Saturday Morning Open Thread: Strong At the Broken Places

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(Joel Pett via GoComics.com)
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What’s on the agenda for the weekend?

Annie Leibovitz’s latest exhibition, “Women: New Portraits,” has been traveling the globe since it debuted in London early this year. But the latest iteration of the show, which opens in New York City on Friday, has a fresh tweak: A photo of Hillary Clinton hangs in the middle of the exhibit’s central wall of portraits.

“Secretary Clinton was not on this wall until this show,” Leibovitz said during a Tuesday preview of the exhibition co-hosted by famed feminist activist Gloria Steinem, who collaborated with Leibovitz on the project. “It’s the first time I folded her into the sea—into the ocean of women who mean something to us today.”

Leibovitz, who also included some of the photos she shot during the campaign in the show, noted that in the portrait of Clinton, there’s a tile visible on her desk. “I asked my retoucher, ‘Would you please sharpen that tile?’” It says never, never, never give up.”…

Steinem, who helped select some of these subjects, fielded a press question about how she feels about the future of women’s rights in the wake of Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency.

Steinem attributed Trump’s win, in part, to backlash against the progress of women and minorities. “I think that what has been revealed to us is a truth that we must now deal with,” she said. “Never again is anyone going to say ‘post-feminist’ or ‘post-racist’ because we [now] understand that there is something like a third of the country that is still locked into these old hierarchies.”

The activist compared the current state of the U.S. to a survivor of domestic violence. “The moment just before escaping or just after escaping [from a violent household] is the most dangerous time,” she said. “I think we are at a time of maximum danger in this country and we need to look out for each other.”

However, for supporters of women’s and minority rights, there’s value in learning where the country truly stands and how much further it has to go. “Just as we would not tell anyone to go back into a violent household, we would not tell each other to go back,” said Steinem. “And even though it’s a time of danger maybe we are about to be free.”



Thinking Security

Several of you have asked in comments or by email if I’d write a little bit (a lot of bit?) about security. Specifically, personal security. I intended to get this up earlier in the week, but things went sideways on Tuesday, then did an inversion on Wednesday, then a triple lindy yesterday, so…

The first thing that I think is important is something I, and several others, have stressed here in posts and comments: freaking out is not a useful activity. I’m not stating that to pooh pooh anyone’s reactions to the elections, whether they be anger, fear, anxiety, stress, depression, or any combination thereof. All of these are normal and understandable responses. And, of course, if you are feeling really overwhelmed and are having trouble finding/regaining your equilibrium please go see a professional counselor or therapist.

The second thing is don’t do this!

CLEVELAND – Police are investigating the theft of seven guns swiped from a Cleveland home sometime early Tuesday morning.

A mom and her two children were asleep upstairs when she said the thief or thieves broke into the home and cleaned out two gun cabinets. “They’re ready for a war, we were ready for a war,” said Teena Brayen

Brayen and her family are doomsday preppers. “We’re preppers, we believe in preparing for what could happen,” said Brayen.

The Brayens are part of the Three Percenters Club, a militia group that ‘exists to… protect and defend the constitution and our way of life’ by helping people ‘execute Military Strategies to defend against foreign and domestic enemies’.

But the items they wanted to use to defend against invasion in Rome made them a target for invasion in Cleveland.

On November 22, burglars – who, Brayen believes, spotted the weapons when she was moving into the home – took seven guns, 12 machetes, body armor, smoke grenades, more than $1,000 in ammo and some of their food.

Two gun cabinets were emptied of their contents: a high-powered, armor-piercing sniper rifle; five shotguns, and a pellet gun.

Leaving aside the Brayens and the Three Percenters Club, which is not the same as the other Three Percenters, what was missing here was a failure to think security.

