Month: December 2015

NH State Rep. Amanda Bouldin (D) harassed by Republican colleagues over nipple bill

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This will be my final blog post for the year 2015. I wish everyone a safe and happy 2016!


In the New Hampshire House of Representatives, a legislative chamber that has 400 seats and serves as the lower house of the state legislature of a state with slightly over 1.3 million people, you’re bound to find some interesting people serving as state legislators. One such interesting person is New Hampshire State Representative Amanda Bouldin (D-Manchester), who has earned national attention for criticizing a sexist Republican-backed bill that would prohibit women from going topless in public in New Hampshire:

Under current New Hampshire state law, both men and women may expose their nipples as they so please. Some Republicans want to change that. A recently proposed bill, sponsored exclusively by Republican men, would make it illegal for a woman to “purposely expos[e] the areola or nipple of her breast or breasts in a public place.” (The bill makes an exception for breastfeeding.) Men would still be permitted to expose their nipples in public with impunity.

In case you’re wondering what the areola is, it’s a donut-shaped area of skin immediately around each human nipple that is of a different color than most or all of the rest of a person’s skin.

Not surprisingly, Bouldin was not one bit happy about the hypocritical standard of banning women from exposing their breasts in public, while continuing to allow men to do so. So, she posted her opinion on Facebook, and at least two Republican state legislators responded with vile, sexist remarks.

One of the sexist Republican state legislators who confronted Bouldin online is Josh Moore (R-Merrimack), who essentially encouraged sexual assault:

…If it’s a woman’s natural inclination to pull her nipple out in public and you support that, than (sic) you should have no problem with a mans (sic) inclination to stare at it and grab it…

Grabbing a woman’s breasts without her consent is sexual assault, which is a criminal offense in every jurisdiction in the United States and something that nobody should encourage.

The other was Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), who essentially called Bouldin’s nipples ugly:

Amanada (sic), No disrespect, but your nipple would be the last one I would want to see…

If you’re calling a woman, or any part of her, ugly, you’re intending disrespect.

If Amanda Bouldin wants to go topless in public, that should be her choice and not anyone else’s. If Amanda Bouldin wants to wear a shirt, blouse, jacket, coat, or other type of top in public, that should be her choice and not anyone else’s. It’s worth noting that the sexist mindset of those Republicans isn’t all that different from the sexist mindset of Islamic fundamentalist men who think that women should be forced to wear clothing that completely covers their face. I’m glad that people like Amanda Bouldin are standing up and speaking out against sexist legislation like the New Hampshire Nipple Bill.

If you want to thank Ms. Bouldin for speaking out against the sexist hypocrisy in the New Hampshire Nipple Bill, here’s her Twitter page. Please be respectful to her!

 

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Bernie Sanders forces Donald Trump to flip-flop on raising wages

For all of Donald Trump’s bluster about the Clintons, there’s one presidential candidate that Trump is truly scared of, and his last name isn’t Clinton:

Bernie (Sanders) has consistently maintained that Trump supporters are working class people who are taking out their grievances on minorities and others, rather than addressing the rigged political and socio-economic system that has let them down. Bernie has for some time been saying that Trump is a demagogue who does “what demagogues do … scapegoating others.” And Bernie has asserted that his message of economic justice would resonate with those voters, and he could peel away many Trump supporters.

But on CBS Face the Nation last week he seems to have struck bone.

“This is a guy who does not want to raise minimum wage,” he said of Trump. “In fact, he has said that wages in America are too high.”

Trump responded to Bernie exposing Trump’s big weakness with the white, working-class voters he’d need to win a general election for president by…you guessed it…flip-flopping on raising wages:

Make no mistake about it, white, working-class voters are going to decide the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton has virtually zero appeal to white, working-class voters, so she’d lose badly to Trump. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is an ardent economic progressive who can appeal to white, working-class voters left behind by both a Democratic establishment that openly attacks them and a Republican Party that is hell bent on destroying their livelihoods.

Explaining the syllabic character system I’ll use for featured images of blog posts, starting in 2016

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post is a living blog post, meaning that more information will be added by the author in the coming days.


Starting in 2016, when a blog post that I write on The Progressive Midwesterner uses a featured image, it will be in the form of a drawing of mine that utilizes a set of syllabic characters that I’ve devised. Not all blog posts will use featured images, and multiple blog posts may use the same featured image.

