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can this “anti-government” lambasting be directly harmful? ~.m. by maria b.

i would argue yes, but not just in the sense of all these right-wing militias springing up.

count me among the people who were truly saddened to hear that the four missing miners from the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion last week were found dead. like a lot of people, i was really hoping for a miracle and that those four men would somehow be found alive (there were numerous references to the airtight safety chambers in the mines that had food and water in them.) it’s a scary enough thought thinking about working in such a dark, dirty and foreboding place for 40 hours a week, walking in tunnels miles and miles long over 1,000 feet underground. add to that all the health problems that can accompany this job–from a relatively mild vitamin D deficiency to the infamous Black Lung. sure, these people do alright financially, but even if they have health insurance and other benefits that come with the job, it is far from a stable occupation. having health insurance doesn’t prevent these workers from having health problems (unlike most other occupations, this one causes health problems.) and once the mining company decides that there is no longer a large enough payoff in working the mine, they close it up and the jobs are gone.

add to this situation, then, the fact that these mining companies, including Massey Energy who runs the Upper Big Branch Mine,  are actively and vocally opposed to government regulations to better ensure the physical safety of the men who work in the mines. it’s not enough that these mining companies speak and work against rules to improve mine safety, but they have found loopholes in the system whereby they can basically indefinitely avoid paying the monetary penalties–usually no more than several hundred thousand dollars–and avoid having to change anything about the way the mine functions (they appeal the citation/violation and it is hung up in court for years.) mining companies are very reluctant to close down a mine because it costs them a lot of money to shut down, fix the problem and then start up from a dead stop. purely a profit motive–risk the lives of the people in the mine to save a buck. so that means that, in places like the Upper Big Branch mine, despite the hundreds of safety violations the mine was cited for, the company can choose to simply pay no fine and nothing about the state or function of the mine changes. this, i would argue, then directly contributes to the mining disasters we’ve seen all too often in the past few years.

note to energy and mining company CEOs (like Don Blankenship) about government regulations: they are having to write these regulations because YOU are not doing enough to ensure the safety of your employees.

note to others who have problems with the government regulating industries: this system of capitalism focuses on monetary profits, NOT on quality of life improvements; it rewards the people who can get the most out of their employees for the least money, NOT the people who work more than 40-hour weeks. and, historically, if it had been left up to private companies and businesses to regulate themselves, we would have no weekends, no limit to how many hours an employer can ask us to work, no minimum wage, employers would be able to discriminate based on whatever basis they chose, the list goes on and on.

instead of Don Blankenship railing against the government and saying (ever so disingenuously) that it’s ridiculous to say that the government cares more about worker safety than he does, he should put his money where his mouth is. he should work WITH the government to establish standards, systems and rules that do a better job of ensuring the long- and short-term health and safety of the people who work the mines instead of allowing the effect on their families and physical well-being to be a crapshoot.

on a final note, i’ve never seen a person more brazenly motivated by money than this man–his political positions are based solely on his job and what political rules (or lack thereof) will make it easiest for him to make a profit, and that’s it. he’ll throw the environment under the bus (like so many, unfortunately), but he’s also willing to risk the lives of the people who work for him. so i completely disagree with him–the government NEEDS to get involved. the system NEEDS to be changed to shift the economic incentive to match up with the action that will best care for the mine employees.

Don Blankenship says that “politicians get emotional” about disasters. fuck yes, anyone with a soul would be emotional about the senseless and PREVENTABLE deaths of 29 people, the soulless fucktard who cares more about his profits than the loss of family members sees it as an inconvenient glitch in his mine’s production.



i’m passing this on to all the teabaggers. ~.m. by maria b.

not that they’d be reading this blog, though. anyway, there’s this great blog i check in on every once in a while (here’s another one while i’m at it), and i came across a post there that i had to make sure i had on record for myself. i’m putting my favorite part on our blog, but the rest of it is here.

I can’t help but recall hearing a whole lot of patronizing advice from these same people [Conservatives] a few years back when anyone breathed that President Bush might not have legitimately taken office since he lost the popular vote, his brother manipulated the system in Florida and he was was installed by a partisan supreme court decision. Back then it was all “get over it,” and “I’ve got political capital and I’m gonna spend it!” Now, these same people are all screaming that it’s a usurpation if the Democrats win the majority and then pass legislation that they don’t like.

It’s fairly clear that Republicans don’t understand how democracy works. You campaign, people vote, you win elections, you get a majority, you pass legislation. They seem to think Democracy means that that elections are irrelevant, majorities are meaningless and that all legislation is contingent upon the permission of the Republican Party.

I’m sorry these people are so unhappy. I know how they feel. I used to hate it when the Republicans passed some disgusting initiative that went against everything I believe in. But I don’t recall having a mental breakdown at the notion that they could do it even though I didn’t want them to. The idea that they were obligated to do my bidding didn’t actually cross my mind.

As they used to say repeatedly, “elections have consequences.” If the people don’t like this bill, they have every right to turn the Democrats out of office and repeal it. But screaming hysterically that it’s cheating to pass legislation with a majority just proves that these folks’ great reverence for the constitution is based more on their love of wearing funny hats than anything that’s written in it.

ugh, seriously. get over it, already. btw…




re: abortion as a felony in florida. ~.m. by maria b.

so, i saw over at Feministing that some douchebag legislator in Florida wants to charge doctors who perform abortions with first-degree felonies punishable by up to life in prison. they provided his e-mail address there, and i was fired up enough to shoot him one. (i’m not from Florida or anything, but what the hell, i AM a woman.) i’m putting it here for posterity, and if i get any kind of real response back from his office, i’ll make sure to mention it.

