Tag Archives: Sexism

GOP Tax Plan: A Complete Social Restructuring of the United States

4 Dec

Welcome to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 500 pages of far-right dreams smashed together in two weeks and rushed to a vote in the middle of the night. While there is an enormous amount of this plan that we should all be mortified about — specifically how it hoards wealth for the top 20% of Americans and steals money from the poor and middle class — there is far more going on here, much of which has little to do with tax “reform.”  I worry that most people are not paying attention to everything it does over time, as evidenced by the fact that most of the people who voted to rush this through have not even read the whole plan, nor have there been any substantive hearings or analysis provided. This massive document is also difficult to read because much of the marginalia is hand written scribbles, eliminating even concerned senators’ ability to read and understand the implication of the entire document before voting on it.

In addition to the sociopathic maldistribution of wealth this plan secures, the social ramifications are profound and are antithetical to what we have worked so hard to accomplish in the ways of equity in the past 100 years.  For example, this plan includes Medicare reductions that will end cancer treatment for people on Medicare. Yes, you read that correctly. This sounds like a death panel to me, and it should not come as a surprise, given that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have been working to dismantle Medicare for years now. Oh, and as an added bonus it eliminates the Individual Mandate from the Affordable Care Act, basically robbing 13 MILLION Americans of coverage.

As outlined in the Chronicle of Higher Education, this bill creates even more barriers for people who are not in the top 20% of Americans to afford a college education. For example, this bill puts additional taxes on charitable donations to colleges that allow for financial aid. Small liberal arts colleges are heavily dependent on charitable gifts to survive. The message is quite clear, the GOP does not value education, as further evidence that Betsy DeVos is the secretary of Education. People do your homework here! Obviously, the lack of access to eduction benefits the GOP, as it encourages ignorance and precludes critical thinking skills: skills that would allow people to ask questions of the government, the people that are supposed to be public servants.

Another alarming part of this bill — so alarming I needed to get my smelling salts just to be able to write this — is the reversal of The Johnson Amendment. Yes, this is part of the Religious Freedom Act (specifically Christian agenda freedom) coming from the far right wing, which now controls our government. The Johnson Amendment, created by LBJ in 1954, prohibits all non-profits, or what is called a 501 (c) (3) from making any type of political endorsement or stand to lose their tax exempt status. Trump and his henchmen are now about to reverse this in this tax plan, but ONLY for churches, allowing them to become tax-free lobbying organizations. So much for separation of church and state.

The bill slashes the corporate tax rate, eliminates the bulk of the estate tax, and changes “pass-through” business taxation in a way that benefits only the wealthiest of business owners. These changes are PERMANENT. The tweaks that MIGHT make a small change for poor and middle class taxpayers expire within the first three years. At the end of ten years, the vast majority of households making $75,000 or less will see their taxes rise, often by 20% or more.

Many deductions are eliminated or severely curtailed including bike-to-work incentives, moving expenses, most mortgage and home sale deductions, tax preparation deductions, and disaster relief deductions. State and local tax deductions are greatly reduced, penalizing blue states that fund federal programs for red states.

The bill will increase the deficit by at LEAST $1 TRILLION. So much for the party of fiscal responsibility. Deficit hawks like Sen. Flake and Sen McCain (the Arizona Stooges) believe that wealth will trickle down as businesses have more revenue, even though EVERY major corporation interviewed has indicated that the vast majority of this revenue will be used to pay bonuses and reward stockholders, giving no benefit to the average American. Sen. Murkowski sold out her constituents in exchange for getting drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yeah, that’s a tax issue… Sen. Collins accepted a fig leaf promise for a vote someday on an ACA bill that won’t come close to solving the problems caused by the loss of the individual mandate. Sens. Johnson and Daines pretended that minor changes to the pass-through rules would help small business owners. Overall, over 20% of Republican Senators had major objections to the bill but voted for it with vague changes and vaguer promises.

The most nefarious impact is yet to come. As that big deficit hole comes into reality, Republicans will certainly use it to insist on austerity measures. This is a feature, not a bug. As the deficit grows, they will insist that Social Security, medicaid, and medicare be slashed to balance the budget.

