truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-09-16 07:52 am

email to Senator Johnson, ACA repeal remix edition

Dear Senator Johnson:

I have been reading about the Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal bill, and the more I read, the more horrified I am. The premium hikes it allows for "pre-existing conditions" are unconscionable, and if you don't think Wisconsin will exploit those hikes, you have no understanding of your state's governor. Moreover, it's estimated that 32 million people will lose coverage within 10 years. Remember when you were arguing that 16 million was "better" than 22 million? Because I remember that very clearly.

Senator, this bill is a DISASTER. I am forced to choose between believing that you did not read or understand the bill that you have co-sponsored and believing that you understand it perfectly and just care that little about the well-being of your constituents and the rest of the American people.

Your party's obsession with repealing the ACA has been wasting time, energy, money, and other resources since the beginning of 2017--not to mention the resources and opportunities wasted by your party's childish obstructionism throughout the Obama administration, in which you are fully implicated. Repealing the ACA is fantastically unpopular and has failed repeatedly. And, honestly, the worst thing that could happen to the Republican Party is for this repeal bill to succeed. If it weren't for the catastrophe that would be brought down upon millions of people, I would almost want to let you have this monkey's paw. By all means, Senator. GET WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

However, I would much prefer it if you would join those of your colleagues who are trying to REFORM the ACA, even if you won't go so far as endorsing Medicare for all. In fact, I thought you HAD joined them, since you were participating in hearings about healthcare reform, and I am bitterly disappointed in you (yet again) by your co-sponsorship of the Graham-Cassidy bill.

I know nothing I say will change your mind, and certainly nothing I say will convince you to vote against your own bill. But I cannot remain silent and allow my silence to be counted as consent for this abhorrent, inhumane, and unethical bill. You cannot say you did not know that there was vehement opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill among your own constituents, to whom, in theory, you are supposed to listen and whose interests, in theory, you are supposed to represent.

I am frankly ashamed to have you as my senator.

Sincerely,
Sarah Monette
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-09-14 07:20 am

Another angry letter to Senator Johnson

Dear Senator Johnson:

Today you unveiled your proposed health care legislation. I am not impressed by it, especially in comparison to the health care legislation of Senator Sanders and Senator Baldwin. I know I cannot change your mind, or convince you that removing federal regulations is a catastrophe, not a solution, or that block grants to states, while perhaps a workable solution in some states, will be misused in every way possible in others to ensure that the money does not go where it is most needed. I count Wisconsin as one of those states. I do not believe the state government has its citizens' best interests at heart any more than I believe you do.

Republican senators have been trying and failing to repeal the ACA for all of 2017, despite intense opposition from their constituencies, while Senator Sanders' Medicare for All plan creates the reform you claim to want. You are wasting time, energy, money, and other resources that would be better spent on almost anything else--perhaps the opioid crisis you also claim to be concerned about.

I am disappointed and angry. You have betrayed your constituents again, Senator. And although this is just one more chapter in a book you are making longer by the day, I am still appalled by the stupidity and cruelty you continue to endorse. Even though Wisconsin is not my native state, I have lived and voted here for more than twenty years. I am ashamed that one of my senators has put his name on this bill.


P.S. You still have not made a public statement denouncing fascism, either.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-08-20 08:55 am

Letter to Senator Johnson: Nazis are evil edition

Dear Senator Johnson:

I am very disturbed by your reaction to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-12. You made a statement condemning "hate and violence" initially, but since then, you seem determined to make everyone forget that the rally ever happened, that white men carrying Nazi flags, making Nazi salutes, and chanting Nazi slogans marched through an American city--and that a woman is dead because one of them thought he could get away with ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in broad daylight.

What's even worse is your reaction to President Trump's appalling speech. You have said you "don't think" Trump is a racist, although you can't offer any reasons for that belief, and the most negative thing you have yet said about his speech is that "it didn't move us closer. It certainly didn't put the issue behind us."

Senator, it's not clear to me what you think the "issue" is.

You have not spoken out against the racism of the rally. You have not condemned the white nationalist principles of its organizers. You haven't even gone so far as to say that you are anti-fascist. This isn't hard, Senator. "Nazis are evil" is not a complicated or difficult concept. And yet it's one you don't seem to grasp.

You want us to "put the divisive issues off to the side" and "accentuate the positive." By which you mean, you want there to be no consequences of this Nazi terrorist action. You want those of us who are not white men to, once again, swallow the insult and injury offered to us because we are being "divisive" by pointing out that these alt-right Nazis want us dead and are demonstrably ready and willing to kill us themselves.

That's what the fuss is about, Senator. That's why some of us are so unreasonable as to not yet be ready to "put the issue behind us."

Moreover, your call for unity is alarming. I'm willing to extend you the benefit of the doubt--perhaps you genuinely don't know this--but the root of the word fascism, and the concept at the movement's core, is the fasces, the bundle of sticks that is stronger together than any one stick would be by itself. Fascists are all about unity, and when you call for "unity" in the wake of a fascist attack, and when it is clear that by "unity" what you mean is that non-whites and non-males need to sit down, shut up, and stop rocking the boat, I think a person is justified in wondering what you, yourself, think about fascism.

