woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

GOP's War on American People: Death Panels Edition

The GOP is determined to destroy the ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood, as part of dismantling the "social safety net" that replaced the robber-baron attitudes of the 19th and early 20th century.   It does not matter to the GOP Congressional members that the same social safety net benefitted their families and themselves since the first part was put into place.  It does not matter to them that lives were saved, that the nation as a whole became healthier with every addition to the safety net, that "the Greatest Generation" was able to be what it was because of that safety net.  That even earlier attempts to create a Public Health Service that promoted water treatment and sewage treatment by municipalities, so that people didn't die in epidemics of water-borne diseases...promoted immunizations that saved thousands of lives, administered by public health nurses...that the foundations of a healthy society--uncontaminated water, uncontaminated food supply, uncontaminated air to breathe, safe housing...that all those things were only accomplished within the social safety net enforced by, and largely funded by, the government--small governments in towns, larger ones in counties, states, and federally.

So the GOP in  House and Senate both voted to remove protections from the ACA, with the intent of repealing it completely.   And to replace it?   Nothing yet.  Vague proposals that would return many people back to the inadequate health care that they had before the ACA brought 30 million people some security in access to health care.  What this means is that people will die for lack of health care that the ACA was supplying in the past few years.  Others will go bankrupt, lose their homes, lose their jobs, because they cannot afford the health care they need.  That someone in their family needs.  The GOP doesn't care.

Remember 4 years ago in one of the early Republican "debates between potential candidates, Republicans attending were asked "What about the people who can't afford insurance or the medical care they need for a critical illness?"   And someone yelled "Let 'em die!" and the crowd applauded, cheered, laughed.   That's what the GOP is like.  "Let 'em die."  Because they see anyone needing help as "worthless."   "Losers."   Mitt Romney four years before that said 47% of Americans were "freeloaders."  Former Nevada Congressman Hardy said disabled people were "a drain on society."   With leadership like that it's no wonder that the GOP is full of angry haters, eager to attack anyone who doesn't fall in line;   For example: some tweets from a very angry GOP woman: "People in this country are poor because they CHOOSE to be (in other words, "losers") and in response to someone saying they found the cost of ACA reasonable:  "That is because good Americans are subsidizing your worthless asses."  Since I'm not in the business of sending hasslers to someone else's space, I'm not naming her.)   But the overall effect (with the hard right hating people of color, most women, the disabled, immigrants, foreigners, anyone they suspect might need something) is that the life the GOP considers worth saving is the fertilized egg, because the fertilized egg is inexpensive.  Once that fertilized egg is born, it's a liability and it might as well die if it has any problems.

So the GOP, having collected their tight little body of haters, who are basically people scared of anyone not like themselves and fear-biting everyone else like a chihuahua trembling on someone's lap, defines "different" as "worthless," and "losers," and "libtards," now gleefully celebrates knocking millions of people out of the ability to access medical care, while at the same time creating chaos in the medical field, where jobs will be lost (with the fallout that those people, at least some of them, will lose their homes, will not be able to send their kids to school, will slide right down into poverty.  But since "People are poor because they CHOOSE to be," there's no help for them there, of course.  Trump is the lap into which all the chihuahuas are now packed, shivering and snarling and snapping at at anyone who comes close.  The GOP doesn't care if the country gets sicker, if the lifespan drops, if maternal/infant mortality rises, if medical costs drive people into bankruptcy, if people who could work as long as they got their medicine lose their jobs because they don't.  They dream the impossible dream of a country with only ups and upper ups of income, and no taxes, but still (somehow) a labor force taking care of the gritty bits they don't want to do themselves.

Why do I call this Death Panels?  Because once again everything the GOP accuses the Democrats of is something the GOP is doing--has been doing--and wants to divert attention from.   Remember the Death Panels scares that the GOP threw out about the ACA?  Omigosh if there's government funded medicine then someone's going to create Death Panels to tell you it's your turn to die.  In reality, the GOP, by destroying the ACA (and Medicare, which they also have their eye on) is telling more than 30 million people "You're worthless...just DIE, why don't you?  Get sick you can just DIE.  Get hit by a car, or shot by a criminal, or have a road cave in under you, you might just as well DIE because we're not going to let you have any health care you can't pay for all by yourself.  Worthless scum.  Loser."   It's Death Panel under a new name...several new names, like "conservative values" or "fiscal responsibility."  It still means that other people think you're worthless and you should just die.  The ACA never had "death panels."  The GOP is enacting them.

(Comments will be moderated.  Stay sane or be deleted.)

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Because They Can

The federal week in review:

1. Pres-Elect fires all Ambassadors and Special Envoys, ordering them out by inauguration day.

2. House brings back the Holman rule allowing them to reduce an individual civil service, SES positions, or political appointee's salary to $1, effectively firing them by amendment to any piece of legislation. We now know why they wanted names and positions of people in Energy and State.

