McMaster, Guns, North Charleston & Myrtle Beach: Compare and Contrast

Over the weekend in Myrtle Beach, a “rash” of gun violence has prompted Governor McMaster to gather community leaders in an effort to put an end to it.

On its face, this sounds like a great idea. And I’m not suggesting it isn’t good. By all means, go to Myrtle Beach and have a meaningful discussion that can result in decisive action regarding gun control and our state, Henry.

But can you stop by North Charleston on your way?

This “rash” of gun violence was a disorderly brawl that resulted in a carjacking in which the perp was caught and no one died. Here’s the truth, right from Pulitzer-Prize winning Post and Courier“In all, seven people suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, but it remained uncertain who was responsible for their wounds.”

I’m not diminishing those wounded. That’s terrible. But meanwhile, North Charleston’s violent crime incidence is 1.6 times that of Myrtle Beach. (the crime rate is technically higher in Myrtle, but consider that their population is just under 30,000, while NoCHS is just over 100,000). Last year, North Charleston had the third-highest murder rate in the country and  Myrtle Beach was deemed the seventh most dangerous city in the country. Obviously, we both have problems, but only one of us is getting Gubernatorial attention.

Myrtle Beach is a tourist destination and the Governor and Mayor want to ensure it stays that way. I get it. I don’t want their economy hurt because of gun violence any more than I want my economy hurt by gun violence.  But if this past weekend was all that Myrtle Beach needs to get the Governor’s attention, our community deserves at least the same if not more.

North Charleston should demand an audience with the Governor and, more importantly, funding and an independent audit from the Governor. While we may not be a tourist destination, we do attract millions of dollars in industrial investment and home to the airport, through which thousands of tourists come each year to visit our beautiful Lowcountry.

The sad truth of the matter is that his visit to Myrtle Beach will probably do nothing for their problem. After all, he supported a bill that allowed permitless carry of a firearm (helpful tip, Henry, maybe start with the gun laws to help stem gun violence).

 

Action & Context — H.R. 7 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure

This is the first of what I hope to be a regular type of post with 4 parts: The Bill, where the concern in question is identified and defined, Context, where I’ll try to relay the human-speak version of said issue as discussed by third-party sources (always linked), Discussion (my thoughts, if any), and Action, with links to contact relevant parties and any helpful scripts. 


The Bill

The bill text is a bit ambiguous, but the basic gist is this:
  1. It would make permanent the federal prohibition of tax funded abortion services (this is currently voted on every year)
  2. Place bans on insurance companies participating in the Affordable Care Act marketplace from offering abortion coverage.

Context

Salon broke it down really well:
“It effectively bans providers that participate in the Affordable Care Act marketplace from offering abortion coverage,” said Amy Friedrich-Karnik, the senior federal policy adviser for the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a phone interview. “The way that it does that is by saying women who get premium assistance credits are not allowed to use those credits to purchase any plan that has abortion coverage…In other words, this bill would ban anyone who receives subsidies to buy insurance through Obamacare from purchasing a plan that covers abortion. While that’s numerically a narrow group of people, this bill could end up undercutting most or all private insurance coverage for abortion.
It would, as Friedrich-Karnik explains, become so difficult for insurance companies to figure out who is and is not eligible to buy plans that covered abortion that companies might well choose to remove abortion coverage from all their plans. Most private insurance companies currently offer abortion coverage, but that could very well change if this bill becomes law.”

Discussion

There is a pro and con list attached to the write up on Countable. My personal opinion, for what it’s worth, is that a) I understand why they might not want to have to vote on the Hyde amendment every year, but inconvenience isn’t a good enough reason. To me the repeated vote is an effort of checks and balances. b) As we know,  the Supreme Court settled this matter int he eyes of the federal government. Access to abortion is a right, so to me, any regulation or restriction is morally driven and not legally justified. If there is a legal argument why this one procedure should not be covered by insurance but others are, I would like to hear it. I haven’t heard one that doesn’t invoke a polarizing moral imperative that is entirely subjective.

