Last night the voters in the very red state of Alabama found there moral compass, went to the polls to reject bigotrty and pedophilia who was twice removed from the state bench for outrageous behavior and failure to enforce the law. They elected a real law and order prosecutor, Douglas Jones to replace another bigot, …
Every once in awhile the stories pile up and in trying to remain current, I publish a compendium of transgender news stories. I know that makes for a long read, but if I didn’t do this, some storries wouldn’t get any overage at all.
I hope you’ll at least scan the stories. A better educated public is a fairer public.
The state of Alabama on Thursday passed the strictest illegal immigration legislation imaginable. In November, Republicans took formal control of both the state House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction. However, this by itself was not necessarily the determining factor to ensure passage. Until this session, a majority of very conservative Democrats by in large peopled both chambers. But, back then, there were enough voices present who held other ideological views to push back against reactionary bills like this one. Even with the prior legislative balance of power, sentiments like these often found political favor. In an economically poor state desperate to find a scapegoat to explain recent financial woes, it was only a matter of time before migrant Latino workers were targeted. When all else fails, find someone different than you to blame.
Note: Sections 1-4 contain dozens of additional editorial cartoons and commentary. I’m not sure why but I was getting the below error when trying to post the complete diary. Check out the remaining portions of the diary at Daily Kos.
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An English professor at Auburn University Montgomery (Alabama) has recently sparked a firestorm of criticism for his decision to edit two Mark Twain classics. Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, both read by generations of schoolchildren, contain frequent usage of racially insensitive language. However, they are also products of their time. The books were written by an author who used dialogue authentic to the period, as objectionable as it is to us in this day. The controversy among Twain scholars and the general public has been substantial. But until recently, the professor held a completely different attitude altogether.
I’ve been checking on Linda Leavitt’s twitter account http://twitter.com/ WhoDat35 for news of the effects of the ongoing BP oil spill, and I suggest you bookmark this- she’s a tireless lover of all things Louisiana coastal, and the locals have been tweeting her some great links.
The oil has started to wash up quite a bit more on the sugar sands of Alabama- I knew Alabama had Gulf of Mexico coastline, but I didn’t realize that they had such beautiful sand beaches until this oil spill. Many concerned people are contacting Leavitt in astonishment that the oiled beaches have not been officially closed yet to beachgoers, and not only are people sunbathing, that they’ve seen children actually swimming in this stuff.
A month ago, in Louisiana, Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies were blocking reporters and bloggers from seeing the oil washed up on Elmer’s Island, at BP’s request. But the tourist beaches were still open.
Mac McClelland and John Hazlett end up kayaking into the spill area to see it 524/2010/
At the turn to Elmer’s Island Road, a deputy flags us down. Can’t go to Elmer’s; he’s just “doing what they told me to do.” We continue on to Grand Isle beach, where toddlers splash in the surf. Only after I’ve stepped in a blob of crude do I realize that the sheen on the waves and the blackness covering a little blue heron from the neck down is oil.
The next day, cops drive up and down Grand Isle beach explicitly telling tourists it is still open, just stay out of the water. There are pools of oil on the beach; dolphins crest just offshore. A fifty-something couple, Southern Louisianians, tell me this kind of thing happened all the time when they were kids; they swam in rubber suits when it got bad, and it was no big deal. They just hope this doesn’t mean we’ll stop drilling.
The blockade to Elmer’s is now four cop cars strong. As we pull up, deputies start bawling us out; all media need to go to the Grand Isle community center, where a “BP Information Center” sign now hangs out front. nside, a couple of Times-Picayune reporters circle BP representative Barbara Martin, who tells them that if they want passage to Elmer they have to get it from another BP flack, Irvin Lipp; Grand Isle beach is closed too, she adds. When we inform the Times-Pic reporters otherwise, she asks Dr. Hazlett if he’s a reporter; he says, “No.” She says, “Good.”
Where the tourist beache aren’t, the access is harder to come by- see the June 11 kayak visit they made to Grande Terre, http://motherjones.com/rights-… , where BP’s contracted clean up crews were using some sort of cross between a paper towel and a sham wow, dozens of them laid across the sand, to blot up millions of gallons of oil from the beaches “where the oil stretched as far as we could see in deep, dark pools.”
(Cross-posted from The Free Speech Zone)
The apathy is astonishing.
