They Came For Me…

theycameAfter spending a day grieving for the country I thought I lived in, and coming to terms with the hypocrisy and idiocy of roughly half of the citizens of the US, I have come to some conclusions.  First, to me, voting for someone who has espoused so much hate and bigotry means that the voter is willing to overlook such behavior for whatever reason. No one who spewed as much malevolence as Trump has any business running this country – a country that, at least on the surface, promotes “liberty and justice for all.”   I’ve had people tell me that this is God’s will – it true, it’s not any God I would worship.  I’ve also had people tell me that they voted for him to shake up the system, to get someone in there who isn’t part of the established status quo, and because they agree with some of what he said. Technically, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, with 59,814,018 votes to Trump’s 59,611.678 votes.  This does console me a bit in that the majority of people in this country are good people who see Trump for the racist, misogynistic, bigoted bully he is.  However since the people in key states are not, the electoral votes went to Trump, making him the de-factor winner.

On his second day as President-Elect, Trump has already started to make his plans.  Apparently he has a list of “enemies.” He’s considering some of the most unqualified and frankly terrifying people for his cabinet including Chris Christie or Newt Gingrich for Attorney General, and Sarah Palin for Secretary of the Interior.  Chris Christie is also being considered for secretary of Homeland Security, with Rick Scott as potential secretary for Health and Human Services.

He’s already chosen Myron Ebell to lead the EPA transition.  A known climate change skeptic, Ebell was called a climate criminal by Greenpeace, and was censured in the British House of Commons due to his views on climate change.  One of Trump’s campaign promises was to “get rid of [EPA] in almost every form. We are going to have little tidbits left but we are going to take a tremendous amount out.” (Trump, March 2016) Much of Ebell’s work Is funded by companies like Exxon Mobile, Koch Industried, and Murray Energy Corporation, on record for constant criticism and litigation concerning the EPA.  They are the largest coal producer in the US, thus having the most to lose in the clean energy movement.

Presumably, “shaking up the system” means having people in power who are not part of the established structure.  Now that the man at the top is a definite political outsider, how will that work?  Given his list of cabinet choices, he’s not really holding true to that.  Not only has he chosen career politicians to populate his cabinet, but the ones he’s considering have proven themselves time after time to be the worst of the worst when it comes to governing all the people, not just the highest dollar contributors.  How is that anything other than politics as usual? In addition to that, the GOP is now firmly in power in most areas of government.  These are the same elected officials who made it possible for jobs to be shipped overseas.  They enacted the policies that Trump directly benefited from in his business life.  Even his “Make America Great Again” caps were made, not in the US by US workers, but in China.  Imported via trade agreements to make them cheaper – those same trade agreements he is now promising to dismantle.

Voters also say they wanted someone who would fix the economy.  The actions Trump is threatening to take could very well tank the economy.  For those Trump voters who bought into his tax policy proposals, it has been estimated that he will increase taxes on working and middle class families by virtue of eliminating personal exemptions for taxpayers and dependents, and removing the head of household filing status, which single parents and caretakers use, the overwhelming majority of whom are single mothers.  That accounts for 35% of all children in the US who will be reduced to further poverty in the name of “fixing the economy.”  These tax changes will directly harm the very people who voted to put him in office.  Who gets tax cuts under his plan?  Rich people and corporations, of course.  In addition, with the now Republican held Senate and House, Paul Ryan may just be able to end Medicare, food stamps, and Medicaid.  Expect to see a lot more hungry children and dying elderly.  Since repealing the Affordable Care Act is also one of Trump’s priorities, those elderly won’t be able to get private insurance, either.  But let’s focus on “shaking up the system.”

Effectively raising taxes on the poor and middle class and putting even more money in the hands of the 1%, backing out of trade agreements without viable alternatives, and wrecking the environment are the things he has promised to get done in his first 100 days, albeit in terms that are less blatant.