Here’s the letters of the syllabic characters that I will use for featured images of blog posts, starting in 2016:

Syllabic Characters Guide Revised
Letter-by-letter guide to syllabic characters (image created by the author using Trimble SketchUp Make)

However, it’s worth noting that, for a few letters (specifically, H, K, Q, and R), I intended to use different letter designs to represent those letters. Here’s the original system of letters in the syllabic character system that I devised (which I will not use):

Syllabic Symbols Guide
Original draft of letters of the syllabic character system (image created by author using Microsoft Paint)

Here’s some basic terminology associated with the syllabic character system:

  • Character – Representation of a syllable in the syllabic character system
  • Inner line – See Syllabic line
  • Inside (1) – The right side of an upperline letter
  • Inside (2) – The left side of a lowerline letter
  • Inside quarterline – A horizontal line in the part of the letter that is halfway between the median and the syllabic line
  • Letter – Representation of an individual letter in the syllabic character system
  • Long space – A space, used between words, that is one-half of the width of a letter
  • Lowercase – The status of the first letter in a syllable being lowerline
  • Lower line – Below the syllabic line
  • Median – A horizontal line in the center of a letter
  • Meridian – A vertical line in the center of a letter
  • Outer line – A horizontal line in the part of a letter that is furthest away from the syllabic line
  • Outside (1) – The left side of an upperline letter
  • Outside (2) – The right side of a lowerline letter
  • Outside quarterline – A horizontal line in the part of the letter that is halfway between the outer line and the median
  • Short space – A space, used between syllables within a word, that is one-quarter of the width of a letter
  • Stub – The short section of the syllable line that is one-quarter of a letter in width and located on each end of the character
  • Syllabic Character System – The system of syllabic characters
  • Syllabic characters – See Syllabic Character System
  • Syllable – Unit of pronunciation in a word
  • Syllable line – The center horizontal line that separates lowerline and upperline letters
  • Tie – A short section of the syllable line that is one-quarter of a letter in width and located between letters within a syllable
  • Uppercase – The status of the first letter in a syllable being upperline
  • Upperline – Above the syllabic line

Here’s how I classify each letter:

  • Outside vertical line letters (B, C, D, E, F, H, J, K, L, and R) – These letters all share a common trait: They all feature a full vertical line along the left-hand side for a letter above the syllable line and a full vertical line along the right-hand side for a letter below the syllable line.
  • Median letters (I and T) – Both of these letters feature a vertical line running through the center of the letter.
  • Full box letters (M, N, and O) – All three of these letters feature vertical lines on both sides of the letter and a horizontal line on the edge of the letter that is furthest away from the syllable line.
  • Half box letters (G, P, Q, and Y) – All four of these letters feature a horizontal line halfway between the syllable line and the outermost part of the letter.
  • Triangular letters (A, U, V, and W) – All four of these letters feature a triangular shape.
  • Inside connection letters (S and Z) – Both of these letters connect to the syllable line on the right-hand side for a letter above the syllable line and the left-hand side for a letter below the syllable line.
  • Letter isolate (X) – This letter does not neatly fit into the above categories.

Here’s some basic rules for syllabic characters:

  • Syllabic characters are read from left to right, with a zig-zag pattern in multi-letter syllables.
  • If the first letter in a syllable should be uppercase (first syllable of proper nouns, the article “I”, etc.), the syllable begins with a letter above the syllable line (i.e., an upperline letter).
  • If the first letter in a syllable should be lowercase, the syllable begins with a letter below the syllable line (i.e., a lowerline letter).
  • The first letter is written with the left edge of the letter being one-quarter of a letter width from
  • The second letter of a syllable is written with the left edge of the second letter being one-quarter of a letter width from the right edge of the first letter, and the second letter is written on the other side of the syllable line from the first letter.
  • The third letter of a syllable is written with the left edge of the third letter being one-quarter of a letter width from the right edge of the second letter, and the third letter is written on the same side of the syllable line as the first letter.
  • Fourth, fifth, sixth, etc. letters of syllables alternate sides of the syllable line.
  • The syllable line extends from one-quarter of a letter width to the left of the first letter within the syllable to one-quarter of a letter width to the right of the last letter within the syllable. Should a syllable only consist of one letter, the lone letter counts as both the first letter and the last letter for this purpose.
  • Between syllables within a word, a short space of one-quarter of a letter width is used.
  • Between words, a long space of one-half of a letter width is used.
  • Letters are never written directly above or below each other, with one exception: Acronyms are treated as a single syllable (even if not pronounced as a single syllable), and each letter of the acronym is written both above and below the syllable line (i.e., a double letter), with each double letter being read as a single letter.
  • Although a non-standard use of the syllabic characters, writing all letters in a syllable above the syllable line can be used to represent shouting, and writing all letters in a syllable below the syllable line can be used to represent whispering.

