So, that’s a harsh title and this is a harsh post. The American Taliban were on Meet the Press today in full force. The topic was the War on Women and the War on Gays. It was the usual combination of spewing outright lies and insisting every one agrees with them. They’re beginning to look outnumbered on the War against Gays and Marriage Equality. I wish I could say the same on the War on Women. Rachel Maddow had adequate time to skewer Ralph Reed and Jim DeMint on their marriage equality lies. Even Dancing Dave headed for the door labelled popular opinion and right direction.
Social conservatives came out in full force on NBC’s Meet The Press on the Sunday after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) of the Heritage Foundation and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) both claimed the court’s decision to recognize same-sex marriages sacrificed children’s wellbeing — only to have their arguments promptly slapped down by MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and David Gregory.
DeMint said the court had privileged “the desires of adults” over “the best environment for children,” arguing that heterosexual marriage is “the environment where children can thrive and succeed.” Maddow immediately pointed out that this argument ignores the children of same-sex couples, who have up til now been treated as second-class citizens under the law:
Justice Kennedy addressed that issue specifically in his ruling. He says that by denying marriage rights to same-sex couples who have kids, you’re humiliating and demeaning those kids. By denying their families equal protection under the law by the parents who are raising them and who love them and who make their family. So we can put it in the interests of children, but I think that cuts both ways. And the ruling cuts against that argument. I mean, gay people exist. There’s nothing we can do in public policy can do to make more of us exist or less of us exist. And you guys for a generation have argued that public policy ought to demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist. But you don’t make any less of us exist, you are just arguing for more discrimination. And more discrimination doesn’t make straight people’s lives any better.
Rachel really slammed them but time ran short when they insisted that most people are behind stopping abortions as early as 20 weeks in all instances, that women really want unnecessary ultrasounds using vaginal probes, and that the grizzled, unlicensed Philadelphia Doctor just convicted of murder of babies and women is equivalent to Planned Parenthood. No one had the time to challenge their unscientific facts or their false assertions about what women what and what medical science says.
Some women like being forced to have an ultrasound before receiving an abortion, according to former Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC).
Republicans in state legislatures across the country have pushed legislation that requires women to undergo an ultrasound procedure 24 hours before terminating their pregnancy. The so-called “informed consent” laws usually require women to be given a picture of the fetus and be shown a fetal heartbeat, along with general information about abortion.
“The more the ultrasounds have become part of the law, where a woman gets the opportunity to see that there’s a real child, it’s beginning to change minds, and I think that’s a good thing,” DeMint said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “It’s time that the 3,000 babies we lose every day have some people speaking up for them.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow pointed out that women weren’t given the opportunity to have an ultrasound, they were forced to have a medically unnecessary ultrasound by the state. She added that in many cases women were subjected to trans-vaginal ultrasounds.
“So it’s an invasive vaginal forced procedure that a woman cannot say no to by order of the state government,” Maddow continued. “And that is all right with you. I understand that. You feel that you’ve got an interest strong enough to override a woman’s desire to not have that happen to her that you can insist that it does as a legislator. But most American women I think are going to balk at that.”
DeMint, however, insisted that some women wanted the state to force them to have an ultrasound.
“She’s forgetting about the thousands of women who want an informed choice, who want the opportunity to get a free ultrasound, which they can get not from Planned Parenthood but from a lot of these pregnancy centers.”
The outrage and the war continue. I really have to say that I don’t want to even been in the same room as the likes of Ralph Reed who should be in jail for his Indian Casino scam and DeMint who belongs in a mental health facility. This isn’t religious expression. It is a well funded and organized witch hunt. They were equally bad trying to explain why minorities don’t really need their voting rights protected. It’s a damn shame David Gregory gives them a platform for their extremism.
Alright, I’ll just dive in, since this thread is getting posted a lot later than I had hoped. The links will touch on the testimony of Rachel Jeantel…particularly her use of the English language, the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and culture Geechee-Gullah people, the descendants of West African slaves on Georgia’s Sapelo Island.
This first article is very good, it is written by Christina Coleman from Global Grind. I want you to read the entire thing…but the one sentence that I think makes the point is this: “For Rachel, these little cultural differences get lost in translation.”
So let’s cut to the chase. Any attorney, jury member, judge or white person in that courtroom is not going to understand Rachel Jeantel. And I don’t expect them to.
In fact, I certainly, like my fellow writer Rachel Samara, understand why white people wouldn’t like Rachel.
She’s hard. She’s black. And your assumptions about her background and lack of education make you feel like you are better, somehow. That her testimony, no matter how powerful and impactful it may be to this trial, is implausible. Weak, maybe? Let’s impeach her.
But maybe the reason white people don’t understand Rachel Jeantel has something more to do with white privilege then, what they would call, Rachel’s capricious nature.
Let’s for one second try to understand why Rachel is “angry” (read emotional), “hood” (read blunt), and “unintelligent” (read multilingual).
The thing is, what white people see in Rachel has little to do about her own issues, and more to say about the America that white people are blind to.
I won’t quote the entire piece, like I said you need to read it…
It’s not that Rachel can’t be trusted. In fact, her testimony has remained solid and consistent throughout her nearly seven hours of questioning.
But, the initial fear of not knowing what would happen is something that black people can understand. And overlook. Which is something that someone with white privilege wouldn’t exactly grasp.
But what’s more are the cultural differences between white and black people.
