I just got back from a (surprisingly small, even for short notice) rally on Boston Common, demanding release of the full Mueller Report, to Congress and the public.

No elected officials were there, though the organizers said they'd all sent messages of support, and Sen. Warren sent someone from her office to read hers. There was a bit of music (tuba, but somewhat muffled; a man was explaining that to his six-year-old before we started) at the beginning, and one of the organizers read from a "list of statements from the House Judiciary Committee" and followed each by asking the crowd "do we know or think Trump did this?" and "is it OK?" At the end, he explained that he'd been quoting from the articles of impeachment of President Nixon--which makes sense, the current Judiciary Committee has just authorized subpoenas related to this investigation.

Also, if you stretch it a little, you can make "redact" rhyme with "attack": in the call-and-response chant "When X is under attack, what do we do?/Stand up fight back!" they gave us "When democracy is under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back! When the Mueller report gets a major redact, what do we do? Stand up fight back!" (I wonder whether "redact" is now trending on m-w.com.")

I got there about 4:45 (having allowed for Red Line problems) for an event that was announced for 5 p.m. It started a few minutes after five, and was done half an hour later. I stopped for ice cream on my way home, at Lizzy's in Harvard Square (a small chocolate cone, plus a quart of ginger for later).
Wisconsin has a special election today, for the state's Supreme Court. If you live in Wisconsin, please vote for Judge Lisa Neubauer.

(I sent some postcards to strangers about this one, and the morning's email from Penzey's wants me to text my Wisconsin friends to remind them, which I may, but not before 8 a.m.)
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I got an electronic newsletter from my new Congresswoman, Ayanna Pressley, last week. Among other things, she says her office in DC "has take over 400 phone calls and received over 9,000 emails" since she was sworn in. I read that, and checked my records*--I have called her office three times, and emailed once. If she's getting that few calls, it would explain why her staff have always picked up the phone quickly and sounded unhurried.

I also want to note that the one email I sent got an automated "Thank you for contacting me, I'm sorry I have to automate this" and was signed "In solidarity, Ayanna Pressley."

*I didn't use to keep records of this stuff, but in the last couple of years it has seemed like a good idea, for reasons like being able to reassure myself that I'm doing stuff, and not wanting to call the same person two or three times about one issue, when there are other calls I haven't made.
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content note: somewhat political

Depending on who you ask, the word of the year for 2018 is justice (Merriam-Webster), misinformation (dictionary.com), toxic (Oxford dictionaries), or single-use (Collins).

The Macquarie Dictionary and Australian Dictionary Centre haven't announced theirs yet, and the American Dialect Society, which started choosing a word of the year in the 1990s, well before any of those dictionaries, will vote in early January.

Those are based on some combination of what's been looked up most and what some group (large or small, expert or self-selected) thinks is most relevant and/or most useful. M-W.com also lists "top lookups," which seems to be based on spikes in queries: there may not have been a day on which "excelsior" was looked up more than any other word, but excelsior got a lot of attention after Stan Lee died. ("Respect" and "maverick" are on the 2018 list for similar reasons.) The ADS is specifically looking for new words or usages (so "singular they" and "because" followed directly by a reason rather than with a preposition have both been selected as their word of the year in the past).

The ADS has also been doing this long enough to have selected words of the decade for the 1990s and 2000s, a word of the (20th) century (jazz), and of the millennium (she). That's "she" as distinct from "hen" (the older word for plural "they," after which our ancestors started using "they" rather than "hen," (probably because it's easier to distinguish from "he"), and English-speakers have spent centuries, literally, disagreeing over whether "they" or "he" is the right word for one person of unknown gender.
[politics again] At various points during last night's rally, I found myself muttering "hasn't he heard of Andrew Jackson?" (without diminishing the importance of this constitutional crisis, Trump isn't the first president to do what he wanted, Constitution or courts be damned), "the audience has done the reading" (response to "I don't remember what") and "that's obscure" ("does anyone here remember Bella Abzug?"). I may have been the only person who shouted "yes" on the last one, since Abzug (a feminist New York politician from the 1960s and '70s) was from New York, not Boston.

I don't think the U.S. constitution is perfect, or the best system in the world today: but democracy and justice are both worth fighting for.

Middlesex County DA Marian Ryan (who I voted against in the primary) talked about the importance of prosecutors not being answerable to other politicians, only the voters; I also give her points for saying things like "at its best" this is how a prosecutor's office works, rather than claiming perfection. I think she was the only elected official to speak at the Boston rally last night; if there was going to be one, a DA is a good choice. I wonder vaguely where Maura Healey (the state attorney general) and the Suffolk County DA (which includes Boston) were, but this was organized on short notice, and Healey at least has been publicly objecting to Whitaker, and Trump's selection of him.
The people who are organizing the emergency/rapid response to protect the Mueller investigation have apparently concluded that Trump firing sessions, and the acting AG announcing he will be supervising the investigation, is close enough to the red line that there are rallies tomorrow at 5:

https://www.trumpisnotabovethelaw.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response/search/

Addendum (8 pm EST): I was expecting a text message about this by now. At this point, I am assuming I'll know more, one way or the other, in the morning.

