All posts in Politics

  • My Writing Manifesto or My Cry for Feminism

    I’ve had other posts planned. I was even going to post something yesterday, but I stopped. This post is probably going to be link heavy, and it may offend you or make you upset. If it does? Good. It offends and upsets me too.

    When people talk to me about my writing and ask me what I do (which is strangely a lot lately), I have always been clear. I am a woman writer. I am writer who is a woman. I am not an American Woman Novelist as Wikipedia would have me. I am a writer. I am a feminist writer.

    Read more

  • But I’m A Nice Guy

    But I’m A Nice Guy from Scott Benson on Vimeo.

    Presented without comment.

  • Victory! And Defeat

    So Barack Obama won a second term. Obamacare is safe and will go into effect unless Hell freezes over before 2014.

    I’m thrilled. I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately about how healthcare has been the single most determining factor of my life for the past five years. I’m underemployed in my not-first-choice career field because of healthcare. If healthcare weren’t an issue, I’d much rather be unemployed in my first-choice career path if I have to be underemployed. I would be a lot happier, anyway.

    So if things go well, it may seem that my life will suddenly have a lot more options. I’ve been on this weird not-writing detour in my life because of something that really shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve been continually waiting for my life to begin while at the same time kicking that can further and further down the line.

    It’s time for that to stop. And thankfully it will start to stop in June. I’ll be taking the summer off to write. And actually, it’s already starting to stop. Now that the craziness of the beginning-of-the-school-year has passed, I’ve been finding the energy to do more than sleep-eat-work. I’ve been carving out the time I need to get my butt to the library to work on my stuff. And man are those writing muscles weak after so many years of neglect. But I’m finding them. That’s the important part.

    I do have to say, though, that this election is somewhat bittersweet for me. A continued Obama presidency means more choice for me, more options, and a higher likelihood of success. But part of me mourns the rage-opportunities lost from a Romney-Ryan presidency. I always write more, and harder, when I’m angry. And Romney surely would have made me rage like no other.

    Luckily I’m starting (have long been?) to get angry over my work/life situation and the second-career that is going nowhere fast. I’ll just have to stay angry about that.

  • In two weeks…

    All right, all right. I’ve got an announcement to make. In two weeks time, we will be closing on our first house. Well, assuming we don’t have to move the date in order to get all of the things fixed in it that are getting fixed.

    I’m happy. I’m excited. I’m scared to death. It’s a beautiful, weird, eccentric house with a tree in the living room and a garden out back. I’ve been trying to keep my mouth shut about it because that’s what The Russian wants. But seriously, it’s two weeks away. It’s not like we can keep a secret as big as “Oh yeah, we bought a house and now live there” from everyone know forever. They’re going to find out. In fact, some of our friends we hadn’t told found out. Grrr. Remind me to shake my fists angrily at whoever let it slip. We wanted to tell everyone in person.

    Oh well. C’est la vie.

    The other good news is that the job market out there looks a lot better than it does over here. I’ve applied to a few. Some I’m more excited about than others, and I’d really like to have a job I’m in love with that also utilizes my strengths and abilities to their fullest potential. I’m just hoping that the Illinois government gets itself sorted out in a way that doesn’t prompt more mass layoffs in education. I know pension reform is some sort of politcal cure-all. But seriously guys, you think you’re mad about class sizes now?

  • *ahem*

    I’d just like to leave this here.

    Okay, I guess I owe more of an explanation. It’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to write here. My bad, I know.

    Long story short, we’re in the process of buying a house. And I cannot even begin to tell you how much I hate bad school districts with amazing houses. Seriously. I had to strike out so many beautiful houses that were within the budget because the schools were just not up to par. And what with all the no-new-taxes stuff I’ve been hearing lately. Well, I thought it was pertinent.

  • Politics is not Entertainment Tonight

    One of the first and, to date, one of the most-bitter fights Daniil and I have ever gotten into had to do with something most people would probably raise an eyebrow or two at. It was a bitter, drawn out affair that resulted in somewhat of a compromise. To this day, though it only occasionally comes up, we struggle and butt heads about it.

    You see, when I met him, he was not registered to vote. While some might not care, to me this was an issue of great and dire importance. It still is. He finally caved and registered right after last year’s elections (sigh). The compromise was he very adamantly insisted that though now he was registered and I should be happy, he would never, never, ever exercise his right to vote. And, as far as I know, he hasn’t.

    And this still troubles me. Perhaps even more so than it did a year ago. Why?

    I’ve noticed–and I’m not the only one–that politics is become a lot more like TMZ every day. And no one seems to care. We happily swallow up Trump’s birtherism, giggle about Jon Kyl’s ‘non-factual’ statements, and snicker about Rep. Weiner’s…well…weiner. And while we process what is happening with these news bits, we simply move on without, well, doing anything.

    But then things like this happen:

    They happen and we don’t notice because there’s nothing entertaining about it, and we want to be entertained. LZ Ganderson wrote on CNN:

    It shouldn’t really matter which side of the fence you stand on regarding abortion: that tone, that rationale, has no place in the debate. That more people, more women, were not angered by DeGraaf’s statements only highlights just how little we are paying attention to lawmakers.

    He’s right. We’re not paying attention, and crazy whackadoo lawmakers have figured that out. As long as political news coverage is actually entertainment in content, these politicians can do and say whatever they like. My 4th grade teacher always said that who you are is the person you are when no one is watching.

    No one is watching what’s going on. No one is watching and the masks are coming off. And since no one is watching, no one notices when they change the law in ways we don’t like, to reflect values we don’t believe in.