Why this blog will no longer use the words “actress” and “comedienne”

This paragraph will be the last paragraph of a blog post here on The Progressive Midwesterner in which I use the words “actress” and “comedienne”. From this point forward, a person who plays roles in movies, television shows, and/or plays, regardless of gender, will be referred to as an “actor” (plural: “actors”), and a person who is a practitioner of comedy, regardless of gender, will be referred to as a “comedian” (plural: “comedians”)

There are two reasons for this change:

  1. In a non-scientific poll that I conducted on Twitter, two-thirds of respondents voted for using “actor” as a gender-neutral term (although only six people voted in the poll).
  2. I use words like “hero” as a gender-neutral term, even though there are many people who do not (example here).

As a general rule, with the exception of pronouns, I’m not going to use gender-specific terms to describe someone.

The First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

For the first time ever, this blog will be awarding end-of-the-year awards to several individuals who I consider to be effective at advancing progressive causes during the year, regardless of whether or not one meets the typical criteria of being politically progressive or not. This is the first annual awarding of the Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015. All ProgMid Award winners for this year and years in the future are automatically inducted into the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner.

The award categories for the first ProgMid Awards are as follows:

  • Person of the Year
  • Man of the Year
  • Woman of the Year
  • American of the Year
  • International Person of the Year
  • Group of the Year
  • Athlete of the Year
  • Blogger of the Year
  • Activist of the Year
  • Elected Official of the Year
  • Entertainer of the Year
  • Young Person of the Year

There are two important notes regarding the awards:

  • Many award recipients will receive multiple awards. For example, if the Person of the Year in a given year is a female athlete from Canada, she would win Person of the Year, Woman of the Year, International Person of the Year, and Athlete of the Year.
  • Should multiple people or a group of people win award(s) other than Group of the Year, the plural form of the name(s) of the other award(s) will be used (People, Men, Women, Americans, International People, Athletes, Bloggers, Activists, Elected Officials, Entertainers, and/or Young People).

With that said, I hereby present the First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015!

Person of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Person of the Year is the only open ProgMid Award category.

No person has made a bigger impact on advancing progressive causes in the year 2015 than Bernie Sanders. Bernie, the junior U.S. Senator from Vermont, is currently seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the 2016 elections, and he has made improving America’s economy a key part of his campaign. Bernie has publicly championed raising the U.S. minimum wage to $15/hour, guaranteeing paid family leave, making college in America truly affordable, breaking up large financial institutions, and many other progressive ideals. Bernie is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2015.

Man of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Men are eligible for the Man of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is male, Bernie is also the ProgMid Man of the Year for 2015.

Woman of the Year – Rachel Notley

Women are eligible for the Woman of the Year Award.

In Alberta, Canada’s most conservative province, Rachel Notley led the Alberta New Democratic Party to a landslide victory in the Alberta legislative general election in May of 2015, and, as a result of the election, Notley became Premier of Alberta. Notley and her party ran on a progressive platform that championed good government, Alberta’s environment, economic justice, and common sense, and they won in a very conservative part of Canada. Notley is the ProgMid Woman of the Year for 2015.

American of the Year – Bernie Sanders

In order for one to be eligible for the American of the Year Award, one must be a United States citizen, United States national, resident of the United States, or some combination thereof.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an American, Bernie is also the ProgMid American of the Year for 2015.

International Person of the Year – Rachel Notley

Those who are not eligible for the American of the Year Award are eligible for the International Person of the Year Award.

Since the Woman of the Year, Rachel Notley, is a Canadian, Notley is also the ProgMid International Person of the Year for 2015.

Group of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

The Group of the Year Award is the only ProgMid Award that is required to be awarded to a group of people.

In response to racism, police brutality, and police shootings of black people in America, the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of progressive activists seeking reform of the criminal justice system and increased accountability of law enforcement in America, has brought the issues of criminal justice reform and law enforcement accountability to the forefront of American politics. Black Lives Matter is the ProgMid Group of the Year for 2015.

