Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Partial Video of my speech from the Press Conference. 

Tell me which side are you on?

Yesterday afternoon there was a rally in t he Maine State House, sponsored by Occupy Maine and The Bring Our War Dollars Home Coalition of Maine.  There were a variety of speakers, ranging from high school students, to the current mayor of Waterville, Karen Heck. 

Morgana, and you can see LePage in the background 

The rally was an interesting interaction between the speakers and the audience.  Perhaps the best moment of the afternoon was when Governor Lepage walked in as high school student Morgana Warner-Evans was introducing her song titled "Which Side Are You On" and she said that both of her parents are teachers, and that she was tired of public officials saying that teachers are lazy.  She even changed the words of the song to say "They say up in Augusta, you're on a big rampage.  You're either with the union, or you support LePage.  Tell me which side are you on?  There was even one point where it seemed that LePage stuck his tongue out at us before going back into his office as the audience was chanting "shame, shame, shame" 

Karen Heck was a phenomenal speaker, asking "what kind of country have we become when we are killing and maiming women and children halfway around the globe?  At the same time we're abandoning poor women and children here at home" 

Waterville Mayor, Karen Heck 

I also spoke about the impacts that military spending has on higher education, and how student debt it expected to reach 1 trillion dollars by the end of this year, and how tuition has increased 29 percent in the last 5 years alone, and students are borrowing twice as much money as they were a decade ago. 

Towards the end of the rally, there was an interesting interaction between myself and some of the State Senators and Representatives.  They were standing behind the stairs, talking rather loudly, and I went over, and politely asked them to lower their voices as it was difficult to hear the speakers, and in return I received an extremely disrespectful "we'll quiet down when you do" 

Overall, the rally was successful, there were about 100 people in attendance, and Channel 5/13 was there covering the rally, and I was even interviewed, although I do not know if I made it onto TV.  But having mainstream news coverage is always a plus for us.  

For a video of the rally you can contact Regis Tremblay of Occupy Maine TV at 207.400.4362. 

 Lisa and I. 

 Banners on the stairs 

 Regis Tremblay of Occupy Maine TV 

Myself, Lisa Savage, Jacqui Devaneau, and Mark Roman. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why I am so tired of the war on Women.

Rep. Lance Harvell: why should insurance plans cover pap smears?-- here is the link to the video, I couldn't put the video in here.

Dear Lance Harvell,
I can tell you why Pap Smear should be covered by insurance.  BECAUSE IT'S A FUCKING PREVENTATIVE MEASURE! Would you rather have to pay for cervical cancer treatment for hundreds of women?  I'm guessing no, because I'm sure you would consider that "bad health."  But think about this, a pap smear is a whole lot cheaper than cancer treatment.

Now, I don't know where you, and the rest of the GOP gets off on telling me what I can and cannot do with my body.  But like my monologue in The Vagina Monologues says "my short skirt has nothing to do with you" replace short skirt with vagina, and you get the picture.  I am so sick and tired of this blatant war on women, that none of you will admit that you are waging.  If you don't want to pay for my birth control, that I take for health reasons, not because I'm a slut having so much sex that I can't afford to pay for condoms, that is fine.  But I don't want to pay for your Viagra, or whatever ED treatment you're on.  After all, if the government can control my vagina, than they can control your penis as well.  

And to all the members of the GOP and the Tea Party.  I just want to remind you that a woman never forgets.  And this woman won't forget when November rolls around.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Practical Maine Government.

This semester, on the spur of the moment, I signed up for the class "Practical Maine Government" taught by State Senator Tom Saviello.  Now I will preface this, by saying that I have no problems yet with Saviello, I just happen to have a major issue with the speaker that we had in class last night.

Last night, our speaker was Bruce Poliquin, the state Treasurer, and he is now apparently running for Senate.  He was appointed to his position by LePage, which should already give you some indication of his political leanings and viewpoints.  The entire class he spouted himself as a "fiscal conservative."  So at the end of his little chat, I raised my hand for the first time in class and asked this question

"I am a member of The Bring Our War Dollars Home Coalition (which he had never heard of), and I think that the amount of money that we spend on our military is too much, and something needs to be done about that. Now you keep billing yourself as a fiscal conservative, so what are you planning on doing about cutting military spending in order to balance the budget and fund other programs?"

Now, he did not answer my question in the slightest, and gave the usual talk around in regards to military spending, and gave the usual line "we're free because of the military" and he also did the personal line about how "he couldn't imagine his son serving," but refused to acknowledge that cutting military spending would help with the fiscal crisis that we are facing here in the US.  Also, when he was talking, he was repeatedly asking what is wrong with this country, in regards to our excessive spending.  I have a two word answer for him "military spending."  

He also talked about the issue that students are facing when it comes to finding jobs in Maine when they graduate college, and he said "get the best education you can, and keep your debt low" which to me is an oxymoron, because chances are, if you want to get a spectacular education, you want to go to a good school.  And even going to a mediocre school doesn't always help you keep your debt low, I'm going to be almost 30 grand in debt when I graduate in May.  He also told us "get a job, work part time, and put yourself through school."  My question to him is, what jobs?  There are next to no jobs in Farmington, words cannot describe how thankful I am for my 7 hours a week that I work at the library, which allows me to just squeak by and pay my tuition with the help of my parents, and I realize that I am one of a few students who have the luxury of being able to count on my parents for minimal help.   I think it's easy for him to tell us to get jobs and pay for school, when he acknowledged that he pays his son's tuition.  