So that's my question to you, Senator. Are you pro- or anti-fascist? It's a very simple question, requiring only a one sentence answer.

I eagerly await your public response.



[ETA: I have emailed this letter to Senator Johnson, and will send a hard copy tomorrow. Plus I have sent a shortened version of this letter both to my tiny local paper and to the Capital Times.]
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-08-10 06:09 am

letter to Senator Johnson sent earlier this week (before Trump threatened N. Korea)

Dear Senator Johnson:

I am writing to ask you to persuade your Republican colleagues to abandon efforts to repeal the ACA. While I whole-heartedly believe that the American healthcare system needs to be reformed, repealing the ACA is not the way to begin. The ACA is not failing, is not in a death spiral, and would in fact be more and more successful if President Trump and Republican legislators would stop sabotaging it.

I am writing to ask you to reach out to your Democratic colleagues. I am writing to ask you to work on a reform process for the ACA that is built on bipartisan cooperation and includes committee work, public hearings, and the full, correct parliamentary procedure for Senate legislation.

There are so many other issues I am angry and/or frightened about, like President Trump's ban on transgender service people, the utter disgrace Jeff Sessions is making of the office of Attorney General, and this new and horrible attack on the rights of people in nursing homes, but I feel defeated by my prior knowledge that you are not interested in my concerns. I am writing anyway because it is something I can do in defense of my ideals and my country, unlike all the many things I can't.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-07-18 01:59 pm

today's letter to Senator Johnson, tigers edition

Dear Senator Johnson:

Thank you for speaking out against Senator McConnell's methodology, which looks suspiciously more like tyranny than democracy. I hope that you will publicly refuse to vote to repeal the ACA with nothing lined up to take its place. McConnell's plan is catastrophic and could only be put forward by someone who neither knows nor cares anything about the healthcare needs of his constituents. I am strongly in favor of bipartisan reform for the ACA, and I hope that you will reach out to your Democratic colleagues to make that happen.

I know I will never persuade you that you are wrong about the effect of the free market, but, because I choose to believe that you are acting in good faith, I have to--in good faith--try again:

The problem with the free market is that it erodes ethics. Free-market capitalism says that ethics are irrelevant--if they're not actually a liability, making you less able to compete. This is why it is crucial that the government regulate corporations. The government doesn't need to worry about corporations making money. They'll take care of that part themselves. The government needs to ensure that they don't run roughshod over employees and consumers in the process. Deregulating everything and trusting to the free market to solve the problem is like opening all the cages and trusting the tigers to solve the food supply problem. Corporations, like tigers, will solve the problem for themselves. We need the government to make sure the problem is solved for everyone.

This is why we need government. This is why government should never be run on the corporate model. It is not a corporation, and if it is to succeed in providing justice for all citizens, it cannot be a corporation. It has to be the balance to the corporations, to keep their untrammeled free market competition from literally poisoning everything they touch. In the past fifty years, America has proved repeatedly that deregulation is not the answer. Deregulation only and always makes things worse, because--hey, wait for it--our country is not a corporation. Treating it like one merely destroys it.

This is why ethics are not something that can be discarded. Because without ethics, you get the Trump administration, and I have to tell you that, no matter how it looks from where you are, from where I am, all I see are tigers.



There's also email to Governor Walker about why isn't he one of the governors speaking out against ACA repeal?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-07-08 09:41 am

Today's letter to Senator Johnson, smug Republican apparatchiks edition

Dear Senator Johnson:

For most of this week, I've been too angry to write a letter. I'm angry at Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and Steve Daines and all the rest of the smug Republican apparatchiks who think scoring points against Barack Obama is more important than the lives of tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) of their constituents. I'm angry at the way the GOP is trying to bully the Congressional Budget Office into giving their healthcare bill a better score. And I'm afraid, Senator Johnson, that means that I'm angry at you.

Your weaseling around to try to make the CBO score "better" infuriates me. First because you're trying to change the rules of the game (to use Senator Daines' extremely unfortunate metaphor) so that you can reach the goalposts your party has moved with your actions this year. Second because, while l6 million people uninsured may be fewer than 22 million people uninsured, it is not BETTER.

I wish I thought I had any hope of making you understand that.

It appalls me that you have any say in the governing of our country. (You're not alone in that. I'm equally appalled that Paul Ryan has any say in the governing of our country. Not to mention Donald J. Trump.) It makes me cringe to think that when I say, "I live in Wisconsin," people will now immediately associate that with the guy who argued that 16 million people uninsured was a meaningful improvement over 22 million people uninsured. And it infuriates me that you, my elected representative to the United States Senate, demonstrably and out of your own mouth care not a single iota about my welfare, or the welfare of 99% of your other constituents.

