Category Archives: Politics

The privilege of nostalgia

Of all the outside events in my childhood—things that weren’t just about me and the insular people in my little preteen world—nothing has failed to fade into obscurity except for the 2000 Elections.

I couldn’t pin down exactly why that is, or sum it up in one coherent sentence. But it was the first time that my little world tilted off its axle, the first time that I figured that there was a world outside of my own personal hell (thanks middle school, for all the angst!), and that it wasn’t any better than anything that came before.

Even at 12, I was precocious and had to have an opinion about everything. I had a good social studies teacher for seventh grade that year. Most of the time, whichever teacher got stuck teaching the poorly taught mish-mash of geographic, civics, and history just read from the text, while scrubbing the world of any of its bullshit and unsavory characteristics. But I remember that teacher. Not her name, of course, but I remember that she had short hair, was quite fat, and inordinately found of Pepsi. She had posters of the Pepsi logo on her wall and drank an entire Big Glup of the sugary crap at least twice a day.

But what I remember most about her is that she was the first teacher that encouraged us to pay attention to politics. Not in the way that we used to, the way that only required rote memorization and only accomplished filled out worksheets, but in the way where we were supposed to think for ourselves.

So I thought for myself for what was probably one of the first times on something bigger than me and bigger than my family. I contemplated Bush, I contemplated Gore. And at 12, totally untutored in the ways of politics and how to fact-check talking heads on the television, I had the overwhelming impression that one of the candidates was incredibly full of shit. Oh, and it wasn’t Gore.

That sort of clarity about politics never really faded as I grew older. What did fade was the black and white mentality. Now, I can’t separate candidates or positions into right and wrong. It typically comes down to something like wrong, horribly wrong, and so absolutely fucking wrong that I can’t believe anyone buys this bullshit. I wish I could say that the world was painted in shades of gray. But it’s not. As time marches on, and the pressures of adulthood creep into my daily routines, the world is just shades of black, speckled with some drab grays—never lightening to anything approaching white.

Today, I was struck by this overwhelming nostalgia for the ’90s. Until November of 2000, I was blissfully unaware of the bullshit of the outside world. The Oklahoma City bombings and O.J.’s farce of a trial (I was 7 when those happened) were blips on the radar. The world was rosy, the future was promising, and one day soon a girl (maybe me?) could be president. My parents got a messy divorce circa ’96, but I figured that was just an indication of my family’s private malfunctions, and nothing to do with the state of the outside world.

2000 changed that. For the first time, I got the sense that the world was full of very corrupt, very stupid people. I watched an election stolen, and I thought, “what the fuck?” They taught me that we lived in a Democracy, that America was the best country in the world. And some douche that knew nothing about shit, who just lost the popular vote, was fraudulently declared the leader of my country over some dude who was pretty awkward, and kind of dorky, but at least knew what’s what, or so I assumed.

I was privileged. Even as my parents fought and my mother bought our clothes at Goodwill, I was insulated from the fuck-ups of the world. There were no bloody Civil Wars, nobody in our family starved or went without birthdays and winter extravaganzas of presents.

The 2000 Elections ushered in a new era of thinking big. For the first time, I saw something that happened that was wrong, and attributed it to large forces that people refused to control. The bullies that tormented me suddenly weren’t so bad after all. I found myself hating their parents, hating the administrators that sat by and watched the brutal abuse visited upon the bookish “weird” girl and did nothing. For the first time, I looked at power and saw cruelty when they alone had the power to make kindness stick.

Now, I know that it was the beginning of a decade of realization: that the strong are offered such opportunity to be callously indifferent, ignorant, and weak while the weak are expected and obligated to be strong, brave, and good when given no incentive or opportunity to do so. This is now what I refer to when I talk about privilege. With power comes the sheltering embrace of ignorance, the ability to push responsibility down the pile until it rains like a foul deluge on those without anyone below them to abuse.

I sit here now, in a crap heap of shattered privileges. The willowy thinness of youth has left, replaced with hormonal imbalances, back problems, and horrid allergies. My refuge of feigned heterosexuality is destroyed beneath the weight of a denial I could not face—without any indication that I ought to do so, that there was any other way that this endless farce of normalcy. My religious heritage has become less of an interesting set of rituals and more of a set of squishy places for the heavy bludgeon of enforced public Christianity to really bruise. My wages don’t meet inflation, don’t meet the cost of living. I face an endless road of insurmountable debt, with the hopeless idea that I could beat the odds and pay it off. What bullshit is that? Pay it off? People who went to college in the ’80s—when it was expensive but not absurdly so—had to pay into their 40s. And this is with a good economy for most of the way, steady jobs, and wages that kept up with the cost of living until recently. What hope have I, with higher debt, lower wages, and an economy in shambles?

Nostalgia is for the privileged, for those who can look back with fondness to their youth. My youth, frankly, was miserable. There are years—somewhere between 8 (the year my parents split) and 14—that I was so unhappy that I only recall bits and pieces. But those fragile memories contain the promise that as long as I could live through the relentless hell of school, there would be a shiny adult life full of hope, if I worked for it, waiting for me.

