lunadelcorvo: (Episode badly written)
2017-05-08 12:02 pm
Entry tags:

Marvel, you might just actually suck! (Popping up to rant briefly)

I am, at best, a peripheral comics fan. I more or less know the 'verses, and I like the characters (admittedly more via the films and fan-created media than the comics themselves), but I am by no means a core fan. But seriously? 'Hydra Captain America,' and comic shop employees wearing Hydra t-shirts? Seriously? In THIS political environment, in the era of Trump, Bannon, and Richard Spencer; THIS is what you think is a good idea?????? Oh, fuck no!

For those of you not familiar with this controversy, there is a summary (from this article) below the cut: )
lunadelcorvo: (I meditate and I still want to choke...)
2017-05-03 06:27 pm

Things I am very, very tired of:

1. Being told how to feminist, how to call out racism, and how to phrase my critiques lest I drive away potential allies. Really? Like being an ally should be conditional on getting ego strokes and cookies! If you want to be a gorram ally, then be one! If my being angry AF b/c black boys are being killed and women are getting assaulted every damn day makes you not want to be an ally? Guess what, jackass, you weren't one to begin with, so take your sexist/racist arse the hell outta my way.

2. Being told that I am angry at god and cannot be moral/ethical b/c as an atheist. Punk, which one of us needs a book and an invisible sky-nanny to tell us right from wrong? (Spoiler alert; it ain't me!)

3. Explaining over and over, using as many one-syllable words as possible, why Tantrump is a disaster, and Sanders is neither a progressive nor a Democrat.

4. The weather flailing wildly about from 40 to 80 in a matter of hours. My sinuses are seriously about to explode. OMG, staahhhp!

5. Humana's customer phone service. OMG, just shoot me now! How can any one company have such dedicatedly bad service and make so many completely ridonkulous mistakes and still be the 800-pound corporate gorilla that it is astounds me.

6. Probably a bunch of other obnoxious garbage that I don't want to think about long enough to list. I am going to take a nap and then play games with my kid. Because reasons.

lunadelcorvo: (Resist Defy Unlearn)
2017-04-20 08:10 pm
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FYI (US-centric)

In case anyone is getting distracted by the Russian spy drama, North Korea, Bill O'Reilly being fired from Fox News, etc. the following bills have been introduced to Congress:

1. HR 861 Terminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
3. HR 899 Terminate the U.S. Department of Education
4. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
7. HR 785 National Right To Work (this one ends unions)
8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
10. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran

Please copy/paste and share widely. Call your House Representative and ask them to not only vote "NO"...but to speak up for our rights, health & safety, and our beautiful country.

If your senators and reps aren't saved in your phone yet, text your zip code to 520-200-2223. You'll get a text back with everyone's contact info. It gives you Federal and State.

PASS IT ON (copy and paste to share since you can't share from form this page)
lunadelcorvo: (Abstinence doesn't work)
2017-04-19 05:21 pm

Please come join [community profile] anti_theocracy

(X-posted to a few relevant communities; please pardon me if you see this more than once, but do feel free to share!)

I've been trying to find some of the migrated communities that concerned themselves with the religious right in the Bush era, and found a few, though they seem to have gone dormant since, well, about when Obama took office. I guess we stopped worrying for a while.... But things have changed; a lot.

I do hope that they will revive themselves (I've been trying to contact admins, and not gotten much response), but in the meantime, I have gone ahead and started [community profile] anti_theocracy, a new community dedicated to gathering resources & information on theocracy and the activities of the religious right in the post-Obama era.

It is more imperative than ever that we be aware of what our politicians, religious and cultural leaders are up to, and what they stand for. I hope to make [community profile] anti_theocracy, a clearinghouse and resource for anyone concerned with religious overreach both in the US and abroad.

Please come by and join! I hope to have some solid informational pieces up in the next few days, and I welcome contributions from members.

Here is our Profile Page that has posting guidelines, and a little bit about the purpose of the community.

It's open for everyone to join, so I hope to see some folks there!
lunadelcorvo: (Embarrassed by USA)
2017-04-13 01:59 pm
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OMFG We just bombed Afghanistan!

The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the "mother of all bombs," was dropped at 7:32 pm local time Thursday, the sources said. A MOAB is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America's most powerful non-nuclear bomb...Officials said the target was an ISIS cave and tunnel complex and personnel in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province.

We bombed a cave.

He's mad. He's utterly fucking power-mad. We have let an insane child run loose in the world's biggest arsenal.

THe story on CNN here.
lunadelcorvo: (President is an idiot)
2017-04-12 08:05 pm
Entry tags:

Well, not every entry can be a happy one: Politics

What a week (and it's only Wednesday!) Tantrump's got Korea rattling its own sabers in response to his threats and swagger routine, he's authorized oil drilling on the Atlantic seacoast, he (or one of his muppets, DeVos - I'll do a whole post on her, soon), overturned protections for student load borrowers, and the nation's first female Muslim judge, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, was found floating in the Hudson River Wednesday afternoon after she was reported missing.

If it were less terrifying, it might be amusing to take bets on which way Tantrump and his GOP puppet show will get us all killed first..... *sigh*

I promise I won't go all doom (or politics) all the time, but there will be political posts (hopefully mostly more analytical than ranty, but...)
lunadelcorvo: (Jo Harvelle Badass)
2017-04-10 08:41 pm
Entry tags:

So, looks like my return to LJ will, in fact, be here instead....