We both know you won't read this letter. Honestly, that is the least of my disappointments in you.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-07-02 09:35 am

today's emails

Senate Republicans have sent the BCRA back to the CBO.

1. To Senator Ron Johnson:

Dear Senator Johnson:

You and I disagree fundamentally on what's wrong with the BCRA. This is only to be expected, given your belief in the power of the private sector, whereas my experience of being an American citizen for the past 42 years is that privatization and deregulation ALWAYS MAKES THINGS WORSE. *ALWAYS.* And your horrifying analogy between health insurance and car insurance gives me no confidence that you will ever understand my point of view.

However, I appreciate that you disagree with the BCRA, and I appreciate that you are willing to say so publicly. Please, even if we disagree on why it's wrong, continue to oppose the BCRA. The democratic process and democratic government only work with public and honest debate, NONE OF WHICH THE BCRA HAS HAD. Please vote against it. Please insist on public hearings.

Thank you.

2. To Senator Tammy Baldwin:

Dear Senator Baldwin:

Thank you for your opposition to the BCRA. This bill *TERRIFIES* me, both on my own behalf and on the behalf of my family and beloved friends. The BCRA threatens my ability to afford the health care I need to manage a number of "pre-existing conditions," including major depressive disorder, restless legs syndrome, and chronic migraines. Without management, these conditions will destroy my ability to be productive, and they will make my life a daily misery. I promise I am not exaggerating. My friends who are self-employed artists, who were only able to pursue their dreams because of the ACA, are now facing the loss of the health insurance (i.e., the access to affordable and sufficient care) they, too, desperately need.

Please continue to speak out against this cruel bill. Please continue to fight it.

Thank you.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-06-27 07:43 am

a letter to Senator Johnson, I AM NOT A CAR edition

Dear Senator Johnson:

Yesterday, you compared me, not favorably, to a car: "We’ve done something with our health care system that you would never think about doing, for example, with auto insurance, where you would require auto insurance companies to sell a policy to somebody after they crash their car."

I cannot tell you how furious I am.

First of all, in comparing health insurance to car insurance, you are implying that:

(1) we can avoid illness, cancer, strokes, etc., the same way a driver, hypothetically, can avoid accidents (although accidents can't always be avoided, either);
(2) human beings are nothing but machines;
3) if we are not useful--as, say, children or elderly people no longer able to work are not useful--we are not worth taking care of;
(4) we decrease in value when we are damaged.

All of these implications are wrong. Frankly, they are all reprehensible. Also, a car accident is in no way, shape, or form like a "pre-existing condition." "Pre-existing conditions" are chronic. You can't deal with them once and then move on, the way you can buy a new car if yours is totaled. You have to deal with a "pre-existing condition" for the rest of your life; it goes on being expensive, eating up energy, and making your daily life harder long after the crisis point (the accident, in your analogy), if there even was one. Many people's "pre-existing conditions" start before they're even born. It is a false and pernicious analogy which you should never have permitted yourself to make.

Moreover, my "pre-existing conditions" are not things that I did, or things caused by my bad choices. The same is true of my friends who are bipolar. The same is true of any child who has cancer. Illness, whether mental or physical, is not a moral judgment, and a person's value, which is inestimable, is neither measured nor affected by the health care they need. And no one can predict the health care they're going to need--in much the same way no one can predict a drunk driver crossing the median and colliding head-on with their car.

Frankly, I have never expected you to oppose TrumpCare, whether it's called the AHCA or the BCRA, and I was angry enough about that. But the contempt this analogy shows for your constituents and for their need to have effective and affordable health care--a need that does not correlate with either their socio-economic status or their moral rectitude and that should never be thought of in terms of free-market capitalism--is appalling, especially from someone who claims to consider it "an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Wisconsin." I sincerely hope that this analogy is not a reflection of your true opinion of your constituents.

Senator Johnson, I AM NOT A CAR. I am a person, created equal with yourself, and I deserve to have my elected representatives respect my humanity and treat me with dignity.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-06-24 11:04 am

the ugly truth

(I said this on Twitter, I might as well say it here.)

So, yesterday I outed myself as mentally ill. Which was a conscious choice & one I'm not fully happy about, but it needed to be done. It also means that I have admitted I have a disability. (Actually, I have several.) Which I'm also not happy about, but facts are facts.

However, I'm now waiting for the person who's going to come along and tell me I'm not disabled enough:
  • "You don't look/act disabled." (You're not really disabled, just making excuses/trying to make yourself look special.)
  • "You're not on disability." (You fail to meet a arbitrary, quantifiable standard of disability, therefore you are not disabled.)
  • "I don't think you have a real disability." (You fail to meet my arbitrary, unquantifiable standard of disability, therefore you are not disabled.)
  • "You have a job." (You can't really be disabled. You're too functional.)
  • "Your description of your disability does not match with other people's descriptions of their disability/with my experience of my disability." (You're not disabled, you're just lying.)
  • "Other people have disabilities that are much worse than yours." (How dare you claim to be disabled.)
  • ETA 2017 06 25 "You can totally overcome this disability if you think right/eat right/exercise right/pray right/take the right supplements/buy the right Lucky Special Stick." (You're not really disabled, you're just not trying.) [I forgot this one, as I said to rachelmanija when she reminded me of it, because it's the one I still say to myself.]

