Reform

Today was the day I taught the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which as you all know, is depressing af and a tragic moment in American history.

I teach it because I want to teach students about women and labor history and Frances Perkins – because she was the first woman to be part of a US Cabinet (FDR’s, of course) and because she made it her life’s mission not to find out what she wanted from life but to find out what life wanted from her. She’s one of my heroes along with her own hero Al Smith.

But today, after the umpteenth school shooting and so many people just wrecked with sadness and frustration and overall outrage exhaustion, it strikes me that the real lesson from Triangle is that we don’t have to do nothing.

We don’t have to just complain on Facebook.
We don’t have to convince our friends and families.
We have to decide that enough is enough and begin to dedicate ourselves to changing the world in a way that reality becomes more tolerable for everyone.

I don’t know what to do about guns but people in 1909 didn’t know what to do about sweatshops, and once those 146 women died, they figured out how to change shit. Here’s a short list of what they changed, which included, basically, extensive changes to the fire code, working conditions, child labor laws, legalization of union organizing, votes for women, and, um, the New Deal.

Just saying. There is hope, but you have to be it. I am not sure why we are not all out in the streets refusing to work for even another minute until reform happens and children stop dying. But I do know it will take organizing like that for any change to happen. As you go about your day and worry about dinner or your job or a promotion or your vacation, try to remember that 17 more families are on that long list of families mourning young people who don’t get to grow up. I really don’t understand why every parent in this country hasn’t pulled their kid out of school or stormed the PTA to get some movement on this thing.

Find a thing to do. Reform is possible, and sadly, it’s always more possible after a tragedy. Don’t let them die in vain.

Rest in Power Erica Garner

They knew she would die a few days ago when her brain activity stopped, after being in a coma, after the heart attack brought on by asthma, four months after the birth of her son.

But after, more than anything else, the brutal murder of her father Eric Garner by the NYPD.

His death has been the hardest for me – maybe because NYC, maybe because he was the father of six like my dad was, maybe because there’s a million sweet men selling loosies or cutting some corners at a bodega; they’re the guys who keep NYC running, you know? All of those guys. The ones who let you hang out because you’ve gotten jumpy with some drunk mofo yelling shit at you on the street.

& Just fuck it all that she lost him, and that she lost him like that. No one has to wonder why she poured her heart into activism after that.

What do we do now? How do you respond to such a beautiful, loyal daughter’s call to arms? Maybe we can do something about the high mortality rate of black mothers. Maybe we keep calling for an end to the lawful murder of black people by those who are supposed to serve & protect.

Maybe we do something, dammit, something big and real and full of that heart of hers that felt so much and loved so much and hurt so much it broke.

Actual Censorship

Liberal snowflakes ask white folks not to use the N word.  Students object to “scholars” who come to campuses to promote white supremacy, transphobia, and homophobia. Trans and GNC people want correct pronouns used for themselves.

And yet, none of this was censorship. Cultural battlegrounds, yes. Not censorship.

As if to provide a history lesson, the CDC has just been given a list of words NOT to use by HHS. They are:

  • vulnerable
  • entitlement
  • diversity
  • transgender
  • fetus
  • evidence-based
  • science-based

It does matter why these were chosen and speaks to the increasing stupidification of US politics and the hateful, anti intellectual, anti science, anti humanitarian impulses of our current WH.

But the point I want to make is this: this is actual censorship. When a government agency “recommends” words to use and not use, when they restrict how reports are written, when any population is singled out to be disappeared via language, you’re dealing with actual censorship.

Just to clarify.

Thank You Black Voters

So Doug Jones won, which is the least of what should have happened, but what didn’t happen is that white folks are still not getting it – not in the way they vote, and not in a lot of reactions on Facebook.

One friend posted a celebration of the black women who made this happen only to be reprimanded by a white man who wanted to celebrate everyone. #alllivesmatter much?

There’s a lot of “thank you, Alabama!” when it was really the black voting population who need to be thanked.

Because this guy wasn’t just racist, he was sexist and abusive and tranphobic and homophobic and didn’t understand or honor the separation of church and state.

We can thank the Dems. We can be thankful to Doug Jones, and for Doug Jones and his commitment to civil rights.

But to me, I can’t help but feel that black voters came out to honor the memory and secure that much more justice for those four little girls.

And for me, to excoriate racist Jeff Sessions, who left this seat empty when he joined the WH.

So yes, it’s a giant win because Dems never win in Alabama, and one did tonight. But really, my fellow white folks, let’s please honor the black people – and especially the black women – who we owe this to. And let’s listen to them a lot more often, and a lot harder, and remind our local and state and national Dems that over and over again black voters get it right and white voters often do not and we need to learn from that. Because the Dems aren’t going to turn this around until we trust black voters and black intellectuals and black pundits and theorists and writers and even, yes, black celebrities.

