Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Today, perhaps, the country changes.

It’s a little weird to contemplate that when I wake up around noon, equal marriage may be the law of the land by Supreme Court decision.

May be.

It’s appalling that we can’t be sure of the outcome in this day and age.  The correct decision is blindingly, agonizingly obvious, and yet we cannot be sure that the Supreme Court will reach it.

It’s my bedtime now.  I really hope that when I wake up, it’s in a better, more equal country.

Alabama? Seriously?

In the quest for shame that is Ohio’s inability to dispense with its obscene ban on equal marriage comes the ultimate kick in the psychological nuts: Alabama will have gay marriage before we do.

 

No wonder our state symbol is the buckeye — that’s fucking nuts.

An Open Letter to the GOP Leadership in Congress

Starting this past Thursday, and for the first time in nearly 15 years, I have health insurance.  It’s not great, but it’s basic coverage that I can afford.

Prior to the ACA (or Obamacare, if you prefer), the only insurance I was eligible for was both obscenely expensive–about a third of my pay–and covered damn near nothing until I was already five to ten thousand dollars out of pocket, which was money I wouldn’t have been able to save considering the third-of-my-paycheck price tag in the first place.

My coverage is not perfect, and it is not complete, but it means that this fiftysomething will be able to see a doctor for basic and preventative care for the first time in fifteen years, and will not have to rely on luck, optimism, and the emergency room.

What I want to know is this: before you start trying to dismantle the ACA, what program will you have in place to provide the same or better coverage at the same or lower cost?  What is your plan for my health coverage, other than hoping that I die before I qualify for Medicare and you can’t block me anymore?

Because I am not giving up my card without a fight.  If the new Congress defunds the ACA, then I challenge John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to take my card from me personally and explain to me why full-time working, tax-paying, law-abiding me doesn’t deserve basic medical coverage.  I want them to look me in the eye and tell me that.

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do if they defund the ACA and I lose my coverage.  I will be submitting my medical bills directly to their offices.  If they’re not going to let me buy my own insurance, then my health care is their responsibility to cover.

We don’t live in that world.

It would be nice if the report on CIA torture were taken by both sides as an opportunity, a point at which we can say that we, as a nation, are better than that.

Unfortunately, the Republicans (with the exception of John McCain, who knows first hand) have made it clear that they’re just fine with torture, and the Democrats will, as usual, whine a lot and then do nothing.

It would be even nicer if this report came as a surprise, but we’ve known for years: what the rampaging fuck do you think waterboarding is?

What’s the correct thing to do now?  Simple.  Identify the person who ultimately signed off on this program, and the persons who oversaw its implementation, and ship them off to the Hague for a war crimes trial and let the facts and justice take their course.

The correct thing to do, of course, is pretty much the last thing that will happen.

 


EDIT: Oh, and here’s your official Faux News spin: Torture’s okay because America is awesome!

 

There exists one Republican with a sense of honor.

While there is no defending Elizabeth Lauten’s comments about Sasha and Malia Obama, she has had the decency to do the proper thing: she has apologized for her remarks and resigned her position, and I applaud her for being the first Republican I can think of in the last 15 years to have acted honorably upon making a gross and offensive error in judgment, rather than try to make like it’s nothing or even okay — or that calling her on it is “intolerant”.  I think I’m mostly shocked that a Republican has actually apologized; I’m pretty sure that gets her thrown out of the party.

Now if only all the other Republicans who’ve said deliberately racist, deliberately dishonest, and/or deliberately hateful things about the Obamas would do the same.  One suspects that would leave the Congress without a quorum in either house…

Out of touch much?

Oh, well done.  While fucking Utah has marriage equality; I live under the jurisdiction of the only court that thinks institutionalized bigotry is just fine and dandy.  By a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the existing equal marriage bans in Ohio, as well as Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

And if Judge Daughtry is right in her blistering dissent (starting at p 43 of the decision),

Because the correct result is so obvious, one is tempted to speculate that the majority has purposefully taken the contrary position to create the circuit split regarding the legality of same-sex marriage that could prompt a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court and an end to the uncertainty of status and the interstate chaos that the current discrepancy in state laws threatens.

…or in regular English, that the majority is deliberately trying to force the Supreme Court to get involved, that is no comfort.  As has been said in many other contexts, justice delayed is justice denied.

My regional appeals court just told me that my state has the Constitutional right to discriminate against me for no reason other than the simple fact that I am gay.  Not because I have committed a crime, not because I have been found mentally incompetent, but simply and only because I am gay.

My regional appeals court — or 2/3 of it, anyway — can go fuck itself.

On the Nobel Peace Prize

One suspects that we have not just seen Malala Yousafzai win the Nobel Peace Prize, but that we have seen her win her first.

On Net Neutrality

Comments are now open at the FCC on Docket 14-28 and 10-127 on net neutrality.

Here’s what I sent them.

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I would like to first remind the Commission that the Internet is not a creation of the broadband carriers, but was created out of a collaboration between the US military, educational and research institutions, and some few early technology firms, and then given its modern face by the invention of the World Wide Web at CERN in Europe. To paraphrase a soundbite from the last election cycle, they didn’t build that.

Even so, broadband carriers are effectively claiming control over something that is not theirs, by deciding what they will carry. Their function is that of delivery of data, not of gatekeeping content.

The Internet only works when communications is free, fair, and unhampered. The reason it is a billion-dollar business is *because* of net neutrality, not in spite of it.

I for one remember connecting to the Internet before the development of flashy graphical clients and certainly before the coming of broadband internet service. I would not have my service be effectively reduced to that again in the name of private profiteering off of what must now be considered a public utility, and broadband providers must now be considered common carriers. My utility company isn’t permitted to degrade my electrical service or limit the amount of natural gas I may use if I switch providers from the main ones in the area; the same must apply to broadband carriers.

Furthermore, because of the interconnectedness that makes the Internet work, the actions of a broadband carrier go well beyond affecting only their clients. Messages are routed through many networks to get from one point to another; one carrier in between myself and someone I wish to communicate with can affect our communications, without either of us being a client of that carrier.

Lastly, there are a number of public initiatives that are put at risk by the loss of net neutrality. NASA’s Kepler project relies on citizen science — volunteers around the world — to be able to process the vast amount of data it has generated, and it has paid off in the thousands of new exoplanets discovered. There are hundreds of other citizen science projects out there, ranging from abstruse ones like longstanding number theory problems to very real-world ones on protein folding and cancer research. Few of these would survive if a carrier demanded higher rates for their data traffic; the appallingly low rate of scientific funding means almost all are running on a shoestring already.

The shadow cast by Comcast’s action is a long one, and the damage that privatizing the Internet is incalculable. The effects are beyond higher connectivity costs for users and content providers.

The Internet is no longer the plaything of nerds and technophiles; millions of people rely on it daily for far more than mere entertainment–it’s vital to our work and our lives now. Allowing broadband carriers to effectively privatize it will do nothing to enhance Internet service for anyone, and will degrade it for millions.

The FCC *must* stand in favor of net neutrality.

Not good enough, Ohio!

Okay, so I know Ohio does things in a boring, plodding, Midwestern way.

But seriously, being beaten to equal marriage rights by Idaho and Arkansas?

That’s just embarrassing.

The Civil Sacrament

All around the world, there are places where to go to vote is to literally take your life in your hands.

Imagine what they must think of those of us who, out of indifference or laziness, can’t be bothered to cast a ballot in perfect safety.

Voting is our civil sacrament, the polling place is the cathedral of civilization, and election day is our social holy day of obligation.

Go out tomorrow and partake of it.