At 22, I look back with nostalgia because I had hope. Now, I guess I still do. It’s its a flimsy facsimile of hope, because the consequences of facing the hopeless future before me is too psychologically great. There’s bitter refuge in ignorance. My number will eventually come up. Those in worst straights know it better than me—that the future isn’t all that awesome. Maybe they recall with fondness the ’90s, when parents let their children out to play all day and the world was full of the promise of high-tech jobs and high-tech lives. When the counterculture was about raging against the machine and a well-earned anger at authority and less about the crushing demands of relentless consumerism, creating debt to ease the pain of meaningless lives, meaningless values. When people mourned in the streets for their lost heroes—for their Princess Dianas and Kurt Colbanes—instead of overlooking the deadly attempted assassinations of political officials and bombings of medical clinics.

What happened since then? My favorite bands and artists could go up in flames tomorrow and I would not shed a tear. My house could be foreclosed upon, and I would not even blink in surprise. They could ban abortion and I’d shrug my shoulders, knowing it was inevitable.

If this is growing up, fuck it all. Adult responsibilities now only mean adult debts, adult lies you tell yourself to get out of bed in the morning. I’m not depressed. I’m angry. I’m filled with contempt at all the people in authority that had the power to stop this downward spiral, and instead said, “fuck it, I’d rather buy a Hummer.”

Nostalgia is for those with a past to look back on fondly. I could have it worse, but I could have had it a lot better. No matter how many people are worse off mean that those entrusted with the task of being strong for me—a child—should be forgiven for failing in so many different ways.

But what scares the ever-loving crap out me is the concept that in the future, as I see it going, we’re going to have extra awesome new ways of failing those we’re tasked with protecting. The meek shall inherit an Earth devoid of fertile soil, lush forests, equality of opportunity, and Democracy. They will instead inherit insurmountable debt, countries on the brink of dissolution or war, oceans depleted of fish and skies filled with the smog of yesterday.

One day I’ll look back at my nostalgia today with nostalgia, because the way we’re going, it’s going to only get worse. If The Smith’s “How Soon is Now?”—which exclaims, “I’ve already waited too long, and all my hope is gone”—defines our generation, what of the generations of the future? How much worse must it get before we wake up and say to power, fuck you and your tax cuts, your business incentives and your bonus packages. I want a future for me and mine, so sell your fucking yacht, because no greedy ignorant sack of shit like you has the right to plunder the world of its riches, its happiness, its hope, and its future.

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Movies, part 2: The Town aka obligatory “fuck rich people” post

The TownSo the other night, I figure it’s about time I watch a movie. While running errands, I pick up a copy of The Town from my nearest Blockbuster. I heard it got good reviews, and it was written by Ben Affleck, who generally writes pretty good movies.

And it was a decent movie. Not something that you want to rant and rave how amazing it was, but it was alright, and mildly entertaining. I saw the ending coming up a mile away though, particularly since they really didn’t bother to develop the characters of anyone but the protagonist, his roommate/partner-in-crime, and his girlfriend. Spoilers: Protagonist gets away, roommate (who is not as attractive) dies, girlfriend waves teary good-bye to troubled dude who lied to her, but has a heart of gold. Yeah, real original, I know.

I say the movie is good, though, because it got me thinking. I like thinking. But first, The Town is a movie about some guys who work for a mysterious “Florist” who gives them tips on which armored trucks and banks can be robbed successfully. They’re all very thorough at their job—by scrubbing fingerprints, not leaving the banks with the tracers and dye packs, and never taking hostages or killing anyone they manage to stay under the radar.

Of course, they have to fuck up for the movie to have any sort of plot. Long story short, they take a hostage at a large bank heist, who one of the guys (Ben Affleck, naturally) finds a pretense to “date” in order to see if she remembers anything about her kidnappers, who were wearing a mask at the time of the heist. She doesn’t remember much (what she does becomes a plot point that disappointingly goes nowhere), and her and her kidnapper start a loving relationship based on mutual respect and honesty. I’m totally kidding about the respect and honesty, by the way.

Shit continues to hit the fan because the protagonist’s roommate, who is also the husband/boyfriend/brother (I wasn’t clear on the details) of the girl the protagonist is sort of kind of fucking on the side (who might have a daughter by him, and doesn’t know he’s seeing the hostage that doesn’t know he’s her kidnapper, oy!) is basically a loose cannon, and does dumb shit like shoot people at robberies, take hostages, and kill people for funsies.

Basically, they fuck up a huge heist, and everyone dies but the protagonist and his girlfriend. The fate of his fuckbuddy/baby mama is unknown, but we’re supposed to think she’s a dumb whore or whatever because she sold them out to the police. Of course, the police were threatening to take her kid away from her if she didn’t cooperate, she just found out that her “boyfriend” has been seeing someone else, and oh, she lives with a couple of violent, unhinged bank robbers. But she’s a bitch that ruined their brotherhood. Whatever, right?

Anywho, the plot is fairly dumb. But it’s well-acted, even if the characters are basically impossible to relate to. Basically everyone is either (a) dumb, (b) an asshole, or (c) a dumb asshole. That’s the problem with 99% of movies though, so I’m going to give The Town an 8 out of 10, because it kept my interest without wanting to make me roll my eyes in exasperation until the very end, and only then did I roll them. I didn’t even roll them hard either (high praise!).

