I’m back, and I’m mad

I’m back and I’m mad.

I hate that feeling when I stop and censor myself and only post something to friends instead of public, because I’m afraid of someone from work facebook creeping my public profile and it affecting my job security, because I work in a conservative state for conservative clients and… Argh.

There’s a thing on Facebook where people are mass checking in at Standing Rock to ruin it being used by police against DAPL protestors, and I wanted to participate. Doesn’t seem like it’d be a bit deal, right? But Oklahoma is where oil is King, and being associated with that might not be a wise choice, you know? I mean, it’s probably not a big deal, but then I go thinking about how we can’t afford for me to lose my job, that I have a family I have to provide for, and I feel guilty because safeguarding my ability to provide for my family is more important to me than my activism and I feel like I’m part of the problem rather than the solution but that doesn’t change my decision because I DO know which is more important to me.

Then I get angry because we live in a world where there are basically zero legal barriers to firing me for my politics, and little enough safety net to catch us if I did get fired for it until I found a new job.

So I wanted to vent. Not that I have time, which is why I stopped in the first place, but I’m going to give this blog another shot and use this instead. For whatever that’s worth.

-VoG

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Sanders and other recent events

Skived off work before Super Tuesday to go to a Sanders rally in a neighboring city in Oklahoma. Exhausting, strenuous (the last rally I went to, I was a very small child and was carried. I didn’t realize how much standing or sitting on concrete there was.), and stressful. As gratifying as crowds chanting ‘break them up’ is, when your paycheck ultimately comes from banks, it makes you nervous about being associated with it. Got to see him speak from a few feet away though, after the rally. I’d talk about how exciting it was to see so many supporters and how many there were, but he won the primary in Oklahoma so it feels a little redundant.

Watched the debate with Wee Fierce Beastie and liveblogged it, but I need to see about a more public medium for it for me. She has plenty of readers on Facebook, but mostly my liveblogging is read by her. WordPress is a bit time consuming for snap posts and they get a bit spammy anyways. Considering twitter, I did set up @voiceoftheguard, which I’m impressed was available.

I think this was the best debate yet. Sanders pissed me off being alarmist about destroying the American gun manufacturing industry if we regulate it too heavily (…so where’s the downside? I jest…except I’m kind of not). Clinton pissed me off for a variety of reasons. Defending corporate welfare (The State Department is Boeing’s international sales division, and just because everyone else does it doesn’t mean it’s right for us to do it too), evading calls for her to release her Wall Street paid speeches (Sanders isn’t refusing to release his speeches to Wall Street, saying you’ll release them when everyone else does the same is a bullshit dodge, Clinton), and, near and dear to every Oklahoman, fracking. Not a word about earthquakes, just saying local communities should be able to ban it (great, except when the next county over doesn’t and the earthquakes don’t respect our local political boundaries), methane emissions (doesn’t do anything to stop it from happening here), and releasing a full list of chemicals they put into the fracking fluid (I don’t give a damn. I fully acknowledge that pumping it deep enough, with impermeable strata between it and aquifers will keep it from contaminating our water tables. Now, keeping it from compromising our bedrock, I don’t see how that helps.)

Bernie is doing well with delegate counts, though. 471 to Clinton’s 658, once you skip superdelegates which shouldn’t be counted at this point. There are just under three thousand delegates still up for grabs, this primary fight is far from over.

-VoG

Voter ID laws

I’m mad about Voter ID laws. Wee Fierce Beastie and I bought a home, updated our drivers licenses and updated our voter registrations not all that long ago. Now, I also got shown this by Wee Fierce Beastie recently: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Voting

It’s true, and pretty funny, but it missed one thing that is really worth mentioning. Voter ID laws as presently formulated are arguably violations of the 24th Amendment and subsequent court rulings strengthening and extending it’s protection to state elections.

