The Recalcitrant Brother Has an Announcement

So, my recalcitrant brother called to announce that he’s giving up two things for Lent–food during the day and smoking.

This is surprising for any number of reasons.  One, we’re Methodists of the strain that doesn’t just not celebrate Lent but views Lent as like a second Christmas, where you get to run around mocking your Catholic friends–“Mmm, this Friday cheeseburger sure is good.”  “Oh, yum, warm chocolate chip cookies.  You didn’t give up chocolate for Lent did you?  Such a shame.”

And since he’s still living down with the Klan, you know he didn’t discover that he’s secretly Catholic.

But he’s taking it seriously and, well, more power to him.  It just goes to show you never can tell.

Daffodil Conspiracy

Y’all, I’m convinced my daffodils will never bloom and that my yard will forever taunt me with the promise of flowers and no delivery.

I don’t know.  I’m feeling very overwhelmed by things today and I tried to think of something nice and light to write about in this here spot, but I’ve got nothing.  I want to dig up my garden and amend my soil and smell like dirt.

I want to lay down on the floor next to my dog and sleep.

And I can’t wait to see daffodils.  Or what the mystery sprouts are.

That’s what I’ve got.

I Heard from Marrero’s Assistant! Hurray! And Thank the Gods, Marrero Has Not Lost Her Mind.

The letter:

Thank you for writing with your concerns; I only wish you had done so before posting your blog.
Your initial reaction of confusion is certainly justified. However, I think Senator Marrero’s stance on reproductive rights speaks for itself; she is the most outspoken advocate for these issues in the State Senate. She certainly appreciates your acknowledgement of her record in your email. Obviously some of your readers are unfamiliar with this record; that is the only explanation I have for some of the vitriol directed at her in the comments of your blog. This is to be expected, of course, but I was still a little shocked at how quickly people were ready to lump her in with the anti-choice movement despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary.
To understand the disparity between her intentions and the actual text of the bill requires a degree of understanding of some of the messier aspects of the legislative process (the “sausage making,” if you’re familiar with the expression).
When a legislator has an idea for a bill, he or she must communicate that idea to one of the staff attorneys, who do their best to translate often vague ideas into language that will fit into the Tennessee Code. Sometimes they are more successful than others. Representative Hackworth’s original intent was simply that pregnant women with substance addictions be provided with treatment options should they make the decision to carry the fetus to full term. Somehow, a miscommunication between Hackworth’s office and Legal Services resulted in the fundamentally flawed bill that has unfortunately captured the attention of the blogosphere. I will not pretend to understand how this happened, but rest assured that the bill’s flaws did not escape Senator Marrero’s attention when she agreed to be its sponsor in the Senate. However, there is a filing deadline for new legislation, and in this case, the bill had to be filed that day or not at all.
Now the bill can be amended with any language that deals with that section of the Tennessee Code. I am already looking at a version being discussed by Senator Marrero, Representative Hackworth, and the designated staff attorney that does not require any testing of pregnant women whatsoever. Without belaboring the details of a work in progress, suffice to say that Senator Marrero will not support any legislation that will require drug or alcohol testing of unwilling mothers. She understands that this would be completely counterproductive, as so many have pointed out, due to the fact that it might discourage some women from seeking prenatal care. Moreover, she wholeheartedly supports the provision of the bill that makes any and all drug test results inadmissible in a criminal trial. This provision was in the original version of this bill (a fact that escaped nearly everyone with a comment to make), and will continue to be a cornerstone of the legislation as it moves forward.
I hope this alleviates some of the concerns you and your readers have. Moreover, I hope that you feel free to write directly, or post on your blog, any suggestions you have that would help us craft a bill that will address the problem of neonatal abstinence syndrome without infringing on the fundamental control that women must have over their own bodies.
Rest assured that Senator Marrero remains your strongest advocate here at the capitol.
Cory Bradfield
Legislative Assistant
Senator Beverly Marrero

P.S. Feel free to post any part of this letter that you feel will contribute to a productive discussion; I will probably join in myself as a civilian when on my home computer.

Yes, I have quibbles, of course, but I just can’t bring myself to them at the moment.  I’m just glad to see this.

Lots of Stuff

You know, I never did hear back from Senator Marrero about her wanting to drug-test non-compliant pregnant women.  Not even a form ‘thanks for writing.’

Anyway, today is the day they’re going to vote to strip our right to an abortion away.  It’s just a matter of whether it will include the three exceptions (proposed by the Democrats) or not.  So, you know, one bill is getting passed.

Dean Dad says (not about this topic, but it feels applicable):

People with long memories would be well advised to pay very close attention over the next year or two. It’s easy to please everybody when money is sloshing around. But when the chips are down, and they are, the real priorities become clear. Some of us understand the task at hand as bringing the entire community into the conversation, and preserving the best of our values during a difficult time; others understand the task as bashing the queers. If nothing else, at least we’ll get clarity.

And isn’t that right?  Here we are, Tennessee, and the chips are down.  In fact, we’d better pray that all the chips are down, because another round of chip tossing is going to do us in.  And now we see folks for who they truly are.  When the chips are down, the Republicans think we need to punish women and gays and single people.  When the chips are down, Democrats want to game the system and call it a win.

GoldnI has a post so astute about Bredesen that I just about can’t stand it.  And it reaffirms my belief that this is a man who’s never been to Walmart skidding by on his ability to make decent sound-bites and other people’s prejudices about the South.  I mean, he’s from Tennessee, who would ever question that he doesn’t know what it’s like to shop at Walmart?  But I suspect his Walmart trips are like his Lawrence county family–hypothetical.

Don’t mind me.  I’m just feeling low.  I remember right after Katrina, when we were all watching and it slowly dawned on me that help wasn’t coming.  That there was nobody at the local, state, or federal level with enough leadership skills and the willingness to put his or her own career on the line (because yes, you might have to break laws to save lived; you might have to piss off the wrong people to speak the truth about what’s going on, etc.) to take charge and save people.  Not the messy real people who actually lived in New Orleans, who, yes, maybe should have left or, yes, maybe should have done this or maybe shouldn’t have done that.  You can always find politicians willing to save all kinds of hypothetical people, but real people?  Not so much.

Help wasn’t coming.

You’re on your own.

Bredesen wants to reach that hypothetical family in Lawrence county and so he’s going to turn down real money that would help real people.  So, let me be clear.  If you’re unemployed or under employed, if you can’t afford your home or you can afford your home but since no one on your block could you’re now paying on a $250,000 mortgage for a home worth half that, if you can’t get the healthcare you need and your baby dies and they have to put it in a ziploc baggie in a wooden box that doesn’t even have the lid nailed tight on it…

I’m sorry.

These things are things that are happening to people right now.  We have no money.  We have no jobs.  We have no access to adequate healthcare.

And we are on our own.

And now it’s not that help is not coming.  It’s that help is being turned away at the door.  The legislature would rather save hypothetical babies from abortion.  They’d rather save hypothetical children from the hypothetical single people who might adopt them and turn out to be crappy people.  They’d rather spare the hypothetical man who isn’t the father of his hypothetical child the embarrassment of having to discover on his own that he’s been duped.

But Bredesen is going to turn away money that would help people get jobs, which makes for stable families, which would achieve things for real people right now.

That’s where our politicians’ priorities are.

While we were suffering, they were grandstanding.

And we’d be wise not to forget that.

In the next round of elections, it’s not so much who has a visible (D) or an (R) next to his or her name; it should be who has the invisible (I) for incumbent.  We need to toss all these jackasses out.