The Congress are here to spread holiday cheer at The Camel. Support to be announced soon.
Saturday December 21st
Doors at 8, Show at 9
$15 ADV, $20 DOS
“We follow the law as this body has defined,” DeVos claims – despite having tossed out hundreds of discrimination complaints without investigating them.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in hot water after being grilled on Wednesday for her budget that totally eliminates funding for the Special Olympics. But there’s another issue that was yet another point of controversy for the far right wing billionaire member of President Trump’s cabinet.
“Do you think it’s all right for a school to discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity?” U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) asked the Education Secretary, as The Hill and Vox’s Aaron Rupar reported. Pocan happens to be gay.
A nervous DeVos seemed to squirm as she paused, struggling to find the words to deliver an answer to the “yes” or “no” question.
“We have laws that cover discriminatory efforts and our office for civil rights has continued to be very diligent in investigating any allegation of discrimination and will continue to do so,” she claimed, falsely, with intermittent nervous smiles.
“So is that a yes or is that a no?” Rep. Pocan again asked. “I’m trying to get a yes or no, I guess, on that.”
“We follow the law as this body has defined,” DeVos replied.
.@repmarkpocan: Do you think it's alright for a school to discriminate based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity?— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 26, 2019
DeVOS: We have laws that cover discriminatory efforts.
POCAN: … is that a yes or no?
DeVOS: We follow the law. pic.twitter.com/z5ubS0zvt7
In fact, under Secretary DeVos, the Dept. of Education slammed the covers shut on hundreds of anti-LGBTQ – especially anti-transgender – cases, without actually or fully investigating.
“The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has begun dismissing hundreds of civil rights complaints under a new protocol that allows investigators to disregard cases that are part of serial filings or that they consider burdensome to the office,” The New York Times reported last April.
Also under DeVos, the Dept. of Education has reversed, rescinded, or gutted guidance and directives that protect the civil rights of transgender students, minority students including students of color, and students with special needs. She has also changed guidance to protect students accused of rape or sexual misconduct.
Written by David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement. Photo via NCRM
Congressman Donald McEachin and House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer toured Shockoe Antelier (Shockoe) in Richmond earlier today. The visit, part of Hoyer’s Make it in America tour, has been focusing on job creation, entrepreneurship, and how government can help grow and support small businesses: which makes Shockoe Atelier a great local establishment for a fact-finding mission. One of Richmond’s premier establishments for denim couture, the business has a back-story that is uniquely American, being founded by immigrants from Romania and France.
Shockoe is a unique spot for fashion in the River City, as their denim is handmade in a workshop attached to their showroom. Touring the workshop floor, the Congressmen eagerly listened to stories from owners Anthony, Pierre, and Brigitte Lupesco along with their operations director, Robert Nolley. Along with chatting to workshop employees, the Congressmen took in Shockoe’s process, learning how their denim is sourced, supply chain issues, and how their business has grown in the 21st Century economy.
Sitting down for a roundtable after the tour, the Congressmen congratulated Shockoe on their success. McEachin opened the roundtable by saying it was time Congress did some nation building at home, and that “we need to create more well paying jobs that grow the Middle Class.” He also said that policymakers needed to create economic conditions that allowed companies like Shockoe to be competitive and thrive.
“American small businesses can out-compete anyone in the world, they just need a level playing field,” said McEachin, before saying that Congress has missed opportunities to help small businesses gain access to capitol. “I believe we can change that in the next congress, that’s why we’re here. We want to hear the challenges you are facing…and take those insights across the country.”
Hoyer who was in town stumping for 7th District Democratic Candidate for Congress, Abigail Spanberger, spoke next after an introduction from McEachin. Observing the minimalist and stylish interior of Shockoe, Hoyer noted that it was refreshing to be in a place that wasn’t overly pretentious.
“Normally, I come into these fancy buildings and everything is brand new, but that is not how 90 percent of businesses start,” going on to say, “what you’ve done is taken an old place, and made it vibrant and new.”
He was quick to articulate that the U.S. needs to make sure jobs are available to make quality American goods that people around the world want to buy.
“We’re five percent of the world’s market, but 95 percent of the market is outside our borders,” he said. Addressing this challenge, he said his Make it in America agenda focuses on three interdependent issues: skills training, entrepreneurship, and infrastructure, and that the name of this program was a play on words; moving away from the old idiom “made in America,” as a way to better reflect the goals of small businesses succeeding in 2018.
Given the immigration story of Shockoe, Hoyer spoke extensively about the immigration experience in the U.S. and how it has always been a positive force in the American economy. Referencing The New Colossus poem on the Statue of Liberty — which reads — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” — Hoyer said, “She was dead flat wrong. We didn’t get the wretched refuse, we got some of the most entrepreneurial, courageous, risk taking, and ambitious people in the world.” Looking at Pierre and Brigitte, he said, “You two are two of those people.”
“I love your slogan, made in America by immigrants.”
Asked “Why denim?” by McEachin, Anthony said it was about legacy and taking his parent’s legacy and making it American.
