Representing, unlike my representative, and refusing to back down

Mark Meadows exemplifies everything that’s wrong with America right now.

 

I wasn’t going to go to the Mark Meadows town hall tonight.

There’s nothing he can say to convince me he’s right, and he won’t let me speak to him.

At the last town hall I went to, questions had to be written out, and we were told they would be asked in the order they were submitted. I was the second person through the door and I submitted the second question. But mine was not among the eight questions asked.

I approached Meadows afterward to ask why that had happened, but he took one look at me when I stuck out my hand to introduce myself, said, “Oh, I know who you are,” and turned his back to me.

This man is supposed to be representing the people of Western North Carolina, but he refuses to speak to anyone who might disagree with his cruel and inhumane policies.

The first attempt to pass Trumpcare in the House of Representatives wasn’t severe enough for Meadows and his “Freedom Caucus.” It didn’t take enough away from people. It still saved a few lives, after all. It had to be made more draconian before he and his sleazy band of thugs would vote for it.

I have no use for this man, but I have decided I need to show up with my son’s picture and pray that perhaps I can move him toward compassion. At least I can be there to show that not all the voters in this district are anti-life.

This fight takes its toll. I am stressed and emotional from the fight against Trumpcare. I have spent hours and hours writing to Meadows and my senators (Burr and Tillis), only to have them ignore me or send me form letters filled with lies about the Affordable Care Act.

Now I have fellow Democrats accusing me of being a “purist” and suggesting I should leave the party because I don’t want to vote for anyone who doesn’t support universal access to quality health care. Let your kid die and then tell me it isn’t imperative that we fix this now.

I’ve had little rest lately, as the radicals on the political right try to take away what little progress we have made in access to care. I was arrested in Raleigh in May because I was trying to talk to the NC Senate leader. I was arrested in Washington in July for trying to disrupt a vote to take away health care from up to 33 million people.

I’m putting my body on the line and being vilified as a “purist” for my belief that we need access to care for every human being and speaking the truth that we need candidates who will work for us on this.

I want a living wage for minimum wage. I want to see it set at $18 an hour and tied to inflation so people don’t have to work three jobs to pay their bills. If you’re making $7.25 an hour, you need that money NOW, not in five years. Only people with unacknowledged privilege think it can wait.

The establishment Democrats are exactly what mainstream Republicans were before it was taken over by right-wing radicals. I had differences with them, but could at least respect them. Since 1980, the radicals have managed to drag the entire conversation so far to the right that what once were mainstream Democratic ideals are now considered radical.

A living wage as minimum wage? Socialist! Health care for everyone? Communist!

If you think I’m wrong, just read the 1976 Democratic Platform: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29606.

I’ve been told I’m too divisive and I should leave the Democratic Party and go Green, which I would do if there was a chance in hell they could win against all the big money now flooding the Dems’ corporatist candidates.

So as far as being “purist” and “elitist” goes, screw that. I’m the one staying with the party and trying to make a difference.

I voted for Hillary Clinton even though she said she wouldn’t work on single-payer and she wasn’t for a big increase in the minimum wage all at once. Hoe does that make me a “purist” who should be purged from the party?

So, if you’re in agreement with Mark Meadows and think we don’t need universal access to care or a living wage for people who work 40 or more hours a week, then join his party because you aren’t a Democrat.

Democrats make room for disagreement. Democrats are able to talk things out and compromise.

If you want people who will slavishly follow the party line, join the party of Mark Meadows. They love sheep.

 

 

 

 

A primer on HB2 and why it’s not going away

Anti-HB2 signs left in the doorway of NC Senate leader Phil Berger

Anti-HB2 signs left in the doorway of NC Senate leader Phil Berger after a rally to oppose the law.

On March 23, the North Carolina General Assembly met in special session to pass House Bill 2, or what would become known as the transgender bathroom law.

The outrage was immediate, as it should have been. Transgender people are being forced to use the bathroom assigned to the gender that they no longer identify with.

If you think you don’t know anyone who is transgender, you probably just don’t know who was born with a penis and who was not. You’ve been peeing with them for a long time, I assure you.

The media went wild with news of the bathroom bill. Companies, sports events, entertainers and tourists pledged to boycott North Carolina, costing the state tens of millions of dollars. That fueled even more media attention about this awful bathroom bill.

Except it isn’t a bathroom bill any more than the motorcycle bill of three years ago was about motorcycles (in case you don’t recall, that “motorcycle safety” law is chock full of restrictions on women’s reproductive rights).

Sure, Article One is all about hating transgender people and denying them the right to use the appropriate bathroom, and that’s just wrong on every level.

But read on.

The law goes on to deny people in North Carolina the right to sue for discrimination in state courts. Instead, we’re supposed to go to federal court, which is much more expensive, likely much farther away and has only one-sixth the statute of limitations (six months versus three years). Most people can’t do that.