When asked why she omitted the words “creepy ass cracker” and “nigga” when speaking in front of Sybrina Fulton about her son’s last moments, she simply told the court that she didn’t want to disrespect her.
As West looked at her in utter disbelief, Rachel looked back, unwavering. How could he not understand that she couldn’t bring herself to upset someone who had just lost a child? Better yet, curse in front of adults.
Note: Disrespect to elders in the black and especially Caribbean communities is almost as bad as cursing the Lord.
And speaking of that word “nigga,” the court might not understand Trayvon and Rachel’s casual use of the word because of how often, no matter how controversial, it is used in our communities.
So aside from the argument that we took the power out of a degrading word and made it into a term of endearment, it’s used so much that it’s become a substitute for identifiers such as “that guy,” or “him,” etc.
And for Don West to argue that the use of the word “nigga” was racial for Trayvon is incomprehensible, especially because he used it on a person who was not of African descent.
For Rachel, these little cultural differences get lost in translation. And instead of trying to understand her, people are reducing the miscommunication to semantics, what they call her broken “Kings English,” and her anger. Without even realizing that she comes from a home where Creole is her first language, or that her friend was killed just seconds after he last spoke to her. Wouldn’t you be frustrated in front of a court that refuses to understand you?
But most importantly, if there is anything that black people can understand that those judging her are not, it’s the loss of life without justice.
And as Rachel Jeantel sits on the stand, nervous, mumbling and annoyed, it’s not that she’s just a “hoodrat with no media training from a hostile environment.”
It’s just that your world and our world are…excuse the cliche…worlds apart.
And that, my friends, was never Rachel Jeantel’s fault.
The 19-year-old Miami native is an easy target for obvious, yet shallow reasons. But let’s not forget why she’s actually on the stand in George Zimmerman’s second degree murder trial. Rachel was the last person to speak to a living, breathing Trayvon Martin. The guilt, shame and sorrow she must feel is something most of us will never be able to comprehend. You could hear it in her voice, see it in her jittery body language. She is feeling the wrath of this highly publicized case.
Rachel was thrown head first into this murder story, unwillingly. And although she had repeatedly said she did not want to be a witness, did not even want to believe she was the last person Trayvon spoke to, Rachel took the stand for all the right reasons. She was asked to by the family of her deceased friend and feeling part of the burden for his death, she wanted to help.
Rachel was raw, emotional, aggressive and hostile, and she was unapologetically herself.
I can imagine George Zimmerman’s defense is just hoping some of those 5 white jurors have some prejudices (as most people do), or hell, are even racist, because if they are, their tactic to make Rachel out to be less intelligent, rather than less credible than she actually is, might actually work.
Less intelligent and more confused.
Less intelligent because of the “language barrier” and more confused because of the lawyers’ failure to understand who Rachel is, where she comes from, what kind of life she lives.
It seems the middle-aged white men on both sides of this case are totally unaware of what Rachel’s life is like – a 19-year-old high school student of Haitian descent who knows nothing more than the few block radius she has grown up in. The cultural differences here are exponential.
But if the lawyers, and especially the jurors, were really listening, they would see that although she comes off aggressive, Rachel was consistent. Yes, the defense proved she had lied in the past, but she didn’t deny it. On the contrary. She was very honest about it, and even led us to sympathize with her reasoning for it – she did not want to see Trayvon’s body, she did not want to face Trayvon’s mother and she wanted to wipe her hands of the situation because of the emotion and trauma. She was the last person Trayvon spoke to and she wanted everyone to understand what that means. This is in no way easy for her.
Rachel is the prosecution’s key witness, but I am going to call her the misunderstood witness. She holds vital information that both the defense and prosecution need, but these middle-aged white men questioning her do not get it. Sadly both the prosecution and the defense [but more so the defense] have an extreme disconnect from her reality, like I said. The constant text messaging between her and Trayvon is normal for two high school kids who may like each other, the nonchalant use of racial slurs like “cracka” and “n*gga” are slang (as Rachel put it) and that doesn’t mean it comes from a racist place.
Trayvon was just 17, his life consisted of text messaging, high school, PS3, girls and not much else. He had a lot of growing up to do, a lot of experiences to take in, so much more to learn, but sadly, he will never get a chance to do any of those things.
Okay, and after you read that article…here is another Will You White Crackers Please Stop Whining for the Love of God
The tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin continues to be one of America’s richest sources of tangentially-related arguments. The latest: Is “cracker” a “racial” term? The correct answer: Shut up, cracker.
In the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, witness Rachel Jeantel testified that Martin told her that a “creepy-ass cracker” (Zimmerman) was following him shortly before he was killed. Under grilling from Zimmerman’s attorney, Jeantel said that she did not think that “cracker” was a “racial” remark, or an offensive one, or, really, a big deal. Now, the question of whether or not “cracker” is “racial” is being reported on as an issue of great importance. As a born-and-raised Southerner— and a cracker— I feel qualified to offer some insight to those who may be confused by this thorny sociological quandary.
Is “cracker” a “racial” term? Yes, it means “white person.” Therefore it is “racial.”
Is “cracker” an offensive term? Well, let’s put it this way: if you are the type of white person who is greatly offended by being called a “cracker,” you can always take heart in the knowledge that the Confederacy went down fighting bravely. They’ll never take that away from you, by god.