Athlete of the Year – Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Professional athletes and individuals primarily known for being amateur athletes (including, but not limited to, collegiate athletes and amateur Olympic athletes) are eligible for the Athlete of the Year Award.

Although one would usually not think of a NASCAR driver as advancing a progressive cause, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. played an important role in building public support for taking down the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When asked about his thoughts about the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. called the Confederate flag “offensive to an entire race” and said that the Confederate flag “belongs in the history books, and that’s about it”. For his condemnation of the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2015.

Blogger of the Year – Kelly Wilz

Those who are an administrator of, editor of, author of, and/or contributor to a blog are eligible for the Blogger of the Year Award.

One of the newest members of the progressive blogosphere is Kelly Wilz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County. Wilz is also the author of the progressive political blog Dissent and Cookies, which launched in May of 2015. As a blogger, Wilz has primarily focused on ending rape culture in America and supporting tenure protections for college professors, both of which are very important causes. Wilz is the 2015 ProgMid Blogger of the Year.

Activists of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

Those who are largely or primarily known for being a political activist are eligible for the Activist of the Year Award.

Since the Group of the Year, the Black Lives Matter movement, is a group of political activists, members of the Black Lives Matter movement are also the 2015 ProgMid Activists of the Year.

Elected Official of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Those who were a public official elected either directly by the people or elected by a body elected by the people (such as the U.S. Electoral College) at any point in the year in which the award is given are eligible for the Elected Official of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an incumbent elected official, Bernie is also the 2015 ProgMid Elected Official of the Year.

Entertainer of the Year – Jon Stewart

Those who are entertainers (actors/actresses, comedians/comediennes, musicians, sports announcers, radio show hosts, television show hosts, etc.) are eligible for the Entertainer of the Year Award.

While Jon Stewart left the anchor desk of the Comedy Central news satire program The Daily Show in August of this year, Stewart has not abandoned the first responders who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Stewart passionately advocated for, and won, renewal of federally-funded health care for 9/11 first responders. Stewart is the 2015 ProgMid Entertainer of the Year.

Young Person of the Year – Keanan Sargent

In order to be eligible for the Young Person of the Year Award, one must be less than 18 years of age on December 31 of the year in which the award is given.

At an August 2015 LGBT pride parade and rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Keanan Sargent, the then-nine-year-old son of Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent, did something incredibly creative when confronted by homophobia. Keanan used balloons to obscure a sign that anti-LGBT protesters were displaying at the pride parade and rally. For his creativity and progressive values, Keanan Sargent is the 2015 ProgMid Young Person of the Year.

Hillary donors claim that Bernie is raising more money than Hillary

Well, this is interesting, to put it mildly…many of Hillary Clinton’s campaign donors expect Bernie Sanders to raise more money than her when the next round of federal campaign finance reports are filed next month, according to this POLITICO report:

Hillary Clinton’s donors say they think Bernie Sanders will raise more money in the fourth quarter than their candidate for the first time ever — a testament to the underdog’s online cash juggernaut and a harbinger of donor fatigue among the front-runner’s backers.

[…]

…Over the past few days, Clinton’s advisers have taken steps to stoke donor enthusiasm: Bill and Chelsea Clinton, who on Monday announced she is pregnant with her second child, have stepped up their fundraising for the campaign. They are expected to become even more involved in the campaign beginning in January.

And many of the donors POLITICO has interviewed over the last few months say the widespread perception that’s she’s a shoo-in is prompting would-be donors to remain on the sidelines — waiting to throw their financial support behind her for the only race they believe truly matters — the general election.

It’s also worth noting that the Bernie fundraising strategy of relying virtually entirely on small donors has one big advantage: Bernie can get many of the same small donors to donate to his campaign over and over again. This stands in contrast to the Hillary fundraising strategy, as many of Hillary’s big-money donors have already donated the maximum amount of money that one can legally donate to a federal campaign committee.

Wisconsin Republican state legislator calls for gun owners to carry out vigilante executions

Wisconsin State Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger) issued a press release calling for state legislators to pass legislation designed to put guns in the hands of drunk Wisconsin college students.

