Category Archives: politics

I thought we could relax a little…

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I thought his threats could not possibility come to be, that checks and balances would play out, that the people charged to do the immoral work would shrink back. But today, the earth itself is under assault again, the nation’s foes are in charge.

I am reminded of the words of Rev. Niemoller in the Nazi era, rephrased here for our own time.

First he came for the Muslims, and I said “Guys, let’s take a wait-and-see approach here.”
Then he came for the Mexican Americans, and I said, “Let’s not be sore losers just because the other guy won.”
Then he came for the press, and I said, “What makes this country great is our peaceful transitions of power.”
Then he came for the women, and I said, “Try to have some compassion for the frustrations of the other side.”
Then he came for the black community, and I said, “I know it sucks, but wait four years.”
Then he came for me, and I said, “How could this have happened? I did everything I could.”

Trump, escucha! Estamos en la lucha!

In my long(ish) life I’ve been to a few actions and demonstrations, the matters at hand ranging from the desire for a new stop sign to a plastic bag ban to the plea for reproductive rights for everyone.

Today’s immigrant demonstration was particularly pithy, what with the young man who wondered why his mother sacrificed everything in Central America to take her family to the US, and found out it was to evacuate him, her son who she knew was gay long before he did, to safer ground; the trans woman employed at a  prominent local university without citizenship status; and the undocumented women with children here legally, one at her hip, at imminent risk of a shredded family. All have everything — everything — to lose, by the stroke of a pen from the man in whose front yard they spoke.

Exelon ok if you like teeing up; for the environment, not so much

 

I’m a greenie (to candidates, “an environmental voter”).  I wondered who would be in favor of the pending sale of Pepco, the power distribution company that sends bills to homes and businesses in the mid-Atlantic, including my house in Washington, DC, to Exelon, a bigger Chicago-based power producer, and significantly, owner of a bunch of shop-worn nuclear reactors.  Pepco no longer owns power generators, but instead purchases power from suppliers — coal-, wind-, and solar-generated — and resells it.  (How power gets into those little wires on the poles I leave to others to explain.)  This is about the only good thing about Pepco — because it no longer operates those messy power plants, it has come around, gradually, to liking the cute solar panels on the roofs of local customers, and is OK with just charging for the wires.  We have solar panels on our roof, much diminishing our electrical draw, so I refer to the Pepco bills as just their little charge for staying friends.

So I attended two of the local Public Service Commission hearings about the looming sale to see who would find the behemoth remote company with 20th century holdings superior to one that is smaller, local, and has at least a kite in the renewal-energy wind.

Here’s who likes Exelon:  a suspiciously large number of testifiers for the merger essentially admitted to some level of being bought off.  They were contractors of one kind or another, beneficiaries of some charitable contribution, or organizations who thought they put on good conferences.  Here’s where I squirmed in my chair (and perhaps, maybe, let out an audible noise):  golf tournaments.  That’s right.  At least three proponents — and I did not by a long shot hear all of the testimony — really, really think Exelon is an awesome corporate citizen because of the golf tournaments it has sponsored.

That’s like choosing a dentist who doesn’t fix your teeth but who gives out nice calendars. You can pick another dentist, but it’s still hard for most households to go off-grid, so it’s important to worry more about the product you are actually paying for, and stop ignoring the significant damage done to the environment.

As one testifier said, “We need better than Pepco, but Exelon’s not it.” I recommend the full story about aging nuclear plants seeking bailouts, from which this came, in Daily Kos today.

“To improve its overall balance sheet, Exelon is also trying to take over the mid-Atlantic electricity distribution utility Pepco, a proposal that has engendered substantial opposition in Washington, DC, Maryland and Delaware. DC, for example, has a stated policy of becoming the greenest city in the country with the goal of being 50% renewable powered by 2030–a goal Pepco’s pro-renewable policies support. For its part, Exelon owns the dubious distinction of being the only utility ever thrown out of the American Wind Energy Association for its vociferous anti-renewable policies. A new analysis of the proposed deal by the independent Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis recommended that the Washington PSC reject the merger.”

