Politics

One year on … Ode for the broken wrist and the crisis of our healthcare system

Posted on by Prerna in Politics | 2 Comments

It’s one whole year today since the fateful day that someone broke my wrist.

Maybe it is a good thing that I don’t even remember who it was and precisely how it happened. All I was doing is blocking a close range shot and ‘snap.’ The rest is history. A minute after I got off the field writhing in pain, the opposition scored. I should have just let the ball go in, but that is not who I am as a person.

Is it better yet? For the most part. I am a stronger and healthier person today. But I won’t lie and say that it doesn’t hurt or that I can do everything with it. This is life — people write with their toes because they don’t have arms; I should get over it. What I cannot get over is the fact that even with health insurance, there is not much that could have been done.

This is the United States of America–supposedly the most advanced country in the world. But if there is one thing that is as backwards as the immigration system, it is the horrible healthcare infrastructure. 46 million are uninsured with countless others underinsured and President Obama is gutless to the point of retreating from his promise of single-payer healthcare in the face of the insurance lobby. It does not matter that we foot the cost for the uninsured or that our system of healthcare and insurance is worse than most other post-industrial countries. Even Mexico has attempted to implement universal health care, but President Obama and his insurance cohorts would like us to believe that it is not an option.

At least there is one Democrat politician that I can actually relate to sometimes. As a blogger and academic that stands in opposition to unnecessary binaries, I say stop making us think that there are only two options and put single-payer healthcare on the table.

B-I-T-C-H – A Personal Statement on International Women’s Day

Posted on by Prerna in Politics, Racism | 2 Comments

“You are an AAPI. But you are not a model minority. You talk back. And, you are queer.”

And I am also a womyn, which matters a whole lot.

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Lets set aside those dry, boring intellectual blog posts for a moment.

How do you get someone to ‘obey’ norms when she has never been considered a part of what is normative? Why would a person believe in institutionalized structures and settings when they hold her down? Why is it alright for a man to hog discussion but inappropriate for a woman to be strong in her convictions? There isn’t a space for these discussions in this so-called movement for ‘immigration reform,’ which looks increasingly like ‘pro-enforcement reform.’ This is my space, hence these statements.

I want to apologize to my readers for being literally absent for the past two months. In December, I unexpectedly got invited to a ‘United We DREAM’ conference (a coalition that has been trying to pass the DREAM Act for 100 years now), and decided to go since the National Immigration Law Center paid for the trip. Looking back on it, maybe that was not the best decision but at least I got to meet friends that I had not seen in person. At the meeting–quite unexpectedly–some members of the coalition railed to make my tiny circle of friends as one of the central communications pillars. I was left wondering why they would want an open-borders, cerebral Marxist-Foucauldian, radical queer womyn of color to have anything to do with building a ‘talking points’ sheet. The only explanation was that they were trying to quell dissent and get immigrant youth like me to conform to a certain way of doing things, a certain structure to abide to. Yes, I know – warning bells!

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Brand Obama – No You Can’t

Posted on by Prerna in Anti-Capitalism, Politics | Leave a comment

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President Obama’s popular appeal makes him a dream for marketing companies looking to siphon profits by using his image and rhetoric. So it should come as no surprise that the White House is looking into copyrighting “brand Obama.”

“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Obama’s calls for change and his “Yes We Can” campaign mantra are being evoked to sell assembly-required furniture in Ikea’s “Embrace Change” marketing campaign, bargain airfares during Southwest Airlines Inc.’s “Yes You Can” sale and “Yes Pecan” ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. shops.

[...]
Riding the wave of Obama’s popularity may become a concern when advertisers use his likeness without permission to imply that Obama is endorsing a product or cause. The White House through the years has objected to commercial use of presidential faces, such as footage of President George H W Bush in a Cold War-themed 1989 television ad for cold medication.

Is “si se puede” going to come under attack?

Given the massive sale revenues generated using brand Obama, how much is he worth? Can he sell himself and just pay off some of the trade deficit that may help hedge U.S. dollar and restore some credit credibility to this country?

It’s not clear who will lose from this precisely, but the winners list is quite apparent with White House litigators at the very top.

ICE Detaining Ukrainian Woman Willing and Paying to Leave the United States

Posted on by Prerna in Human Rights, Immigration, Moron of the Week, Politics | 11 Comments

This one should outrage every American taxpayer.

