Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Jordan Ulery: 11 Years of Taking Orders From Special Interests

NH State Rep. Jordan Ulery, being interviewed at his 11th ALEC Conference shows why he shouldn't be anywhere near a state budget:

There's no thought for the future, no interest in planning ahead, only an interest in not spending any money. That's their idea of success. This is why NH, the 7th wealthiest state in the nation has the 11th worst infrastructure. 

That Ulery brings the model legislation written by pHARMA, Exxon Mobile, the NRA, or the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation  back to NH and tries to pass them off as something created here at home is shameful. 

Eleven years of taking marching orders from special interests! Bravo, Representative Ulery! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Nation of Petty Vigilantes

Those of us who spend time on social media have seen the Facebook memes about rescuing dogs or babies in cars. They’re followed by outraged comments from the huffy judgment posse vowing they’d happily toss a brick through someone’s window to save the day.

We’ve all become very comfortable with minding other people’s business. It’s one thing to save a dog trapped for a long time in a hot car. It’s another to be a jerk to someone who just ran into the store for a few minutes. Then there are those who call the police when they see unsupervised children walking to the park or (as happened to a friend of mine) standing out in front of their house. A practice called “Free Range Parenting” has become a thing, because of the busybodies that call the police about unsupervised children. Free Range parents allow their kids walk to the corner store or the park unaccompanied. The absence of parental hovering is alarming to many people who appear to have little else to do. 

When I was 8 years old, I rode my bike around town, unsupervised. No one called the police. Kids were expected to play outside and entertain themselves. Over the years adults have become conditioned to fear for their children’s lives if they’re outside alone, even though the likelihood of their being kidnapped by a stranger is almost nonexistent.  (At the same time we bemoan the fact that kids sit inside all day.) Actual crime rates are going down, but the perception of crime is going up.

 The US media is better at mongering fear than providing useful information. If you watch morning shows like “Good Morning America” every day there’s almost always some new, dire warning for parents. The average TV newscast involves ginning up at least one kind of fear. That fear endless stream of fear creates a sort of evil combo plate. Combine the ginned up fear with the kind of isolation caused by the constant ginning up of fear, add a side order of overwhelming feelings of powerlessness, another side of anonymous comment sections, and garnish with a constant stream of celebrity gossip masquerading as news and voila - we become a nation of pissy, petty vigilantes.

Homeless children growing up in shelters? Yawn. We save our collective outrage to comment about on a photo of some celebrity dad who puts his kid in a backpack or a car seat the wrong way. Cecil the lion’s death created more outrage than the fact that none of the Wall St. bankers who destroyed the economy went to prison.

WMUR’s website is filled with stories from all over the country that have one specific purpose – feeding the outrage machine. As a result, anonymous commenters leave hundreds of comments about stories they have almost no information on. They all think they’re Sherlock Holmes, but they’re more like Nancy Grace. Those of us who followed the story of a local teen who was missing for a long time read all kinds of terrible comments (before and after she was found) from anonymous comment section vigilantes, eager to pass judgment. It’s awful that she and her family were subjected to that.

At a different place on the outrage spectrum, not everyone who is charged with a crime is prosecuted. The gossipmongers-passing-for-media write huge front-page stories sensationalizing an arrest, and the comment section quarterbacks write hateful comments. They don’t stop there. They harass people on social media, and that harassment can move into the real lives of the falsely accused. Those same media outlets never write big front-page retractions about dropped charges or exonerations. They are unconcerned about being complicit in ruining lives. Sensationalism sells.

This is playing out in our presidential primary. Donald Trump is one of the pissiest, pettiest celebrities on the planet. He believes he’s uniquely qualified to judge women’s looks, and has had plenty to say about them. He churlishly offers up his judgments even though no one has asked for them. In a culture where the most untalented and meaningless of celebrities are lionized by media, he’s the logical end result. He spent years saying that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US. Is it any surprise that he’s announced that all Mexicans are criminals and rapists? He’s the darling of the GOP base. They love him for “speaking his mind.” (So does drunk Uncle Joe at Christmas, but no one wants him to run for president.) How far do we really think Trumpelistiltskin would have gone in life if he hadn’t been born into a wealthy family?