The Washington, DC, Public Service Commission has bean-counters, I hope, who are logging the relatively bogus examples of corporate citizenship against matters of true value.

living in a crafty world — glue-sticking together for reproductive rights

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Today at the Supreme Court the ruckus was all about whether that nasty Obamacare tromps on the rights of corporations (non-humans) to deny preventive health-care, specifically in the form of drugs and devices that prevent pregnancy, to employees (humans) who happen to work there. A better solution would be to uncouple health insurance completely from employment and move to universal health-care coverage as many other countries have, and as the Affordable Care Act begins to do. Until then, here we are, where under the cover of religion, a “boss” can play doctor.

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I happened to be with a “faith-based” group, singing liberation- and spiritual-type songs, and bearing signs suggesting that people — and corporations! — just mind their own business regarding the reproductive organs of others. We feel this way quite strongly, as a matter of intellectual conscience, which the Hobby Lobby craft store people must understand is at least as valid as strong feelings that come from the Bible, which does not mention IUDs at all, not even once.  As I walked past the long line of folks hoping to get inside to hear the opinion, two called out trying to shame me, but mostly the crowd gave the thumbs up and much more audible forms of support.

Here’s hope that Antonin Scalia will reread that thing he wrote about how it was ok to disallow use of peyote, because not every silly thing that people do can fall under the umbrella of protected religious behavior. People just gotta go with the program sometimes! Hunt down this story by searching with the words “Scalia” and “peyote,” and you will find many sources.

Links about today’s cases: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/03/19/3416214/religious-groups-birth-control-coverage/

I need health care for my aching brain — GOP edition

The gal selected by the Republican party to try to counteract the State of the Union speech, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of the other Washington — we here in D.C. don’t have a vote in Congress — either let someone slip her some text she had not read or just does not care about the relationship between words and reality. Bad, either way.

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A couple hours ago, a whole sludgebucket of her co-partiers voted to “impose tax penalties on small businesses that choose insurance plans that cover abortion, permanently block abortion coverage for low-income women, civil servants, D.C. residents, and military women, and effectively ban abortion coverage in the new health system, even for women in state exchanges who pay for their insurance with their own, private funds.”*

Nevertheless, McMorris Rodgers, without wrinkling her brow or twitching or anything, was able to say on TV: “Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s. And that whether you’re a boy with Down syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you.” [bolding by me]

* Message tonight from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

For swimmable, drinkable, breathable. . .

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I admit that I’m not as intrepid as I’d like to be. But a whole lot of friends put out some money, so I pledged to put as much of my body as possible into the Potomac River Saturday morning at 10:30 am.

The cause for the leap is to raise money for a sound organization working on climate change and the environment specifically here in my watershed – CCAN, Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

The forecast for that hour was 23 deg., 23 mph wind and snow showers, and those numbers represented a warm-up from the night before. Yikes. How do you train for that? I had been outside in Washington, DC’s subfreezing weather as much as possible, verified the fiber content of my long underwear for after emerging, and come up with a mantra/chant that essentially expresses my happiness about being a mammal at this time. I had decided to call the Channel 7 weather department to verify precisely what the water temperature would be (seeing the water fowl walking across the river’s surface should have been a clue, had I wanted to accept it) and Doug Hill himself, local on-air celebrity, called me back.  He said he also had made a “polar bear plunge” a few years ago, at Sandy Point, and it was the worst experience of his life.  But said I would be fine!  He said, “Your systems will shut down enough to direct all the blood to your heart, lungs and brain!”

Despite those best wishes, I had a moment of doubt.  There’s a little rush of panic you feel just at that start of a marathon, contemplating whether you have the stamina for the what will be the next  4+ hours, and you do; this would be only a 15-minute thing, but possibly more physically taxing. And with all these people are watching; I had to go in.

So we – William volunteered too – waded in to the gap of open water created by men in wetsuits just an hour earlier, and splashed around a bit, up to the neck in my case, all the way in for William. We didn’t stay long, and the only short-term damage was some frozen toes from the total time waiting for and then taking the dip, wearing Tevas, which I had thought would be the ideal dive-and-dash footwear, so don’t ever do that.