Our only hope for derailing this monstrosity is putting pressure on the conference process that will reconcile the House bill (awful in many different ways) with the Senate abomination. Getting the House to accept all the little tweaks and odditities may be difficult, and losing them may make the final bill impossible to pass again in the Senate.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your Representative and Senators and demand that they stop this horrible bill. It’s not tax “reform”, it won’t serve the middle class, it crushes the poor, and it includes elements that will reshape the social network and basic protections that we rely on today into something mean, nasty, and unrecognizable.

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Walking in Gratitude: Thanksgiving 2017

23 Nov

While I am trying to walk in gratitude and be thankful right now, I must confess that it is a struggle. I am exceedingly grateful that I had successful cancer surgery and for all of the many people in my life who have been so loving and so supportive of me! And, I am struggling that now they want me to do six months of chemo. My struggle regarding chemo pales in comparison with how I am struggling to survive living in the United States with a bizarre monster for a president, and today I am committed to being in a place of love and gratitude.

Trump’s support of Roy Moore is nothing less than monstrous. Alas, for today, I offer an invitation to all people: invite some joy and some gratitude. For those of us who are truly fatigued by the Trump administration  and his putting party before country, can we know that we are not going to change the hearts or minds of his base supporters. What we can do is show up in bigger numbers to the polls.

But for today, can we tap into shared humanity and be grateful? I am going to try and hold the messiness and the tension of the horrific ways in which we have treated and still treat native peoples, while also walking in extraordinary gratitude for the amazing and lovely people in my life — people who provide light and love and sustenance for my soul, for my heart is full.

I will hold the tension of our history and invite joy at the same time. I am reflecting on how we collectively, as Americans, conveniently choose to forget the genocide of the native peoples living in North America – the use of bio-warfare?  Yes, multi-generations of white folk have benefitted from the slaughtering of indigenous populations in North America and stealing land. It is ironic that the early survival of the Plymouth colony depended so heavily on the agricultural and fishing advice of the Wampanoag. To all the GOP governors who say “no” to Syrian refugees, I remind you that you wouldn’t have states to defend in bellicose, racist, and — yes — unconstitutional rants if a certain set of religious refugees had been treated similarly 500 years ago.

The whole idea of a “first Thanksgiving” is historically murky at best, with both religious and civil harvest festivals easily traceable to the Spanish in St. Augustine and British colonies in Jamestown and Plymouth. The native populations also had histories of harvest festivals, thus rendering a colonizer’s claim of “first” another in a series of misappropriations. Regular Thanksgiving celebrations as fixed civil events became common much later, dating to the 1660s.

As with so much of early colonial American history, most of what we “remember” is filtered through centuries of creative reconstruction: bucolic paintings, myths of noble savages and honest oppressed British outcasts, grade school songs and pageants. It is understandable that we prefer not to dwell on our collective responsibility for the decimation of whole populations, but it is an important part of our nation’s history. The colonizers’ relationship with the native populations was complex (and occassionally grateful) but seldom benefitted the natives and almost certainly did not involve everybody sharing a lovely meal around a table in peace.

Let us not forget this was no mere land grab but a decimation of Holocaust proportions. Our mistreatment of the indigenous peoples in North America went on well into the 20th Century with the Termination Act, Allotment, and the creation of Boarding Schools where white people thought their job was to “kill the Indian to save the man.”

The root idea of Thanksgiving — shared by the Europeans and the indigenous peoples — as a celebration is a good one. Be thankful for what you have; celebrate the cherished loved ones in your life; take time to remember what is good and bountiful with no expectations of gain other than shared love and thanks. Let us move forward as a nation, correctly learning, remembering, and growing from our history. Let us work hard to return to this spirit of Thanksgiving. It need not be buried in any trivia: upcoming shopping orgies (conspicuous consumption), 437 sporting events, overindulgence for its own sake, or cute “historical” imagery that overlooks a complex history.

We all have people and events in our lives worthy of celebration; that is what we should use today to be truly thankful for. I hope everyone reading this blog will be able to spend time with cherished loved ones, be it families of origin or families and communities we create. I leave you with this a song by Emeli Sandé, Highs and Lows, for I am so grateful for all the people in my life that love and support me through the good and the difficult times.

