How We Have Failed Since September 11, Redux

First posted here on September 10, 2014

How We Have Failed since September 11

Tonight President Obama will address the nation about ISIS and any actions that we may take in response to the horrific murders of Americans and innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.

Tomorrow there will be an observance in my community, and many others, to honor the thousands of lives lost to hate and terrorism, and to support the families and friends who knew someone they loved would never return home again.

Since September 11, 2001 we as a country have talked a lot about being kinder to one another and being a better country. Yet 13 years later this is what consumes us as a country:

  • fighting about allowing two consenting adults of the same-sex to legally marry each
  • failing to take care of the thousands of veterans who have defended our country, many of whom returned with horrible wounds from the Middle East since September 2001
  • allowing private corporations to decided which forms of legal birth control they will cover for employees through company based health insurance because some corporations should have the same privileges as churches
  • granting corporations the same rights as citizens so businesses can pour money into elections and our representatives’ pockets
  • making it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote
  • subsidizing corporations with huge tax breaks while their employees working full-time never earn enough to break the poverty barrier
  • denying the hard facts of science because profits should come before cleaning up the mess we’ve made of the entire planet
  • deporting children
  • complaining about failing schools while slashing teacher pay and testing our children to death
  • sitting by silently while racism and sexism are displayed proudly
  • being sure we can take our assault rifles into the grocery store
  • we pay for and support violence on playing fields, in the movies we watch, video games we buy, music we listen to, and television shows we watch, but we react with horror when students are sprayed with bullets in their classrooms, women are drug from elevators by their hair, students are bullied, children and women are raped as well as being forced into prostitution
  • too many among us are convinced that their brand of faith should be followed above all others, and if necessary the rights of other citizens should be denied because they choose to worship differently, or not at all

We absolutely should remember and honor the victims of September 11th’s violence. I’m just not convinced we are a country that is a better reflection of the democratic values and freedoms which terrorists intended to destroy 13 years ago.

 

When the data scare folks

Earlier this week I found this nifty tool for comparing the healthcare plan proposed by the Republicans (Trumpcare) to the current plan in place (Obamacare). Let’s call the plans what they are, since the Republicans considered attaching the former President’s name to the health care plan he championed, which provided affordable insurance to over 20Million more Americans, as a negative way to tag the plan and policies.

I also shared the Kaiser Family Foundation’s tool in a FaceBook group that was put together to support the hospital in my rural county. All I did was compare the differences in costs for a 60 year-old making $40,000 per year. I used the names Affordable Care Act and Affordable Health Care for America, not Obamacare and Trumpcare, respectively. I didn’t even mention either President or member of Congress by name.

Yesterday a local man took issue with posting the tool and providing the difference in coverage costs as criticism of the plan and the hospital. I responded today:

I am sharing the data. The tool allows people to use it themselves if they choose to do that. Both plans impact the access to care, and affordability of that care for local residents. Both plans also directly impact our hospital.

If we want to keep our hospital open and viable, it will take a combination of many funding streams- that’s not a criticism of the hospital. Hospital admins and leaders have been frank about the diverse source of funds and payer load that is required to keep the hospital open. I have not named any elected officials, nor criticized anyone, OR provided any information that can’t be verified. If sharing information in a polite and civil forum “stirs people up,” that is something that people who are “stirred up” must resolve for themselves. I’m not afraid to do some of the work of being an informed citizen, and share what I learn if others want to use those resources. The proposed legislation is being fast-tracked, so there isn’t a lot of time to “wait for all the data to be processed.”

I’m smart enough to look at the numbers myself and work through the differences- I don’t have to wait for someone to explain it to me.

Have a good day and weekend.

What’s so scary about a an easy-to-use data tool with information that is readily available and verifiable? What’s to get “stirred up for no reason” about looking at information yourself? And perhaps worse, why does anyone think that we ought to, “wait for all the data to be processed.’? Even though this in a complex problem, it isn’t rocket science.

Why are Trump supporters so unhappy about comparing Trumpcare data to Obamacare data?

The mansplaining and “don’t you worry missy, wait until someone can explain it all to you” is another problem. If you look at the provisions for women’s health care in the Trumpcare plan, and the lack of respect for women and our ability to make information decisions about our health and bodies, well, no wonder this man thought I needed to just sit down and be quiet.

Clearly I didn’t take his words to heart.

Throw like a girl, vote like a woman

Earlier this week Fox News’ Kimberly Guilfoyle urged young women to skip the voting booth and spend time on Match.com because they don’t pay bills, have mortgages, or apparently, any semblance of a life beyond fussing with clothes, hair, and chasing men. Guilfoyle and others in this segment don’t urge young men to skip voting.

As a stark contrast, Chevrolet is running an ad during the World Series featuring 13 year old pitcher Mo’ne Davis. The poised and talented pitcher begins the ad by saying, “Dear America” and closes it with, “Sincerely, Your Daughter, Mo’ne Davis.”

