Author Archives: mrswhatsit9

Another Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

dumpsterfire

It’s been yet another awful week in a seemingly unending series of awful weeks.

We’re rapidly approaching 150,000 people in the US dead of the coronavirus. Not all of them were preventable, but many, many were, had the evil and incompetent TrumPutin administration not been asleep at the wheel since January. Of 2017.

Speaking of, Jared Kushner apparently intentionally tanked the US ability to fight the virus effectively because he felt it would be to TrumPutin’s political advantage to let Democrats die.

TrumPutin floated delaying the election. One, he can’t. Two, even Republicans who’ve rolled over for every other insane, unconstitutional, dysfunctional, bigoted, “tie the heroine to the train tracks” evil thing he’s wanted to do in the past 3 1/2 years spoke out. Three, even if he somehow succeeded, Nancy Pelosi would STILL become interim president on January 20, 2021.

HOWEVER.

TrumPutin appointee Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is ACTIVELY trying to destroy the US Postal Service mere months before the vast majority of us are going to need to cast mail ballots to avoid dying in order to vote.

Meanwhile, TrumPutin is trying to cast doubt on the entire election process and results, in the hope that when he loses BIGLY (as it were), which it’s becoming increasingly clear is likely to happen, his knuckle-dragging supporters will riot.

The feds are still snatching people off the streets in Portland, as TrumPutin actively and intentionally tries to start a race war. Reminder: the Portland protests were largely peaceful until TrumPutin sent in the brownshirts, who immediately proceeded to escalate.

Millions of children are going to have to start the 2020-21 school year at home because we couldn’t muster the will and public spirit to wear masks, wash our hands, and stay away from each other for a few months. Because virtual schooling went so well this past spring, with millions of kids without reliable internet access or access to necessary devices at home. They STILL lack internet access and devices. Money to help them? Nah. You’re on your own, kid.

(Oh, and those economically disadvantaged kids? Also more likely to have parents who are in hourly wage essential jobs who can’t stay home with them to help them. Money or a plan for child care for those parents? Also nah.)

We’re in the midst of a recession that makes the Great Depression look like a brief, minor blip.

The Dem-led House passed the next pandemic relief bill BACK IN MAY. It’s sat on Moscow Mitch’s desk since then. Supplemental unemployment insurance and eviction moratoriums are about to expire, like, TODAY as a result. In the midst of a historic, world-wide recession.

On this Lammas Eve, the 2020 harvest feels pretty fucking poisoned, to be honest.

So what do we do?

As Hecate reminds us: “A Witch’s job is to turn the Wheel, and round and round the Wheel must turn.”

How do we turn the wheel when, at the moment, it may feel Sisyphean?

Just do the next right thing.

And, perennial reminder, don’t forget self-care. Which is really hard right now, I admit.

It’s been inferno-level hot here, so I’ve been confined to my house A LOT. We normally travel quite a bit, both for work and for fun, and the fact that I haven’t been anywhere since January is REALLY starting to wear on me. We normally maintain season tickets to multiple theater companies and jazz series, and my city is normally wrapping up a large and wildly varied and inventive Fringe Fest (and I FEST HARD) right now, and NOPE to all of that. I haven’t signed a single new client this year. We normally entertain frequently, and we’re now reduced to seeing one household of friends per week, for a few hours, outside and physically distanced only, and everyone has to BYO everything (and did I mention it’s been historically hot here this summer?). I don’t even want to talk about my hair.

I’m guessing, even if, like me, you and yours are healthy and not in danger of losing your home, things might be pretty rough for you right now, too.

So in the midst of your postcarding and Senate race analyzing and GOTVing, plan something nice for yourself this weekend. Tell me about it in the comments.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

On the Woman in Portland

WomanInPortland

The above photo, taken by photojournalist Dave Killen early Saturday morning in Portland, appeared online – I believe first at the LA Times – on Monday.

Since then, I’ve seen a number of snarky takes online referencing “white women” and “peak caucasity.” Of course, “Karen” makes frequent appearances, too.

