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An Election Day Plea

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It’s the day of the election. You’re probably tired of reading yet another post about why it’s so important that every one of us eligible voters vote in this election. Several excellent bloggers have already told you why on this site, and I risk repeating some of their points.

But on the off chance that you think it doesn’t matter, or that it’s in the bag (don’t you dare!), or that one more vote will never make a difference, or whatever reason you’ve come up with to write it off, please take one more minute to reflect, and rethink.

If you care about women, either because you are one, came out of one, or love one, consider the loss of autonomy—literally, the loss of rights. Because reproductive rights are fundamental rights. Maybe you’re not in the childbearing demographic, maybe you’re queer and rarely or never need birth control, maybe you’re set for life and feel it doesn’t concern you. Think about other people, and stick up for them. Especially if you’re queer because damn it, other people have stuck up for you, including a helluva lot of women. It’s time to pay up. Some of us know well the term “fragile and reversible”. That’s what hard-fought rights are, and that is what’s on the line today.

If you still don’t get just how badly reproductive rights have been under attack, just look at one basic statistic, the image above.

 

Election after election, we wonder how it can get any worse, and then it does. No matter what you thought of 2000 or 2004 or 2008, this is not politics as usual. You’ve seen the gif going around about remembering to set your clocks back Sunday, but on Tuesday “be careful that you don’t set the country back 50 years”? Don’t laugh. The movement in the Republican Party that believes people have their places is strong; and for women, that place is to serve the natural superiority of men. We like to think we’re way past that. We’re not. There is no other reason for so many GOP politicians to claim so earnestly that they they’ve struggled with it, but when the sperm meets the egg, the resulting multiplications immediately take precedence over the body housing that communion. Regardless of how they got there. Bodily autonomy simply doesn’t matter, no matter what those politicians say.

Don’t look for lies, because these people believe what they’re saying. For the most part, they do not believe they’re disrespecting women’s autonomy. They believe they’re respecting women’s dependence. The double standard (“but what if it was you?”) is unfathomable, and therefore inconsequential. It’s un-American to deprive citizens of their individual autonomy, but they don’t see it that way because, well, liberalism offers them that pesky public/private sphere loophole. We have yet to accept fully that what happens in the home is political, too. So we keep fighting these battles that waste our energy and resources, but to give up is to lose basic rights, or to lose the ground we’ve fought so hard to gain. I imagine this is an unthinkable prospect to anyone who cares about women’s rights and LGBT rights.

The autonomy they want to deprive women of bleeds through to gay rights, make no mistake. The conservatives gunning for power want to be able to tell people how to live their lives, including what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Trying to deprive women of the right to abort, or of the right to the contraception of her choice is directly related to queer rights that allow sexually similar bodies to commingle. They’re the same people who want to repeal gay rights, bring back Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, and cut funding for HIV programs. Justice Scalia doesn’t believe the Constitution covers abortion or private sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex (to be clear, that liberalism loophole is all about heteronormativity). They’re not too crazy about the Civil Rights Act, either. Want to deprive African Americans of the right to sit at the counter of your diner? Rand Paul thinks maybe, yeah, since you know, it’s your diner. They want to legislate morality, and the morality they want to legislate just so happens to be theirs. Yes, laws are linked to morality, but they are not one and the same. And laws are supposed to protect those who are not like the majority.

So who needs protecting: the business owner, or the African American coming for a cup of coffee? Maybe we’re not in immediate danger of the Rand Pauls rolling back civil rights to that degree, though I sure don’t want to find out. But the woman who absolutely will not, no matter the obstacles and risks, carry to term the fetus that she never intended on having? The man whose partner died and whose family is challenging the custody of his children? The woman who cannot be at the hospital bedside of her partner because she’s not “family”? These events continue to happen today, and if the GOP gets in the White House, you can look forward to more of it. SCOTUS is on the table. Romney has made it clear, in words and actions, how he feels about gay parents. They’re not legit. And he’s made it clear that despite his own wife’s illnesses, he doesn’t think gay people should have the same rights his marriage afforded him. The man has no empathy because he doesn’t think gay people are covered under the “all men are created equal” concept the country was founded on. I don’t care what he has said in the past. He’s made his position on these particular subjects clear enough in this campaign.

This is where, though I’m not normally into shaming, I have to say that both Log Cabin Republicans and GOPRoud need therapy for the degree of self-loathing they’re exhibiting. If they’re so into protecting their pocketbooks, they’d be smarter about which candidate provides the best chance for a recovering economy. But even if they honestly believe the Romney/Ryan economic plan, such as it is, would benefit everyone, it doesn’t matter when you’re rights are taken away from you or your loved ones. We’ve been aware of this at least since Vito Russo chastised gay Republicans decades ago. If you’re still in doubt, read this excellent post by Kergan Edwards-Stout on why he got to the point of defriending those voting against his rights.