Thinking security means to proactively consider what the potential threats might be in order to establish effective, reasonable solutions to them. This means to consider what the potential threats and dangers are to oneself, one’s family, and one’s property (home, business, etc) and what reasonable steps should be taken ahead of time to either deter them or, should deterrence fail, respond to them in the most effective and safe manner possible. This is not just for human threats like crime or terrorism, but also for preparing to deal with natural or man made disasters such as a hurricane or blizzard or earthquake or a gas main explosion or a fracking induced sinkhole or earthquake. To do this one needs to consider several questions.

  1. Who or what is the threat? And what kind of threat is it?
  2. Does the location, item, and/or person need to be secured against a potential threat?
  3. What is the extent of the location’s vulnerability?
  4. Does the potential security countermeasure need to be human, animal, technological, or a combination of them?
  5. How far can I, and how would I go about, extending my secure zone away from myself, my family, my home, etc?
  6. What effect will the potential security response have on me, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my employees, coworkers, and/or customers?

Read more



#BFD in North Carolina

Right now the North Carolina legislature is amazingly heavily gerrymandered for Republicans. The federal courts have found that the North Carolina state government has used basically every trick in the book to disenfranchise African American political power. This is a big deal as North Carolina is a swingable state where the local Democrats are competetive as seen in the 2016 state wide wins for the Governorship and the balance of power State Supreme Court justice races. If the districts are not lopsided and illegal racial gerrymanders normal checks and balances might actually work in the state.

If we as a community are going to adopt a district or two, this might be a high leverage opportunity to get some wins.



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Self-Care and Self-Defending

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(Matt Davies via GoComics.com)
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In NYMag, Kat Kinsman has “A Post-Election Action Plan for Anxious People”:

The worst happened. More will happen. All the magical thinking and proactive worrying in the world didn’t prevent the outcome of this election, and letting it attack me from the inside is not a viable solution, not if I want to spend the next few years anywhere other than under my increasingly pilling comforter. So I’ve come up with a coping plan. Maybe it’ll help you, too.

Set a stretch alarm. When I’m in a panic spiral, I’ll find myself in sharp, shocking pain, then realize I’ve been gnarled up in startle position for several hours. Before the election, it got so bad that I set a reminder on my calendar to stand up and breathe deeply a few times a day. It’s painfully easy to forget to do, and the simple (and totally free!) act of drawing in breath can knock me out of a terrible thought loop and help me move forward with purpose.

See friends in person whether you feel up to it or not…
Also, don’t see people you don’t want to…
Step away from the internet…
Get some sleep…
Take meds if you need them…

Pick one cause. You cannot go on every single protest march, make every call, sign every petition, sway every politician. Commit to selecting one cause and making it your big mission, or finding one little thing to do every day. A letter or phone call to a legislator, an hour volunteering, a couple of bucks to a cause, or a check-in on a friend living in a place where they may not feel safe. It might feel small. It will keep you sane.

Read the whole thing, it’s not very long, and Kinsman’s reasoning seems very sound.
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Speaking of taking one step at a time: Longtime commentor Jenn suggested we initiate a Friday Progress Open Thread, which seems timely (and doable, for me). Got suggestions as to where each of us individually can make a difference? Want to brag a little on your own progress? Leave a comment here (or email me at annelaurie dot verizon dot net) and I’ll set up the first POT this Friday.

One suggestion, right now: It’s not too late to donate to Foster Campbell, the Democrat in Louisana’s December 10th runoff election.

Apart from all that, what’s on the agenda for the new day?



Time to call Congress

Okay, now that Tom Price will be Secretary of Health and Human Services, we know that the medical and social insurance system that we have had in place since 1964 and expanded dramatically in 1999 and 2010 is under severe threat. Elimination can be mostly done through reconciliation but modification needs to go through regular order. That means there is some leverage. Three GOP Senate defectors need to be pressured and pressured hard.

So let’s get calling. There are two objectives to these calls. The first is to make sure that there are no Democratic cross-over votes in the Senate. The second is to make the vulnerable Republicans who rely on an increasingly old base to get re-elected know that they can’t kill Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP or the ACA quietly.