I just wanted to point out two things:

One, there are reports that she’s not white, but is rather a non-Black woman of color. Even if she is white….

Two, while I don’t know her so I cannot speak to her purpose, intentionally or not, she is embodying one of the most powerful archetypes of feminist, earth-based spirituality, the Goddess Baubo/Sheela-Na-Gig.

Now, I realize that sexism and misogyny are still 100% totally acceptable in the vast majority of cultures around the world in 2020, certainly here n the US. So anything having to do with women is automatically ridiculous, unworthy of serious consideration or respect.

So it’s also completely acceptable for people to ignorantly disparage an important religious symbol and feel no responsibility to educate themselves or hold themselves – or be held – to the same standard of conduct they would be held to for literally ANY other religion.

But I did want to point out that a lot of folks are being jackasses about something that is highly sacred to the religion I practice.

Then again, we ARE the daughters of the witches they couldn’t burn, so we’ll wake up tomorrow and be just fine. But those folks will still be assholes.

Photo by Dave Killen.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

For My Mother

jsrq2GkVSEO5ANukC1vquQ

Who doesn’t read this blog and has no idea about this particular secret identity of mine.

On Wednesday afternoon, my mom had an episode that seems to have been a Transient Ischemic Attack, colloquially known as a “mini-stroke.”

Before I go on: She’s fine, at least for now.

My dad was at home (where else would he be right now?) so he witnessed her momentary inability to speak, took her to urgent care, and then to the ER (at the direction of the urgent care doc). They admitted her and have given her just about every medical test known to humans, as well as anti-coagulants and blood thinners, and they’re keeping her there until they can get her blood pressure under control.

She’s been on blood pressure meds since her 40s, but lately, they haven’t been keeping her pressure consistently in the safe zone, which her primary care doc has not been responding to quickly enough (how typical of our medical establishment to ignore a woman who reports a problem) and likely contributed to the TIA.

On the one hand, I still have one living grandparent, my dad’s mom, who is nearly 98. Until two years ago, BOTH of my grandmothers were still living. When I was born, a great-great was still alive, and my last great-grandparent didn’t die until I was seven (I have many fond memories of visiting her). My people tend to live a long time, on both sides of the family.

On the other hand, a TIA is often a precursor to a major stroke within the next three months.

It’s been a tough couple of days.

My mom is a generous, warm, loving person.

My mom has volunteered twice a month with (mostly) black and brown teenagers in a juvenile detention facility for the past 20 years, and she loves those kids deeply and consistently looks for the best in them to help them see it in themselves.

My mom is an evangelical (former fundamentalist) christian.

My mom is a Trump-supporter because of SCOTUS/abortion.

These statements are contradictory. And yet they’re not.

The past four years have been extremely difficult.

TrumPutin nearly destroyed my relationship with my family.

After the election, I didn’t speak with them at all for nearly two months. This was after calling my mom anywhere from once a month to once a week since I went off to college more than 30 years ago.

I’ve only seen them – my parents, my brother, SIL, and their three kids – three times since October of 2016, once for my grandmother’s funeral, once on our way to visit my spouse’s family, and once for my oldest niece’s sweet 16. We used to visit my parents 2-3 times a year, host them here once, and go see my brother and his family once.

The relationships have been fraught for years. They’ve been aware for a very long time that I don’t attend church and that my political beliefs don’t align with theirs. Like a lot of liberals from conservative families, I’ve kept my mouth shut a fair amount, and that’s mostly not been too difficult over the years, as we generally just didn’t talk about politics or religion, which was the norm rather than a Trump-generated change.

In fact, in the Trump era, it’s gone more the other way. I’m no longer hiding what I’m up to, not relating things in a confrontational way, but very matter-of-fact: I’m an officer of the local Dem party, I ran to be a Biden delegate (was not elected, but I’m OK with that), I campaign for Dem candidates locally and nationally, I’ve been to so many marches I can kern my sign letters properly without a ruler. And I tell her about all of that, just like I tell her how my business is going, or if I’ve had dinner with friends of mine she knows, or if we’ve been to see a play or concert, or done a house project, or scheduled or taken a trip.

