Activist Wednesday: MadamaB’s Mailbox
Posted February 6, 2013on:
Hello Widdershin friends! My goodness, I have been so crazy busy. I have been missing you all very much. I’m in lovely Fort Lauderdale, but am so overbooked with meetings that I barely have a second to enjoy the weather, or the view of the InterCoastal from my hotel room. Can’t wait to go to Chicago next week – only four days of work and then some vacation time with the hubby. Woot Woot!
Anywho, enough of that personal stuff. On to the Mailbox!
Ratify the ERA!
Believe it or not, the languid ladies of NOW have roused themselves to create a petition in support of the ERA on the WhiteHouse.Gov site. The petition already has over 23,000 signatures as of this writing, but needs about 2,000 more to reach its goal of 25,000 by Sunday, February 10th. Here’s the full text of the petition – short, sweet and to the point:
We petition the Obama Administration to:
Vigorously support women’s rights by fully engaging in efforts to ratify the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
There are currently 35 states that have ratified the ERA and legal analysis suggests we may need just three more states for women to have equal rights under our Constitution. We ask you to support our efforts nationwide, particularly in the states that have not yet ratified the ERA: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, N. Carolina, Oklahoma, S. Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. We also ask you to place your full support behind Congressional legislation to eliminate deadlines on the original 1972 ERA. It is time our Constitution protects the rights of women, and women need and deserve active participation in ERA advocacy from the White House.
Pass the VAWA!
Do you all remember last year, how the Tea Party morons used all kinds of excuses not to pass the Violence Against Women Act? Here, let me refresh your memory.
While a few Senate Republicans did vote for the Act, there were some new provisions that made the more racist, homophobic members of the Grand Old Patriarchy a tad…uncomfortable.
Senate Democrats added provisions to VAWA that would help gays and lesbians receive domestic-abuse protections, make more temporary visas available for battered women in the United States illegally, and offer native American women more protection.
“A victim is a victim is a victim,” thundered Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, on the Senate floor Thursday. “You don’t say we can help you if you fit in this category, but sorry battered woman, you’re on your own, because you’re in the wrong category. That’s not America.”
Senate Republicans complained, among other things, that this expansion gets into controversial social issues meant to embarrass the GOP more than help women. [Heavens, why would the GOP be embarrassed by the Democrats pointing out their racism and homophobia?]
The Republicans were not content to vote against the VAWA, however…they are drafting their own version in the House.
In the lower chamber, Republicans led by Reps. Sandy Adams of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota offered the outline of their VAWA bill Wednesday. While still being drafted, the bill will all but certainly not contain the Senate’s trio of controversial provisions.
“I can assure you that the House is not opening up the bill in controversial ways like the Senate bill does,” said Adams spokeswoman Lisa Boothe in an e-mail. “This is a bipartisan issue and should not be used for political fodder.”
Ah yes, the GOP is always happy to claim that Democrats are politicizing an issue. As we know, this simply means that the Democrats are using politics to try to get something done which, most likely, benefits people who are neither white, nor male, nor (gasp!) straight.
But I digress! In the same post, I predicted that the VAWA would pass the House, but without the “controversial” provisions intact. Sadly, those assholes couldn’t even get that vote accomplished. Now, the VAWA is up for a vote again. Are House Republicans sufficiently scared by their losses in 2012 to vote in their own self-interest? I dunno, but a little encouragement couldn’t hurt.
Educate Yourself About Food and Fracking.
Check out this article from Mother Jones. As you know, I am very passionate about exposing the evils of fracking, so I’m always looking for anti-fracking arguments. This is a good one!
But there’s another, emerging food/fracking connection that few are aware of. US agriculture is highly reliant on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, and nitrogen fertilizer is synthesized in a process fueled by natural gas. As more and more of the US natural gas supply comes from fracking, more and more of the nitrogen fertilizer farmers use will come from fracked natural gas. If Big Ag becomes hooked on cheap fracked gas to meet its fertilizer needs, then the fossil fuel industry will have gained a powerful ally in its effort to steamroll regulation and fight back opposition to fracking projects.
Well, frack me! Not only do we have to fight back against corporate flunkies in state governments who are in the pockets of Big Oil & Gas; we also have to worry about Big Ag?! My Goddess, they really know how to pile on the corruption.
Not surprisingly, as Kay McDonald of the excellent blog Big Picture Agriculture shows, the industry is starting to move back to the United States to take advantage of the fracking boom. McDonald points to a $1.4 billion project announced in September by the Egyptian company Orascom Construction Industries to build a large new nitrogen fertilizer plant in Iowa close to a natural gas pipeline. According to the Wall Street Journal, “cheap U.S. natural-gas supplies and the nation’s role as the world’s most important food exporter” drew the Egyptian giant into the US market.
And unbelievably, the federal government is subsidizing this sh*t with money that was supposed to help farmers whose business was hurt by the flooding in 2008. If only they used their powers for good instead of eeeevil!
Rather than prop up nitrogen use by subsidizing new megaprojects, public policy could be seeking encouraging farming practices that demand less nitrogen. One obvious strategy is diversification. The most prolific US crop, corn, is also the most nitrogen-intensive among major field crops. In a 2012 paper, researchers from Iowa State University’s Leopold Center showed that by extending the typical Midwestern corn-soy crop rotation by adding a “small grain” (e.g., oats or wheat) plus nitrogen-fixing cover crops, farmers can reduce their nitrogen needs by upwards of 80 percent. Investing in policies that encourage such changes would likely, in the long run, be much smarter than subsidizing the fertilizer industry’s move toward relying on fracked gas.
I am telling you, fracking could be the new cause of a disaster like the Dust Bowl. We owe it to ourselves to stay educated and fight back whenever we can!
That’s it for my Mailbox this week. Happy Wednesday – this is an open thread.
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