Trump Avoids Devouring Children, Wins Debate

26 Sep

trump-loves-childrenYet another disturbing week, as I had to hear Donald Trump decry the upcoming debate as being rigged against him. Trump, always a stranger to the truth, declared that he was at a disadvantage because NBC’s Lester Holt is the moderator and is a liberal Democrat. (Fact Check: Lester Holt is actually a registered Republican–a black Republican, which is just a bit too much to unpack here in this article.)

I would also remind people that NBC seems to embrace Trump at every turn. Case in point: Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s The Tonight Show was paling around with Trump and messing up his hair — oh, that wacky duo, what fun! Seriously? What the hell? Thank you, Mr. Fallon for helping to normalize racism, misogyny, homophobia, and hate. Another example, Saturday Night Live welcomed Trump to host — again thank you NBC for helping to normalize deplorable behavior! Let us not forget NBC’s Matt Lauer’s interview with Trump and with Clinton. You know you have sullied yourself beyond repair Mr. Lauer, when Fox News congratulates you on what a fine job you did.

More concerning for me, in addition to the pathological liar Trump is, is that there is a disgraceful double standard already at play against Hillary Clinton. I do agree with Trump that the debate is rigged, but I fear it is to his benefit. All Trump has to do to be declared a winner for this debate is to accomplish the following: not bite off the head of a small child while on stage, not refer to his penis and small hands, and finally (and this is a big ask) not throw one of his usual temper tantrums.  Yes, the bar has been set quite low here for Trump. Despite this embarrassing standard for a presidential nominee, I suspect it maybe difficult for him to not present himself as the bullying, bloviating, bigot that he is.

Yes, we already know that Hillary has many tricks up her sleeve. I have actually heard that she will be using facts and actual experience to draw from for the debate! How very dare she? Where the bar has been set for Trump, perhaps just an inch above the ground, the bar for Hillary has been set exponentially and disproportionately higher. However will she combat the horrific scandal of Pneumonia Gate? Can you imagine someone getting sick and then taking off a few days to recuperate? If that is not a scandal, then I don’t know what one is. Clinton is up against over 30 years of being vilified. Sadly, millenials only know the narrative created and produced by right-wing conservatives who have made it their life’s work to pillory Hillary Clinton. Here is a link to 19 pages of lies told by Trump.

My hope is that the debate is not a one man circus for Trump, but rather we can see that this is not who we want to lead our country; that Trump is not who we want as the ambassador for the world to see. This is an opportunity for Clinton to draw from her successful career and address that she is in fact exceedingly qualified for the job of President. Let us hope that the media, famously obsessed with false standards of “equivalence”, focus on presidential standards and not ratings fodder.

 

Associated Press: An Apology For Hillary ?

29 Aug

clinton-foundationHow sad and disheartening that the Associated Press (AP) has devolved to the likes of Fox News, where one can “report” a series of lies and present it as news. What is even more profoundly disturbing is that when confronted with the fact that they the AP had no evidence of wrong doing and should offer a retraction, they took a very petulant “I got my hand caught in the cookie jar”defense. Is the AP trying to model itself off of the behavior of Trump?

For those not familiar with the story, some brief background. Last week the AP pitched a story that screamed “Half of the people Hillary Clinton met with as Secretary of State were Clinton Foundation donors!!” The problem? They only looked at two years of her time as Secretary of State. They threw out every meeting she had with anyone they considered a “government official.” Left with 154 PRIVATE CITIZEN meetings (out of over 7000), it’s a wonder that only 85 turned out to be donors to a major philanthropic organization. When major news outlets — including professional Clinton basher the New York Times — called them out and asked for details, the AP refused.

Honestly, I was embarrassed for Stephen Braun and Eileen Sullivan of the AP. Their claims and allegations are not only unfounded but read as though it is a parody from The Onion: “Secretary of State Clinton talked to very important people and even took money for her foundation.” Really? Is it that far of a stretch to think that high profile people talk to other high profile people and ask them for money for a foundation–and by the way, The Clinton Foundation helps to provide medication for more than half of all adults and 75% of children impacted by HIV/AIDS world wide, not insignificant.