I've been trying to get back to LJ lately (with mixed success; I doubt I'll ever use it or DW as much as I did 'back in the day'), but now it seems it has become a bit of a Russian police state. Lovely. So I suppose I will keep my liberal, democratic socialist, Tantrump-hating commentary here instead. Now the question is - do I delete that journal, or leave it? It sucks b/c I have a permanent account, and this one costs. Like I need another expense these days. Grrrrr.

But OK, then, here I am. :)

P.S. We need new moods! I need 'rebellious' and 'defiant,' just for starters....

P.P.S. Anyone know of any friending things? Anyone out there at all, come to think of it?
lunadelcorvo: (Buffy Training)
2014-06-01 12:20 am

Why NotAllMen is not women's problem

:::Edited to clarify at the asterisk:::

In conversation with someone I respect today about the #YesAllWomen, I mentioned the “M&M” analogy (imagine a bowl of M&Ms. Only 10% are poisoned. Grab a big handful. No? What’s your problem? Not all M&Ms are poisoned….) as a counter to the “NotAllMen” response to YesAllWomen. I was informed that viewing every male I encounter as a possible threat, as potentially hostile, and as a potential rapist/attacker/abuser/harasser was “not a productive way to establish relationships.”

No kidding, ya think? Tell me something I don’t know!

While this person is someone I respect tremendously both in terms of intellect, reasoning, ethics, and all around decency, to get this response from him was painful and disappointing.

It is true he (yes, he) was not in my life when any number of relationships went bad, and I feared for my safety, feared getting hit, was hit, was stalked, was verbally abused either in the relationship or for ending it; but he has heard all these stories. He also was not in my life when the tow truck driver who had my car on his truck and was driving me 135 miles through the middle of nowhere spent most of that time telling me in graphic detail what he wanted to do to me with the hand from which he’d lost the outer two fingers, but he was with me three years later when I next needed a tow in Chicago and the same man showed up, easily recognized by that hand. Although, come to think of it, he told me then he’d never really believed me until he saw the man himself.

He was, however, in my life when I was almost driven out of my Master’s degree following rumors of impropriety between myself and a male professor with whom I had dared be friends. He was in my life when I woke up in the middle of the night to find a stranger with a knife and a flashlight standing over my bed trying to pull the covers off of me.* (I never knew who he was; and I never felt comfortable in that neighborhood again.) He was in my life when my elderly disabled mother was traded by her roommate to a drug dealer to rape in order to pay off a $50 debt.

So it was a shock to me that he could still protest, almost 20 years into our friendship, that approaching every male I meet as potential threat was a problem *I* had, a flawed approach on MY part, failure of MY reasoning skills, and yes, unfair to men. As enlightened as I otherwise find this person, he pounced on my approach to men as a problem; because Not All Men. *sigh*

Yes, of course I know that this dynamic is a poor way to begin relationships, be they personal, professional, of transitory. EVERY woman knows this. But, as #YesAllWomen has so poignantly shown, we also know the price for rejecting this approach. We are told as young girls to be careful of every man we meet. We are told not to do a thousand things that will put us at risk. And I’m not talking about sex without a condom or skydiving, here. I’m talking about all the things large and small that woman calculate all the time. It’s late; should I find someone to walk me to my car? I need to be sure to let my friend or family know I have arrived safe and didn’t get raped going home a few blocks at night. I pay attention to how I walk if I’m alone at night; remember, don’t walk like a victim. Keep your keys between your fingers so you have a weapon. Yell ‘fire’ if you are attacked, because you have a better chance of actually getting help than if you yell ‘rape.’ We all know the drill.

And let’s not even start talking about the professional world. I have never, in any of the jobs or careers I have had, been assured of fair treatment as a woman. I have been harassed, marginalized, underpaid, “gal-Friday’ed,” propositioned, threatened; the usual litany. All women have experienced some kind of misogyny or discrimination. That’s what #YEsAllWomen means!

That is the reality that men cannot ever truly grasp; no more than I, however much I may care and want to make it better, can ever really grasp what it is to be a person of color. It’s just not my reality, and the best I can do is accept that it is a reality in which I will never participate, and accept that I do not deserve to be above suspicion in terms of my behavior on race until and unless I demonstrate that I’m not racist. I don’t have the right to co-opt the discussion of race by defending my not-racism. And I sure as HELL don’t have the right to tell a person of color that viewing all white people with caution is a “poor way to move in the world.”

Not that I haven’t done just that. I have “but not all white people’d” with the worst of them, with the best intentions. I have been guilty of this as surely as I have been guilty of racism, in ways I could have understood had I been paying attention, and in ways I probably could never understand because I live inside white privilege. But that’s just it. If you live inside a privilege, you don’t get to tell those who don’t share that privilege that their fear, caution, or misgivings are a “poor approach.” Very few people wear signs identifying them as racists. No one wears a sign identifying them as a rapist, an abuser, or a misogynist. And like racism, sadly for both, misogyny can be dangerous, even fatal. So yes, women do, and at present, have to assume that because 10% of the M&Ms are poison, this M&M could, in fact, be poison.