The law also takes away the power of local governments to set their own discrimination policies or minimum wage. This, of course, helps keep people in poverty so those in power can criticize them as lazy.

But the bathroom part of the law is what’s making headlines and it has fired up the ultra-conservative base.

And this is exactly what the thugs in power planned.

The furor over the clearly unconstitutional bathroom part of the law has drawn attention away from the rest of the law, which is just as egregious.

The US Justice Department has informed the state that this piece of the bill is a violation of US Civil Rights Law. The state can fight that, and if it does, here’s what “leaders” are hoping for:

With a Republican candidate the base isn’t willing to support, the NC GOP puts the bathroom piece of the law on the November ballot. This will bring out their base, who may or may not vote for president, but will vote down-ticket for Richard Burr, Gov. McCrory, Republican candidates for Congress and these very legislators who crafted HB2.

Like Amendment One, which enshrined hatred into the state Constitution, they know this piece of the law is unconstitutional and will be overturned.

But they have what they want: Republicans elected and the rest of the law intact.

Even if they don’t fight the Justice Department decision, the NC GOP has most of what it wants because law has a clause that states if part of it is overturned or repealed, the rest survives.

And there you have it. HB2 is a naked power grab, fueled by hate and written by thugs.

Meanwhile, suicide hotlines are reporting an increase in the number of calls from transgender people. People are being dragged out of bathrooms because they’re not masculine or feminine enough to satisfy some bigot. Men are going into the women’s bathrooms at Target to check on people and “protect” women.

The worst part is that a majority of people who voted for this law are running unopposed for their seats this fall.

In other words, we’re likely to see a return of the thugs to power because no one wanted to get involved and run against them. We have the government we deserve.

 

‘The least of these’ are not less than the rest of us

In Kansas, if you're on public assistance, this could become illegal for you to buy.

In Kansas, if you’re on public assistance, this could become illegal for you to buy.

I’m watching state after right-wing state in a competition to see who can be the most mean-spirited to people on government assistance.

A bill in Missouri would prevent people using food stamps from buying steak or seafood. A bill in Kansas would restrict people on public assistance from buying any kind of entertainment, going to psychics or having tattoos.

Under the bill, which passed last week by large majorities in both the House and Senate, public assistance recipients can’t spend their government aid on body piercings, massages, spas, tobacco, nail salons, lingerie, arcades, cruise ships or visits to psychics, according to CNN.

The bill also forbids spending the money at theme parks, dog or horse racing tracks, a “sexually oriented business or any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment, or in any business or retail establishment where minors under age 18 are not permitted.”

And it limits cash withdrawals of the funds to $25 a day, an attempt to prevent recipients from using their funds on inappropriate expenditures.

These are the same people complaining about how Democrats are setting up a “nanny state,” yet they have the temerity to tell poor people how they can and can’t spend the money they receive.

God forbid we should allow poor people to have any dignity.

As we cut taxes on the wealthy and refuse to increase minimum wage to make it even half of a true living wage, we become increasingly punitive toward the poor, while still hailing ourselves as a “Christian” nation.

I have news for the so-called Christians who seem to get a kick out of kicking the poor: Jesus would be ashamed of you.

If you go back and read about the man you supposedly follow, you’ll read about how he helped the poor, people with disabilities, mental illnesses and even leprosy, which was about as unclean as a person could get.

There was the woman who’s been bleeding (as in menstruating) for years. No one would go near her because she was unclean, but Jesus healed her.

Jesus reached out to “the least of these,” as are described in Matthew as people who are sick, hungry, thirsty, naked and in prison. And, he added, “whatever yo do unto the least of these, you do also unto me.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said it in another way in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.”

Instead of thinking poor people are somehow immoral, we should look at the circumstances that led them to be poor. Perhaps they’re working (most poor people do work) for minimum wage, which is less than half what it takes to live in just about every city in the nation. Perhaps they had huge medical bills after an accident or illness that was no fault of their own. Perhaps the family is headed by a single mom who has escaped a violent partner.

So many roads lead to poverty in this country, including the superhighway of low-wage work. The jobs that were lost in the 2008 economic meltdown have been replaced by low-wage jobs and states like North Carolina have cut unemployment compensation so far that people are forced to take these low-wage jobs or have no income at all.

So, we’re forcing people into poverty and then shaming them for being poor.

When I talk to conservatives about this, their answer is inevitably, “I know a guy who …”

Well, I know dozens of poor people. I work with them all the time, and almost every one of them works hard, or wants to.

I know people with illness or disability who would love to work but can’t. They’re lumped in with the “lazy” people who are working two or more minimum-wage jobs while trying to make ends meet.

The people we need to shame are the wealthy and the mean-spirited. We also need to tax the hell out of them. When we start doing that, we might see an improvement in the plight of the poor.

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