Is “cracker” a real live racial slur, just as despicable as all the other racial slurs? A racial slur? Sure, technically speaking. A real racial slur? Sadly, no. There are no good racial slurs for white people. Despite the fact that white Americans have committed far more atrocities against the other races of the world than all of those races combined have committed against white people, there is no one single slur in popular usage that can really cut a white person to their soft, marshmallowy core. It’s tragic, really. A corollary of this fact is the fact that white people who complain loudly about “racial slurs” like “cracker” are “pussies.”
Does the philosophical question of whether or not “cracker” is a “racial” term have any real bearing whatsoever on whether or not Trayvon Martin deserved to be shot and killed? No.
Hey, how come nobody makes a big deal when a black person says “cracker,” but I lose all my endorsement deals just for calling black people…. Hold it right there, whitey. It boggles the mind to know that this question is still so fervently discussed in internet comment sections and in the stands of Ole Miss football games, and yet is one of the single most god damn ignorant questions that could ever be formulated by a white resident of the United States of America. The reason you’re looking for, cracker, is “the history of the United States of America.” Look it up. You can figure it out if you really, really try. I mean, lord almighty, you’d think that this whole discussion would have been laid to rest years ago just by Chris Rock routines alone, but no. Fucking whiny crackers will not stop whining like little babies no matter how fucking good they have it.
Once back in Orlando, when we were moving into our new condo and the place was still not yet completed…I was there with my newborn son unpacking the little things and taking care of him while the rest of the big stuff was being loaded up at the apartment. The condo did not have cable, just a TV and a VCR. The only tapes I had at the time was Blazing Saddles and Silence of the Lambs. Well…Jake was awake and I had just putting on Blazing Saddles in the VCR, the tile guy came to do the back splash in the kitchen. He was a black man.
Part of me wanted to shut the movie off, but part of me was curious too. He had come in after the beginning credits but before the “I get a kick out of you” scene .
The first n-word got the response I expected…he quickly said, “Hey now, that ain’t cool…you gotta turn that off.” But…when he came around the corner and saw what was on he immediately said, “Na, is that Blazing Saddles? Na, that’s okay, Mel Brooks is the only white man who ‘s allowed say n-word…” (Ugh…he said the full word by the way.)
So…after that I talked to him about that, I asked him if this was because Richard Pryor co-wrote the script…nope, it wasn’t because of that.
Well, why then? Why could Mel Brooks, a white man, get away with it? His reply was simple…”I don’t know, he just can.”
Think about his answer.
I have to say there was some moments when we both shared some laughs during that movie, and it was probably with different cultural understandings, but we laughed together.
On to the big anniversary in Gettysburg this week…in link dump fashion.
Reenactors demonstrate a battle during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on Friday at Bushey Farm in Gettysburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press)
The town of Gettysburg is in high gear after years of preparation to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the historic Civil War battle–events expected to generate about $100 million for a local economy wrapped tightly around historic tourism.
The battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863, was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Plans to commemorate the pivotal clash between Union and Confederate forces have been years in the making.
Organizers have taken to calling it Gettysburg’s “Olympic moment” for scale and grandeur.
“We’ve never done anything like this, at least our generation hasn’t,” said Carl Whitehall, spokesman for the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. His group estimated $100 million in tourism revenue.
Park employees already refer to this time of year as the “high holy days.” The 150th anniversary has injected just a bit more pomp into the circumstances.
“This is just the ‘high holy days’ on steroids,” said parks spokeswoman Katie Lawhon, who has worked at Gettysburg for more than 20 years.
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee listened to scouting reports, scanned the battlefield and ordered his second-in-command, James Longstreet, to attack the Union Army’s left flank.
It was a fateful decision, one that led to one of the most desperate clashes of the entire Civil War – the fight for a piece of ground called Little Round Top. The Union’s defense of the boulder-strewn promontory helped send Lee to defeat at Gettysburg, and he never again ventured into Northern territory.
Why did the shrewd and canny Lee choose to attack, especially in the face of the Union’s superior numbers?
While historians have long wrestled with that question, geographers and cartographers have come up with an explanation, by way of sophisticated mapping software that shows the rolling terrain exactly as it would have appeared to Lee: From his vantage point, he simply couldn’t see throngs of Union soldiers amid the hills and valleys.
“Our analysis shows that he had a very poor understanding of how many forces he was up against, which made him bolder,” said Middlebury College professor Anne Knowles, whose team produced the most faithful re-creation of the Gettysburg battlefield to date, using software called GIS, or geographic information systems.
Being the America’s oldest magazine still in publication, The Saturday Evening Post has for almost 300 years covered just about every topic, including the Battle of Gettysburg. The magazine has been around since the days of the original 13 colonies.
Confederate prisoners of war confined at Fort Delaware produced this newspaper by hand in 1865. The New-York Historical Society holds one of four surviving copies, each of which was likely passed around and read by multiple prisoners. The paper numbers four pages in total.
Like camps holding Union prisoners in the South, Fort Delaware, located on the Delaware River, was not a pleasant place. More than 40,000 Confederate POWs cycled through the brick-walled prison between 1862 and 1865. Overcrowding, poor handling of sanitation, and short rations resulted in the deaths of many prisoners. (Astonishingly, 56,000 men fighting on both sides died while imprisoned during the conflict.)
Despite these conditions, the men at Fort Delaware evolved an informal economy, staged entertainments, and formed clubs. This newspaper was mostly concerned with covering these aspects of the prison experience. In their introductory column, the editors of the paper warn the reader that “nothing political will be indulged in” and promise instead to promote “public improvements, the Fine Arts, and Advancement of Literature.”