But what really struck me is how much time and money people waste protecting the money of rich fucks who own banks. Seriously, who cares if dudes rob a bank? Yeah, I’m a dirty pinko commie, what the fuck do I know, but let’s face it: American banks don’t give a shit about anyone but their CEOs and shareholders. So a bunch of schmucks from the Boston projects make off with $3 million, who gives a shit? So a CEO might get a $5 million bonus that year instead of $6 million. Yeah, boo hoo, right?

I get why dudes want to rob a bank. It’s money: you have it, or you die. It takes money to live, money to live well, and money to do anything worth doing. You live in some shit-heap, you have a crappy education, and no daddy to get you a job at his fancy firm (for reals, the protagonist’s dad was totes in jail and shit for—get this—robbing banks), so you steal to get by. I gather that most petty criminals who steal shit might stop stealing shit if, I don’t know, they could make an honest living and afford what needs buying, you know? Of course, it’s the petty criminals who steal things like cigarettes, money for their addictions, and food that get to jail, while rich dudes get to live the high live, snorting stolen blow off the backs of underage trafficked girls in a house paid for by what amounts to slave labor and employment law violations.

Unsurprisingly, what happens in the end of The Town is pretty mundane: poor dudes all die trying to take shortcuts to the high life (protip: which is basically impossible to obtain, by the way, since the game is rigged by the ones who are winning it).

So, now I’m thinking, “what kind of asshole shoots a dude for robbing a bank?” Seriously, why the fuck would anyone use deadly force to defend the property of rich douches that have enough stolen cash to play high-speed bumper cars Lambos for funsies?

Which is hilarious, in a LOLSOB kind of why when you think about how much time and money poor slobs (dude, it’s not like policemen get paid all that much to take bullets for the property rights of rich dudes) spend defending the grotesque wealth of the haves from the have-nots. Because I guarantee that those haves consume the lion’s share of public funding of law enforcement, all the while moaning from their gilded toilet seats about how those horrible brown people are taking our jobs and how taxes are evil and they shouldn’t have to pay a penny per every eleventy million dollars they earn/steal to do shit like keep people from dying from preventable diseases or starvation.

So, now back to the The Town. I figure I was supposed to get the message that robbing banks is not good for your life expectancy, but all I got from it was fuck rich people and the deluded assholes who would die and kill for them and their grotesque entitlement to the world’s wealth.

Here in Arizona

Yeah, so I dropped off the face of the planet for a while, whoops?

To those that have blogged before—you know that it’s something a bit like a double-edged sword. It’s nice to put your words out there, in the void, and just get them out of your head. But at the same time, you feel like you need to have an opinion about everything, and that that opinion needs to be cogent and well-ordered. Well, fuck that, say I! There’s a lot that goes on in this old head of mine that isn’t logical at all. So I dropped out of blogging for months and months because I really wasn’t feeling the blogging vibes. I didn’t want my thoughts up to scrutiny. Sure, I posted on other people’s blogs and generally said a lot of horribly liberal progressive shit to Americans completely untutored in the practice of progressivism and leftward thought (the horror! The socialism! Ieeeeeeee!).

Also, I was kind of feeling glum about the title of my blog. I made it up when I was new to this lady business of blogging, and I wasn’t really aware of the intersection of cis-priviledges and feminism. So I equated two X chromosomes with femininity, thought it made a catchy blog title, and thought nothing more of it. Ah, the blindness of priviledge! Now, I’m sorry to whomever doesn’t share my cis-priviledge who stumbles across this blog. I was very ignorant of my own ignorance, and I’m a bit ashamed of it now. And, of course, I’m a bit stumped. I’ve put a lot of work into XXBlaze, and I’m loathe to give up the url and the title that has been associated with me for so long. But I also don’t want to be associated with that ignorant stain of cis-priviledge any more. Yes, I will always have cis-priviledge. But maybe it’s not a great idea to advertise it or smush it in the face of the unprivileged, no?

But the rest of my motives are not so selfless—not that the above two were to begin with. I basically finished my undergraduate degree and received quite a few promotions at my current place of labor. Now, I find that I’m paid to write, and to code websites. So the last thing I want to do, understandably, is write and code when I get home… especially since at least work pays me to do it, whilst blogging is sadly, totally unpaid.

The last motive, and perhaps the most shameful (although don’t get me wrong, I’m deeply ashamed of my cis-ignorance), is that I’m fucking sick and tired of politics. I like dipping my toes into outrage and contempt through other people’s blogs and then going about my day as if I don’t give a fuck. When I actually have to write about it myself, I find that I do give too much of a fuck, and it’s quite the mood-killer. That, and the people around me seem to prefer that I have less of a cogent and less of an outraged argument before I talk to them about politics. When I don’t blog, my opinions are less well-formed, and I’m more apt to give them up so we can talk about meaningless bullshit instead of things like social justice. I put it in italics because I’ve come to realize that it’s a very dirty word, and good girls really ought to have nothing to do with such thoughts.

