Category: liberal politics


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I have always been a city person. The sounds of the traffic at night; the bright lights that decorate the sky; the familiar buildings that shape the downtown skyline. Each city has it’s own character, it’s own flavor. I love the smell of the sea in Portland, the architecture in Boston, the festive lights of the Superdome in the New Orleans skyline.

The downside to living in a city, besides the traffic of course, are the faces you see along the streets every day begging for money.  They hold signs. Sometimes they have cups. Here, they also frequently have dogs. But they’re all asking for the same thing. Many of us pass them by without any acknowledgment; some will give an occasional dollar or some spare change.  I often find my social-worker self avoiding eye contact as I pass by familiar faces on my morning rush to Starbucks.  I feel bad that they have to ask for money, while I rush by to purchase an over-priced latte. Most of all, I feel bad that I get annoyed by the begging. I turned away one man the other morning who was asking for money for coffee, saying that I had no spare change. He asked several people standing near me, and promptly stood in line behind me to purchase a coffee. I immediately felt the pangs of guilt: this man really did just want a coffee. At that moment, I wanted to buy him 10 coffees. I felt horrible for my judgment, and it stayed with me for a long time.

Recently, I came across the following collection of photography, entitled Faces of Addiction. It is a collection of photographs taken by a banker in New York who explores the lives of people living on the streets coping with addition. As I click through the photos, reading each person’s story, I am reminded of my judgment and assumption of the people I see standing at traffic corners. These people are fighting their own hell every day, just struggling to survive.

They cannot get back with their family. They cannot talk it out. “Really?” says Bernice, “What? Am I supposed to suddenly have a relationship with my family? Sit down, and pretend one of my mother’s boyfriends didn’t force himself on me when I was young?”

So we throw them in jail. Drugs are wrong, selling your body for sex is wrong.

Being fucked by your dad is even more wrong.

Throw them in jail. Remove the problem.

Throw them in jail rather than realize how damn unfair our society is. How badly some are chewed up, abused, spit out, never given a chance.

Throw them in jail to preserve the fantasy that our culture is filled with domestic bliss, that being poor doesn’t suck, that life is fair.
Throw them in jail rather than ask why so many men rape children?

Spend a night in Hunts Point. Listen to the stories. Know that dads, uncles, neighbors, often rape little children. Know that it fucks them up for life.

 I found myself becoming lost in the photographs, immersed in their stories. Most of all, I was reminded that every person has a story. Every beggar, every addict, every prostitute – is more than that.

 

Look through the pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/arnade/sets/72157627894114489/?page=2

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It’s long been said (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase) that the Super Bowl is one of the largest sex trafficking events in the United States.

According to our local Fox 8 (not to be confused with Fox News), five women were rescued this past weekend during the event here in New Orleans. This same weekend, eight arrests were made in connection to human-trafficking related events.

What’s ironic to me is that we, as a society, know that forced prostitution is wrong. We know that many girls are forced into it. Yet, there are so many men (it’s usually men. Don’t pull the “man hating” card just yet) who will justify this behavior by denying these very facts.  

A lot is being done to help these girls, including cooperation with local businesses to train employees what to watch out for, and to make secret hotline numbers available for girls in hotel rooms or bathooms.  While these things are undoubtedly beneficial in helping these poor girls, it does not put enough of a public eye on the other piece of the puzzle.  (The names of the “Pimps” should be public, as well as the “johns”.  Why are people spending 10 years in prison for weed, while these slave drivers are living freely?) How can these men justify their actions by calling the act “consentual”, and refuse to see that their contribution is what makes it possible?

We live in a world where it is understood that sex-trafficking is wrong, but do we truly understand why? Women are still judged and valued for their bodies every day. Walking through the downtown area on Super Bowl weekend, I saw the “Budweiser Girls” lining the sidewalk dressed (for lack of a better word) in thong-shorts and bra-tops.  How can we ever overcome the slavery of women if we still view them as objects; as something that needs to be decorated and looked at?  I don’t care if you think it “looks nice”. This isn’t about your needs. A nearly-naked woman should have no relevance to the sales of beer, but “sex sells”, and here lies the connection.  We’re taught that this is ok to expect this from women, and we justify it by telling ourselves they have “consented” to it.  No, these Budweiser women aren’t victims of sex-trafficking. They are victims of a world where there is so little that separates the two.