And no, that doesn’t mean I hate men, or view them all badly. Is it unfair to men? Hell yes, it is. Misogyny hurts men, too. But I’m not going to bet my life and safety to assuage the butthurt of some man that’s offended because I regard any male I don’t know as a possible threat. Don’t like it, my male interlocutor? Be the change. There was a kerfluffle a few years back about a police department that had lost the trust of the community because they had not acted to remove corrupt officers. I think this is much the same situation. Nobody WANTS to live in a world where they can’t trust the police, and of course, no one thinks every police officer is corrupt. But as long as some are, you just can’t know. As long as some are, this one *might* be. As long as people who report corruption are ignored or disbelieved, do you really feel comfortable trusting any random officer with your life?

But remember, only 10% of the M&Ms are poisoned. Eat up!

* Just to be clear, while this was a terrifying incident that stayed with me for years, I was not assaulted. I woke up, and with all the good temper I usually show when woken in the middle of the night, began cussing the guy out and demanding the get the &*^% #$@! our of my house right the hell &*^%$ now. Not the response we are taught to have, I know, but in this case, it clearly derailed his power fantasy, and after backhanding me across the face, he fled into the night, letting out my four cats in the bargain. And it does not escape me that had I followed the advice we are given for how to handle such circumstances, which is "don't fight back, survive." I would have been raped....
lunadelcorvo: (Whammy?)
2014-04-29 03:00 pm
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On GMOs, hysteria, and reason, A.K.A. navigating a very narrow minefield

Anyone who’s read me for any time at all likely knows that I have little patience for either anti-science superstitious hysteria, or ‘one-world’ government, Illuminati conspiracy hysteria. In this category of intellectually offensive and ridiculous nonsense I include things like creationism, anti-vaccers, aromatherapy, micro-chipping, the Bilderburg conspiracy, chem-trails, black helicopters, and so on.

That said, there have been plenty of times that a new technology hailed as the greatest thing ever, the wave of the future, FDA-approved, and perfectly safe has been anything but. Cigarettes, DDT, lead paint, RBGH, and frakking come easily to mind; there are plenty of others. These things, once ‘scientifically verified’ as safe and beneficial, have since been proven otherwise. And certainly, early protests against these things were critiqued as being anti-science, conspiracy hysteria.

So clearly not everything government and/or industry tells us is safe actually is safe. Mistakes are made. It then becomes something of a minefield to navigate the fine line between unreasoning hysteria and recognizing and revealing a genuine threat. Enter the GMO.

One the one hand, progressive and pro-reason icons like Dawkins and ScienceBlogs roundly condemn GMO opponents as little better than anti-vaccers. Even the DailyKos published an article entitled “GMO Truthers need to be kicked out of the Progressive movement.” The article offers both a strident condemnation of GMO-related “anti-science,” and a short list of refuted claims. And there is certainly a lot of hysteria about GMOs that does mirror the anti-vaccer rhetoric, including claims that GMOs cause autism, or all the studies in favor are industry funded, to name only two.

On the other hand, a lot of profit relies on this technology, and not just in terms of food production for the starving of the world (though there are other, arguably better solutions that involve changing our entire culture of food, but that is a related, but different topic; next post perhaps). But to what degree IS it reasonable and rational to hold corporate stakes as determinative in assessing the relative safety of a food technology? And while the mere fact that other nations have enacted partial or full bans on GMOs is not a testament to their safety in and of itself, consideration of which nations have done so gives one pause. Of the 26 (as of late 2013, almost double the 14 in 2012), many are progressive nations whose overall approaches to issues like sustainability, health, and the environment are admirable: Germany, France, Australia, Japan. These are not nations known for their hysterical, superstitious tendencies (like the US). And while the main consensus is that GMO foods do not produce nutritional harms, there are significant questions about environmental impact, both of the crops themselves, the impact they may have on insect populations, and even more significantly, the impact of the chemicals and pesticides these crops are so often engineered to withstand. Round-up ready crops mean Round-up will be used, in abundance. We know that both herbicides and insecticides can have serious negative consequences. There are also questions about adaptability, seeding, and loss of native species (both crops and the ‘weeds’ that such crops are designed to resist). While some of that may technically be a licensing and patent issue, it is nevertheless inextricably tied up with the question of GMOs as healthy for not just our bodes directly, but our environment, our economy, and our world. So perhaps a GMO tomato won’t hurt me. But what happens if one company ends up owning the vast majority of crops? Corporate monopoly is, I think it is safe to claim, never a benefit to anyone but the corporation.

Mind you, you will not see anything in this post about ‘meddling with nature,’ or anything of that sort. This is not, from the tomato’s perspective, an ethical issue. However, it might be an ethical issue an far larger scales. So perhaps the claim that eating a ‘conventional’ cucumber will give you cancer IS hysteria. But I am not convinced that the question of the safety of GMOs is as simple as that. I think it’s a far more nuanced issue, with much farther reaching implications and questions. And on that level I take some exception to the notion that raising those questions puts me in the same camp as the anti-vaccers and chem-trail believers (or Oprah, for that matter!)

What are your thoughts? Is this an issue for you, and if so, on which side? Why? For those outside the US; how is this issue perceived and debated in your milieu?
lunadelcorvo: (Oceania)
2014-01-11 10:01 am

The worst kind of violence?

