Top 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Understand Republicans

Political parties are like the people in them, contradictory and conflicted but for the current GOP, the dissonance has become deafening.

  1. They say they’re for deregulation—then why do they want to regulate every aspect of women’s reproductive lives, who marries whom and where folks go to the toilet?   images (7)download (6)
  2. They say they’re for business, large and small–then why do they want to ban the marijuana business AND punish those for whom it provides medical benefits-is it re-regulation of deregulation?
  3. They say they’re for individual liberty–but love to tell you where and how you may protest, if at all?
  4. Many claim they’re Christian–so unless it’s the version popularized by the Inquisition, why are they for oppressing and suppressing everyone else and yeah, that little thing of do-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-you, didn’t have a codicil that says, unless there’s a tax break involved0335171bb0bd1ac6ad5be4321a88d400--spanish-inquisition-green-teas
  5. They say they’re for state rights–unless the state wants to provide-in a Judeo-Christian sort of way-sanctuary for its most vulnerable citizens.
  6. They say they’re for government transparency—unless they are the ones doin the governin.
  7. They say they’re for the 2nd amendment but why is that the only one they care about-don’t the 1st, 4th, 5th. 6th, 8th and 10th amendments count? And if not, why not?
  8. They say they’re for jobs and a strong economy but in many states immigrants represent the majority of entrepreneurial activity and the marijuana industry offers jobs and tax funding to local economies which would make them less dependent on federal government spending yet they seem to want to prohibit both from flourishing.
  9. They say they want us to be world leaders–then why do they weaken our influence by reneging on treaties.  download (7)
  10. They claim to want a strong nation—but—our country became powerful (besides through imperialist policies which both parties love) because the majority of our people were well fed and educated. When we cease funding these basic needs and allow our country’s health to deteriorate, that is, the health of our people and its institutions, its infrastructure, its support of scientific exploration (I would include- of the arts but we have never been a country which cares about art or artists,) its land and its air–decline is inevitable and perhaps, irreversible. nuclear-union-25890-1920x1080-min

I just don’t get you guys. 

Celebrate Women’s Day

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So world wide women, as a group, we get a day. As social media types are fond of tweeting, let that sink in. There is so much to say about this global subject that I won’t get started if I try to speak too broadly. But as it’s said in the women’s movement, the personal is political so here goes-

Let me share a sliver of my life. I am a 70-year-old woman. I am officially old, but not elderly since we know that 70 is the new 50! When I look at pictures of my mom at 70, while she was still incredibly vibrant, she definitely appeared older than I do now. A lot of that is due to improved healthcare, more and fresher food choices unless we live in food desserts [I remember my mom’s salads, ice berg lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise] and regular exercise, plus we just dress younger.

When my mom came home from work, she had to take off her girdle and stockings before she could do anything else, which should explain why women did not exercise as much as we do now, it was uncomfortable even to walk to the car.

By the time you have lived to 70, you have experienced a few lifetimes, lifetimes that often seem to be separate worlds, different movies, if such they were. For many of us Baby Boomers, our stories wouldn’t work as a series but as wholly separate genres of film.The main character sometimes even changes her name.

There’s the early boring story of the dutiful daughter, the nerdy student who slowly morphs into the teacher-correcting-smart-ass-to-be, your friend, then the prankster, whose goals in life were wildly disparate and equally unattainable. This skinny, dark-eyed, buck-toothed (yes, I got all the Bugs Bunny jokes) girl who wanted to be either a ballerina or a Quaker preacher, Crusader Rabbit, was what my father called me.

And in every woman’s life, there’s the dark side, not only of expectations to be perfect, kind and obedient but also the butt of jokes, put downs, even abuse about our bodies and its shape. Most of us don’t talk or write much about that but no girl goes unscathed into adolescence. We learn, regardless of culture, that whatever happens to us, whatever nasty words or physical assaults we experience it is our shame and ours alone to bear.

Last fall the revelations about our current despicable president brought it all back to most of us, if truth be told. But it won’t be told –and now he is considered leader of the free world, but whose world, whose freedom? At such times the poet Muriel Rukeyser’s words come back to me unbidden,

” What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”

So let me drop a few choice anecdotes … my father along with the boys in my 7/8th grade classes made fun of me for being skinny and flat chested. My father made it clear that I wasn’t an acceptable copy (maybe that was lucky) of my voluptuous mom.

I spent my entire adolescence so convinced of my unattractiveness that as a result I broke numerous hearts in my years of galavanting about San Francisco State in micro mini skirts, wondering why men were following me down the street and why male “friends” reacted badly when I blithely ignored their pleadings.