Well, if that's how you think, I have news for you:

1. FUCK YOU.

2. Disability is not a competition. Yes, there ARE people whose disabilities are much worse than mine. That doesn't make the issues I struggle with less real.

3. You have no idea of how hard I may be working to not "look disabled."

4. Also, and I repeat, fuck you and the horse you rode in on. Whoever you are and whatever your credentials, you do not get to constitute yourself the disability police and tell me, once again, that I'm not disabled enough to count.

I don't want to be disabled. (Jesus fucking Christ, who would?) I don't want to acknowledge that I'm disabled. I'm doing so now because the Republicans are trying to make people with disabilities disappear, and it's time to BE VISIBLE as a person with disabilities who doesn't "look disabled," instead of just passing for "normal" as best I can.

So stop telling me to shut up because I don't meet your standards.

I have disabilities. They're real. By the definition of the health care that I'm in danger of losing, HELL YEAH are they real. I *do* have a dog in this fight, and me and him, we're gonna go down YELLING OUR FUCKING HEADS OFF.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-06-23 12:05 pm

a letter to Senator Johnson, tell it like it is edition

ETA: Per Snopes, the Warm Springs Foundation, which provided Senator McConnell with polio rehabilitation, was a nonprofit organization with extremely close ties to the federal government (as we'd probably phrase it today). If someone from Senator Johnson's office contacts me to point out my errors, at least I'll know they read my letter.

ETA(2): ALSO THIS.


[via email]

Dear Senator Johnson:

First of all, thank you for speaking out against the speed with which Senator McConnell is trying to force his Better Care Reconciliation Act through the Senate.

Secondly-- As it turns out, Senator McConnell had polio as a small child; his health care was entirely government-funded. This is exactly the kind of health care--the kind that provides needed services to children whose parents *are*not*wealthy*--that he is trying to destroy. The hypocrisy of this infuriates me, above and beyond all the other things that I think are appalling, shameful, and horrifying about the BCRA.

The BCRA is potentially catastrophic for me. I have a number of chronic conditions, including Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Restless Legs Syndrome, that are controlled, entirely or in part, by medications--medications that I cannot afford without health insurance. Without the chemical assistance to straighten out my brain chemistry and neurology, I will very quickly become paralyzed by the apathy of depression and the brain-lock induced by OCD--not to mention the chronic sleep-deprivation caused by RLS. And these conditions are all incurable. They can be *managed* very successfully, but I will never be free of them. I need these medications for the rest of my life. (I'm 42. I'm hoping "the rest of my life" is a very long time.)

Right now, I have insurance through the State of Wisconsin. But--as you are possibly aware--the state has been steadily chipping away at its employees' health benefits for the last 20 years, and if the BCRA passes, it gives Wisconsin greatly increased leeway to make state employees' health benefits ever more meager, which will mean my out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions and doctor visits will continue to increase and increase, while my insurance covers less and less of the care I need. (The medication which principally controls my RLS already has a co-pay of more than $100 a month.) And if I *lose* that coverage, I will be uninsurable. I am a walking compendium of "pre-existing conditions"--I didn't even tell you about the chronic migraines or the fibromyalgia or the Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Senator, I need health insurance. I need it to be affordable. I need it NOT to be contingent on my never having been and never becoming sick, because that door slammed shut a long time ago. I need it to PROTECT ME, not benefit the health insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

I am hoping that, as my senator, you care more about my well-being than you do about providing tax cuts to a handful of people who do not need them. I am hoping that you recognize Senator McConnell's rank hypocrisy and that it angers you as it does me. I am hoping that you will defend me and your other 5.77 million constituents who need, as a matter of quite literally life or death, the access to affordable healthcare that Senator McConnell and his BCRA are trying to strip away from us.

Please continue to oppose the BCRA. Do not let this unconscionable bill be your legacy.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-06-20 06:43 am

another week, another crisis, another letter to Senator Johnson

Dear Senator Johnson:

I'm writing to ask you to put pressure on Senator McConnell to release the text of the AHCA bill and to hold public hearings before the bill is put to the vote. I ask this in a nonpartisan spirit, simply as a principle of ethical governance. Patrick Henry said in 1788, "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. . . . to cover with the veil of secrecy the common routine of business, is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man, and every friend to his country." I believe that's as true now as it was then.

Please don't let Senator McConnell set a precedent with the AHCA. Insist that the text of the bill be published. Insist that there be public hearings. We fall short of the ideal of American democracy a lot of the time, but we are better than this crude and childish attempt to strong-arm an unpopular bill through the Senate by refusing to let anyone see it.