Beyonce’s job during the haltime performance was to sing and entertain. Why did this have to be done wearing a body suit? If Jay Z, or even Beiber, came on stage wearing a speedo, we’d laugh. We wouldn’t take this seriously. “He must be pulling an act; he can’t be serious”. Because we all know that men don’t need to dress like this to gain an audience. Beyonce is known for her strong influences to women empowerment, yet she peformed in a stadium full of people wearing such little fabric. But again, we justify this. “She was hot doing all that dancing. It’s easier to move. She can wear what she wants”.  Whatever justifies it.  It’s this contribution that makes it possible.

Driving home from work the other morning I was listening to a talk-show where they were comparing the the Mardi Gras here with Carnival in Brazil.  Of course, the topic of women bearing their breasts came up, as it is much more popular in Brazil’s version of Carnival than it is here in the Big Easy – despite popular belief. One of the men began making fun of the women here: “I wouldn’t want to see the ones on the women there anyway, they sag so much they’d have to unzip their pants just for us to see them”.  While I realize he was “making a joke”, the point remains that our bodies are always up for others’ discussion; always subjected to others’ opinions and ridicule.  These two hosts would probably call me an angry feminist, but only they have no way of understanding what it feels like to be on the other side.

To bring an end to my rant, how can we end forced prostitution of women if we’re unable to look at the other ways we enslave them?

 

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As Facebook dwindles down from recent political explosions on the news feed, I’m still catching the odd debate here and there about the results of Maine’s Question 1.

It’s amazing how many people hide behind the premise of their “opinion” while spewing pure hatred. Just because you preface this filth with “in my opinion,” doesn’t make it any less that what it is: hatred. This world is full of it.

“Well I believe gay marriage is just wrong. Its disgusting.”

Maybe I find your face disgusting. Even Marie Antoinette had to learn sooner or later that the world wasn’t always going to cater to her expectations.

“I just don’t understand it”.

I didn’t realize it was necessary to give commentary on everything you dont understand.  I’ll never understand the attraction to fake-platinum blondes. Does this mean I have to clog up your news feed to ensure you know my opinion about this?  Leave the comments about things you “dont understand” to conversations about physics. That, nobody understands.

“I’m sorry, that’s just my opinion”.

Apologizing along with it doesn’t really make you that much less of an asshole.

“Next we’re going to be allowing legal incest and pedophilia”.

Why not? It’s in the Bible. Kidding. Totally fricken kidding.  I have no hope for these people, anyway. With this type of logic, nothing is untouchable.

“It’s a sin! It says so in the Bible”.

This one is probably my favorite. Your cookie-cutter following of the Bible has brought you to the realization that it must be wrong. After all, absolutely everything else that is (assumed to be) forbidden in the Bible is followed to an exact science; all 700 different interpretations of it.  Theologians disagree about scripture every day, but John Doe can’t be argued with.

“I’m being forced to put up with something I don’t agree with!”

You sound like a spoiled child. Gay marriage isn’t forcing you to marry someone of the same sex! Did the feminist movement mandate bra burning?

“I am allowed to have my opinion”

There are always those people who, when all common-sense fails, they resort to the “I know my rights” mentality. You’re correct, you have the right to condone hatred. But after awhile, doesn’t it get old?

Thank you Maine!

…and Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota!

It was a little scary there for a bit this afternoon, leaving me questioning my faith in America’s Vacationland; the place I have called my first home for 26 years next week.

But the final tally is in, placing Maine as the 7th state to legalize gay marriage, and the first state to do so by means of popular vote!  Rachel Maddow made it official by declaring her love for me, I mean, my state, as soon as votes were in.

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Our opponent, Protect Marriage Maine, spent many hours concerning themselves with the lives of others. (You know what they say about “those who preach the loudest…”) Carroll Conley and Bob Emrich, two of the opposing campaign’s leaders, were interviewed by the press Tuesday night:

“When we started this campaign, we said marriage was in trouble in our country.” Conley said.  “We made the case for traditional marriage and we’re terribly disappointed that we were not able to convince enough voters to hold on to the value of traditional marriage for society and we genuinely fear for the consequences we’ve raised during the campaign.”