Democrats who need a call to remind them that their base has their back:
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
John Tester (D-MT)
Heidi_Heitkamp (D-ND)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

All of these Senators represent states that voted for Trump. Let’s get them some support and pushback.

The pressure list is much shorter
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

These Senators are up for re-election in 2018. Heller is actually vulnerable, Flake is a stretch goal.

The next round of Republican calls are to either the old line establishment (Bob Corker, Orrin Hatch) or to Senators who represent a lot of retirees (Shelly Moore Capito, Marco Rubio, both Georgia Senators, both North Carolina Senators)

So get calling.

UPDATE 1: Tell Joe Donelly thank you:



Tuesday Morning Open Thread

Important note from commentor Burnspbesq:

Speaking of memberships, some anonymous patriot has offered to match up to a half million bucks of year-end contributions to the ACLU.

Go Here

So if you’ve got a little spare cash from a year-end bonus, or need a gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend…

Apart from seasonal charity, what’s on the agenda for the day?

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Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg, at the Washington Post:

The Fight for $15 has been incredibly successful since 100 fast-food workers first went on strike on Nov. 29, 2012, in New York City. The movement they helped create went 5-for-5 during the most recent election, winning ballot initiatives in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington, while defeating a subminimum wage law for teenagers in South Dakota. And with the anniversary of its original strike approaching, that movement is only gaining steam.

As Bryce Covert of the news site ThinkProgress recently reported, workers in more than 340 cities will go on strike again on Tuesday, while “fast food employees, airport workers, childcare and home care providers, and university graduate students” will engage in “civil disobedience at McDonald’s and 20 of the nation’s largest airports.” The workers have also upped the ante: In addition to their calls for minimum wage increases, they’re “demanding no deportations of undocumented immigrants, an end to police violence against black people, and the protection of health care coverage.”…

Raising the wage floor would clearly be good policy, too. Decades of research show that minimum-wage increases more substantial than those Republicans are proposing have their intended effects of helping low-wage workers without much in the way of unintended job loss effects. While the labor market effects of the boldest Democratic proposals are harder to predict, as they lie outside the range of prior research, such proposals still phase in over several years to give businesses time to adjust and are worthy of Republicans’ consideration.

That they should do the right thing doesn’t mean these politicians will do it willingly, of course. Their feet will need to be held to the fire. But that’s precisely where the Fight for $15 has been so successful over the past four years, and low-wage workers’ resolve appears to be as strong as ever…



Friday Morning Open Thread: Thank You, Hillary

Apart from recovering from yesterday’s festivities and/or shopping plans, what’s on the agenda for the day?

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Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg, in the Washington Post, “Thankful for the Fight for $15“:

The Fight for $15 has been incredibly successful since 100 fast-food workers first went on strike on Nov. 29, 2012, in New York City. The movement they helped create went 5-for-5 during the most recent election, winning ballot initiatives in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington, while defeating a subminimum wage law for teenagers in South Dakota. And with the anniversary of its original strike approaching, that movement is only gaining steam.

As Bryce Covert of the news site ThinkProgress recently reported, workers in more than 340 cities will go on strike again on Tuesday, while “fast food employees, airport workers, childcare and home care providers, and university graduate students” will engage in “civil disobedience at McDonald’s and 20 of the nation’s largest airports.” The workers have also upped the ante: In addition to their calls for minimum wage increases, they’re “demanding no deportations of undocumented immigrants, an end to police violence against black people, and the protection of health care coverage.”

Winning all of these important fights is unlikely, especially in an era of Republican governance, but this type of grass-roots activism is exactly what’s needed. Coupled with the widespread popularity of increasing the minimum wage, these protests could help lead to an increase in the federal wage floor sometime during the next four years.

Such an increase would be long overdue. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since July 2009 and, after accounting for inflation, is 24 percent below its maximum annual value from 1968. It was 55 percent of the median wage that year, according to OECD data; in 2015, that ratio had fallen to 36 percent, significantly below international norms