    I am shocked and horrified that it’s okay, politically and socially, to say things like that, to say that you should plan ahead for rape. I’m upset this isn’t more news worthy. I’m ashamed that we could stand for it in this country.

    Politics isn’t entertainment, people. It’s real life, and it has very real consequences. And sadly, punishing women and making the lives of women more difficult has been a common theme of late (or almost forever, really). But it’s not just women, it’s happening to the poor and to the brown, too. It’s only going to get worse if we continue to view politicians the same way we do celebrities.

    As a side not, it was pretty ingenous of DeGraff to sugges his wife and daughter would “never need an abortion” if they were raped. Last time I checked, ‘never need’ was not synonymous with ‘I will forbid’.

  • Yes We Can and Yes We Did

    What a remarkable thing that happened today. I know I previously remarked about how the bill should be scrapped because it didn’t do enough, but I spoke too soon. We got a good foundation today. Am I 100% happy? No. But I’m incredibly pleased that we as a country have finally taken a step towards what is right.

    What I’m really sick of is people going around saying the American people don’t want this. Bullshit. We’ve wanted this, and deserved this, for a century. Everyone who voted against this bill and is mad that it passed should really reconsider their morals. Be opposed to health care reform is literally advocating for the death and illness of a huge swath of our population. That’s gross. Really gross.

  • Just Take the Trolley

    Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk.

    I spent some time at the local library this weekend getting some work done. I took some time to graze through some periodicals, including the Utne Reader. It’s been several years since I last picked up the Utne in a tiny Michigan town, and that’s a decision I have come to regret. The January/February 2010 issue has some fantastic articles and dispatches.

    In particular there’s a quick dispatch from the IEEE Spectrum on the coming streetcar revival. Considering I’ve been planning a move to the stereotypical trolley-land of San Francisco in two years, the timing is interesting, to say the least. Nevermind that the true trolleys are the land of tourists and real transportation is on subways and trolley-busses (far less romantic).

    I’m sort of passionate about public transportation. While driving is convenient (and a necessity for my current locale), it stands in stark contrast to my ethics. Cars are perhaps, among other things, a hallmark of American consumption and consumerism. They’re also terribly inefficient in terms of resources, and time & energy waste. And I’m aware that most people who have never lived in a public transport mecca will go on and on and on about how that is false, cars save so much time, blah blah blah.

    I hate to break it to you, but no. They don’t. I’ll concede that they do in public transport black holes, but anyone who’s lived in cities where transportation is essential to the entire population will understand my point. When implemented effectively, public transportation is superior and reduces pollution and the need for resources. It’s why I’m such a huge fan of the bicycle.

    But back to the trolleys. I find them to be exciting. It could potentially be a way to get an effective public transportation system in place without the crazy high costs associated with them. Smaller metropolises could utilize a streetcar system to great effect. The more people we get on mass transit the better. Driving a car is political, and it’s not politics I endorse.

  • Terrorball

    My excellent friend Bora “Max” Koknar pointed me in the direction of Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Terrorball.

    Our national government and almost all of the establishment media have decided to play a similar game, which could be called Terrorball. The first two rules of Terrorball are:

    (1) The game lasts until there are no longer any terrorists, and;
    (2) If terrorists manage to ever kill or injure or seriously frighten any Americans, they win.

    Ah yes, the awesome game played by American politicians and American media outlets alike. It’s a game designed to keep all of us living in fear of ridiculously unlikely things. It’s the same mindset that leads to what counts as “good parenting” (ie nothing short of placing children in plastic bubbles).

    It’s also the same reason why our healthcare system is broken and not going to be fixed by any healthcare reform that might pass. Keep the masses scared and distracted so no one can ponder what is truly scary in our country. Like our uninsured and unemployed. Like our rampant destruction of our environment. Like a million other things. Focusing on terrorism lets us ignore the mirror we should be examining. It excuses us from fixing more pressing problems

    Which, of course, benefits big media and politicians. As long as we remain scared, politicians retain their power and media retains it captive audience. If we actually focused on real issues and not imaginary ones, we might actually go outside and do good work that will transform our society. Transform it in ways that demands accountability and shuns consumerism for the sake of consuming.

  • Kill the Bill

    Yes, you heard me. Kill the bill. I, a long standing proponent of health care reform, someone who still thinks we desperately need it, is ready to say kill the bill.

    The public option? Gone. Expansion of Medicare? Gone. Ability for the government to negotiate pricing, pharmaceuticals, etc? Gone. Guarantees that insurance companies supply useful plans? Never there. Fines for those who cannot buy health insurance? Still intact.

    I’m done. Yesterday’s paycheck told me I’ve earned around $6700 this year. The only reason I’m not on food stamps and in public housing is because my parents are giving me a place to stay and my grad school status allows them to claim me as a dependent so I still have health insurance. My grandmother is helping me with tuition.

    Under this bill, I’d be required to pay the government a $1500-$3000 fine a year if I cannot afford health insurance. Considering the status of government subsidies is in peril, it’s pretty damn likely I will not have health insurance unless it is employer supplied. I cannot afford that fine. I don’t even make enough money to survive on my own. Next year I’ll be making even less money due to the legal slave labor of student teaching. Oh, right, it’s in the disguise of accredited classes. This isn’t an internship; it’s taking over someone’s job who is still getting paid for that job to the attune of at least $44,000. But that’s another story.

    This bill is fundamentally violent. All it does is deliver 30 million new paying customers to a business that doesn’t actually want to provide the services we pay them to provide. Fuck that. Fuck all of it.