Home » Civil Rights

Category: Civil Rights


When some­one asks, “Is (X place) acces­si­ble?” the answer is “no” if there are any stairs involved in get­ting there. It doesn’t mat­ter if every­thing inside X is on one level but there are three “lit­tle” steps at the front door, or “just one flight of stairs out front.” Those “lit­tle” steps aren’t so lit­tle for those using scooter and wheel­chairs. The answer is also “no” if there is no wholly acces­si­ble bath­room near the main area. 

Just once, I’d like to arrive some­where to find a place truly acces­si­ble instead of hav­ing some­one who’d claimed acces­si­bil­ity say, “Oh, I didn’t think about those lit­tle steps!” or “But that’s just one flight of stairs!” or some such stu­pid thing. Even though I hap­pen to be able to walk most of the time, if I’m using my scooter, there’s a rea­son for it. If I were to get off of it to walk up those few steps, where am I to store the scooter? 1 Plenty of other peo­ple can­not walk up those steps. 

Why choose an inac­ces­si­ble place of busi­ness, any­way? Why are builders con­tin­u­ing to build inac­ces­si­ble res­i­dences? It isn’t expen­sive to build in acces­si­bil­ity in the first place, com­pared to ren­o­vat­ing for acces­si­bil­ity. Has all the talk of the aging of Amer­ica meant noth­ing with regards to home design? 

Every­one is just tem­porar­ily abled in the long run, any­way. If you buy or build a house, it pays to go ahead and con­sider whether or not it would still suit you if you were injured in some man­ner. Could you get around on crutches or in a chair? If (shock­ing thought) you were to want to enter­tain some­one who uses mobil­ity devices to get around, could that per­son even get in your front door? Any door? I’ve lived in places where the answer would be a resound­ing “No!” and even if we got the poor soul in through, say, the garage, she couldn’t get up to the liv­ing areas. 

1 A sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment.

The Hateful Tea Party, Its True Origins, and President Obama’s Accomplishments

I was chal­lenged in com­ments on a friend’s Face­book wall yes­ter­day “provide us with a speci­fic exam­ple of Tea Party hate ful (sic) speach and some thing good that Pres­i­dent Obama has done for our coun­try.” The com­menters there also claimed that “THE TEA PARTY HAS NO REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS” and seemed to be under the impres­sion that it is a grass roots move­ment, which is a claim friends of mine have also made. Rather than post this infor­ma­tion in more than one place, I decided to make one post in my blog and refer to it in the future.

First, Pres­i­dent Obama has accom­plished plenty of things dur­ing his term. I started to make my own list, then decided that it’s fool­ish to rein­vent the wheel. The most com­pre­hen­sive list I’ve found is here: Accom­plish­ments of Pres­i­dent Obama. While some peo­ple may not think some of those things are accom­plish­ments, I doubt there’s any­one who can argue with all of them. I’d add to the list the fact that Osama bin Laden is dead. That hap­pened dur­ing Obama’s pres­i­dency. His peo­ple were able to keep a lid on the infor­ma­tion about bin Laden’s where­abouts and the oper­a­tion long enough to get that bas­tard. The fact that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell pol­icy in the mil­i­tary is over is pretty damned impor­tant, too.

Those accom­plish­ments look much bet­ter, too, when you real­ize two things:

  1. The IMF informed Pres­i­dent Bush that they intended to audit the U.S. back in June 2008. Bush just put them off until the end of his term.
  2. While Obama is often blamed for the mas­sive deficit, that’s inac­cu­rate. The 2009 fis­cal year began before Obama even took office, and the bud­get for that year was almost entirely deter­mined by the Bush admin­is­tra­tion. There was an 88% increase in spend­ing dur­ing the years of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, com­pared to only a 7.4% increase dur­ing the Obama admin­is­tra­tion. That’s why Bush inherited a $128 bil­lion sur­plus from Clinton’s last bud­get, and bequeathed a $1.4 tril­lion deficit to Obama.

I know per­fectly well that the tea party (no caps) was orig­i­nally billed as a grass roots move­ment about fis­cal issues and against big gov­ern­ment. Yes, gath­er­ings to sup­port Ron Paul’s 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign were called “tea par­ties,” and those issues were cen­tral to his cam­paign.