There’s so much more to say, but this is already too long for a blog post.  I’ll be writing more.  Perhaps I’ve just gotten to an age where seeing someone decide that hating and racism and mysogyny and bogotry can be ignored because a person “just wants change” is wrong on so many levels I can no longer excuse it. If people want change, and I have no doubt they do, there are ways to facilitate it without marginalizing and brutalizing large groups of people. If people want change, they need to get out and make it happen. If there’s one thing this election taught me, it’s that time-proven lesson about what happens when good people sit by and do nothing. I’m not willing to overlook the secondary message in this election – some people matter less than others.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~Martin Miemoller

*Note:  Given the hatred that is now running rampant in this country, I have set comments to moderation.  If you have a dissenting opinion, you’re welcome to it, but write it in your own blog.  It’s free!  It’s time to people to start working for their 1st Amendment rights – at least on my blog.

**I am Jewish, but I wanted to quote the poem in it’s entirety.

***Cross posted on two of my blogs – PandoraKnits and Utopia Missed.

#PenceMustGo – and the rest of his cronies, too.

There is a bill in Indiana that was quietly passed through the state legislature while we were all busy watching the Trump Circus that tells women that no matter how severe a birth defect is, regardless of how painful a newborn’s death may be from said defects, or how short and painful a child’s life may be – the mother can no longer, for ANY REASON, seek an abortion in Indiana. Senate Bill 313 states that even if carrying said fetus to term might result in the mother’s death, termination is no longer an option.  The bill expressly prohibits abortion in the case of ANY defect discovered before birth.  The Indiana legislature, in their ongoing mission to prove to the rest of the world just how backwards and bigoted this state is, has forwarded this piece of thinly veiled religious doctrine to Governor Mike Pence for his signature.

In case you can’t sense my outrage, I am OUTRAGED!  I am thoroughly and completely pro-choice.  I believe that women have the right, indeed the responsibility, to make informed decisions about their health, and the health of their unborn children.  And until these Republican elected officials, the vast majority of whom are men, find a way to bear children themselves, I refuse to accept their dominion over me, and not even then.  Worse than the Republican men who worked on this bill, a woman is listed as co-author. I understand that many women are anti-choice, and that they have bought into the idea that men know better than women do what’s good for women.  Or perhaps it’s a case of “sincerely held” religious belief.  If that’s the case, then just don’t have an abortion.  It’s really quite simple, and that’s the whole point about pro-choice.  Unfortunately, Senator Liz Brown, of District 15, a district that, based on the outline of the map appears to be gerrymandered, has betrayed not only women, but hopelessly ill children as well.  Standing by her side is Representative Rhonda Rhoads, District 70 (which appears to be a similarly gerrymandered district) one of the sponsors of the bill. Because we already know that the children who will be born if this bill is signed into law will most likely end up on some sort of public assistance.  No GOP member I know of has every stepped up to take responsibility for the consequences of their legislation yet. By the way, they also tightened the laws concerning any sort of public assistance, effectively impoverishing the very children they are now legally mandating must be born.

I don’t know if I would have an abortion if my child was profoundly disabled, and I discovered it before birth.  I don’t know if I could make that choice.  I do know people who have, and it devastated them.  But that’s the point.  Prior to this law, there was a choice.  After this is signed into law, frankly, there will still be a choice, but it will be – by necessity – an illegal one.  I cannot express this more profoundly and emphatically – this is unconsciounable.  Women and children will die as a result of this bill, and although Pence has a chance to veto it, he probably won’t.

I tried to send an email to express my thoughts to Pence, but when I clicked submit I got this:

rejected

 

 

 

It appears my submission was rejected.  So, here’s what I want Pence to read:

I am shocked and appalled that you would even consider signing Senate Bill 313 into law. The bill is clearly intended to render void Roe V. Wade, force women to do what a particular religious group demands, and will put women’s health care back 50 years. Women are not political pawns, nor are their children, or their ability to choose what’s best for them in a given situation. The legality of abortion is not about having abortions whenever it’s convenient, it’s about being able to choose for ourselves.