For those of us who don’t have the U.S. Constitution and its amendments memorized in its entirety (No shame. I’m included.):

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

As mentioned above, subsequent Supreme Court rulings (Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections), ruled poll taxes unconstitutional in state elections as well.

Are voter ID laws a form of poll tax? They’re certainly a barrier to voting. Doesn’t everyone have a drivers license? Well, no. Do you know anyone who doesn’t drive? They probably don’t. How about an elderly family member who, again likely for reasons of not driving, doesn’t have a valid, unexpired license? No big deal to get one? Well, for starters, have you been to the DMV (or DPS, whatever) lately? Waiting in line at the DMV is a cliche for a reason. Locations frequently aren’t open very often. As in, not 5 days a week, and frequently even less frequently.

That’s also covered by the video. The real issue is, aside from all the obstacles of complex and specific requirements as to what constitutes adequate proof of eligibility and identity to get ID required for voting, there is the issue of the fees required to obtain the documents required. If you lost your birth certificate, do you know what the fee is to get one?

It’s probably not a ton. In Oklahoma it’s $15, and actually Oklahoma just requires a social security number to register to vote, and you get a voter ID card that suffices to vote with, and even if you lose it, you can vote a provisional ballot. It’s weirdly…not as horrible as I expected. That isn’t true in a huge number of states, though.

$15 (or whatever it is in your state), big deal, right? I mean even if you had to pay it every year to vote, that’s not too bad, right? If you were going to vote before, you’d probably still pay that. But what if it were more? Just about everyone has a line at which they’d…well, they’d like to vote, but…it’s only one vote and it probably won’t make a difference and it’s a lot of hassle anyways and with the added expense…It might be $150, it might be $1,500, but for some people, it’ll be $15. If you feel entitled to look down on someone for not being able to justify $15 to vote, then you need to check your fucking privilege.

As presently formulated, our system is that all citizens of legal age, unless disqualified for various reasons (felony, for instance…and I have issues with that too. Another time.), are entitled to vote. There are lists of reasons you can’t be disqualified to vote, and not having enough money to pay the tax to vote is one of those banned reasons.

There should be NO financial barriers to being able to vote.

And while we’re at it, why don’t we cut most of the ‘having the leisure of being able to take time off work’ bureaucratic barriers? Make voter registration automatic wherever possible (if you meet the criteria and they have sufficient information (say, because you got a state ID/driver’s license), you can vote), and go ahead and fucking make election days holidays.

-VoG

Things you shouldn’t have to celebrate

I really like my job. I’m pretty damn good at it, I get paid a reasonable salary, and my coworkers are usually tolerable and occasionally genuinely quite likable, and the work varies from tolerable to genuinely challenging and satisfying. Oh, and free lunch which is frequently edible!

It has a few really obnoxious elements, though, and that’s part of why I made this blog. I want to be able to talk about them, without fear of retaliation. Usually this is in the nature of ‘Coworkers who have really horrible opinions that I wish I didn’t know they held’.

Sometimes it’s just really questionable shit that I don’t understand why we do as a company given the dubious ethical nature of the decisions and the lack of any logical reason for doing so.

Employees who are hourly-wage contractors for personnel agencies working a few months on a probationary basis before we hire them on permanently, being told not to put a mandatory department meeting that occurs outside their regular shift and in excess of their scheduled 40 hours being a great example.

Well, I get to celebrate that no longer being the case. They are, finally, being allowed to leave a little early one day within a few days of the meeting so they only work 40 hours.

Previously they were told, when asked how to handle it on their time sheets, not to put it on them, that it’s kind of a show of dedication thing. This both by our department head and occasionally by their liaison at the personnel agency.

It took more than a year and the entire department, including supervisors, everyone but the department head, thinking it was ridiculous (let them go home early. Pay 2 hours of overtime a month. Pick one!) and knowing it was a violation of Fair Labor Standards Act (yeah, half the department ended up researching that after a fiasco involving sick days that ended up getting reversed by HR two weeks later.), but it’s no longer the case.