In fact, if you take the time to comb through Braun and Sullivan’s article, you will see they have zero evidence to corroborate any wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton. Sadly, when faced with this subterfuge by Braun and Sullivan last Tuesday, they have offered no apology, no repair, and in fact have approached the debacle in a very Trumpian manner.  Perhaps, they are trying to build a wall around Hillary and they will force her grandson Aidan to pay for it? Journalism requires honesty and transparency. How sad that the AP instead opted for innuendo and smear tactics, picking “facts” to prove a flawed thesis.

What is of great concern is that the AP article reads like a bunch of anti-Hillary bumper stickers. There seems to be great intent on behalf of Braun and Sullivan to deliver talking points without any substance, an approach we have seen used by the likes of Fox News. Yes, I admit, it is a low blow to be compared to Fox, and that is where you are now AP (in my best, “but y’are Blanche, y’are!” voice). When did AP start to stand for Appalling Practices?

Dear Hillary: How Very Dare You!

1 Aug

HillaryLet me be as candid and transparent as possible: I was a very strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, and until the past four weeks, held out great hope that he would become our next President. Over the course of the past month, I have had to do a great deal of reflecting and ask myself where does this seemingly irrational antipathy for Hillary Clinton come from? Why have I participated in it? After doing some research and looking hard at systemic misogyny, I have had to confront myself with the truth that I bought into a narrative about Hillary Clinton that has been produced, packaged, and perpetuated by mostly the GOP with the help of many democrats and independents.

This narrative is a 30-year-old vilification of a woman who is bright, independent, wealthy, and powerful — a woman who asks for what she wants and needs. How very dare you, Ms. Clinton? How dare you have a mind of your own? How dare you be bright and powerful? How dare you ask for what you want and need? Don’t you know these rights are still exclusively for white, Christian, cisgender, able-bodied, heterosexual men?

My research indicates that the reality — the facts (I realize facts are immaterial when talking to many Trump supporters) — are that Hillary Clinton is one of the most honest politicians tracked by the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking project Politifact. I would also call upon Jill Abramson’s piece in the Guardian. Most of you probably know Abramson from the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. Abramson writes:

As an editor I’ve launched investigations into her business dealings, her fundraising, her foundation and her marriage. As a reporter my stories stretch back to Whitewater. I’m not a favorite in Hillaryland. That makes what I want to say next surprising. Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.

Members of the press, in their misguided attempt to be “balanced”, love to point out that we face a presidential contest between the two least-popular candidates ever. What they fail to do is analyze their own complicity in blindly adhering to the cartoon version of Hillary Clinton. Trump is unpopular — even with many Republicans who weakly support him — because of his stated positions. Secretary Clinton is unpopular largely because of an aggressive campaign of fictions and slander. That campaign has succeeded largely because of systemic misogyny.

Journalist Michael Arnovitz points out in his article Thinking About Hillary–A Plea for Reason (I strongly recommend his piece) that propaganda around Hillary’s “dishonest” nature stems from the pablum written by conservative writer William (I can’t be concerned with facts or evidence) Safire. Safire wrote the 1996 article Blizzard of Lies in which he vilifies and demonizes Hillary as a “congenital liar” without any evidence to support his claims. (How’s that for irony?) What I find profoundly sad is how quickly and how easily I — and so many Americans — bought into this false and misogynistic narrative. This tragically illustrates  how systemic sexism/misogyny is: how it is in the water we drink, the air we breathe, in every fiber we wear.

In fact, most of the resistance to Hillary initially was about how “smug” she was in pushing that “Universal Health Care” agenda. How dare she want all people to have health insurance–why that means that health care is a community health problem–there she goes again, with a mind of her own! Furthermore, apparently she was not behaving as a First Lady should. What the hell is that? How should a First Lady behave? The intense misogyny is too overwhelming to ignore here, and sadly, we are all implicated in this system of oppression. Just this past June, Hillary was shredded by the media for the Armani jacket she wore. Really? The day she was announced as the Democratic Nominee for President, it was a picture of her husband that made the front page of the paper. This is some intense sexism at work. Did anyone ask what Bill Clinton was wearing and who designed it?

