30 March 2011

De facto deportation and termination of parental rights downgraded to "possible communications mix-up"

A follow-up: four-year-old Emily Ruiz, an American citizen who was de facto deported because of the immigration status of her parents about three weeks ago, has been reunited with her family after being treated to a first-class plane trip from Guatemala back to her home in the U.S. (CNN).

When officials prevented Emily's father from reuniting with her and took custody of her, they effectively terminated his parental rights, without cause and without a hearing. Abuse, neglect, incapacitating substance abuse, abandonment, mental illness, conviction of a violent felony, etc., are grounds for terminating parental rights. Failure to adjust status is not. The Customs and Border Protection officials who did not clearly communicate with Emily's father, and the state officials who were ready to take Emily into custody, should be ashamed of themselves -- and more than that, they should see a § 1983 suit filed against them ASAP. One for Emily's father, and one for herself -- deportation is a judicial action against a non-citizen who's committed a crime, not a punishment for an American pre-school girl coming home to the U.S. after visiting the grandparents abroad.

29 March 2011

Driberally tonight

Drinking Liberally is a weekly social gathering where progressives talk politics and get to know one another. In Center City Philadelphia, we meet on Tuesday nights at José Pistola's upstairs bar, where there are drink specials from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. And the more we tip the bartender, the more frequently he hands out free dishes of chips and dips. I hope to see you there!

José Pistola's is at 263 South 15th Street (15th and Spruce) in Center City, near the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music. There's a parking garage across the street, but as filthy liberal hippies naturally we suggest public transit; both SEPTA and PATCO will get you there in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

This week's topic: Wow, is it spring yet?

"Come for the beer, stay for the check"

24 March 2011

Illegal immigrant parent to a citizen child? That's grounds for CPS to take your kid away

Fuck ICE, fuck Customs and Border Protection, fuck anti-"anchor baby" lunatics, and fuck everybody involved in separating a 4-year-old American citizen from her immigrant family and deporting her to her family's country of origin, Guatemala.
The Ruizes embody the difficulties of a family divided by citizenship. Mr. Ruiz, 32, was born and raised in a small village outside Guatemala City. He came to the United States illegally in 1996 because, he said, "we were in a very poor situation in my country."

He settled on Long Island, finding work tending lawns. He eventually married another Guatemalan, Brenda Dubon, and they had two children: Emily and Christopher, 3.

Mr. Ruiz said he and his wife sent Emily to Guatemala for the winter because they worried that the cold weather in New York would aggravate her asthma. They are distraught, he said, that the family has been kept apart.

"This is very unfair because she is a citizen," he said, "and she is a very little girl."
Ruiz went to the airport to fetch his daughter as she returned home from the trip to Guatemala. The flight was diverted to another state, where he was threatened with losing custody of his child to state authorities if he attempted to reunite with her. Because, apparently, being a hard-working, gainfully employed, tax-paying illegal immigrant parent to a citizen child is grounds for CPS to terminate your parental rights. So dad had Grandpa take the daughter back to Guatemala, where she remains so that her parents won't get deported attempting to reunite with her.

What the fucking fuck, Virginia, ICE, Customs and Border Protection, and any other fascist son of a bitch official involved in this situation? They have separated a 4-year-old child, a U.S. citizen, from her parents and sibling and sent her abroad in a ploy to get the parents removed from the country. And do you think they'd do the same thing to a child of, say, Canadian or European parents? I'm an anchor baby child of two immigrant parents, but I "pass" for "American" because I have an Anglo name and my parents are both of European extraction. Do you think ICE and CBP would have tried to deport me to Grandma's after spending a summer on the farm there when I was a kid?

It's making me sick to think about the state this child's parents must be in. Oh, god, even though my daughter was born a dozen years ago I still can't watch that "Baby Mine" scene from Dumbo without shaking and almost throwing up. I hope every official involved in this case rots in hell, and I hope the § 1983 suit wins the Ruiz family millions of taxpayer dollars.

22 March 2011

Driberally tonight

Drinking Liberally is a weekly social gathering where progressives talk politics and get to know one another. In Center City Philadelphia, we meet on Tuesday nights at José Pistola's upstairs bar, where there are drink specials from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. And the more we tip the bartender, the more frequently he hands out free dishes of chips and dips. I hope to see you there!