3. Senate schedules 6 simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees and triple-books those hearings with Pres-Elect's first press conference in months and an ACA budget vote, effectively preventing any concentrated coverage or protest.

4. House GOP expressly forbids the Congressional Budget Office from reporting or tracking ANY costs related to the repeal of the ACA.

5. Pres-Elect continues to throw the intelligence community under the bus to protect Putin, despite the growing mountain of evidence that the Russians deliberately interfered in our election.

6. Pres-Elect breaks a central campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall by asking Congress (in other words, us, the taxpayers) to pay for it.

7. Pres-Elect threatens Toyota over a new plant that was never coming to the US nor will take jobs out of the US.

8. House passes the REINS act, giving them veto power over any rules enacted by any federal agency or department--for example, FDA or EPA bans a drug or pesticide, Congress can overrule based on lobbyists not science. Don't like that endangered species designation, Congress kills it.

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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Why Absence Isn't Making My Heart Grow Fonder

I have many things I'd like to write and post here.  However, I'm physically limited these days in how many words I can write.  I have a novel to finish, a long official report to compile, and deadlines on both.  I also have to show up on my own current-project blog because it's only three months until Book Day for COLD WELCOME, and make at least token dashes into Twitter and Facebook.  Which means...I'm not here, saying all those trenchant, important things about What's Going On or (perhaps more usefully)  Writing in the Present Moment.   And I apologize.  Twenty years ago--even ten years ago--I could have done it all.  Now I can't.  Reality bites.  BUT I have a whole satchel full of ideas for when I've met both deadlines and slept a week to recover therefrom.  Meanwhile, here's a picture of a deer in the backyard eating acorns and then deciding it was time to leave, on December 27, 2016:


woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Publisher Decisions and Boycott Fallout

So today the news came out that Simon and Schuster, a formerly independent major publisher now owned by CBS, has offered a $250,000 advance to Milo Yiannopoulos for his book on himself.   This is not a person I admire.  The thought of his getting a book contract doesn't please me, and the thought of his getting an advance so much higher than I've ever had (or likely will have unless inflation goes through the roof)  disgusts me.  I have already been told (by someone who thought I was published by S&S) that they would no longer buy my books because they're boycotting Simon and Schuster in response to this deal.

People are certainly free to do what they think is right, but since most people know damn all about publishing, I'm writing this to explain how boycotting all of S&S's books is unlikely to hurt either Simon & Schuster or Milo Yiannopoulos, but will definitely hurt a large number of writers who didn't make that decision, didn't know about that decision, couldn't have affected it if they'd known that decision, and cannot get out of the contracts they now hold with S&S without paying a large penalty.

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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Making Do

There's another name for this now, but when I was growing up, my mother could make useful things (and did) out of all sorts of stuff.  Nothing was thrown away (it might be given away) as long as it had any use in it.  She made end tables out of apple boxes, painted them so they were bright an attractive.  She had other furniture, but mostly she combined materials she could get cheaply and made them into what she needed, and most had more than one purpose.   When we moved from Austin to San Antonio, into a small house (not the 'tiny house' being touted today, but 750 square feet) it did not have much storage (understatement) and she came up from south Texas with a lot of wood and masonite already cut to size; the masonite became sliding panels on the tiny screened entrance fo the kitchen, and the plywood became four 18" cubes with lids, in which I stored (in heavy plastic tubs) flour for baking bread.  That was in...1973 or early '74.   The cubes have been used for other storage, too, like yarn, magazines, toys.

But the years have not been kind to the faux woodgrain finish we put on them, and I wanted to use them again, so I bought paint Thursday and R- painted them that afternoon.  Here they are in the process of going from brown "wood" to solid dark green:


And here they are set up where they will be, in the living room that last year got new carpet and new furniture.  Pretty spiffy.  One at each end of the large couch, two in the space between.   We played a game of Chinese checkers to celebrate.


it's a narrow space between the loveseat and couch; the geometry of the room (where doors are placed) makes this necessary.  But the 18 inch cubes fit perfectly   When the paint is fully cured (they dry to touch in a couple of hours but curing to "you can wash it with soap and water" is said to take 14 days)  I'll take the lids back outside and give them a good polyurethane top coat.
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Unfamiliar Butterfly (Common Mestra)

Today I noticed an unfamilar small butterfly--quite a few of them in fact--flying low above the grass and occasionally perching with wings folded (more rarely, with wings open briefly.)  From a distance (and with my eyesight!) they appeared to be cream and orange.  When photographed (and the photographs put into the computer)  the dorsal side of the forewings was basically white with some gray markings and a little bit of orange (three "dots) on the trailng edge; the hind wings were mostly orange with white spots and dark gray edging.

