. is pounding a steady drumbeat of attacks against our public institutions and our social safety net and our community duty to another. It is up to you to push back.

I will be forwarding it to: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: Chair: Lamar Alexander (R-TN); Senate Ranking Member Patty Murray ([[D]]-WASHINGTON)
 and House committee on Education & Workforce Chair: Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC); Ranking Member Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott ([[D]]-VA)

If you have ever benefited from a public school, or a doctor in a rural clinic, or appreciate having social workers or public defenders or prosecutors, please consider calling, emailing or writing in defense of public service loan forgiveness and the attendant income-based or income-dependent repayment plans.

As an acquaintance noted: These programs are explicitly not need-based, they are income-based. Someone earning $40K in San Francisco is not in the same situation as someone earning $40K in Des Moines. There are many differences in how much access people making the same salary have to parental funds or property. These situational differences are also ignored by the income-based repayment programs, because the primary purpose of these programs is not to meet financial needs. Their purpose is to incentivize qualified people to take socially-useful but low-paying jobs. This incentive applies just as much to someone with a wealthy spouse or parents as to someone who is solely dependent on their individual salary.

As I have now said across many platforms: Increasingly, it feels this administration simply *will not rest* until anything and everything that might help a human being, affirm the value of a human being, or even vaguely acknowledge the worth of any given human being is wiped from all consideration in governance and public policy. That is not the world I want to live in; that is not a good society to leave behind us.

Is There a Point to this Cruelty? by Charles P. Pierce in Esquire.

Betsy DeVos wants to Kill a Major Student Loan Forgiveness Program by Jordan Weissman at Slate

Billionaire Betsy DeVos wants to scrap student debt forgiveness. Surprised? by Jamie Peck at the Guardian

Trump May End Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness by Zack Friedman at Forbes

Quoting the Washington Post Opinion Page

There’s certainly a process critique one can make about this bill. We might focus on the fact that Republicans are rushing to pass it without having held a single hearing on it, without a score from the Congressional Budget Office that would tell us exactly what the effects would be, and before nearly anyone has had a chance to even look at the bill’s actual text — all this despite the fact that they are remaking one-sixth of the American economy and affecting all of our lives (and despite their long and ridiculous claims that the Affordable Care Act was “rammed through” Congress, when in fact it was debated for an entire year and was the subject of dozens of hearings and endless public discussion). We might talk about how every major stakeholder group — the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the AARP, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, and on and on — all oppose the bill.

All that matters. But the real problem is what’s in the bill itself. . . .

It is no exaggeration to say that if it were to become law, this bill would kill significant numbers of Americans. People who lose their Medicaid, don’t go to the doctor, and wind up finding out too late that they’re sick. People whose serious conditions put them up against lifetime limits or render them unable to afford what’s on offer in the high-risk pools, and are suddenly unable to get treatment.

Those deaths are not abstractions, and those who vote to bring them about must be held to account. This can and should be a career-defining vote for every member of the House. No one who votes for something this vicious should be allowed to forget it — ever. They should be challenged about it at every town hall meeting, at every campaign debate, in every election and every day as the letters and phone calls from angry and betrayed constituents make clear the intensity of their revulsion at what their representatives have done.

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I’m including “Donate to Defeat Them in the Midterms” links. Whatever you can spare will help. These men are not simply morally bankrupt, they are incompetent. They passed a Bill they had not read, which had not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office and which every major stakeholder from hospitals to the American Medical Association, American Academy of Neurology,  (emergency room doctors!) to patient or research advocacy groups for a variety of diseases (MS, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, ) to the AARP, to Consumer Reports (because of the decline in medical bankruptcy under the existing ACA), Planned Parenthood, NAADAC, National Council on Independent Living, American College of Nurse Midwives, everybody.

ACTBlue: Targeting all the Yes Votes

SwingLeft Aimed generally at taking back Republican seats in the mid-terms.
Clicking on individual districts on the map allows you to sign up to to assist with phone banking, canvassing, and other tasks, even if you don’t live in or can’t travel to the District.
Additionally, Indivisible is working hard on this and other issues. You can donate but they prefer your time and effort to your money.
OFA is working hard on this and offers really great resources for making your voice heard. Donate your money or your time.
Usually, when I am advocating that you donate your money or your time, I’m talking about direct service or philanthropy. This time is a little different.