It would only take three Republican senators refusing to vote for the AHCA without proper disclosure and hearings to make it impossible for Senator McConnell's strategy to succeed. I would like to believe, not only that there are three Republican senators who have the ethical and moral strength to make that refusal, but also that the senior senator from Wisconsin is one of them.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-06-17 10:24 am

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

So, I try very hard not to hate people. It takes energy away from things I'd rather be doing, and it's destructive of the soul. (There isn't a secular word that means quite what "soul" does--"psyche" is the closest, and it's not very close. And I'm really talking about the soul, the part of you that struggles with good and evil. Just understand that I don't mean it in a religious sense, but in a moral/ethical once.) But then you get to where we are right now, in a dystopia imagined by Monty Python (the president is "yelling at television sets in the White House," reports the Associated Press), and I realized that, yeah, okay, I've got a lot of hatred going on here, but also that this is not unreasonable, and here's why:

  1. The American Health Care Act
  2. Executive Order 13792 (the one trying to take away National Monument status from, hey, National Monuments)
  3. The whole thing with Russia
  4. This new policy rollback with Cuba
  5. The general determination to undo everything Obama did, just because Obama did it
  6. His behavior toward Israel
  7. His behavior toward everybody in the Middle East, even leaving aside the "Mother of All Bombs"
  8. His behavior toward the Mayor of London
  9. His behavior toward Angela Merkel and the German people
  10. His behavior toward the CIA
  11. His behavior toward the FBI
  12. His behavior toward the Pope
  13. Also the appointment of Newt Gingrich's wife as Ambassador to the Vatican
  14. Ditto John McCain's wife as "ambassador at large." We can see what you're doing, people.
  15. His stupid-ass decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord
  16. The ongoing hypocrisy of (a) yelling about "fake news", (b) yelling about "witch hunts", (c) demanding apologies from all & sundry
  17. The lying, for fuck's sake.
  18. The excruciatingly blatant nepotism. (Most recently, choosing his event planner--who has lied about having a law degree--to "to head up the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey, where she’ll oversee distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars.")
  19. Betsy DeVos
  20. The quiet rollback of the federal government's role in defending civil rights
  21. The catastrophic budget cuts to the EPA, the NEH, and everything that isn't (a) guns or (b) more butter for the rich
  22. Choosing to mark Pride Month by going to a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, where he praised the founders of the FFC and of Focus on the Family, both of which organizations are poisonously homophobic
  23. The "Mother of All Bombs"
  24. The travel ban
  25. ICE
  26. Melissa Ortiz
  27. That completely bizarre televised Trump-worship circle with his Cabinet
  28. Remember way back when, when he made fun of a reporter with a disability on national TV?
  29. And let's not forget the sexual assault thing, either, or the "locker room talk"
  30. The "plan" (please notice sarcastic quote marks) to privatize infrastructure, starting with air traffic control
  31. His ignorance of the basics of American history, like, you know, the Civil War
  32. His atrocious behavior on Twitter after the terrorist attack in London
  33. The way he fucks off to play golf, like the terrible conflicts he has sparked in his own country (both accidentally and 100% deliberately) don't matter
  34. His completely casual leaks of classified information (and don't give me that bullshit "ignorance" excuse; a FIVE YEAR OLD would know better than that)
  35. His complete failure to behave, in any way or in any aspect, like the actual leader of an actual country


Okay, stopping there, but, really, as Vizzini says, I'm just getting started.

I still don't think hatred is the right answer; it makes you into the monster you're fighting. But racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, xenophobia, plutocracy, religious bigotry, the hatred and fear of education, institutionalized sociopathy: every trend and tendency I hate about mainstream American culture is represented, as beautifully as if he were a metonym, by Donald J. Trump and his leadership of our country. He is actually MORE HORRIBLE than I thought he would be when I had the first of many anxiety attacks on Election Night.

My consolation is that there are a lot of us shouting that Emperor Trump isn't wearing any fucking clothes. I don't advocate hatred--I'm trying to let it go myself--but please don't stop shouting.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-06-12 12:23 pm

Today's letter to Senator Johnson

Dear Senator Johnson:

I try very hard not to think that you are a bad man.

I try to believe that you act on principles that you hold as deeply and fervently as I hold mine. I try to believe that you have the best interests of your constituents always at the forefront of your mind, and that even if you and I don't agree on what those best interests entail, you are doing the best that you can possibly do to serve the people of Wisconsin.

Senator Johnson, sometimes you make this very hard to believe.

In particular, your recent support of President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, your continuing attempts to dismantle the ACA, and your complete failure to demand that the Senate hold public hearings about their AHCA bill all make me think that, in fact, you are no different than your fellow Republican power holders, interested only in profit and power, motivated only by selfishness and bigotry.

If you truly believe that the AHCA will "rescue the American people from the disaster of Obamacare," as Vice President Pence puts it, then there is no reason to rush it to a vote. There is no reason why there can't be public hearings, or why the Senate can't wait for the CBO score. There is no reason for all the urgency and secrecy and backroom deals--unless, in fact, neither you nor your fellow Republican senators actually believe that the AHCA is in the best interests of the American people.