A hot shower, some food, a nap, and we feel restored.  CCAN is a thousand dollars richer — thank you generous friends and supporters — and I have bolstered my intrepid credentials a little.

sex discrimination: check the calendar

On the same day in CE 2013 that the retro-thinking Saudi Arabia was seeing the alarming action of women driving their own cars, this ad appears in a daily Oaxaca paper.  Top of the list of qualifications for a job is “sexo:” masculino.

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This enterprise is a fabric store.  I have been in this shop several times, and can tell you that the bulk of the customers are women, who I might guess constitute the bulk of home and commercial seamers. (Though men can and do sew too. I’ve seen it.)

Native dress takes a road trip

There’s a lot of eye-popping stuff here, lots in the textile category.

A few days ago the zocalo was jammed with activity, including a demonstration by indigenous people at the state capitol, many in traditional dress.  The colors are vibrant and may be from natural sources (the red below may be from cochineal, an insect*); they can be hand-spun fibers, hand-woven cloth, hand-stitched panels, and then hand-embroidered with age-old symbols of rivers, eagles, cactus flowers.** Besides the color and style telegraphing where these women are from (the state, but not the city, of Oaxaca), the colors of the ribbons on these garments indicate whether the wearer is married or single, and I’m sure there is much more meaning to the learned eye.  The menfolk are wearing a uniform as well, of jeans, collared shirts, boots and natural-fiber hats; but with a muted palette, and showing off no handiwork.

ImageZocalo, at a demonstration at the state government building

Later, the same day, I spotted this, and found myself equally fascinated about what this native dress could mean. In this case, the male character is all gussied up while the female is a little plainer, as is the case with so many birds in the wild. (They moved about together, like a mated pair.)

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Tribal origin and subtle meaning of this combination are unknown to me. My apologies if you know these people, or if you are these people, since I didn’t ask permission.

Though I have augmented by earlier two-skirt, two-blouse wardrobe with some Mexican shirts that do little to disguise me, I have to realize that I cannot for an instant think that my dress is neutral and doesn’t peg me as the age, sex, nationality, and economic groups of which I am a member.

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* A great book on this valuable commodity is The Perfect Red, by Amy Butler Greenfield.

** Maybe I could think of these as ‘logos.’

damage done

I guess it will be quite a long time before John Boehner show up on Saturday Night Live to make fun of himself.  He may not even show his face at Tortilla Coast anytime soon.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/tortilla-coast-congresss-power-restaurant-with-extra-cheese/2013/10/16/3be2d1ba-36a3-11e3-ae46-e4248e75c8ea_story.html

appointment kept

Yes, we met the autodidact polymath Richard Orlandini.  I shall write more about him in another post for the reason I’ll give later.

But briefly: I saw a guy in the periodical room of the OLL when we arrived there on Monday who I thought was Orlandini, but didn’t disturb him.  When he came out into the bigger space, it clearly was the guy on the book cover minus the big hat. I introduced myself and he wanted to sit right down and talk.  And how we did.

Over maybe a couple of hours we talked about archaeological stuff (I’m faking it here), markets, the politics and the excitement for a leftist of the 2006 uprisings, the current weather pattern (also exciting, with the hurricanes having dumped a whole year’s worth of rain the last two weeks), his cancer, his stained fingers, the consequence not of cigarettes (though he did need a smoking break, saying “they aren’t going to kill me”), but of harvesting pecans this week with his landlord.

A wide-ranging chat; William and I loved all of it.

The reason to write more later was that he has invited us to Mitla, the site of his major archeological work.  I think there would not be a better guide.  We will schedule that early next week with a call to him. His fee, he announced, will be lunch at his favorite restaurant.

He said pain was getting to him, took a morphine pill and packed his bulging sack of books to go.  (The limit for members is six books at a time; he and the staff ignore that.)  Among the books he told us was a book on master chess players’ moves, or however you say that, and how that has improved his game.  Learning new things, always.

Charmingly, this regular person (oh, I’m sure he is one; I’m just still a bit dazzled) could not find his reading glasses when he got up to go.