Then later after my revolutionary period and as an activist member of first, the anti-war movement and then the women’s consciousness-raising movement, and finally as a single mom, I found myself myself at the ripe age of 37, hiding in the women’s bathroom because I didn’t know how to discourage an obnoxious suitor on the dance floor.

I told a friend about my epiphany – it occurred to me I was too old to still be hiding in the bathroom from unwanted attention. She made the astounding suggestion that I simply say, “no thank you,” when someone approached me who I didn’t wish to spend time with. Now, I know that doesn’t work in a dark alley much less on the job-how well I know that one [a story for another time!] But it was a revelation to me, me-a single mother of two-that I didn’t have to make myself available because someone demanded it of me, that I could say NO.

I wish I could say that things have changed so much from those days, but when my daughter was just at the beginning of her music exec career, she would call me from the grocery store or the street and ask me why men seemed to feel they could comment on her smile or lack of one as she passed them by.

I remember noticing that by early adolescence my daughter had developed a way of carrying herself, that was a bit haughty, almost princess-like. I commented to a friend once that she seemed to be aloof to the point of arrogance.

My friend, who had known her as a small child in our parent coop nursery school pointed out that as a tiny girl, more petite than most, quite pretty and also, one of the few Black girls in the school, other kids often attempted to take advantage of her but she had learned how to hold her ground. My friend thought, sensibly, that she had learned to carry herself in a way that said, “don’t even think about it.”

But another  International Women’s Day and the stats are still appalling. More women are in poverty than we can even imagine and that means their children experience two things 1) continued generational poverty, 2) that the women who raise them and are their role models are are not valued as human beings no matter how hard they work.

Here in the “free world” our so-called leader, rather than electing the woman who asserted that women’s rights are human rights, we got the guy who said, “you can do anything, grab them by the pussy….and they let you get away with it.”

Now I know there were lots of other reasons that Hillary didn’t win,. but there really is no excuse for any of it. We all hold some of the blame.

One of my friends who marched in Washington in her pussy hat, asked me the other day if I was a little embarrassed by the whole pussy hat phenomenon. We were raised in a time when that word was not used by women. Since then it’s usage has exploded but it is used as a term of disparagement-of weakness, the lack of manly strength to stand up for what you believe in, an inability to fight back. So maybe it’s a good thing that we have taken it back as a symbol of strength, persistence and even resistance.

What real, principled strength is, a toughness that doesn’t lash out at the vulnerable, these are qualities that are difficult to put into logos. They are complex and thoughtful but I have seen them codified more often lately as in the principles of Bay Resistance:

Lead with Love, Power Across Difference, Transformative Justice and Collective Action….

As part of of our spirit of resistance in this transformative time, let me hold up some of the young women leaders among us. These women are able to bridge some of the many divides we women have found ourselves in– Alicia Garza, Zahra Billoo, Jennifer Tran and so many more.

By our one day of recognition next year, there will be more, some of them will be running for office, some organizing campaigns and still others leading a movement that will exist outside of electoral politics. I can’t wait, really, we can’t.

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Join the Call: Make California a Sanctuary State

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“We invite you to join this call for the community to come together to help build the movement to defend our neighbors.”

Community Organizations Call on California Legislators and Governor Jerry Brown to Make California a Sanctuary State

In light of Trump’s very real threats against immigrants, many people are calling for cities that have sanctuary resolutions or ordinances in place (that prevent local officials from reporting undocumented residents to ICE) to recommit to those policies (and, of course, for cities that don’t have such a resolution to pass one).

At its meeting on November 29th, the Oakland City Council reaffirmed that Oakland is a sanctuary city.  The Council also committed to work toward California standing up to Trump’s threats to cut federal funding by declaring itself a sanctuary state. This is crucial because a lot of the potential cuts to federal funding could fall most heavily on the working people of Oakland and California’s other large cities. 

In the face of deportations, harassment, and growing threats of violence, the immigrant, Muslim, Latino and other targeted communities, including all People of Color, LGBTQ, women and people with disabilities are experiencing stress and fear not seen since the 2016-11-14-11-51-29days of Jim Crow. Children are having difficulty in school as parents seek to reassure them.

California is in a unique position in its ability to honor its diversity and protect its residents from the harm that may come under the new regime which seeks to disempower whole categories of people.  A statewide resolve to not give in to the pressure on sanctuary cities would have a much better likelihood of preventing the threatened cuts and protecting Oaklanders and all California residents.

For more information and to get involved, please contact Jose Dorado of the Latino Task Force,joseadorado48@gmail.com, 510-326-4810, Sharon Rose, Co-chair, Block by Block Organizing Network (info@bbbon.net) or Pamela Drake, pamelaadrake@gmail.com, 510-593-3721.  