Sadly, any time there is a claim of sexism at play, people roll their eyes as though such a thing does not exist, because women, women of color, people of color, LGBT folk, all of the intersecting identities of all targeted communities are always under suspicion. We are disbelieved disproportionately for asking to be treated the same way our white, heterosexual, Christian, cisgender counterparts are treated. All of a sudden being treated equally becomes “special rights.” So say those within the dominant narrative and power structure.

While I have never been a fan of David Brooks, he actually was able to offer some reflection and repair work on Friday’s NPR commentary with  E.J. Dionne. Brooks made the claim that Hillary is too guarded (why wouldn’t she be?).  Kudos to E.J. Dionne for pointing out the double standard to Brooks, that he would not make the same claim about a male candidate for President. Brooks connected and agreed that this was a sexist statement.

What I find profoundly sad is the blatant double standard of how we individually and collectively punish women who seek power, as opposed to how we reward men for the same ambition. As Arnovitz notes in his article:

What I see is that the public view of Hillary Clinton does not seem to be correlated to “scandals” or issues of character or whether she murdered Vince Foster. No, the one thing that seems to most negatively and consistently affect public perception of Hillary is any attempt by her to seek power. Once she actually has that power her polls go up again. But whenever she asks for it her numbers drop like a manhole cover…Even NBC news, looking back over decades of their own polls, stated that, “she’s struggled to stay popular when she’s on the campaign trail.” If this has nothing to do with gender, then wouldn’t the same thing happen to men when they campaign? But it doesn’t. Why not?

When I try to ask people for specific examples of why they “hate” Hillary, or how has she been dishonest, all I get is “everyone knows she is,” or “that’s just the way I feel.”  These two answers are problematic in so many ways. Regardless, this sentiment is testament to how effective the messaging/propaganda from Republicans has been over the past two decades. All I am asking is this: can we slow down and think critically and not accept without caution or question what is presented to us as the narrative of Hillary Clinton? Can we also allow for the fact that she has made mistakes and more importantly that she grows and learns from her mistakes.

I know I have gone from a true supporter of Bernie Sanders to an apathetic supporter of Hillary to now an excited and enthusiastic supporter of our first female President. It’s certainly true that she isn’t as progressive a candidate as I would like. Neither was Bernie and his stand on guns. Neither is absurd long-shot Jill Stein and her strange anti-science positions. That’s the reality of American politics in 2016.

I truly believe that Hillary and her platform are beneficial to targeted communities: people of color, people in poverty, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ people, and all of the intersecting identities thereof. She is a hard-working, fundamentally honest person for whom — as she so nicely framed it — “the service part has always come easier than the public part.” I welcome people’s input here. All I ask is that you put in check any misogynistic comments and please have evidence to support your assertions.

Every election matters, but this one has even deeper resonance than most. Please remember to vote!

 

Hero of the Week Award: Sen. Chris Murphy

17 Jun

Chris MurphyThis has been an extraordinarily painful week for the LGBTQ community, in the wake of last Sunday’s massacre. If it is possible for something good to come from all of this hate, homophobia, and fear, I hope part of the healing will come from gun control reform.

Kudos to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn), for leading the filibuster on the senate floor to expand gun control policies with two specific measures. Yes, this is the very least the senate can do in response to the massacre in Orlando. As a side note, I need to point out that this is also very tied into race, gender, homophobia, and misogyny. The Pulse was — and will be again — a safe space for LGBTQ people, mostly queer people of color. The United States seems to feel it is acceptable to regulate women’s bodies, why can we not regulate guns? Finally the NRA’s bedfellow, Mitch McConnell, has acquiesced and agreed to hold votes for the proposed amendment.

It grows ever wearisome to hear the call for prayers every time we have people murdered by guns. We do not need the prayers, we need gun control! Sadly, I have to offer a dishonorable mention to Florida Governor, Rick Scott, a.k.a Lord Voldemort. When reporters asked Scott if there was anything that could be done on a policy level to prevent future shootings like this, Scott (who has put forth enormous energy to relax gun control laws (there is no waiting period currently to buy the AR-15) replied: “We can pray for the victims, pray for the families and pray this never happens again.” How’s that working so far?