(And it really hurts me when activists on our side run around being assholes about “Why haven’t you fixed your people?”

YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH HERE, HOW HARD THIS HAS BEEN, HOW I’M TRYING. YOU DON’T KNOW MY SITUATION AT ALL. HOW ABOUT YOU STOP POINTING FINGERS, STOP JUDGING SOMETHING YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, AND MIND YOUR BUSINESS?

But I digress.)

And now I can’t see her. They don’t live locally. The only one allowed into the hospital with her is my dad. Even when they go home, we wouldn’t be allowed into the retirement community they live in right now to visit – it’s on lock-down and has been since March.

I knew the era of declining health was coming, I just – given our family history – didn’t expect it quite yet.

I love her like I’ve never loved anyone – not even my spouse of many, many years.

I’ll never, ever forgive her for voting for Donald Trump.

These statements are contradictory. And yet they’re not.

I know it’s asking a lot – she’s a Trump supporter, and I expect she’ll still be one this fall, and it’s in a state where that makes a difference – but if you can look past that, please light a candle for her. And for me, because I’m really struggling right now.

Photo by the author. If you copy, please link back.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

Towards A “More Perfect” Union

USConstitution

Given current events, I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot. As a reminder, it’s from the preamble to the US Constitution:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Notice is says “a more perfect Union” – not a perfect Union. To me, that means this 244 year old experiment in democracy is a process, a verb, a journey – something that is always growing, evolving, and changing.

Last week, TrumPutin gave Speech American Carnage, Part Infinity – twice in two days! – which I chose to ignore in favor of #46 Joe Biden’s Independence Day op-ed, in which he wrote:

Our democracy rose up from the ground when we ended slavery and ratified the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. It rose higher when women fought for suffrage — and won. It was fortified when a lawyer named Thurgood Marshall persuaded the Supreme Court to strike down “separate but equal” and blaze a trail for opportunity in Brown v. Board of Education. And when our nation opened its eyes to the viciousness of Bull Connor and the righteousness of the Freedom Riders — and responded with outrage, and a new Civil Rights Act and a Voting Rights Act — we built it stronger still.

Title IX. The Indian Self-Determination Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act. Marriage equality. DACA. Black Lives Matter. Brick by brick — and, all too often, against long odds and violent opposition — the American people have labored to expand the scope, strength and meaning of American democracy. There has always been a push and a pull between our founding ideals and the forces of inequality. But Independence Day is a celebration of our persistent march toward greater justice — the natural expansion of our founding notion from “all men are created equal” to “all people are created equal and should be treated equally throughout their lives.”

And that’s the thing. The United States is unique among nations in being built not on a common ethnicity or race or culture or language. We’re not Americans because of where we were born or the God/dess we worship. We are united by ideas, by a concept of a more perfect union, where we strive to, as Maya Angelou instructed us, know better and then do better.

And that’s a hard thing to do. People are tribal by nature, by which I mean hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have ingrained in us a suspicion of those who are not like us, something that a number of European countries that were previously quite smug about race relations in the US have only recently had to face as they struggle with multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity for, for some of them, the first significant time in their histories. None of us are perfect.

But we can work to become so, constantly seeking to expand our concepts of freedom, equality, and justice. Constantly doing the hard work of expanding our understanding of community, of the American experiment, of who we are as a nation.

And that’s why, as hard as this moment is, with uprisings calling for racial reconciliation, for genuine engagement with US history, both the good and the bad, for meaningful action to redress the pernicious results of generations of oppression, all of it happening in the midst of a pandemic that the TrumPutin administration is unable and unwilling to anything constructive to stop, this moment also gives me hope.

Even though it’s most often two steps forward, one step back, even though there are far too many who refuse to open their eyes, preferring their comfortable ignorance, even though the work is hard and never-ending, we are, in fact, becoming a “more perfect” union. Or, as President-To-Be Biden put it:

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

As We Celebrate Our Independence…

StatueOfLiberty

A little Uncle Walt for you on a holiday weekend:

I Hear America Singing
By Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

I know all the states are in some stage of “re-opening,” but the coronavirus is still VERY much out there. Even if you aren’t in one of the states where it’s become epidemic (Florida, Arizona, Texas), PLEASE celebrate wisely this weekend, best at home with only those you live with, in all cases outdoors, wearing masks, and NOT in large groups.