José Pistola's is at 263 South 15th Street (15th and Spruce) in Center City, near the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music. There's a parking garage across the street, but as filthy liberal hippies naturally we suggest public transit; both SEPTA and PATCO will get you there in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

This week's topic: Doin' the math to see if a CSA share works for me this year. The latest number of Grid magazine (kludgey online version) profiles several choices in southeastern Pennsylvania. Do you subscribe to a CSA? Do you hate it when you get five pounds of kale for a few weeks in a row but only two mealy apples in September? Or do you see it as a way to seriously enrich your diet with seasonal produce while challenging yourself in the kitchen?

"Come for the beer, stay for the check"

20 March 2011

Libya 2011 isn't Iraq 2003 -- how about Iraq 1990?


Peter Bergen at CNN proclaims that U.S. participation in the U.N. no-fly-zone intervention in Libya is nothing at all like the American "operation" in Iraq in 2003. Instead, it's more like Iraq in 1990.

But what if it truly is more like Operation Desert Shield and the ensuing Gulf War? We'll stop just short of toppling Gaddafi and his government? Then we'll let him sit for another dozen years before we invade for real, with only grudging support from the U.N., secured through lies about weapons of mass destruction and nuclear capability? Resulting in tens of thousands of dead civilians and soldiers, as well as incalculable damage to world heritage sites?

President Obama remarked today that "we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government." If that's truly the reason we've urged this action in the U.N. and are now participating, then why didn't we make such a move for Ivory Coast? Or Yemen? Or Bahrain?

Why does the government have money for this action, when it doesn't have the money to create jobs, repair highway infrastructure, expand benefits for hungry children, and fund public schools?

Will our children be fighting on the ground in Libya in 10 years? Will a veteran of the current intervention come back with some kind of PTSD and blow up a federal building?

Keep your abortion-related receipts and other documentation for audit purposes

This is less government, how?

‘For taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this section--

‘(1) no credit shall be allowed under the internal revenue laws with respect to amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or with respect to amounts paid or incurred for a health benefits plan (including premium assistance) that includes coverage of abortion,

‘(2) for purposes of determining any deduction for expenses paid for medical care of the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse or dependents, amounts paid or incurred for an abortion or for a health benefits plan that includes coverage of abortion shall not be taken into account, and

‘(3) in the case of any tax-preferred trust or account the purpose of which is to pay medical expenses of the account beneficiary, any amount paid or distributed from such an account for an abortion shall be included in the gross income of such beneficiary.
Full text.

Mother Jones reports that this bill is a "top priority" of Speaker Boehner's (R-Ohio). What about jobs?

15 March 2011

Driberally tonight

Drinking Liberally is a weekly social gathering where progressives talk politics and get to know one another. In Center City Philadelphia, we meet on Tuesday nights at José Pistola's upstairs bar, where there are drink specials from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. And the more we tip the bartender, the more frequently he hands out free dishes of chips and dips. I hope to see you there!

José Pistola's is at 263 South 15th Street (15th and Spruce) in Center City, near the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music. There's a parking garage across the street, but as filthy liberal hippies naturally we suggest public transit; both SEPTA and PATCO will get you there in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

This week's topic: Yarn-bombing the El.

"Come for the beer, stay for the check"

14 March 2011

CDC's food recall alerts: staph and E. coli and salmonella, oh my!

Best newsfeed ever: the CDC's food recall alerts. Your daily dose of E. coli O157:H7 contaminations and unlabeled potential allergens, ew. If this kind of thing doesn't keep you away from processed, packaged, and shelf-stable foods, I don't know what would.

11 March 2011

GOP to West Coast: Drop Dead

It's like shooting fish in a barrel, it really is.

Remember when Gov. Bobby Jindal (R.-La.) gave the Republican response to the 2009 State of the Union speech, and he mocked funding for monitoring volcanoes, and then the Mt. Redoubt volcano in Alaska erupted a couple of months later?

