Lindsey Graham finally responds on ACA shutdown

Two weeks ago, fearing the impending shutdown, I sent my congressman and senators an email about the ACA and why it was important to me.  I got e-mails from all three of them — Tim Scott and Joe Wilson both sent me on topic responses, but I just got a form letter from Lindsey Graham saying that he’d respond later.  And he did, finally.

I am not sure what I expected, but I figured if it took him this long to send me an e-mail in response, it’d actually acknowledge what my opinion on the issue at hand is or give some indication that he (or someone on his staff) at least skimmed my letter.

Dear Ashley:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the vote to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  I have always opposed the ACA and proudly voted in support of the House passed bill to fund the government and defund the ACA.  Unfortunately, with Democrats controlling the Senate, they were able to remove the defunding language without a single Republican vote.  The ACA has been and will remain a financial disaster for our nation.  For this reason I will continue to work towards repealing the ACA.  As the Senate considers this issue I will keep your comments in mind.

My job as your United States Senator is to represent your interests.  While I cannot guarantee we will see eye-to-eye on every issue, I can guarantee you I will give your thoughts and opinions the consideration they deserve.  Hearing directly from you about the problems facing our nation helps me better serve constituents like you and the people of South Carolina as a whole.  I hope you will always feel free to pick up the phone, write, or email about this, or any other issue, that comes before the Senate.

If you are online, I would also encourage you to visit my website — http://lgraham.senate.gov — as it has information on the most recent activities before the Senate.  While there you can sign up for my e-mail newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages which will provide the latest information, and my up-to-the-minute views on the major issues facing our nation.

Thank you again for taking time from your busy day to contact my office.  I look forward to hearing from you again in the future and truly appreciate the opportunity to represent your interests in the United States Senate.

You’ve had many opportunities to represent my interests, Senator, I look forward to the day when you actually do.

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, transcribed by a Mac

Yesterday I tried Middle English, so today, nonsensical English seemed to be the next best thing.

Twist Briley again the slightly toes,
Did jarring gimbal in the wave:
Almonds you were the Bora Groves,
And the mom race outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the closet catch!
Beware the judge of Bird, and shunned
The feminist benders snatch!”

He took his mortal sword in hand;
Long time the men’s own photo he sought –
So rested he by the tom-tom tree
Instead a while in thought.

And, as an office thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the told you would,
And verbal does it came!

One, too! One, too! And through and through
The vocal blade went snicker snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, might beamish boy!
Of fab just day! Hello! Calais!
It chortled in his joy.

Twist Greg, and the slighty toes
Did John gambling the wave:
On Mimsy were the Bora Groves,
And the Momerath upgrade.

The original:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Canterbury Tales in Middle English, transcribed by a Mac

Once, long ago, Ms. Markham, my eleventh grade English teacher, made me memorize the beginning of the Canterbury Tales.  In Middle English.  Because it was basically a rote memory task that required repetition, it’s a parlor trick I still have in my memory banks.  I was playing around with my Mac transcription function and greatly appreciated its ability to type “Arnold Schwarzenegger” and “schadenfreude.” Obviously the next test would be Chaucer.

What I find most interesting about this transcription is that you can sort of half hear it, if you read it out loud.

One that I feel with the shorter so that,
The drop of March of passion to the realtor,
And bothered everything and switch the core
Of which virtue engendered is the floor;
One selfish act with the switch of breaking
Spirit half an difficult and hit
The gym the compass, and the young the summer
Of in the Ramas Honda Accord Urona
I’m smaller father smocking melody,
That Shevenell the needs an open yet,
So picket him not to inhere crushes,
The moving forward to going on to the motions
I’m Palmitas what to say can Strom just send those,
To family how is, Cruisin something on this;
Especially if I’m ever shadows in the
Oven but I’m to kind about it I wonder,
What it is for Monteforte to Seca
Him have open one that they were sick.

The Original:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

South Carolina ACA/Obamacare Responses: A Lesson in Communication Strategy

Yesterday, I sent letters to my representatives about how excited I was about Obamacare finally being implemented and how they weren’t pro-life if they stopped it from coming into effect. Today they responded.

Three different politicians representing me, three different approaches to communication strategy.  We’ve got the impersonal and avoidant form letter, the detailed policy concerns reply, and the I acknowledge your concerns as valid and appreciate your input email.  I am surprised to find that the last on the list, from Joe “you lie” Wilson, is actually the one I most positively responded to while Lindsey “Butters” Graham, who I hold in the least contempt, sent me a disappointing brush off.  Perhaps I will hear more from him.

Form letter from Senator Lindsey Graham:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from you.

In spite of the high volume of mail I receive daily, I look forward to reviewing your correspondence and providing a personal response as soon as possible.

