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So my Congressman wants to run for governor.

This is interesting (well, to probably zero people but me who read this blog, but...) mainly because he has made a living off the balancing act between representing a rural area and being a Democrat.

Everybody else who's so far declared they want the DFL endorsement is from the Cities, and Walz is not. He represents all of the bottom bit of Minnesota, which has a few not-very-big towns and otherwise rural farmland like what I grew up on. So the NRA likes him, but he's progressive enough that Planned Parenthood does too.

The first political opinion I ever remember being made in my presence was my dad saying he liked Paul Wellstone because he stuck up for farmers, and I've been proud that the farmers in my state are happy to back reasonably progressive politicians. But recently -- since I left Minnesota, really, so I haven't been able to follow this as well -- Republicans have been peeling off those DFL votes outside the Twin Cities. Tim Walz stuck around.

And he seems to want to deal with this urban/rural divide by dismantling it. Sounds good to me! "Walz says he plans to start by focusing on how advancements in the metro area benefit the rural areas he represents, and vice versa." Which is awesome, and happily I also believe it to be true.

Of course to get through a gubernatorial (crap, I've forgotten how to spell that; I've been away too long!) primary his less-orthodox stances on guns and the environment (being pro-farmers-not-going-broke is sometimes anti-environment, unfortunately...) will get more attention. But I've read some interesting quotes about that, especially “In the metro, you’ll probably hear that he’s not progressive enough, but there’s enough people that know we’ve got to take the governor’s race or we’re Wisconsin, we’re toast.”

A year or two ago I was reading a lot of articles (here's an example) about the diverging fortunes of Minnesota and Wisconsin, neighboring Midwestern states with similar histories and presumably similar potential, except that when we elected tax-and-spend Mark Dayton (DFL) as our governor, they elected union-busting tax-cuts-at-all-costs Scott Walker (R).

Minnesota got hundreds of thousands more jobs, a budget surplus, and tons of money for education, but Wisconsin now serves as a terrible warning to us next door: reduced education spending, increased taxes on ordinary people to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest, basically refuted trickle-down economics all by himself.

Yes Minnesota has a century or so of progressive politics that makes this seem unimaginable, but so did Wisconsin before Walker...and Minnesota's previous governor, a Republican who saw Minnesota as nothing more than a stepping-stone to running for president, refused to raise taxes even when infrastructure got so bad that a huge fucking bridge fell into the Mississippi River.

Meanwhile as soon as Walz announced, GOP-aligned groups immediately called him a “Washington insider” and a “Democrat socialist.” Socialist meaning only what it always means in America, a mean name to call someone, but it's not something that Minnesotans are really afraid of. And honestly it's the least I'd expect of someone I'd hope to vote for!

“The focus now is getting to know Minnesotans and getting Minnesotans to know me,” Walz said, and this has been borne out so far in that the Twitter account he and/or his staff seemed to forget he had -- and that I forgot I followed last autumn when I thought I should be paying more attention to the tools in my arsenal against Trump -- has been pretty busy in recent days. As long as it still gives him time to vote against everything Paul Ryan tries to get through the House, I'm happy with hearing more from him as he campaigns.

Eeee!

Jan. 25th, 2017 08:58 pm
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*does the "a friend I never thought would join the Lib Dems has just said that he has joined" dance*
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Really like this. Keep being good about immigration, the Guardian!
Meanwhile, MPs from both major parties had the switch flipped in their heads that makes them link everything to immigration, causing their jaws to mechanically flap open and say: “Well, Nigel Farage is basically right about everything but you should still vote for us because $ERROR (Reason not found, please restart your political process).”
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I found myself humming "awesome, wow!" when I was walking the dog this morning and realised that if Groffsauce doesn't spend the twentieth of January singing "do you know how hard it is to lead?" and "oceans rise, empires fall" and basically all the rest of "What Comes Next?" for us, I will be sorely disappointed.
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January 20 is always the day U.S. Presidents are inaugurated.

January 21 is our wedding anniversary.

I think maybe this year I'll ask Andrew to take me somewhere there's no news or internet, for a day or two around our anniversary.
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Mom was telling me about a story my dad read in the paper (ie the Minneaapolis Star-Tribune) about a woman who was prevented from putting the Hillary Clinton yard sign she wanted in her yard by fear that her house, or even she, would be attacked by people who didn't like it.

Mom says this seems possible to her. She said around them all you see is Trump signs, and that this story helped make her think that it might not be that the support is so skewed but just that other people are more tentative about supporting the person who doesn't advocate violence against people who disagree.

And this is fucking Minnesota. Yes like that Cracked article talks about it's the country and not the city. But damn if this is what it's like living in a blue state, I would not like to be living anywhere less white, with less cultural encouragement towards reticence (we got onto this topic anyway because Mom was talking about how she's had to make sure not to talk about politics with her best friend, or my aunt's partner...).