In the meantime, I have called both my senators and my congressman, asking Markey and Capuano to publicly call for the acting AG to leave Mueller alone, and thanking Warren for her tweet about Sessions's firing.

I thought I'd be taking the day off from political anything, and not have to make more phone calls for a bit.

8:20 And I have an email saying it's on in Boston, more details tonight and tomorrow morning.
I was phone banking on two ballot questions—yes on 3 here, to keep trans rights, and Yes on 4 in Florida to restore 1.4 million people's voting rights, and we won on both. I pushed myself physically to make some of those calls; today I will be resting, and hope it's enough.

I am pleased with my new Congresswoman, but she was unopposed in the general election; the Associated Press called that race at 8:01 p.m., or one minute after Massachusetts polls closed.

And now I can stop answering calls from lots of unknown numbers that might be people calling me about volunteer shifts.
There was a rally on the Common this afternoon, and while I wasn't sure I wanted to go in the sense that I expected to take comfort from it, I wanted to go to support other people, as a political statement.

One speaker was a member of the Squirrel Hill Synagogue who is in her sophomore year at BU; she said she didn't have words right now, but she did, good ones.

The event was labeled a "vigil," but it was also significantly a political rally: not just that the speakers included a lot of Massachusetts politicians, but for what they said. Gov. Baker (he's a Republican) said appropriate and unsurprising things about unity; several of the other speakers explicitly called out the Trump administration's rhetoric and policy, to loud applause. Attorney General Maura Healy reminded us that her office has a hate crimes hotline, established right after the 2016 election. I'm fairly sure this is the first time I've heard from the State Treasurer; she told us about HIAS helping her husband when he came to this country in the 1950s.

The religious speakers included a few rabbis, people from at least three Christian denominations (the only one I'm sure of was a Presbyterian minister from Roxbury), and a sheik speaking on behalf of a local Muslim group.

One of the first speakers read the names of the victims, and the vigil ended with the mourners' kaddish.
I just sent my alderman an argument in favor of ranked choice voting (a.k.a. instant run-off, or in some corners of fandom "Australian ballot")"

I'd looked at the Somerville website a couple of hours ago and found an article about proposals to expand local voting rights, introduce ranked choice voting, and several other things in similar directions, like having municipal and state elections at the same time.

Having a bit of free time, I wrote to my alderman, Mark Niedergang, asking him to support expanding the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds (that's the first proposal that's been sent to the board of aldermen, who will vote on whether to send a "home rule message" to the state legislature asking them to pass a law saying we can do it). I added that I'd also like him to support instant run-off voting, if/when that gets to the aldermen.

He wrote back, saying he is strongly in favor of expanding the franchise, both to 16- and 17-year-olds and to let non-citizen parents vote in school committee elections. He also asked why I support instant run-off, which he thinks is complicated and unnecessary, the latter because there's been significant turnover on the board of aldermen in the last five years. My reason, which I told him, is that it's not just about amount of turnover. It's about letting more positions be represented, rather than having to choose between two candidates I disagree with when there's one I support.

(I used the obvious example on this year's Massachusetts ballot, difficult as I find it to sympathize with someone who is thinking "I like Ayyadurai, but Diehl isn't as bad as Warren so I'll vote for him." [That's not just because Ayyadurai is a Trump supporter, it's because, as I commented to [personal profile] gingicat a few days ago, he has only a loose relationship with consensus reality, and is still claiming to be the real inventor of email.])
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Oct. 16th, 2018 07:44 pm)
Tomorrow, October 17, is the Massachusetts voter registration deadline for the upcoming election. You can check your registration status, and if necessary register/update your registration, online. (I got a text message reminder about this from the ACLU, and an emailed one from Freedom for All Massachusetts, today, but I suspect the people who most need the reminder aren't on all those email and text lists because you're busy with other things or don't want that many political texts and emails.)
I was planning to go to a protest today (against the proposed change to the "public charge" rule). I wrote down the location, and looked up transit info; the MBTA suggested taking the red line to Downtown Crossing and walking from there.

I allowed lots of time, so I could grab a bite to eat at Pret a Manger. Then I tried following Google Maps directions. Which not only got me lost, but was sufficiently confusing that the "distance/time to destination" was increasing as often as decreasing. I finally got to the address I was looking for, and there was nothing there: not only no rally, but no park or other space one could have been held in.

