Monday, 31 January 2011

dc voting rights

this whole discussion about dc being a "federal city" makes me nuts!

can you imagine if, when we were "rebuilding" iraq, we had said iraq needs to have a country-wide elections, but baghdad can't vote b/c it is the seat of government. no one in the international or american community would stand for that. that is how it is for us living in dc.

this is from wiki:
Because the United States Constitution places the District of Columbia under the sole control of Congress, all acts of the [district city] council are subject to congressional override, and thus the council has less power than most city councils in the United States. However, because the District is not part of any state, Congress has devolved many powers normally exercised by state governments to the District's government; thus, the council considers many matters that would fall to county and state legislatures elsewhere in the United States.

this means the ability of dc to make laws that provide safety (gun ban) and freedom (gay marriage) for ourselves is impossible. even if a law is passed by referendum in dc with overwhelming support of the citizens of DC, congress can change the law. which they recently did when they said that our ban on guns was unconstitutional.

essentially, people from hawaii to massachusetts, who aren't even living temporarily in DC, determine what laws are ok and how our taxes should be spent. WHAT?!

the people that make decisions about our "state" are the following, please note that elenor holmes, the only person elected from DC, and living in DC, doesn't have the right to vote. she can argue, but cannot vote. here is the make up of the committees:

Member NameDC PhoneDC FAX
Trey Gowdy (R-SC) [Chairman]202-225-6030202-226-1177
Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ)202-225-2315202-226-9739
Dan Burton (R-IN)202-225-2276202-225-0016
John L. Mica (R-FL)202-225-4035202-226-0821
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)202-225-2576202-225-0316
Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)202-225-6831202-226-5172
Joe Walsh (R-IL)202-225-3711202-225-7830
Minority Members (Democrats)
Member NameDC PhoneDC FAX
Danny K. Davis (D-IL) [Ranking Member]202-225-5006202-225-5641
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)202-225-8050202-225-3002
William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-MO)202-225-2406202-226-3717
Chris Murphy (D-CT)202-225-4476202-225-5933

on the senate side:

Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia

Democrats

Republicans

Daniel K. Akaka Chairman (D-HI)George V. Voinovich Ranking Member (R-OH)
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Carl Levin (D-MI)Scott Brown (R-MA)
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Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA)Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
imageimage
Roland Burris (D-IL)
imageimage
Christopher A. Coons (D-DE)


for a city that historically votes quite democrat, it is amazing to see some of THE most conservative junior members of congress on the house committee.

currently they are waging a battle to resend the district council's decision to allow gay marriage and apparently the speaker of the house has high hopes for making the district school system better through the stroke of his almighty (and huge) gavel . . . below michael steele defends bohner's decision. it is a good discussion between steele and maddow about DC's ability to govern itself . . . and some stuff on the resurrection of the culture wars.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

isn't it time that dc get to start running itself? i mean it is a bit scary, we continue to elect marion barry to be a councilmember BUT isn't that what democracy is about? shouldn't we be able to elect a fool if we so desire? america elected dubba, and though i hated it (and felt really the supreme court kinda decided that for us) i respect the democratic process and our right to execute it.

i can't imagine that the people of the united states would support the idea that any other country's capitol city's citizens should not be able to vote. paris, no vote for you. london, sorry! or what if all the sudden china decided to have an elected government, but sorry bejing, NO VOTE FOR YOU! . . . we would call FOUL!

the framers of the constitution set things up this way because at the time the city was full of people who worked on the hill, in the white house, or as servants to those that did. obviously, that is not what the district is today. the district is full of people who work in all sectors of society and we should be able to both rule our own state AND have representation in congress.

the head of the committee is from a small town outside of greenville, sc. and for all my arizona peeps, the second guy is from flagstaff. none of the republicans live in the district (even as temporary residents during their term in office).

can someone explain what a guy from flagstaff can understand about the violence, drugs, and culture of this city. also, what is their motivation for doing right by the people of DC? it is true that my "state" tax dollars are often "earmarked" for roads and schools in california, south carolina, and probably flagstaff.

so while we suffer with horrible schools and crappy roads here, the people of flagstaff get my taxes (not federal but my state taxes) to improve their schools and roads to make some congressman look like he can deliver for his constituents.

wanna talk about a tea party! wasn't the tea party about being taxed without representation? i have one of the highest tax rates an american can have, and because my state can't control its own budget AND because we have no voice in congress, our dollars are stolen from us and put to use all over the US.

so, no wonder we can't end the violence, fix the decrypted schools, repair the pot hole ladened roads, clean up the atrociously unkempt parks, etc . . . our hands are tied behind our backs. DC is not a good representation of the people who live. we are a progressive lot. we want safety, good schools, access to healthy food, and despite all this effed up government we share a strong sense of community. this city is a victim and clear demonstration of selfish behavior in congress. pure and simple. unless you can help me understand why this arcane rule is still in place, i will believe the problems of DC as one of the bright and shinny symptoms of congressional greed.

