Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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In the lead up to ‘unpresidented’ Presidential Inauguration, I have a suggestion to those attending the Women’s March in D.C. on 21 January 2017 or to any U.S. citizen, anywhere in the United States, especially those who desperately want to make a difference in the fight against in the incoming Trump administration, but don’t know how.

[Please note: At the bottom of this post are links and contact information; a guide on how to contact your United States Representatives. This post will be updated throughout the week – leading up to the 21 January 2017 march – as more information becomes available.]

When in D.C. – Marching and protests definitely send message, but while in Washington D.C. this week (or if you’re planning to visit D.C. anytime in the next 4 years) there’s an even more direct way to send a message to the government. Below is a reference on how to contact your state and district representatives in Washington D.C.

Find your representatives and talk to them about the issues that matter to you in person. Go in groups large or small, but go! Talk to other representatives too, especially Republican leadership like Paul Ryan (R-WI, Speaker of the House) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY, Senate Majority Leader). Thank Democrats like Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for all the work they do on behalf of every American. If someone is not available on the day, talk to their staff and leave a respectfully worded note (written in advance) and be sure to include your name and contact information. I also recommend calling local news organizations; let them know your intentions and invite them to tag along.

The D.C. Residents Women’s March on Washington (WMWDClocal) had this to add to the discussion as well:

“If you plan to visit your Member (in D.C.), please schedule an appointment. It will be difficult to get on the calendar on short notice, but the fact that you tried will be noted. You likely won’t get to see the Member him/herself. That’s OK. The staffers are very knowledgeable and will convey your message. Speaking of your message…know your talking points cold. Be prepared to make your case concisely…3 minutes or less. Have information that you can leave behind. The Unity Principles document would be good for a leave-behind folder. Include your contact information for follow up questions.”

The WMWDClocal group have also assembled a comprehensive guide on visiting your member of congress in Washington D.C. Should be considered required reading when visiting the nation’s capital.

When in Home – And if you can’t make it to D.C., you can call representatives on the phone from home. Respectfully tell them (or their staff) your story of why the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Planned Parenthood, the environment, and the rights of minority groups are important to you! As with in person visits, have your talking pointings organized in advance and be sure to provide your name and contact information for any follow ups.

When in Seattle, WA – I will be marching in Seattle, WA on 21 January and encourage everyone in the area to join the nearly 40k of us (Women’s March on Seattle). Those living in, visiting, and marching on D.C. have a unique opportunity to speak for us all, but that doesn’t mean your voice should stay silent. Please share this information with anyone interested in making a difference and let all our voices be heard!

Thank you.

A GUIDE TO CONTACTING YOUR UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVES

How to contact U.S. Senators
http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

How to contact Congress
http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

U.S. Senators’ Suite and Phone Numbers in D.C. http://www.senate.gov/general/resources/pdf/senators_phone_list.pdf

Visiting hours at the capital
https://www.aoc.gov/visitor-hours

(Closed on Inauguration Day, but contact them directly for the best day/time to visit representatives.)

Guide to Visiting Your Member of Congress (by WMWDClocal)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1NCJiym6AGmMVRpcXZtLXEyNGc/view

Paul Ryan (R-WI, Speaker of the House)
1233 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3031
Fax: (202) 225-3393

Mitch McConnell (R-KY, Majority Republican Leader of the Senate)
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2541
Fax: (202) 224-2499

Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
332 Dirksen Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5141
Fax: (202) 228-0776

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4543

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, Democratic Leader of the House)
233 Cannon H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4965

Chuck Schumer (D-NY, Democratic Minority Leader of the Senate)
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6542

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Senate and House Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi (Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

As someone who relies on, as someone with friends and family who rely on the Affordable Care Act (ACA a.k.a. Obamacare), I am, we are all terrified. What will happen if it is repealed without a viable replacement? Most of you should already know the answer to this one:

Millions of people will lose their health care. Millions may not be able to afford insurance without the ACA and many with preexisting conditions (approx. 52 million Americans under the age of 65) could be denied insurance even if they could. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, potentially tens of thousands of people who can’t afford their medications, who can’t afford to go to the doctor, can’t afford a trip to the ER in an emergency, who won’t get critical preemptive care, cancer screenings, and the like, will go bankrupt trying to manage or simply die without it.

This is not hyperbole. People will, quite literally, die.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), and the majority of Republicans seem to be pushing, so inflexible and sadistically, toward this goal they’re akin to a pack of rabid wolves finally released from captivity. They have no plan – other than to repeal as quickly as possible – and seem completely oblivious to the lethal consequence of their impulsive, almost instinctual actions.