In the last week or so, I've come across two largely unrelated news items that have gotten me thinking. I suspect they are not unique, nor are the they sort of headline that typically gets everyone talking. But I can't help but think these are terrifically important, both in their own right, and as a mark of something fundamentally wrong.

The stories are as follows:
160 year-old Documents Intentionally Destroyed in Franklin County, N.C.
The basic story (full story at the link) is that an entire roomful of historic documents (whole shelves of record books along with boxes of wills, deeds, photos, letters, etc.) was discovered in a previously sealed room under the Franklin Co., NC courthouse. Researcher, overjoyed as such a find had just begun the slow process of sorting and cataloging them, when they were told to cease doing so. After some weeks of red tape, an as-yet-unamed local government agency swooped in, took the lot to the basement, and systematically and intentionally burned them in the incinerator.

The other story, halfway across the world:
Lebanon Library Torched, 78,000 Books Burned By Islamists
In this story, a historic library in Tripoli was burned by arsonists after a pamphlet considered offensive to Islam was found tucked into one of the books. The library contained thousands of rare historic texts and manuscripts, from both Islamic and Christian history.

So what do these have in common, aside from the obvious destruction of historic materials? I think that the connective thread here is simply that: that there exists the idea that destroying the past is a good thing. That the destruction of history in the furtherance of one's current ideology is acceptable. And I think this is the worst, deepest, most fundamental kind of violence.

George Orwell, in his masterwork of political tyranny and destroyed history, Nineteen Eighty-Four, wrote the following:
"If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened — that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death? And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"

Who controls the past, controls the future. An odd truth, but a powerful one. One of the deepest horrors of Orwell's dystopia is that the past has no meaning, there is no past but that authored by the Party. Ellie Wiesel, writing so often of the holocaust, demands that the past be protected from violence. Because in doing violence to the past, all violence is allowed.

And so, these news stories represent the very worst kind of violence; violence to truth, violence to the past. The author of the first story conjectures (with reasonable foundation), that the records were destroyed to hide the shady doings they might reveal done by the forefathers of someone currently in political power. Islam has a long record of destroying the past, from the Buddhas of Bamiyan to the proposal to destroy the Sphinx. In the second story, we don't even need an ostensibly offense pamphlet to see the destruction of a library, a historic library at that, as a purely brutish sweep against knowledge, agaisnt the past, any past, and record that things might ever have been other than as they are now.

The Christian right attempts violence to the past regularly, with its ongoing attempts to rewrite the past of our own nation, making of its Enlightenment progressive deists a crew of Christian fundamentalists; Thomas Jefferson recast as he Sam Brownback of his day (there's a terrifying thought!). And this is, ultimately, the mark of the unsustainable worldview. When your doctrine requires that there be no past, only a harsh glare of a bright. unchanging, ever-present NOW, you have, in essence, become The Party of Orwell's Oceania.

And once there is no past, no truth, no objective reality, then all violence is possible. This hated enemy has always been hated, has always been the source of all our ills, and must be eradicated. And once gone, they never were. Without the past, without memory, there can be no genocide, no holocaust. There are no 'atrocities,' because there is no 'never again.' When the past has no meaning, and is rewritten at will, there is no wrong, for what was done, was not done.
lunadelcorvo: (Can it be A time now?)
2013-09-22 11:32 am
Entry tags:

Thoughts on higher education

This is sort of out of nowhere, but it's actually a long comment I left in response to a poll by "templeghosts" over on LJ. I ended up spending a bit of time on it and thought I'd share. I'm also curious as to your thoughts on this generally.

- I think everyone should go to college, if for no other reason than (here in the US, at least) elementary education has become astonishingly dumbed down. My son has been lucky enough to get into some of the best schools in our area (largely because of where we live; he is still in the public system), but the education he has received throughout has been rudimentary and shallow. As a professor, I also see freshman every year, and their lack of basic reading, writing, and thinking skills together with their overall lack of cultural literacy is appalling. The "basic education" one used to get by the end of high school now requires college. Someone mentioned an MA now being considered the benchmark that a BA used to be? Given the dearth of actual education students receive by the end of high school, that makes perfect sense.

- I also think that there should be some kind of mandatory waiting period BEFORE going to college. Nobody knows themselves well enough at 18 to decide the course of their own lives, and they often don't have a clue about how the world works. Make them go live on their own for a while, travel, practice being a self-sufficient proto-adult, THEN college.

- I do think tuition should be if not free, then affordable. The ways in which universities bilk students for ever more money makes me see red, especially in light of the cash cow that is college sports. Too often, the "academic side" of a university never sees a penny of that sports cash.

- I also think that NO degree program should be without foundational humanities/gen ed content. Yes, pre-med students DO need philosophy, pre-laws do need art, business majors (maybe more than anyone) need history. Maybe Plato and Napoleon have no direct bearing on performing surgery or negotiating a corporate merger, but I don't want to trust my body or my economy to myopic 'vocationally trained' automatons that have never heard of Plato or Napoleon...(or cracked a work of literature, or studied a painting in context). The same goes for basic science, literature, composition, logic, etc. The lack of education in these broad, general, culturally foundational areas is why we have politicians who have no clue what evolution is, or how climate change works, or how women get pregnant.