Americans would rather “sit back and wait” than “stand-up and fight”. It’s hard, I know, you need to take off a day from work or something to demonstrate your point in the streets and even then you leave the protest with nothing changing and nothing happening.
What if instead of an orderly demonstration, a pro-democracy movement were to form that demanded the Capitol back from the corrupted representatives that inhabited it and refused to leave until they were given entrance?
It could happen, if you wanted it to.
Recent high profile news events involving abortion rights have revealed that while the omnipresent skirmishing may temporarily subside, it doesn’t take much to stir the issue into a new frenzy. The latest embarrassing public relations snafu involves the Birmingham, Alabama, Planned Parenthood clinic, which has been placed probation for a year. Before there was ACORN and young right-wing activists with visual evidence, last year a California-based anti-abortion group employed the services of an UCLA student to secretly videotape instances of wrongdoing. Posing as a 14-year-old girl seeking an clandestine abortion after getting pregnant with her 31-year-old boyfriend, the tape revealed that the worker she spoke to agreed not to report the matter, in violation of state law, and added that it might be possible to perform the procedure without the knowledge of her parents. By the time the video came to the attention of the Alabama Attorney General, the statue of limitations had passed, but it did trigger a revealing in-depth investigation via Alabama’s Department of Public Health.
John A. MacDonald of The Birmingham News has the whole story.
Perhaps the most damning allegation is that the clinic has come under increasing scrutiny and fire due to new charges which allege that workers a negligently refused to report obvious instances of childhood sexual abuse.
In that potential abuse case, a 13-year-old girl reported that she became sexually active at 12 and came in for two abortions within four months. She was not asked by staff about potential abuse, and her case was not reported to authorities.
“If she was being abused, you give her a chance to be rescued from that situation,” said Rick Harris, director of health provider standards for the Alabama Department of Public Health.
This matter only throws hot water onto an already overheated issue. Aside from the immediate emotional appeals, explosive revelations like these reveal that local government often fails to adequately police itself internally and to follow rudimentary protocol. As for why these seemingly basic rule were not followed, perhaps the worker or workers in question at the clinic might have sought to protect at least two young women, and likely more, from the stigma and emotional turmoil of prosecution and a trial by jury. Indeed, our own initial responses might be to cover up or skirt past tragic situations like these out of sympathy for the victim or out of our own desire to not have to think about them. Some may consider tactics like those tantamount to cowardice or sloth, and there is an strong argument to be made for that as well. But no matter what justification and rationalization may be provided, state law does require those who observe cases of flagrant child sexual abuse to report them immediately to the proper channels. So many of these cases are not reported enough already and this is, in part, the reason why these sorts of offenses are shockingly prevalent in our supposedly civilized society.
In nine out of nine cases tested, the clinic did not get girls ages 13-15 to authenticate the signature of the parent providing consent for the abortion. In one case, the person who signed the consent for a 15-year-old girl provided an expired driver’s license of a person with a different last name and address from the girl’s. A subsequent review of Alabama birth records showed that person was not listed as a parent.
The pattern that emerges here is that of gross incompetence and dereliction of duty rather than some sort of willful desire to broach protocol and skirt the law. I doubt that anyone holds such a radical agenda that they would choose to violate parent notification rules and in so doing, fail to adequately check identities before proceeding. While I have always believed that requiring parental consent before an abortion can be performed unfairly restricts a woman’s right to choose, ANY woman’s right to choose, I am deeply uncomfortable with the notion of civil disobedience at the workplace in this context. There is lots of blame to go around, but I point the finger at the system itself. I think the most likely is that what transpired over time is that women would arrive without the necessary paperwork to move forward and after observing much delay in extracting the necessary signatures and confirmation in prior cases, clinic workers eventually overlooked them to expedite the process and make their own jobs easier.
One can form any number of conclusions based on the available information. Anti-choice proponents will surely use this story to confirmation of their own views in this and those of us who are pro-choice may, as I do, find it hard to easily make sense of this. I seek not to be an apologist for this kind of behavior, specifically because it makes women’s reproductive rights and abortion services agencies look foolish and incompetent. But what it does highlight, however, is how uncomfortable we are when it comes to frank discussions about abortion. We can screech and yell about baby killers or those who murder abortionists, but we rarely really talk about the lives of individual women who find themselves faced with a grave situation—presented with the unenviable option of either terminating their pregnancy or bringing a child into the world. If we, as part of our 9-5 job, sat across the desk from a child whose pregnancy clearly resulted from a case of incest or rape, it would be tempting to wish to spare her from any subsequent trauma. Since a strong taboo already is in place regarding these sorts of crimes, it would be easier to simply take the path of least resistance.