Photographer Alexander Gardner and his two colleagues, Timothy O’Sullivan and James Gibson, came upon a frightful landscape late on July 5, 1863.
Soldiers of the Blue and Gray lay dead virtually everywhere, still littering a battlefield nearly two days after the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg.
The trio set about recording the aftermath of the battle, photographing the dead at locations that have long since become synonymous with the Gettysburg lore – the Slaughter Pen, the Wheatfield, the Valley of Death and Little Round Top.
One picture they captured, of a lone Confederate soldier lying dead in Devil’s Den within the Slaughter Pen area, has become an indelible symbol of intimate combat and death – and possibly even the war itself.
The dead Confederate in the photograph, “Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg,” shows a young soldier lying face-up behind a stone wall, situated at the confluence of two large stone outcroppings in Devil’s Den.
The scene has a compelling quality, almost as if the viewer has happened upon a sacred roofless tomb.
But despite the sense of deadly immediacy the image possesses, all is not as it seems in the photograph.
Now for some articles and photo galleries on the Georgia Sapelo Island, Ga.
Recently there was some news about a small area along the coast of Georgia: Feds Approve Gullah-Geechee Plan
A plan to preserve the culture of slave descendants of the sea islands on the Southeast coast has been approved by the Department of the Interior.
The 272-page management plan for the Gullah-Geechee Heritage Corridor has been more than a dozen years in the making.
Last week’s approval means the corridor commission can move ahead with the plan that envisions preserving significant sites and putting up signs to direct visitors.
For more on the Gullah Geechee Corridor Commission:
The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (the Corridor or Corridor) was designated by an act of Congress on October 12, 2006 (Public Law 109-338).It was authorized as part of the National Heritage Areas Act of 2006. As a national heritage area, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is not part of the national park system; however, the act authorizes the secretary of the interior to provide technical and financial assistance for the development and implementation of the management plan.
The Corridor was created to:
- Recognize the important contributions made to American culture and history African Americans known as Gullah Geechee who settled in the coastal counties of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida;
- Assist state and local governments and public and private entities in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida in interpreting the story of the Gullah Geechee and preserving Gullah Geechee folklore, arts, crafts, and music.
- Assist in identifying and preserving sites, historical data, artifacts, and objects associated with GullahGeechee for the benefit and education of the public.
The passing of this act hopefully will be beneficial to the people of the islands…as you can see in the next couple of links, the community in Georgia is “dwindling.”
Roughly 47 residents, most of them descendants of West African slaves known as Geechee, remain on Sapelo Island, the coastal Georgia island where their ancestors were brought to work a plantation in the early 1800s.
Isolated over time to the Southeast’s barrier islands, the Geechee of Georgia and Florida, otherwise known as Gullah in the Carolinas, have retained their African traditions more than other African-American communities in the U.S. Once freed, the slaves were able to acquire land and created settlements on the island, of which only the tiny 464-acre Hog Hammock community still exists.
Residents say a sudden tax hike, lack of jobs, and development is endangering one of the last remaining Geechee communities from Florida to North Carolina.
There are some real interesting pictures at that link. I really like some of the portraits of the old people…especially this one:
There is another article here, with some of the same images, only the captions are a bit different. They give a bit more info… Descendants of West African slaves work to keep island community
“The Old Plantation” was painted c. 1790 by slave-holder, John Rose. It depicts South Carolina slaves dancing near their quarters with traditional West African headwear and instruments
The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor extends from Wilmington, North Carolina in the north to Jacksonville, Florida, in the south. The National Heritage Area includes roughly 80 barrier islands and continues inland to adjacent coastal counties, defining a region 30 miles inland throughout the United States Low Country. The Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor is home to the Gullah people in the Carolinas, and the Geechee in Georgia and Florida – cultural groups descended from enslaved peoples from West and Central Africa. The Gullah and Geechee share similar linguistic, artistic and societal traits that have remained relatively intact for several centuries due to the geographic isolation of the region. The cultures represent the many ways that Africans in the Americas maintained their homeland roots while simultaneously assimilating aspects of new cultures they encountered during and after enslavement.
The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is managed by a federal commission made up of local representatives who collaborate with the National Park Service, Community Partners, grass root organizations and the State historic preservation offices of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Through research, education and interpretation, the corridor aims to preserve and raise awareness regarding the Gullah/Geechee, among America’s least-known and most unique cultures. Visitors to the southeastern coast of the country have the chance to experience Gullah/Geechee heritage through historic sites, local tours, traditional foods, cultural events, and art galleries.
More information at that site too.
That is what I would have put in the post this morning, yeah…this is an open thread.
This will be a quick post, I will try and post a longer one later on this afternoon. My sleep patterns are way off and I am just too tired.
Check this out, a real literacy test that was used to get the okay to vote in the state of Louisiana: Voting rights and the Supreme Court: The impossible “literacy” test Louisiana used to give black voters.
This week’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder overturned Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which mandated federal oversight of changes in voting procedure in jurisdictions that have a history of using a “test or device” to impede enfranchisement. Here is one example of such a test, used in Louisiana in 1964.
After the end of the Civil War, would-be black voters in the South faced an array of disproportionate barriers to enfranchisement. The literacy test—supposedly applicable to both white and black prospective voters who couldn’t prove a certain level of education but in actuality disproportionately administered to black voters—was a classic example of one of these barriers.