Well, I had such thoughts this week, when politics basically came to my back door, took a nice stinky shit, and then went on its merry way like nothing at all had happened. See, I live in Arizona. I’m Jewish, and a woman. And once, when I was unaware that you had to be a soulless corporatist piece of warmongering shit in order to get elected (also, a hell of a lot more conservative, and a just a wee —okay, a lot—more demure, and straight), I wanted to be a public official. Now, I’m all like, fuck that, but I was a child of the ’90s, once—a million years ago—and we were quite fond of telling little girls back then that you too could grow up to be president! (Not that we’ve ever had a female president, but it was the ’90s, that glorious age of unbridled optimism and really horrible pants).

So, it was quite alarming, but not surprising, to see someone attempt to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords; a woman that—when I was fresh and funky free—I could have seen myself wanting to grow up to be like. After it all sunk in (sometime around Monday?), I said to myself, “that could have been you.” And make no doubt, I highly anticipate that if I decided to run for public office one day and actually won, I would have been at the other end of the barrel of a gun too.

Because while Giffords was Jewish, and a woman, I am the same—but also left of the Democratic party (while she’s a Blue Dog Democrat), and also a lesbian. The target Palin would have put on the map of my state would have encompassed the entire country.

I don’t know particularly why Loughner decided that Gifford deserved to die. But I’m not exactly going to be surprised if it turns out that her sex, religion, and political affiliation had something to do with it.

In this country, there is a large and violent swath of people that would like to see me and people that are like me, or people that think like me, dead. They want us dead for wanting to cure the sick and help the poor. They want us dead for loving someone of the same gender. They want us dead for wanting to provide a comfortable retirement for the elderly. They want us dead for a thousand reasons, and all their rhetoric belies their terrible sense of entitlement to our demise.

The right in this country is premised on ignorant grassroots that thrive on a culture of eliminationism. Whatever they don’t like, whatever they don’t understand, whatever doesn’t exactly conform to their ideals, deserves to die. Maybe they aren’t willing to pull the trigger. Maybe they won’t even be particularly pleased if someone else does it for them. But they are happy to sit and listen to those that call for our silencing, our deaths, and cheer when we are thrown under the bus, time and time again. And I know that they would not shed a tear if we and our “special interests”—if you can call asking to be treated like a fucking human being a “special interest”—up and disappeared from the face of the planet.

When O’Reilly and Palin and their ilk pretends they don’t condone the actions of the terrorist who attempted to assassinate Congresswoman Giffords, I know the truth. When they use loaded terms like “blood libel” (the Anti-Semitic fucks) and slather their websites in gun imagery, it is any wonder that I assume that they’re utterly and completely insincere?

Here in Arizona, I bathe in a culture of hate. Hatred of liberals, hatred of gays. Hatred of Mexicans, hatred of the poor. Hatred of gun control, and hatred of the sick. Hatred of anything that asks for understanding and empathy instead of exchanging lies for fevered calls for what amounts to fascism.

My country is poised on the brink of fascism, led symbolically by the state in which I preside. From SB1070 to the Tuscon shooting, there really isn’t anything good to say about my home right now. I live in a state of muted horror, nose stuck permanently in the air to avoid smelling the stink of ignorant lies that litter the Sonoran desert like bloated corpses, putrefying in the Arizonan sun. My political opinions are stuck permanently on “contempt.” What do I feel for Republicans? Contempt. Democrats? Contempt. President Obama? Contempt.

It’s exhausting and disheartening. You’d think that when the blinders come off, and now that I see that we live in a country for the rich, by the rich, and fueled by violent hatred, I’d have a lot to say.

Instead, I have nothing much to say at all. The only sound I can stand to make is a long silent scream which echoes through my head —the overlapping sounds of all the impassioned things I would say, if only there was someone in power who cared.

Seriously, Democrats really hate women or I use the skills I got in law school to analyze shit that takes away my rights

So it gets worse.

Behold the absolute draw-dropping shittiness of The Stupak Amendment. Here it is, proof positive, that Democrats really hate women. What’s also awesome is that the first female Speaker of the House presided over a Democratic majority that passed the most expansive restriction on women’s rights in recent history. Not only was the amendment passed by 62 democrats (and all voting Republicans), the bill carrying the amendment was passed through Congress 220-215, with the majority of Democrats blithely signing the biggest roll-back of reproductive rights. Super.

Some Democrats (mostly women) did not take this shit sitting down. They tried to speak in Congress, only to have male Republicans heckling them and shouting “I object, I object, I object, I object” over them. Think Progress has the video. Thrown under the bus by their own party, some of the women we voted into office were forced to speak out against their own party signing away their rights while they were viciously silenced by the very men that orchestrated this new oppression. I’m sure that while the men in Congress, some of them in their own party, thought this was just business as usual, our minority of female lawmakers got a heady sense of deja vu. Men talking over them in a meeting? Nah, that never happens. Especially when you’re talking about your own freedoms and liberty. I mean, just shut up bitch. Know your place.

