Tuesday, June 28, 2016

That’s a win.

Congratulations go out to the activists, providers, and volunteers who worked so damn hard to defeat a horrible abortion restriction law in Texas way back in 2013, and who fought all the way to the victory at the US Supreme Court yesterday!

Way to work, people!

It is too soon to tell what impact the SCOTUS victory will have on Missouri, but I am hopeful that it provides a tool to dismantle similar anti-abortion laws here and across the country.

 Go. Fight. WIN!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Political Platforms Must Center the Most Marginalized People

I just have to share SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective Executive Director Monica Simpson’s speech before the Democratic National Convention Platform Drafting Committee on June 17.

Monica is such a gift to the movement.

And I stand with her and SisterSong in this demand.

Folk can also check out Rewire’s reprint of Monica’s remarks: Why Political Platforms Must Center the Most Marginalized People


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pondering what happened in the room where it happens...

The Missouri Democratic Party (MDP) recently held their state convention.

Some shit went down.

Not old school “shit”, like back in the days of Truman when folk would fist-fight and then kick a horse.

I’m talking new-school shit, when people who are new to party politics meet up with folk who could run a clinic on how to get your party politics on...and shit gets real ‘cause oil and water and all that jazz.

Blink.

I’ve seen Facebook posts congratulating supporters of Bernie Sanders for advancing his agenda at the Missouri state convention. I’ve browsed through pictures of smiling newly elected delegates and read blog posts breaking down how Sanders supporters organized to get what was definitely an impressive turnout that garnered significant outcomes.

Some articles make it seem as if Team Sanders owned the room.

I’ve seen posts from Clinton supporters too, some expressing anger and frustration, others resigned to what went down.

Across the board, folk seem excited to move forward to the DNC.

But the thing is...and you just knew there was a thing...

I’ve also been flooded with emails, texts, calls, and GChats (Lawd, give me strength!) expressing outrage that attendees failed to pass resolutions on abortion rights, LGBT non-discrimination, or voting rights.

That got my attention.

Missouri has one abortion clinic, a 72-hour mandatory waiting period for abortion, and a state legislature that has made it their goal to end abortion access. My state is a test kitchen for abortion restrictions...and no progressive worth their vote doesn’t know that.

In Missouri, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and denied access to public accommodations and services.

And in November, Missouri voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would require photo identification in order to vote. A study by Missouri Secretary of State Kander found that 220,000 registered Missourians don’t have photo ID. Y’all can do the math on just how devastating this poll tax dressed up to look like a ballot measure would be.

If you want to know what Democratic lawmakers in Missouri end up spending too much time defending and not enough time advancing, these are on the top of the list and you can add in worker rights and freaky tax bullshit.

So, yay...glad to see resolutions on new stuff and workers rights and taxes.

But, seriously.

WTF?

When that many progressives gather in a space to elect delegates and pass resolutions that are being and will continue to be used to frame the state party’s priorities...and the gathering fails to pass resolutions supporting abortion rights, LGBT equality, and voting rights…

Well.

Whatever the fuck DID happen is not what could have or should have happened in the room where it happened.

A Quick Note on Representation.
The same logic that inspired Sanders supporters to organize around the state convention...the understanding that representation matters, no one can speak for you or advocate for your beliefs like one of you, and the concern that other folk may not prioritize your issues the way you need them to be prioritized…

Yeah, that’s the same logic that makes me cringe at the fact that no people of color were selected as 2016-2020 DNC Members-Elect.

And it wasn’t that people of color weren’t in the room where it happened.

Nope, everyone isn't already on the same page.
If I had a dollar for every time someone running for office in Missouri with a giant “D” by their name failed to give a full throated endorsement of abortion rights, I’d be able to finance photo ids for the 200,000 Missourians who may lose the vote in November.

And I’m not even going to dive into the confusion, messed up strategy, and compromises made on voting rights.

As for LGBT Equality, Dems have come a long way. But now is not the time to tone down support for non-discrimination bills or equality in general.

Now is the time to get specific as hell and loud about abortion, non-discrimination, and voting rights.