I know, really, that there's nothing I can say that will change your mind about the Affordable Care Act. But please show me that you have the courage of your convictions. Show me that even if we don't agree, I can respect you as a principled man. Insist publicly and loudly that the Senate hold public hearings on the AHCA. If the AHCA is in the best interests of the American people, then you have nothing to fear from public hearings. If it isn't . . . if it isn't, why aren't you fighting it tooth and nail?



N.b. (1) I will also be calling Senator Johnson and Senator Baldwin's offices. ETA: I have called Senator Johnson and Senator Baldwin's offices. Got real people both places. Again, props to Sen. Johnson's staffers for being polite and friendly and sounding sincerely interested in my opinion, despite us all knowing that Sen. Johnson does not give a damn what I think.
(2) Again, anyone wanting to use this or any of my other letters as templates is welcome to do so.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-06-05 07:06 am

a letter to Senator Johnson, I've made a list edition

Dear Senator Johnson:

If the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency have shown us anything, it is that ignorance is neither harmless nor innocent. Ignorance is destructive and dangerous, and the more power it has, the more dangerous it becomes. Donald Trump must be removed from office, not only because he is clearly colluding with Russia, but because he is equally clearly incompetent. Trump is not competent to be President of the United States, and in his ignorance, and the fear and hatred that his ignorance engenders, he has already done incalculable harm to America: to her people, to her relationships with her allies, to her land and air and water. And he plans to do more harm and greater harm, in the service of nothing but himself.

There are so many things I'm angry about that I had to make a list:

1. The continuing efforts to repeal the ACA.

2. Trump's incredibly stupid decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. And your support for his decision does not make me happy, either.

3. His equally stupid attempts to use Pittsburgh and Detroit as symbols of his "putting America first," when both those cities were overwhelmingly against him in the election and are overwhelmingly in favor of America participating in the Paris agreement. And are both prime examples of why the Paris agreement is necessary.

4. The deaths of Second Lieutenant Richard Collins III, Sergeant First Class Rick Best, and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, and the failure of the Trump administration to call their murders what they are: white supremacist terrorism, committed by Americans on American soil.

5. Trump's plans to privatize air traffic control. Senator Johnson, I know you are a loyal Republican, but even so, surely you can see that privatization never works.

6. Trump's Tweets about the terrorist attack in London, and the breath-taking irresponsibility and ignorance they show.

7. Kim Weaver's decision to withdraw from the Iowa House race because of retaliatory measures taken against her by Iowa state officials and because of death threats.

8. The budget cuts being imposed on vital parts of the federal government, like the EPA.

9. The White House's failure to recognize LGBT Pride Month.

10. The ongoing efforts of officials who have recused themselves from the investigation into collusion with Russia to control that very investigation.

11. The increasing number of states passing voter restriction laws. They don't prevent voter fraud, because there isn't any. They don't prevent electoral fraud, because they're focused on the wrong people. All they do is prevent American citizens from voting, and that is absolutely heinous. Voting rights should be coterminous with citizenship, and every elected official and representative in America should be trying to get more people to exercise their constitutional rights, not fewer. I am 100% in favor of electoral reform, but it needs not to focus on the voters. The voters aren't the problem. (See #7 above.)

12. The North Dakota pipeline and the treatment of the protesters.

13. Trump's attempt to undercut the status of our National Monuments with Executive Order 13792.

I don't suppose I need to go on. We both know that you won't read this letter. I am writing anyway, because I--perhaps stupidly--continue to believe in the Constitution and American democracy. Which leads me to the final thing I wanted to bring up: your failure to hold a Town Hall meeting during this Congressional recess. Republicans nationwide are choosing to avoid their constituents during the recess, and I have to ask: if you aren't willing to face their anger, why are you willing to support legislation that makes them so angry? How does this count as representing your constituents?

I post all of my letters to you on my blog. Full disclosure: they are open letters, and I won't stop writing them.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-06-03 08:03 am

Today's letter

Dear Governor Walker:

Since President Trump made the horrible and stupid mistake of pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, seven states have joined the U.S. Climate Accord, and an additional seven have announced their support of the Paris agreement. My question to you is: why isn't Wisconsin on either of those lists?

I urge you to speak out in support of the Paris Climate Accord. I urge you even more strongly to join the U.S. Climate Accord. Show the world that Wisconsin values our planet more than President Trump.

Thank you.

[Similar letters will be going to my state senator and assembly representative.]
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-06-01 09:56 am

5 things, tag-team edition

1. There comes a point in every pro wrestling tag-team match where one of the Faces is in the ring alone with both Heels, getting the tar whaled out of him or her. That's what today is like, the Heel tag-team being Migraine and Fibro. I try not to give in to chronic pain (because once I start giving in, there's no good stopping point), but today I went back to bed.