I remember Mom talking in 2012 about feeling a bit lonely as (though she didn't put it like this) an Obama voter in a sea of people who couldn't sufficiently get past their racism to consider voting for him. It sounds even worse this year. She talked about being frustrated that people aren't basing their decisions on facts, and of being worried about what will happen after Trump loses. I know this is all stuff I, like any other follower of American politics, has read in tweets and thinkpieces, but for my mom who lives in a world totally separate from any of that to come out with the same things is weird.

I did my best to reassure her that it'll be over soon -- in recent elections I've missed being in the thick of it and helping out on various campaigns, but this year I've been nothing but happy to be missing out on the worst of it and how it's talked about in American news -- and that I've already voted and done my bit, and that he won't win. But I don't think she was very reassured.

And I've promised that Andrew and I won't talk about politics with my family at Christmas. I fear I might have to bite my tongue so hard it completely comes off, but I hope things will have calmed down by then.

Me at LDV

Oct. 11th, 2016 05:39 pm
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How to Address Concerns about Immigration.

(Comments may contain racists who think the most important thing is that they not be made to feel bad about being racist, approach with care. But you probably expected that, didn't you.)
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Andrew's talking to someone on facebook about how immigrants couldn't vote in the EU referendum. This guy's just said it's a good thing, as anyone here before 2011 could be a citizen by now, and if they weren't here that long they were too short-term to have a say in his children's future.

There are so many things that annoy me about this.

For one, he's deciding on those people's childrens' future -- even if they're British, at least one of their parents would not be. Which could lead to all kinds of horribleness.

For another, anyone who knows me will know that citizenship isn't easy, automatic, or indeed always worth doing. Since Theresa May made it revocable during her time as Home Secretary, it'll never be quite the same as a native-Brit's UK citizenship. And it's expensive. And the process for getting it is invasive, expensive, lengthy, stressful, discriminatory, punitive and in general a nuisance to everyday life.

Plus, not everyone can get UK citizenship even if they want it. I heard, from a migrants-organisation campaigner, about an Italian woman who's lived in the UK for several years, has Australian as well as Italian citizenship because her husband's Australian...and would have to give up one of those if she wanted to get UK citizenship, because she can't have all three. Why do that, just to vote on something so hostile in the first place?

And who would have thought it necessary? EU citizens are accustomed to voting rights in the UK -- they can vote in local elections as well as for UK MEPs.

And, hard as it is to believe, many people are uninterested in becoming British citizens. Certainly citizens of other EU countries would notice very little to recommend it -- this is the whole point of the much-vilified freedom of movement: it means that citizens of any member state can travel, work and live in another as if it were their own. Plenty of Europeans have lived decades in the UK, settled long enough that babies born the day they moved here would've been old enough to vote and at least as entangled in British society as native who'd lived here as long, without seeking British citizenship.

There are so many people saying "well of course immigrants couldn't vote in the referendum!" As if there are so many referendums there are hard and fast, universally understood and agreed-with rules on things like this. As if there is any objective reason why Commonwealth citizens could vote in this and EU citizens couldn't.

Beneath this sentiment there always seems to be some nastiness, "they shouldn't decide on my children's future," something about how selfishly they'd vote -- as if everybody else doesn't vote in what they think are their best interests too.

Excerpt

Oct. 7th, 2016 06:51 pm
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Here's a bit I had to cut out of something I'm writing, but didn't want to let disappear completely. So you can read it if you like!


Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary (so obviously she's the best person to talk about immigration, I'm sure) said “immigration is a good thing for us, but what undermines (that) is when people feel that it is unvetted and that we are not able to deal with the issues and the concerns that people have around that.”

Shame how many people lose their mastery of the only language they want anyone to speak when they try to explain these immigration concerns. What stands out amidst the nebulous concern is Ms Rayner’s assertion that “immigration is a good thing for us.” I don’t remember hearing this from a Labservative MP before.

In another unusual move for a politician talking about immigration, when asked if she meant there should be controls on numbers, Ms Rayner replied: "I believe that you do need controls and we have always had controls on immigration."

We have always had controls on immigration! While the UK’s only had immigration controls since the Aliens Act of 1905 (which Wikipedia describes as "ostensibly designed to prevent paupers or criminals from entering the country and set up a mechanism to deport those who slipped through, one of its main objectives was to control Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe"...hm), current political discourse only describes immigration to the UK in one way: "mass" and "uncontrolled" precede immigration as surely as Nigel Farage gurns for photo ops with a pint in his hand.
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...without having a nervous breakdown?

Today I've been ignoring the question by trying to crowbar my life into something that fits the job spec for something I'd love to do and would be good at.

And accidentally staring a strike.
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I worked hard on it, because it's a tough subject and my brain hasn't been working lately (I have so many things to tell you about! but no words!). And it's important so I wanted to get it right. I'm pleased with how it ended up and glad I was able to do it.