The story also implies that sad tales like these are hardly unusual. To this I add that anyone who has dealt with our convoluted legal system knows that justice, assuming it eventually arrives, is not exactly a precise, timely affair. Court dockets have long been swelled past capacity, trials routinely last weeks on end, and moreover the emotional stress involved with lawyers, fees, strategies, and the massive amount of hoops to jump through make the process thoroughly exhausting for everyone involved. Though I do not absolve the Planned Parenthood workers for refusing to follow their job descriptions and adhere to the letter of the law, I do recognize that often existing systems are so ridiculously complex and set in place to patch a hole, not for the ease of implementation. After a time this encourages people to take short cuts. If we ever really wished to devise a world that was fairer and more efficient, we’d adopt a system whereby the only rules we imposed were those absolutely necessary. As it stands now, if one person breaks a rule, everyone else is punished by having to adhere to a new regulation or restrictive standard. Good management punishes, and if need be, removes the individual offender, not the collective body. Pushing aside for a moment our own passionate defenses, we can learn from ACORN and Planned Parenthood if this pushes us to closely re-examine whether rules, regulations, standards, and statutes really make our lives easier, or burden us to the point that we’d just as soon ignore them wholesale.
For all the recent flurry of speculation and analysis regarding the Democratic Party’s shockingly sudden decline in power, one particular metric has never been adequately explored. Though it is certainly demoralizing that in merely twelve months a feel-good sugar high of optimism has given way to despair, airing our grievances should quickly give way to building strategies for the times going forward. We have learned quickly that party identification can never be taken for granted and that the American people want results, not gridlock. 2008 was seen by many (and indeed, me, for a time) as a realigning election along the same lines as 1980, but it seems that Obama’s coattails are really only his for the riding and that personal charisma and stirring rhetoric are subordinate to results in the grand scheme of things.
I rarely write about sports because to me they are a fun distraction from more pressing matters, one ultimately of far less importance to the grand scheme of things. To be sure, I’ve always been aware of the base inequalities lurking underneath the surface, whether it be the pro players who make obscene amounts of money to play a game or the college kids who are treated as prized endowment cash cows for their individual universities, colleges, or conferences. Though I watch the games, once they have drawn to a conclusion, I turn off my television or internet feed and go on about the rest of my life. What has always troubled me the most is the extent to which some will pursue the minutia and exacting analysis of fandom, which if applied with even half the effort and half the obsession to a cause that would make strides to say, educate the illiterate or aim to reform a societal malady of choice, would produce impressive results.
I’ve taken a much needed break from politics and political blogging. I haven’t been on Orange for of months, ever since it totally sold out with that PBS “skin” and then its founder went on a couple of tirades against the very people who built-up his little bloggy empire (and who’ve made him his pile over the past 5 years). At this point, I’ve no intention of going back.
Docudharma is the quieter, saner, version of Orange: all the politics, half the freakyness (well, 1/10th of the freakyness). So this is where I now come to lurk or very occasionally comment or diary. But I haven’t come here very much lately.
But today, this Sunday morning, in the full flush of last night’s walloping of Florida by Alabama (and humiliation of that sanctimonious twit, Tebow), I simply feel compelled to visit this Best Political Blog and (virtually) shout: Roll Tide!
In Alabama we have one of the top aerospace research and development cities in all the world (Huntsville), the thriving and tradition-steeped-yet-forward-thinking deep water port city of Mobile, one of the globe’s most innovated bio-tech and bio-med hubs in Birmingham and beautiful sites and scenery, from the pristine Cahaba River to the glorious Little River Canyon. Yet, sadly, especially in the world of politics, Alabama is burdened with disappointments.
So that’s why it’s so damn nice when — even if it’s in the realm of college football and not in the realm of Senatorial elections — there’s something to celebrate here. And celebrating we are! Except for the Auburn people. But they don’t really count.
All the best – and, again, Roll Tide.
Mu . . .
cross-posted from The Dream Antilles
Today’s New York Times tells the story of yet another travesty of justice from Alabama in a death penalty case. This is the kind of thing that unfortunately is no longer a revelation. It’s what you might expect. And it’s happened over and over again.
Please join me in the Death Belt.