Note longer white hairs protruding below the abdomen in this individual.
I saw what looked like courting behavior in some of these, but was unable to photograph it .
IDed by cdozo as Common Mestra (Mestra amymone)
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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Test of Formatting.

This is a test of LiveJournal's formatting of text, since some of the text in the previous post was not formatted correctly, although it looked good in the editing pane.  There's not an easy "word wrap" fix in LJ, so there's no apparent way to fix a post that doesn't handle word wrap on its own.  This amount of text should wrap into the usual space.  Let's see if it does.  If it does, then I will try an additional bit of text added after this one and a "break" function.

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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

The obligatory sock post...

This is a short obligatory sock post between political posts.     Here is a sock (not a pair yet, you'll notice) that combined three different yarns from three different manufacturers.  It is, though you can't tell it from this picture, the left sock of the pair:

Navy blue yarn from my mother's stash; purchased white and gray yarn

You can see the double stitches along the bottom, where the two yarns were each carried along the striped, working a stitch with both yarns at beginning and end of stripes, and once in the middle of each stripe.
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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

"Sounds like you want to see white guys killed..."

...said one guy on Twitter after I said white guys breaking the law should be shot at the same rate, and for the same reasons as black/brown guys were.

Thus missing the point I was making.   So here's a clarification.   It is clear that in similar situations, white guys (all genders) are less likely to be killed in an encounter with law enforcement than black/brown guys.  Less likely to be stopped, hassled, questioned, thrown on the ground or up against a wall...and less likely to die from the actions of law enforcement.   It is clear that law enforcement cannot assess threat situationally, without the bias of skin color.  Like many others, they perceive dark individuals as older, larger, and more dangerous than light-skinned individuals of the same age and size.  This starts in very early childhood:  dark-skinned children are judged to be older, larger, and more dangerous...and are punished more severely in school and society for the same behaviors, and that goes all the way up.   It is enshrined in the supposedly automated sentencing recommendations that judges receive--supposedly even-handed assessments of a convicted person's likelihood of committing another crime...because the conditions under which many people of color live (from the location--bad neighborhood, to the family income (below poverty-level--bad) then become reasons for denying bail or lengthening a jail or prison sentence.

Now I would prefer to see zero people killed. I've seen people die from violence (worked on an ambulance crew for awhile.)   It's not pretty.  I've seen drunks, drug addicts, people who've shot themselves or tried to kill themselves another way,  people who've been shot, burned, stabbed,  hit with fists, rocks, beer bottles, and various other items.   I have vivid memories of many deaths sitting there in my head; I know the smell of blood and perforated guts (shotgun blast, among other things.)   Some people consider all official deaths bad: they oppose the death penalty, and think every death caused by official action unjustified.   I don't.  I think if some person is shooting up a school or church or post office, and a policeman can kill the shooter before the shooter hits someone else...that's OK.   I'm not entirely opposed to the death penalty, though less in favor than I used to be, because I now know that police and prosecution may both lie, and innocents have been sentenced to death as a result.  Many of them persons of color, who almost never get their cases retried even when there's exculpatory evidence.  Some prosecutors will bend themselves into a pretzel to avoid admitting they made a mistake (or falsified evidence, like a former D.A. and judge in this very county.   (The innocent man in that case spent decades in prison, estranged from his children, before finally being released...and he was white.)

Today's news:  the continuing attacks on Native Americans trying to protect their land and resources, with enormous pressure by police coincided with the acquittal of the white cult members who have repeatedly refused to obey the laws regarding use of federal lands, including directly threatening to kill  law officers who tried to enforce it (by removing the cattle illegally grazing on federal range that the owner had refused to pay user-fees on.)   It has been clear from day one that Cliven Bundy was given years of leeway before the BLM moved in to get his cattle--and that his well-armed supporters, who promised to shoot the BLM personnel, had not been impeded in setting up an armed blockade on a public highway.  In other words, law enforcement did damn all to enforce the law.   Much the same happened in Oregon: armed men invaded and occupied public land, trashed the building, killed animals, cut fences, destroyed and defaced  a Native American sacred place which the federal government had said it would protect...and law enforcement (local, state, federal)  did nothing to stop them...days, weeks, etc.   I said then, and I say again, that the better choice would have been to move in a real, effective force and get those cattle out of there (or shoot them) and if Bundy and his buddies wanted to have a war--have it then.   I said when the Malheur invasion started that it should have been dealt with quickly, and completely.  Because every time those white anti-government types get away with breaking the law and threatening others, they feel stronger and they set up to do it again.   But no.  Not only did they get to hang around causing untold damage until they were tired of it, but now they've been acquitted.   Because white.

