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Archive for November, 2006

30%

According to the Department of Justice, 30% of all female murder victims are killed by an “intimate”. 18.4% are murdered by their husbands, with another 10.3 killed by a boyfriend. In an average year, there are 17,000 murders in the united States, which shakes out to roughly 4,879 women killed every year by domestic violence.

Think about that number. That’s a 9/11 every year. The world changes forever when that many people are killed in a day. When we lose that many in a year, we shrug and go on with our lives as though nothing happened at all.

Perhaps it’s a symptom of some personality defect of mine. Don’t worry— There are plenty more where this one comes from. Unless it’s a Laci Peterson or an Ashley Scott, some beautiful, smiling murder victim that gnaws at your consciousness, it’s all too easy to overlook the thousands of victims every year that remain nameless and faceless.

Then again, judging by media reactions, I don’t think I’m the only one with this particular personality defect. If Ashley Scott wasn’t attractive, the story would have been dead after her husband’s arraignment. And how many women in our own city died from domestic abuse, forgotten, while Laci Peterson’s smiling face is still a part of our consciousness? Even if someone does what I did— Try like hell to avoid any and all news coverage of the Peterson case— Who among us wouldn’t recognize that head shot of her that ran in at least one media outlet a day for a year and a half straight?

We focus on these cases, singled out from the myriad of others, because they carry tremendous shock value. Who among us hasn’t looked at a picture of Ashley Scott and thought “Who could hurt her?”

There are a lot of organizations out there with the goal of helping women escape their abusers. They deserve not only our admiration, but our support. They deserve it all the time— Not just when there’s a pretty face on the graphic superimposed behind the news anchor.

Follow this link. It takes you to a partial list (Partial only because many shelters for battered women do not give out the addresses of the shelters themselves— A wise move) of shelters of all kinds. Some, such as Sophia’s House, specialize in sheltering women that are fleeing abuse. Others focus on helping other homeless people, and they too are worthy causes.

Plan on one extra Christmas gift this year. Make a donation to one of these places. Ladies, you can help in a way we men can’t— If you have any clothing you’re not wearing anymore, they can put it to good use— Many women go there with nothing but what’s on their backs.

There will never be an end to domestic violence. But we owe it to the women in our community and the children they raise to help organizations that provide the victims of it with an escape route.

UPDATE:

My good friend Sarah mentioned some other ways to help out. This is what she wrote:

Well put, Fredonian. In addition to money and clothes, most of these shelters need bed sheets, toiletries, toilet paper, towels: things that many of us throw out un-used or donate to Goodwill each year.

People can also help by donating unwanted cell phones to one of the many national programs that refurbishes these phones and provides them to women trying to get out of an abusive situation. A cell phone with no service provider will still call 911. There are many good programs that do this, but I know that The Body Shop has a strong program.

http://www.thebodyshop.com/bodyshop/global/content.jsp?page=cellphone

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RIP, Dave Cockrum


I figure everyone else has done a comic-themed post… Why not?

I just wish mine was under happier circumstances.

If you’ve seen any of the X-Men movies, you’ve enjoyed his work without knowing it. In 1975, Dave Cockrum, along with writer Len Wein, revived and reinvented a failed Marvel Comics franchise from the 1960’s called “X-Men”. In doing so, he created a handful of characters that live on today in comic books and movies. Without his work, there might have been no Mystique, no Storm, no Nightcrawler, and no Colossus as featured in the recent X-Men trilogy.

He passed away after a long illness earlier today at age 63… Wearing a pair of Superman pajamas. A family friend told CNN that he made it clear that he wishes to be cremated while wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt.

The best quote from the article about his death on CNN:

Cockrum received no movie royalties, said family friend Clifford Meth, who organized efforts to help Cockrum and his family during his protracted medical care.

“Dave saw the movie and he cried — not because he was bitter,” Meth said. “He cried because his characters were on screen and they were living.”