To the Honorable Charles E. Van Zant: [it automatically starts it for you that way]

It has come to my attention that you are the sponsor of HB 1097, which seeks to charge doctors who perform abortions for women with felonies and imprison them for life.

I have a few problems with your proposed legislation:

First, why are you prosecuting the doctors and not the women seeking to have the abortions done? Do you think that a woman who asks a doctor to perform an abortion (in the case of rape or incest; in the case that the fetus has a deformity or genetic defect that would make its life outside the womb painful, miserable, expensive and short) should also be charged with a crime? If you don’t think so, why? I find it very hard to believe that a woman who asks for and receives an abortion doesn’t know that it’s an abortion, that she’s terminating her pregnancy.

Secondly, I see that you are a Republican representative. Is one of the tenets of your political ideology not “smaller government” with less intrusion into the private lives of its citizens? More freedom from government regulations, laws and programs that tell us what to do with our money, property, families, jobs and selves? I am politically literate, so I know that the answer to these questions I pose to you is yes. So, I ask you: How do you reconcile this philosophy of smaller government and less intrusion into the lives of private citizens with your sponsorship of legislation that seeks to regulate the choices of private citizens about their own bodies?

Since you are a Republican, I consider it safe to assume that you are of some Christian faith persuasion. While I respect that the current interpretation of some choice Biblical scriptures by some very vocal Christians and Catholics is that abortion is the ending of a human life, I resent the fact that you are attempting to impose that RELIGIOUS view onto other people who may not share it, and I resent the fact that you are attempting to do it through legislation when it says in the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause (and was later clarified by Thomas Jefferson) that there is a separation of church and state in our country. Personally, I do not share your belief and I find it infuriating that people like you intend to legislate my body and my personal decisions based on your religious moral code.

I identify as a pro-choice woman informed by the personal experience of having a uterus and all the responsibilities that come along with it, and I very much resent the thought of you, a man with no comparable firsthand experience, writing legislation telling me and other women what to do with our bodies. I also think it’s safe to assume that you have little or no experience with how difficult it is to raise a child while working full-time and without the support of a spouse, significant other or family to help you take care of a baby.

Where we can find common ground is this: I believe that abortions should be as rare as possible. They are difficult decisions to make, especially when the pregnancy terminated was planned. The best way to address this issue, then, is to make sure that women get the proper prenatal care so the likelihood of birth defects, low birth weights and other health complications is reduced, and to provide women with comprehensive and accurate information about sex and contraceptives and to provide easy and affordable access to contraceptives.

We women, Mr. Zant, are intelligent enough to be trusted by you (the government) with making the best decisions for ourselves and our bodies, whether you agree with them or not. But your sponsorship of this legislation indicates to me that you do not share this belief. You believe that you are more qualified to decide what is right for women than women for themselves, than the doctors who went to school for almost a decade studying the science, ethics and practice of human medicine. I find it arrogant of you to believe that you know better than the medical experts and better than the women dealing firsthand with their situation

The current state of national abortion law is not perfect, but it should satisfy you: those opposed to abortion are not forced to have abortions, they are free to speak out against the practice, and “partial-birth abortion” has been outlawed; those who believe that abortion should be an option for women facing dangerous or otherwise unwanted pregnancies can access them (not easily enough, however) and are also free to express their support of the option. Free speech for all, and limited government intrusion into our private lives and bodies. I cannot understand why you’d want to go further with the legislation of reproductive rights.



andrew sullivan: pot, meet kettle. ~.m. by maria b.

as if we needed another example of Sarah Palin’s hypocrisy.
SARAHTRIGBillPugliano:Getty

note: regarding the categories, while religion and sexism isn’t explicitly mentioned in this post, how can i not tag something about Sarah Palin “sexism” and “religion ugh”?



rush limbaugh can’t be supportive of women even when he’s saying he’s supportive of women. ~.m. by maria b.

respecting women fail.

misogyny at its finest. i wish horrible things on this… “person”.



high points and low points from this past week. ~.m. by maria b.

Highs:

Lows:

  • Alito revealed in this week’s SOTU his political leanings (like we didn’t know.) the hypocrisy from the right is incredulous, overdramatic, hypocritical and unsurprising.
  • more right wing hypocrisy, this time re: Hawaii.
  • paul shirley, former NBA player for the Bulls, is an asshole, elitist, bigot and all-round piece of shit. his post begins: “I don’t know if what I’m about to write makes me a monster.” so he’s already questioning his ideas. short answer: fuck yes, go fuck yourself. with a condom, obviously. this is so wrong i don’t even know where to begin.
  • iPad: haha, women have periods. eeeeww! so gross! get over it. it’s a fucking computer. (nuanced point: i think it’s funny to joke about how Apple might market tampons and pads, but this reaction smacks of second-grade humor. “they said ‘pad’! teehee!)
  • Howard Zinn & J.D. Salinger bite the dust. bummer.


fyi: health care is fucked. ~.m. by maria b.

Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi has a piece published last week that breaks down the timeline of the U.S. government’s half-assed attempt at revamping the healthcare system. it’s depressing in its realism and infuriating in its breakdown of all the turncoat politicians and various other political machinery working against anything of substance actually being accomplished. if you care about health care reform and the U.S. eventually getting a single-payer system, you should read this. (it won’t make your day, but knowing who’s doing what for healthcare is certainly important.)