i'm sick of it. it is stupid, un-American, and mean. its all politics. my guess is most people agree that i should have representation in congress. but then people start to think it through and realize that DC usually votes democratic, so then suddenly partisan politics have to come into play.

though, i tip my che hat to orrin hatch and joe lieberman. they proposed a totally decent idea. utah would get an additional house seat in exchange for DC getting one vote in congress. it's kinda silly, but it was a middle ground. that way DC doesn't disrupt the balance of power. but even that didn't fly. the senate passed it 61-37 then john ensign decided he could add a line about us having to let weapons rule our streets (so much for being able to control your own destiny) and it pass 62-36 (i'm guessing he changed his vote) but the house went no where with it . . . do i have to nancy to blame for this?

i can't imagine what my home district (AZ-6) would do if some folks from DC decided that we were going to over-rule some of the laws that they had struggled to pass, AND we decided that we were going to take some of your state, county, and city taxes because our city has to pay to get the snow removed so that the federal government can function so, shouldn't every community getting federal dollars pay for the snow removal? seems bit crazy, but make WAY more sense than some dude in flagstaff deciding that schools in flag should be paid for by my taxes. as much as i care about the kids in flag, my feeling is the people living in that community should pay for their schools, not me.

i could go on an on. if you wouldn't mind posting a comment to help me understand what the rest of america thinks of this, i'd be most grateful.

or if you want to do something that might have more impact (though i think a discussion here might help flesh out ideas):

Letters-to-the-Editor

A great way to help raise awareness of DC's plight is to write letters-to-the-editor of your hometown, local, and national newspapers. You can be creative about where you send letters by reaching out to magazines, alumni newsletters, community newsletters, e-mail lists and blogs too.

Click here for sample text or background on DC voting rights so that you can send a letter or write an e-mail supporting equality for the residents of the District of Columbia.

Your hometown newspaper is a good place to begin or, if you would like suggestions of where to send letters to the editor, contact us!

Sweeping legislation would make Ariz. most gun-liberal state

i just got this from my dad. i am appalled. how can this even be a real consideration after what has happened in arizona?? it is seriously unconscionable.

90 comments by Alia Beard Rau - Jan. 31, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Arizona solidified its reputation last year as one of the most liberal gun states in the nation after the Legislature passed a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

This year, gun-rights advocates hope to push Arizona to the top of the list by passing a "Firearms Omnibus" bill that would make Arizona the second state in the nation to require universities and communities to allow guns on campus and one of 10 that permit guns inside public government buildings such as the state Capitol. The bill to permit guns in public buildings is one of the most comprehensive gun bills proposed so far this session. It also addresses several other issues, including concealed weapons and allowing residents to seize government property if their gun rights aren't observed.

Opponents say the all-encompassing gun bill would endanger the public and make it more difficult to prosecute people who shoot guns into the air or lie to police officers about whether they are carrying a concealed weapon.

Supporters of the bill say it is needed to ensure safety in public facilities.

The legislation is one of more than a dozen firearms-related bills proposed in Arizona this year.

Arizona isn't alone in the effort to loosen gun restrictions. Lawmakers from many other states are pushing weapons laws - some in reaction to acts of violence like the shooting near Tucson, and some because of the more-conservative makeup of their legislatures following the November election.

What it does

Senate Bill 1201, sponsored by Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, would do a number of things, including:

- Allow people to carry firearms into all government-run facilities and many public events. The only places or events that could ban firearms would be those that post the correct sign, provide firearm lockers and have armed security and a metal detector. The law would apply to university classrooms, city buses and community festivals that get government permits. It would not apply to K-12 schools.

- Change the wording of last year's concealed-weapons law to require an individual to answer "truthfully" when a law-enforcement officer asks whether the person is carrying a concealed weapon. The current wording requires the person to answer "accurately." Law-enforcement officials say the change could give leeway to a person who, for example, forgets a gun in a bag and inaccurately tells an officer he or she isn't carrying one.

- Change the wording of Shannon's Law to make it a crime to "knowingly" discharge a firearm within city limits. It's currently a crime for someone to discharge a firearm with "criminal negligence." Bill opponents said the change would mean people could be convicted of violating this law only if the prosecution could prove they knew that shooting the gun could result in someone's death or injury.

- Allow people to sue if they feel they were illegally stopped from carrying a firearm into a government facility or event. If a person wins the lawsuit and the government agency doesn't pay within 72 hours, the person has the right to seize as payment "any municipal vehicles used or operated for the benefit of any elected office holder" in the relevant government agency.

Gun climate

Gun-rights advocates found enormous success in Arizona last year in passing legislation, thanks primarily to a supportive Legislature and a conservative governor.

Gov. Jan Brewer has consistently supported Second Amendment issues.

