Monday, October 13, 2014

Ohio November 2014 Ballot Information - Candidates and Local Issues

Check out the League of Women Voters site for your state to get local candidate & issues information! 


It's mid-October and it's long past time I educated myself on all the candidates who are running
this November, not just the Governor's race and a few other familiar candidates for office.

The sad part is that it took a very bad a campaign commercial to make me realize that I'm behind on researching candidates. It seems David Pepper is doing the usual failing upwards bit and challenging Mike DeWine for Attorney General of Ohio. Good Lord - are these really my choices? With options like these we need a "No Confidence" option.

In every election year since pretty much the Internet, I've been using the League of Women Voter's website to educate myself on candidates and issues.

I couldn't find the information for the Ohio 2014 November Election on the old Smart Voter website. Now I see that LWV Ohio has a new fancy setup, but  to me it's a bit creepy because they require your exact address to get voting info where before they used to only ask for your zip code. And they do not explain at all what they do with this info or make their privacy policy plain. I called them and the lady who answered the phone put me on hold briefly and then she said she asked their Executive Director, who assured her that the info is used only to personalize ballot info and that's it. I really hope so, but it would be nice to have that in writing on the site.

At any rate, I decided I better get busy researching the rest of the candidates, and not feeling comfortable with the LWVO, I did a Google search for Ohio Ballot Information and turned up the Ohio Secretary of State John Husted's "Whats On the Ballot" website with information on General Election Candidates and Local Issues.

If I didn't know any better, I'd say they really don't much care about people having this information. The downloads they have with lists of who's running are only available as badly formatted Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. I wouldn't use them for my college homework let alone for an official website that's supposed to inform voters about their candidates. It's really pathetic. I'm appreciating LWVO a lot more about right now.

I took the liberty of cleaning up the spreadsheets a bit and making them into PDF's that can be viewed  and also downloaded at the following links.

Ohio November 2014 Candidates
PDF View or Download (13 Pages Letter Size)

Ohio November 2014 Local Ballot Issues
PDF View or Download (50 Pages Legal Size)

Seriously, if I can do it, you'd think the Secretary of State could hire someone who could do that as well. At any rate, here's the basic info about who's running in Ohio and local issues. I guess we'll have to do the rest of the research on each candidate ourselves. Or you can go to the League of Women Voter's website for your state and trust that they only have good intentions with your address.

Either way, get informed and get out and vote.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Making the Case for Reparations - Blackness as a Financial Liability

I've never really given much thought to black people being given reparations for slavery, or the Jim Crow despite having family members who lived during both eras.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has taken a lot of heat for his article that does make the case for reparations to black people, not only for slavery but for the discrimination we endure to this day. He does so in a matter of fact manner that does not even question whether such discrimination is in evidence which, to my mind, is half the battle.

But lately, there's an interesting case that hit the news that seems to make the case for reparations as well Ta-Nehisi Coates. (I had no idea how to pronounce his name, having only ever seen it in print and never heard it pronounced. Well you can check out his episode on "The Colbert Report" and hear him talk about reparations and learn to say his name correctly.)

I'm referring to the case of the white lesbian parents who were mistakenly given the sperm of a black donor, resulting in the birth of a child who is "bi-racial."

One of the mom's is suing saying that the birth of this bi-racial child is causing them economic hardship. The very fact of this child being black is determining where they will live due to discrimination in their own community. This has the potential to change where they will work, what family members they can associate with. Even such a small thing as getting this child's hair done is causing them additional expense for travel to further neighborhoods and additional cost and learning - and therefore they expect to be compensated for the economic loss as well as the emotional issues they did not expect for merely being associated with blackness.

As I read the "complaint" from the mom in the lawsuit it dawned on me that what she's referring to is what we call "The Black Tax." Despite consistently being paid less than our white peers, life is more expensive when you're black.

But the mother in the lawsuit is claiming that blackness is putting her at a disadvantage in a society that is mostly white. If merely being associated with blackness is putting her at a disadvantage, how much more is actually being black in a majority white society a disadvantage?

If this woman is compensated for merely being associated with blackness, shouldn't black people be compensated for actually being black?

It seems to me like she's coming in on the tail end of centuries of oppression and demanding compensation for something that she never even experienced. But being a lesbian woman, she knew about oppression and bigotry but she chose to live in a community where those "values" were reinforced. Having a black child makes that impossible and she expects money to make up for it.

I wonder if this woman realizes that she's telling millions of black people that what we're experiencing and saying is not only real, but deserves financial compensation.

I hope she wins her lawsuit - if so, she has kicked a door wide open for every black person to be compensated for the discrimination we have suffered through and been oppressed by.

It's not 40 acres and a mule, but it would be a good start.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Racism is the new Four Letter Word

I shocked a black woman yesterday by telling her that occasionally I blog about racism.

She visibly startled, as if I had said "boo". But  as I spoke, she quickly recovered and shook her head in agreement that yes, racism is an issue that still needs to be addressed.

But I realized, I had struck a nerve.

I spend a lot of time on the internet so I'm used to the denial and outright anger when the word "racism" comes up. White people immediately internalize that word and they do not hear "something someone said or did was racist." What they hear is, "I am white. Are you calling me a racist? How dare you? I'm not a racist. If I were we wouldn't be having this conversation." And on and on until they are sufficiently certain that they are not personally being called out on racist behavior or actions.

To talk about racism to a white person who is inexperienced at addressing matters of race is an exercise in tedium. Because first they have to exonerate themselves. They must make sure that they are not included, they have to make sure that the rules against generalizing about white people are being followed - that is, if there is one white person who is the exception to the rule against millions who fall under the umbrella of what's being discussed then the caveat must be given - "You can't say all white people, because that's just raci...I mean wrong."