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The Wal-Martyrs

This holiday season, it’s important thatwe all do our part to strengthen American society by not supporting organizations that seem hellbent on destroying it—

Like Wal-Mart, the corporate giant that made $121.8 billion in profit last year, yet manages to pay employees so little and provide so little in the way of benefits that new hires are routinely coached on the ins and outs of applying for public assistance.

Remember the Tenncare cuts of 2005? That same year, Tennesseans paid over $44 million to cover the healthcare costs of 10,000 Wal-Mart employees and their 3,000 dependants— Nearly a quarter of their Tennessee workforce of 41,000.

Sadly, that percentage of Wal-Mart employees not covered by their plans at work is actually relatively low— Nationally, 46% of Wal-Mart employees aren’t covered by the company plan, which provides spartan benefits for high premiums.

Don’t even try to say that a company cannot be a responsible corporate citizen and manage to come out ahead— CostCo manages to cover 80% of employees with a comprehensive health plan that employees can afford to pay the premiums on. Surely, Wal-Mart can manage to use the same purchasing clout they use with Chinese manufacturers, can they not?

And the worst part— We subsidize it. The first thing that happens when Wal-Mart is looking to open a new store is they shop around for a massive tax abatement. Politicians eager to say “I brought 300 new jobs to town” sign on all too readily without ever taking note of how much those jobs actually cost the community. All too often, there’s a wake of businesses closing whenever a new Wal-Mart opens, so the job “gains” are a break even at best— Worse when one considers that the jobs disappearing with those businesses typically pay a better wage and carry benefit plans that aren’t covered by taxpayers.

The problems they create carry into the future as well. A store manager asked a question on “Lee’s Garage”, a news site maintained by CEO Lee Scott, about retirement plans. Scott told him that if he wanted a company that would put money into a retirement plan, he should “look for another company where you can do those things“.

And all of this is without even examining Wal-Mart’s role in the sheer devastation of the manufacturing sector in this nation.

Corporate responsibility needs to be one of the priorities of the new Congress preparing to take office. When it’s handled on a municipal or county level, Wal-Mart simply moves down the street to unincorporated areas and operates the same way. Handle it on a state level, and the company will simply close operations and move to a state more desperate and less willing to read the fine print.

It needs to be handled on a federal level, because there should be no place for Wal-Mart to retreat to.

But for now, the answer is even easier— Just shop someplace else.

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Thanksgiving in LA

No, not that LA. This past Thanksgiving’s weekend I got to visit the great State of Louisiana for the first time. The entire four days were a total immersion crash course in Creole-Cajun culture – but one that is only available to those brave enough to venture into the dark foggy back roads of Louisiana.

I cannot even begin to describe all the things I saw and experienced there, so I narrowed it down to my top 3 favorite moments on this trip:

1. THE ALL-IN- ONE GAS STATION

There is nothing like multitasking on your lunch break. In this place, you can fill-up, get a hot meal from the daily buffet, and your hunting license while at it. Although you cannot tell from the picture, this place is way more than a passing by gas station.

OH – way more.

This place has built-in casino inside, and the convenience store comfortably stocks all the liquor and beer you may ever need. The booze is readily available right next to machete-size knives, fishing baits, hunting paraphernalia and dead baby alligator heads.

Food, booze, hunting, and gambling – all-in-one! Add a small chapel to this compound (Can’t leave Jesus out of this one) and you have the perfect destination vacation for Cheney loving Republicans.

2. The Bayou – By you: THE DRIVE-THRU DAIQUIRI SHOPS

These little shops are everywhere, so they quickly became my favorite native feature (imagine that…) on this trip. Actually, we went thru one that was located next to what it seemed like the remains of a now defunct campaign headquarters. The candidate that occupied said location was a Republican woman running for Mayor. She lost.

Needless to say, upon getting our taste of Louisiana’s finest , we wondered what would have happened if Cohen’s headquarters had been located next to one of these, instead of a TCBY… I will reserve my own speculations about this scenario, as we failed to reach a collective conclusion on whether this would have been, in fact, a good idea or not.