During her first year in office, she signed a bill allowing loaded guns in bars and restaurants, as well as another that prohibits property owners from banning guns from parking areas, so long as the weapons are kept locked in vehicles. Last year, she signed the concealed-carry bill into law, along with another bill that exempts guns made and kept in the state from federal regulation.

Only Utah has fewer gun restrictions than Arizona, according to a scorecard released last year by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that advocates gun restrictions. Utah is the only state that allows concealed weapons on college campuses.

Even with the gun-friendly environment, bills to allow guns on college campuses in Arizona failed to get through the Legislature last year.

But in November, voters elected more Republicans to the state Legislature, giving the party a supermajority in both chambers. Gun bills are expected to have even more success this year.

Fourteen lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors of SB 1201, including Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa. There are also two other bills that propose to allow guns on university and community-college campuses.

A spokesman for Brewer said her office would not comment on the legislation "unless and until it reached the governor's desk."

Primary goal

The Arizona Citizens Defense League, a grassroots gun-rights group, brought SB 1201 to Gould.

Group spokesman Charles Heller calls it the "secure-buildings bill."

"We've been working on doing this for a long, long time," he said. "I don't think anybody at the Citizens Defense League has any objection to disarming in a secure place. None of us has desire to carry in a place that's prohibited. But if you're going to prohibit it, make it secure."

And if a government agency isn't willing to secure the establishment, he said, "don't disarm the victims."

"You set up a slaughter," he said.

Gould did not return a call seeking comment.

Bill opposition

Lobbyists on both sides of the issue said the details of SB 1201 are still being negotiated and amendments that change or eliminate some pieces of the legislation may be proposed.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Gould chairs. No hearing has been scheduled.

"We want to really work with the sponsor of the bill to get some changes," said Sahuarita Police Chief Jack Harris, who is president of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police. "There are some things we think are really problematic, but I think we can get these things fixed."

Harris said he was concerned that the changes in the wording of Shannon's Law and the concealed-carry law would hinder prosecution.

He also said penalties for officials and law-enforcement personnel who may violate the rules are too tough. In addition to allowing an official's vehicle to be confiscated, the bill makes it a Class 5 felony for any officer or official who violates the law and forbids any public money from being used in their legal defense.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, called the bill "crazy."

"This is absurd," Sinema said. "Arizona already has the second-most-liberal gun laws in the country."

She said it was disconcerting that lawmakers would consider allowing people to bring weapons into public buildings.

"Weapons in courtrooms in which defendants are being tried? In probation hearings? In the state Capitol?" she said. "This is problematic."


    Saturday, 29 January 2011

    Ayn Rand took government assistance while decrying others who did the same



    Noted speed freak, serial-killer fangirl, and Tea Party hero Ayn Rand was also a kleptoparasite, sneakily gobbling up taxpayer funds under an assumed name to pay for her medical treatments after she got lung cancer.
    An interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand's law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand's behalf she secured Rand's Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O'Connor (husband Frank O'Connor).
    As Pryor said, "Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out" without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn "despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently... She didn't feel that an individual should take help."
    But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so.

    kitty post -- for my mom

    my mom has been on me for months to post more photos of the kittens. unfortunately, all my awesome video of chest-bumps and photos of ridiculous amounts of adorableness were stolen when i was burglarized (ode to the year of zen! i seriously had to take a deep breathe after writing that sentence.) so for those of you less interested in coco & lola than my mom, please skip this post.

    i mean she has a point. this is the year of love, and i love these little creatures, so they deserve some face time!

    fierce coco

    hungry lola

    tired after opening all of her presents

    post-present play with lights
    though they loved all of their gifts, they really like the balls on the trees
    and the dangly lights the most


    joe & i cleaned out the basement so we could turn it into a cycling studio
    these two decided to jump up into the ceiling
    (i'd unknowingly moved a set of shelves so this was possible)
    they were covered in dust and muck
    so they had to get baths
    they did not really like it as much as you'd think

    where's lola
    (cool camou huh!)

    ali came for new years
    we forgot to take photos
    but i decided to capture this yogic knee dance for posterity
    it was a really neat moment ;)

    lola the hunter

    the hunted



    coco the hunter
    (they never got close, but lola did launch herself into the tree)



    this is how they sleep
    they are always in some kitty version of spooning

    going to the vet to get spayed
    :(



    recovering from surgery
    they spent 24 hours in my room
    because they were so nuts on drugs when we got home
    that they both were trying to run and jump on everything
    and they kept falling over due to the stitches
    the 24 hours made a big difference
    they still want to run and play, but now they can do it







    another "where's lola"

    coco with her favorite toy
    the little strip of cardboard that comes off when you open a book from amazon

    thanQ amazon!