Out of this process of ugliness came the unholy spawn of the Stupack Amendment. However, unlike some other places, I believe that the proof is in the pudding. I’m not doing to quote from some dude that quoted from some other dude that quoted from yet another dude. I’m including the full text of this steaming file of fail. Here’s your fucking hope and change, right here:

AMENDMENT TO H.R. 3962
OFFERED BY MR. STUPACK OF MICHIGAN
AND MR. PITTS OF PENNSYLVANIA

SEC. 265 LIMITATION OF ABORTION FUNDING

(A) IN GENERAL—
No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the women in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

(B) OPTION TO PURCHASE SEPARATE SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN—
Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting any nonfederal entity (including an individual or State or local government) from purchasing separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as—
(1) such coverage or plan is paid for entirely using only funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act; and
(2) such coverage or plan is not purchased using—
(a) individual premium payments requires for an Exchange-participating health benefits plan towards which an affordability credit is applied; or
(b) other nonfederal funds require to receive a federal payment, including a State’s or locality’s contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

(C) OPTION TO OFFER SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN—
Notwithstanding section 303(b), nothing in this section shall restrict any nonfederal QHBP offering entity from offering separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as—
(1) premiums for such separate supplemental coverage or plan are paid for entirely with funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act;
(2) administrative costs and all services offered through such supplemental coverage or plan are paid for using only premiums collected for such coverage or plan; and
(3) any nonfederal QHBP offering entity that offers an Exchange-participating health benefits plan that includes coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section also offers an Exchange participating health benefits plan that is identical in every respect except that it does not cover abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section
.

The emphases are mine.

For those without a background in legalese, this is about as unequivocal and binding as law can get. There’s no wiggle room. No exceptions. What this creates is a health care system in which women are second class citizens, forced to choose between even private coverage of a perfectly legal procedure and all federal funding of health care. This, simply, is an outrage. As far as I’m concerned, this violates both Roe and the substantive due process of the 14th amendment, but for those without a background in law, rest assured that this shit is really, really, really, legally dubious.

So let’s digest this, line by disgusting fucking line.

Section A explicitly prohibits any federal funding governed by HR 3962 (the larger Affordable Health Care for America Act) going towards the provision of abortions. But if you thought that they really needed to put this in, that anyone was really ever in danger of seeing their tax dollars going to “kill babies”, well, you’re a fucking idiot. No, seriously. Behold the related 30-year-old shittiness of the Hyde Amendment. Passed in 1976, in the immediate backlash of Roe decision three years earlier, the amendment explicitly bars all appropriations for The Department of Heath and Human Service budget from going to the purpose of funding abortions. It does not prohibit all federal funding of abortion, just anything out of HHS. Since H.R. 3962 would be administrated by HHS, there was absolutely no way, shape, or form that its provisions would go to funding abortion. Got it straight?

Moving on, the second clause is the kicker: “or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion”. You catch that? If you have a health plan that covers abortion, you cannot receive any federal assistance. Can’t make the last $300 for a root canal? Too fucking bad. Choose between your teeth rotting out of your face or abortion coverage. Want part of your “exchange” to go towards a consultation with an allergist for your seasonal allergies that you couldn’t otherwise afford? Too fucking bad whore, you got an abortion last year on that plan.

This amendment goes beyond limiting federal funds. This explicitly bars even private insurance companies from covering abortions.

Well, so can insurance companies just offer plans with abortion coverage and ones without? Sure, if you’re cool on getting totally substandard care and no government assistance whatsoever. Given that the majority of those who see themselves in low-paying part-time positions that don’t offer health coverage are women, there’s going to be a lot of women who need federal assistance. But they won’t get it unless they accept prohibitions on their rights, and start saving for out-of-pocket abortions if they need it, instead of putting away money for retirement. That’s other thing: men won’t have to save for expensive procedures that they need. They won’t have to choose between affordable health care and their reproductive rights.

But all this begs the question: will insurance companies continue to offer abortion coverage? The answer: probably not to the extent they do now. Providing abortion coverage will undoubtedly require additional administrative costs to make sure that the company remains in compliance with the amendment. Additionally, by section C Paragraph 3, those additional administrative costs will have to be covered entirely without federal assistance that insurance companies could get if they didn’t offer abortion.

The result is obvious: some companies will just not offer abortion coverage. It’s too troublesome and expensive. If they offer it, they’re required by Section C Paragraph 3 to provide identical coverage that doesn’t cover abortions. Notice that the amendment, however, does not require that companies offer plans that do offer abortion coverage. A company would be in compliance if they did not offer coverage for abortion at all. In fact, it’s transparently obvious that this is the goal of the entire amendment: to make it so that insurance companies will have lots of incentives to never cover abortions.

If a company decided to offer coverage including abortion, the coverage would be prohibitively expensive. Not only could the insured not use federal monies for any medical procedure so long as they are covered for abortion, they also would be forced to pay higher premiums. After all, the additional administrative costs of the plan could not be paid for with federal assistance, which would transfer the additional fees directly unto women. To really sweeten the deal, you’d also be ineligible for Medicaid matching even from your state while your insurance covers abortion. Awesome.

At the end of the day, you’re left with a tiered health care system. At the very top are men. They can purchase private insurance. They can use public funds. They can do what you want with them, within reason, and not have to worry about losing coverage.