Which message do you want the young women of America to hear?

Fox News “A-Team” doc says Michelle Obama “needs to drop a few”

Shepard Smith isn’t the only one making completely inappropriate comments at Fox News this week. Yesterday psychiatrist Dr Keith Ablow,  a member of the cable channel’s “Medical A- Team” said First Lady Michelle Obama isn’t qualified to advocate for improved children’s nutrition because she needs to “drop a few” pounds.

This is wrong on so many levels, but I’m short on time.

Ablow is another man criticizing a woman and her intellect by saying her weight makes her unfit (no pun intended) to advocate for better nutrition. (I guess a Harvard law school degree and being a concerned parent aren’t enough to understand the basics of nutrition and exercise.)

Albow’s larger mistake, literally, is to criticize an obviously fit women while his own gut strains against his shirt buttons and spills over his belt.

The women surrounding him aren’t any better about Ms Obama’s nutrition advocacy. One complains that the First Lady sounds like a duchess (is that code for she speaks like Kate Middleton?) while another envies Ms Obama’s “booty.”

But like I said, I’m short on time.

If you had three daughters

Today’s post was contributed by Rob Teilhet, an Atlanta attorney and former state legislator.

Rob TeilhetIn the span of about 72 hours since Donald Sterling was revealed as a racist on audiotape, the NBA moved decisively by banning him for life and setting in motion a process that will force him to sell his team. There is no place in the NBA for a racist. It has been awesome to see an organization not only get it, but act on it without hesitation.

There is another issue that I wish we would move on with the same urgency: violence against women.

Just as I heard Donald Sterling on tape describing his abhorrent views regarding race, I also saw on videotape Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his girlfriend’s limp body through a casino lobby. Her body was limp because he had beaten her unconscious in front of several witnesses minute before. He is still in the NFL and is still a Raven.

The Tallahassee Police Department declined to investigate an alleged sexual assault of a female student by a football player at the local university, an activity that had been videotaped. Had the tape been obtained and witnesses interviewed at the time of the report, we would probably know whether the assault that was alleged took place. Now, we’ll never know. Everyone involved with the exception of the alleged victim continues in the same capacity they were in before, and no one has been sanctioned or faced discipline in any way for any of it.

In Ann Arbor, the placekicker and star left tackle were alleged to have been involved in a sexual assault and subsequent harassment of the victim. For four years no action was taken. The placekicker was eventually expelled from school–after his eligibility had expired. In the FSU and Michigan cases, the federal government will require some answers for why these public universities chose to do so little. The investigations into the institution’s inaction will last months, probably even years. Would we have accepted that timeline for Mr. Sterling?

And just this morning, I read that we still do not know the answer to what seems to be a relatively simple question: Did Vanderbilt’s then-football coach contact a woman in the days after she made a sexual assault report against four of the team’s players and if he did, what was the nature and purpose of that contact? That is an easy question to find out the answer to, yet it has not been done. It hasn’t been done either because no one in authority cares whether it happened or they don’t want to know the answer. Both are unacceptable.

The saddest part is that I could keep going all morning. When women are the victims, there is so very little action, and it is so very, very late. And people seem to be largely o.k. with that.

Maybe if you had three daughters, you’d feel differently.

How to tell time like a man

The flack over L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments is well-deserved. While the players, fans, media, and public chew the NBA team owner up, Sterling is guilty of much more than being an anti-Semitic racist.

Sterling is also a bastion of sexism. He tells his girlfriend ((he’s had several according to news reports)  that he can, “find a girl who will do what I want” if she won’t. Add the condescending tone he uses in the recording making the rounds, and it is clear that women are disposable goods to him.

Sterling is making headline news with his hate-filled views, but sexism is still all too prevalent in our world, in both blatant and subtle ways. This ad appears in the May issue of the Georgia EMC magazine:

men's watchWritten in the first person, the ad copy includes,”This watch doesn’t do dainty. And neither do I. Call me old-fashioned, but I want my boots to be leather, my tires to be tread monsters, and my steak thick and rare. Inspiration for a man’s watch should come from things like fast cars, firefighters, and power tools.”

I checked the Stauer site and fortunately they have watches designed for women complete with flowers on the watch face. None of the watches include digital choices. Is this code for “digital isn’t for women, just manly men?”

 

The flowery women’s watches didn’t include a description of what a woman who owns one of their fine timepieces might eat or drive. I’m guessing Stauer’s target market is women who drive hybrid cars to luncheons, where they fuss over tiny tea sandwiches and petit fours. Then they check their watches so they can get home and have dinner ready for Ward, Wally, and the Beav.

 

 

 

 

Chevrolet gets it all wrong

I like to watch a good football game. Sunday I caught the end of the Broncos-Patriot game (go Peyton Manning) and then watched the entire 49ers-Seahawks game. My husband went to bed but I stuck with it until the trophy was presented (including that horrible interview between Pam Oliver and Jim Harbaugh).