    Friday, 28 January 2011

    Catoctin Creek Distillery

    a couple of weeks ago, i went with a group of friends to the

    "organic spirits from loudoun county, va"
    so, now you can get drunk but drink local and organic!

    we went because these two decided to get married
    lilypea and lil'p want to have fun at their wedding
    and they want to be easy on the environment
    so they decided to get everything locally
    including booze, cigars, a pig for roasting, and all the fixins
    (perfect public health wedding feast right?)

    they asked a group of their friends if we'd like to check the place out and grab lunch
    i now know way more than i should about how to make wiskey


    catoctin creek was placed on the map this year by winning a silver medal

    it is amazing because they won during their first year of business.
    scott and becky decided they were going to chase their dream.
    becky is a chemical engineer
    scott is a software guy (defense & other gov't contracts)
    they both wanted something new
    so they invested in some spendy german distilling stuff and started making booze


    there is scott teaching us about how whiskey is made
    turns out you start by making beer
    that thing holds 400 gallons
    they make a 400 gallon batch of beer of beer
    (he jokes to his brewer friends that they are only doing a 1/3 of the work)
    and then at night they add 40 lbs of rye
    and then all the yeast and live cultures eat on it
    it becomes glue-like and then turns into a porridge
    (that apparently doesn't taste very good, but is full of fiber . . . if you need that)
    then they put it in these big bins and let the yeast work its magic,
    but they get rid of the porridge stuff
    (they feed that to their neighbor's cows)

    this (the thing i'm looking in) is the distiller
    apparently as the stuff heats up 3 different substances separate out
    the head (bad and lethal), heart (what ends up being bottled and drunk), and foot (also bad)

    he explained that they decided to go with organic because you could smell and taste the pesticides in the head and foot so powerfully it made you want to gag
    he said the head smelled like perto-chemicals
    and the foot smelled like rotten fish

    now the head is this high octane substance that is 90 proof alcohol
    they take it and use it to clean all of their stuff
    this is part of what makes their distillery organic
    they make their own organic cleanser.

    and because the foot is so much cleaner now, they use it in compost.


    interesting fun fact
    catoctin creek is the first distillery in loudoun county since prohibition

    this is becky
    she is the real "chef" of the distillery
    she comes up with the recipes etc
    she is the one who quit her job to do this full time
    scott still has his day job

    because they are a small distillery they control everything by smell and taste
    the big distilleries will include more head and foot in the stuff they bottle
    but becky and scott decided early on that the most important thing would be quality
    so they err on including too much heart in the head and foot
    rather than including the bad stuff in the bottles.

    in scotland, the distillers aren't allowed to taste or smell the stuff as it is distilling.
    some government agent has the key that unlocks the part of the distiller that controls the process
    they have to make all of their decisions based on temperature
    becky thinks this really limits their ability to make good tasting stuff.

    that 400 gallons ends up being 40 gallons.
    so the level of concentration of the bad stuff is quite high
    if you leave it in, that is

    this is how/where the stuff gets put in bottles
    they will pay you with pizza and experience if you spend a saturday bottling with them
    and they let you sign the bottle

    this is whiskey made exactly the same way,
    but before they were certified organic,
    so they can't sell it as organic

    apparently the inspectors who check on their organicness give them a heads up
    but the rabbis determine if the drink is kosher will stop by any time

    an interesting fact about whiskey v. scotch etc
    after prohibition the lumber lobby convinced congress to make a law that
    american whiskey could only be made in brand new oak barrels
    this meant that distillers had to make lots of barrels
    and also created an interesting market of oak barrels from the US to scotland

    scotch ages so much longer because it takes at least twice as long to get the oak out.
    the whiskey catoctin won for is a "mosby" which means it hasn't been sitting in oak
    the only difference between the mosby and the regular is the oak barrel.
    the brown of whiskey comes from oak.

    catoctin's whiskey only sits for about 45 days.
    that is enough to change the color and give it the carmel (oak) taste
    apparently about 10 gallons (or was it pounds) of whiskey is absorbed into the wood
    this made lil' p think that beer should be made in those barrels . . .

    after learning about how whiskey was made
    we went to lunch at magnolias at the mill
    it was DELICIOUS
    and the space was really cool!!
    if you are in purceville you definitely get a snack here




    it was super fun and educational
    if you are a whiskey drinker, check this stuff out.
    if you can't get it in your area you can order online at schneiders of capitol hill
    they can ship it to you.

    i have to hand it to scott and becky,
    they took some serious risks
    (like spending their entire retirement on the distillery)
    and they are starting a cool movement of organic spirits and small distilleries

    apparently the big distilleries have had quite a hold on the laws of making
    spirits since prohibition.
    in fact, becky and scott couldn't even experiment before they made their first legal batch
    no matter the amount, making a distilled spirit for your own (or anyone else's) consumption
    is a federal crime

    can you say
    MONOPOLY??!

    seriously, it is crazy how the big companies in america control so much.