The test is unbelievable…
This test—a word-processed transcript of an original—was linked to by Jeff Schwartz, who worked with the Congress of Racial Equality in Iberville and Tangipahoa Parishes in the summer of 1964. Schwartz wrote about his encounters with the test in this blog post.
Most of the tests collected here are a battery of trivia questions related to civic procedure and citizenship. (Two from the Alabama test: “Name the attorney general of the United States” and “Can you be imprisoned, under Alabama law, for a debt?”)
But this Louisiana “literacy” test, singular among its fellows, has nothing to do with citizenship. Designed to put the applicant through mental contortions, the test’s questions are often confusingly worded. If some of them seem unanswerable, that effect was intentional. The (white) registrar would be the ultimate judge of whether an answer was correct.
Go to the link to try your hand at that test…it is a hell of a thing. When you want to see some of the answers, here is an answer key: Key for literacy test.pub – Key for literacy test.pdf
This next article is a good example of how expensive it is to…Just Have the Baby? A New Mom Reveals Why There Is No ‘Just,’ and Not Necessarily Any Justice Either
To say “Just have the baby” is to say “Just risk a prolonged illness, surgery, and the loss of your income when you have a lot of new expenses.” It’s to tell someone casually that they should sign up for the possibility of experiencing more physical pain and agony than they thought a person could live through, and maybe having a great deal of it continue for days, weeks, months, possibly even years.
Go read the whole piece, it is good.
This was something cool: Russian meteor shockwave circled globe twice
The shock wave from an asteroid that burned up over Russia in February was so powerful that it travelled twice around the globe, scientists say.
They used a system of sensors set up to detect evidence of nuclear tests and said it was the most powerful event ever recorded by the network.
More than 1,000 people were injured when a 17m, 10,000-tonne space rock burned up above Chelyabinsk.
The study appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The researchers studied data from the International Monitoring System (IMS) network operated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO).
The detection stations look out for ultra-low frequency acoustic waves, known as infrasound, that could come from nuclear test explosions. But the system can also detect large blasts from other sources, such as the Chelyabinsk fireball.
Alexis Le Pichon, from the Atomic Energy Commission in France and colleagues report that the explosive energy of the impact was equivalent to 460 kilotonnes of TNT. This makes it the most energetic event reported since the 1908 Tunguska meteor in Siberia.
There is more at the link about some new discoveries over at the Tunguska site, you can give the link a click to read the rest.
Think of this as an open thread. Hopefully I will see you a bit later on, otherwise…please share what you are reading about this morning.
Have you seen next week’s cover of The New Yorker that’s been floating around the internet yet? Well, obviously you have now if you’re reading this post. It’s nothing short of SQUEEEEE! Bert and Ernie nestled together on the couch snuggin’ while watching The Supremes in their robes on the TV.
The Supremes did good on knocking the wind out of DOMA, but it was a long time coming. They’re still in the doghouse for all their other despicable and unreal rulings this week. So while I did pop some champagne to celebrate the good things going on, including the tumbling down of DOMA, no cookies to the Supremes on this. I give the credit to all the grassroots LGBT activists and their growing accumulation of allies who have worked so hard for so many years to bring Wednesday’s ruling to fruition. Well done, everyone! The 21st century is finally starting to arrive…it’s here, it’s queer, and we as a society are not only going to live with it–we are going to live it up! Watch out, y’all, I am so happy for our LGBT sisters and brothers and for all of us as a ONE LOVE-ONE WORLD, I could about start doing some of my inner feminist Pollyanna somersaults all over this page. (I am an absolute klutz with no athletic motor skill coordination whatsoever, so that is truly a feat!)
So, to review:
And, via HuffPo, 10 WAYS THE DOMA REPEAL WILL AFFECT ‘TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE’:
After the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that the Defense Of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, it’s time to look at the top 10 ways heterosexual marriage will be affected now that it’s not being defended.
Here’s what the wonderful Joyce L. Arnold of “Queer Talk” has been blogging over at Taylor Marsh’s, which I think gives a pretty good overview and is instructive in terms of “Where we go from here”…Note: I am only quoting excerpts here, interspersed with a bit of commentary from me, so take the time to click over and read the pieces in full when you get the chance:
The much anticipated Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 were announced this morning.[…] The fight for marriage equality isn’t over. Everyone knows that. But today is huge, and it’s time to do some celebrating.
Post SCOTUS, post DOMA and Prop 8 decisions, the “now what” in LGBT equality question is getting attention, and one response to that question comes by way of the Campaign for Southern Equality. The organization didn’t just come into existence, but they were very ready for this moment. Other LGBT groups are, too, of course, from local to state to national levels. I find the efforts of CSE to be particularly inspiring precisely because they refuse to comply with the “just move to where you’re more accepted” arguments – and we hear them regularly – but stay, and fight for equality. There are a lot of people doing that, in the South and other more “challenging,” but definitely changing toward the better, areas.
About CSE: (emphasis added throughout)
Based in North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality is an effort to assert the full humanity and equality of LGBT people living in the South.
One of their projects is the WE DO Campaign, which
… involves LGBT couples in the Southern communities where they live requesting – and being denied – marriage licenses in order to call for full equality under federal law and to resist unjust state laws.
These WE DO actions serve to make the impact of discriminatory laws visible to the general public; they illustrate what it looks like when LGBT people are treated as second-class… citizens under the law.
Take less than three minutes to watch.