Original text found at the Poetry Foundation.

Image found here (and you should click the link to learn something that may surprise you about Lady Liberty).

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Reupping a Few Things

bY7Ho2DmQamwamecrMmfxA

Lots going on today and I’ve put a lot of effort into some important posts in the past few weeks that haven’t drawn much attention, so I’m re-upping them:

1. DC Statehood. It’s a civil rights issue, it’s a racial justice issue, it’s important, and it’s being voted on in the House of Representatives TODAY.

2. What does “Defund the Police” actually mean?

3. Two holidays you should know (if you don’t already): International Workers Day and Juneteenth.

Plus I’ve written a bunch of good stuff on how to get through the pandemic you should check out.

Whew. OK. Back to it next week.

Photo by the author. If you copy, please link back.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

Happy Juneteenth!

JuneteenthFlag

In elementary school, most of us learned that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, officially freeing all enslaved people.

Well, not exactly.

One, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed enslaved people in the Confederacy (remember, not all Union states – Maryland, I’m looking at you – were free states).

Two, enslaved people in Washington, DC had already been freed, as of April 16, 1862. (Ever wondered why you sometimes get an extra day or two to file your taxes? That’s because Emancipation Day is an official holiday in DC.)

Three, news traveled slowly back in the 1860s, particularly among people who didn’t want to hear it (like, say, white enslavers). It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 – two and a half years later, and more than two months after the end of the Civil War – that the Union army arrived in Texas, bearing the news.

Four, slavery didn’t finally and officially end in the entire United States until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865.

You weren’t taught about this in school? Yeah, me neither.

But Black communities all over the US have been celebrating Juneteenth for decades. It’s been an official state holiday in Texas since 1980.

Celebrations often include reading the Emancipation Proclamation, singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (the Black national anthem), reading the works of notable Black authors, and, of course, a cookout where celebrants consume red foods and beverages, which symbolize both the blood Black Americans shed in their struggle to be free and the shared legacy of the diaspora.

Want more?

I got you covered.

National Museum of African American History and Culture: The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth.

The uprisings sparked by the police murder of George Floyd have drawn renewed attention the holiday this year, and a number of large companies have responded by giving staff the day off.

However, I’d like to share a tweet by comedian and activist W. Kamau Bell to provide a little perspective:

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 12.31.09 PM

[Text for screen readers: “Just so we’re clear, white people, firing Aunt Jemima & giving us Juneteenth off are not the frontlines of defeating white supremacy & dismantling structural & institutional racism. Better schools, a just criminal justice system, access to healthcare was more what we were thinking.]

Image of the Juneteenth flag found at CNN, and you should follow the link because it takes you to an article that explains the flag’s symbolism.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Defund The Police

DefundThePolice

“What do you mean ‘Defund The Police’ Mrs Whatsit? Are you crazy? You’re just going to let criminals run wild? It’ll be like ‘The Purge’ – or, worse, the early 1990s – out here!”

Most of the folks – not all – using this slogan do not literally mean “zero police and zero dollars for police.” Some do, but not most.

And one could debate the wisdom of framing the issue this way if “Literally zero police and zero dollars for police” is not what you actually mean.

Counterpoint: Hecate’s favorite Overton Window. Republicans have been yanking it to the right with all their might for decades, while Democrats negotiate against ourselves, fearing to propose anything “too radical” in case we scare off the elusive centrist independent voter (who basically doesn’t exist). Which is how we end up with the wildly asymmetric polarization we have now. So maybe choosing something truly radical as a slogan is a smart strategy, so that when Dems propose reforms – even really significant, substantial reforms – to policing, they sound totally reasonable to the majority of people by contrast. Just a thought.

Anyway, as I see it – and remember, this is just one person’s perspective – there are three major policy positions common across the Defund movement:

Police Are Tasked With Doing Too Much

Even cops freely admit this.