But there is some hope. In the early hours of Thursday, 12 January, while the U.S. Senate was taking votes on the repeal, Democrats, in an impressive show of passion and fortitude, not only cast their votes against the repeal, they made a statement.

“This is not business as usual! You are stealing heath care from Americans. I vote no.”
– Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington State)

Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington State), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), and more defied procedure and stood up for Americans who cannot afford to lose their insurance under the ACA.

Whether you support the ACA or think it’s a disaster, whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or an Independent, the ACA has saved lives. Repealing it now – without a replacement organized, agreed upon, and ready to go – will not only rob millions of Americans of their health care, but could very well be a death sentence for thousands. Contact your senator, Hell, contact every senator. Tell them that, until there’s a suitable and immediate replacement available, they must vote NO! And hold the President-Elect accountable too.

  • How to contact U.S. Senators: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
  • How to contact Congress: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
  • How to contact Donald Trump: Donald, I’m told, doesn’t believe in email, but you can post him your grievance here: Donald Trump, C/O The Trump Organization, 725 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10022 — Then, from 20 January 2017 until he’s voted out or impeached: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500]

Need help with your message? Use the one below and fill in the blanks.

Dear (Their Name),

As a citizen of this great country and with respect to my fellow citizens, I urge you to cease the dangerous repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until such time that a suitable and immediate replacement is made available. Beginning the process of repeal without a replacement puts millions of Americans in danger of losing their desperately needed health care and will potentially kill thousands who will die without access and/or the ability to afford their medications, doctors, ER visits, and therapies: People undergoing chemo treatments and those who need surgery; people with chronic conditions and family histories of cancer who require regular screenings; children with diabetes, on dialysis, and with disabilities; seniors who require nursing care and medications; human beings, millions whose lives are now literally in your hands.

Stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act now! Until there is a replacement, you are putting the lives of millions of innocent people in danger. It’s the right thing to do.
Thank you,

(Your Name)
(City, State)

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Image by Nicolas Raymond

By NATINA NORTON — 

Post the presidential election of 2016, in an attempt to find solace and commiseration, I found myself reading a lot of posts, comments, and commentaries. There has certainly been a great deal of anger, that the lesser evil did not prevail, fear of what is to come, and confusion as to how our country became so divided, and – worse – a disunited and ugly place.

And I mean really, really, to a profound degree, no alibi, U-G-L-Y.

One such perspective I came across, in regards the ugly America factor, came from a blog titled “Danielle’s Thoughts.” The author, I felt, encapsulated well this uneasy epidemic of ugliness.

“We have become complacent with putting others down and being hateful to one another. […] Now before Trump has even taking office we have condemned him, blaming him for all that is wrong with this country. He is already our new excuse for our problems. This is absurd we have no idea what he holds in store for this country. I myself was not a Trump supporter, but I also do not know what he holds for us as a nation and I personally refuse to condemn someone before even seeing what they are going to do. I will hold my judgment until I see actions personally. He will not be my new excuse to sit idle and hateful without action. We have got to stop this cycle, we have got to stop allowing our hearts to be so polluted and making excuses for spreading this ugly disease.”

The President to Blame by danielleremainstrue

I wholeheartedly agree with her sentiment. We have become, not only complacent in this country, but flippant about treating each other like the enemy. Every individual is responsible for his or her own actions. If we don’t like the way things are, we should stop blaming Democrats, Republicans, and those who voted for one side or the other. If you don’t like the direction of our country or even your own life, stop condemning everyone else and do the work yourself; vote, take a stand, fight for what you believe in. Look at the situation in Standing Rock as a prime example.

As far as condemning Trump goes, however, I’ve got zero qualms doing so.

Donald Trump and his ilk are not an excuse for the current epidemic of ugliness in the United States; they are the contagion.

We already know what he has in store for this country, or at least what we wants to do. He already told us.

He wants to build a wall.
He wants to kick immigrants and Muslims out of the country.
He wants to take away our healthcare (including the pre-existing condition rule).
He bragged about sexually assaulting women.
He is open to using nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation.
He wants to kill the families of terrorists and bring back torture.
He thinks climate change is a hoax.

And, in addition to all of the above condemnable stuff – even when digested individually – he has a long, sorted history of making inflammatory judgments, statements, tweets, bullying, racism, sexism, (every isms really) and generally being an hateful instigator of inexcusable ugliness.

