Politics and Purl

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Follow Up

I need to clear up a couple of things.

First, my opinion in my previous post that the right wing doesn't care about us, etc., is strictly my own. It is not endorsed by St. Luke's House or any employee or representative thereof; it is also not to be construed that I am speaking on behalf of any other company or organization.

Second, Six Things brought up a good point. We really do need to be involved in local elections. I feel that my post may have been irresponsible.

While I continue to express that it's difficult to be involved in local affairs, I also concede that it is of the utmost importance. On a local level we can make the most difference of all. It really does all start at home.

Get Up, Stand Up

I've been really remiss about getting posts out, which is really bad considering there's stuff actually going on.

"Does my government really believe that the law can create a family? Do these old fat-ass men really believe that if they just pay people to act like Leave It to Beaver everything will be fine?" - Amy Gardner

I just wrote a letter to the The Honorable Chris Van Hollen(D-MD) in regards to an amendment to HR1461 that would eliminate funding for affordable housing to non-profit organizations that engage in ANY kind of advocacy. Here is the letter in its entirety(excepting my name and address):

To the Honorable Chris Van Hollen:

I am writing in response to a proposed anti-advocacy provision in HR1461, the Housing Finance Reform Act currently on the house floor. I urge you to oppose this provision.

I, like many other Maryland residents, rent from non-profit organizations that buy affordable housing. Because of physical and/or psychiatric disabilites, most of us are unable to afford housing from any other source. HUD Section 8 funding cuts have made these other housing sources even more important to the residents of this district.

We need to be able to advocate for ourselves. Many of these organizations provide services other than housing, and part of our empowerment and independence comes from the advocacy skills we learn through said organizations. These programs teach us how to vote, how to stay informed regarding the issues that affect us as disabled citizens, and, yes, how to contact our representatives and senators so that we can voice our concerns to the men and women for whom we vote. Simply put, we need to be given a voice, and advocacy help we get from non-profit organizations is usually all we have.

Your voting and response record has been exemplary in regards to the issues facing Maryland's disabled citizens. I thank you for your help in many of these matters, and once again, I urge you to oppose any amendment or provision in HR1461 that would reduce or eliminate funding for affordable housing on the basis of advocacy help to clients.

Thank you for your attention in this matter,

If this amendment were to go through, this would screw St. Luke's so badly. As I said in the letter, we need to learn how to advocate for ourselves. A few of us at St. Luke's participate in advocacy and are helped by a supervisor at the agency. This advocacy is non-partisan and empowering. Some would argue that we lean toward the left, but that is because the right doesn't care about us. If the right wing had their way many of us would be institutionalized for many, many years. Ironically, this is so much more expensive than funding programs that promote independent living. Most of these decisions made by the right wing in this country are pound foolish and not even penny wise. It ends up costing more money, not less.

You don't need to live in Maryland to write in opposition to this. This is a federal issue, and is probably even more sensitive in other states. If you have the time and inclination, I urge you to write your own representative. You can find out how on The US House of Representatives Website.

If it seems like I have neglected this blog, don't worry, I've neglected everything. I'm getting over a downwards swing. I haven't made any hats, either.

Anyway, that's enough to digest for now.... take care.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Involvement Begins At Home, or Something Like That

The theme for this year's event is Learning Is Delightful and Delicious. As, by the way, am I. - CJ Cregg

I finally got to wear my sweater yesterday. I still think it's a bit big.

A couple of days ago, I sat down to learn a little bit about the candidates for this year's Rockville city elections. I was excited; it would be a chance to participate in politics on a level where I would actually be allowed to make a difference.

Yeah, whatever. Rockville is an incorporated city in Montgomery County. The city government does very little. We established a park to honor Mattie Stepanek, a kid who had a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. He lived here in King Farm and died last year. He was on Oprah and Larry King and everyone loved him. Who would be against naming a park after him?

I am looking, and everyone seems qualified and I can't tell who to vote for. The issues on this level pretty much include parks and stop signs. I don't think any of the candidates are going to do anything different.

The only thing I know about the current mayor is that he stole my seat at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference two years ago. I look at his record, and I don't care that he's a father, a businessman, etc. It's all the same stuff.

At least on a county level you have some real issues, such as welfare, disability, housing, and taxes. Sure the city taxes you, but the bulk of local taxes are taken at the county level. Rockville is a small city in its own right, so there's not much that's of any consequence.

Anyway, because I feel compelled, I will continue to look at the issues and the candidates. I'm amazed that I even know who the mayor is. If we're apathetic about national elections, we're totally clueless about our own communities. There's something wrong about that, and I can't figure it out.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Who is this God person anyway?

My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police? ... One last thing: While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the ignorant tightass club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits. - Jed

Jed: She's skipping over the part that says, "Wives, be subject to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church."
Abby: I do skip over that part.
Jed: Why?
Abby: Because it's stupid.

Okay, in case anyone at this point has any doubt, the constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." There are all sorts of problems that people have with the various clauses in this one-sentence paragraph. The most disturbing is the wholesale dismissal of the first clause, known as the "Establishment Clause." This is the clause that ensures separation of church and state. It makes it unconstitutional to make any move to make Christianity(or any other religion) a state religion.

Things that signal a state religion include school prayer and using biblical law to create secular laws. It is only religious objections that preclude teaching evolution and allowing same-sex couples the legal protection and legitimacy of marriage. The only intelligent argument against either of these things are religious ones. These arguments force Christian values on everyone.