Here it is. It's about Ray Fuller, a bisexual Jamaican denied asylum in the U.S. partly because the judge thought his relationships with women meant he couldn't be bisexual.
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I can't do any more words about this (I'm just getting around to eating my first/only proper meal of the day), so have some I prepared earlier.
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Tonight I was delighted to be a speaker at Your Liberal Britain event. It was a great night, I got to see old friends, met some great new people, started plotting about a group for Lib Dem women (and nonbinary people) outside of the stuff that currently only goes on in London...and I gave a little talk! Asked to choose a specialist subject, of course I was the one banging on about immigration. The other talks, about engagement with underrepresented groups in the party and about how we should all be paid the same for working less, were great.

Here, just for fun, is what I said: )
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Even the nice people, the people on the right side, the people who'd never wish me harm, the people I think of as friends, are saying this on social media.

And it's a headline you can find in all sorts of news, if you're self-destructive enough to Google it.

One day, I hope not to be a problem at all.

One day, I hope I can expect more robust cases in favor of immigration, not just pointing out that a once-important country shouldn't ruin itself over its hatred of immigrants because then it'll be ruined and there will still be immigrants.

One day, I hope we can take a step back from "that won't work, you can't get rid of the immigrants that way!" (true though it may be!), to "but why the fuck would you want to get rid of all the immigrants anyway?!"

I hope for these things. But I'm not sure I can see a path to that world from this one.

Snark

May. 6th, 2016 10:28 am
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Sort of sweet watching my Scottish Green friends (of which for some reason I have several, maybe because it's a better party than the England & Wales Greens?) being devastated that apparently-good women candidates missed out on actually being elected -- which made me think yep, now you know how the Lib Dems already feel -- and baffled/terrified/outraged at where all these Tory voters came from -- which made me think yep, now you know how the north of England already feels!
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From our U.S. correspondent, Holly:

"For years I mocked the Americans mercilessly for telling me my accent was so sophisticated," said some lady named Fiona, "and that was certainly something I never got back home in Liverpool! I kept telling that joke about us being two countries separated by a common language. After I was asked what 'bum' and 'chips' mean, I got a lecture about the dangers of linguistic prescriptivism and a demand to pack my bags."

"My test just consisted of listening to an earnest white Midwesterner say 'fanny pack' without giggling," a bloke called Kevin said, "and I failed. Of course! It's disrespecting my heritage to expect anything else!"

"Sure," said Alex, "it's funny to tell the Americans they're not speaking proper English. But if they start using our own rules against us and decide we have to say 'bathroom' when we mean 'toilet,' just so we can stay here in the land of the free refills and the home of the fuckoff big cars, that's taking things too far! You can't even use 'fuck' as punctuation here," he said, clearly on the edge of breaking down. "People get all upset. But...but the petrol's so cheap!"

Then he loses his battle against the sobs. "Gas," he says sadly. "I mean 'gas'! Not petrol! Don't make me go back to Milton Keynes!"
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Someone scoffed the other day that Minneapolis's ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬ protests were doing no good by moving from the Mall of America to the airport. That inconveniencing capitalism is fine but this was just "fucking up the most stressful travel of myriad innocents."

But it did a lot more than that. I was one of those "innocents" who flew into MSP during the protest. My parents say it took them twenty minutes to go the last two miles to the airport, but they were still ready to greet us while we were still languishing in baggage claim. Still their slight inconvenience, and the sight of police cars and people being bussed away from the protests, has sparked a lot of conversations, starting just after the hello hugs at International Arrivals and going throigh two family Christmases and even a trip to the bank today.

As I listened to the bank staff -- sweet middle-aged ladies who've never been anything but kind and friendly to me -- talk about how the protesters deserved to be arrested, and did you hear about the person who missed a flight to be with her dying mother and ended up not getting there until it was too late.

I didn't hear about that. I don't know any more about it, or even if it's true. But I know if enough passengers are disrupted on enough flights, there are going to be sad stories. I wonder how many people on how many planes it took to get that nugget of pathos to give white people their righteous indignation.

I'd be life-defining amounts of heartbroken if I missed my mom's last moments...but I can't help but think of how much easier it is to find stories of people of color killed by police for no reason other than the color of their skin than it is to find heartstring-tugging stories among all the people going through a huge busy airport two days before Christmas.

Today we found out that the police officers who killed Tamir Rice will not face any consequences for that. He was murdered for no other reason than being alive while black, for being a boy while black.

This is part of an epidemic. And it won't change without some conversations, among white people. And the only thing that's made those conversations start to happen among my family and my rural Midwestern community? Is the airport protests.
He was twelve. He should be thirteen by now and he never will get to be. And that is an injustice no one is being held accountable for. He was twelve and he can't ever be thirteen.
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[twitter.com profile] cybermango made the good point following up to that that this is the UK reaction to most American things, at least in the abstract.

I am so aware that there are worse stereotypes and worse discrimination that I hate to even mention this kind of thing, but it really does upset me. People finding American politics "wacky" while I'm fretting over my aging parents, my queer friends, my friends of color in full-on panic at the state of everything these days...I can't handle that being anyone's entertainment, even in the abstract.

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