Supporters* as of December 4, 2016 (partial list):

Jesse Arreguín Mayor elect, Berkeley

Jose Artiga Exec. Dir., SHARE Foundation

Rev. Debra Avery First Presbyterian Church of Oakland

Joe Brooks Brotherhood of Elders

Josie Camacho Exec. Sec.-Treas., Alameda Labor Council

Keith Carson Alameda County Supervisor

Jose Cartagena Nat’l Network of Salvadorans in the Exterior

Oscar Chacon Exec. Dir., Alianza de las Americas

Paul R. Chavez Exec. Dir., Centro Legal de la Raza

Carroll Fife, Oakland Justice Coalition

Rabbi David Cooper Kehilla Synagogue

Andreas Cluver Building Trades Union

Jose Dorado Latino Task Force

Pamela Drake and Jack Kurzweil Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club

Shanthi Gonzales Director, OUSD Board

Katherine Grije Genesis rst Cong. Church Oakland

Rashidah Grinage Coal. for Police Accountability

George Holland Chair Oakland NAACP

Deborah Lee Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

Mirna Medina Somos Familia

Gus Newport former Mayor, Berkeley

Rabbi Jaqueline Mates-Muchin Temple Sinai

Fred Pecker Sec. Treas. ILWU local 6

Jean Quan former Mayor, Oakland

Sharon Rose Block by Block Organizing Network

Tulio Serrano Committee of Central American Refugees

Angela Sambrano La Red Mexicana

Pastor J. Alfred Smith Jr. Allen Temple Baptist Church

Deacon Reginald Lyles Jr, Allen Temple

Tony Thurmond Assemblymember

Rosie Torres Director, OUSD Board

Gus Newport, former Mayor of Berkeley

Malia Vella Alameda City Councilmember elect

BWOPA, Black Women Organized for Political Action

 

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A Letter from the Democratic Party.. I want to receive

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We need to hear swiftly, definitively and defiantly from our leaders in the disloyal opposition before we let the winner of the Electoral College debacle into the White House. This is what I’m asking them to say, but first they must account for their many failures.

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We recognize that many are suffering in this country and around the world, especially since the economic crash brought on by Republican politics and the wars in the Middle East, terrorism and fears of it also brought on by NeoCon policies during the Bush years.

We accept full responsibility for acquiescing to those policies sometimes with our votes and often with our silence while knowing full well that the devastation wreaked in faraway places would drain our people of needed resources while enraging the residents of those far places.

We admit that no American banker or oligarch was jailed while families lost their homes, their pensions and their hopes for the future. Even as that continues to happen, the bodies of small children wash ashore in the Mediterranean as a result of those disastrous votes and the funds to back them. We never told the American people the truth about how that happened nor of our responsibility in it. We must start now!

The same can be said of  Central American families seeking refuge from murderous regimes while we jail and deport families back to lands they may not know or to violent cities and countrysides from which they fled.

We have been complicit in putting our population under surveillance and lying about it while hunting down those who would expose the rumors as truth-giving rise to far fetched conspiracy theories and the complete loss of trust in our democracy.

There is more in which we have been complicit, privatizing our schools, denigrating our union movement, and ignoring the unfathomable fear that has replaced the American dream. We even told our citizens that education was a necessity while making a profit off of those who have worked so hard to achieve it, along the way, indebting an entire generation out of their birthright.

We spent decades building prisons lest Black Americans attempted to seek their long-ago-earned part of the American Dream-whose only compensation for their hard work has been more restrictions including death for shopping, driving, working, walking, breathing. Many of us never stood up for our first Black president when he sought solutions for all working Americans while taking on all of the old festering problems of a dying republic.

Now that the pathway to facism, destruction of the planet, and targeting of whole swathes of our population has been made manifest, we declare:  2016-11-14-11-51-29

To prevent the acceptance of any court nominee (Supreme or lower) who does not uphold individual rights, voting rights, rights of women and people of any gender to control their bodies, the rights of workers and consumers, and the most basic right-that of the planet to continue to make human habitation possible. We further assert that the 4th Amendment to the Constitution be reinstated-the right to be safe in our persons being the most basic and necessary to survival.

To prevent cuts in funding to any marginalized group (as defined by Dave Chappell) including our elders, our children, our students, and those who have long lived without the protections and benefits others have taken for granted.

To prevent violations of our communal property-parks, schools, housing, and health, including ending fracking, mining public lands and other acts of destruction in order to provide cheap energy and subsidizing communal needs.

To reassess the need for and usefulness of the FBI, NSA, and especially the CIA while eliminating funding for military hardware, including in our cities and for our local law-enforcement agencies. 20161113_153003

To maintain and spread the prohibition against private prisons, indeterminate sentencing, jailing people who cannot pay fines (debtors’ prisons,) cruel and unusual punishment-oh hell-just really read the Bill of Rights and stop trying to limit them-with one addendum that they not be limited to men, or white folks or straight folks or restricted for those with disabilities/differences or those born in other places than these 52 states (which must include Puerto Rico and DC.)