- No, I have not 'pushed' my son towards college. With two professors as parents, both of whom have completed at least one degree in his lifetime, I think it's inevitable; he sees, first hand, that education is its own reward, and already observes the disastrous lack of education in our public figures. He's also painfully aware of how little actual education he's getting (and he's even in the advanced program, which I note not to brag, but to point to the lamentable state of education at large), and is often frustrated by it.
lunadelcorvo: (Foucault Power)
2013-05-02 05:16 pm

Concerned Women for America CEO: "Reason caused the Holocaust"

In commenting on the upcoming Day of Reason announcements (which have popped up in a number of places, but the one in question was Charlotte, North Carolina), Penny Nance, the CEO of Concerned Women for America, a right-wing women's policy group, said on FoxNews:

"You know, the Age of Enlightenment and Reason gave way to moral relativism. And moral relativism is what led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust…Dark periods of history is what we arrive at when we leave God out of the equation."

I kid you not. CWA boasts approximately 500K members. It was founded by Beverly LaHaye, long-time right-wing activist and wife of Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series, a violent fiction series about the struggles of Christians against the anti-Christ's world government. They consider themselves the opposition to National Organization For Women, and are explicitly not only Christian dominionists, but overtly anti-feminism.

Given my familiarity with the group (read their profile here) this comment from their CEO does not surprise me. It seems to be just the most recent in a string of outright inversions of reality of "black-is-white" magnitude that have become part of the discourse lately. It happened gradually, but it is deeply significant, and goes a long way to explain how the rabidly faithful constituents of the Religious Right/GOP consistently, repeatedly, proudly vote against their own interests.

The Right has been stunningly, bafflingly successful at convincing incredible numbers of people to not merely believe, but staunchly defend and act upon things which are demonstrably, factually false. And I'm not talking the kind of demonstrably false that requires an advanced science degree, I'm talking things that are quite easy to verify. The following it a list of core principles in the right-wing, and each of them is simply false:
  • Abortion causes breast cancer
  • Birth control is abortion
  • Abstinence only education prevents pregnancy and diseases
  • Condoms don't prevent STDs
  • Atheism is the same as moral relativism
  • Climate change isn't real
  • Obama has taken more vacation days and spent more money than any other president
  • Homosexuality is a choice, and 'fixable'
  • Hitler was an atheist, and the Nazis were atheists (or gay)
  • Rape does not cause pregnancy
  • The bible/Jesus is against the minimum wage
  • America was founded as a Christian nation
  • Public schools 'teach' homosexuality
  • Obama was not born in America
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The problem here is that this is not the radical fringe, this is a HUGE chunk of the population. (Remember, less than half of the US population thinks evolution is true.) They believe a huge array of things that are just flat-out not true, and they believe them passionately, militantly. Even aside from any opinion you may have about the dangers of religious thinking (itself based on belief in factually indefensible claims), these people have gone far beyond even religious credulity to inhabiting an entirely unreal world.

The implications of this are terrifying. A population that will believe anything...well they will believe anything. They can be made to do anything, accept anything, regard anything or anyone as evil. And the people who construct the messages then have virtually unlimited power.
lunadelcorvo: (Elizabeth Warren)
2012-11-03 01:02 pm
Entry tags:

Why you should vote Obama, even if you don't love Obama

"Look: The modern national Republican party is a hot mess, a simmering pot of angry reactionaries driven by selfishness and willful ignorance, whose guiding star is not governance but power, and whose policies and practices are tuned to build an oligarchy, not nurture a democracy. Its economic policies are charitably described as nonsense and its social policies are vicious; for a party which parades its association with Jesus around like a fetish, it is notably lacking in the simple compassion of the Christ. There is so little I find good or useful in the current national GOP, intellectually, philosophically or politically, that I genuinely look on it with despair and wonder when or if the grown-ups are ever going to come back to it. Before anyone leaps up to say that the modern Democratic Party has problems of its own, know that I do not disagree. But if your practical choices for governance of the country are between the marginally competent and the actively malicious, you go with the marginally competent.more here, if you want to read the whole thing )

I didn't write the above, but I wholeheartedly agree with it. It is much like Bill Maher's astute assessment: "There is a big difference between a disappointing friend and a deadly enemy. Of course the Democrats are disappointing. That's what makes them Democrats. If they were any more frustrating they'd be your relatives. But in this country they are all that stands between you and darkest night. You know why their symbol is the letter 'D'? Because it's a grade that means good enough, but just barely. You know why the Republican symbol is 'R'? Because it's the noise a pirate makes when he robs you and feeds you to a shark."

Don't love Obama? Fine. But DO NOT stay home on Nov. 6th" - do not hand us over to the actively malicious GOP because Obama isn't quite as wonderful as you'd hoped in 2008. Welcome to real life - few things are as wonderful as we hope. Jobs, grocery stores, cars, vacations, you name it - life is a constant balance between expectation and disappointment. But you can't sit out life, you have to make choices, find the best alternatives and work with them. You can't sit out the political process* because it isn't all you want it to be either. Do we need to drastically overhaul the electoral system? Hell yes! Should we outgrow the two-party hegemony? Long overdue! But does that excuse each and every person from the responsibility of participating in the system in the meantime? Hell no!

Go vote, and vote Obama!