That isn’t what happened in the room where it happened.

Did Paper Fly and Shouts Ring Out in the Room Where It Happened?
At a fucking minimum, I expect a damn revolt when an abortion resolution doesn’t pass.

At a minimum, I expect paper to fly and shouts to ring out when a voting rights resolution isn’t proposed.

And damn it all to hell, if you can gather and organize to fight for representation on the slate, then you damn sure should be able to do the same for a non-discrimination resolution.

At a minimum, that should have happened in the room where it happened.

What Comes Next?
I’m left feeling that it is what it is.

The party will move forward.

The new blood made their priorities clear, and sent a strong message to the party about those priorities.

In the end, the big story out of the state gathering was representation.

Who organized and got what they wanted.

Who didn’t.

Do I think MODems are going to suddenly become horrible on LGBT rights?

No.

But a resolution would have sent a clear message to candidates, voters, and Missourians that MDP is all in on MONA and everyone else should be too.

Do I think MODems are going to stand up for abortion rights and demand the same of candidates who run under the party’s banner?

Um.

Some will, others won’t.

The party has a long way to go, and the lack of a resolution on abortion rights won’t help address a history littered with inconsistent and reluctant support for abortion rights.

Do I think MODems aren’t committed to protecting voting rights?

I’m pretty confident that Dems are committed to voting rights, particularly since the votes under attack are usually Dem votes.

But we’ve got a monster of a ballot measure coming up in November, and a resolution would have been a nice reminder to the press, voters, and Missourians that voting rights are under attack and Missouri Dems are the ones deep in the battle to protect them.

And no, I'm not just bitching to bitch.

These are Missouri specific issues that should be a priority for Dems because they sure as shit are a priority for the MO GOP.

In summary…
The world doesn’t revolve around the Missouri Democratic party, resolutions, or non-binding party platforms.

That said, it does matter what people do and what they fight for when they are in the room where it happens.

It is a privilege to be able to journey to Sedalia, spend the day there, and participate in the state convention. I personally don't think it should be so damn hard for folk like me to go...for all the reasons and then some.

But it is what it is.

And now we move onward.

Resolved...sort of.

Blink.

***cue Hamilton’s History Has Its Eyes On You***

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I'm back!

One of the reasons I’ve been missing in action online is that I’ve been busy as hell offline with my new organization Reproaction. I’m so excited to be part of an amazing team dedicated to building a culture of direct action to increase access to abortion and advance reproductive justice!

But I've missed y'all. And I've missed practicing the fine art of bitchitude.

So, yeah...I'm back.

I'm working on a post for tomorrow, but until then...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SOTU 2016 Preparedness…

Y’all, I’ve been missing from the internets because I’ve been hard at work getting my new gig Reproaction up and running. I’m amazed at what we’ve been able to accomplish in just eight months! So exciting.

Now that life has settled into a more predictable rhythm, I’ve decided to dusted off my keyboard and get my bitchitude on again.

Shall we?













 






Tonight is President Obama’s final State of the Union address. Time has flown! It seems like just yesterday Rep. Joe Wilson was indulging in a public display of no-home-training by shouting nonsense, and now here we are in 2016 about to witness Obama’s final SOTU.

Amazing.

I'll be watching from the comfort of my cozy living room...with some yummy snacks and beverages too. Sadly, my beloved sorta-beagles have gone on to their blessed reward in dawg heaven. My new canine companion, Miss Zelda Bear, is a large 2 year-old Kuvasz-ish fluffy sweet-faced joy. This is probably Zelda’s first SOTU, so I plan to make it exciting for her by giving her a bone to chew.

The current plan is to fry up some catfish and gather up a salad.

Oh, and there will be vodka cocktails too.

***rubs hands together in glee***

Let the games begin!

Toodles.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Let me know when we get to laugh and shake our heads...

Full disclosure: I was a constituent of former Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith.

In 2009, Smith resigned from office, pled guilty to obstructing justice, and went to jail. Now he’s back with a new book.

Let’s jump right on in, shall we?