Here is the video Joyce has spotlighted, which is well worth the watch if you haven’t seen it yet. Very inspiring (this roundup continues after the video, so please keep scrolling after you view it):
More from Joyce’s post:
Celebrations continue. Statements agreeing and disagreeing with the decisions are still coming, from the White House to “citizen on the street.” Most likely the next sermon topic was an easy one for many, pro and con marriage equality.
And lots of analysis, which is obviously important, continues being done. It includes wide recognition that while this really is one of those moments we can call “historic,” there are 37 states with no marriage recognition; there are big questions about how same-sex couples are treated in terms of the military and immigration; and among other things, there is no federal employment protection. None of that detracts from the celebration. In fact, equality proponents in all of those “issues,” and more, can be energized by the SCOTUS decisions.
At The Advocate, “Message at Rallies: Celebrate Today, Fight Tomorrow.” At a post-SCOTUS decision rally in West Hollywood, with about 4000 people present, screenwriter Dustin Lanc Black said:
‘(I)t is time for each and every one of us to take that strength you now feel as Californians, and take it to Texas, and take it to Virginia … take it to Holland, Michigan … to Altoona, Pennsylvania. … You need to take your strength to these places, and share this feeling with this nation so we no longer leave a single one of our brothers or our sisters behind, no matter … which state they live.’
‘Today’s historic decisions are a significant leap forward for freedom and justice for same-sex couples and their families, the LGBT community and for our nation — and a lot more work needs to be done to deliver marriage equality to the rest of our nation’s same-sex couples and their families and full equality in every other respect for all LGBT people,’ said Rea Carey, Task Force Executive Director.
Parties continue around the nation, as they should. There’s a lot to celebrate. Statements and analyses will keep coming for a long time, I’d guess, as the impact of the decisions is made clear in practice. And advocacy and actions will continue, in all regions and states of the nation. Look to every region, including the South.
(We Do Campaign via Campaign for Southern Equality)
Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, tweeted his sadness about the Supreme Court decisions regarding DOMA and Prop 8, but then rather quickly deleted it. That seems a fair representation of Cathy’s efforts to somehow balance an anti-LGBT – at least related to marriage equality – while also, as a spokesperson put it, provide “genuine hospitality to everyone.”
Via Huffington, Cathy’s tweet:
Sad day for our nation; founding fathers would be ashamed of our gen. to abandon wisdom of the ages re: conerstone of strong societies
No word about what the founding mothers would think.
Ok, pardon me but I have to interrupt here to cackle my witchy woman feminist ass off. Joyce goes on to cover the ins-and-outs of Cathy’s trying to have his corporate cake and eat it too while lamenting his sadness over…what seems to me a more perfect union. That appears to be the source of Cathy and his ilk’s lament. They don’t want this union to become more perfect, because that requires giving up their various privileges and twisted means of ‘control.’ (Though it’s always hard not to ask for the most vehement of the homophobic crowd, if they are in control at all or really they are deep in the closet. Because, let’s let the elephant out the room, y’all. That’s the only reason legalizing gay marriage would affect a so-called heterosexual marriage that would need any defending from it.)
Joyce also quotes more whining tweets from Huckabee, et al., via OpEd News:
[Mike Huckabee tweet]: ‘My thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same sex marriage is okay: ‘Jesus wept.’ …
‘Today, marriage, children, and the rule of law all suffer.’ Randy Thomassen, Save California. …
[Matt Barber tweet]: In states w/ ‘gay marriage’ there is no longer a legal or ethical defense against multi-party, incestuous or any other twiested ‘marriages’ …
How long before federal agents haul pastors out of the pulpit? – Todd Starnes, Fox News.
To which Joyce’s response is simply awesome:
Founding Fathers, weeping, suffering, children and incest … the familiar “the sky is falling” kind of responses.
As a follow-up to Joyce’s comment, I must insert the following, which I had used elsewhere on the internet (Facebook of course..on the Pink Sneaks support page JJ and I are working on) in reference to Stupakistan’s reaction. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Gov. Goodhair…) to the arrival of what Salon proposes we are now, i.e. a “Wendy Davis Nation.”
Anyhow, here is the graphic because it applies to what Joyce has highlighted about the sad, lamenting reactions to the DOMA/Prop8 reversal:
Joyce concludes by saying the following, which I totally agree:
My bet is the founding mothers and fathers just might approve of “liberty and justice for all” efforts. And since we’ve more or less (with some significant “less” moments and issues) been focused on that goal for quite some time, and the sky hasn’t even started falling, we’re safe to keep at it. And in trouble if we don’t.
Last but not least, Joyce reports…
The Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), filed by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in the Senate and by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House, would completely repeal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). The Supreme Court decisions were a big step in that direction, but not complete.
Ok, as I said, please do go read Joyce’s pieces in full whenever you can. Here’s a handy link where you can see her posts archived together in one place.
Pivoting from “gay rights are human rights” (smiles in thoughts of Hillary and Hillary 2016) to “women’s rights are human rights,” I want to touch on that article,“It’s a Wendy Davis Nation Now,” that I briefly linked to above from Salon though, because I have a very revealing excerpt I wanted to highlight from it:
For years — particularly the ones Democrats spent in the wilderness, losing national elections — the party’s pro-choice stance was blamed for losing so-called values voters. Axelrod pointed out how that had changed: “These were motivational issues for people on our side … What’s interesting to me is that these were once wedge issues for Republicans. Now some of them are working as wedge issues against Republicans. And it shows a shift of attitudes.”