2. Yesterday, I used 5calls.org to contact the relevant people about the Paris Climate Accord. I got voicemail at Senator Ron Johnson's office; talked to real people at Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Mark Pocan's offices; and the EPA's voicemail box was full. I also used RESISTBOT to send this fax to Senator Johnson and Senator Baldwin:
Trump has already made the United States a global disgrace. Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord will make us--rightly--a global pariah. Trump has already done so much damage. If impeachment is what it takes to stop him, then we have to impeach him NOW. Because he isn't waiting. Please protect your constituents, your country, and your planet. STOP TRUMP.

I know that I'm, on the one hand, preaching to the choir, and on the other hand, trying to teach a pig to sing. For Senator Baldwin, all I'm trying to do is give her data: I am one of her constituents and I am vehemently opposed to Trump. With Senator Johnson, honestly, the best I can hope for is that I annoy the pig.

3. I have NEVER IN MY ENTIRE LIFE been as politically active as I am right now. I'm not actually happy about this.

4. The mayor of Austin, Texas, is made of awesome.

5. The Harriet Tubman Home is asking for donations so that they can participate in the bidding war for a newly discovered photograph of her.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-05-29 11:35 am

A letter to Senator Johnson, Memorial Day edition

So apparently what I do on Mondays is write open letters to Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).


Dear Senator Johnson:

Today is Memorial Day. To show my respect for the men and women who served--and are serving--our country bravely and honorably, I am writing you a letter I know you won't read.

Two of those men died this week for standing up against bigotry and terrorism. They were not on foreign soil and they were not combating Muslims or ISIS or any of the other bugaboos our current administration likes to shout about. They were combating white Americans. As of right now, our President, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, who has found time to tweet gloatingly about Congressman Greg Gianforte bodyslamming an unarmed journalist, has not, apparently, been able to find the time to make a public statement about Sergeant First Class Rick Best, Second Lieutenant Richard Collins III, or about the civilian who also died combating white supremacist terrorism on American soil, Taliesin Namkai-Meche.

Senator Johnson, I am appalled and disgusted. I would greatly appreciate it if I could see evidence that you are also appalled and disgusted--or at least that you condemn the actions of Sean Urbanski and Jeremy Christian. This is not a complicated issue; there are no shades of gray or subtle nuances to be explored. This is white supremacist bigotry, and it is continuing to motivate domestic terrorism as it has done for more than 150 years. (The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865. I am not exaggerating.) Sergeant Best, a white man and a veteran, did an honorable and morally right thing; he stood up against bigotry, and he died for it. Lieutenant Collins, a black man and a veteran, did the same thing and died for it. The only way we can honor their memories, and the memory of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, is to take the same stand and to turn the force and strength of the American government and the American people against the terrorists in our midst. "Thou hypocrite," said Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, "first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Matthew 7.5 KJV). I am old enough to remember the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. I don't know why that wasn't enough to convince Democrats and Republicans alike that a bipartisan effort to eliminate domestic terrorism was necessary, that we need to be as "tough" on white supremacists as we claim we are on foreign terrorists (by which we seem to mean Muslims), but if it wasn't enough, as it seems it was not--since white supremacism continues to flourish and, in fact, to grow--I am asking you to understand that the murders of Best, Collins, and Namkai-Meche are enough. Grassroots efforts are necessary and valiant, but they have to be echoed by those in positions of power. They have to be echoed by legislators.

Please speak up. Please advocate against domestic terrorism committed by white Americans. Please make Collins, Best, and Namkai-Meche the last people who have to die before we finally call white supremacism unacceptable and move to eradicate it. It is the beam in our eye, and we need to cast it out.

Thank you.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-05-23 07:02 am

today's letter

Dear Senator Johnson:

I know that historically you have been an opponent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and a loyal member of the Republican Party, and I believe you made those choices for what seemed to you to be good reasons. I don't agree with you, but I respect that you made thoughtful, informed decisions.

I am writing to ask you to change your mind. If the repeal of the ACA succeeds, if President Trump manages to implement any of his healthcare "reforms," people are going to die. They are going to die deaths that would be preventable--that are being prevented now--because they won't be able to afford the medical care they need. This isn't exaggeration, as I hope you already know; a Harvard study in 2009 found that 45,000 people died annually because of lack of healthcare. If President Trump and his supporters succeed, those numbers will increase--and many of the people dying preventable deaths are going to be people who voted to elect you to the U. S. Senate. I am writing in the hopes that your loyalty to your constituents is greater than your loyalty to your party. I am writing in the hopes that you can see that the Republican leadership, including President Trump and his Cabinet, are not acting in the best interests of the people who elected them, the people whom they promised to govern under the auspices of the U. S. Constitution.

If we believe, as the Declaration of Independence says, that all men (and women) are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, surely that means that all men and women are entitled to health care that is both adequate and affordable. The ACA provides that care, and repealing it out of party politics that are, frankly, petty, spiteful, and deeply inappropriate to our government, is both ethically and morally wrong. I don't usually make statements like that, but for me there is no nuance left in this situation. The repeal of the ACA will kill millions of people, and I might very well be one of them.