As we continue our work in the 113th Congress, I look forward to supporting our troops in the War on Terror, repairing our economy and creating jobs, strengthening Social Security, lowering the tax burden on American families, and making the federal government more accountable and efficient.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of further assistance to you or your family, and if you need immediate assistance, please call my office at 202-224-5972. If your correspondence pertains to a scheduling request, please fax your request to (202) 224-3808.

Sincerely,

Lindsey Graham

A longer, topic specific form letter from Senator Tim Scott, which also includes my name:

Dear Miss Miller,

Thank you for writing me to request more information regarding a conservative alternative to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). I appreciate your input on this important issue and the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

As you may know, I am a staunch opponent of the PPACA, having voted multiple times to repeal the law, and I have consistently criticized President Obama’s implementation strategy for providing special favors and exemptions while ignoring Congressional intent and the rule of law. Recently, the President has challenged conservatives like myself on the issue of coming up with alternative plans rather than just fighting to dismantle his law. On August 9, 2013, at a press conference the President said, “There’s not even a pretense that [Republicans are] going to replace it with something better.”

In answering this challenge, I first want to mention that conservatives in Congress and the Republican party in general have not been without ideas for replacing the PPACA. In fact we have a history of bringing market-oriented alternatives to the table. The most notable plan, the Patients’ Choice Act of 2009, was put forth by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Personally, I have embraced some ideas that address some key problems in our health care system. By starting with medical tort reform, which has seen great success in states like Texas, and moving toward a more competitive environment that allows health insurance companies to sell their products across state lines, I believe we could really see some significant improvements in the cost of care. Additionally, I believe that policies to protect high risk individuals from being excluded from the system or denied health insurance coverage will be critical to improving access to care. Beyond those initial steps, I would like to see more general movement toward a market-oriented health system without all of the excessive regulations that drive up costs, as we are currently seeing in the PPACA exchanges. Private health insurance exchanges are currently allowing companies to offer more options to their employees at a lower cost to companies and often to the employees as well. The competition and cost-savings that private exchanges allow will soon be contrasted by the government-run exchanges that are set to go live on October 1, 2013.

A more general issue beyond these particular options is the importance of controlling costs. I believe in fighting to make sure everyone has access to quality care, but, as health care costs continue rise, such access has become increasingly out of reach for many families. That is why the debate over solutions should focus on actually reducing costs, instead of simply shifting the burden to a different party. The solution is to get the government out of the way. The regulatory burden and mandates that the PPACA will place on providers, businesses and families will only serve to increase costs and reduce access to care.

While I cannot claim to have an answer for every problem facing our country, I can assure you that I have spent a lot of time considering alternatives to the President’s health care law. Health care reform will be one of the defining issues of our time, so it is critical that we implement plans that will work, not just for the short term, but for future generations as well.

Again, thank you for sharing your perspective with me; I hope that you will continue to do so in the future. If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or a member of my staff.

For more information, please visit my website at www.scott.senate.gov and subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter. I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SenatorTimScott and Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenatorTimScott for daily updates.

Sincerely,

Tim Scott
United States Senator

This communication is being sent via e-mail in order to save taxpayer dollars. If you would like a written letter, please notify our office. The information contained herein is intended for the use of the individual or entity named above. Please do not tamper with or alter this communication in any way.

A shorter response from Representative Joe Wilson that acknowledges my support of ACA and mostly just tries to assure me that my input is valued (see bolded text), while going off on a bit of a non-sequitur about how the bill is being implemented:

September 25, 2013Miss Ashley Miller
3001 Blossom St
Columbia, SC 29205-2605

Dear Ashley,

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding your support for the continued implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  I appreciate your taking the time to contact me.

I understand your concerns and welcome your interest in this matter.  As you are aware, the President signed this piece of legislation into law on March 23, 2010.  Since that time, much of the implementing authority has been passed to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as well as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), with a majority of provisions set to take effect at the beginning of 2014.

Until that time, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind should legislation pertaining to this issue come before me on the House floor during the 113th Congress.

It is an honor to represent the people of the Second Congressional District of South Carolina, and I value your input.

If I may be of further assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
(signed)

So there you go.

Republicans in DC: Stop claiming to care about life

As you know, I am from South Carolina, one of the worst states in the union, politically speaking. Occasionally I get really angry about some stupid something people who claim me as a constituent are doing in DC, supposedly on my behalf.

STOP TRYING TO SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT

Sorry. I have spent literally my entire adult life wishing I had access to insurance that would cover my pre-existing conditions, women’s healthcare, and mental healthcare. I am not exaggerating when I say that this has been one of the most important concerns in my life. Because I developed severe allergies and asthma when I was 7, insurance and medical costs have driven so many of my life choices. Other people have had it far worse than I do, I don’t claim any special claim to bad circumstances, but I tell you the fact that, as of January 1, I will have, regardless of my employment situation, access to full healthcare coverage is such a relief that it makes me want to cry.