How­ever, there was appar­ently no talk of a Tea Party (note the caps) dur­ing those gath­er­ings, and after Obama was elected, the name was co-opted for anti-Obama ral­lies by Repub­li­can oper­a­tives, led by Dick Armey and mouth­piece Rick San­telli. Of course, if they’d said, “We’re orga­nized by lob­by­ists for big busi­ness, because guys like Steve Forbes and the Koch broth­ers don’t want mid­dle class peo­ple to have help pay­ing their mort­gages!” then mid­dle class peo­ple wouldn’t have been as likely to get involved. So the fic­tion of a “grass­roots move­ment” was care­fully main­tained.

Even for those who might not believe that Free­dom­Works, the Koch broth­ers, etc. have always behind the Tea Party, it must be dif­fi­cult to deny that “grass­roots” cer­tainly isn’t what the Tea Party is about now. Any­one who wants to argue about it has only to look at Michelle Bach­mann, Rick Perry, and and their Chris­tian Domin­ion­ist views to know that. Of course, Perry also claimed in his book that Social Secu­rity is uncon­sti­tu­tional, despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled oth­er­wise in 1936, and Bach­mann signed a pledge that claims that blacks were bet­ter off when they were slaves, so their cred­i­bil­ity rat­ings are suf­fer­ing, as far as I’m con­cerned. By the way — that pledge thing is pretty darned racist, to me, and the rest of Bachmann’s well-known his­tory gaffes aren’t mak­ing things any bet­ter.

Michelle Bach­mann (head of the Con­gres­sional Tea Party Cau­cus) worked for the IRS as a tax attor­ney before quit­ting to be a stay-at-home mom. So she’s never had a job that doesn’t come with a gov­ern­ment pay­check, but she’s sup­pos­edly against big gov­ern­ment? How very hyp­o­crit­i­cal. Bachmann’s hus­band runs a clinic that takes fed­eral money to provide a form of ther­apy to “cure” homo­sex­u­al­ity — ther­apy that isn’t approved by the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion or the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion or, actu­ally, any accred­it­ing board. If any­body wants to truly cut out gov­ern­ment waste, then pay­ing for that sort of thing should be stopped right away, and psy­chol­o­gists who file for reim­burse­ment for it should lose their licenses and be arrested for fraud. (Homo­sex­u­al­ity was ini­tially sug­gested for removal from the Diag­nos­tic and Sta­tis­ti­cal Man­ual as a dis­or­der in 1973, and com­pletely removed by 1986. Dr. Bach­mann, if he actu­ally is a psy­chol­o­gist, should know that.) Michelle’s remarks about homo­sex­u­al­ity include such lovely bits as say­ing that it’s “of Satan.” Yes, that’s big­otry.

Steve King (R-Iowa, mem­ber of the Tea Party Cau­cus) has demon­strated big­otry in his attacks against Barack Obama before his elec­tion because of his mid­dle name (Hus­sein) and the fact that his father was Mus­lim. He has also shown him­self to be a racist by mak­ing claims that Obama favors blacks—with­out pro­vid­ing any sub­stan­ti­a­tion, of course. His misog­y­nist vot­ing record speaks for itself.

Louie Gohmert (R-Texas, mem­ber of the Tea Party Cau­cus), is a birther (crazy enough right there), who equated homo­sex­u­al­ity with bes­tial­ity, necrophilia, and pedophilia dur­ing a debate on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (video clip). He also made a stu­pidly racist remark when com­plain­ing about one par­tic­u­lar bit of fund­ing — the infa­mous “moo goo cat pan” joke that fell flat. (He’s got so much crazy that we could spend a lot of time talk­ing about him. I imag­ine even the Tea Party would be happy to lose him alto­gether. Search on “ter­ror babies” and you’ll see what I mean.)