As one of the citizens whose Constitutional rights you are sworn to uphold, I am asking you to support the ACA and to vote against any effort to repeal it, undercut it, or destroy the safety it provides to all American citizens.

Thank you.



[anyone wanting to use one of my letters as a template is welcome to do so]
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-05-14 07:38 am

Today's round of letters

Dear Mr. Obama,

I hope this letter is not at all unusual, but I am writing to thank you for being the forty-fourth President of the United States, and serving two terms ethically, generously, and in kindness of spirit. Being President is a thankless job, and I appreciate that you were willing to do it twice.

I have been spurred to write this letter by the deplorable actions of our forty-fifth President, but my gratitude to you has nothing to do with him. I didn't always agree with your decisions, but I believed then and believed now that you were making the best decisions you could under the circumstances you found yourself in, and always with the good of the people of the United States--ALL the people of the United States--in the forefront of your mind. No matter what the current government manages to do in its efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act, you did a invaluable thing in making it happen at all.

I am sure you are glad to be retired, and I hope your retirement is excellent, for you deserve it to be.

Thank you again.

Sincerely,
Sarah Monette



Monument Review
MS-1530
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Sir or Madam:

This spring, 80% of the beautiful old trees lining the block I live on had to come down. Mostly this was because of the Emerald Ash Borer, and the maple tree in front of our house was dying, so it was entirely necessary and correct. But I was still heart-broken, and I am still grieving for those trees.

That is the microcosm of the terrible grief and rage I feel at the idea of any of our national monuments being stripped of their status. There is no reason for this review to be conducted, except that President Trump wants to break things just to be able to say he's broken them--and, no doubt, to profit from the exploitation of the land and sea that will no longer be protected from his greed.

I have been to Giant Sequoia National Monument. The grandeur and stunning beauty of the sequoias are beyond my ability to describe--the Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century would undoubtedly have called them sublime if they'd ever seen them. These trees are worthy of our protection if for no other reason than that they are unique in the world; if they are destroyed, we lose something that is irreplaceable, something the value of which cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Their worth is far greater than any profit that could possibly be made from their destruction.

I have not personally visited any of the other national monuments under review--but now I want to, because I believe that I will love them as I love the sequoias. America is a continent full of marvels and wonders, and if they "belong" to us, then we are responsible for keeping them. The decision to protect these national monuments, including Bears Ears, was the correct decision, and I am writing to ask you not to undo that decision. Each of these monuments is irreplaceable and priceless.

I confess that I am also concerned about what President Trump may do next, if he succeeds in his effort to unmake these national monuments. I no longer believe that any consideration of ethics or decency govern his actions, and I don't believe he has any values other than narrow self-interest, egotism, and greed. Therefore, I am asking you to stop him. Don't compromise, don't yield so much as a square inch. Protect the land and sea that have been put into your keeping.

I will be sending a hard copy of this letter via U.S. Mail, and please do make my comments public. I will also be posting this letter on my blog: truepenny.dreamwidth.org.

Thank you for the time and attention you are giving Executive Order 13792, even though your attention is more than its petty greed and malice deserve.

[comment tracking # 1k1-8wdp-vjox]

[Please, gentle readers, follow this link and make your own comments. Only about 7,000 people have commented so far, and at least some portion of them are opposed to the protection of the national monuments. The deadline to comment for Bears Ears National Monument is May 26; for all other monuments, the deadline is July 10.

Bears Ears is the newest national monument, only designated last year; it seems to be the monument most directly under attack. I am suspicious that this is the reason behind that separate, and much closer, deadline.]
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
2017-05-05 07:39 am

the letters I am sending to my elected representatives this morning

(1) Congressman Mark Pocan
Dear Mr. Pocan:

Thank you for voting against the American Health Care Act yesterday. Thank you for speaking out so frankly against it in your press release. When so much of our current government seems either indifferent or actually hostile to the welfare of the citizens of the United States, I am grateful to have a representative who continues to put his constituents' needs first. Thank you for not betraying your voters.

(2) Senator Tammy Baldwin
Dear Senator Baldwin:

Yesterday, the Republicans in the House of Representatives, after carefully exempting themselves from the consequences, voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. When the bill comes before the Senate, I know that you will vote against it. Thank you for being someone your constituents can rely on to protect them.

(3) Senator Ron Johnson
Dear Senator Johnson:

Yesterday, the Republicans in the House of Representatives, after carefully exempting themselves from the consequences, voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I know your voting record; I know how you feel about the Affordable Care Act. But I am asking you, please, to reconsider your stance. The American Health Care Act is a debacle that will harm--quite possibly kill--millions of Americans. If you support Americans' right to bear arms, how can you not support their right to adequate affordable health care?

I am one of your constituents, and I will be harmed by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. When the American Health Care Act comes before the Senate, please vote against it.