Because I am just goddamned tired of you ignoring the truth of every damn election in this country.

 

Election 2017: #theresistanceistrans

We are up to 7 Transgender Candidates Elected!

  1. Danica Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Her adversary consistently misgendered her, but when asked how she felt about Bob, she said, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”
  2. Andrea Jenkins of Minneapolis, Minnesota on the City Council is the first out trans black woman to be elected to public office.
  3. Phillipe Cunningham of Minneapolis, Minnesota on the City Council is the first out trans black man elected to a city council.
  4. Lisa Middleton was elected to the City Council in Palm Springs, California.
  5. Tyler Titus was elected to the Erie School Board in Pennsylvania.
  6. Gerri Cannon won a School Board seat in Somersworth, New Hampshire. She plans to run for a state rep seat.
  7. Stephe Koontz won a seat on Doraville, Georgia City Council – BY 6 VOTES.

BY 6 VOTES!! So please, never think yours doesn’t count, especially in local elections.

Flake’s Exit Speech

Just read it. It’s going to go down in history as an important speech (and with any luck, a pivotal moment in US politics).

**

At a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord than by our own values and principles, let me note an obvious point: that these offices that we hold are not ours indefinitely. We are not here simply to mark time. Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office, and there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time.

It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics. Regret because of the indecency of our discourse. Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership. Regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our, I mean all of our complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.

In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order, that phrase being the new normal. That we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue with the tone set at the top. We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country. The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, and the flagrant disregard for truth and decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve.

Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength, because our strength comes from our values. It, instead, projects a corruption of the spirit and weakness.

It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? What are we going to say? Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal.

With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, civility and stability right behind it.

We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.

Here today, I stand to say that we would be better served, we would better serve the country by better fulfilling our obligations under the Constitution by adhering to our Article 1 old normal, Mr. Madison’s doctrine of separation of powers. This genius innovation, which assured Madison’s status as a true visionary, and which Madison argued in Federalist 51, held that the equal branches of our government would balance and counteract with each other, if necessary. Ambition counteracts ambition, he wrote. But what happens if ambition fails to counteract ambition? What happens if stability fails to assert itself in the face of chaos and instability? If decency fails to call out indecency?

Were the shoe on the other foot, would we Republicans meekly accept such display from dominant Democrats? Of course we wouldn’t, and we would be wrong if we did.

When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do, because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseam, when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of our institutions and our liberty, we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.

Now, I’m aware that more politically savvy people than I will caution against such talk. I’m aware that there’s a segment of my party that believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect.

If I have been critical, it is not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe it is my obligation to do so, and as a matter and duty of conscience, the notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters, the notion that we should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.

A president, a Republican president named Roosevelt, had this to say about the president and a citizen’s relationship to the office. “The president is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed to exactly the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.”

President Roosevelt continued, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by a president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

Acting on conscience and principle is the manner in which we express our moral selves. And as such, loyalty to conscience and principle should supersede loyalty to any man or party. We can all be forgiven for failing in that measure from time to time. I certainly put myself at the top of the list of those who fall short in this regard. I am holier than none. But too often we rush to salvage principle, not to salvage principle, but to forgive and excuse our failures so that we might accommodate them and go right on failing until the accommodation itself becomes our principle. In that way and over time, we can justify almost any behavior and sacrifice any principle. I am afraid that this is where we now find ourselves.

When a leader correctly identifies real hurt and insecurity in our country and instead of addressing it goes to look for someone to blame, there is perhaps nothing more devastating to a pluralistic society. Leadership knows that most often, a good place to start in assigning blame is to look somewhat closer to home. Leadership knows where the buck stops.

Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly or debased appetites in us. Leadership lives by the American creed: E pluribus unum. From many, one. American leadership looks to the world and, just as Lincoln did, sees the family of man.

Humanity is not a zero-sum game. When we have been at our most prosperous, we have been at our most principled, and when we do well, the rest of the world does well. These articles of civic faith have been critical to the American identity for as long as we have been alive.

They are our birthright and our obligation. We must guard them jealously and pass them on for as long as the calendar has days. To betray them or to be unserious in their defense is a betrayal of the fundamental obligations of American leadership, and to behave as if they don’t matter is simply not who we are.

Now the efficacy of American leadership around the globe has come into question. When the United States emerged from World War II, we contributed about half of the world’s economic activity. It would have been easy to secure our dominance, keeping those countries who had been defeated or greatly weakened during the war in their place. We didn’t do that. It would have been easy to focus inward. We resisted those impulses.

Instead, we financed reconstruction of shattered countries and created international organizations and institutions that have helped provide security and foster prosperity around the world for more than 70 years. Now it seems that we, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it.

The implications of this abandonment are profound, and the beneficiaries of this rather radical departure in the American approach to the world are the ideological enemies of our values. Despotism loves a vacuum, and our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this?