Gay rights, of course, have long since lost any traction as a wedge issue in Republicans’ favor in all but the narrowest districts. It remains to be seen how the immigration reform debate will play out politically, but the 2012 election and its “self-deportation” rhetoric is widely seen to have driven away Latinos and Asians. And of course there was defunding Planned Parenthood and Todd Akin. But, Axelrod added, abortion wasn’t part of that. Or, as he put it, “Abortion’s a separate discussion.”
If this week was any indication — along with recent protests in Wisconsin and Ohio, and possibly more to come — that may not prove true.
Thus, if we are truly entering Wendy Davis Nation, then we must be exiting not just Bush country, but also Rove-Axelrod’s understanding of women’s rights as a “separate discussion.” Keeping my ears open and my eyes wide and waiting to see what happens next!
Before I end this post, just for some Caturday fun, and for purposes of smashing the patriarchy with my crazy cat lady pink-ness, here are pictures of my nails that I got done last night (click for larger view):
And, on that note, Sky Dancers, I’m going to turn the soapbox over to you. Do the wonderful thing you do in the comments y’all, and have a great weekend!
What a week!
As you can imagine the cartoonist have been busy…so with sooooo many cartoons this week, I have to break them up into two posts. This first one will focus on the decisions rendered from the Supreme Court, primarily dealing with the Voting Rights Act and DOMA. They are in no particular order, and some are better than others, but I think y’all are going to get a kick out of them.
Let’s get the party started!
God’s really going out of his way to mess with opponents of same-sex marriage.
Photo via @MarkZinni
(Actually, I would have drawn that with two elephants.)
This next cartoon is the most sinister but it is depicting the real situation down South, at least in my opinion…
Just look at those dark faces in the windows…
This is an open thread!
There are so many confusing things out there at the moment about our national policies in so many areas that it gets overwhelming at times. One topic that I really think should be getting obvious at this point but isn’t really taking root as a source of discussion because of the huge amount of corporate money in elections is the absolute failure of the private sector in providing all kinds of traditionally public goods. I’ve been following the Snowden episode from a weird angle. It is probably an occupational hazard, but what if James Bond weren’t in her majesty’s secret service but Halliburton’s? What does it mean to outsource the public’s safety, welfare, and security?
Federal investigators have told lawmakers they have evidence that USIS, the contractor that screened Edward Snowden for his top-secret clearance, repeatedly misled the government about the thoroughness of its background checks, according to people familiar with the matter.
The alleged transgressions are so serious that a federal watchdog indicated he plans to recommend that the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees most background checks, end ties with USIS unless it can show it is performing responsibly, the people said.
Cutting off USIS could present a major logistical quagmire for the nation’s already-jammed security clearance process. The federal government relies heavily on contractors to approve workers for some of its most sensitive jobs in defense and intelligence. Falls Church-based USIS is the largest single private provider for government background checks.
The inspector general of OPM, working with the Justice Department, is examining whether USIS failed to meet a contractual obligation that it would conduct reviews of all background checks the company performed on behalf of government agencies, the people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation has not yet been resolved.
After conducting an initial background check of a candidate for employment, USIS was required to perform a second review to make sure no important details had been missed. From 2008 through 2011, USIS allegedly skipped this second review in up to 50 percent of the cases. But it conveyed to federal officials that these reviews had, in fact, been performed.
Ah, the profit motive as the root of all evil. Isn’t it similar to the love of money when you basically cut costs at all corners just to provide increasing bits of the pie to your voracious, nonmanagerial owners who only care about ROE?
Republicans continue to push ideological hype over reality in the fight to give any public interest institution to their friends. Sneaking into a congress near you is the possible end of Fannie and Freddie despite the fact they are currently returning goods sums of money to the Treasury. It’s all based on the false hype that they were the reason the mortgage market failed instead of private mortgage factories.
It has now been nearly five years since Fannie and Freddie were put into conservatorship by the Treasury Department. Since then, we have been through the financial crisis, the housing crisis and the foreclosure crisis. Although the housing market has come a long way back, the market for private mortgage-backed securities — that is, bundles of mortgages sold to investors without a government guarantee — remains moribund. Believe it or not, the much-maligned Fannie and Freddie have kept the housing market alive by taking on the credit risk for most plain-vanilla mortgages, especially that most sacred of sacred cows, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage.
Indeed, ever since the creation of mortgage-backed securities in the 1970s, this has been a critical role of Fannie and Freddie; their “wrap” helped give investors the confidence to buy securities stuffed with thousands of mortgages they were never going to inspect individually. Currently, an incredible 77 percent of the mortgages being made in America are guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie.
Yet this can’t last forever. Conservatorship was supposed to be temporary. Although Fannie and Freddie are now making a gaggle of money, for complicated reasons having to do with the way the Treasury Department originally set up the conservatorship, that money is not reducing the government’s $180 billion bailout of the two companies.
Meanwhile, many Republicans have been screaming that the financing of housing should be left to the private market and that Fannie and Freddie must be put out of business. (They believe, wrongly, that Fannie and Freddie caused the financial crisis.) And the Obama White House — shocker! — has punted.
Thus we have Corker-Warner. (The bill has six other co-sponsors, three from each party.) The first thing to note about it is that, by god, it actually would eliminate Fannie and Freddie; the two companies are supposed to be wound down within five years.