By then it was well after the announced starting time, so I decided to cut my losses: I might not have known where I was going, but I knew where I was, and how to get to the Green Line from there. I thought "chalk it up to exercise," then remembered that two weeks ago (or any time in the year or so before that) I would have been in pain after doing what my phone thought was a little over two kilometers. Today, I got off the train at Lechmere and walked to Toscanini's for a restorative hot fudge sundae (adding about another kilometer to the total for the outing).

At Tosci's, the server commented that she liked my "I stand with immigrants, and I vote" pin, in a way that led me to ask if she'd like it. She said something like "if you're sure," and I told her I had two more at home, and then explained where I'd gotten them. (The last time I volunteered with MIRA to register voters, they had a bagful and were happy for me to grab a couple of extras to share.)

The ice cream was good, as always: I had raspberry and sweet cream in my sundae, and brought home pints of chocolate chip and raspberry. The rest of the afternoon involved a little bit of paid proofreading, and some (mostly PT) exercises.

Dinner tonight was ravioli and a roast koori squash, a variety we hadn't had before: small, bright orange, and based on one sample [personal profile] cattitude and I both prefer acorn squash, but I would be happy to eat this again, and it's a better size to serve as a side dish for two people. A roast acorn or butternut squash for two people is the centerpiece of the meal.

Tomorrow will be a rest day; more proofreading, but no long walks or exercises for the sake of exercise.
One of the bits of activism I've been doing is "postcards to voters,", in which volunteers em>hand-write postcards to strangers; if writing hurts your hand, you probably shouldn't be doing this one. Also, you'd be paying for stamps and postcards, but the minimum commitment is only four cards.

The idea behind this is that a hand-written postcard from a stranger, with reasons to vote for a specific candidate, will be effective some of the time. Each postcard urges the recipient to vote for a specific candidate (e.g., Stacey Abrams for governor of Georgia), reminds the recipient when election day is, and has one other mandatory talking point. For one candidate, the mandatory talking points include "An election can sometimes turn on a single vote—make it yours." They also give a long list of optional content, if you have room on the postcard, ranging from campaign promises to "thank you for being a voter." There's some room for paraphrasing, but they're asking us to stick to the campaign's messages.

I've been writing things like "promises to fully fund public schools" and "will expand Medicaid to provide job and rescue rural hospitals" on the postcar (The cards are all going to registered Democrats, if that matters to you.)

This is oddly anonymous: you the writer are given addresses but not names, and above the address, instead of a name, write something neutral [sic] but encouraging, like "Concerned Citizen" or "Valued Voter." There's no return address. and the signature should be a first name or initials: so, I sign them "Vicki," "Vicki R.," or "VR" (and there's nothing stopping me from signing them "Victor" or "Natasha if I wanted).

[personal profile] rydra_wong suggested I write this up after I mentioned it in a comment; I'm posting this to my own journal and to [community profile] thisfinecrew.
In case anyone reading this doesn't know, I'm bisexual, meaning I'm attracted to people of more than one gender. It's relatively easy/safe for me to be out, both because of where I live and because I'm semi-retired, but it feels both more important and a bit riskier to be out now than it did two years ago.

I'm also polyamorous, and have both female and male partners: that makes it pretty clear to most friends and family that I'm bi, but I suspect some people who see me in passing assume I'm straight, and a few assume I'm a lesbian, depending on which partner they see me with.

"Queer" also fits, enough so that I have a "Queerville" shirt I bought from the Somerville High School Gay-Straight Alliance. (I say "bi" rather than "pansexual" because it's the term that people were using when I came out, not because one feels more accurate than the other.)

(Thanks to [personal profile] eftychia for her post, which reminded me of National Coming Out Day.)
My friend [personal profile] minoanmiss has some good things to say about racism, sexism, and the ways they make it difficult but important for her to speak, and be heard, in many contexts. The post is also about tumblr and MCU fandom, but that's not why I'm pointing to it.

But one of the issues Black women face is that, as a group, White women tend not to listen to us about being Black and Black men tend not to listen to us about being women and not many people from any other groups are listening to us at all. It's a fun position to be in. Of course, one of the conclusions to draw from this is to consider who needs to be heard whom I can listen to in turn.
I just donated another $30 to Freedom for All Massachusetts (for Yes on 3/transgender equality), because donations are being matched right now. I just got an emailed thank-you that makes me wonder about whoever programmed it: "This letter will serve as your receipt for tax purposes. No amount of the contribution is tax deductible under the law. You did not receive anything of value, either goods or services, in exchange for this contribution."

I know there are a lot of worthwhile causes that can use our money right now; I'm donating to this one partly because it affects people I know, and partly because it feels like the chances of success right now are better at the state level.
I just wrote this, in response to [personal profile] siderea asking for people's advice on who to vote for, and why:

Patalano: she promises to reduce cash bail and work against mass incarceration and the racism that permeates decisions about who is indicted and for what.