I have children and grandchildren to answer to. And so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit or silent. I’ve decided that I would be better represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself of the political consideration that consumed far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles. To that end, I’m announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.

It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has so long defined itself by its belief in those things. It’s also clear to me for the moment that we have given in or given up on the core principles in favor of a more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment.

To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess that we’ve created are justified, but anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy. There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal by mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle — the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful and backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican Party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.

We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.

This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more, and I say the sooner the better. Because we have a healthy government, we must also have healthy and functioning parties.

We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man and always look for the good. Until that day comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it, because it does. I plan to spend the remaining 14 months of my Senate term doing just that.

Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women. None of us here is indispensable, nor were even the great figures of history who toiled at these very desks in this very chamber to shape the country that we’ve inherited. What is indispensable are the values that they consecrated in Philadelphia and in this place, values which have endured and will endure for so long as men and women wish to remain free. What is indispensable is what we do here in defense of those values. A political career does not mean much if we are complicit in undermining these values.

I thank my colleagues for indulging me here today. I will close by borrowing the words of President Lincoln, who knew more about healthy enmity and preserving our founding values than any other American who has ever lived. His words from his first inaugural were a prayer in his time and are now no less in ours: “We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break the bonds of our affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely as they will be by the better angels of our nature.”

**

That line, “Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women” is chilling.

Birth Control Is Healthcare

With even birth control under attack, various people and organizations have been posting about all the other medically necessary reasons for birth control. I, for instance, have PCOS, which leads to all sorts of crap, including irregular periods, so they put me on birth control for 20 years. There are numerous other medical instances that aren’t pregnancy that birth control is prescribed for.

But: preventing pregnancy is a medical reason. It IS healthcare. Body autonomy is health-care.

Don’t cave to these fools. People have the right to prevent pregnancy, to plan pregnancy, and the entire nation benefits from our ability to do so.

And you have the right to have sex without getting pregnant and without getting someone else pregnant.

Punching Back

The DOJ reversal is a punch in the gut for trans people, so if you know any, please be nice to them today / this week & make sure they’re managing.

Whether this action is legal or not, the message just sent from the White House is that trans people don’t matter.

& they do, they do, YOU DO.

NCTE & TLDEF are already preparing to take the DOJ to court over this, but in the meantime, NCTE’s Mara Keisling adds:

We’ll take more punches like this before this is through, but it will end and we will prevail. And remember, this disgraceful administration cannot change the law. They can only refuse to do their jobs and enforce the law. The law still protects us. And we will win this guidance and regulations and memos all back in a few years. It hurts, and we’ll need to fight together, but we will win.

And she’s right, we will. Stay strong, folks, as I’m sure there is more bad news coming and it seems the RP has decided that trans people are a soft target, which is both despicable and mean.

If you voted for these monsters, shame on you.

New to Antifa? Let Me Explain.

So there’s a lot out there about antifa right now and the first time people see a group of them there’s often a little fear… as there was Sunday night at a rally I helped organize. They wear black. Sometimes they cover their faces.

Here’s the thing: the antifa are an organized group, much like FOI or the Panthers, that came out of radical politics with an understanding, especially, that the police work for the state and not for the most marginalized and certainly not for anyone who is challenging the status quo. In Charlottesville, for instance, Cornel West has reported that the police stood back and let white nationalists attack the counter protestors, even the clergy assembled, and what kept them safe – kept them from being “crushed like cockroaches” was a line of antifa who got between them and the Nazi shitheads. BLM activists formed a second line protecting the rest of the counter protesters.

And as much as we all decry violence, we all (should) know by now who is bringing the fight. It’s not the “alt left” as the (p)Resident said, but the Nazis. Rachel Maddow made it clear last night exactly what it meant for him to say what he said.

Antifa came to exist specifically because Hitler managed to divide the organized Left from itself. So instead of identifying as socialists or anarchists or whatever specific version of the Left, whoever was still around after Hitler decimated Europe opted instead to create an inclusive Left where people could be, simply, against fascism.

As we all should be. You know, the world went to war to stop Nazis and Fascists already, and that we’re even having this conversation or dealing with this again is disgusting.

But we are. The current version of the antifa returned because of the rise of white nationalist politics in Europe (National Front, esp) and White Nationalist/Supremacist groups in the US. We met them at punk shows in the 70s and 80s first, where they often showed up to threaten the most marginalized in those queer, working class spaces: black people, queers, drag queens, etc. I once saw an anarchist punch a fascist shithead for feeling up a woman in a mosh pit, no kidding. Same as now, the fascists came to cause violence, and the antifa were there to protect people who sometimes didn’t even know they were under attack.

So yeah. Don’t be down on antifa. They’re the good guys. If you haven’t been paying attention, the bigots have been attacking an awful lot of us when they get the chance, which is why antifa has become necessary again.