Police should be focused on crime, criminals, and solving crimes. That’s what they’re trained and equipped for, and that’s ostensibly the extent of their responsibilities.

In practice, that’s only a tiny sliver of what we’re asking them to do and be responsible for.

Republicans – sometimes with the acquiescence of Democrats – have been defunding all kinds of social safety net programs for at least the past 40 years: school nurses and psychologists, welfare and food assistance, social workers, community mental health services, housing programs, drug treatment – you name it.

Meanwhile, there was a large surge in violent crime in many cities in the late 1980s and 1990s that scared the pants off everyone, including many folks in the Black community. The infamous 1994 crime bill was actually supported – grudgingly, but supported – by many members of the Congressional Black Caucus. I’m just pointing this out for those who didn’t live through it: the situation was a little more complex that it now appears in hindsight.

One of the results of that bill was that police forces got a LOT more funding.

The thing is, *since* the early 1990s, violent crime has decreased DRAMATICALLY, which you might not be aware of, particularly if you’re a devotee of the “if it bleeds, it leads” local television news. Depending on whose numbers you use, violent crime is down 51% or 71% between 1993 and 2018.

(There are lots of theories as to why. The most plausible, to me, is that it’s a combination of two things: getting lead – early exposure to which permanently reduces intelligence and impulse control – out of paint and gasoline, and legal abortion, where women are no longer forced to bear children they can’t or don’t want to care for and raise.)

But, rather than redirecting those funds from police forces back into a strong safety net, local, state, and national officials continue to shovel money towards policing, because it’s rare to lose an election running on “I’m tough on crime.”

The thing is, once you’ve spent money on one thing, you can’t spend that same money on something else.

What that means, in reality, is that there are still kids with health and emotional problems. There are still people who are homeless. There are still adults in mental health crisis, with substance abuse problems, or, sometimes, a combination of both.

And the only public servants left to deal with them are the cops, who are neither trained nor equipped to do so.

Per an article in today’s Washington Post, less than 5% of arrests are for violent crimes.

The rest are for things that would definitely be better handled in some other way, only there are no resources available to do that.

Kids who are acting up in school don’t need to arrested – they need a caring, trained adult who can help them understand their emotions and develop skills to express them in more constructive and appropriate ways.

People who are experiencing homelessness don’t need to be arrested – they need housing first policies, to get them a safe and stable place to leave, after which they also need wrap around care support to help them work through the life issues that caused them to become homeless in the first place.

People who are addicted don’t need to be arrested – they need treatment and wrap around care support to help them work through the life issues that caused them to become addicted in the first place.

As Dr. King was fond of noting, budgets are moral documents. Taking *some* (not all) money away from the cops means communities can invest those resources in interventions that are more in line with their values and more effective.

Demilitarize the Police

I want you to close your eyes and picture a police officer.

What do you see?

Is it a guy – or a woman! – walking the beat in a Barney Fife uniform, or maybe something a little more up-to-date fashion-wise, even if “walking” the beat means the officer is on a bike or a Segway, or even in a squad car?

It’s probably NOT the disturbing images of police we’ve seen at protests against racial injustice going back to at least 2013 and Trayvon Martin, where they’re outfitted and equipped like soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, with frightening weaponry and large, military vehicles.

What is going on here?

In short, we throw so much money at the military – budgets are moral documents – that they have all kinds of surplus gear, because that’s how government budgets work. If you get to the end of the government fiscal year with money left over, you go on a spending spree, because it’s “use it or lose it.”

Now, the Pentagon used to sell all that extra equipment to other countries, but in 1997, President Clinton’s (him again) National Defense Authorization Act request included the 1033 Program, which allowed the military to transfer surplus equipment to police departments ostensibly for use in the (notice the framing) War on Drugs.

And if you could buy a cool-looking tank for pennies on the dollar, why *wouldn’t* you want that, right?

Thing is, you know how when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail?

Well, when all you have is a grenade launcher, machine guns, and a tank, every protestor looks like an insurgent who’s out to kill you.