It's also helpful if to white people to discuss racial issues without using the words "race" or "racism". To discuss anything to do with *whispering* black people. Political correctness and the corporate boardroom have given us words to use to discuss race without ever saying the words Black or Asian or Latino. All you have to do is talk about "diversity."

"Our organization is diverse." "We embrace diversity." Which can mean anything from we have a rainbow coalition to we don't push women down the stairs. At best it means, "We find that having different people from different backgrounds gives our company an edge." At worst it means, "We realize that hiring only white people makes us look bad."

What I hadn't realized is that using the word "racism" has become taboo among black people as well. We have learned to use all the euphemisms. We have learned to describe racism in individual acts of hatred rather than an overall and collective system of oppression.

We have learned that "racism" has been reduced to something akin to "bullying." And as we are constantly told, bulling is an increasing problem but it's up to the "victims" to fight back. As long as they do so in ways that are constructive.

There's always a caveat, isn't there? There's always a "way" to discuss these issues so as not to make anyone feel bad.

Except for the person who already does.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

GOP: You Created This Mess. Fix It.

Prisoner Deal
Posted on Jun 8, 2014
Adam Zyglis, Cagle Cartoons, The Buffalo News

Once, in the bad old days of politics, we could always count on Republicans to parrot the wrong side of an issue but do the right thing for America as a whole. Slowly and in their own time, sometimes dragged kicking and screaming, but eventually, they would do what was right.

That changed with the advent of the Tea Party. The Republican Party invited and promoted into their party a group that they can't even rightly be called right-wing. They're just Haters.

Spurred on by the Fox Network, The Tea Party hate anyone and anything that does not represent all that is  white and conservative, straight and male. They despise anyone who does not espouse the most narrow view and interpretations possible of Evangelical Christianity. Most importantly, they truly disavow nearly all forms of government that do not include mob rule and anarchy. Worst of all, they simply cannot tolerate and any idea that a nation that supports each other is better than a nation of individuals left to sink or swim on their own.

Eric Cantor's defeat has taught the Republican Party nothing. The GOP are blaming his loss on their inability to correctly read the polls. There, they have a point, considering their faith in an inevitable Romney presidency that was fueled merely by numbers pulled out Karl Rove's ample backside.

Just as with the failed Romney campaign, the GOP will believe any reason for losing except the truth. The GOP want to claim that supporting immigration reform was Cantor's undoing. Or that Cantor was trying to be "all things to all people," as if partisianship in office is now mandatory, rather than trying to find consensus.

Believing their own hype is not their greatest conservative failing by far.

The greatest failing of Boehner's GOP is buying into an ideology that they don't even believe in, just to get votes. You'd have to go a long way to prove to me that John Boehner truly hates black people, gays or thinks that women shouldn't have autonomy over their own bodies. I don't think John Boehner much gives a damn about immigration, legal or illegal.

But espousing the poverty of those ideals keeps the likes of Boehner in office and wields what meagre power he holds as a human on this planet. What he and the others of his ilk in the Republican Party are doing is far worse than parroting or pushing a conservative agenda because they believe in it. They push an agenda of white male patriarichal supremacy for their own personal gain, power and money.

It would be easy to say that John Boener believes in male white supremacy because, obviously, he is white and male. Supporting the power structure would make sense for him, right? But the truth is, it's not that simple and John Boehner no more believes in male white supremacy than I do.

No, what he and the GOP do is worse than the base racism and treachery of any Tea Partier simply because while the average Tea Partier should know better and doesn't, Boehner does.

Boehner's GOP does what Republicans have done since the advent of the Southern Strategy:  they use and abuse their ignorant, mostly white followers and do it for votes, power and money.

They have sold out America for their own personal gain. It's really that simple. It's beyond treason, it's evil. Their strategy worked for several decades, but now it's failing badly. The dog they brought in to guard the house is turning on the family.

  • The Tea Party doesn't just want to talk about slavery, they want to prove black people were better off as slaves.
  • The Tea Party doesn't want to talk about securing the borders, they want the right to shoot people as they cross.
  • The Tea Party doesn't want to acknowledge gay marriage, they want to challenge the idea of gay people having the right to exist.
  • The Tea Party doesn't want to talk about abortion or even birth control, they want women to surrender their rights at puberty.Most of all, the Tea Party doesn't "want their country back", as they are so fond of saying. They want to destroy The United States of America, from the inside out: infrastructure, schools, healthcare, and any vestige of the social saftey net.
The Tea Party are not patriots. They're not "civil libertarians." They are traitors to the ideals of "Liberty and Justice for all," not the privileged, male, white few. None of their ideas are acceptable if this country is to have any sort of future that does include us becoming a third-world backwater.

The Tea Party can only further destroy, not only America, but whatever remains of a sharply divided Republican Party. Cantor's defeat proves that. It's long past time that the Republican Party did what was right and ousted the Tea Party and their racist, sexist, anti-American ideals from their ranks.

The old guard Democrats also have a responsibility to support the GOP's efforts by ousting the "Blue Dogs" and "DINOS (Democrats In Name Only) from their ranks. Democrats will have to move from their current position that is actually just right of center and move back to the actual left. This will give Republicans room to move back to more centrist positions.

The Republican Party can only divorce the Tea Party by doing what is right for all the rest of us. The only reasonable course for conservatives is to lend their support to each and every progressive ideal; to redefine their positions to levels that that they can live with, but that the Tea Party cannot. Then and only then will the GOP be able to shake off the dust of their past, secure the future of their party, while also securing the ideals of liberty this country was founded upon.

Then and only then will the Republican party have a future at all.