I don’t condemn Trump for our country’s problems, of which obviously there are many. That said, I will and do blame him for his actions; not just over the course of the presidential campaign, but his entire adult life. At best, he spent the whole of his run for president fanning the flames of an ugliness in this country for personal gain. It’s the equivalent of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, only in this case Trump was shouting bigoted rhetoric to a theatre full of the armed, uninformed, and angry; xenophobes who needed their own “other” blame. And he gave that to them. He told them they were justified in blaming everyone else for their problems. That’s what a demagogue does. That’s who Donald Trump is.

We know who he is, we know what he wants to do. He should be condemned. Anyone who behaves as such should be condemned and held accountable. His wholly uneducated view of the world puts all of us in danger; our environment, our health, our safety, our right to religion (all of them), love (e.g. who we choose to), speech, press, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

SoMany. FuckingReasons. To. Be.  AngryConfused. and Afraid.

Those of us who did not vote for Donald Trump, who do not subscribe to his divisive hyperbole, have a right to be afraid and to condemn him. But then as citizens of this country, we also must do whatever we can to make sure this ugliness never has a chance to fester long enough to infect our entire nation. We must protect our rights – and more importantly each other – and protect the ideals that have always made this country great. Make our voices heard.

Donald Trump and his ilk are the contagion. Those of us who recognize this ugliness – not only in them, but in ourselves – we are the cure.

Recommended reading & watching:

viva-la-resistance-a-rebel_s-guide-to-overcoming-resistance-1By Natina Norton —

After the results of the 2016 presidential election, it’s easy – as a reasoned observer – to be angry, fearful, and confused. Maybe even a little hostile. But as much as I don’t, I can’t comprehend what has happened as I write this so close to the finish, my stomach still so filled with vitriol and acidity, I know there is hope just over the next horizon.

If our country, the United States, is still standing, the heart of it still beating in 2 years – and we’re not on the verge or deep in the grips of a nuclear winter – enough time will have passed for the consequences of this egregious error to be laid bare; for the choice of more than half our country to prove its lack of quality.

[Correction: As of Wednesday afternoon, 11/9/2016, despite losing the electoral college 228 vs. Trump’s 279, Hillary Clinton was actually leading the popular vote by more than 200,000; 47.7% to Trump’s 47.5%. Also, according to the United States Election Project, nearly half of eligible voters (231,556,622 people) did not vote in the 2016 presidential election (46.6% of the population). This means, when it comes right down to it, Donald Trump was not the choice of “half our country” because only 25% of eligible voters actually voted for Trump.]

In all likelihood, in 2 years, our economy will be tanking, employment struggling, healthcare in shambles, and our international reputation an embarrassment; point being, it’ll be abundantly clear to everyone, including Trump supporters that – either from a true lack of power or complete incompetence – all the things Donald promised he’d do or could do will not have materialize. And, pending this fact, as a united states in 2 years we can fight together for a common purpose.

We all let this happen. We were indifferent or oblivious to the building of an almost literal white noise. We assumed the ignorance and ugliness of our past was in the past instead of simply lying dormant.

Nevertheless, in 2 years we will vote again. Assuming that right isn’t removed by some kind of totalitarian tactic, on November 6, 2018 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate and all 435 voting seats in the United States House of Representatives will be up for grabs. As a country, as a collective, we will have the opportunity to vote and start the long process of undoing this absolute clusterfeck of an election.

In the meantime, however, we must be diligent and dissident. We should react to this, not with violence and hatred, but with strength. No matter his title, his position, or is words, Donald Trump cannot change who we are or silence our voices.

And, once I’ve recovered from my shock and disgust, that the next American President will be a racist, sexist, misogynist demagogue, you can be damn sure I’m gonna make my voice one of the loudest.

Fuck Donald Trump.

Vive la résistance!

A little light reading and inspiration..

Baby Trump

Image by grobles63 @ Deviantart.com

By NATINA NORTON —

It all started June 16, 2015. Donald J. Trump slithered down an escalator to declare his candidacy for President of the United States. Since that fateful day, the Republican nominee has been called an awful lot of names.

Racist, bigot, xenophobe, sexist, conman, and – one of my personal favorites – demagogue, just to name a few.

To justify all of the above name-calling, there’s a virtual smorgasbord of scandals to choose from. A few examples:

If in need of further data, on September 13, 2016 noted journalist, Keith Olbermann, host of GQ’s The Closer, offered a comprehensive list of “176 shocking things Donald Trump has done.” Olbermann’s 176 (plus a sequel of 74 more) were then followed by Trump’s 5 A.M. Twitter tirade against former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, and the self-professed respecter of women impotently bragging how celebrity allows him to get away with sexual assault.