    Tuesday, 25 January 2011

    katrina's response

    this is one of my neighborhood friends responding to the listserv . . . i think she makes some really great points:

    The meetings, the vigils, the oh-so-sincere concern ... they're always the same. But nothing ever changes because the status quo is too entrenched, and people are too afraid to challenge their established prejudices. For example, the much-scapegoated methadone clinics, which not only don't contribute to neighborhood problems, but actually helped (while they were here) to reduce them.

    This innocent citizen was the victim of a huge, huge cultural divide. He tried to do what seemed to him as the only decent thing, and because of his color and his demeanor (as well as, maybe, other things), it cost him his life. People don't want to acknowledge the constant tension between the two worlds that uneasily co-exist side-by-side in the neighborhood. I see it as cultural, but there's a very big racial component to it.

    I can guarantee you that some black man, probably a young black man, was acting thuggish somehow. The citizen - who represented everything this hypothetical young man hated - got involved, and the young man's anger was instantly redirected. He may not have meant to outright kill the citizen, or he may not have cared either way. He was likely under the influence of alcohol, and also probably feeling the need to uphold his hard-core image.

    Inner city culture is very predatory. It reflects our predatory society. I see it all as connected, but people like Kathy Henderson and others on the listserv see it in black and white, citizens vs criminals terms. Kathy and her disciples think an extreme authoritarian approach is the only solution, and that anyone who disagrees (like me) is siding with the criminals ... even though time and time again, this path has provably only made things worse.

    To be safe, you need to learn which set of rules is appropriate for whatever situation you're in. Until then, don't put yourself in situations you're not 100% sure of. I don't mean you can't physically be there, just stay focused on your business, don't be distracted by anyone or anything you witness, and don't get involved in other peoples' activities. Be civil, be respectful ... but not friendly. Living your life in fear is riskier than the things you, right now, may feel afraid of.

    Yes, it would suck to have to turn away from someone who needs your help, but you never, ever put your life or physical safety on the line for the sake of someone's personal property, or to help them save face. And you never, ever get involved in domestic disputes. Above all, you never let your ego into the driver's seat. Whatever's going on, it's almost certainly not about you - usually even when it seems like it is. So avoid staring, leave the area quietly and inconspicuously. Then once you're at home or in a safe area, call the police.

    Oh yeah: learn to tell the difference between firecrackers, backfiring cars, and gunshots. And if you hear gunfire, hit the deck or get behind something. If you're not sure, watch what other people are doing.

    This is for sure the highest profile violent crime to have occurred in the ten years we've lived here. I hope with the real economy getting worse and times getting so hard, this isn't a sign of bad things to come.

    What we need is (a) for both sides to learn a lot more about each other's mannerisms and cultural imperatives (b) an end to the Drug Wars which, underneath, fuel the engine that drives this whole underground scene

    Saturday, 22 January 2011

    more thoughts on the murder of billy mitchell

    over the past couple of days there has been a heated debate (though mostly constructive) on the eckington listserv about this heinous crime. participating in this debate has helped me see more clearly how we often choose distraction. many on the list are focusing on things that we cannot change. which stands in the way of actually making change.

    i grew up being very familiar with the serenity prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, courage to change the things that i can, and the wisdom to know the difference." i hope my community can do this!

    at first, when i heard the screaming & gun shots, woke up to the police tape and the investigation taking place, read the first reports, etc., i assumed a gang-banger had been shot. most of the violence in this city, and cities around the country, is related to drug trade and gang related muck. gang related violence is often ridiculously senseless, nevertheless it is also reality that most violence stems from this (in my 'hood).

    my belief of this helped me feel safe. if you don't want to be shot, don't be in a gang. easy! it made me feel like my neighbors, friends, and self were safe.

    billy's murder changed this.

    he did what i would have done. he did what my friends would have done; on his way home from a play at the shakespear theater with his mom, he saw a woman in distress and he tried to help her. (you can read more about it here . . . its chilling) i have done this a number of times. most of the people i know in this city have seen this stuff and reacted similarly. his "Good Samaritan" instincts got him killed.


    not only have i defended others. i've defended myself. i have yelled at cab drivers who drive dangerously close to me while i'm on my bike; i have told schizophrenics yelling at people to "be nice"; etc. i feel like it is my duty not to walk away from someone who is being hurt. i believe doing so, makes me an accomplice.

    i don't like to live in fear! so i refuse to stand down. but now i have to rethink . . . will i stop the next time i see someone being abused? would i open the cab door to yell at the west african cab driver who TWICE tried to run me off the road? probably not.

    though, i want to still be able to. i want to still be able to defend the woman in distress. i want to be okay with people taking the metro or bus to my house. but right now i'm not.

    so, how do we get out safety back?

    this has been the topic of discussion in eckington this week. the community response has been interesting to me. there are some who believe we should all have guns. that arming eckington will make it safer. much of the discussion has moved away from improving community safety and into a discussion on loosening gun laws.