(* and like it or not, at this point, a third party vote might as well be staying home. Do I like this? No. Is it the reality? Yes. Imagine if all the 3rd party votes in 2000 had gone to Gore.... It sucks, yes, but [once again, welcome to real life], a 3rd party vote might as well be gift-wrapped for the GOP.)
lunadelcorvo: (Kim Possible)
2012-11-01 07:12 am

Obama's accomplishments

Romney & the GOP keep saying Obama hasn't done anything, that he doesn't have a record to run on. Well, here's a list of what he HAS done. It's a pretty damned amazing list of really important accomplishments (especially considering he's has a Congress with the stated goal of obstructing his every move).

Read the list and tell me - doesn't it make you want to see what we can accomplish if we let him finish his to-do list?

1. The first bill President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to help women fight back when they don't get equal pay for equal work.

2. His Recovery Act supported millions of jobs and helped to stave off a second Great Depression.

3. He pushed for and won middle-class tax cuts that benefitted every American worker, and saved the typical family $3,600 in taxes over the last four years.

4. President Obama rescued the auto industry, and now GM and Chrysler are healthier than they've ever been. The American auto industry has added nearly a quarter of a million jobs since June 2009 -- and they most likely wouldn't exist right now without President Obama's leadership.

5. He doubled funding for Pell Grants, helping to make college more affordable for nearly 10 million families.

6. His student loan reform ended billions in subsidies to banks serving as middlemen and reinvested those savings directly into students.

7. The President established the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth up to $10,000 over four years of college.

8. His Race to the Top Initiative helped spur nearly every state to raise academic standards.

9. His tax cuts, social-welfare programs, and economic policies lifted nearly 7 million Americans above the federal poverty line in 2010.

10. President Obama has signed 18 tax cuts for small businesses since taking office.

11. We've seen 5.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 31 months.

12. The unemployment rate is at the lowest level since President Obama took office.

13. Health care reform -- passed after decades of failed attempts by every previous President -- provides affordable health coverage to every American and will lower premiums by an average of $2,000 per family by 2019.

14. Obamacare expanded access to lifesaving preventive care such as cancer screenings and immunizations with no out-of-pocket costs for 54 million Americans.

15. Obamacare ends insurance discrimination against the 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

16. Because of Obamacare, over 3 million more young adults have health insurance today than would if the new law hadn't passed.

17. The parents of over 17 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer have to worry that their children will be denied coverage.

18. President Obama has ordered the overhaul of federal government regulations to make them smarter, practical, and more efficient. Just a fraction of these commonsense initiatives will help save businesses $10 billion in the next five years alone.

19. His historic investments in clean energy have helped more than double the amount of electricity we obtain from wind and solar sources and helped increase biofuel production to its highest level in history.

20. President Obama is doubling fuel efficiency standards, which will save drivers more than $8,000 at the gas pump, not to mention lessen the impact of automobiles on our environment.

21. President Obama has taken unprecedented action to address climate change, reaching historic international agreements to curb carbon emissions, and taking action here at home to reduce carbon pollution from our vehicles and promote clean energy production.

22. He has taken historic action to protect our environment -- signing one of the largest expansions of protected wilderness in a generation and putting in place standards to reduce toxic air pollution that will save thousands of lives.

23. President Obama fought for and won landmark Wall Street reform that reins in the abuses that led to the financial crisis and ends the era of taxpayer bailouts and "too big to fail."

24. Wall Street reform created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nation's first federal agency focused solely on consumer financial protection -- and the Bureau is already protecting families from unfair and abusive financial practices from Wall Street banks and shadowy corners of the financial industry.

25. As part of President Obama's commitment to transparency, the White House has posted its visitor records online for the first time ever.

26. President Obama's all-of-the-above approach to energy has helped cut the United States' dependence on foreign oil to its lowest level in 20 years.

27. President Obama responsibly ended the war in Iraq.

28. He announced a plan to end the war in Afghanistan and transition security responsibility to the Afghan people.

29. President Obama sent the largest security assistance package to Israel in history and funded the Iron Dome system, which is protecting Israeli homes and schools from rocket attacks.

30. President Obama rallied the international community to implement the toughest sanctions on Iran in history.

31. Through the President's historic increases in Veterans Affairs funding, he has expanded and improved healthcare and job training access for our returning veterans.

32. President Obama negotiated the New START Treaty with Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in both countries. At the same time, he also secured commitments from dozens of other countries to lock down nuclear materials.

33. His administration naturalized 11,146 military service members as U.S. citizens in 2010; more than in any year since 1955.

34. President Obama set a bold new plan for the future of NASA space exploration, using the skill and ability of the private sector for short trips to the International Space Station, while building a new vehicle for exploration of distant space, and doing everything in his power to support the economy on Florida's Space Coast.

35. President Obama recognizes that tourism is one of America's largest economic engines; he's worked to encourage international visitors to come here, maintaining our security while keeping millions of Americans in good, paying jobs.

36. He has affirmed his personal support of marriage equality, directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in federal courts, and took the practical and compassionate step of extending hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners.

37. He fought for and won the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, allowing gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly for the first time in history.

38. When Congress failed to fix our broken immigration system, his administration did everything in its power to improve it, streamlining the legal immigration process and announcing a policy that lifts the shadow of deportation from hard working young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

39. Oh, and he gave the order to send troops in after Osama Bin Laden -- and has decimated al-Qaeda's senior leadership.
lunadelcorvo: (Academic Terms)
2012-09-18 05:31 pm
Entry tags:

Of classes, politics, and stuff.