The GOP's federal budget proposal cuts tsunami preparedness and relief, and today -- basically as I type this -- tsunami waves (albeit small ones) are hitting the West Coast of the United States, Hawai'i is assessing its damage, and American holdings in the South Pacific may have been washed over completely after yesterday's earthquake in Japan, which registered mind-boggling 8.9 on the Richter scale.

Tens of millions of Americans live in tsunami danger zones. Tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions don't quit just because of a budget crisis and a global economic recession. But the GOP would rather have the West Coast drown than end the Bush tax cuts for billionaires.

Friday jukebox: Carole King 'n' James Taylor

In honor of my applying for jobs in Dauphin and Berks Counties. I've been feeling my "10-year itch" to move to another city recently, but I swear the itch is referring to something like Chicago or Seattle, not Harrisburg or Reading:

Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?

10 March 2011

Operation Rescue terrorists are targetting Pennsylvania

Domestic terrorist organization Operation Rescue, who did nothing to prevent the illegal charnel house run by Dr. Gosnell in West Philadelphia for over 30 years, has decided to target Pennsylvania now. Not soon, but now. They plan to do things like publish photos and addresses of practitioners and assistants -- and not in the hopes that you send the doctors a card at Christmas, because this is not an organization's purpose when its participants are called "foot soldiers."

Dr. Gosnell opened the Women's Medical Society in 1979. For 31 years, he performed illegal late-term abortions in filthy conditions, directing untrained and unlicensed assistants to treat women (long, graphic PDF). The result was permanent infertility of likely dozens of women, death for others, and infanticide of probably hundreds of near-term fetuses. He regularly treated minors without a parent's consent, and he would refuse to let women back out of the procedure if they changed their mind. Where was Operation Rescue all this time? By the time he was arrested, Gosnell was operating his clinic seven days a week. Why wasn't Operation Rescue there?

Now Operation Rescue is using the horrifying Gosnell tragedy to their own ends. But if they succeed, they won't end abortions. They'll simply end safe, legal abortions.

As Gosnell's practice proved, when abortions are too expensive, too far away, delayed because of state interference, or stigmatized in a woman's family or community, a woman will get an abortion anyway. If women can't get safe, compassionate care through Planned Parenthood or the other legal clinics in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, then supply will meet these women's demand, and other doctors and practitioners will work outside the law, without concerns for safety, and certainly without compassion to provide the abortions.

The way you prevent abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. If Operation Rescue truly wished to prevent abortions, they'd call upon their membership to step up contributions to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide comprehensive sex education and reproductive healthcare to women. They'd adopt unwanted children and take in foster kids. Instead, they'll be unleashing their terroristic practices in Pennsylvania soon.

What will our elected leadership do? Senator Toomey (R) is a right-wing religious extremist who would imprison doctors who perform abortions (video). Governor Corbett has said he won't seek stricter anti-abortion laws in Pennsylvania solely because of the Gosnell clinic (PA Independent); but he is on record generally supporting the idea that abortions should be even harder to obtain in Pennsylvania than they already are (NRO). All this is to say, I don't see Corbett calling up the National Guard when the Operation Rescue terrorists get going.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics will be needing patient escorting personnel soon. If you have a spare couple of hours once per week, or just once per month, call your local clinic and ask about training for clinic defense. Like any other terrorist group, Operation Rescue is counting on fear, intimidation, and a lack of support for abortion patients to reach their goals. Clinic defense is about the best way to really put your money where your mouth is if you love, support, and trust women to make their own healthcare decisions for themselves.

09 March 2011

"I don't want people to know that he's my dad"

CBS's 60 Minutes interviews homeless kids in Florida. A few of the homeless kids talk about washing up at Wal-Mart before going to school, having all their clothes and toys sold out of a storage unit, living with siblings and parents in a single room at a neighbor's house after they were evicted, watching their dad hold up a sign at a busy corner saying "Family of 5, please help":

The show reports that very soon 25% of all American children will be living in poverty. That's a big chunk of the next generation of voters who aren't going to grow up to be Republicans.

Anti-choicers are not fighting for the "babies"

Amanda Marcotte at AlterNet brings up a point I've danced around since I started doing clinic defense: anti-choice protesting isn't about the "babies" and preventing unwanted pregnancies and their termination; it's about an obsession with women and girls having sex.