One of King’s bud­dies in the Tea Party cau­cus, Phil Gin­grey (R-Geor­gia), went to the Mex­i­can bor­der with King on a fact-find­ing mis­sion, and put his racist foot in his mouth by claim­ing that his desire to end birthright cit­i­zen­ship isn’t moti­vated by xeno­pho­bia because, “if I had to choose from immi­grants across the globe, my favorite alien would be our His­panic and Latino res­i­dents com­ing from across the South­ern bor­der. On June 22, 2011, Dr. Gin­grey, an OB-GYN, said: “Democ­rats like to pic­ture us as push­ing grand­mother over the cliff or throw­ing some­one under the bus. In either one of those sce­nar­ios, at least the senior has a chance to sur­vive. But under this IPAB [Inde­pen­dent Pay­ment Advi­sory Board] we described that the Democ­rats put in ‘Oba­macare,’ where a bunch of bureau­crats decide whether you get care, such as con­tin­u­ing on dial­y­sis or can­cer chemother­apy, I guar­an­tee you when you with­draw that the patient is going to die. It’s rationing.” He knew per­fectly well that he was lying, but Repub­li­cans want to con­trol the way the money is spent, rather than to per­mit a non-par­ti­san board to con­trol it and achieve any cost sav­ings. You would think a fis­cal con­ser­v­a­tive would be in favor of cost sav­ings, but it doesn’t work that when polit­i­cal power is at stake.!

At the state level, we have Alabama state sen­a­tor Scott Bea­son refer­ring to blacks as “abo­rig­i­nes.” After open­ing a speech by say­ing that “ille­gal immi­gra­tion will destroy a com­mu­nity” he closed it by advis­ing his lis­ten­ers to “empty the clip, and do what has to be done”.

David Bar­ton hangs out with sev­eral Tea Party fig­ures—Rick Perry is spend­ing Labor Day week­end with the guy. He claims on his tax records that he is an expert on African-Amer­i­can his­tory, but when ques­tioned about the fact that he reg­u­larly addresses white suprema­cist groups (who adore him) he tried at one point to claim that he didn’t under­stand their lean­ings. One of his main claims is that Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. made no sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the civil rights move­ment and that he and Thur­good Mar­shall should be removed from our his­tory books. Newt Gingrich’s spokesman, Rick Tyler, said, “I think David Bar­ton is one of the most knowl­edge­able teach­ers on Amer­i­can his­tory.” (Inter­est­ing, as Gin­grich is a for­mer his­tory pro­fes­sor him­self, and Bar­ton is only an “ama­teur his­to­rian.”) He’s pop­u­lar with Bach­mann, Beck, and Mike Huck­abee, too.

Then there’s just about every­thing Glenn Beck says — the man is anti-semitic, racist, homo­pho­bic, misog­y­nis­tic, you name it. He seems to adore com­par­ing any lit­tle slight against him­self or Fox News to the Holo­caust. If his man­i­curist slips up an causes dis­com­fort, she’s prob­a­bly accused of being Men­gele in dis­guise, or at least a descen­dant of his. He has stooped so low as to attack the president’s chil­dren and refer to the First Lady as the president’s “Baby Mama.” Any­one who cares to do so can find plenty of videos of him any­where, but I refuse to link to them. I don’t think there are any clips in which he opens his mouth that aren’t offen­sive.

Matthew Vadum is a colum­nist who is extremely sup­port­ive of the Tea Party. He recently pub­lished an arti­cle claim­ing that “Reg­is­ter­ing the Poor to Vote is Un-Amer­i­can”, equat­ing voter reg­is­tra­tion to giv­ing the poor “bur­glary tools.”

By the way, if you haven’t seen all the signs car­ried at Tea Party ral­lies depict­ing the Pres­i­dent as a mon­key, or a witch doc­tor, or Hitler, then you haven’t been pay­ing atten­tion. There are plenty of places where I could find more, but I’ve had enough more than enough expo­sure to nas­ti­ness for one day.

Any­one who reads this post can no longer say that they’ve never heard of any­one asso­ci­ated with Tea Party say­ing hate­ful things, or that they’re not aware of any­thing that Pres­i­dent Obama has accom­plished dur­ing his pres­i­dency.

Where do first amendment rights go when you enter a courtroom?

I’m not even talk­ing about the rights of defend­ents or plain­tiffs, but those of peo­ple who are oth­er­wise present in a court­room who aren’t being dis­rup­tive. How much con­trol do judges actu­ally need in order to main­tain order in the court­room? At what point are they sim­ply being petty tyrants? Read more

Oh, he was obviously such a terrorist!