Marriage is in trouble?  Honey, if you think a same-sex couple getting married is the downfall of traditional marriage, then your head must have been in the sand for the past couple decades.  Adultery, 2 week engagements, and on-the-spot marriages in Vegas to people who just met 15 minutes prior are all legal in the “traditional marriage” world.  Mistresses,  million-dollar celebrity weddings immediately followed by divorce, perhaps some of these things have contributed to putting marriage in trouble?

“…hold on to the value of traditional marriage for society…”

What is “traditional marriage”, anyway?  According to who you ask, the Bible allows for Polygamy, mistresses, forced marriages of children, trading wives for goats, among other horrendous things.  Or, maybe Conley means altered-traditional marriage, like in the case of Newt Gingrich. He can get married and divorced how many times? And it’s all legal. If that doesn’t bother you, but two committed people having ONE marriage does, then reexamine your priorities.

“…we genuinely fear for the consequences we’ve raised during the campaign.”

Um. What? Consequences?  If Barney Frank’s legal marriage affects you THAT much, I can recommend a decent therapist.   You know what will happen when gay people get married?  …gay people will be married.  Men like Newt Gingrich will still have affairs, get divorced, and remarried – all while preaching for traditional marriage.  Life.will.be.the.same.

Times are changing, Conley. Get on the bandwagon with us, or get out of our way.

http://blogs.phillymag.com/gphilly/2012/08/10/letter-gay-son-dad/

Here is a letter from a gay son to his conservative father that has been circulating around Facebook this week. It makes a lot of great points that conservatives should think about, especially if they have gay friends or family.

The lines coming out of Chik Fil A this past week are shocking. Ok, not SHOCKING… this IS the South. But it is becoming quite apparent what a slap in the face this whole issue has become.

We have one side who is sick of the hatred, and tired of having our lives become the center of ongoing and hateful debates. We have the other side claiming “free speech”, First Amendment issues, blah blah.

Yes, people are entitled to their beliefs. But sometimes these beliefs make one seem quite ignorant, backwards, and overly old-fashioned.  For example, I have the right to believe that people who eat meat should be ripped of equal rights, (for the record I’m a meat eater). I have every right to believe that unicorns exist – and even that they are the Lord’s Savior.  I have had clients who truly believed they we’re Jesus Christ. (Who in this field hasn’t had that experience?)  We all are entitled to these protected beliefs, no matter how absurd they may seem to the general public.

It’s when people gather together with these extreme beliefs that there becomes a problem. Given the outlet and opportunity to act are what provide a dangerous outlet for discrimination.   I have met some vegans who, if given the chance, would probably persecute meat eaters.  These aforementioned vegans have the right to have an extreme dislike of meat eaters, right? What if these same extremists moved to collective political power? What if, in 20 years, it became illegal to eat meat here in the US?  What’s this? The beliefs of some shouldn’t affect the actions and laws that dictate the your life? Welcome to this realization!  

OK, that’s a bit of a stretch. (And sorry to any vegan readers for my hypothetical example). But this is how the Chik Fil A fiasco looks to me: people are rallying in support of one’s First Amendment right to believe that a group of people should not have equal rights.  Switch the specific group of people, and we can see even more how ridiculous this has become:  “Redheads should not be able to marry each other”. After all, that red hair color – it’s just so unnatural. How about divorcees? Should they be able to get married after breaking one of the major rules within most religious doctrines? …How about Canadians? Who needs more Canadians, anyway? (Relax, I can say this: I’m from Maine. We’re all half-Canadian up they’ah).   Somehow, when we insert any other group of people besides gays into the mix, this issue become quite humorous. It is then that we can objectively see what we’re doing to ourselves.

Yes, people have every right to their opinion. They have every right to donate to a cause, whether that be: People United Against the Use of Thumb-Tacks, or even Protection for the Family Against the Unauthorized use of Goat Cheese.  Donate all you want. Believe whatever you want.

When my grandmother was a child, people had every much of a right then (just as they do now) to BELIEVE that women should not vote – and many rallied and donated against their efforts.  There are still people today who believe such horrible and discriminatory things, as we have seen this week.  What if the lines outside of Chik Fil A were in support of someone’s right to believe that women should not be allowed to vote?  What if they were in support of one’s right to donate money in support the removal of all child abuse laws from the books? What if those people with impromptu chicken cravings were really in support of anti-meat legislation? (Hey, irony happens every day. Especially in politics). Suddenly, the issue of free speech doesn’t seem as important. Or, would you still be in line?