You want the truth? Don’t look to Romney, because his track record of lies is never-ending. Don’t look to the GOP, because they can’t handle the truth. They are still pushing the tired, debunked trickle-down theory that Reaganites used to justify tax breaks, and when non-partisan research comes out proving that they only help line the pockets of the already-rich, they suppress it. It’s a travesty and we should be outraged. But then again, so is their flouting of conflicts of interest when it comes to who owns voting machines in swing states. It won’t be the first time they’ve boasted that they will “deliver” the state to their candidate through such means. Why are we standing for this? Why are we standing for a candidate who lies about sending jobs overseas and who, in the midst of those lies, benefits so hugely from corporate welfare and from the same bailout he criticizes? If you’re still unconvinced, perhaps Reagan budget director David Stockman’s assessment of Romney’s job eliminations will help.

Let’s face it, both parties can play dirty. It’s politics, after all. Best not to ask how laws and sausages are made. I lived in Chicago for several years, and I’ve seen polling locations switched on Election Day when the incumbent suspected he’d lose, among other voter suppression maneuvers. It’s not a myth that when a ward didn’t deliver an election, some streets didn’t get potholes fixed or snow plowed. Those were just the realities of living in a machine-run city, and they’re not even particularly egregious examples of shady Chicago politics.

But what we’ve seen in the last four years is not politics as usual. For me, the most obvious evidence is the abuse of the filibuster. Complain all you want that Harry Reid is ineffective. The fact is, the Senate Republicans have engaged in a conspiracy to grind its business to a halt. Legislation that should require passage by a simple majority now requires a super majority—every single one, or it will be filibustered. They have effectively held the Senate hostage in opposition to how the founders had intended the houses of Congress to work, and that is quite clear. It is unprecedented in the history of the United States, and it is the overriding reason that the art of bipartisan politicking has gone out the window. It is not because of the Democrats. It is because of the Republicans, and it’s your country and your rights that are stake. They are not interested in protecting the rights of the minority. They have ostracized the moderates in their own party, to the point that group think is a requirement. Their behavior implies that they’re not big believers in democracy.

The second most obvious way politics has overtly changed for the worst is the acceleration of voter suppression strategies in swing states, from voter roll “purges” and lying (or not) about requiring voter IDs (which hits Democrats particularly hard) to shortening voting days and hours. If you’re curious about these developments, tune into The Rachel Maddow Show. She’s been covering this story for months. It is so blatantly undemocratic that it’s hard to believe these people consider themselves proud Americans. (I know. It’s not, really, but it should be.)

Obama is by no means perfect, but considering the brick wall he has been up against, he has been remarkably effective. I do not agree with all of his policies, and have to laugh at those who insist he’s a Socialist. But I didn’t expect miracles, because it quickly became clear what he was up against in the last presidential election. He has shown real spine in the face of a party full of racists who are not content until his every move is thwarted, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for that. The GOP is wholly uninterested in cooperation, and has stated as such. One cannot judge the effectiveness of the administration without taking into account the GOP’s radical use of the filibuster. I believe that if Obama manages to win re-election (despite voter suppression), and if we can fix the broken filibuster, he might accomplish great things for the American people in the next four years. For me, it’s that, or it’s turning the clock back to the 1950s. If that prospect doesn’t scare the hell out of you, you’re not paying attention. The choice has never been clearer.

So if you’re reading this on November 6th and haven’t voted yet, what are you waiting for?

Joanne Kalogeras grew up outside of Chicago. She studied political philosophy at the University of Chicago before engaging in various and sundry other occupations, including a long stint in software development. San Francisco is her home, but she is currently residing in London where she is finishing her doctoral thesis on cosmopolitan theory at the London School of Economics’ Gender Institute.

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Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’

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If you are hired to work in Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s office on Capitol Hill there is a 37-page memo you’ll want to read detailing all the responsibilities her staffers are required to perform, from getting her groceries, calling Verizon and going to her D.C. home to wait for a repair person if the internet goes out, scheduling massages, and ensuring her very detailed airplane requirements are met.

“It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight,” the memo says, as The Daily Beast first reported in December.

But now a group of 13 non-profit organizations have joined to file an ethics complaint against Senator Sinema (I-AZ), a new Daily Beast report reveals Friday, including details from that 37-page memo which the newly-independent lawmaker directed to be drawn up. Dated Thursday, the complaint is titled: “Letter to Senate Ethics Committee Regarding Reports of Sinema Abusing Taxpayer Dollars.”

“Senate Ethics guidelines stipulate that staff should not be asked to perform personal errands for members. This is an unambiguous ethical boundary,” the group’s complaint reads.

READ MORE: Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report

It also points to that 37-page memo, which it says, “indicates that staff are required, as a condition of their jobs, to carry out numerous tasks that are outside the scope of public employment, including doing personal errands for the Senator, carrying out household tasks at her private residence, and advancing their own funds for her personal purchases. It makes unreasonably precise scheduling demands, and former staff have confirmed some of the allegations.”

The allegations continue.

“And, most troubling, it calls on staff members, who are employed and paid by the public and explicitly barred from campaign activity, to schedule and facilitate political fundraisers and meetings with campaign donors, presumably during the workday while they are on the clock and physically on federal property.”