Quite a way below them are women paying for identical insurance except for abortion coverage, but paying much higher premiums. They cannot use public funds for anything.

Below them even further are women who can’t pay for the prohibitively expensive private insurance of their female peers. Among them are women that need any assistance whatsoever for anything, even something as simple as a teeth cleaning. They must pay for abortion out-of-pocket or choose between any federal or state assistance.

And at the very bottom are the women who can neither pay for prohibitively expensive private insurance or out-of-pocket abortions. They get pregnant, and they’re forced to procure risky abortions by untrained providers or have a baby against their will. At best, they succeed. At worst, they bleed to death or lose their fertility to a massive infection.

Oh, and they will suffer from those cheaper abortions. I’d bet all the money I have that someone will make it so the prohibition against paying for abortions will extend to paying for the complications from botched abortions. Or they’ll extend it to birth control, IUDs, and all those things that wackos say “kill babies”. Before long, everything that has to do with your right to exercise your entirely legal reproductive rights will damn you to fork over big bucks. No assistance. No coverage.

Lo and behold, our fucking Democratic majority has opened its collective asshole and shat out a mammoth steaming pile of shit that only allows us to avoid bankruptcy by medical bills only if we promise to be good girls and never ever kill babies.

There’s your Hope™ and Change™. You thought that Democrats were cool with just throwing gays under the bus? We’re not stopping at anything. Fuck the poor. Fuck women. Fuck the environment. Fuck the Middle East. Fuck accountability. Fuck ending tax cuts. Fuck our progressive base. Fuck federal law and Roe v. Wade and the things we could do with a Democratic majority.

If you have a Senator that would otherwise vote to pass this bill (mine are all Republicans), please, for your rights, send them a letter. Give them a call. Do something! Otherwise, I’m afraid that this is the death-knell for reproductive rights.

Democrats (also) hate women

Lest you forget, know that the people who run America really hate women. No, really, they do. Underneath all that “hopey changey” bullshit is deliberate callousness that will not hesitate to throw women, gays, minorities, and the poor under the bus to get what they want.

Lo and behold, the steaming pile of shit that is HR3962. Just like all of the bills coming out of the House and Senate, the newly passed HR3962, known as the “Health Care Bill”, defines “basic health care” as “basic care for human beings who don’t have vaginas”. Among the services that sub-humans need and are therefore not necessary, of course, are the following: pelvic exams, domestic violence counseling and screening, counseling for STDs, birth control, and abortion. To add insult to injury, none of the above are protected from “cost sharing”, which means that women might possibility be required to pay the costs of these vital procedures out-of-pocket instead of using the affordability credits. Abortion, specifically, is barred from the application of affordability credits, meaning that it must be paid out-of-pocket.

This, of course, raises the question of how exactly women are going to afford to have abortions. Most private insurance companies do provide some sort of coverage for things as basic as birth control and abortion. However, a lot of people cannot afford private insurance, such as single mothers who don’t’ work enough hours to be eligible. Effectively, this will create a gender-tiered system of medical care, with men on the top, rich women with private insurance below them, and poor women with state insurance below them.

Additionally, will the new insurance deny coverage for abortion complications? Considering how hell-bent the leadership is on crafting a bill prohibiting any sort of reproductive care to women, I wouldn’t be surprised if women were given a red A at clinics instead of care and left to bleed out in the streets.

Of course, erectile dysfunction is on the list of things that will continued to be covered by insurance. So while you can get boners with medical assistance you can’t prevent pregnancy, end pregnancy, check if you can get pregnant, protect your ability to get pregnant, or protect yourself from abuse even if not pregnant. In short, the state thinks that funding a man’s right to have a sufficiently manly boner with the people’s taxes is totally more important than providing vital medical care to people with vaginas.

In other news, I’m looking forward to not voting in the next election if my choice comes down to a man who hates women and a man who really hates women.

Zionism: the importance of being Politically Correct

When it comes to foreign issues, I generally find that my political opinions aren’t exactly as informed as they could be. But with the Israel-Palestine conflict all over the news recently, my thoughts have been wavering in a state of limbo.

With a variety of issues, I find it pretty easy to lean to one side or another. With this issue though? Nobody has gotten it right. I’ll read opinions condemning the human rights violations of Israel, and I’ll agree only to find—two paragraphs in—that the essay has turned into a completely anti-Israel screed with antisemitic undertones.  I’ll watch Congress continue to conflate Israel’s aggressive actions with “defense” and mindlessly funnel tax dollars into bombs that will be used to kill innocent people. Then I’ll listen to conservatives affirm Israel’s right to exist, only to launch into a rant about killing terrorists and how Muslims want to kill them for their freedom.

And then I’m struck with this sense of how completely and utterly wrong everyone is. As you can see by the picture I grabbed from this story, protesters in Germany are comparing Israelis to Nazis. The article is titled, “European guilt about the Holocaust is receding in the face of Israeli aggression – and there’s nothing anti-semitic about it”. Excuse me? There’s nothing antisemitic about purposely exploiting one of the most heinous acts of history to make a political point to the descendants of the victims of that genocide when you are the descendants of their killers? Well color me surprised. I thought that was about as antisemitic as you can fucking get.