You have a chance to redeem yourself, somewhat, for the foibles of the past year in terms of GLBT rights, women’s issues, and the environment in vetoing this bill. I strongly urge you to do so.

Deborah Resnick
Chalmers, Indiana

Send the two women listed here a quick email, expressing your disgust at their actions.  Send Pence a quick note, letting him know that a woman’s choice to choose for herself outweighs his need to pander to his religious constituents.  Don’t sit by and be a party by proxy to the dismantling of all that our mothers and grandmothers fought and died for – the ability to have dominion over our own minds and bodies.

Mike Pence
200 W. Washington St. Rm 206
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 232-4567

lizbrown rhondarhoads

 

 

Feminism is…

Skadi Hunting

I was reading an article on feminism in a pagan framework, and happened upon this definition of feminism:

 
“It’s not the belief that women are better than men, it’s got nothing to do with being ‘PC’, it’s not a plea for special treatment, it is a demand for equality. Feminism is the right to be viewed as a human being rather than a representation of your gender. Our predecessors a thousand years ago understood this when they wrote these stories. When people argue against Feminism, what they are actually saying is that they are opposed to treating women as people.” – Alyxander Folmer
 
Feminism is not having to answer the question “What does your husband think about you making more money than him?” when men are never asked “How does your wife feel about making less money than you?” It’s about being at a job interview and not having to explain what you’ll do if your child is sick when no man I know of has ever been asked that question. Feminism is about not being expected to justify your ability to do a job because you’re female/a mother/a wife. Feminism is being able to go to a conference and not be asked about how my husband feels about me being gone. Or being expected to get permission to go out for drinks. Or not getting as good a raise because I’m married and have my husband to support me.
 
Feminism is about the reasonable expectation that I will be afforded the same rights and consideration as men and not having assumptions made based on my gender.
 
So, when women say they don’t need feminism because they like having doors opened for them and a man to take care of them, they don’t realize that their ability to even have that thought was brought to them by feminists. There wouldn’t be a choice of working or not working had it not been for feminists. If the GOP has their way, that ability could evaporate in the future, and the only thing standing between here and there are feminists.
The best thing about the definition?  It was written by a man.

Work or Die

cf5d3ff136f6c0daee5847217bf35d17Absolutely you should work if you can. But given my recent experiences with people looking for jobs and being unable to find them, in Indiana it’s just not a given that every able bodied person is able to work. There just aren’t enough full time jobs that pay anything close to a living wage. An article in the news recently implied that because Indiana has decided that people without jobs are slackers and freeloaders and should starve rather than be given a paltry sum to buy fat laden food. According to the article, 50,000 Indiana residents (who should be voting the asshats that passed this legislation out of office) will now be “forced” to work.  First, let’s look at the numbers.  Of the 922,273 people in Indiana who receive food stamps, 509,427 are under 18. That leaves roughly 420,000 adults on food stamps.  Of those, estimates are that between 47,000 and 65,000 are unemployed.  Job assistance in Indiana consists of filling out a form and hoping they call you. Job training in Indiana has been cut to the bone, and is virtually non-existent.

Between the lack of job assistance and training, and the large number of rural areas with no public transportation or business, “It’s a lack of jobs, not a lack of willingness to work,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt of the Ohio Association of Food Banks. “In an environment where we have college graduates that are now competing for low-wage jobs, for folks with multiple barriers to employment, it’s going to be difficult for them to find work.”  It’s not going to be difficult.  It’s going to be impossible.  The 50,000 Hoosiers who are looking for work didn’t start looking when this happened. They’ve BEEN looking, in some cases for years. There are simply not enough jobs. People quite close to me have been searching for ANY full time job and not able to find one. The jobs that are available are mostly in fast food and pay minimum wage. I’m all for people working for a living, but someone has to step up and hire them, first. The tone of this article is bullshit, and perpetuates the very stereotypes the Republicans and the 1% want us to keep fighting over. It’s another ploy to get us fighting amongst ourselves so they can continue to profit. It’s bullshit.