Do I want to see white guys killed?   No...but if black and brown guys are going to get killed for taking part in a march or a sit-in, then...I do want to see the same treatment handed to white guys.  If black or brown guys are going to be attacked and arrested for "trespassing" then white guys should also be met with the same level of force when they occupy public lands.   If black or brown guys are going to be shot in the back while standing by a car with their hands in sight, unarmed...then I want to see that the same treatment is given to white guys.  Because that's just fair.   I would rather that no unarmed person was shot by police...that no man with leg braces was knocked down and kicked and had his braced stomped by police...that no deaf man was shot in the back for not stopping (you can't obey an order you can't hear, if you can't see the person giving it), that no little boy with a BB gun was shot by police, that no woman opening the door for police (because the mentally disturbed man was afraid to) was shot because she was "in the way."...but if those things are going to happen to black guys, then let them happen to white guys, too.

Or--far better--quit killing black guys who aren't armed.  Quit shooting black kids.  Quit dragging black girls out of their chair by the hair and slamming them on the floor.  Quit making excuses for doing things to black/brown people that you wouldn't do to white people.  No, that kid does not look 11 when he's 6.   No,  Eric Garner wasn't pretending to be choking: he was choking.   If he'd been Rush Limbaugh (also very overweight at that time) would it have been OK to choke him to death and excuse it as "If he wasn't so fat..."?   Recognize that a white skin does not entitle anyone to differential treatment under the law.  And if shaking loose the engrained certainty of white entitlement requires talking about white guys getting shot for the same actions...so be it.  If it makes one person think--it's worth it.

I want to see equitable enforcement of the law.  Fair enforcemen of the law.   No more letting some white teenager off after drunkenly running his/her car into people because "he has a good family" or "he suffers from affluenza"; no more letting the white college rapist off because "prison would ruin his future"--while prosecuting black/brown drunk drivers and black/brown rapists to the fullest extent and labeling them  as "monsters" and "thugs."   I want every law officer to consider, when dealing with a white person: "How would I react if he/she were black/brown?" and when dealing with a black/brown person "How would I react if he/she were white?"....and then bring those two ideas of "how to react" closer  together, so that every person, of every color, is treated the same in the same situation.  To think about this,  seriously consider this,  over and over.   To consider that not everyone has perfect hearing, perfect eyesight, and faster-than-average reflexes--in order to be able to instantly follow an order from a stranger.  To remember that some people are physically unable to comply with an order that requires an unusual movement and that if you scare people, they may be unable to do anything for several long seconds.  To remember that most men carry their wallets in pants pockets...so "he reached for his waist" can be the compliant response to an order to "show me your identification."  To be familiar with how non-criminal persons move (if you call their name, or yell at them from behind, they'll likely to turn around--and if they didn't understand, they will step toward you.  It is not an aggressive act.)

Some law officers ARE fair.  But every one that is not damages the reputation of not only his/her local police, but all police.  Every one who assumes that the white guy is the victim and the brown/black guy is the attacker.  Every prosecutor who jumps to conclusion, who looks only for those things that "prove" his/her chosen suspect guilty, every judge who prejudges the defendent and assumes the guidelines tell the whole story...corrupts the justice system.   Makes it unjust.  Unfair.  And right now the law and its enforcement is unfair.

So I ask those shocked at the very thought that someone might "want to see white guys die"...to consider why they aren't shocked at the thought of seeing *anybody* die.  Why they tolerate so many black and brown deaths.  Why they can't recognize that under that skin--any color of skin--is the same body, the same bones and muscles and tendons and blood vessels...the same heart and lungs and stomach and gallbladder and liver and spleen, the same guts, the same genitalia.  Why they can't see their fellow citizens--all of them, all sizes, all genders, all colors of skin, all abilities and disabilities--as fully human.   As people with a history, a geneology, just as long as their own...as people with past experience that shapes their actions and motivations, just like their own...as people with needs (real needs, not imaginary ones), with desires, ambitions, hopes, fears, just like their own.  Why didn't a teacher, before calling in the school police officer, ask that girl *why* she was so determined to check her cellphone (her mother was in the hospital, possibly dying...and a moment of empathy, understanding, would have taught the class a healthier lesson than seeing the girl dragged and slammed to the floor.)  Why didn't the teacher, on seeing the boy's science project, ask "How does that work?" instead of assuming a clock was a bomb?   Because they didn't see those kids as fully human, people who might have a legitimate reason for what they did.  That must change.   If you're shocked, take that shock out of the closet of your assumptions and hang it out in the sunlight to air.   You're not the only human on the planet.  Your family is not the only family; your neighborhood is not the only neighborhood; your religion is not the only religion...and every other human on the planet is you, behind a different mask.

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