Bipartisan [remember that?] bill, written by a Democrat [imagine that?] restricting Trump’s ability to wage war OK’d by House committee


Click to enlargeAP/Andrew Harnik

❝ A House committee has earned a rare bipartisan round of applause for beginning to roll back the US president’s ability to wage war.

❝ The House Appropriations Committee recently approved an amendment to revoke the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which allows the president to undertake war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates without Congressional approval. The law, passed shortly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, has been used to approve conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

The new amendment, introduced by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee, would sunset these presidential powers eight weeks after Congress passes the 2018 defence spending budget. The appropriations committee has sent the budget to the House floor for a vote.

❝ A visibly surprised Ms Lee welcomed the addition of the amendment on Thursday, condemning the AUMF as “a blank check to wage war anywhere, at any time, and for any length”.

The AUMF has been used to justify military action more than 37 times in 14 countries since 2001, according to the Congressional Research Service…

❝ “This issue is more urgent given the erratic behaviour and inexperience of our current Commander-in-Chief,” Ms Lee said. “No president should have a blank check for endless war, least of all President Donald Trump.”

Members of Congress were falling over each other to pass this bill in 2001 – excepting Barbara Lee, the sole vote against its passage. She understood and declared the foolishness of a bill so broad and unchecked it would be used [and was] by any president for any war they wished for.

I wish her well trying to shepherd her sanity through the rest of a Congress notable for cowardice and capitulation to religion, bigotry and corporate pimps. I compliment the members of the House Appropriations Committee for doing exactly what they are chartered to do.

“If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”

shorpy-douglass
Click to enlarge

“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Frederick Douglass, August 3, 1857

Remembering a dear friend this weekend, Ishmael Flory, Co-Founder of the African American Heritage Association

The ACLU got $24 million in donations this weekend — response to their courage!


Anthony Romero, ACLU head, on the streets, in the courts, all weekend

❝ In the weeks after the Nov. 8 election, when Donald Trump secured a surprise victory to become president of the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union received so much money in online donations — more than $15 million — that an official with the 100-year-old organization called the flood “unprecedented in our history.”…

…then Trump spent his first week as president signing executive orders and making good on some of his campaign promises, spurring massive protests across the country and the world — about women’s rights, the environment and what Trump calls his “extreme vetting” of travelers to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim nations…

❝ This weekend alone, the civil liberties group received more than $24 million in online donations from 356,306 people, a spokesman told The Washington Post early Monday morning, a total that supersedes its annual online donations by six times.

In an interview with CNN, the ACLU had a one-word reaction: “Wow.”

Having lived through a couple of attempts to bring fascism to power in the United States, I’m encouraged. Groups like the ACLU are usually a front-row target of lard-brained right-wingers like Trump and Bannon. Civil liberties – and their defenders – are an automatic target of creeps who front themselves as “strong leaders” and other code words for wannabe dictators.

Early days of McCarthyism,there were beaucoup folks with good intentions, civic understanding – and no guts – who would donate “cash only” to an organization of constitutional lawyers willing to fight for preservation of American standards. That folks have more courage – and greater willingness to drop their hard-earned buck$ on the barrel-head to support the fight for freedom is more than encouraging. It bodes well for the continuing battle.

Sex education is a human right — Erika Sánchez

When I was 17, I thought I might be pregnant. I had just fooled around with an acquaintance of mine, and my period was a few days late. Though there was no real penetration and fertilization was practically impossible, I convinced myself that I was carrying a fetus and that my life was over.

I took a pregnancy test. It came back negative, but I was still terrified. What if it was wrong? What if I had taken it too early? I frantically scoured the Internet for information. I was just a few months shy of my 18th birthday and learned that the law required my parents’ consent for an abortion. I knew I would never carry out a pregnancy at such a young age and that my conservative, immigrant parents would never agree to the procedure, so I considered my choices, which included traveling to a state without parental consent laws or asking my friend’s mom to take me to the clinic and pose as my own mother. On top of it all, I worried about the cost. I was hysterical — until I finally got my period.