She served jail time for a conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. She had a detainer placed on her by ICE, so after she was done serving this time, ICE came to the jail and took her to Fairfax, VA to fill out paper-work on September 18, 2008.  She insisted that she wanted to leave as soon as possible and ICE happily agreed to expedite her paperwork to make sure she would be home by her birthday on November 15. They released her with an ankle monitoring bracelet and all was well. Or so they thought …

Her husband reports:

Almost immediately (the next Monday), we hand-delivered my wife’s passport to ICE, as they told us the lack of this document is the only thing that could prevent her from leaving quickly. And then we waited.  After a couple weeks we became a little worried that we’re still here, and so I started calling ICE.  Every day, I called and left messages and even started begging for someone to please do something, as we want to leave.  And we did want to leave.  I had quit my job, and we were coasting on whatever money I saved up for our new life.  The longer we wait, the less money we had. But wait we did.  And then we waited some more.

Why all the waiting? Oops, looks like ICE changed its mind and wanted her back in jail. Why? Well, she certainly was not a flight risk anywhere but back to Europe. They came to get her and put her in detention, not that they knew what they were doing.

None of the ICE people that came to my house really knew what was going on, they didn’t know why they were taking her, nor did they really know who she or me were but they knew they were there to take her.  We knew that she was finally flying to Europe, with me right behind her.

Next day she called me up from River Road jail.  She said they told her nothing.  The day after that she calls me again.  They told her nothing.  Same thing the next day, and the day following.  But eventually, ICE came and took her again to Hampton Roads Regional Jail.  Again, they told her nothing.  Next day, nothing, and eventually the next week: nothing.  Through this whole time, I was calling ICE every day and the only information I could get was “we’re getting her flight together”.  When I asked why they took her to jail, I was calmly explained to that it doesn’t really matter, because she is supposed to be in jail anyway.

Interesting evasion of the questions. Why release her into his custody when she is supposed to be in jail? So her husband buys and delivers an actual airline ticket on December 1, 2008 to the Fairfax, Virginia office and the real truth comes out.

The flight was for Nataliya Chorna, on Dec 18.  I also asked to speak to her case officer.  He wasn’t there, but “he’ll call you”.  They also took the ticket and said “it should be fine”.

Two silent days went by and so I drove to the ICE office again, and asked them what’s going on.  They checked the computers, and told me that on Dec.1, they sent the application for my wife’s travel documents to her jail.  ”Why does she need travel documents?  You have her passport…”

“It says here it was misplaced.”

Misplaced seems to be an euphemism for lost when it comes to ICE, as the husband later realized. Still, he worked hard and got the Ukrainian consulate to provide travel documents granted that ICE sent in the application. What happened next?

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Quote of the Week – ‘Politics is a lot like Sex’

Posted on by Prerna in Political Theory, Politics | Leave a comment

Jennifer Beals at the L5 Convention in UK this past weekend said as one of her parting messages that politics is a lot like sex:

“If you want something, you have to ask for it,
If they’re not doing it right you’ve got to speak up and show them and
If you still don’t get what you want, then there is nothing wrong with doing it yourself!”

I want the DREAM Act, an end to ICE raids and meaningful immigration reform. I want marriage equality for all — Actually I need the state to stop telling consenting adults what they can and cannot do with their bodies. I want an end to neo-liberalism and an overhauling of global financial institutions. I want an end to the war in Iraq and for the military to be used as a LAST resort when all else fails. Someday, I want a world without any borders. The list is quite long, but sitting with it is not going to translate those wants into realities. I need to take that list and go shopping for it myself.

Thank you to everyone for all the wonderful reports from L5. I am disappointed that there was little discussion about ‘politics’ [especially Prop. 8 ] given that it was the weekend of the Join the Impact International Action for Marriage Equality but we must remember that the core audience is not political. Hopefully, more people realize that the personal is indeed political and get more active in the fight for civil and human rights.

It’s the Revenge of Farm Animals!

Posted on by Prerna in Environment, Human Rights, LGBTQ, Politics | 3 Comments

The Nov 4 elections were truly historic and momentous.

The country has spoken for change.

In California, farm animals now have more rights and people who want to marry someone they love have fewer rights.