So, based on the evidence, it appears the name-calling list thus far is accurate, and we can also add misogynist.

With most of his deplorable behavior well covered, some have added supplementary names to the list using his above behavior combined with his apparently Everest-sized mountain of lies. Again, just a few examples:

With reference to Trump’s documented lies, Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC’s Last Word called Trump a pathological liar, meaning his lies are compulsive. “He knows you know he’s lying […], but he simply cannot resist […].” Conversely, Fareed Zakaria of CNN and the Washington Post believes, at his core, Trump is instead a bullshit artist. “Liars and truth-tellers are both acutely aware of facts and truths. […] The B.S. artist, however, has lost all connection with reality. He pays no attention to the truth.”

So, whatever way you cut it, based on the evidence, Donald has told a myriad of easily exposed lies. This means we can now reasonably add to our list pathological liar, bullshit artist, or just plain ole liar, liar pants (made in China) on fire.

Seriously. Name-calling Trump is exhausting.

Every day it seems the Republican candidate for President provides us with yet another scandal, another lie, which ultimately lengthens this already extensive list of unflattering names. But when it comes right down to it, what does all this name-calling accomplish? We already know – and have known for some time – what this tangerine-faced, tiny-handed, Twitter meltdowning, dictator-loving, deeply narcissistic, profoundly insecure bully with the temperament of an infant, racist, bigoted, xenophobic, sexist, conman, demagogue, misogynist, pathological, bullshit shoveling, liar has always been…

Donald Trump is an asshole.

It all started June 16, 2015. Donald J. Trump slithered down an escalator to declare his candidacy for President of the United States. Since that fateful day, the now Republican nominee has said and done plenty of abhorrent things to warrant being called an awful lot of names. He didn’t just cross the line with his comments about Mexican immigrants, Muslims, women, veterans, the disabled, the media, the President, or any number of people, places, and things; he crossed a thousand lines a thousand and one times proving himself over and over and over to be the most unqualified, undignified, insufferable a-hole to ever darken America’s doorstep, not to mention a presidential election. When this all comes to a merciful end, November 8, 2016, it is my hope, as well as the hope of millions of other rational people around the world, that Donald J. Trump will finally be called the only name that truly matters.

Loser.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News fame apparently just can’t help himself. Appearing on ABC’s program The View, O’Reilly (well-known for his loud spouting of overbearing rhetoric), managed to rant his way into an embarrassingly bigoted statement. He also insulted and alienated co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar to the point of them walking off the set. The topic was the mosque near Ground Zero. O’Reilly’s take was that it was inappropriate for the families who lost loved ones because, “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”

A description of the event from an excellent article in the LA Times:

If you wanted to know what’s wrong with American politics, all you had to do was watch “The View” on Thursday, when co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walked off the set after Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly announced that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”  In the wake of their departure, co-host Barbara Walters, who is becoming more schoolmarmish with every passing year, admonished her colleagues, telling the audience, “You have just seen what should never happen,” and adding that “we” should be able to sit down and talk calmly about politics even if we disagree.

Girlfriend, please.

While I appreciate Barbara Walter’s feeble and misguided attempt at keeping the peace, in an effort to do so she lost a lot of credibility. O’Reilly is not a humble philosopher. He’s an aggressive instigator; a hate-filled bomb waiting for the opportunity to detonate. Much like the Rev. Terry Jones fiasco, Walters and company provided O’Reilly a soapbox in the name of ratings. You can hardly blame the fallout when you’re the one who lit the fuse.


(1.45)

O’Reilly did later clarify his statement, inserting the word “extremists” into his argument, however, he still failed to explain how or why the mosque near Ground Zero is inappropriate for the Muslim families who also lost loved ones on 9/11.

Many thanks for the overwhelming amount of feedback, both on and off WordPress.com, on my last column: Freedom of Religion & Stupidity: The Rev. Terry Jones Story. Some loved it, some hated it, and someone actually compared me to the Tea Party (*Shutter*), but collectively everyone had a worthy opinion to contribute.

In response to everyone’s questions and comments, I’ve created the following Q&A to add to the discussion and further develop my position on this topic.

Credit: aej.org

Q: Why do you care if the First Amendment rights of someone like Rev. Jones is denied?

A: I don’t. What I do care about is the current contradiction in this country where many Americans are cherry picking when, where, and who the First Amendment applies to.