“Senate staff are prohibited under your guidelines from engaging in political activity ‘on Senate time, using Senate equipment or facilities.’ While you have not prohibited campaign activity outside work hours, the plain language of the memo clearly implies that Sen. Sinema expects her staff to carry out these scheduling tasks during the workday. And these tasks may separately violate Senate Rule 41.1, which explicitly prohibits Senate employees from ‘solicit[ing]’ campaign funds.”

READ MORE: ‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories

The complaint also alleges that “Sen. Sinema required her staff to schedule three physical therapy and massage sessions a week related to her training for athletic competitions, and to tightly manage her dietary schedule — while allotting only a 30-minute period on Wednesdays for meetings with the constituents she represents.”

The carefully-worded complaint adds, “the allegations paint a picture of a Senator who is not only unresponsive to her constituents, but also disrespectful and even abusive to her employees and wholly unconcerned about her obligations under the law.”

The Daily Beast has posted a copy of the complaint here.

You can read The Beast’s full report here.

 

 

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Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report

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When he left for Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. George Santos also appears to have left a string of unpaid traffic violation fines and fees in two states, including red light, double parking, and overtime parking citations totaling thousands of dollars.

The embattled serial liar and freshman New York GOP lawmaker “may owe more than $3,400 in unpaid citations, according to records from New York City and Florida,” CBS News reports.

Included in that total is $1,299.10 from Florida for toll violations that “racked up late fees and were ultimately sent to collections agencies.”

READ MORE: George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation

It appears that in November of 2016, as soon as he got his New York driver’s license after having one in Florida, a car previously ticket via a red light camera whose plates match one registered to Santos “began piling up citations in New York City — 29 in the next two and a half years, according to city government records, which do not identify the drivers of vehicles being ticketed.”

“More than $1,800 in payments were made for 17 citations, but another 12 remain unpaid, with $2,142.61 still due, according to city records.”

CBS News also points to a New York Post report from January revealing “a Nissan Rogue driven frequently by Santos in recent months had been issued speeding tickets at least five times since he was elected on Nov. 8, ‘including four times in school zones.'”

Santos is under numerous state and federal investigations that span the gamut from campaign finance to allegedly stolen charity funds donated to save the life of a veteran’s service dog. The dog died after the vet could not afford to pay for the operation.

READ MORE: ‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories

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‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories

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House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is pushing baseless conspiracy theories about the Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon floating over the United States – currently, over Montana – that the Pentagon is tracking, and he’s being widely mocked for his unfounded fear-mongering.

Fox News host Harris Faulkner set the stage perfectly for the far-right Republican from Kentucky, declaring the balloon is “the size of three buses” and that “China says was taken by wind – wind that we can’t substantiate.”

The Kentucky congressman who has falsely described President Biden as “compromised,” and stated he is going to target and investigate him, told Faulkner, “I have concern this is going to be another example of the Biden administration’s weakness on the national scale.”

READ MORE: ‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

Comer, 50, a former agriculture commissioner, lamented about Biden’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, claiming it hurt the reputation of America’s military and Commander in Chief.

The balloon, he said, should “never have been allowed” to cross over into the United States.

“My concern is that the federal government doesn’t know what’s in that balloon. Is that bioweapons in that balloon? Did that balloon take off from Wuhan?” he asked, pushing unfounded theories while echoing the far-right’s false claims the COVID-19 virus was developed as a bioweapon and escaped the lab in Wuhan, China.

After suggesting it might have bioweapons, he then said it was “very concerning” the balloon was not shot down before reaching the U.S. – which could have spread the alleged bioweapon.

Faulkner, seen by some as a propagandist, then jumped in to exhibit her surprise that “people on Capitol Hill were not briefed” about the balloon.

READ MORE: Trump Spent 2020 Attacking Ballot Drop Boxes – but Now He’s Demanding They Be Deployed in Churches

“Calling for the president to ‘shoot down’ the craft,” The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona adds, “some in the GOP called the president ‘Beijing Biden’ while claiming this is further proof that ‘Communist China’ doesn’t ‘fear or respect’ Biden.”

“Honestly,” communications strategist Doug Gordon noted, “just surprised he didn’t find a way to include Hunter’s laptop into that conspiracy theory.”

“Actually, he did later on,” Baragona replied.

National security expert Denver Riggleman, the Republican former U.S. Congressman from Virginia who assisted the Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, tweeted: “Bioweapons? FFS”

Referring to Comer’s unfounded bioweapons claim, one Twitter user observed, “Isn’t that more reason not to shoot at it? I’m not saying I know what to do, but logic would dictate ‘don’t shoot at balloons full of bioweapons.’ Right?”

Another noted that the Oversight Chairman should have been listening to the Pentagon’s briefing “taking place now instead of running to get on Fox to talk about something he has no expertise in.”

READ MORE: ‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History

And yet another, wholly mocking Comer, who holds far-right anti-LGBTQ beliefs, said: “Or worse, what if it has woke trans undocumented drag queen athletes?”

Another, mocking Comer, noted: “If they were sending a bio weapon, why would they park it over sparsely populated Montana? *rolls eyes*”

Watch the video above or at this link.

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