I haven’t read Jeff Smith’s new book, but I did struggle through his recent piece in Politico. I can share that the wince-worthy title ‘The Senator Be Embezzling’ should be taken as warning to readers that they are about to read some seriously entitled spin lightly seasoned with an indictment of the prison industrial complex. 

“The final stop was the counselor’s office. He was a compact, sandy-haired man wearing a light blue shirt and a wispy mustache. He flipped through my presentencing report, pausing briefly to absorb the case summary and shook his head. “This is crazy,” he said quietly, without looking up. “You shouldn’t be here. Complete waste of time. Money. Space.”

Exactly, I thought. Finally, someone agreed with me. But now, it was too late."‘The Senator Be Embezzling’ - Politico

I was pretty damn disgusted with Jeff Smith back in 2009. His fall from grace was only remarkable in that it was so damn pathetic and avoidable. In 2004, Smith had captivated thousands with his run for Congress. Somewhere along the way, Smith’s Congressional campaign coordinated on a now infamous mailing. The FCC eventually received a complaint about the mailing. Smith lost the 2004 Congressional race, went on to win a state Senate seat, and he ultimately pled guilty when his obstruction of justice in the investigation of the mailing finally caught up with his ambition.

Pathetic….

"The postcard dropped in the campaign’s last week. It was a 3x5 picture of my opponent on a milk carton. “MISSING: RUSS CARNAHAN,” it read, and in tiny print detailed his absenteeism. The design was totally amateurish—a joke, really. We laughed and shook our heads."‘The Senator Be Embezzling’ - Politico

...but not exactly a laughing matter. It's one thing for a political novice to fuck up on mailings, but Smith has a Ph.D. in political science. The same background that Smith says was wasted behind bars makes it hard to swallow the idea that he didn't know better about the mailings or the perils of lying to government investigators. 

I voted to send a progressive champion to the Senate. When the dust finally settled, my replacement Senator was a committee-selected establishment Democrat who sometimes dipped his toe into progressive waters. All because Jeff Smith got caught on tape doing a heinous Richard Nixon impression pondering how to pin his “amateurish” violation on a campaign worker who committed suicide in the midst of the investigation into what Smith now calls ”a joke, really.”

In his Politico piece, Smith goes on to talk about how locking him up was a waste of resources and taxpayer money.

I agree. I’d love to have that money, along with the money spent for the investigation, back. Maybe the proceeds from Smith’s book could go into a fund to pay for a program to help formerly incarcerated people who lack Smith’s connections and education. Or maybe we could use those proceeds to pay for midnight basketball for young people in Smith’s former Senate district.

Anyhoo.

Jeff Smith stands as a cautionary tale for all would-be wunderkind who lust for political power.

And it also stands as a reminder that when we mess up we often do damage that isn’t easily repaired or forgiven. 

"Mass incarceration is driven in large part by sky-high recidivism rates, and when one contemplates the myriad obstacles to successful prisoner re-entry, one grasps that the system is not, as many claim, broken at all; rather, it appears to be a well-oiled machine, keeping millions of people out of our economic mainstream." ‘The Senator Be Embezzling’ - Politico

Jeff Smith is correct that the prison industrial complex is a mess.

And he’s absolutely right that sending him to prison was a complete waste of time, money, and space.

The whole mess is...like a joke, really.

Let me know when we get to laugh and shake our heads.

Blink.

Some suggested reading material:

Friday, August 07, 2015

I've been writing...

Hi all y'all!

Things are hectic as hell as we prepare for the official launch of Reproaction on August 19th, so I haven't had a chance to get back into the rhythm of posting my thoughts here. I do plan to dust the blog off and share more...promise. I've missed practicing the fine art of bitchitude!

Anyhoo, I have been writing.

Here's an op-ed that my Reproaction partner in crime Erin Matson and I published in Rolling Stone - Why We're Losing the Planned Parenthood Debate, and How We Can Win

And here's my latest for RH Reality Check reflecting on the anniversary of the Ferguson Uprising - One Year Later: Reflections on the Ferguson Uprising

Check 'em out!

Toodles.