Action

If you want to contact your rep you can do so through that site, as well as through the House Find Your Rep page. Since the bill will probably be voted on today, I suggest calling both local and DC offices and sending an email.
Here is a script:
Dear Representative NAME,
I’m writing/calling today to voice my concern over the proposed legislation in House Resolution 7, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017. This bill has the potential to raise both individual healthcare costs and risks. I am concerned it will place additional limitations on the few insurance companies available through the ACA marketplace and has the potential to limit coverage even further.
Thank you,
Your Name

The Election, Colin Kaepernick & Feminism: Good Girls Revolt

 This week I’ve been looking for escapism, but, unsurprisingly to those who know me, I can’t really escape too far. To help nurse my poor, bruised, feminist heart, I’ve been watching Good Girls Revolt, a series on Amazon based on a lawsuit brought by researchers at Newsweek to be given the right to be reporters after the Civil Rights Act made a company policy illegal. (watch it, it’s great).
In one of the last episodes, an exchange rang achingly true for me. It touches on why I feel so distraught and frustrated this week and may help explain the movement Colin Kaepernik started to those who find it to be only disrespectful.
In this scene, Patty and Doug are discussing the Weather Underground. Doug is perplexed by wealthy, privileged Cathlyn Wilkerson’s involvement. She was a good girl. She played in the orchestra. But now she is blowing up buildings.
Doug: “How does someone change like that?”
Patty: “Maybe she didn’t. Maybe every time she saluted the flag, she felt like she was lying. Like the place she lived didn’t represent who she was. And every time she took her seat in the orchestra, instead of blending in she wanted to scream out.
“Maybe she felt like a soda bottle that the world was just shaking, and shaking. So she didn’t evolve, and change, she –“
Doug: “Burst.”
I was struck by this exchange both as a reflection on feminism, how far we’ve come, how far we have yet to go, and the parallels with the Kaepernick debate. I didn’t take issue with Kaepernick–or anyone for that matter–kneeling during the national anthem. In part it’s because I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to live their lives they way they want to as long as it doesn’t inflict harm upon anyone else and for me, part of believing that is not being bothered by it. But, I think on a different level–and certainly not in the same way–I understood it.
I don’t know that I ever would have said that I didn’t feel I had a place in this country. I’m cisgender, present as very straight,  white, upper middle class, educated and generally comfortable.  I’m doing fine. My life is not in jeopardy and I don’t have to defend a vocal opponent to my right to be here.  Yet, I am not ashamed to say that saying the pledge has always felt a little disingenuous to me, and watching this and reading everything that has been written by people much more informed and keyed in than I am, I think I know why. It’s because of the very last clause:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, Under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. “
We don’t live in a country where there is “liberty and justice for all,” and we never have. And the national anthem is perhaps a worse example of a falsified sense of patriotism. We are not the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Only 2% of Americans are enlisted in the military. Yes there are other forms of bravery that people show every day, but overhwelmingly, we are not brave in the way the song suggests.  People have had their voting rights stripped away because they got caught with a dime bag of pot. That’s not freedom. 
It’s a sad, constant truth. Justice and freedom are parity. This country has never been run by a woman, yet it relies upon the talents and sacrifices of women. This country was built on the exploitation of black people, but it can’t say that black lives matter. Justice and freedom mean, in part, equal opportunity to thought, idea, and representation, and on Tuesday 27% of the voting public rejected that idea. I do believe that most of that 27% aren’t bad people, but I just can’t figure out why they would trust Trump more than Clinton outside of deep-seeded, unconscious misogyny.
Was she a perfect candidate? No, no one is. Was she the better candidate? Unequivocally, yes. She had thirty years of public life to be picked apart and the press and people descended like vultures. Plenty of other male candidates with more experience and more missteps have run, but their flaws never gained traction in this way. You can dislike her. That’s fine. But I just don’t believe that any of the things people count against her are disqualifying for the highest office in the land.
The emails — oy with the poodles already, huh?
Her reaction to women who accused her husband of varying degrees of sexual harassment, rape and misconduct — Look. This is shitty. It really is. But there are two points I’d like to make: If you were at the center of the public eye, and your spouse was publicly accused of something like this, what would you do? I don’t know that I would have acted differently. The best case scenario is you stay quiet. But this is your partner, and you probably love and want to believe them. I’m not excusing it, but it’s a human response. And, lest we forget, she didn’t do the assaulting/raping/harrasing. Her husband (and Donald Trump) did. She just had an emotional, public reaction to it. Second, we are looking at this with the benefit of a lot of change and development of the public perception, awareness, and reaction to sexual assault. We didn’t have the same vocabulary or understanding now as we did then. And a lot of that is because we do live in a more feminist society today than we did then. It’s completely ironic: a lot of people’s outrage towards Hillary Clinton is because they benefit from the work of feminism.