The online world lit up after Chevrolet ran an ad several times during the games touting their High Country pickup truck. The truck looks like it is a thing of beauty, comfort, and performance.

The High Country isn’t built to appeal to people who like tofu, veggie burgers, and kale (and quinoa, based on the Chevy Trucks Facebook page).

Chevrolet said so.

Chevrolet thinks tofu is for women, as the macho truck driving man hands an attractive woman a recyclable  grocery bag while the voiceover says “tofu” (nice touch adding the eco-friendly bag). Ridiculing veggie burgers and kale salad were next on the menu.

But enough of that girly stuff. Chevrolet switches to football jersey wearing men tearing into the food Chevrolet thinks their truck owners eat: beef burgers and grilled chicken cooked over a fire. They close with a visual of the large covered smoker the truck pulled to the cookout, and say of tofu, veggie burgers, and kale, “be damned” (whew-that set off a firestorm of criticism).

The number of American farms owned and operated by women doubled between 1982-2007. The USDA reported in April of last year that 1 Million women are the primary and secondary operators of farms in our country, boosting our ranks to 30 percent of the farm owners in our country. The United Soybean Producers “Farmer Profiles” page includes two women among the five growers featured there.

I’ll bet somewhere on their farms those women have a pickup truck. Maybe a couple of them. I wonder if these women know High Country pickup truck drivers are not the kind of people who eat soybean based foods like tofu or veggie burgers, you know, “girl” foods.

Maybe during the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks Chevrolet will introduce a full size pickup truck that is only powered by renewable energy. In pink. With cup holders designed for yogurt containers and hummus. Because women deserve a “special for us” choice in pickup trucks too.

No Dodging women

The Super Bowl commercials seem to have generated more discussion about sexism, violence, and race than creative”wow” factor (GoDaddy’s Kissfest spot wasn’t just lacking in creativity, Democratic campaign strategist and Sunday morning political pundit Donna Brazil thought viewers may have lost their dinner over it).

Audi seems to land at the top of every critic’s list for the Prom Night spot it ran early in the evening. Forbes columnist Jennifer Rooney summed up the ad’s offenses: sexual assault, violence, and sports car driven machismo (no pun intended). Add Doritos for stereotyping and mimicking little girl’s play, Mars candy making M&Ms unpalatable, and a Calvin Klein ad that left a lot of men thinking they need to put the wings and beer down and clear off the Nordic Track, and the season for Super Bowl ads was pretty disappointing.

And then Dodge Ram Trucks told “The Rest of the Story” complete with a Paul Harvey
voice-over.

The beautifully produced spot giving American farmers much-needed recognition in front of a huge global audience made critics and viewers swoon.  However, Dodge’s commercial was so busy marginalizing women and minorities who farm, that I had no idea whose trucks had just been advertised.

Based on the Dodge commercial one might think that “farmin’ is man’s work” and really, white men’s work.

I counted 12 white men, 2 white boys, 1 white women, 1 black male, 1 Hispanic male, 1 Hispanic woman, 1 white girl, 2 pair of white hands (I don’t know what the gender is of the person holding the baby chick, could be a young boy or young woman), and one white family (with two adult men at the table). I couldn’t determine the race of two men.

The United States Census of Agriculture used to think only men farm too. Up until 2002 it only collected data on one operator per farm, which meant the “womin folk” weren’t counted if there were men folk on the farm.

Between 2002 and 2007 the number of women led farms grew by 19 percent to over 1M women strong. The 2007 US Census of Agriculture reports that 30 percent of our nation’s farmers are women, and we run 14 percent of the farms as the principal operator.

Some of the staunchest allies I have met fighting proposed coal plants in Georgia are women farmers. They understand what will happen when a coal plant begins sucking 16M gallons of water a day from the groundwater that waters their livestock and crops. One woman asked if she could even call her produce organic if it is exposed to such high levels of coal plant toxins. And what will their land be worth if coal emission stacks cast a shadow over their fields?

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Laura Norris working in Ben Hill County

My friend Laura Norris grew up, and farms, in Ben Hill County. There are stretches of time when she works her family’s farm alone and puts in long days in steamy south Georgia. Laura told me, “I come from a long line of hard-working farm women. My grandfather was a farmer and his wife and three daughters worked in the fields right beside him. When my 98 year old Great Aunt was in her last year of life, we asked her if there was anything she’d like to do again if given the chance. She smiled and said, “I’d like to crop tobacco one more time…”

Long before there were trucks to drive, women farmed, raised barns, herded cattle, cooked what they harvested, and women made the money stretch a little further.

Farming will make you humble. It will make you stay up at night worrying that there isn’t enough rain, or too much. Will the price I can get support my family? Will we have enough hay this winter?

We need to make a special effort to support the farmers who show up at local farmer’s markets with vegetables still wet with last night’s dew. They are our friends and neighbors, sharing their love of the land in our communities and what it can give to us in return for good stewardship. And millions of them are women.