This experience demonstrates how abysmal my sex education was. The overarching message that girls received in my high school health class was that if we had sex, we were going to get knocked up. Our school’s teen pregnancy rate was very high — we had a daycare full of students’ babies — so it seemed quite plausible to me…

What I needed was information and support, but I didn’t know where to turn. Unfortunately, our education system has not improved much since I was a teenager. Sex education continues to be under attack in the United States despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that a comprehensive curriculum can save young people’s lives. Teaching children about the importance of using condoms and getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, can keep them from making detrimental choices. Experts estimate that one person age 15 to 24 in the U.S. is infected with HIV every hour of every day. But while some developing countries such as Guatemala and Indonesia are taking important steps to improve their sex-education programs, our country keeps gutting them indiscriminately.

RTFA for the breadth of what Erika Sánchez has to say.

I think you and I know who is responsible for lousy education becoming worse. There is a broadly cast minority of Americans whose belief systems are rooted in ignorance, in a conviction that knowledge not only is forbidden fruit; but, a danger to stability and safety – to be prohibited. Only the guidance of some priest, pundit or politician is acceptable. Only rules formulated in the dark Ages can be trusted.

This defines a number of conservative currents in American ideology. They are embraced by fools.

Girl Scouts turn down $100K from gender bigot

Last May the Girl Scouts took a historic stance for inclusivity and made their long-term policy on accepting transgender girls into their troops official, much to the chagrin of bigots everywhere. Unfortunately, some of those bigots have bank. Fortunately, there are good people in the world too.

An unnamed $100,000 donor sent the Queen Anne offices of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington a note last May asking the chapter to “guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.”

Council CEO Megan Ferland returned the donation, which would have sent 500 girls to camp and helped the troop meet nearly a quarter of their annual fundraising goal, with a note saying “Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.”

An Indiegogo has now been set up to help raise back the funds returned to the donor.

SeattleMet reports that the Gender Justice League, an organization designed to support Seattle’s transgender community, has offered to help promote the Indiegogo campaign.

$172,690 has so far been donated to the Indiegogo campaign in a single day. The campaign’s stretch goals will go towards helping the estimated 2,000-plus girls who will require financial assistance to participate in Girl Scouts over the next year.

Bravo! An example of real heart, principled courage, rewarding an old organization with the good sense to change with the times – in a progressive direction.

Celebrate International Women’s Day

On Sunday 8 March, it’s International Women’s Day. To celebrate, Helen Lewis pays tribute to 10 inspirational feminists


Aphra Behn

A playwright, translator and spy, Behn (also known as Astrea) has a good claim to being the first Englishwoman to make a living out of her writing. In the centuries after her death in 1689, her plays were dismissed as indecent because of their focus on female sexuality (“The stage how loosely does Astrea tread/ Who fairly puts all characters to bed!” wrote Alexander Pope in 1737). Recent feminist scholars have rediscovered her writing, and have made the case that the publication of her prose fiction Oroonoko, the story of a slave, was a key moment in the development of the English novel.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” In the most high-profile pop-feminist moment of 2013, Beyoncé included these words – taken from a TED talk given by Adichie – on her single Flawless. In the talk, which has since been published as a book called We Should All Be Feminists, the Nigerian-born author asks: why are girls taught to shrink themselves, to compete for men, to limit their ambitions? She urges her audience to reclaim the word “feminist” and to say: “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it.”


Nellie Bly

“No one but a man can do this,” Nellie Bly’s editor told her in 1886 when she suggested travelling round the world in less than 80 days. She would need a protector, he said – and how would she ever carry all the luggage a lady would need on such a trip? Bly didn’t worry too much about the first quibble, and travelled light, crushing all her belongings into a single handbag. She made it home in 72 days. That wasn’t the first time the pioneering American journalist had attracted attention through her work – a year earlier, in 1887, she faked madness to go undercover in an asylum, exposing its poor conditions and abusive staff.

The list goes on from there. RTFA to learn about a few folks you may not know. And should.

Angela and Gurley Flynn

Who would I add to the list? Angela Davis – who probably needs no introduction to folks under the age of 80. Occasionally, on her visits to the Northeast, I was one of her bodyguards.

Most especially, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. I met the Rebel Girl in 1963, a year before she died. She was an inspiration to working women and men for decades. She paid for it with time in prison, hatred from fascists, proto-fascists, every flavor of apologist for the religion of corporate hierarchies owning and running our lives.