    this is completely ironic to me. not only because even dick cheney is saying we might want to tighten gun laws in response to the attempted assasignation of gabby giffords, and all the others killed and injured in tucson two weeks ago. but also, had billy's hate filled lunatic murderer not had a gun, billy would be alive.

    those who believe that guns are the way to safety, say that if the guy who killed billy was worried at all that billy had a gun, he wouldn't have pulled his. i disagree! they just might now both be dead.

    it is also way off track. it isn't something we can actually do something about. the people of eckington are going to change the SCOTUS' decision on Heller. and thus, we are distracted by the things we cannot change and are being foolish in not recognizing it.

    there are things we CAN do! sometimes, doing what we can is scarier than talking about what others should do. when we are empowered and have the "courage to change the things that we can", we feel better. we also have responsibility. that is intimidating to many. in this case it may mean having to go to monthly meetings, having conversations with police, etc etc.

    regardless, i will choose, no matter what, to stand with gandhi and martin luther king jr.; "an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind".

    plus i hate guns. i don't want a gun in my house! i certainly don't want to have to carry a gun in my neighborhood so that i can feel safe.

    the truth is just seeing a gun makes me feel unsafe. a gun killed my cousin greg (at point blank range in the face when he tried to calm down some bad guys that invaded his girlfriend's home while he was taking a friend to work. he came home and the robbers/drug dealers had a gun to her head. he tried to smooth things over, and was killed).

    my dear aunt sydeny was killed with a gun. she turned the gun on herself. she had started drinking again (after about 30 years of sobriety) and she hated herself for it. she studied long and hard the best way to kill herself. though my uncle galen knew she was suicidal, he insisted that he "had a right to bear arms", (which makes me believe he should be charged as an accomplice to murder"). she used one of his "arms" to kill herself. wrapped herself up in 2 plastic shower curtains, laid down in an empty bathtub, and pulled the trigger -- because "one should never leave a mess."

    i believe greg and sydney would still be alive today if it weren't for handguns.

    please don't think this worldview stems from me being some pansy-ass liberal that has never handled a gun. in fact, i grew up on a hobby farm in arizona (and you know arizonans do love their guns).

    my dad hunted an arizona white tailed deer every year, and we ate that deer all year long. (see the photo to the left of my grandma, my dad, me, and our deer) when i got old enough, he taught me to clean and handle a gun LONG before i ever shot one. then we went out shooting. he had mostly rifles: shotguns, 22's, etc. he did have a muzzle-loaded handgun.

    looking back now, i realize that the reason my dad would take me out shooting with his friends so often was because i was a pretty amazing shot.
    i'm good at it. i know the rush of it. in college, one of my friends had a semi-automatic (why ???) that we took to his cabin and shot cans with. i amazed myself at how easy it was for me to hit down all the cans (and totally schooled the boys who were acting very bravado about having the gun and their ability to use it . . .who were hitting MAYBE on can at a time. i knocked down all 6 in my first try.)

    but here is the deal: i think i should be able to live in a community that is safe enough that i'm not required to carry a weapon. police should have the guns and should be efficient and engaged enough to stop people with illegal guns and protect me, so that i don't have to protect myself. otherwise, what are the taxes i/we pay for?

    my/our tax dollars pay the salaries and operating costs of the MPD, so that we are safe and protected. but they aren't really helping me feel safe OR protected. instead i feel ignored and frankly a bit inconsequential by those who are supposedly protecting my safety.

    this is basic rule of law stuff.

    i agree that police aren't the entire solution, they should be accountable to stand by their oath to "protect & to serve". paul suggested that we need to be out walking our kids and dogs more. that we need to have people out on the street at night. i say, we need the police to do their job first. then we might feel better walking our dogs, or even taking our trash out. which right now, to me, feels dangerous to me.

    i've been trying to get ahold of the district commander, the investigator assigned to my burglary, the drug unit, etc since october 24th. i have left countless messages and received no response. i have noticed more cops driving through the alley, but i don't think being in a car going 25 MPH is really going to help change things. we need engaged community-oriented police. they need to be on bikes or on foot really patrolling their beat, not playing video games in their cars. they need to know us, and we need to know them. this type of community-policing is proven to be more effective. this engenders trust in the police.

    i hope my community can work through this. that we can create a safer space here. that billy's life will be remembered and honored. he stood up to the bad guys and tried to protect people. we should all do that, and do it together, with the police so that dc can be safer. it is horrible that billy died. its disgusting! but i think we can honor his legacy of service by creating a city where women don't need to be defended as often and people are safe to walk home from the theater.


    if you want to see dick cheney talk about strengthening gun control laws see this video:

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    Friday, 21 January 2011

    are you kidding me?!!