This entire class, made me realize that Poliquin is not in touch with the youth of Maine, which is something that does not surprise me, as he is clearly a member of the Tea Party.  But also, I want to end with this quote from him "the goal isn't to help the wealthy, its to keep the money in the state."  Now I don't have words for that quote, because I am quite frankly tired of the rich saying that they want to keep their money to "help" when they are not helping at all.  Now Poliquin might not be a member of the 1 percent, but he sure is a 1 percent sympathizer.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Thoughts on Kony 2012.

With the Kony 2012 video that is clogging up my facebook news feed, I thought I would post some of my own thoughts on the subject.  

I have been aware of Invisible Children since I was in high school, when I read the book "Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a  Boy Soldier" which moved me to tears.  

Now, I want to preface this blog post by saying that I agree Kony is a terrible terrible man, and the things that he has done in Uganda are terrible.  But I disagree with a lot of the things that the Invisible Children are doing. 

Basically, the premise of the film Kony is, three college kids head off to Sudan to look for a story.  Eventually they leave Sudan and work their way into Uganda, and they find some Kony, and maker a MTV style film about what they find.  This was in 2003.  Now, in 2012, Uganda is not experiencing a significant amount of violence from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).  About a year ago, Kony and his troops were pushed back into the Congo.  And Uganda is in the middle of peace talks, and the rebels have laid down their arms.  Kony was defeated, and not by some MTV style documentaries, The Uganda People's Defense has beaten them  back (albiet by violent means that I do not agree with).  

In the case of Kony, Invisible Children is too late.  This documentary is old news, watching it will tell you about the atrocities that happened there,  but it does not paint a clear picture of what is going on in Uganda today.  

While I do agree that the Invisible Children do have good intentions at heart, I am still against their campaign for many reasons.  Invisible Children is a controversial non-profit organization, that has been repeatedly condemned.  As a registered non profit, anyone can go in and look at their finances.  Last year, they spent almost 9 million dollars, and only 32 percent went to direct services, and most of it went to staff salaries, travel, transportation, and film production (Kony 2012 is their 12th film).  Charity Navigators rates their accountability at a 2 out of 4 stars.  

Also, the group is in favor of direct, violent, military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan Government's Arm, and other military forces.  But back to the money, the bulk of their spending is not on supporting African Militias, but on awareness and film making, which can be great, except for the fact that the Foreign Affairs has stated that the "Invisible Children (among others) 'manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of the LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA's use of innocent children as soldiers and portraying Kony, a brutal man, to be sure as uniquely awful" 

The US has been involved in stopping Kony for years, the US African Command has sent multiple missions to capture or kill Kony for years (although I do not agree with the violence of the US military), we have been trying to stop him for years.  They have repeatedly failed, and each time a ferocious response has followed and an intense slaughter.  This is what happens when you try to take out a man who uses children as humans shields, and this needs to be minimized as much as possible.  Yet, for some reason, Invisible Children supports Military Intervention (More info here)

Now, military intervention may or may not be the right idea, depending on your views.  I am against military intervention.  But people supporting Kony 2012, probably do not realize that they are supporting the Ugandan Military, who themselves are raping and looting as well.  Now some people know this, and still support the group, and I have to respect their opinion, but I feel like many people do not know this.  

Now the awareness about Kony is good,  but this is a extremely complicated problem, and it cannot be solved by hanging up posters, changing your profile picture, or sharing the video on your FB/Twitter/Tumblr page.  Now, I don't have the perfect solution, on how to solve this, but I don't support Kony 2012 just because it is something.  Doing something just because it's something is not always the best idea.  

Now, I encourage everyone to write to whoever they want to, and if you want to tweet and post about Kony, but lets keep this all about Kony, and not about Invisible Children.  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hello Everyone.
I know it has been an insanely long time since I have last updated this thing, so I thought I would give a brief overview of my life in the past few months.

Right after the Blue Angels Protest last summer, I flew off for a semester abroad in Rome, which meant that I was absent from the activism scene in Maine for a few months.  Although I followed the Occupy Movement from abroad, it was not the same, and I felt a strong sense of guilt that I was not out there in the streets with my fellow 99 percenters.

Upon my return to Maine, I began my work with Veterans for Peace, and at the annual retreat this February at Point Lookout, I decided to head up the Education Committee that was formed with Rita Clement, where we are working on getting back into the local high schools and middle schools to create an atmosphere of full disclosure around the idea of joining the armed forces.

I also was invited by the fantastic Lisa Savage to speak at the event "Marching Against Fiscal Maddness: Fund Human Needs" which is a press conference that is going to be held in the Hall of Flags in the Maine State House on March 20th.  This event is sponsored  by the Maine Bring Our War Dollars Home Coalition, and Occupy Maine, two organizations that I have a deep love for.  I am looking forward to this event, and I look forward to speaking out against this insanity that is military spending, and the impacts that it is having on higher education.

I promise to be more faithful about updating this thing.  And I mean it this time.