According the a calculator on the Indiana Self Sufficiency Standard website , a single person with no children in Tippecanoe County needs to earn $8.82 per hour.  Expected housing costs are listed as $638 per month.  If that person is fortunate enough to live in Lafayette or West Lafayette, there is public transportation.  If not, a car is a necessity. Unfortunately, a studio apartment in Lafayette starts out at $750 a month, not including utilities.  Almost all the jobs currently available start at minimum wage – $7.25 an hour. It would take a full time job and a part time job to meet the minimum self sufficiency standard as determined by the state of Indiana.

This isn’t about making sure no one plays the system.  It’s about making sure that those with the power are not discovered as THEY play the system.  They have us fighting amongst ourselves over lazy, unemployed bums scamming the tax payers of this “great” state so that we don’t start pointing fingers at them demanding that they take care of EVERY citizen of the state, not just the ones lining their pockets in exchange for favors.  Then, these politicians, who by any measure are wealthy, can sit back and point at all the “freeloaders” they’ve kicked off the food stamp rolls and gloat about their “fiscal responsibility” and “moral standards.”  Meanwhile, people are, and will continue to be, starving.  The politically correct term is “food insecure.”

How long are we going to keep letting the wealthy and the powerful convince us that our lack of money and power is our own fault?  That starving is an appropriate means of social welfare?  How many people need to live on the streets and scrounge in dumpsters for their next meal before we wake up and realize who the real enemy is?

Too long.

 

 

The Sixth Extinction

There’s lots of doom and gloom out there, for good reason. Climate change seems to be accelerating, and even though we’ve been warned over and over again, we still either ignore the scientists, or deny their evidence altogether. Jokes on Facebook about Noah’s Ark have been prevalent in my feed, and storms have been a daily occurrence for almost two weeks. My vacation was cut short due to a 100 year type event causing a flash flood through the camp I was at. After returning home, the news was full of articles referring to the sixth extinction.  After over 10 years of warning us, scientists have published empirical evidence on a growing loss of biodiversity.  According to the article on NBCNews.com, that rate of loss is on a scale comparable to the last extinction event, 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs reign ended. In a related article, it is estimated that the actual extinction event could happen in less than 200 years.  While normally an extinction event could take thousands of years, the current rate of climate change has compressed this timeline to the point that the Earth could lose 75% of all species by 2200.

I don’t know if there’s anything we can do to stop, or even slow it.  I don’t know if it’s too late to slow climate change.  I worry that our only recourse at this point is adaptation.  Are enough people concerned?  Or do the challenges of day-to-day life take precedence over long term issues? We all have responsibilities to our families, our employers, our friends, ourselves.  Every day the list of to do items gets longer.  Our everyday life seems to leave no time at all for saving the world.  So what can we do?

Walk instead of driving when you can.  Turn off the A/C. Grow your own food to whatever extent you can.  Buy local.  Vote for the candidates who support your viewpoints, even if you don’t think that person can win.  Recycle, or even better, reuse.  Buy food in bulk to avoid extra packaging.  The list is endless.

I know that one person recycling one glass bottle isn’t going to save the world.  I know that 10 people recycling won’t do it.  But if those 10 people each influenced 2 people each, now 30 people are recycling.  Still not enough, but better.  If four people carpool that’s three cars not spewing carbon into the air.  A single person does not act in a vacuum.  Each person has the potential to influence other people.  A cascade, or waterfall of action.

The World is Ending

Not now, but possibly soon.  Let me clarify, the world isn’t ending so much as we are.  People.  By our own hand. It doesn’t need to happen, though.

I’ve been reading listening to Neil Stephenson’s new book, “SevenEves.” In the book, the moon explodes for reasons unknown to me at this point.  I’m not putting any spoilers here, so don’t worry.  In response, a worldwide effort to create a large enough presence in space to save a few thousand people, in hopes of the continuing existence of the human race.  In the final two years of life on Earth, the world reacts as a community – that is the important message for me at this point in the book.