    i'm pretty freaked out about guns right now. on wednesday i heard a woman scream twice and then 2 gun shots, then the woman screamed again and i heard another gun shot. i called the police as soon as i heard the shots. i heard the woman scream twice and then 2 shots. then there was a silence, then i heard another scream, and then another shot. by the time, the of the 3rd scream, i was calling 911.

    it took at least 5 minutes until i heard the first police car. the 911 operator had no sense of urgency. the moment the call was answered i said "Police!Police!Police!Police!", but she just went through her script, it took at least a minute just for her to understand that someone had been shot. she just refused to hear me until it was time in the script for me to tell her the reason for my call. . . this is what had happened

    View more news videos at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video.



    i want to know why there aren't more police around here? i've reported seeing people shooting heroin in my alley; i was burglarized in october; i've seen drug deals go down and reported it; i asked for our alley and that corner be put on a special watch. I've called the district commander, with no return calls. i've tried to get ahold of the investigator of my burglary a number of times, no returned calls or emails. the police force in DC is simply unresponsive. and i actually have a hard time understanding how they can sleep at night. a woman, living alone, in a "transitional" neighborhood calls and says she is scared, and even that can't get a call returned ??!!!

    oh, and i learned a couple of minutes ago another person was stabbed in the head just a block away from where this murder took place.

    when i first came to DC, i worked at the National Institute of Justice, where demonstration projects around the country showed that community-oriented policing steeply reduces crime. it requires police to have relationships with the people they are supposed to be protecting. Obviously, this is not happening here, when i can't even get an assigned investigator to call me back.

    and thank-you republicans for striking down our gun ban. truthfully, because of our pathetic laize faire police force, when we were able to ban guns we didn't enforce it. the truth is, i'm sure the gun that guy had was illegal. why not just start asking people to see permits? i really love this argument between an arizona member of congress and a talking head on the shootings in tucson. they are debating whether extended capacity ammo clips should be legal . . .



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    what would you do?

    Wednesday, 19 January 2011

    Myths and facts about 'Obamacare'

    Washington Post
    Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 01/18/2011
    By Glenn Kessler

    House Republicans on Wednesday plan to press forward with their repeal of the health care bill passed last year. They have the votes, so passage is not in doubt. But the Democrats who control the Senate have no interest in following suit, and President Obama had pledged a veto. So this is mostly a symbolic act. But it does provide an opportunity to look back at some of the persistent myths about the legislation.

    Some of the public confusion about what is in the bill is understandable. The long battle in Congress was often mind numbing except to a handful of policy experts, and key features were dropped or added along the way. Opponents often seized on small elements and exaggerated the impact, even if those provisions were no longer in the bill. Since the bill was passed ten months ago, polls indicate that Americans have a greater understanding of what ended up in the final version--and support for the overall law has slowly grown. During last year's midterm elections, both Factcheck.org and PolitiFact.com did yeoman work trying to pick apart the various claims made about the bill; The Washington Post also joined forces with Kaiser Health News to produce an excellent examination of myths and facts about the law.

    Even so, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll as recently as September found that a sizeable group of seniors believed that the health-care overhaul contained provisions that are simply not in the bill. Here then is a review of some of the most persistent myths of the health care bill.

    "This is a 'government takeover' of the health care system"

    This snappy talking point is used by Republicans repeatedly to bash Obama's crowing legislative achievement, but it is simply not true. In fact, PolitiFact.com labeled this claim the 2010 "lie of the year," but that has not stopped lawmakers from making this claim. It will surely be heard again on the House floor during the repeal debate.

    In many ways, the health care law resembles the Massachusetts reform enacted in 2006 under then Gov. Mitt Romney (a potential Republican rival of Obama in 2012). It builds on the existing private insurance system but adds requirements and incentives to ensure that most people have some form of health insurance.

    Under the new law, there is no government alternative to the private system--this was a potential provision that was dropped during the congressional tussle--but the number of people who qualify for the existing federal-state Medicaid program for the poor will be expanded. States (or the federal government) will run "exchanges" -- essentially marketplaces -- in which private insurers will sell insurance to individuals and small businesses, but this should mean more people will get private insurance, not fewer. Tax credits will also be offered to people who have trouble buying private insurance.

    Certainly, the law bolsters government regulation of the health care system, such as forcing insurance companies to no longer deny coverage to people who have existing medical conditions. People who currently do not have health insurance will be required to buy it. But the core of the health system in the United States will remain the existing private insurance market. So it in no way resembles the government-run health systems used in most industralized countries in the world.

    "Medicare benefits will be cut--and payments will be cut to Medicare doctors".

    This was another GOP attack line during the campaign, though in many ways this was payback for the Democrats' very effective use of the same charge against Republicans after the GOP took control of Congress in 1994 and attempted to pass a balanced-budget plan that sought to restrain growth in Medicare spending.