And *my* representatives are participating in these shame shutdown shenanigans because they want to take that away from me.  That makes me angry.  So I wrote a letter to Joe “You Lie” Wilson, against whom I ran a write-in campaign that may have earned me votes into the double-digits, Lindsey Graham, and Tim Scott.  By the time I got to Tim Scott, I had perhaps over-flourished it all, but you can judge for yourself.

Senator Scott,

I am really struggling with the behavior of Republicans in Washington, DC right now. Shutting down the government in what appears to be an attempt to hurt the poorest of your constituents.

I am a 29 year old woman who works a full-time job, two part-time jobs, and is in school full-time as well. Despite this, the only insurance I have access to currently is individual insurance, which can deny me for my pre-existing asthma. Furthermore, it is impossible to get individual maternity coverage in South Carolina. Unless you are part of a group plan, you cannot get maternity coverage at all in this state. If I get pregnant it is far more economically feasible for me to abort than to have a child, and not because I am not willing to pay for coverage, but because out of pocket a birth can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

If you were honestly pro-life, you’d support women getting access to that care. If you were honestly pro-life, you’d support everyone getting access to healthcare.

This is all changing on January 1 thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Starting then, I will have access to care regardless of my childhood asthma and that care will cover maternity. I have spent my entire life wishing that I’d have access to that some day — and now Republicans are trying to take that away from me. It feels like you’re playing political football with my ability to afford having a family.

I am not some lazy bum and I am not looking for handouts, I just think that I shouldn’t have to work so hard to still face catastrophic bankruptcy if something wonderful like pregnancy should befall me. Offer me an alternate plan, offer me a promise that South Carolina insurance providers will have to offer maternity coverage and coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Or stop claiming to care about life.

Regards, Ashley

I mean, I might have upped the pathos dial a bit much, but goddammit, could you just care about people instead of politics for once?  Also, how infuriating is it that South Carolina is not the only state in which it is literally impossible for a woman to get individual maternity coverage!  HOW MESSED UP IS THAT

Help a trans student in South Carolina

rukiaAs a member of the SSA at USC, I had the opportunity to meet and get to know Rukia Brooks, a trans student at USC who is a passionate member of the atheist and progressive movements.  Rukia was born with a different name, which she’d like to be able to change legally to reflect her identity.  She’d like her IDs and her diploma to accurately reflect her identity.  Unfortunately, it costs money.

  • Required fees for the actual name change:
    ● Filing fee $150.00

    ● Fingerprints $10.00

    ● SLED check $25.00

    ● DSS check $8.00

    ● Student ID $35.00

  • Any extra money will go towards any other necessary legal fees, new social security card, and/or eventual driver’s license.
  • We were hoping to get her a new birth certificate, but South Carolina does not reissue birth certificates to trans individuals. :(
  • Excess money will be donated to organizations of Rukia’s choosing (we have the Harriet Hancock Center here in Columbia, which is a wonderful place for the LGBT people, for example)

If you have even a couple dollars to help her out, feel free to go donate, and if you don’t, feel free to spread the word.

Really Cool Megachurch Infographic

I have been a member of this site http://myblogguest.com/ for a while, but it very rarely yields something on topic for my blog.  But today I have a doozy for you.  An infographic all about Megachurches and how much money they take from people.  The best part, though, is that it still appears to be associated with a Christian mission — to get people to go to Christian colleges online. There’s a nice little “MegaBenevolent” section with quotes from several pastors, including the illustrious Rick Warren.

Megachurches, big business, christianity

Although religion is still prevalent in today’s society, small American churches around the country are slowing and shutting down at a rate of 1%, whereas megachurches are continuing to grow at a rate of approximately 8% each year. Many megachurches use more corporate marketing and advertising techniques to help draw viewers and attendees to the actual church gatherings, meetings and even conferences that are hosted.

In just 1970 there were less than 10 mega-churches altogether. As of 2011, more than 1,611 mega-churches exist. The largest megachurch in the entire world to date is the Yoido Full Gospel Church, owned by David Yonggi Cho which is located in Seoul, South Korea. The church has an annual budget of $200 million and currently has more than 850,000 members actively enrolled.

U.S. MegaChurches

The biggest megachurch in the US today is the Lakewood Church, owned and operated by Joel Osteen in Houston, Texas. Each week, the church receives about 43,500 attendees and has a $70 million budget annually. The church itself is located within the Compaq Center, which was purchased in 2010 for $7.5 million.