There are at least 27 reported gun deaths EVERY DAY in the United States. The AR-15 was used in the following massacres: Orlando, Florida–49 killed, 53 wounded; Aurora, Colorado, 12 killed, 70 wounded; Sandy Hook, Connecticut, 26 killed; Santa Monica, California, 5 killed, 4 wounded; Roseburg, Oregon, 9 killed; San Bernadino, California, 14 killed, 22 wounded. Maybe its just me, but prayers don’t seem to be doing much to change things. Maybe we need action, such as adopting expansive gun control measures? Want that to happen? Get out and vote!

In addition to Murphy, I want to acknowledge and give an honorable mention to the following Democratic Senators for finally creating significant resistance against the NRA and pushing for greater gun control policies: Richard Blumenthal, and Cory Booker (NJ),  Dick Durbin (IL), Bill Nelson (FL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Joe Manchin (WV), Ben Cardin (MD), Ed Markey (MA), Patrick Leahy (VT), Al Franken (MN), Patty Murray (WA), Gary Peters (MI), Bob Casey (PA), Ron Wyden (OR), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Bob Menendez (NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Claire McCaskill (MO), Mark Warner (VA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Sherrod Brown (OH), and counting. Yes, I’m very glad to see that both of Oregon’s senators were on this list!

The constitution is a living document and the flaws of the second amendment seem glaringly obvious. Given that no women and no people of color had any representation or voice in drafting the original document, it would stand to reason that this document needs further tweaking to represent more voices.

If you do not see your senator on this list, please contact them and let your voice be heard. I wish everyone a Happy Pride Month and let us not give into fear but share our love and solidarity!

Truth in Advertising: Trump and Kasich

15 Mar
Gov. Kasich measures how moderate he actually is

Gov. Kasich measures how moderate he actually is

While there is really very little good I have to say about Donald Trump, the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot, I will say he does provide truth in advertising. It is exceedingly — even painfully — clear how dangerous he is individually and for the country. That being said, I think it is equally important to understand how dangerous the stealth candidate John Kasich is, as we look at what he has done to Ohio. Kasich is far from being the moderate he would like people to think he is, which means there is NO moderate choice from the GOP candidates.

Sadly, even NPR consistently refers to Kasich as “moderate,” I don’t think that word means what they think it means. Just because he does not appear or behave like he just graduated from clown college as Trump, Cruz, and Rubio do, he is nonetheless a far right extremist.  Let us not forget his stand on marriage equality — Obergefell v. Kasich which then became Obergefell v. Hodges — where Kasich showed just how homophobic he could be. Terminally ill John Arthur, who suffered from ALS, wanted the Ohio Registrar to identify his partner, James Obergefell, as his surviving spouse on his death certificate based on their marriage in Maryland. Governor Kasich then deemed it necessary to define marriage as an institution between one man and one woman and refused to acknowledge the marriage.

The governor takes an equally dangerous view on letting women have any say in their own health choices. Since taking office in 2011, he has enacted 16 measures that limit women’s access to reproductive health care. Some are aggressively anti-choice, like the so-called “late term” ban and a statewide gag order barring rape crisis counselors from making abortion referals. He has also used abortion rights as a tool to limit access to general reproductive health care, such as stripping millions of family planning dollars from Planned Parenthood. While Kasich has been governor, the number of Ohio abortion providers has been cut by 50% and funding for reproductive health care for women has dwindled.

The fact that Kasich doesn’t outright deny the science of climate change and “remains open” to “some options” on immigration does not make him moderate. Those vague statements simply mean that he’s willing to spout platitudes and smirk sagely while his primary competitors froth at the mouth and chew the furniture, and disgustingly compare penis size, because apparently that is now where we are at as a culture in the United States. Unlike the Donald or the two junior Senators, Kasich has a long history of executive actions to analyze, and all of those actions prove just prove what a sexist, homophobic racist he is, and how dangerous a Kasich presidency would be.

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