If you think that’s irresponsible, what’s even more irresponsible is Gannon’s remarks calling for concealed-carry permit holders to shoot and kill alleged criminals:

Wisconsin does not have a death penalty law, but with significant practice and careful aim, law abiding citizens can help clean our society of these scum bags. Criminals no longer have any fear of our courts or our prisons, so it’s time that the citizens of this fine state stand up and fight back. A gang banger in the mall with a gun is going to think twice if there could be a law abiding CCW holder standing behind them fully prepared to shoot center mass, as this is how you’re trained to eliminate the threat these creeps pose to you, your family, and all law abiding citizens unwillingly dragged into their public crime spree.

If Republicans like Bob Gannon get their way, Wisconsin will become a state full of George Zimmerman-like gun-toting stalkers hunting and killing people, especially minorities and women. That’s downright barbaric.

Obama Administration now trying to sabotage Bernie Sanders campaign

I’ve made no bones about how much I’ve come to despise the Obama Administration. In particular, President Obama has tried to cut Social Security benefits to retirees, and he’s fought to destroy American sovereignty by enacting free trade agreements that allow foreign countries to steal our jobs.

Now, the Obama Administration has really gone too far by blocking internet access to the official Bernie Sanders campaign website on military computers. This has been confirmed by multiple members of the U.S. Armed Forces and a group representing pro-Bernie veterans. For the Obama White House to block the campaign website of a presidential candidate on military computers is highly undemocratic and an impeachable offense for President Obama and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. I am calling for President Obama to issue an executive order requiring the Defense Department to allow access to all presidential and downballot campaign websites on military computers. Individual members of our Armed Forces can support any presidential candidate they want, but I will not tolerate political sabotage of any kind.

Interestingly, active-duty Armed Forces members can access the Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R) campaign websites just fine. I think we know who Obama is backing…

Why the Bernie Sanders campaign probably has a solid case against the DNC

Although I am not an attorney, having read the lawsuit filed by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over the ongoing voter list controversy, it’s pretty clear to me that the DNC and their voter list vendor did not follow proper procedure for dealing with the breach of the DNC master voter list.

Paragraph 13 of the lawsuit (pages 3-4) quotes part of the agreement that the Bernie campaign signed with the voter list vendor:

In view of the national political importance of the Campaign — and by extension, the importance of the Voter Data and the Agreement — the Agreement substantially restricts both Parties’ rights of termination to cases of prolonged and voluntary breach. The Agreement states, in relevant part:

Either party may terminate this Agreement in the event that the other party breaches this Agreement; the non-breaching party sends written notice to the breaching party describing the breach, and the breaching party does not cure the breach to the satisfaction of the non-breaching party within ten (10) calendar days following its receipt of such notice.

That is a very important part of the Bernie campaign’s argument, since this is clearly a contract law case.

Paragraph 14 (page 4) describes how what was outlined in Paragraph 13 is the only legal method of stripping the Bernie campaign of access to the voter list:

The Agreement does not permit either Party to suspend its performance of the Agreement prior to terminating the Agreement in accordance with the provision above.

In other words, the only way that the DNC and their vendor can legally deny Bernie access to the voter files is through the ten-day process described in Paragraph 13.

Paragraphs 20-22 (page 5) describes the glitch in the voter list database that allowed the breach to take place:

On the morning of December 16, 2015, NGP VAN released a modification (the “Release”) to the software that the Campaign and other candidates use to access Voter Data.

This Release contained a critical security flaw (the “Bug”) that allowed the Campaign and other presidential candidates to view Confidential Information disclosed by competing campaigns.

The Bug was resolved within approximately four hours, by the afternoon of December 16, 2015.

Paragraph 24 (page 6) outlines the Bernie campaign’s role as the breaching party:

Before the Bug could be resolved, several staff members of the Campaign accessed and viewed Confidential Information (the “Disclosed Information”) disclosed to the DNC by the 2016 campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (the “Competing Campaign”).

Paragraph 27 (page 6) describes the DNC’s violation of the contract between the vendor and the Bernie campaign:

On December 17, 2015, at approximately 2:47 p.m., the DNC suspended or terminated the Campaign’s Voter Data access. The suspension or termination of the Campaign’s access was undertaken without contractual cause, and in contravention of the Agreement’s termination protocols.

To put that another way, the DNC suspended the Bernie campaign’s access to the master voter list only one day after the breach occurred, and without following the ten-day process for terminating the contract outlined in the contract between the Bernie campaign and the voter list vendor. I’m not an attorney, but this looks like a solid case for the Bernie campaign.