To stop the border wall and close border detention/concentration camps, registration of immigrants or religious groups.

To demand a basic income for all Americans including healthcare, childcare and higher education. We vow to educate Americans to the true cost of privatizing all these needs and the ways in which we can all contribute to the betterment of our country through fair taxation.

To rebuilding our decaying infrastructure and restarting our leadership in innovation including making internet and information access available at low or no cost to our country’s families, families not defined by one type-by training and hiring those at the bottom of the pay scale first.

We refuse just to fight against reaction and nihilism but to demand a better life for all of us, including those in other corners of the globe. We will fight to be the beacon-we-always-pretended-we-were and not-in-some-1950’s-fantasy but as our best angels might envision us.

This is a long expensive list, it’s true but if we really want to be great as never before, we have to tackle a future where everyone can live, thrive, and have the opportunity to pursue even a modicum of happiness.

Signed,

The Democratic Party of the United States of America

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Women and Respectability Politics

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Many of us have seen the videos of Planned Parenthood managers talking about selling fetuses for stem cell research (they don’t actually sell them.) The folks who engineered these videos have apparently spliced and diced and concocted an art form out of taking recorded words out of context.

Still, there is unease when we actually realize what is happening, that fetuses are being used to study how humans are made and how they can be repaired, that is, how they can be healed. And I get that but we have to be willing to think this through.

Since we decided a number of years ago that stem cell research was useful and therefore acceptable-even Republican Ben Carson admits to being involved in that kind of research-then why is it shocking to learn how those cells are procured?

Well, that’s one question, one that the Right Wing knows that most of us are ignorant about, and that might lead us to reconsider the original question-women’s right to choose or not choose childbirth at certain times and circumstances of their lives.

I recently saw Wendy Davis, she of women’s-right-to-choose fame, defend Planned Parenthood on the basis that 97% of its work is in women’s reproductive health and, indeed, women’s health in general, like screenings for various diseases. So it’s true that no federal money goes to abortion and that in some states without the ACA, women must use these clinics as their primary providers. Most people would agree they need to have some kind of health care.

As an older woman who had an abortion shortly after they became legal in California and most of whose friends have had legal and/or illegal abortions, as a woman who is the mother of two, one of whom is female, I wanna say, stop with the nuances and justifications.

Just stop. Every time you appease these misogynists (and some are women,) you move us a step backward in our demands for rights as persons. But then, we no longer make demands, we’re back to pleading for consideration of a woman’s right to life. All of the Republican candidates now feel obliged to say that they would rather see a woman die than risk the loss of a fetus! When they’re not making rape a victimless crime, they’re criminalizing us when we become mothers and can’t afford childcare or demeaning us when we don’t want to home school our kids.

Of course, it does make sense to state that when all types of birth control are made completely available to women of any age and income level, the demand for abortions goes down-that is proven. Unfortunately, many states have made it more difficult to even obtain any kind of birth control much less the medical, non-surgical forms of abortion. To these zealots an egg, is more human and needs more rights and protections than the woman who may have to nurture it. Of course, if it turns out to be female, the value of that life decreases after it arrives on earth much like a new car after it is driven off the lot.

So all I’m saying is, I don’t really want to hear all the logical arguments, because they are based on us trying to prove to the men who rule us that we’re good people that we have the “right” intentions, that we’re good moms and sisters, aunts and grandmothers. Everyone knows women who have had abortions, everyone. Most of us would prefer not to though, in fact 60% of women seeking abortions are already parents, but geez, now I’m doing it too.

As Ben Carson put it, “There is no war on women — there may be a war on what’s inside of women.” Apparently I need to remind the good doctor and everybody else that what’s inside me is mine and I don’t need your approval  to decide what is best for me, my outsides and my insides.

And here’s another one, I hate that mantra, “it’s between her and her doctor,” no , sorry, my doctor doesn’t get to decide, even with the laughable notion of the old family doctor who knows us so well-the implication being that it is a wise old man-no again, not his decision-it’s mine and maybe my partner’s if I so choose.

You guys or ladies, women, at Planned Parenthood may have consulted some PR people, the wrong ones, I suspect, who told you that it is unseemly to talk about aborted fetuses and how they serve born people. If some of you find my choices disreputable or not respectable enough, I’m okay with that, because I’m in charge of my decisions.

I submit that if we occasionally don’t give birth because we have made that decision, it should be okay to use those cells to benefit humankind without apologies. Similarly, I don’t ask you to beg that I retain some small say over how I protect my body’s integrity, my integrity as a human being. I earned that right when I was born.