I’d liked to have suggested to every new contract employee for the last year or so that they should ask about the issue with their personnel agency liaison in written form, and I’d liked to have informed them that it isn’t legal for their employer to require them to do that, and that they can file a complaint with the Department of Labor about it to address the issue if they don’t get the problem resolved. I’d like to have done those things. But I can’t.

-VoG

Changing tastes

Re-reading authors you’ve liked for a long time can be weird when they’re kind of political writers. Reading some of John Ringo’s arguably less political writing, the ‘Troy Rising’ series, for, oh, the…seventh time, I think, and some of the subtler political barbs are bugging me more. John Ringo confuses me sometimes. Military fiction and military sci-fi, a certain degree of pro-military/hawkish politics is probably inevitable, or at least difficult to avoid. You write a scenario wherein military action is justified, unless you’re telling a very specific kind of story.

Ringo confuses me because he’s clearly conservative, but he’s difficult to peg as a conservative. He doesn’t seem to be extremely socially conservative (I can’t really call him socially progressive. He seems apathetic about gay people, for the most part, not hostile, but certainly not terribly concerned about justice for them, either.), but while economically conservative, he seems to be more comfortable with things like taxation and compassion than you usually see from more hardcore economic conservatives. Yet at times he’s been rabidly anti-liberal in his writing, so I’m not sure I buy that he’s just adopting the native clothing among Baen’s fairly heavily conservative reader base. The problem is his criticisms of liberals tend to be stereotypical, unsupported, and very, very non-specific.

It comes across like the unquestioned belief accepted from one’s rearing and peers that the ‘other’ is bad, even though that doesn’t mesh with your own views. It just feels unexamined and that makes me a little sad.

David Weber can be a little problematic in similar respects but honestly rarely bothers me to the same degree. The People’s Republic of Haven comes to mind, but as a portrayal of a welfare state run amok it really comes across almost as parody to my mind, more a device created to fill a need plausibly than a statement that this is the inevitable fate of any attempt at social welfare.

-VoG

Krugman and Clinton

I’ve been getting frustrated reading Krugman lately. I don’t completely disagree with anything he’s said, but I don’t like it. He’s a supporter for single-payer healthcare, as am I, but he thinks it is completely politically unfeasible at the present time and not worth pursuing with the ACA. He doesn’t think Sanders is un-electable, but thinks Clinton is the stronger candidate, because she’s more pragmatic and gradual in her progressive policy, and has survived decades of attempted character assassination from the right.

I’m not really prepared to say he’s  wrong, but I don’t agree. I’m definitely a Sanders supporter at this point. I definitely will vote Clinton if she gets the nomination, of course. I know he’s more of a radical, and I know the Presidency is a tricky position, more one of influence than power.

I’d love to see single-payer healthcare, but I’m honestly not super optimistic Sanders will achieve it, and I recognize he may spend a lot of political capital trying to make it happen without a lot to show for it if he’s elected.

My worry is long trends and dealing with them now before the hole we have to dig ourselves out of as a society is even deeper. We have returned to historical norms for wealth inequality (and didn’t history mostly suck, for the man in the street? Or at least, hasn’t it gotten a lot better over the last 80 years or so?). We also have Citizens United and massively increased access to political power for those with large amounts of wealth at their disposal. The middle class is shrinking, and we’re becoming a working class nation. Women’s rights are under assault, the Supreme Court is under siege by conservatives, and several justices are well above average retirement age.

Clinton is a vote for gradual progress and a general maintenance of the status quo. Unfortunately, not all challenges we face are static, or gradual in nature. Things are getting worse and with the potential to rapidly accelerate. Accumulation of power isn’t linear, it’s multiplicative. The more ground we lose, the faster we lose the ground we have.

Krugman seems more comfortable with the predictable, and the certain. That doesn’t make him a bad person, but my conscience dictates supporting a needful dose of radicalism, and that means Sanders.

-VoG