By a vote of 63%, California decided to allow all egg-producing chickens more room to spread their wings. At the same time, voters eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marriage, (a group that is vegan and vegetarian in larger comparative percentages than the heterosexual population).

Prop 2 requires that all farm animals “for all or the majority of any day” not be confined in a way that prevents it from lying down, standing up, turning around or extending its limbs without touching another animal or an enclosure such as a cage or stall. Those requirements target battery caged layers, stalled sows in both gestation and, apparently, farrowing and stalled veal calves. The requirements become effective in 2015. The law carries criminal penalties including fines and jail terms for violators.

Talk about karma. Maybe I should have listened to all my vegan and vegetarian friends and stopped eating chicken. I love animals, I am pro-environment, a tree-hugger even, but eating chicken is something that has carried over from another country, another culture. It is nonetheless, the only meat I eat and in rather limited amounts. It wasn’t enough.

The chickens got their revenge. Now every time I take a bite, I will think of how California voted to give the chickens more freedom while restricting my freedom.

There is one essential difference — the chickens cannot litigate for their rights. We can litigate for our rights (for now), so fear not, we will prevail!

The Petition for Writ of Mandate and Injunctive Relief filed on November 5, 2008 in the California Supreme Court is Strauss v. Horton, Action No. S168047

P.S. Kudos to Yes on 2.

Wtf Hollywood ! Analyzing the Proposition 8 Vote

Posted on by Prerna in LGBTQ, Politics | 1 Comment

Around 10 pm last night, when the Prop. 8 votes trickled in, I already knew we had lost this time.

Reason? Los Angeles was struggling quite early on with the ‘No on 8′ losing by more than 7 percentage points. We would never win without Los Angeles.

Kelly Picks a Fight over at OurChart:

Los Angeles County ended up in a 50-50 tie, but the hard data gives Yes 21,000 more ticks. WeHo? Silver Lake? What the hell happened down there? Santa Barbara County went for No with 53%! Mendocino, Humboldt, Sonoma, Marin, Alameda, San Mateo and San Francisco counties all topped 60% on the No side, but L.A. couldn’t even get over the 50% mark?!? That’s embarrassing.

Did West Hollywood forget to vote? Or was it too busy out campaigning for Obama in Philadelphia and other battleground states when it should have poured more time and money into the No on 8 campaign?

61% of California voted for the ‘first’ black President but 52% voted to eliminate basic civil rights.

That is a problem.

Don’t get me started on the 75% African-American women, 54% Latino male, 52% Latino female vote in favor of Prop. 8. It hurts when we spend our time fighting for civil and equal rights for ALL, only to not have that ‘favor’ returned. A certain racial gender gap seems to have developing on this issue – 53% of white women voted against the ban whereas 75% of African-American women voted for it. Whether or not that can be attributed to the lies by the ‘Yes on 8′ campaign is uncertain.

There are significant changes from 2000 when majorities of all racial, ethnic and income groups supported the ban.

In 2000, 4,579,386 (61.2%) voted for a gay marriage ban in California while 2,897,689 (38.8%) voted against it.

The numbers are still pouring in but 8 years later, last night, 5,163,908 (52%) voted for the ban whereas 4,760,336 (48%) voted against it.

Mad props to the Asian-American community for giving us a 51% vote against Prop 8. It’s a community that has often disappointed me in the past. Hopefully, I can say that I am proud to be Asian Indian and that we stand against discrimination.

We also won majorly with the first-time (62% against 8 ) and youth voters (61%) and lost majorly among the elderly voters, 61% of whom voted for the Proposition (similar to Prop 22 in 2000). That gives us hope. The arc of justice is bending on our side–a lot of bigots have their one foot in the grave.

The key is education60% of post-graduates voted against the ban whereas only 44% of high school graduates (only) and 43% of those in college or dropouts opposed the measure. This also correlates well with income levels — obviously the higher your education level, the more your income. So people earning over 100K were more likely to oppose the ban while low-income voters were more likely to support it.

We can only move forward and hope to change the 2-4% deficit in our favor come the next elections.

I know a lot of progressives, including myself, believe that marriage should be unconstitutional for everyone. But like I have already noted, political ideology is not a reason to deny a particular social group their civil rights. This constitutional ban along with the ones in Arizona and Florida and 26 other states, serves to perpetuate ‘separate but (un)equal’ in American society, and we must ALWAYS vote against that.