That conversation, however, killed about two hours of our endless road trip, and we came out with some interesting ideas of what we could have actually done if we had had one of these lovely establishments within walking or driving distance from the HQ. As you see in the pictures below, these drive-thru bars have quite a varied “menu” -my favorite item being the DWI. Want a tequila shot with that?

Had we had one of those around during this past election time, we would’ve added a couple of victory specials to honor the defeated in the 9th Congressional battle, such as the “SAL” – Sore Ass Loser in (dis)honor of Jake Ford, or the “Miami Vice” – for Harold Sr. We could have displaced Beale Street Wet Willie’s world famous “Call-a-Cab” for a “Call-me-Harold.” I am pretty sure that Isaac and T-bag could have benefited from the “Attitude Adjustment” listed above. What about a “Dirty Bribe” for John? The possibilities, as you can imagine, could have been endless.

I had a great time in this state, and I am looking forward to my next visit down there. Sadly, I realize now that no matter where I go, the Fords are still with me. And there is always something there to remind you…

3. THE LSU DEER:

First they shoot you. Then they mount you. Then they humiliate you. Talking about death with indignity!!

(Note to self: Don’t fuck with the locals).

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Sick, sick bastards.

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Feeling Drafty?

New York Congressman Charles Rangel has revived discussion of a military draft.

“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” he said.

As happens so often, a congressman has the right idea for the wrong reason. Congressmen will still find a way to “work the system” and keep their kids out of Iraq. The real reason to support a draft is a simple one.

Right now, the decision between war and peace is one that only roughly one million families have a personal stake in. For the rest, war is an abstract notion that might affect their lives in one way or another, but they will not lose a family member because of it.

Establish a military draft, or better yet, establish mandatory military service based on the model used in Israel, and peace becomes a priority at every dinner table in America.

The best part of it is that Americans will be forced to become better educated on foreign policy than they are now. There are people out there that think we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There are people out there that believe there were operational ties between Saddam Hussein, a despot that killed religious extremists, and the religious extremists of al Qaeda.

When every American family has a personal stake in the defense of this nation, people will demand accountability in our defense doctrine, something that hasn’t happened since the draft was abolished in the first place. Who knows how long Vietnam might have continued had the American people not mobilized against the war?

It all leads to one thing that the White House does not want— A personal stake in war and peace leads to a nation that is much more selective in whether or not they’ll go to war. Risking the neighbor’s son is one thing— Risking your own is another altogether. And there would be a steep political price to pay for recklessly chosen wars that put America’s sons in harm’s way.

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To All of Those Who Helped and Voted:

I would like to extend my greatest thanks to all of those in the 9th Congressional District that helped out and VOTED on E-Day. The Cohen Campaign was about a positive change for Memphis. That campaigns can be won on the grassroots level, though community involvement and volunteer recruitment.

Building “Leaders” in our campaign out of volunteers was one of my main priorities. I always believed that if you had a strong and positive message and made it about the voter and not about your “name” that people would want to be a part of your campaign, because they are motivated. The Cohen Campaign was the first of its kind in Memphis and I feel so lucky to have had a role in that.

People of the 9th District were ready for change. Things in our Country have been on the wrong path for so long, that the voters are ready for real leadership in their government. We saw this across the Country on November 7!!! Now is the time to govern and to govern well. I believe that it will take time, yet, if the voters keep their Elected Officials accountable, then this Democracy will be better for it.

So, once again, I say thank you to those who helped out on the campaign and to those who showed up at the polls. To those who were unable to vote, either because they were not of age, did not live in the district or were not yet a citizen, you turned out people to be your voice. Thank you. To those who came in the heat, the rain, and the cold to knock on doors, so that we could make it about the voter, I say thank you. To those who held people accountable when they were not speaking the truth about Congressman-Elect Cohen, I say thank you. And to every person who exercised his or her voice on Election Day, no matter who you voted for, I say THANK YOU!

Sincerely,

Liz Rincon
Field Director
Congressman-Elect Cohen (TN-9)

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