If it were truly about the "babies," the protestors would show up during snowstorms. But at the clinic where I escort patients, they stay away in bad weather. The big crowds come out only once per month, and the really big crowds come out only in the summer. News flash: the patients still came in for their procedures when there was snow and ice on the ground.

If it were truly about the "babies," the protestors' car wouldn't have a bumpersticker that reads CHASTITY, they wouldn't hand out anti-sexuality literature to patients and staff, and they wouldn't yell, "Save yourself for marriage!" at the young women going inside. But this is what they do at the clinic where I escort patients. News flash: by the time those young women are entering the clinic, it's too late for them to save themselves for marriage.

If it were truly about the "babies," the protestors would spend their time, money, and energy in programs that help women with unwanted pregnancies. They would adopt unwanted babies and welcome foster children into their homes (some 3000 per year in Philadelphia alone come into the system). They would spend time with their own kids and grandkids instead of yelling at the young women and their support persons -- partners, parents, and friends -- seeking healthcare.

If it were truly about the "babies," as Marcotte writes, the anti-choicers would actually seek to fund Planned Parenthood and other family planning services more. This is because abortions happen when women have unwanted pregnancies. Comprehensive sex education and contraception reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that women have, which reduces the number of abortions that women seek.

I won't even link to Ross Douthat's recent NYT piece about monogamy and his thesis, at best strained and at worst just bizarre, that there is a direct, causal correlation between sexual activity among post-sexual revolution unmarried women and their unhappiness. That he gets a sounding board for his judgmental rants on the Newspaper of Record is simply sickening. At least the commenters have taken him to task for twisting the results of a few studies, cherrypicking statistics, and drawing illogical conclusions from them to fit the point he was trying to make. Because if it were truly about the "babies" for Douthat, he wouldn't argue against funding family planning, which gets more women out of the labor and delivery room and into college.

Oh, wait, I just figured out why the NYT keeps Douthat on staff. Remember that awful story from Texas yesterday about the 18 guys accused of gang-raping an 11-year-old girl? The New York Times investigated and asked "What was she wearing?"
Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.
. . . and then quoted a local who says,
These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.

Pregnancy makes a woman a second-class citizen

A woman becomes a second-class citizen as soon as she becomes pregnant because her human and civil rights become less important than the rights of the fetus. Here's how it works.

Pregnancy is a life-threatening condition. It is more risky to be pregnant than to not be pregnant. At any stage of a woman's pregnancy, it is less risky for her to terminate the pregnancy than to undergo childbirth.

In this country, even if you voluntarily assume the life-threatening risk of a condition (buying a ticket for a plane that might crash, ordering your eggs or steak undercooked, strapping yourself into bungee cords for a jump) you can always change your mind and back out of your decision (not getting on the plane, not eating the eggs or steak, not bungee jumping off the bridge). That is to say, in this country, we don't force people to go through with risky things, no matter how enthusiastic we were for the experience when we signed up for it (order you onto the plane at gunpoint, force-feed you the eggs or steak, push you off the bridge).

But we do, to one degree or another, if the life-threatening risk taken on is pregnancy. This is the only such situation in American law. And the given reason that we do so is because of the state's interest in the rights of the fetus. In other words, we force women to continue a particular life-threatening condition to its conclusion solely because of the rights of another being. And this being isn't even another citizen; it can't own or transfer property, it can't vote, it can't serve in the military. But as soon as a woman is pregnant, it causes her to lose the fundamental human right to direct her own healthcare and her own future. The option of adoption aside -- because the reality is that few women who bring unintended pregnancies to term go through with an adoption plan -- women are then routinely forced to undergo 18+ years of the legal, emotional, financial, and physical consequences of motherhood. Never mind the lack of state-funded daycare or the fair distribution of free public education for these children whose rights the state supposedly had such an interest in before they were born.

The only class of people in this country who are ever forced to go through the riskier of two options in any situation, because of the supposed rights of another party or class of beings, are women who are pregnant. If that isn't a solid definition of slavery, I don't know what is.

08 March 2011

Nebraska makes mothers birth deformed pre-term babies and watch them die

Listen to this Christian couple's story (12 min).