We strive to live in a pluralist society. We should accept more than one idea. I do not believe in taking away the right of any church or other religious institution to dictate the lives of its members. For instance, I support the Catholic church's right to not endorse homosexual behavior(although that makes it difficult to be a sexual minority), to require clergy to be celibate, and to disavow divorce by not allowing divorcees to remarry. I am not a member of the Catholic church so it is not for me to say. There is nothing wrong with a religion that requires women to cover their hair or men to grow a beard. It's when failure to follow religious doctrines becomes a crime against the State.

Failure to follow Christian laws which create victimless crimes should be an issue between church and parishioner, not between police and individual. This hasn't been the case since this country was created, but several of the founding fathers certainly had it in mind. Taking God out of schools and courtrooms does not threaten His followers; rather, it strengthens our community by including everyone. We pride ourselves on being a pluralist society. Let's make Franklin proud and be one.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Mistakes Were Made

This is the White House. If we only screw up twice before breakfast, it was a very good morning. - Jed Bartlet

Since before I took up the hobby, I've been wanting to work with ribbon. All that color, the overlays, and you don't have to wait until November to wear it. So I was in AC Moore the other day and there was this gorgeous 3/4" wide blue and green ribbon with bits of gold here and there. I spent way past my budget for such things, and I got the idea that I was going to make a tank top out of it.

I was in no way prepared to work with this stuff. I started off with the suggested 10 1/2 needles, and the fabric was too dense. Also, if I were to use these needles I'd need ten hanks of this stuff, and that would be even more expensive. I had to go to Woolwinders anyway to look at baby patterns, so I picked up a size 17 circular needle. Now, as those of you who have used these needles know, they're as awkward as those gigantic pencils they made us use in first grade.

I have done five gauge swatches and five other false starts. I've put in at least ten hours of work and at the moment, all I have is a gauge swatch. Granted, I'm not using a pattern, but this is getting ridiculous.

Against my better judgement, I will say something about the disaster on the Gulf Coast. A lot of people are blaming FEMA and the Bush Administration for bad disaster response. While I will not let them off the hook(and I will admit that I have absolutely no faith in Bush), much of this disaster could have been totally averted. The levees were in terrible repair. Bills had gone before Congress that would have funded levee repairs, but they got dismissed as just another series of pork. Scientists knew that this would happen. Not that it could happen, but that it would. But we can't afford to fund local projects. There was nothing we could do about Katrina's approach(and I know that might even be debatable), the levees needn't have broken. They would have been far cheaper to fix than it will now be to recover, and we may have spared almost all of the lives lost.

This disaster was a lot like the Titanic in that a series of unfortunate circumstances lined up just right to create the perfect disaster. There are so many ifs and shouldas, and if just one thing had been different, we would most likely have had a totally different story to read. There are so many people to blame, but we cannot overlook that the whole thing is just a disaster, and other than some investigational work to ensure that it never happens again. Just as the Titanic's sinking brought about monumental changes to ocean liner safety, let us hope that we really do learn something. People will have to be blamed, but more importantly, changes will have to be made.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Welcome to Politics and Purl!

What can I say, I'm here! Politics and Purl is the oddity that it appears to be, political rantings and knitting updates. If you're not sure how the two are related, don't worry, I'm not either. I am still going to talk about those two things.

Anyway, I am a serious West Wing junkie, almost to the point of absurdity. I love the old rapid-fire dialog, amusing one-liners, and poignant monologues. While it is not currently what it was when Sorkin and Schlamme were there, I am still loyal to it. Even bad West Wing is pretty good television. With this in mind, I am going to have a West Wing quote of the day.

In light of a conversation I had earlier about our seriously misdirected priorities, today's is:

Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don't need little changes. We need gigantic revolutionary changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be getting six-figure salaries. Schools should incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge for its citizens, just like national defense. That is my position. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet. - Sam Seaborn

And I really do think that sentiment could go for a lot of things that are very wrong. We value Britney Spears more than we value the 10% of adults in this country who cannot read well enough to read the newspaper(I'm not really sure that Ms. Spears isn't part of that 10%). We are some of the most poorly educated people in the free world, but it's okay because we have to give tax breaks to people with a lot of money. The average person couldn't point to Montana on a map without text, let alone Iraq. Most of us are monolingual(sadly, I'm not in the minority) in a world where countries other than the handful of English-speaking ones are beginning to dominate the global market. The world is pulling ahead of us. I suppose that's also okay because we have the military muscle.

I won't always rant like this, although I will rant often. I am involved in a couple of advocacy projects and organizations, and I will talk about this. I will talk about legislation on the floor, both state and federal. I will try not to be cynical. I believe that my presence here demonstrates that I am not.

Anyway, knitting projects. I just finished the hoodie from Stitch 'n Bitch. I'm so proud of my seams, I'm seriously proud of the pocket, the sleeves, all those things that are hard. There's only one problem. I could fit both you and me into it. I guess that's not so bad for the coming months. I did a gauge swatch and it was a little off but the person at the shop reassured me that it would be ok. My gauge was probably a little off as I went... or it got stretched out during blocking. Any ideas on that one would be welcome.

As I start on smaller projects for the winter, I have to say I am still fired up. I am ready to tackle that baby project. I just can't afford so much yarn this time.

Okay, I'm out to make more mischief and buy more yarn!