There is no asterisk in the Constitution. Maybe there should be in some extreme cases, but when you start denying the rights of one person based on personal opinion, it weakens everyone’s rights and leaves the door open for more bias. Demanding a mosque not be built based on “feelings,” for example, is not a viable excuse to disregards someone’s rights; that is called discrimination.

Q: Isn’t Qur’an burning the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater?

A: No. Falsely, shouting “fire” in a crowed theater, though irresponsible, much like burning the Qur’an, the Bible, or the Torah is not specifically against the law. However, if it directly leads to injuries, death, and/or public services i.e. local law enforcement having to get involved, then the person can be held personally and financially responsible. In the case of Pastor Terry Jones, he was ordered to pay the city of Gainesville, Florida $180,000 to cover security costs.

As a potential counter argument, there is the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio where the scope of banned speech was ultimately limited to that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action (e.g. a riot). However, if this addendum is considered applicable in the case of Terry Jones, we’re again confronted with the hypocrisy of cherry picking. Jones might be a bigoted lunatic, but what about an elected official like Newt Gingrich likening Islam to the Nazis or fear mongers like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck? The latter have their own TV shows every weekday, inciting hatred and violence in their loyal viewers. In fact, much of what they say could be categorized as “hate speech.” Shouldn’t they also be held responsible for the acts of crazy fanatics who have been inspired by them to aggression and murder? Who gets to decide when speech should be banned?


Q: Couldn’t the same logic be used to defend the KKK burning crosses in front yards?

A: No. Though the definition may vary from state to state, burning a cross on someone’s property and/or a public place is considered a hate crime and, if the purpose is criminal intimidation, it is a felony (as well it should be), so it does not fall under the First Amendment.

Q: What about the potential danger to our military?

A: Obviously I’m not a fan of soldiers getting killed, much less because some idiot thought book burning was a good idea. I just want to know how and where we can reasonably draw the line. I’d LOVE to see people like Bill O’Reilly off the air; hell, shutdown Fox News entirely. They incite hatred and fear – the verbal equivalent of burning a cross on the New York Imam Rauf’s front lawn – which could potentially endanger the lives of Muslims in America. Why are they allowed Freedom of Speech and the Press, but some preacher in a tiny church in Florida gets undeserved news coverage and worldwide condemnation?

Americans justify our country going to war by saying our military is, “fighting for our freedom.” It’s an utterly ridiculous concept for many reasons, but in this case, if it truly is OUR freedom they are fighting for, then why are so many in the U.S. using lies, hostility, and intimidation to take freedom away from someone else i.e. specifically Muslims who want to build an Islamic Center in New York?

[Video: Glenn Beck says we don’t want Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal’s help or money. He says, the Prince already sent us help and [he] flew that help into the Trade Centers.” Someone should probably let Beck know that bin Talal is a major share holder in Fox News’ News Corp.]

Q: Is denying the Freedom of Speech of a Terry Jones really a “slippery slope” situation?

A: My fight is not about Terry Jones. It is against the idea that freedom is selective in this country. For example, if the Terry Jones’ of the world should not be allowed to burn the Qur’an because it might incite violence, then the Bill O’Reillys and the corrupt Fox News organization should be shut down too. Why is ANY hate speech allowed?

We’re already on a slippery slope in this regard. There was a time when whites were uncomfortable with blacks using their same drinking fountain. Now, despite the fact that it was extremists who attacked us on 9-11, people are uncomfortable with peaceful Muslims building a mosque. Some even go so far as to say Muslims shouldn’t even be allowed to wear a religious headscarf in public.

What if crucifixes were deemed offensive? Should every Christian be forced to remove them in public? What about Ash Wednesday dots? Nuns and their funny hats? Religious tattoos? Those damn Jesus fish alone are enough to provoke unreasonable anger.

To be honest, I’m happy Terry Jones was silenced. But he is not the root of the problem.

Q: So what is the root of this problem?

A: The way I see it, the real problem behind all this strife is:

  1. The media’s constant, irrational peddling of terror and giving insignificant people like Terry Jones an audience.
  2. Americans buying into the media’s propaganda.
  3. Religion.

Religion might be the worst of the three. People seem to forget that everyone has a God to kill for; they all just have a different name. Let’s just throw everyone’s holy book on a pyre and roast ourselves some marshmallows.

I’m not suggesting imminent lawless action, by the way; just a tasty, fireside treat using some potentially inflammatory kindling.