Quoting that same Post article from this morning:

“The increased use of military equipment has coincided with an increased use of military tactics, such as SWAT teams and no-knock raids, by law enforcement agencies…One study found that use of paramilitary-style teams by law enforcement increased by more than 1,400 percent since 1980.”

No-knock raids? You mean like the thing that led to the Louisville police murdering Breonna Taylor in her own bed?

There are two main mental models of policing: Guardian and Warrior. Which one do you think is most beneficial to the communities the police forces are supposed to be serving? Which one do you think is dangerous to those communities? Which one do you think is encouraged by military gear and military-style training?

Police Unions Are Too Powerful

Here’s the thing: If you call yourself liberal/progressive/leftist/a Democrat, you CANNOT advocate for busting police unions, full stop.

That said, police unions are FAR too powerful.

Every time an officer is recorded engaging in what, to all appearances, is excessive force, there are immediate cries to fire the cop, arrest him (or, occasionally her), throw the book at them, etc. Today. RIGHT NOW.

But those are unionized jobs. Which means the chief, in many cases, is prohibited from firing those officers without going through a formal review process as dictated by the union contract. While that review process is going on, that officer is often placed on administrative leave with full pay, again, as dictated by the union contract. Even if the officer is fired for cause, he often retains his pensions and other benefits, as dictated by the union contract.

For the rest of us suckers out here operating under “at will” employment, not being able to be fired without cause and without due process sounds pretty sweet, if we’re honest with ourselves. And, even with video evidence, we do still have a presumption of innocence in the US. And police officers are the ONLY people who are given firearms and the power to use them and other types of force against American citizens as a specific responsibility and requirement of their jobs, so shit can get complicated.

BUT.

Unions usually control the entire disciplinary processes, often without the input of anyone “outside,” including members of the community they’re supposed to be serving.

“We police our own” sounds real nice, until you realize that it often doesn’t work that way in practice, and in fact, cops who attempt to “police their own” are often ostracized, punished, even fired.

Chiefs’ hands are often tied, and they’re forced by the unions to rehire cops everyone knows ARE the “bad apples,” because those cops have managed to wriggle out of accountability, in part because juries are loathe to convict officers accused of misconduct, even when the evidence is clear.

There are larger internal police cultural issues at work here, but one of the ways departments can start getting at the culture change many claim to want is by reducing the power of their unions – which is probably going to require municipal legislators to step in; it’s unlikely the unions will voluntarily give up power – and increasing their accountability to elected officials and the communities they serve.

There are many, many other issues at play here, things like: ending qualified immunity, changing the rules around use of body cameras and release of the footage, following known best practices around things like chokeholds (don’t use them – ever), and chemical agents and rubber projectiles with people exercising their First Amendment rights (also, don’t use them – ever), citizen review and advisory boards (the best of which set aside seat/s for people who’ve been victims of inappropriate police use of force), preventing bad cops from going one town over and getting another job, and even completely reconstituting the entire police force from the ground up (as Camden did successfully, and the Minneapolis city council just this week voted to do).

But if we can maintain the focus and momentum of this moment in time and convert it into the political will to make some of the structural reforms I’ve summarized above, perhaps all these Black folks whose names we’ve been saying for years will not have died for nothing.

And there won’t be any more names to say.

SayTheirNames

Header image from the Boston Globe.

Names image from babynames.com.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

 

Are You Outraged?

Washington DC Flag Statehood For The People Of DC

Good – you should be.

Of the many, many things that have happened this week that should be making you royally pissed and ready to take action for change, one of the most egregious took place Monday night in Washington, DC, when TrumPutin and his lackey Bill Barr ordered federal law enforcement officers to attack peaceful protestors, who were in front of the White House exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly, all because he wanted to intentionally cause chaos so he could get the background images he wanted for his bizarre and creepy photo op outside St. John’s Episcopal Church and provide the flimsiest of excuses to behave like the tin-pot dictator he wants to be, calling out the National Guard and the US military on the streets of an American city, taking up arms against American citizens.

Hillary Clinton called it, back in 2016: DEPLORABLE.