Bernie Sanders is in trouble for not caving in to the gossip media. He was asked about Hillary’s hair over the weekend, and was a bit curt with the reporter about being asked this inane question. Now some folks are miffed that he didn’t answer this Big Important Feminist Question about Hillary’s hair. He talks a lot about income inequality. As a woman who has been paid less than male counterparts in a few workplaces, that’s more important to me than Hillary’s hair, or what Bernie Sanders thinks about Hillary’s hair. Bernie has a stellar voting record on women’s issues. Instead of being asked about his record, he gets asked about hair. It’s enough to make you weep.

 The thing about answering those kinds of questions is that it only encourages the mainstream media to ask more of them. Where are the questions about the $8.5 trillion the Pentagon can’t account for? The Pentagon has never been audited. It gets a huge chunk of our taxpayer dollars, but we are completely unconcerned by what they’re doing with all that money. We’d rather give some poor single mother the stinkeye for buying her kids some sweets with a SNAP card. After all, she’s a moocher wasting our tax dollars! That the Pentagon is the world’s biggest moocher doesn’t occur to them. They don’t know about it, because it’s never mentioned on the nightly news. Reporters aren’t asking about it, because they have important questions about hair. It pales in comparison to crucial issues like “deflategate.”

We deserve President Trump.


published as an op-ed in the August 21, 2015 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper 

Saturday, August 08, 2015

GOP Women? You Built This

Now that the Donald has insulted Megyn Kelly of Fox News, the women of the GOP are finally getting a little miffed at his misogyny. They've ignored it for years. Trumpelstiltskin has said a gazillion terrible things about women. They didn't care when it was Rosie O'Donnell. They didn't care when it was NY Times writer Gail Collins. They didn't care LAST MONTH when he referred to a lawyer who needed to pump breast milk for her baby as "disgusting." 

The doughty women of the GOP happily turned ignored all of it until he insulted a Fox News "reporter." After all, the Fox news audience is the GOP voter bloc. Angry old white guys. 

All of a sudden the women of the NH GOP are outraged, as we see in this story in the Boston Globe .

In New Hampshire, home to the nation’s earliest presidential primary, the state’s leading Republican women called Trump’s comments improper, “I don’t think women in New Hampshire will appreciate them,” said US Senator Kelly Ayotte.
“Megyn Kelly is an intelligent, educated, successful professional woman, and Donald Trump’s comments were out of line and unacceptable,” said the New Hampshire Republican Party’s chairwoman, Jennifer Horn. “There is a big difference between not being politically correct and being disrespectful, and [Thursday] night Donald Trump was being disrespectful to women.”
One More 
Fran Wendelboe, a longtime New Hampshire Republican official who has had regular contact with Trump’s operation for years, predicted his comments about women will hurt his campaign and hurt the GOP. 
“He is saying these things at a time when the Republican Party has an opportunity to reach out to women in 2016,” Wendelboe said. 
“There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to turn people off,” she said. “But then again, I thought that about his comment that McCain not being a war hero, and I was wrong.”
Jennifer Horn NH GOP Chair, has ignored all manner of sexist commentary from NH GOP men. She didn't say boo about Rep. Peter Hansen of Amherst referring to women as "vaginas" back in 2013. When NH GOP Executive Director Matt Mowers tweeted out insulting remarks about Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Mrs. Horn was silent. She had nothing to say about sexist emails sent out on the NH House list serve by Jordan Ulery and Gary Hopper. Not a peep out of Mrs. Horn when State Rep. Will Infantine announced on the House floor that "men are more motivated" workers than women. Horn remained silent when Rep. Gary Hopper blamed working women for breaking up families.
As for Fran Wendelboe - step into the wayback machine, and travel with me all the way to .....last month:
With Donald Trump’s entry into the race, he is the new golden boy, as a straight talker unafraid to be boxed in by political correctness. 
Only last month, the Donald was a straight talker and a golden boy. How quickly that changed, eh, Fran??
Both Horn and Wendelboe have turned a blind eye to the misogynist men of the GOP insulting women for years. Now, suddenly they're clutching their pearls because he insulted Megyn Kelly. Their hypocrisy is nauseating. 
As for the pearl clutching, I have no sympathy. Not an iota. You let this happen, women of the GOP. You turned a blind eye - and now you're paying for it. You built this. 