It’s because of shit like this that I really don’t trust many people to be at all tactful or progressive about this sort of issue. Every political commentary I’ve come across is seething with an undercurrent of war-mongering, racism, antisemitism or anti-Muslim sentiments. My city publishes a newspaper called the “Jewish News” which my mother is subscribed to. Even they have gotten it all wrong: the front page is filled with some of the most anti-Muslim sentiments I’ve ever seen, not to mention deliberate distortions of the truth.

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Giving thanks for abuse, igorance and Stockholm Syndrome

I love my family just as much as anyone. They’re typically there if I really need them, and it’s not like I was beaten as a child or left in the rain. Yet we have our skeletons in the closet.

Abuse—physical, emotional, or verbal—is just as American as white bread or apple pie. I was reminded so this year when Thanksgiving was an unmitigated disaster.

I’ve found that as I get older and grow into my own opinions and personality that I move closer and closer to the place on the family tree labeled “black sheep”. I shudder to think what would happen if they knew I was bisexual. Which is why I don’t tell them.

While driving to my grandmother’s house tonight, my mother cautioned me to “keep my negativity to myself”. Which means the following topics are off limits:

  • My ambition to be a prosecuting attorney. I cannot talk about going to law school in anything but vague promises and ideas. When someone asks me why I want to go, I cannot tell them it’s because I want to give battered, raped, or abused women the opportunity to have someone defend them that actually gives a shit about the reality of their lives. The topic is never broached though, because everyone assumes I’m going to law school because I’m materialistic and like money. I don’t bother to correct them.
  • Politics. My anger at how the fat cats responsible for the downturn cannot be expressed. My thoughts on the war are not wanted. My opinion of Obama, Clinton, or Bush are unnecessary. Anything even remotely carrying the stench of civil rights is offensive.
  • My father. The times that I spend with my father on vacation or at his house are off-limits. I am not to talk about the “chicken raiser” or Texas in positive terms. Even if my time there was mostly positive.
  • My school work. The really interesting legal philosophy I read is boring. Statistics about the composition of jailed populations are “wrong” or “incorrect beliefs”. My university is “brainwashing me with liberalism”.
  • Dating and Family. My want of children with or without a male spouse is disgusting. I infer, probably correctly, that my real sexuality would be abhorrent. My exasperation with unwanted chivalry and Nice GuysTM is offensive.
  • Myself. “Don’t talk about yourself” was asked of me explicitly. Nobody wants to know about you. Your opinions are offensive. After the above list, this point is inferred, and stating it is all but unnecessary.

Basically, my role at Thanksgiving is that of the mute female. I must help, as the other female family members do (my grandmother, my mother, and my aunt) with the cooking, cleaning, setting the table, and clearing it. I am, however, not allowed to express my opinions or anything about myself because it is distasteful. I cannot tell my brother, my uncle, my grandfather, or my two younger male cousins to get up and get their own damn cranberry sauce.

The rules outlined above are only for me, however. My mother, aunt, uncle, and grandfather may express any and all of their opinions about those “goddamn unions”, “stupid Mexican kids in schools getting free lunches”, and “fucking poor people buying shit at Christmas they don’t deserve because of their inferiority they do not have a lot of money”. They have lovely conversations about how marvelous Israel is too, and no mention is made of the Palestinians. If they are mentioned, they are “terrorists” or “security concerns”. Racist jokes may also be exchanged.

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“Oh great, now we’ve got a n****r, a Jew, and a bitch”

That was the quote I overheard in elevator last week. Sometimes I feel like I’ve stepped into this bizarre wormhole that transports me to Stupid Land. Well, this week was a very long and tedious foray into this—hypothetical or not—realm.

Turning on the radio all week was a chore. Our local NPR station was very interested, as most of the nation was, in the rumors that Hilary Clinton was about to be nominated for Secretary of State. I was less than happy for several reasons:

One: I like Clinton, don’t get me wrong, but the mere mention of her name seems to inspire the most vile verbal projectile vomiting in even the most mundane of social conversations. I almost wish, in moments of weakness, that I lived in a Clinton-less world where I never ever had to walk down the street and hear people utilize every gender slur on the book to complain about a female politician they irrationally hate. The daily reminder that no matter how powerful I might become, my genitalia will always be the most pertinent topic is irritating.

Two: If I manage to tune out the sexist bullshit, there’s still the undertone of completely inane political commentary. If you don’t know shit about politics, please don’t pretend you do whilst your eyes roll back into your head and you froth at the mouth with the force of your asinine opinions. Clinton isn’t conservative, nor is she considerably more “hawkish” on foreign matters than Obama. For all the uproar about Clinton’s original support of the Iraqi Occupation (because it’s not a war), Biden was originally more vocal than her. Nobody seemed to give a damn when Biden was tapped for the VP role, even though his legacy is lengthier than Clinton’s, and his penchant for Middle Eastern clusterfucks has been more frankly expressed.