Election Postmortem

I have had so many thoughts since the election on Tuesday, I’ve decided to revitalize the blog. I just can’t flood Facebook anymore with this.

After the election, I stayed in bed far longer than I should have. I nursed the pain that I’m still trying to process and explain. I think Michelle Wolf of the Daily Show summed it up really well on Wednesday night, during a monologue at the end of which her voice cracked in an echo of my own in recent days.
 Our president-elect is someone who openly has stated that he could be called a chauvinist; is someone who doesn’t look at me and automatically see another person. But instead a number or an object.  And the fact that this outcome makes it feel like we have to be reminded that little girls and women  are valuable, capable and strong is heartbreaking.
It feels like the choice of him over Hillary is a devaluation of me–and that’s not to say anything about literally everyone besides cisgender white able-bodied men that he alienated and othered in some way during his campaign.  I do want to move forward and be positive, I really do, but for me that doesn’t mean simply accepting the results and going about business as usual. I’m not going to burn anything down or be outwardly hurtful, but I need to do something–no one else is going to the work I think needs to be done if I don’t start with me.  I can’t help feeling like, in the words of the inimitable Leslie Knope:
“I acknowledge that Donald Trump is the President. I understand, intellectually, that he won the election. But I do not accept that our country has descended into the hatred-swirled slop pile that he lives in. I reject out of hand the notion that we have thrown up our hands and succumbed to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and crypto-fascism. I do not accept that. I reject that. I fight that. Today, and tomorrow, and every day until the next election, I reject and fight that story.
(the whole article is worth a read if you haven’t read it yet)

I, too, reject and fight the idea that this election has to mean that our society is lost to the “silent majority” who, along with a majority of white women, elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. As is their right. However, I don’t believe that the majority of them elected him out of hate. I think they elected him out of fear, and in some cases, of misogyny. More on that here.

When I walked out of my house on Wednesday, it was hard not to feel like everyone I encountered was going to be against me. I was still wearing my HRC shirt–in part because I slept in it and in part because I didn’t want anyone to have a question about how I voted. Walking to lunch, I hugged my jacket a little closer with each person I saw, unsure of how they would react. No one did anything. It was fine. The sky was grey and hung too close, but that felt appropriate. When I finished my lunch my waitress asked if I’d watched HIllary’s speech yet. I told her I hadn’t been able to make myself yet. She told me she almost called in sick. We hugged. She told me she was glad she came into work.

Here are the numbers ( so far)
Voters:
Americans eligible to vote: 218,959,000
Americans registered to vote: 146,311,000 (66%)
Ballots cast in 2016: 127,332,730 (87% of registered, 58% eligible voters)
Candidates:
Clinton: 60,839,922 votes (48% of votes, 41% of registered voters, 27% of eligible voters)
Trump: 60,265,858 votes (47% of votes, 27% of eligible voters, 41% of registered voters)
Third Party: 6,226,950 votes (4% of vote, 2% of eligible votes, 4% of registered voters)

So my point is, if you were with her, the odds are overwhelming that you’re not alone, or at the very least you’re surrounded statistically more by apathetic people than people who can feel so different because they voted for Trump (but again, most of them are probably not that different.)

The polls weren’t wrong, per se. Clinton did win the popular vote by 1 point. Of those people eligible to vote, these candidates motivated us at exactly the same rate. And of those people who voted, more people voted for a woman to be the 45th President of the United States than a reality television star. That’s something to hang your hat on, even if the hook is not firmly planted in the wall. My point is that we did not wake up on Wednesday to discover that a majority of Americans voted against progress and for regression.

And I’ll reiterate: I don’t think that the majority of Trump voters are hateful, xenophobic, misogynistic, or racist.  They are people with concerns that need to be addressed and bridged.

The majority of Americans wanted Hillary Clinton to be President. We can’t forget that, and more importantly, we can’t let our elected officials forget that. I encourage everyone to look at the voting records for their districts, counties, and states, and use that data to support any comments on upcoming legislation. Here are some resources:

SCvotes.org — Look up the voting stats for your precinct, county, state.

IssueVoter — Track legislation that matters to you and contact your representative to make your voice heard. Doing so is consistently reported as the most likely way to effect change aside from lobbying.