I am also to some extent voting against Ryan [the incumbent], for her/her office's behavior and foot-dragging over setting aside the tainted drug lab convictions. (I was one of I don't know how many people calling to say "these are all based on fraudulent drug "testing" results, set them aside and release the victims now," and what I got was staffers who clearly had no idea of what to do with calls from the public. The relevant part of their voice mail system wanted to give me instructions on how to appeal any specific one of those cases, or get information on the status of a single case, when the point was that she shouldn't be waiting for phone calls and paperwork for "release this person, he's in prison on entirely bogus charges" in each case. I want a DA whose reaction to a widely publicized and clear set of injustices won't be "here's how to fill out paperwork to set aside 1% of it."
Massachusetts has a primary election next Tuesday; a number of races will effectively be decided that day, because they have more than one candidate in the Democratic primary, and no other-party candidates for that office.

I'm in Middlesex County and the 7th Congressional district, so the relevant races for me include Congress (Capuano or Pressley) and district attorney.

DA is the easy one, for me: I'm supporting Donna Patalano, who I heard about via the ACLU's What a Difference a DA Makes campaign.
Reasons to vote for Patalano:
  • She promises to immediately end cash bail for nonviolent offenses (that would be enough, imho); she promises to change the approach to road safety, to remove the assumption that a cyclist or pedestrian is at fault when hit by a car, and the driver is not;
  • She wants the state to repeal mandatory minimum sentences as a way to fight mass incarceration;
  • She supports "presumptive discovery," meaning the prosecutor turns over all evidence to defense attorneys unless there are specific (narrow) reasons not to. She says she'll lobby for a bill requiring that throughout the state, and practice it in her office in the meantime.
  • She says sensible things about conviction integrity, whereas I am unhappy with the incumbent (Ryan)for dragging her feet on setting aside known-tainted convictions after the drug lab scandal. (I made numerous calls to her office about that; they clearly weren't prepared for calls saying they should set aside all the convictions, rather than asking about the procedure for getting a specific conviction dropped.)


I'm undecided on the congressional race, because there doesn't seem to be much difference between the incumbent, Mike Capuano, and the challenger, Ayanna Pressley. Capuano's campaign flyer is about how strongly he will resist Trump; Pressley's talks about bold leadership and says she will promote Medicare for all, gun-violence reform, and "get[ting] money out of politics." Capuano seems pretty sound on the issues I care about, if less visible in the press than (say) Katherine Clark, who represented me when I lived in Arlington.

Similarly, with governor: I will be voting for the Democratic candidate in November, because both Gonzalez and Massie are a lot better than Gov. Baker, let alone the gay-bashing pastor who is running against Baker in the primary. However, there doesn't seem to be a lot of policy difference between Gonzalez and Massie; Gonzalez is the one with significant previous government experience, and Massie is an activist/lobbyist. If you know of any substantive reason to support one over the other, please tell me.

Similarly, I'm looking for opinions and information on the Secretary of State election (Galvin is the incumbent, Zakim is challenging him) and Lieutenant Governor (Palfrey, who identifies himself as a former assistant DA, vs. Tingle).

If the election was today, I'd be voting for Gonzalez, because I apparently am still annoyed at Massie for standing with a large number of supporters right where the Pride Parade route fed into City Hall Plaza, and it felt like he was trying to make Pride into a Massie rally. (Lots of politicians marched, also with supporters, but seeing them walk past me felt different than walking past that crowd right at the end of the parade.) I realize this is basically a style point; Gonzalez was there shaking hands as I waited to enter the State House for a rally in support of the $15 minimum wage a few weeks earlier.

(My incumbent state legislators, both of whom I am quite happy with, are unopposed, as is the Middlesex County Register of Deeds; Senator Warren will have a Republican opponent in the general election. The only office the Libertarian Party has a candidate for is Auditor; that will be a three-way race in November.)
This is probably redundant, but just FYI: Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin have primary elections this Tuesday, August 14. Early voting is available in all except Connecticut, and if you're in Wisconsin and so inclined, Penzey's stores are giving out red, white, and blue bunting (as well as the current email offer of free granulated shallots and cinnamon sugar with a $5 purchase, whether or not you're in Wisconsin). They would really like you to go out and vote for Tammy Baldwin, even though she doesn't have a primary opponent, as a "so there" to the Republicans, though they put it more kindly. (Let me know if you would like me to forward you the email offer.)

(The first part of this is signal boosting from the thisfinecrew community.)
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redbird: "Road Not Maintained: Travel at Own Risk" (roadsign)
( Jul. 8th, 2018 07:44 am)
"We need light at the end of the tunnel, but we don’t have a tunnel yet." — an anonymous, probably British source, quoted in an analysis of the Brexit negotiations

[Quoted mostly for the nice turn of phrase]
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