But does that mean the private market will take over? Not a chance. Warner told me that although the bill would insist that private capital absorb the first 10 percent of any losses, the federal role remains critical. A new federal agency would be established to explicitly guarantee losses beyond that. And the bill would create programs to help make homeownership possible for low-income Americans, just like Fannie and Freddie once did. Those ads Fannie and Freddie used to run showing diverse Americans smiling in front of their home-sweet-homes could easily be replayed by supporters of Corker-Warner.
Yes. You read that right. The big change is that the profits don’t stay in these quasi agencies and they won’t remain low. The duties shift to the same kinds of contractors that have been bilking the defense department for years with a crippled over sight agency and no guarantee they will make a market.
There are instances where the public sector outperforms the private sector. Mass privatization of everything from schools to jails to spying due to ideological or rent-seeking corporations is a really bad idea. More thought should be put into these privatization schemes. There is a new book out that discusses this and uses BP as a good example of a cautionary tale.
The London civil servants of the 1960s and ’70s who all but ignored profitability as they issued directives across British Petroleum’s bloated corporate network were replaced by highly motivated managers who were rewarded for cutting costs, reducing risk and making money. The company’s more incongruous businesses — food production and uranium mines, for instance — were sold. Payroll was cut by more than half. Oil reserves jumped. The time it took to drill a deepwater well plummeted. Profits soared.
But then, in 2005, a BP refinery in Texas City blew up, killing 15 and injuring around 170. In 2006, a leak in a BP pipeline spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. And in 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 and resulted in the biggest offshore oil spill in the history of the United States. These days, BP’s stock trades about 25 percent below where it was before the disaster off the coast of Louisiana, about the same place it was a decade ago.
BP’s bumpy ride is recorded in “The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office,” a compelling new book by Ray Fisman, a professor at Columbia Business School, and Tim Sullivan, the editorial director of Harvard Business Review Press. “The Org” aims to explain why organizations — be they private companies or government agencies — work the way they do.
The book offers telling insight on a topic that has ebbed and flowed across the world over the last 30 years, as governments of all stripes have set out to privatize state-owned enterprises and outsource services — what does the private sector do better than government, and what does it do worse? Long dormant in the United States, the debate has acquired new urgency as governments from Washington to statehouses and city halls around the country consider privatizing everything from Medicare to the management of state parks as a possible solution to their budget woes. One of the authors’ chief insights is that every organization faces trade-offs — inherent conflicts between competing objectives. The challenge is to manage them. This is way more difficult than it sounds.
While in government hands, British Petroleum paid too little attention to profitability, constrained by its need to please elected officials who often cared more about keeping energy cheap and employment high. But in private hands, it may have cared about profits far too much, at the expense of other objectives. “BP veered from being a company that made sure nothing blew up to one focusing on cost-cutting at all costs,” Professor Fisman said.
The success or failure of an organization often depends on whether it can clearly identify its goals and align the interests of managers and employees to serve them. Yet whatever reward structure an organization picks can skew incentives in an undesirable way.
The 2012-2013 school year saw the fight over public education reach a new pitch, ending with mass layoffs in Philadelphia, and other large school districts, and a cadre of parents and workers who began a hunger strike in protest. This final incident marks the end of a 10-month stretch that has seen an increasingly diverse chorus of voices speaking against American education policy’s relentless focus on high-stakes testing, massive expansions of charter schools and mass teacher and staff layoffs. But there have also been some serious advancements in that agenda, especially in large urban districts.
The Philadelphia School District decision to lay off 3,800 teachers and staff (about one-fifth of the workforce), includes 1,202 safety staff among the casualties. Only 12 will remain next school year to watch over the district’s 149,535 students while they are not in class, in the hallways and cafeteria where violence is most likely.
“I just can’t [see] school district of Philadelphia…without student safety staff. It will be a disaster,” says Patricia Norris, a cafeteria worker at Cayuga Elementary in North Philadelphia.
On Monday June 17, Norris, two parents and another school district employee began a hunger strike to protest the layoffs and the general deterioration of public education in Philadelphia. When interviewed that afternoon, she’d been drinking nothing but water all day. She was red-eyed and exhausted, but spoke animatedly from the tent on Broad Street where she was camped outside Corbett’s Philadelphia offices. “I just want the governor and people in Harrisburg to put their children in our children’s shoes. All I know is I’m fighting. And fasting.” She paused and sunk back in her metal chair. “I just want someone to listen.”
Similar layoffs are being seen in Chicago, where 50 public schools will be shuttered next year, one of the largest number of closures in America history (Philadelphia will be closing 23 public schools next year). These austerity measures put a grim cap on the 2012-2013 school year.
“The mantra of the Republicans was always choice, competition, testing and accountability, says Diane Ravitch, who served as a Assistant Secretary of Education for the first President George Bush. “Now that’s the mantra of the Democratic Party… All over the country, in most states, there is legislation to roll back any kind of rights for teachers, any tenure, any academic freedom, cut their pensions, cut their benefits, make it easier to fire them. Everywhere there is a fight going on for the survival of public education. The country is filled with ground zeroes.”
So much of the actual effectiveness of these efforts or ability to provide same service are lost in the shrillness of ideology, the quite search for political funding by providing more pork to corporations, and the corporate media who is yet another example of the public trust put up for auction. It is time to look around at many of these functions and say enough! There are a whole lot of things that die when subjected to the siphoning of profits and the idea of cost slashing as an end itself.
What is on your reading and blogging list today?