    The politically radioactive word "cut" is a misnomer. Under the health care law, Medicare spending will continue to increase year after year, but at a slower than anticipated pace. Both parties, in theory, agree this would be a good thing. Medicare is the venerable government-run health care plan for Americans over 65, and one of the fastest-growing parts of the federal budget.

    The health bill will reduce projected Medicare spending by $575 billion over ten years, primarily by reducing projected fees to hospitals and other providers and by reducing payments to private Medicare Advantage insurance plans. Benefits have also been added, eating into the overall projected savings, but the impact on the Medicare Advantage plans is unclear. Richard S. Foster, the chief actuary of the Medicare and Medicaid, has estimated that seniors may need to pay more in out of pocket costs for such plans. He has also cast serious doubt on whether the Medicare savings claimed in the second decade could be achieved without significant pain for many hospitals, nursing facilities and other providers.

    In fact, since 1997, Congress all but once has waived a planned cut in Medicare payments to doctors, mostly recently in December. So depending on the political pressure, some of these projected "cuts" may never materialize in any case.

    "A secretive government committee ('death panels') will be created to make end-of-life decisions about people on Medicare"

    This claim, first made by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, has been thoroughly debunked and was labeled "lie of the year" in 2009 by PolitiFact.com. Yet it persists in the popular imagination. The September Kaiser poll found that 30 percent of seniors still believed this to be the case--and 22 percent were not sure, meaning fewer than half knew the claim was false.

    The charge stemmed from a proposed amendment to the bill that would have covered the cost of end-of-the-life planning discussions. Democrats quickly dropped the provision after the firestorm created by Palin's assertion, even after it was proven to be factually incorrect.

    But the issue remains politically sensitive. In late December, The New York Times reported that under new Medicare regulations for annual physical examination, "the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment." The White House reversed course days later, ordering the Medicare agency to delete references to end-of-life planning in its new regulations.


    "Repealing the bill will increase the deficit"

    This is technically true--it comes from a Congressional Budget Office estimate--but we've documented before the problems with both this statement and the estimate. Democrats are sure to make this claim as they fight back against repeal, so here is a link to our previous post on this topic. Bottom line: This is a pretty shaky claim for Democrats to make, especially since the health care law was not really intended to reduce the deficit, but to reduce the number of uninsured Americans.

    Tuesday, 18 January 2011

    one of the reason i love the affordable care act:

    At Risk: Pre-Existing Conditions Could Affect 1 in 2 Americans:

    if you have been denied coverage or are paying a higher rate due to a Pre-existing Condition you can get into a Pre-existing Condition Insurance Pool (PCIP). That hyperlink will take you to healthcare.gov where you can learn how to get into a PCIP in your area.

    According to a new analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services, 50 to 129 million (19 to 50 percent of) non-elderly Americans have some type of pre-existing health condition. Up to one in five non-elderly Americans with a pre-existing condition – 25 million individuals – is uninsured. Under the Affordable Care Act, starting in 2014, these Americans cannot be denied coverage, be charged significantly higher premiums, be subjected to an extended waiting period, or have their benefits curtailed by insurance companies.

    Health Reform Ends Discrimination Based on Pre-Existing Conditions – Without It, Insurers Would Be Back in Charge

    A central element of the Affordable Care Act, passed by the last Congress and signed into law by the President, is a new set of patient protections that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to Americans because they need it. Starting in 2014:

    • Insurers can no longer use health status to determine eligibility, benefits, or premiums;
    • Individuals and small businesses can choose from a range of private insurance plans through competitive marketplaces called Exchanges in their States; and
    • Annual dollar limits on coverage will be banned in group and new individual market plans, critical benefits will be covered, and out-of-pocket spending will be limited.

    These new protections add to a strong set that have already been put in place to increase access to health care coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions such as:

    • Insurers can no longer limit lifetime coverage to a fixed dollar amount;
    • Insurers can no longer take away your coverage because of a mistake on an application;
    • Insurers can no longer deny coverage to a child because of a pre-existing condition;
    • Thousands of uninsured people with pre-existing conditions have enrolled in the temporary high-risk pool program called the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, which has literally saved people’s lives by covering services like chemotherapy.

    Rescinding the new health insurance protections would, now and starting in 2014:

    • Reduce the health care and health insurance options of the 50 to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions;
    • Take away, for the 32 to 82 million people with both a pre-existing condition and job-based insurance, the ban on lifetime limits on benefits, restrictions on annual limits on benefits, new protections in the small group market from discrimination based on health status, and the security of knowing you can change jobs without losing your health coverage and care;
    • Lock older Americans into their current coverage if they have it, since up to 86 percent of people ages 55 to 64 have some type of pre-existing condition;
    • Limit insurance options for the parents of the up to 2 million uninsured children with pre-existing conditions, who today can no longer be blocked from purchasing individual market insurance due to their pre-existing condition.