Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Proposed Federal Budget Undermines Economic Stability for Most Americans

SEIU, Indivisible, OFA, National Women’s Law Center and others are collecting stories about how the proposed budget will harm people. I’ve submitted my story about the proposed gutting of income based repayment and public service loan forgiveness for student loans. But there’s a lot at stake from housing, food for children, public transportation, disease prevention and medical research. Not to mention the tiny bit of public money devoted to arts. Submit at Hands Off!

If you haven’t thought about speaking out against the proposed cuts to social security, to food for poor children, to heating assistance for poor people living in colder parts of the country, to health care for many people through Medicare or Planned Parenthood, to student loan repayment assistance for teachers and public interest workers, here are some things to read about the impacts:

NOTE: CNN & time autoplay video constantly so beware those links. Also, this is not a carefully curated list. I have taken topics that arose in the partisan mailings I read and tried to find more neutral, general audience sources for the same information.

The Shriver Center on the budget’s impact on affordable housing

CityLab on the impact of the budget on Amtrak, infrastructure and on housing/HUD

Time magazine, NPREd, Consumerist, US News, and  on student loans and paying for college

The Guardian (another Guardian article), the ABA Journal, the Washington Post, CNN, the Atlantic on the defunding of the Legal Services Corporation proposed in the budget

How the budget guts medical research (NPR) (Washington Post), children’s health care (CNN), Medicaid (Washington Post) (USA Today), health and human services generally (Chicago Tribune), CDC disease and outbreak prevention (Kaiser Family Foundation) (Stat News)

Newsweek on the general outrage over the budget.

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These are My Thoughts, as Expressed by Others

shriver berg onbeing

The Shriver Peace Institute, a person I don’t know on Facebook, a theologian quoted at On Being.

I live in a mostly white, mostly college-educated, mostly professional neighborhood where the median income is $20k higher than the city’s median income as a whole. I have lived in this 0.249 square mile for at least 10 years now. Wednesday, November 9, 2016, I witnessed  the first overt racist harassment I have seen in my neighborhood, by a man, shouting racists things at three African-American clerks in my corner drug store in the name of the president-elect. I feel ill-equipped to intervene, unsure how to turn the tide, frightened that more people will be threatened, that others will be physically harmed.

I’m trying. I will do what I can. This is not normal.

Every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

There is a lot of credible information showing that the rate of sexual assault in the United States is appallingly high. 1 in 5 women is raped in her lifetime and in the 12 months prior to the CDC’s 2012 comprehensive report on sexual violence, 1 in 20 women reported experiencing some form of sexual assault in the 12 months prior to the survey alone. Close to 90% of those rapes and assaults are committed by their partners, their family members, their friends and acquaintances.

We know this is true. I know this is true. The women who are my friends know this is true.

Where do we meet these men who rape us? Who assault us? We meet them at our friends’ houses. At our friends’ gigs. We meet them through our friends, our co-workers, our families.

You introduce them to us. Maybe you don’t know that you’re introducing us to someone who believes he has the right to touch us without our permission.The right to stick his tongue in our mouths when we’ve said no, or turned away, or tried to keep our jaws closed tight. The right to have sex with us–to rape us–when we have not said “yes”.

I hope you don’t.

But if you’ve heard that person defend a rapist by saying that women are teases, or that women lie about assault, or that his life will be ruined by the accusation, then you know that this is not a safe person for your friends to be alone with.

If you’ve heard that person speak admiringly about PUA tactics or whine about the Friend Zone, you should be suspicious that this is not a safe person for your friends to be alone with.

If you’ve heard this person defend misogyny or sexism with some version of “that’s guy talk” or “boys will be boys”, you should not trust this person to be respectful and safe for your friends to be alone with.

This is rape culture. It normalizes the idea that women are tools of male satisfaction. When these ideas are unchallenged, the men expressing them believe that it’s normal and okay to assault women. And then they will assault your friends–my friends, me–with the trust that you think it’s normal to behave that way, and so it is okay for them to behave that way.

Work to make the world safe for your women friends, your sisters, your daughters by making sure that your sons recognize and reject rape culture. Call out that friend who thinks women lie about rape to protect their reputations, to hide an embarrassing liaison, to ruin some guy’s life. Don’t laugh at their grotesque jokes about assault.

Don’t teach your children that a man can brag about grabbing women in a sexual manner without their consent or can claim to kiss them whether they want it or not and be a viable presidential candidate.

That’s Not How it Works

Your vote in this election (or lack thereof) will do one of two things: It will assist in electing Hillary Clinton or it will assist in electing Donald Smith. It won’t create a viable third party; it won’t dismantle entrenched parties; it won’t remove money from elections; it won’t make a statement; it won’t prove a point; it won’t do anything except assist in the election of one of these two people. That is what is on your conscience when you vote or don’t.

I can sleep at night knowing I have supported a highly competent, successful lawmaker who has put forward a strong domestic agenda intended to support social welfare and social justice.

I could not possibly sleep at night knowing I abetted the election of an unqualified liar who pursues hate through an agenda of mass deportation, the banning of persons of particular religions and the prosecution of women who abort or miscarry.

Fear, Hate and Facebook

gavinNTo which I add:  And it’s important to note, given the fear of immigrants and people of color–as well as the ignorance of cultural history–on display at the convention, that Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara to parents from the Gujarat region of India.

He was not Christian, either.

There is so much upsetting here, so I’m going to focus on this ability and need to dehumanize and subjugate people of color, queer people, and women by denouncing them and their needs and their humanity while simultaneously using their art, their labor, their skills while opposing the policies and systems which might enable those without power and privilege to thrive.

The GOP is so happy saying you, gay man who is foreign from one of those places, believing one of those religions have no value and don’t deserve anything society can provide, but aren’t you happy we like your little song enough to use it?

I guess I’m lucky

My social media feeds this week have included a few people upset by the recreational “big game hunter” who killed the tagged lion. Which I can understand. Killing animals as a recreational activity is a behavior we use to identify poorly socialized children who may grow up to be a threat to the people around them. Killing animals for “fun” is a distressing thing, whether the animal in question was in the category of animals it’s okay to kill just cause you feel like killing a living thing or in the category of animals it’s not okay to kill just cause you feel like killing a living creature.

However, my social media feeds include more outrage over police violence against African-Americans, or the Cosby rapes, than over the poaching of the lion. This contrasts what I hear from friends whose social media has very small overlap with mine. They are saddened or angry to see a greater outpouring of grief over the lion than the increasing media coverage and growing common awareness of police violence against African-Americans. So I guess I’m lucky to have been spared a display of inhumanity and racism from friends and acquaintances in social media.[fn1]

What runs through my feeds more than anything else is an increasing weariness with the lack of humanity and empathy in dominant American culture, whether that’s the violence of the police against African-Americans, fear-mongering about transwomen or transmen, blaming those in poverty for not being rich or misogynist jerks on the internet.

I hope that I am following a bellweather.

[fn1] The alternative–that I’m filtered out of those posts or my friends and contacts only say those to people they think agree with them–is a little too depressing to contemplate.