Friday, August 07, 2015


Jeb! Bush recently spoke at the Send North America conference, a large evangelical gathering. Jeb! said he wasn’t sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues. His handlers have been getting tons of aerobic exercise trying to backpedal on that statement. It’s not wise to be so honest about the fact that women are regarded as the disposable gender. Jeb! and the rest of the GOP candidates have seized on defunding Planned Parenthood as a way to stand out from the rest of the pack (who all have identical ideology) and ride to the White House on a wave of loathing for women. Oh, wait – those loathers call themselves “pro-life.” The only “life” they care about is that of an imaginary fetus. Once it becomes real, they lose interest in it. They certainly have no interest in making sure it has access to health care, food, housing, or education.

Jeb! distinguished himself when he was Governor of Florida, by defunding Planned Parenthood.  He further burnished his fauxlife cred by getting involved in the end of life decisions of the Schiavo family. The fauxlifers don’t usually bother much with the born, until the end of their lives approaches. They really love a chance to get involved in a big right-to-die situation, and especially if the patient involved is female. Terry Schiavo wasn’t the only one. Remember Karen Ann Quinlan or Nancy Cruzan? More recently the fauxlife crowd scored a twofer, by trying to force the family of Marlise Munoz to keep her on life support. Munoz was ghoulishly kept on life support, against the wishes of her family, for two months because she was pregnant when she died. Fauxlifers are also intent on making sure we all suffer as much as possible rather than choose to end our own lives with medical assistance in the event of a terminal illness.

Some anti-abortion terrorists doctored some videotapes about Planned Parenthood, and now the GOP is using this as another weapon in the ongoing war against women. It’s the equivalent of Jimmy “the pimp” O’Keefe’s highly edited sting against ACORN. You remember ACORN – the community based organization that advocated for health care, housing, and voter registration in low and moderate-income neighborhoods. ACORN was completely destroyed by those fake videos. By the time they were exonerated, the damage had been done. In August of 2013 Congress was gearing up for a 13th vote to defund ACORN. ACORN had been defunct for 3 years at the time. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they’re STILL voting on ACORN. They’ve voted 56 times to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, and there’s talk of another vote in the fall.

The Planned Parenthood videos are similar in that respect. Highly edited, for the most emotional possible ginning up of the fauxlifers. Planned Parenthood is selling body parts of the BAYBEEZ!  It’s not true, but truth doesn’t matter to this crowd.  These people don’t care that some BAYBEEZ grow up to be homeless, or hungry, or get lead poisoned as the result of a sleazy slumlord. They’ll vote against any kind of funding to protect children and families. They’ll vote against “inconveniencing” landlords by forcing them to eliminate lead paint from their buildings. After all, landlords are in business! Congressmen and Senators who can’t lift a finger to do anything that needs doing in the US House or Senate have all kinds of energy to spare for interfering in women’s lives. They are desperate to ensure that low and moderate-income women have even fewer health care options.

Imagine how much better things would be going here in the USA if these elected officials were interested in finding a way to repair our failing state and national infrastructures. Roads and bridges aren’t sexy, we are told. (Apparently making women’s reproductive decisions IS sexy.) What if our alleged leaders were all about finding a way to be competitive in telecommunications infrastructure? The US ranks far behind other countries in terms of internet speed, connectivity, and the availability of public wifi. South Korea has the fastest internet speed and the cheapest prices in the world. The best speeds that consumers can buy in major US cities are half as fast, and cost $300 a month. One would think that the boosters of “American exceptionalism” would be interested in ensuring that there is, in fact, such a thing. One would be wrong. As long as we have more guns, sell more weapons, and have the biggest war machine, we are exceptional. The country is falling apart, but hey – we can force women to serve as involuntary incubators! USA! USA!

In Texas, Governor Smart Glasses and the Texas legislature cut the state’s family planning budget by 2/3 as a way of “wiping out the abortion industry.” They succeeded in closing 53 women’s health clinics around the state. Not a one of those clinics that closed performed abortions. All those closings succeed in doing is to make it harder for women to access screenings and health services. The other unspoken goal is to ensure that women don’t have access to contraception, either. After all, he who has control of women’s reproductive decisions has control of women’s lives.

In civilized countries, women’s health and reproductive decisions are their own business. In civilized countries, there is universal health care, family leave, subsidized childcare, and no wage gap for women. In civilized countries children don’t die every day because they found a gun in the bedroom. This is another issue that shows the fauxlifers for what they are. They don’t have any problem accepting the idea that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of infants and children.

Women having bodily autonomy is unacceptable. Guns and moar gunz? Now that’s REAL freedom.

Published as an oped in the Conway Daily Sun newspaper on August 7, 2015

Monday, August 03, 2015