Why did he do this?

These actions went directly against the expressed wishes of local elected officials and the good practices that are known by the local police force. The Washington, DC, metropolitan police are far from perfect – their responses have sometimes been flawed even in the midst of the current uprisings – but if there is one thing DC’s police force knows how to do, it’s how to manage protests so that protestors can exercise their constitutional rights while also keeping the protestors, the community, and the police force safe. Hundreds of thousands of Americans go to DC every year to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, and those cops know how to manage them, just like the New Orleans police force knows how to manage large crowds of drunk partiers.

Again, DC’s police force is far from perfect – they were under a DoJ Consent Decree from 2002-2008 for excessive use of force against black residents – but they have the experience and protocols to handle large scale, tense protests. Those were developed over years when the force was led by Charles Ramsey, a black man, and Cathy Lanier, a white woman. And yes, now that the current police chief is a white man, locals I know report backsliding. (For what it’s worth, if you want a police force that prioritizes community relations and operates under a Protector ethos rather than a Warrior ethos, the data is clear: hire a black man or a woman of any color as your chief and a significant percentage of your overall force.)

What does successfully managing a protest look like? Focusing on de-escalation tactics and the absolute priority of people over property.

De-escalation tactics include things like: officers in their usual uniforms, with their agency, name, and badge number clearly displayed, and their firearms stowed. Riot gear on-site but not on the officers. Setting up and maintaining clear and direct lines of communication with protest organizers. Staying calm and not responding, even when the protesters shout rude things at you. Always remembering that people’s lives are more important than some broken windows.

(Oh: and from people I know on the ground? That “American carnage” TrumPutin is always slavering over? Not, for the most part, actually happening. Yes, some windows were broken and some shops were looted the first two nights. And while I don’t think anyone is going to shed tears over broken windows at a Starbucks (or maybe they will – the first Deaf-primary Starbucks in the world was hit Sunday night, much to the consternation of the shop’s neighbors), local and/or black-owned businesses have been hit, too, with black and white community members showing up almost immediately to help clean up, board up broken windows, and get the stores ready to re-open. It’s important to note that eyewitness reports – with video to back it up – are pointing out that much of the vandalism and looting is young white men nowhere near any ongoing protest activity taking advantage of the situation to go wild. In fact, peaceful protesters in DC have actually helped the local police stop and detain vandals who are using this as an excuse to start shit. According to my local contacts, this is nowhere near 1968.)

Instead, we have awful images of military vehicles on the streets of DC, a heavy National Guard presence at the Lincoln Memorial, non-local law enforcement personnel with their agencies and even their names and badge numbers obscured on the streets, and TrumPutin finally getting his wall, only it’s around The People’s House, where he cowers in the basement bunker like the coward he is.

How could TrumPutin get away with this?

After all, he couldn’t force the New York National Guard to do jackshit in response to widespread looting in NYC. (The looting in DC was always sporadic and appears to have been over for several days.)

He couldn’t deploy the military to the streets of Omaha, even though a peaceful protestor was killed by police there. (No protestors have been killed in DC.)

He couldn’t threaten to instigate federalizing the police force in Louisville, despite the fact that the police there shot a local black business owner and community activist who was well known for FEEDING COPS FOR FREE. (No business owners have been killed in DC.)

He can do this because 706,000 of our fellow Americans who live in Washington, DC, are second-class citizens who lack equal representation.

US citizens who are residents of the District of Columbia pay taxes and yet have no Senators or Representatives in Congress, and in fact, have limited control even over local affairs.

I seem to recall that a bunch of Bostonians dumped a bunch of tea into the harbor nearly 250 years ago and started a revolution over precisely this issue.

A few facts about DC (many courtesy of Neighbors United for DC Statehood, a local DC Statehood advocacy group):

  • It currently has a larger population than Wyoming or Vermont and is closing in on Alaska and North Dakota, all of which have representation in Congress.
  • DC residents pay in more in total dollars in federal taxes than 22 other states and territories, and they pay the most in per-capita federal taxes in the US (and not by a little).
  • More than 192,000 DC citizens have served our country in branches of the armed forces.
  • Although DC won limited local control through the Home Rule Act of 1973, Congress and the President retain the right to prevent city officials from spending local tax dollars as the residents who elected them want those dollars spent.