I still, despite my resolve, have not been posting as much. For one thing, I don't really have much to add to the political discourse these days. I mean, really, the satire pretty much writes itself these days. And I have gotten a little burned out on it. One can only keep up the incredulity and outrage for so long. Call if outrage fatigue, if you will. Sadly, I think this is one reason the whackos get away with as much as they do. They spring something outrageous, everyone goes apeshit, so they wait out the uproar and then do it anyway.

Classes are going pretty well. It's funny how I have the same exact class as last fall, still with 1st semester incoming freshman, and it's a whole different dynamic. They talk! It's pretty wonderful, really. It's also funny how little different juniors are from freshman, which is somewhat less wonderful. Reading the first round of essays by my 300s was, I must confess, a bit of a let-down.

Then there's my own classes. Feels weird being a student again. Of course the fact that I am really in no sense in tune with this discipline doesn't help. Comm tends to lead the pack in trying to emulate hard science, which is a methodology I don't speak. I mean, I get it, and when it comes to things like global warming, reproductive legislation (how wrong is it that this is even a term?) evolution, etc., I'm all in favor of it. I'm just not convinced statistics, focus groups, and data tabulation have much use in studying Dante, ya know?....

Alas, just as I get typing a real entry, the alarm reminds me it's off to class..... Cheers, all!
lunadelcorvo: (I will taunt you!)
2012-08-24 10:13 pm

Open letter to an old friend gone Right

A few months ago, I met up with an old friend from way back in my early days in the SF Con & Ren Faire scene. It was so great to look back to the books we read, the things we valued... *enter needle screeching over the record* Turns out she'd gone far right GOP/Tea Party. The following is an open letter to her, and all those like her. (And yes, a few of you may know to whom this letter was originally penned, but I suspect even more know someone to whom you've felt similar sentiment.)
(Cut for length) )
lunadelcorvo: (Casavir (NWN2))
2012-06-28 12:35 pm
Entry tags:

Obama care - what it is and what it isn't.

A lot of people whose opinions I respect are actually quite furious that the PPACA/Affordable Care Act/Obamacare was upheld. Their chief complaint seems to be the objection to only one thing: that the government requires individual citizens to purchase a product form a corporation, and can penalize that citizen for failure to do so.

This is also accompanied by the concern that there are no minimum standards for that product, and no protections from things like price-gouging, and corporate abuse of a 'captive market.'

Well, no, not really. There ARE standards and protections, as well as expetions and subsidies for low income Americans. There are also provisions that make employer-provided care easier for small companies to offer, and which make basic care co-pay-free and therefore far more accessible. Here's what it REALLY does:
  1. Guaranteed issue and partial community rating will require insurers to offer the same premium to all applicants of the same age and geographical location without regard to most pre-existing conditions (excluding tobacco use). This means that while all Americans are required to purchase coverage, they cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. This is HUGE.
  2. A shared responsibility requirement, commonly called an individual mandate, requires that all persons not covered by an employer sponsored health plan, Medicaid, Medicare or other public insurance programs, purchase and comply with an approved private insurance policy or pay a penalty, unless the applicable individual is a member of a recognized religious sect exempted by the Internal Revenue Service, or waived in cases of financial hardship. Insurers must be approved, and exemptions will exist for those in financial distress.
  3. Medicaid eligibility is expanded to include all individuals and families with incomes up to 133% of the poverty level along with a simplified CHIP enrollment process. This expanded eligibility means that many who can't afford coverage, even under the ACA, will still be covered.
  4. Health insurance exchanges will commence operation in each state, offering a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can compare policies and premiums, and buy insurance (with a government subsidy if eligible). Again, there will be assistance with coverage, and active steps toward fostering actual market competition to offer better services.
  5. Low income persons and families above the Medicaid level and up to 400% of the federal poverty level will receive federal subsidies[27] on a sliding scale if they choose to purchase insurance via an exchange (persons at 150% of the poverty level would be subsidized such that their premium cost would be of 2% of income or $50 a month for a family of 4). Can we really argue that $50 for a family of four is abusive, especially when set against the grim realities of the millions of uninsured who have no coverage at all?
  6. Minimum standards for health insurance policies are to be established and annual and lifetime coverage caps will be banned. Minimum standards, there they are. These standars mean that no, companies will not be able to offer pointless 'compliance only' policies that do not actually provide for health care. (I wish auto insurance had the same standards!)
  7. Firms employing 50 or more people but not offering health insurance will also pay a shared responsibility requirement if the government has had to subsidize an employee's health care. This will help more people get coverage through employers, reducing the number forced to purchase health coverage privately.
  8. Very small businesses will be able to get subsidies if they purchase insurance through an exchange. As above.
  9. Co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles are to be eliminated for select health care insurance benefits considered to be part of an "essential benefits package" for Level A or Level B preventive care. It's a no brainer that basic preventive care is essential to cutting costs of lifelong health care AND improving overall health and quality of life; this will make that basic care much more easily accessible to those who need it most.
  10. Changes are enacted that allow a restructuring of Medicare reimbursement from "fee-for-service" to "bundled payments."
  11. Additional support is provided for medical research and the National Institutes of Health.
I do understand the concerns about government forcing private citizens to purchase a product, but I think that to argue that this is the first step towards any corporation or industry being able to obtain similar positioning is a massive slippery slope. The ACA is NOT the first step towards 'government mandated' purchase of sneakers, cigarettes, or anything else.