Just, please, think about WHAT BELIEFS you’re supporting. This isn’t a debate about free speech. It’s about making people aware of impact this speech is having on those most vulnerable.

Recent events in the political world have paved the way for a string of debate for both sides of the ObamaCare/Affordable Care Act decision.

Without getting into the semantics of the fiscal policies themselves, I feel like there has to be a way to have common ground throughout this ongoing diatribe. For example, I find it difficult to think of why we can not agree that insurance companies are robbing us blind.

Regardless of the issue of who should pay for what (or whom), can we at least agree that whoever is paying anything is most likely paying too much?

Insurance companies charge hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in annual premiums. However, simply paying a premium does not entitle one to complete services under that insurer. Many policies have deductibles, meaning you have to pay out of pocket up until a certain amount – sometimes as “little” as $250, sometimes almost $1000. Why are we paying thousands a year for a policy, when we are forced to pay for the initial services anyway? This makes one wonder about the specific point, and financial logic, of even obtaining health insurance coverage.

Let’s say John Smith pays about $2000 annually for his health insurance through his job, and has a $250 deductible. Not a bad deal, right? I think that’s a relatively fair cost. However, if he goes to the doctor once a year for a procedure, he will not meet his deductible of $250 (provided he has such a policy). Therefore, he is still paying out-of-pocket in addition to healthcare he rarely uses. Even for the services health insurance will cover, they will still only cover up to a pre-determined-and-written-in-language-only-law-students-truly-understand amount. Therefore, if John Smith broke his arm, he could possibly owe his insurance company thousands. To drive this point home: every day, insured families receive bills for thousands of dollars just for delivering their child in a hospital. Can’t we agree that this is outrageous? ( If you’re “throwing away” extra money every year for health insurance you are unable to benefit from, isn’t this just as infuriating as being forced to pay extra to benefit the uninsured population? )  If you think it’s fair to pay an extra few thousand for a “procedure” such as giving birth, after already paying thousands a year for insurance, then I’ve lost you before I started.

Depending on the company, different (but still very high) percentages of premium costs go to unessential fees such as paperwork and other administrative “necessities”.  If you have ever looked at the breakdown of a hospital bill, you will learn that the gloves used by the examiner can be as much as $20 or more. Couple this with the $40 cost of cleaning the linen, and it becomes unsurprising where hospitals are getting the figures and why they are collecting so much from already insured individuals.

I have had this conversation with some whose counter-argument has been: “well this isn’t happening to me!  I pay $__ per month and I make it work!’  These people crack me up because they assume everyone else must be lying. Yes, all these people who claim that healthcare emergencies or procedures have been financial burdens must be creating these fictional stories simply for the argument’s sake. (Somehow that seems a little bit of a stretch).  These are the same people who you’d expect to say “I’ve never had to shell out thousands to repair a roof, there’s no reason why that should cause you any financial hardship!”  Yes, not everyone has the same experience as you. Quite shocking, really.

Despite the relentless discussions as to who should pay for the uninsured, there should be no debate as to whether the high costs of healthcare should be lowered. Premiums are almost always raised annually, yet salaries are not always inclined to follow these same trends.  Health coverage is rising much faster than inflation, and this is an economic and social problem.  If insurance companies are allowed to continue this act of picking and choosing what -and how much- they will cover, while their CEOs proceed to reap the benefits of billions from our hard-earned money, then this injustice will forever be overlooked.

These health insurance companies have us right where they want us, fighting with each other instead of focusing on the true problem: the monopolizing companies themselves.

          Romney gave a commencement speech at the conservative Liberty University this past weekend, where he made sure to speak about religion for half the allotted time available to him. In a moment that was not uncharacteristic of his inability to take a solid position, he advocated for protection for religious beliefs, and against gay marriage, in the same breath. If we truly have religious protection, and Separation of Church and State, then why is a presidential candidate speaking at a nationally known religiously conservative institution during his campaign?

  “For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%.  But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor.” 

        Firstly, why is he telling college students about the benefits of a high school degree? At this point it’s safe to assume they understand that point. Also, why reinforce the benefits of waiting to have children if you publicly denounce birth control and Planned Parenthood funding. Are you suggesting, dare I say, abstinence? Because we KNOW how well THAT works. I should also point out the ambiguity of the word “poor”, especially when used by someone of Romney’s out-of-touch stature.