Dr Peter Watts, Cana­dian sci­ence fic­tion writer, beaten and arrested at US bor­der
Obvi­ously, sci­ence fic­tion writ­ers are scary peo­ple. And his rea­son for being in Nebraska in the first place (help­ing a friend move) was highly ques­tion­able, so it makes total sense that the bor­der patrol would search his vehi­cle. Get­ting out of the car to ask a ques­tion was obvi­ously a ter­ror­ist act, so the bor­der batrol beat him, pep­per sprayed him, and threw him in jail. After his wife paid his bail, they tossed him out in his shirt sleeves (obvi­ously, his coat had to be impounded along with his car, com­puter, and other belong­ings as a threat to national secu­rity) in the mid­dle of the night, after charg­ing him with a felony, claim­ing that he struck a fed­eral offi­cer (both the author and the pas­sen­ger in his car state that never hap­pened). Now the man has to return from his home in Canada to face felony charges in Michi­gan.

Why make an exception for rape and incest?

I always look for­ward to Dr. Marty Klein’s Sex­ual Intel­li­gence newslet­ters, so I was tick­led to see one in my inbox today. But one of the head­li­nes took me by sur­prise: End Rape & Incest Excep­tions to Stu­pak Abor­tion Ban. Dr. Klein always has excel­lent analy­ses, and this one is no excep­tion.

If you’re against repro­duc­tive choice for so-called “moral rea­sons” (as if any­one get­ting an abor­tion or sup­port­ing its legal­ity isn’t “moral”), be con­sis­tent. If killing a fetus or even a fer­til­ized egg wan­der­ing around a woman’s body is the same as killing a per­son (the posi­tion of every anti-choice activist), why should it mat­ter how the fetus or fer­til­ized egg got there? Why is a fetus’ right to live dimin­ished because its father was a rapist or a sadist? After all, we don’t say the chil­dren of such men have fewer rights than other chil­dren.

Stupak is back! Time to call your legislators again!

This time it’s in the Sen­ate, folks. In case you just crawled out from under a rock, I’m talk­ing about the Stu­pak-Pitts amend­ment to the Afford­able Health Care for Amer­ica Act that was orig­i­nally intro­duced in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives by Demo­c­ra­tic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bart Stu­pak of Michi­gan and Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Joseph Pitts of Penn­syl­va­nia, along with a long list of Con­gressper­sons. The bill tried to keep any fed­eral funds from being used to pay for an abor­tion, but was also worded in such a way that it would have pro­hib­ited women from pur­chas­ing pri­vate cov­er­age to cover abor­tions. That’s a ridicu­lous restric­tion on the repro­duc­tive free­dom of every woman who needs health care, and an even fur­ther eco­nomic restric­tion on what pri­vate cit­i­zens can pur­chase with their own funds. Women would be los­ing cov­er­age they have now!

The let­ter I sent to my Sen­a­tors last month was, like every­thing I send to Sen­a­tor Isak­son, not read as far as I could tell, because his office just responded with a form let­ter bab­bling about his reli­gious beliefs. That’s a bit bet­ter than Sen­a­tor Cham­b­liss’ office, at least, which doesn’t even do that much. Still, that form let­ter was some­thing of a straw break­ing this par­tic­u­lar camel’s back, and it inspired me to write another let­ter back to Sen­a­tor Isak­son, one that he hasn’t responded to at all. I’m not ter­ri­bly sur­prised, as I asked that he not respond at all if his only response was going to be another form let­ter. Still, writ­ing it pre­pared me, to a cer­tain extent, to respond to the alert going out about the renewed Stu­pak amend­ment, which is why I men­tion it here.

Read more


We were fairly sure of this right after I finally had my Social Secu­rity hear­ing last month based on the very pos­i­tive state­ments from the judge, but I didn’t want to jinx any­thing. We got the offi­cial let­ter in the mail today, say­ing that the deci­sion was “fully favor­able!” SQUEE!

It will still take some time for that deci­sion to bounce around the bureau­cracy and get monthly pay­ments started, much less get the back pay from the SSA. Because the onset date was years ago, I should be eli­gi­ble for Medicare right away, but I’ll need to talk to the attor­ney about that on Mon­day.

I really needed some good news, so the tim­ing is mar­velous.

This process has been an insane endurance con­test. The fact that the SSA has been absolutely obstruc­tion­ist through­out (and I know my expe­ri­ence is far from unique!) is ridicu­lous. The sys­tem demands that peo­ple who are most in need of help are least likely to get it in any timely fash­ion, because it takes so much per­sis­tence, jar­gon, and inside knowl­edge to get any­where. If you can do all those forms and gather all the records and so on by your­self, I don’t know that you should count as dis­abled! Even peo­ple with good sup­port in other ways don’t always have some­one will­ing, able, and per­sis­tent who can and will spend the hours and hours of time to push a claim through.