(No, the icon has no relevance except *pretty!*)
lunadelcorvo: (Oceania)
2012-03-19 01:19 pm

All U.S. Internet Providers will be policing downloads by July 12, 2012

Originally posted by [ profile] jennybliss at All U.S. Internet Providers will be policing downloads by July 12, 2012
Originally posted by [ profile] marguerite_26 at All U.S. Internet Providers will be policing downloads by July 12, 2012
I'm seeing variations of this all over my flist and damn, it does not look good.

(this is an edited version of [ profile] lk737's post here)

According to this article, dated March 15, 2012:

"File-sharers, beware: By July 12, major US Internet service providers (ISPs) will voluntarily begin serving as copyright police for the entertainment industry, according to Cary Sherman, chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The so-called “six-strikes” plan is said to be one of the most effective anti-piracy efforts ever established in the US."

The article goes on to give details. After six notices, internet providers will decide to throttle a person's internet speed, or cut it off altogether. No more downloading eps of your favorite shows for vidding, gifs, or fanfiction art. No more downloading screencaps possibly.

Fox news confirms this:

Youtube video explaining this:

Well, it's nice to know all that SOPA protesting made a difference.... I'm hoping this is misinformation or hype, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were not. I'll post updates if I see anything new on this.
lunadelcorvo: (Civil liberties)
2012-03-01 09:51 am
Entry tags:

PayPal is expanding its business - into censorship!

From ZDnet:
PayPal’s new aggressive campaign wants to stop independent e-book publishers that use its service from including certain kinds of erotic content in their catalogs.

On Saturday February 18, PayPal began threatening indie book publishers and distributors with immediate deactivation of the businesses' accounts if they did not remove books containing certain sexual themes - namely, specific sexual fantasies that PayPal does not approve of.

PayPal told indie e-book publishers and retailers - such as AllRomance, Smashwords, Excessica and Bookstrand - that if they didn't remove the offending literature from their catalogs within a few days of notification, PayPal would close their accounts....
Read the article HERE.

Whatever your stand on erotica, porn, whatever, the fact remains that this kind of manipulation of markets is absolutely unacceptable, and if not stopped here will establish precedent for similar draconian limits in the future. PayPal operates like a bank. Just like your bank honoring your check, or your Visa card company, they process transactions between merchants and buyers. Imagine if your bank told you they would no longer process payments at certain retailers? Or if they said 'Sorry, we won't handle payments for this type of item.' You may not like porn, or sex toys, or rainbow kitten calendars, but as long as they are legal items, it doesn't mean it's OK for a financial institution to tell you you cannot spend your money on them, or retailers that they can't sell them.

Now I realize that this may sound like the classic slippery slope. However, this is how the Right has operated for decades. Find some out of the way place and try Move X. If it isn't stopped, try it somewhere else. Pretty soon you have legal precedent. The Right is all about incremental warfare. Look at the abortion battle - they gave up on forward assault on Roe a long time ago. Instead, they have found hundreds of ways to come at it sideways, from parental consent to the width of clinic hallways. Having observed this for so long, I think it is not at all unreasonable to ask, if this move by PayPal flies, what's to say it will only be erotica that payment processors are allowed to censor?

What would stop them from deciding they won't process payments for booksellers who sell 'subversive' literature? Why stop at books? Is it really so hard to imagine big banks, in cooperation with GOP insanity (of which we've seen plenty recently), deciding not to process credit card transactions to Planned Parenthood? Or payments for contraception? Or any of a zillion other things they may decide they don't like?

I don't know as I write this if there are petitions or actions pending on this, but if there are, I'll add them here. If there aren't, I'll start them. meanwhile, I encourage everyone who uses PayPal to contact them now, and tell them censorship is never acceptable.
ETA: There is some indication (unproven as yet) that this is being instigated BY credit card companies, and PP is the first big processor to be feeling pressure towards censorship from above. In which case, damn I hate being right....
ETA 2: Some good links for more info and petitions are below:
lunadelcorvo: (Oceania)
2012-02-10 10:52 am
Entry tags:

Obama's Birth Control Mandate: Old News, Unless it's Not

Everyone is screaming their heads off about Obama's mandate that employer-provided health insurance include contraception, as though this is some new innovation/outrage (depending on which side you're screaming from). Thing is, it's not new. more than half US states already HAVE such a mandate, and others come very close. So while this will be helpful in making all states follow the same policy, it's not new. In fact, it seems that, not only are a majority of Catholics in favor of contraception (on account of living in the real world, no doubt), most major Catholic universities and hospitals already comply with the standards Obama set out.

OK, so the Right having conniptions over something as if it's new is, well, nothing new. And it did seem like taking this stance was a good move for Obama, helping provide a (minor) boost to his popularity on the progressive (to say nothing of female) end of the spectrum. However, what I find both fascinating and disturbing is that now Obama is talking about 'accommodation' on the birth control issue.

How completely f'ed up would it be, if after staging this mandate as though it were breaking bold new ground, and then offering 'accommodation,' Obama actually managed to end up with a net loss in terms of women's access to healthcare and contraception? Watch this one closely folks - Orwellian political theater doesn't get any better than this. Now, does anyone remember what the chocolate ration was last week?