A global community is what we need now.  The moon probably isn’t going to explode, and it’s unlikely that aliens will sweep in to destroy us.  It is true, however, that we are systematically committing suicide as a species, and we’re taking a lot of other species with us.  Climate change, overuse of natural resources, poisoning of the Earth with chemicals, manipulation of our food supply without concern for consequences – all of this is coming to its logical conclusion.  The erasure of the human species. And that’s just the environmental aspect.

We are also a society that is bent on self destruction in the name of individual preservation.  We allow the people next door (literally, in some cases) to die from exposure because they can’t pay the fuel bill.  We let children starve because their parents don’t make enough money to buy food.  We judge people by their faith, sexual orientation, gender, social status, intellectual ability, physical appearance, economic status, and find them unworthy of life.  It sounds harsh, I know, but it’s true.  By saying that the family on food stamps down the street doesn’t deserve that assistance because he doesn’t work or she’s had too many children, we deny them the dignity of feeding themselves.  Does their assistance rob us of food? No. It’s just that they are somehow “undeserving.”  Clearly the homeless man riding his bicycle around town picking up aluminum cans must have done something to become homeless, making him unworthy of help to find a home.  According to many people, that means he deserves to die in the street.  Just not their street where he might make an unsightly mess.

It’s time to stop judging, and start looking for solutions.  If we don’t take care of each other, who will?  Human beings are supposed to evolve, to become more.  Stronger, smarter, and I hope, more compassionate.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what an individual person can do, and it’s not much.  Mostly be an example.  There have been a lot of small movements in the past 20 years.  Pay it forward, random acts of kindness, free food, tiny houses, free education.  Alternative energy, recycling, and simple living.  Taken individually, each has it’s benefits.  Taken collectively, though, and it could be life-changing for the entire world.

Societally it’s become quite obvious that no one system of government is ideal.  Capitalism has failed spectacularly.  Communism, democracy, republics, monarchies, and oligarchies (capitalism by the rich) have all failed to address the very problems they were intended to fix.  We need a kinder, gentler way to live.  We need fairness in both wealth and resource distribution, tolerance in religious belief, acceptance of personal limits, and concern for everyone, not just the elite.

One movement in particular has my attention, lately.  Qetema is working to colaborately build a sustainable smart city.  It is a city that brings people together to work and live sustainable and equitably, governing by those same people.  Just in the planning stages, Qetema requires a huge paradigm shift in what a community is, and why it exists.  It will require new thinking in terms of work, education, and life.

We can, if we want it badly enough and work together as a whole, achieve such a community.  It’s not the only way, either.  We do have an existing framework that we can work within.  We have enough resources on this planet to support everyone.  We have the technology to stop using the fossil fuels that are polluting and destroying the environment.  We can house every person who’s living on the street, and for less than it costs for them to be homeless.  The possibilities are endless, and we’re only limited by our imaginations and our own bias.

Support Bernie Sanders for President

We’ve heard a lot about politicians who are in it for the wealth and power that comes with supporting the rich. Let’s stop electing them. It’s time to elect someone who really cares about the people and who has an actual track record to support it. Check out Bernie Sanders and you’ll see that he’s different. He’s compassionate and passionate. He’s very aware of what goes on in Washington, and knows what needs to be done to fix it. Show your support with the petition below, and go to his website to find out more.

Yemen

Nowhere in the mainstream broadcast news this morning was the story of Saudi Arabia bombing Yemen. Included in the news was “Mike Pence Under Fire,” the German plane crash, various Hollywood news, and a plea for some dogs that are being neglected. People I know and love are in Aden, Yemen, and they may be murdered in their homes today. The US won’t be doing anything, though, because it’s Yemen. They have no significant oil, it’s not a strategic target, and there is no publicity benefit for humanitarians to go in and help. While you’re going about your business today – buying that $8 latte at Starbucks and waiting impatiently for the most dangerous part of your day – your morning commute – to end, remember to spare a thought for the millions of people in Yemen and other forgotten places around the world whose biggest worry of the day is getting blown to bits.