I started the fil­ing process for one rea­son: I needed sta­ble access to health­care so that I could get well enough to go back to work. Five years down the line, I’m not at all sure that I will be able to return to work, because my health has dete­ri­o­rated so much that it may not be pos­si­ble to get back to an “abled” state. How many years of pro­duc­tive lives are being in the U.S. wasted for lack access to health­care?

I get annoyed every time I hear a talk­ing head refer to plans to “insure” every­one. That isn’t what we need! Plenty of peo­ple have health insur­ance and still don’t get the actual health care they need because they can’t afford the co-pays, or the insurer won’t cover a par­tic­u­lar drug or ther­apy, or there are pre-exist­ing con­di­tion prob­lems, or…

We need health care. Not divided up by age (this for kids, that for seniors, some­thing else for work­ing age peo­ple, oh, right, the dis­abled here) by uni­ver­sal car, the same care for every­one, for the whole body, cradle to grave. (Who ever decided that eyes and teeth should be sep­a­rated out, any­way? That’s stu­pid.)

I read an art­cle about San Francisco’s health pro­gram last week – if I can find a link I’ll add it later. It does just what I described, from what that arti­cle says. I don’t know how much it costs to join, but appar­ently there’s a lot of out­reach to peo­ple who are oth­er­wise unin­sured. There are no pre-exist­ing con­di­tions.

Does any­one know of pro­grams like San Francisco’s else­where in the U.S.?

WTF? Georgia Senate Threatens to Secede!

Geor­gia Sen­ate threat­ens dis­man­tling of USA
They really did, by a vote of 43 – 1. On April 1, but it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.

The res­o­lu­tion goes on to endorse the the­ory that states have the right to abridge con­sti­tu­tional free­doms of reli­gion, press and speech. Accord­ing to the res­o­lu­tion, it is up to the states to decide “how far the licen­tious­ness of speech and of the press may be abridged.”
Finally, the res­o­lu­tion states that if Con­gress, the pres­i­dent or fed­eral courts take any action that exceeds their con­sti­tu­tional pow­ers, the Con­sti­tu­tion is ren­dered null and void and the United States of Amer­ica is offi­cially dis­banded. As an exam­ple, the res­o­lu­tion specif­i­cally states that if the fed­eral gov­ern­ment enacts “prohibitions of type or quan­tity of arms or ammunition,” the coun­try is dis­banded.

You bet­ter believe that I’m writ­ing to our state sen­a­tor right away. Yes, this non­sense was slipped in on day 39 of the 40 day leg­isla­tive ses­sion, but that is absolutely no excuse. Our rep­re­sen­ta­tives have no busi­ness vot­ing for any­thing they haven’t thor­oughly read, under­stood, and debated. That’s their job!

Yet another rea­son I don’t want to live in Geor­gia any more. I seri­ously think this is a back­lash against our elec­tion of a black Democ­rat to the pres­i­dency. I’m look­ing at blue states now.

Civil Rights Win in Florida

Months ago, I posted about Ponce de Leon High School in Florida ban­ning the wear or dis­play of any kind of gay pride sym­bols or words, claim­ing that they indi­cated involve­ment in an “ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion.” I later found out that the prob­lem started last fall, when a les­bian stu­dent com­plained that she was being harassed. Instead of inves­ti­gat­ing or try­ing to stop the harass­ment, the school admin­is­tra­tion cracked down on any show of sup­port for her. The prin­ci­pal later said that he was sure that gay pride sym­bols would cause stu­dents to visu­al­ize gay peo­ple hav­ing sex, lead­ing to dis­rup­tion.1

Any­way, Florida man­aged to get some­thing right, or at least one judge there did so. Oh, wait – he was a fed­eral judge, not a state author­ity. Any­way, on May 13 he issued a per­ma­nent injunc­tion against the school! He told them that they must stop their uncon­sti­tu­tional cen­sor­ship of expres­sions of sup­port for gay peo­ple, and warned them not to try retal­i­at­ing against any­one involved in the case. 

1 Damn, those are pow­er­ful rain­bows! Won­der what kind of porn they’d find in a raid of his house?