LifeChurch.tv is another church that is located in Edmon, Oklahoma and it is considered the second largest megachurch in the US. LifeChurch.tv was founded by Craig Groschel and has approximately 42,782 weekly attendees. In 2012, the church had about $45,754,000 in expenses but took in about $71,338,000 from donations and charities. More than 100,000 unique viewers tune in to watch LifeChurch.tv each week from more than 120 countries altogether.

The third most popular megachurch in the US is North Point Community Church, owned and operated by Andy Stanley out of Alpharetta, Georgia. More than 27,000 members attend the church each week and the church has a total of $38.5 million for their annual budget.

In the US, the state of California has the most megachurches with 218. Texas has 207 megachurches with Florida following in third with 120 megachurches. Additionally, Georgia has 91 megachurches and Tennessee, 66.

Understanding how megachurches affect small-town American and religion today is a way to gain insight into the business while also finding a church that is right for you and your family. Megachurches continue to grow steadily, leaving the future of small churches unknown in America.

Source: www.onlinechristiancolleges.com

Happy Friday the 13th – Zombies, suicide, and me talking abortion

Friday13Sometime, next week probably, I am going to discuss Richard Dawkins and abuse and trauma, but this week I thought I’d end on an upbeat note, since it is Friday the Thirteenth and I do suffer from friggatriskaidekaphilia.

1. ZOMBIES

I miss Ian ’round the old FtB haunts, but he’s still doing many interesting things. As a fan of 1. pop culture, 2. zombies, and 3. anti-racism, I am fairly certain that I am the precise audience for this.

In the following presentation, given in January of 2013 in Kelowna, BC, I explore the parallels between zombie movies and anti-racism, with examples drawn from classic horror scenes. I discuss how we can learn to understand racism in a contemporary context, and understand the role our subconscious plays in our interactions, and how we can use this knowledge to avoid and combat racism in the same way we use it to avoid and combat zombies.

http://crommunist.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/dont-go-in-there-talking-about-race-racism-and-race-issues-in-the-time-of-the-zombie-apocalypse/

2. SUICIDE

I make no secret of my deep love for Jennifer Michael Hecht.  My intellectual crush on her is boundless.

When you take your own life, you normalize suicide for people who liked you and who are like you. Once the numbers reach a critical mass, as they have in the military today, it is a massacre.

http://theamericanscholar.org/to-live-is-an-act-of-courage/?utm_source=email#.Ui9Zx2Q5zNo

3. ABORTION

Finally, yesterday I did my first toe-dipping into media appearances related to my new job with the wonderful as ever Jamila Bey.

From increasing the number of doctors trained in the procedure to working with social services agencies, Provide is working to ensure that all American women are able to exercise their constitutional rights despite living in jurisdictions that seek to impede this.

http://voiceofrussia.com/us/2013_09_13/Abortion-rights-organization-Provide-1675/

 

Fall Schedule / SSA Reminder

speakingBelow you will find my schedule for the fall.  If you are a reader or group organizer and want to meet me or host an event, maybe this information is useful to you.

A reminder to my friends who are in SSA groups, I am available to speak to you about many interesting topics.  I am currently mostly located in and around the DC area, but I’m happy to travel with sufficient notice.  And if you happen to be a group who wants me to speak while I’m in the area for other reasons, let me know.  I’m happy to speak about anything (spending the night at the Supreme Court!), but there is a list at the bottom of this e-mail with topics I’m fond of.

 

September 27-29th — New Orleans at the AJHA Conference, presenting a paper about the Rural Purge.  Aside from Saturday at 3:20, I am free.

October ~1st-2nd — Boston for work.  I’m pretty busy and it’s a quick turn around, but might be in the night before.

October ~24th-27th — Miami for work.  Not sure exactly when I’m arriving and leaving, but I could have much free time if I want.

November 7th — Charlottesville, VA (more information soon).

November 15-17th — Springfield, MO for Skepticon, where I will be hosting a critically reading media workshop 4pm on Friday.

The end of November and much of December I will probably be in Columbia, SC a great deal and briefly probably in Kentucky, but almost certainly too late in the semester to be of interest to anyone.

And at some point in there I’m going to write a dissertation.  No big deal.

 

Ashley would love to speak on the following topics:

  • Atheism and diversity
  • Introduction to feminism
  • Media literacy and how to work with the media
  • Religion versus women, minorities, and LGBT
  • Using Social Media effectively
  • Film, Television, Young Adult Literature
  • Blogging, Podcasting, Vlogging
  • History of Christianity
  • Coping with burn out

Musical Monday: Cyndi Lauper Ukulele

My present to myself for getting a new job and passing my comprehensive exams was this shiny new acoustic/electric Les Paul ukulele.  I am working on learning some songs that sound good and crunchy with electric effects, but I think that means learning ukulele power chords, which I don’t really understand just yet.  It involves skipping strings, which I find weirdly difficult.

In the meantime, “Time after Time.”