This is not over.

Attorney General Jerry Brown insists that the 18,000 couples wedded between May 15 and Nov 4 are still legally married in California and he will fight to keep that intact.

San Francisco City Attorney is already mounting a legal challenge to Prop 8. A 64-page suit has been filed with the CA Supreme Court.

See a listing of Anti-Prop 8 rallies tonight.

Only in America – Convicted Felon Senator Ted Stevens Winning Re-Election

Posted on by Prerna in Politics | Leave a comment

…whilst two people in love are denied the right to marry in California, Florida and Arizona.

…whilst affirmative action is overturned in Nebraska

84-year old Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska—the longest serving Republican in the Senate—was found guilty of seven felony counts less than two weeks ago but is still leading in his bid for re-election by less than 400 votes.

His future depends on some 40,000 absentee ballots yet to be counted in Alaska.

Senator Stevens refused to back down despite calls from both Barack Obama and John McCain. He still considers himself above the law, gets to keep his pension and vote for himself, and will become the first convicted felon to serve in the Senate if re-elected.

Lets get this one ‘straight’ (no pun intended). A convicted felon can serve in the United States Senate, but same-sex couples are constitutionally ineligible to marry in 29 states across America (California, Florida and Arizona were added to the list of 26 last night). Is something wrong with this picture?

This is not the America I envisioned and I dearly hope that this is not Barack Obama’s America.

Change We Can’t Believe In – California Bans Gay Marriage – Proposition 8 Passes 52%-48%

Posted on by Prerna in LGBTQ, Politics | 5 Comments

It was a night of celebration for many Americans and for much of the world. Barack Obama won with a mandate, Democrats swept up both the House and Senate, even abortion rights withstood strong challenges in several states even as affirmative action fell.

Obama took the podium and started off with his victory speech while LGBT communities, friends and families across America watched in bittersweet shock and dismay:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

There are no blue states nor any red states; there are purple states. And Californians today–the progressive lot–will realize this with much aggravation and sadness. Their ‘blue’ state voted to eliminate rights, voted for discrimination and bigotry, voted for hate – PROP 8.

In Florida, 62% of voters approved Amendment 2 that would write the gay marriage ban into the constitution. Arizona also banned gay marriage while 57 percent of voters in Arkansas supported a ban that would keep gays from becoming foster or adoptive parents. It was again, up to California to take the lead and re-write the story of election night for LGBT communities across the United States. It failed to do so; Proposition 8 passed even as it had trailed in opinion polls for months.

The Knights of Columbus, Mormon, Catholic and evangelical groups compromising the ‘Yes on 8′(bigot) coalition tried everything from lies to disinformation to scare tactics to criminal activity.

And they won.

They had more money, more organization, more in-roads into minority communities and more reasons to lie.

They sent out mailings with Barack Obama and Joe Biden saying “Yes on 8″ to African American voters, made similar misleading robocalls, and even hijacked the internet with such erroneous ads. Result: 70% of African Americans reported voting Yes on 8.

Barack Obama–the supposed healer of this nation–was too much of a coward to come out strongly against Proposition 8. Only 67% of Democrats vote No on Prop 8 compared to 79% of Republicans who voted Yes — “the rest (of the ‘democrats’) need to hand in their cards” said Mo, a concerned young queer male in Michigan. IS THIS THE CHANGE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE IN, a change that eliminates the rights of same-sex couples? Being a spineless Democrat that is too hesitant to take a stance on important issues is certainly no change (But it is something we can certainly believe).

Churches will not lose their tax-exempt status if they refuse to perform gay marriages, ‘same-gender marriage’ will not be mandated as teaching curriculum in schools, Western civilization will not fall due to two people loving each other and vowing to spend the rest of their lives together under the law (though it might fall due to the fiscal mess we are in…) Despite these clarifications, the ‘scare tactics’ of the ‘Yes’ side won. Fear won, not hope and certainly not change.

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The Numbers Root for Barack Obama

Posted on by Prerna in Desi, Politics | Leave a comment

Courtesy: Times of India

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Click to open up bigger.

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Voting in America explained from an Indian perspective.