Does that all seem unfair – even un-American – to you? DC residents are the only US citizens who bear the full responsibilities of citizenship, including taxation and Selective Service registration, without sharing in the full rights and privileges of citizenship.

You can help right this wrong.

In 2016, 86% of DC residents responded in favor of a statehood ballot initiative. That, in turn, led to the creation of HR 51, the Washington, DC Admission Act, legislation that was introduced at the beginning of the current (116th) Congress.

The Act would shrink the federal enclave down to the Capitol building, the White House, and the monumental core, and convert the rest of what is currently DC – where all the people live – into Douglass Commonwealth (named for favorite son Frederick Douglass, of course) with one Representative and two Senators to speak for the interests of those 706,000 Americans in our federal legislature, just like every other citizen has a right to. See what that would look like here.

What can you do?

Well, right now, virtually the entire House caucus is on not just in favor of HR 51, but as co-sponsors. And with a Democratic majority in the House, that’s the good news.

The bad news is:, Democratic Senators in the following states are NOT supporters of the companion Senate bill (S 631):

  • Arizona
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

Do you live there, or have friends or family who do? Call, text, email, or write your Senator(s) and ask her/him to support equal representation for the citizens of Washington, DC. Neighbors United has all their deets and a sample script you can use.

For more information and resources on #DCStatehood and what needs to be done to secure equal representation and equal rights for the more than 700,000 of our fellow citizens to whom they are currently denied, see:

All of them have facts and resources about the DC Statehood movement, and specific calls to action you can take TODAY in support of equal rights, long denied, for your fellow citizens.

Where are the Republicans?

Funny you should ask.

There was a hearing on HR51 in the House last fall and a markup of the bill earlier this spring, before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

House Republicans raised objections ranging from “intent of the founders” to “but where will my staff park?” (Yes, really. Kentucky is not sending us their best.)

Thing is, TrumPutin recently said the quiet part out loud, as he tends to do:

“D.C. will never be a state,” Trump told the New York Post this week. “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No, thank you. That’ll never happen.”

OK, so first of all, numbnuts, DC would get ONE Representative. That’s determined by population size, not that I would expect you to know that.

Secondly, it’s been a few years, but I don’t recall anything in The Federalist Papers about representation only accruing to those who agree to vote the “right” way.

Fun fact: when DC was first designated as the new capital city in 1800, residents had representation. If you’re wondering if it was stripped because of DC’s large free black population (while slavery was still legal) and never restored specifically for reasons of systemic white supremacy and ongoing institutionalized racial discrimination (DC was majority black for a long time – P-Funk’s funktacular tune Chocolate City is about DC – and is still plurality black): YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.

The full story is too long to go into here, but if you want to learn it, check out Derek Musgrove and Chris Asch’s outstanding Chocolate City: A History of Race & Democracy in Our Nation’s Capital. (Buy it online from local DC bookseller Politics & Prose here.)

Image from Neighbors United for DC Statehood.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Rest In Power, George Floyd

It’s a sad day in a series of sad days, and my thoughts are with those who are fighting for justice today in Minneapolis.

Will things ever change?

There are two small, hopeful signs:

  1. The officers who took his life were immediately fired (NOT placed on administrative leave with pay) and at least one of them has now been charged. Given that police jobs are unionized and those unions tend to be very strong, this is actually quite significant.
  2. Chiefs of police around the country have spoken out against the Minneapolis officers’ abuse of power.  Given the culture of omertà in police departments, this is also actually quite significant.

I’m not sure either of those things would’ve happened without the unceasing efforts of activist groups like Black Lives Matter (and others) who are, slowly but successfully, bending the arc towards justice.

(And no, I’m not interested in talking about some smash-and-grab in a Target. Racist white people have repeatedly destroyed entire black neighborhoods and towns over the course of American history. Target has insurance. They’ll be fine.)

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.