Listen to the story of this married Christian couple, Danielle and Robb. They had gone through several miscarriages and one successful pregnancy brought to term. Then with this baby, Danielle's amniotic sac broke early, at about 22 weeks, and she was hospitalized. The diagnosis: the loss of amniotic fluid would cause the fetus severe limb deformities and underdeveloped lungs. Danielle would probably miscarry before the fetus reached a viable gestational age; and even if it did reach viability, it had almost a zero chance of any life at all once born. Danielle and Robb talked the situation over with their doctors and their consciences, and they decided to seek an abortion.

The problem: they're in Nebraska, where a woman can't get an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, unless the her life is immediately at risk.

In other words, the only way Danielle could have gotten a legal abortion would be to wait until she developed a deadly pregnancy complication, such as the leaking amniotic sac letting in some contagion that caused a massive septic infection that threatened to kill her. [1] Instead, the state of Nebraska forced the fetus to go through a week of increasing pregnancy complications and fetal deformities until the Danielle finally went into premature labor, and the baby died within minutes of birth. A nurse made the mother watch the newborn struggle to breathe before it finally died, so that the state could have the time of death.

This is what happens to ordinary people when abortions are banned. Because Danielle and Robb had a toddler at home, they couldn't just up and travel to another state to get the procedure done. Instead, Danielle was forced to a week of bed rest and then days of physical recovery from childbirth, along with the emotional trauma of being compelled to watch her deformed baby die for the convenience of the medical staff's recordkeeping. If she had been able to get the healthcare she needed, she could have been back to work and caring for her toddler within a few days.

Where is the state's interest in having the situation end this way?

[1] Coincidentally, premature rupture of the membranes is why my OB induced my labor a few days before my actual due date. It's a relatively common complication of late pregnancy. My OB's rule of thumb was to induce if labor hadn't started spontaneously within 24 hours of the rupture, because the rupture can provide a pathway for serious infection, as it's basically an open sore into the body.

Call a spade a spade: tea partiers are "xenophobic," "racist," and "crazy"

So a high muckety-muck at NPR has been caught on tape saying the following:
The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian. I wouldn't even call it Christian. It's this weird evangelical kind of movement.
He also said that Tea Party people are
[x]enophobic, I mean basically they are; they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it's scary. They're seriously racist, racist people.
So the muckety-muck, one Ron Schiller, has quit and this was a huge breaking story on MSNBC all highlighted in red and stuff.

But what's wrong with the statement? It wasn't broadcast as factual news. It was the dude's opinion. And you know, it's a pretty darn accurate characterization of the facts. The GOP's platform over the past 20 or 30 years has been taken over by evangelicals and other Christian fundamentalists. This was Jerry Falwell's goal for the Moral Majority, and he won. Tea partiers continue to obsess over the crazy idea that President Obama was born in Kenya and talk about "Second Amendment remedies" against people in Congress that they perceive as problematic. The Tea Party Caucus is insisting on cutting, cutting, cutting domestic programs, cutting upper-level income taxes, and urging military action on Libya without realistically considering that even a small increase in billionaires' tax bills, plus quitting one or two wars, would solve quite a few budget dilemmas in very short order.

This is crazy talk, and tea partiers do it with lies about Planned Parenthood and how the pensions of unionized government workers are paid. It is not unreasonable to call tea partiers "scary."

Anti-choice lawmaking, gang rape in Texas

The state legislature in Texas has passed, and Gov. Perry appears ready to sign into law, a bill that requires women to get an ultrasound, view and listen to a description of what the ultrasound reveals, and then wait 24 hours before undergoing the termination procedure (CNN). It's like Oklahoma's law (currently enjoined), except that one of the versions of the Texas law allows a woman to opt out of seeing the images or listening to sounds if if the fetus has a condition that is incompatible with life after childbirth, or if the pregnancy is the result of incest or rape.

Speaking of rape in Texas, police have arrested 18 people (13 adults, 5 kids) for gang-raping an 11-year-old girl (CNN). But hey, at least if she becomes pregnant and decides to terminate the pregnancy, she won't be further punished or "subject to a penalty" if she "avert[s] her eyes from the ultrasound images" during her state-ordered preliminaries to the abortion.

Happy International Women's Day!