Three: I prefer Obama over Clinton on foreign issues. I do think that she is a tad more hawkish than him, and that his popularity overseas is exactly what the country needs to move back into the good graces of the rest of the exasperated world. I actually like Clinton more when it comes to domestic issues. From her fervent support of gay rights, abortion, and the women’s movement, there isn’t exactly any huge points of contention. Obama, on the contrary, has shown that he is willing to compromise domestic civil rights in the name of “bipartisanship” and to win debates held in evangelical churches. Ideally, I’d like to see Clinton stay in the Senate, or even await a Supreme Court nomination (am I the only one that remembers that she was a lawyer at one point?) rather than serve as the Secretary of State. Ironically, I like Clinton on domestic, and Obama on foreign. I get to see them do the opposite.

Four: Talk of the betrayal of “change”. Look, morons, Obama’s message of Change wasn’t about appointing Yes Men to his cabinet. He has selected extremely qualified individuals with long political legacies and their own opinions. This is a good thing: it prevents the kind of military/industrial coup that characterized the last eight years. Are there better choices? Yes. Do I really truly have reason to be irrationally upset? Hell no. Obama’s picks are competent. All of them could even be President themselves if the unthinkable happens. Part of “bipartisanship” is listening to dissent within your own party. The day that the Democratic party is more willing to play nice with Republicans and social conservatives (shudder) rather than people they actually agree with 80% of the time, is the day that our country goes in the shitter. More than it has already.

Finally: Quotes like the title of this post. Of course, I had to suffer through the same unbearably sexist primaries you all did. Then I had to sit through more stirring of the pot when Clinton’s name was back on the table. Now I got to put up, for the next four years, with assholes complaining about Jews, Blacks, and Women. Goddammit. Look, if you really truly hate women, everyone whose skin doesn’t meet your fascist criterion of whiteness, and those assholes that you claim killed your fictional savior, you can just keep it to yourself. Bigotry isn’t cool and trendy. Shut up and sit down.

Most importantly, I really hate living in a world where someone can say that kind of shit in public and people don’t look at him like he smells like fecal matter, at the least, or punch him in the face, at the most. The morons I shared an elevator with all kept their mouths shut, and three in the corner giggled, including his admiring friend.

The world is really fucked up when people look at people that correct these wankstains, like me, with less understanding than the very pits of human excrement from which such idiocies spew.

In conclusion, I missed two memos: (A) the one issued on November 5th wherein racism was confirmed dead and (B) the one issued at some point where we are instructed to giggle demurely at racial epithets lest we be those poor socially inept fools who correct racist upstanding Americans who express their bullshit opinions in public.

Honeymoon is over.

Didn’t take long, did it? Sometime after midnight on November 4th, the fervor died down. The night was quiet, but my mind was not. Over and over, I turned over questions in my head: have we accomplished anything?

No, we haven’t. No, we can’t.

President-Elect Barack Obama is more valuable as a symbol than a flesh-and-blood president. November 5th dawned bright and clear, and with it all the inequalities, abuses, and horrors of the day before. None of that had been washed away. None of that had been lessened.

Some of it had been worsened. California voters used their irrational hatred to take away the rights and happiness of a minority they despise. Arizona voters kept a sheriff that has wrongfully killed prisoners, violated the federal and state constitutions, and uses tax payer money to fund his crusade of racial profiling rather than doing anything to reduce the skyrocketing crime in our poorest urban centers.

Democrats now control the Congress, Senate, and White House. So? So what? What has that changed? Nothing at all.

Need I remind anyone that Obama’s health care plan is even worse than the shitty choices we already face? Do I need to explicate the fact that his stance on a woman’s rights to bodily integrity are so porous that I could park a jet in the holes? Must I really sit down and explain the fact that nobody seems to give a flying fuck about the majority of the population— the working and lower classes, women, homosexuals, and the population of the rest of the goddamn world?

You know, I’m really quite glad that McCain lost. I truly am. But that doesn’t make me happy. Not in the slightest. It means that my standards are so low that I can still feel hope or good about this stupid nation for a couple of minutes while the majority of our population—and basically the entirety of the rest of the world—suffers for the selfishness and hubris of the American ruling class.

This makes me a sorry piece of human waste. Because I bought it. I smelled the shit, I put in my mouth, and I lied and said it tasted good.

It didn’t taste good. No we can’t.

Our environment is nearing the breaking point every second. Millions in our own country have nothing to wake up to the next morning but insurmountable poverty, bigotry, and the ugly fact that they will never stop paying for who they are, or who their ancestors were. Billions in the rest of the world celebrate with our new President-Elect, because we have broken them. We pat ourselves on the back like the self-entitled fucks we are, and we all don’t seem to give a damn that while our new president might not like warfare as much as our last president, he still supports the American hegemony over the entire globe. He still voted to redistribute billions of dollars made on the backs of hard-working Americans and even harder-working exploited foreigners to a bunch of greedy bottom-dwellers who celebrate an economic downturn of their own making with another yacht.

He’s still a part of the American ruling elite, no matter how dark his skin or how foreign his roots. And he will operate within their parameters, or else. He will do their bidding, or else.

And we will smile. The rest of the world, because they are broken beyond repair, will too. The 1% will have their cake, eat it, and the 99% will thank them for the priviledge of being used as footstools.

November 4th: a day in which it looked like a lot was done, and maybe it was, but not nearly enough.

You Lost, Old Man

FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!