     “Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”

        OK, and many people (Liberty University included) feel that Mormonism isn’t really Christianity. What does any of this crap have to do with college graduation?  Shouldn’t we be focusing on jobs and the economy? You know, the “important stuff”, as coined by Mitt, himself.

But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action. “

      Why is he speaking about religious freedom, if he doesn’t believe it in for people outside of his faith? Religious freedom is essential for those who practice Christianity, but for the rest of us, guess we’re on our own. Don’t believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality? Too bad, you have to follow our Christian-based laws. Don’t believe that the Bible’s words should dictate our laws?  Too, bad. See above rule. Freedom of religion only applies to Christians, according to Romney. “Religious liberty” should protect his right to enforce his beliefs on me.  No, you are forbidden by (secular?) law to marry who you love! We demand religious freedom!  The hypocrisy is blinding.

Religious freedom opens a door for Americans that is closed to too many others around the world”

America is better than every other country. This just reminds me of that Planet Fitness commercial where the big muscular guy can only say dumb things like “I lift things up and I put them down“.  Hopefully Mitt will remember how much he enjoys talking about social issues the next time he sees a reporter, instead of falling back on his usual flip-flop fueled position of “let’s focus on the important issues!”

I’m sitting at Starbucks as I write this, and there is a meeting going on next to me about an upcoming party at the Frat House on Willow St. It is apparently some type of fundraising event to raise money for cancer.

Sounds like a good cause, right? Read on, my friend.

The man conducting the meeting is talking to three other people; another middle-aged adult about his age, and two Tulane students – male and female.  The decision maker/team leader is planning the party right down to the amount of alcohol bottles broken down by type, as well as the bands, etc.  It seemed like a harmless event-planning session until he started talking about the women who will help sell the party: “Well put a hot one, one with big breasts, at the front. That will bring in more people. Then we can put another one, maybe a less cute one than the one we put out front…we can put that one behind the bar. It’s always good to have a hot girl selling beer”.

At this point my interest is piqued.  Is this really happening right next to me as I type a paper on group counseling sessions for class?  I continue to listen:

“Well, like, I might have, like, some cute girls that I can ask to work for the night” – says the young girl at the meeting.   Are we talking about prostitution or a party?  I know it’s the friggen Frat House, but come on.

“Do you have any hot girls in your sorority you could ask?” – team leader dude

“No. My sorority, like, is the “ugly sorority”, hehe” – sorority girl.

“Maybe we can ask some chicks from another sorority” – male student with her.

…REALLY??!

The students leave a few minutes later, and the two men pick apart the looks of the sorority girl who met with them. “She’s not a pretty girl, but at least she has a nice body”.  I’m thisclose to throw my iced latte over his balding head.

It’s quite amazing that years of hard work in the feminist movement has gotten us so far, just to have it taken away in a moment like this.    And the most pathetic thing is that this wont phase anyone, and their tactics will work for them. It makes me so angry that this post will end up in cyberspace somewhere; a feminist rant falling on apathetic ears. And their party will do well, due to half-naked “chicks” selling beer in an successful attempt at raising money for cancer.   It will always be a straight man’s world.

Well, Tulane students. Have fun at the Frat House whenever this party happens. It sounds decent for those looking for a cheap drunk.  Buy a $10 tank, get free beer and $1 shots all night. Hell, they even have me advertising for them.

 

 

 

This article was meant to be an April Fool’s joke. It was published on April 2nd. (Is there a certain time allotted for the distribution of April Fool’s jokes? )

Either way, this is awesome. Apparently, Starbucks’ sales skyrocketed after National Organization of Marriage demanded the boycott of their product in response to the company’s outward support of equal marriage.  The satirical article claims that Apple and Microsoft, jealous of Starbucks’ increase in sales, are requesting a boycott of their companies in order to attain the same financial boom.

It is too hilarious that it is financially better for businesses to be boycotted by NOM.

The best quote in the entire piece:

“In 2010 Google began compensating their coupled LGBT employees for the added tax burden that the Defense of Marriage Act creates.”

Oh, the list of  things that would only happen if true equality existed.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/scott-wooledge/microsoft-apple-unite-to-_b_1394821.html