“There is not much more of an iconic American product than a pair of jeans,” he said. Building on this, Brigitte pointed out that moving to the U.S. gave their family more options than staying in her native France, where the opportunities to engage in fashion design were predicated exclusively on who you knew (as opposed to the quality of your product).
As the roundtable ended, both Congressmen were interested to learn that the majority of their business was done online, with Shockoe’s primary fashion markets being located in places like New York, Los Angeles, U.K. and Europe.
“We got a lot of support from the Richmond community,” said Anthony, when Hoyer asked about how they connected to capitol to grow their brand. “We don’t have a fabric source in the U.S. anymore,” he said, highlighting that their main supplier went out of business. “So all of our fabric is imported from Italy or Japan.”
Acknowledging these challenges, especially with finding quality denims, Anthony said there is a still a fair amount of boot-strapping with a scrappy fashion brand like theirs — which is precisely why the House Democratic Whip and Congressman McEachin showed up at their shop in the River City this morning.
Yesterday’s testimony by Professor Christine Blasey Ford about being sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was a testimony to the bravery and courage of survivors everywhere. A sympathetic, articulate, and well spoken individual, Ford highlighted the deep trauma and pain that victims of sexual assault bear everyday.
Alternately, Kavanaugh and the Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee demonstrated a complete lack of empathy for women who have experienced sexual assault. And according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), there are 321,500 victims of rape and sexual assault in the US each year – one every 98 seconds.
Despite the cold reception she received, one of the unintended consequences of Ford’s testimony yesterday was the empowerment of women to come forward with their stories and reports of sexual assault. As millions of women listened to Ford detail her experiences, then listened to Kavanaugh and the all male Republican squad gnash their teeth, wail, and defend allegations of sexual assault, women started calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline in record numbers to detail their own experiences.
Time Magazine has reported that the hotline saw a 147 percent increase in calls yesterday, “compared to a normal workday.” The obvious correlation? The testimony of Ford. RAINN asserts that when sexual assault is in the news-cycle, there is always a concomitant spike in reports. However, yesterday’s numbers exist outside of anything which might be deemed normative; more so, given the fierce defense of Kavanaugh that took place on the Senate floor.
There are now three allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against Kavanaugh, the last being alleged by Julie Swetnick, who claims that the judge and his friends would get women drunk so they could be “gang raped.” The Senate Judicial Committee has announced that it will vote today on the fate of Kavanaugh, in what has been one of the most politically outrageous episodes of our hyper-partisan times.
*RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at: 800.656.HOPE (4673)
While Virginia had its own political controversy with the mysterious cryptozoological phenomenon earlier this summer with the great Bigfoot Erotica scandal of 2018, peak Bigfoot has now been achieved in the contest for Minnesota’s 3rd District. Apparently all that was needed for the creature to reveal its existence to the world was the ongoing political climate. The ad, released by Democratic challenger, Dean Phillips, uses the North American Yeti to make the point that his challenger, incumbent Republican Erik Paulson, is more elusive and harder to find than Bigfoot himself.
The ad starts with Bigfoot wondering out loud: “I thought I was good at hiding,” before saying “Then Erik Paulson comes along.” The arc of the story only grows more ironically hilarious from there as Bigfoot opines: “How can you have tens of thousands of people looking for you all the time, and not one of them find you. I started to wonder, does Erik Paulson even exist?” From there Bigfoot sets out on a quest to find the Republican Congressman, armed with nothing more than a classic Ford T-Bird, a roller cooler, and an old school VHS video camera. Narrating the video in first person, Bigfoot tells the viewers his plan, “Paulsen takes piles of money from big pharma and votes to erode essential healthcare protections. So the most likely place to find him is at a big pharmaceutical company.” Staking out the lobby of one such company, Bigfoot eventually finds his man, telling the audience that he was prepared to stay there for weeks, but that “it took seven minutes,” before coyly smiling at the camera.
The ad has already been viewed 48, 358 times on YouTube and an additional 144,000 on Phillips’ Facebook page and has been widely lauded in marketing and advertising news, and even more conservative publications like Forbes, who called it, “fantastic”. According to Ad Week the campaign video was made on something of an ad-hoc basis with volunteers from the campaign and various agencies pitching in creative direction. There is no doubt that this campaign ad will be remembered as one of the greats, and in an age of visceral attack ads that are often deeply personal; this combination of film making, thematics, and irony was an interesting reimagining of how attack politics can be done in a way that is light-hearted and contemporary.
President Trump never misses an opportunity to thrash, tarnish, and slander previous administrations, so it is no surprise that earlier today his vice president, Mike Pence, stood somberly in front of an American flag and said these words: “While to often previous administrations all but neglected the growing security threats emerging in space, President Trump stated clearly and forcefully that space is, in his own words, ‘a warfighting domain'”. Cue the confetti lined parade on 5th Avenue, the thousands of space fighters with laser guns standing in review, and the legions of spacecraft ready for deployment into the great unknown.
Space Force. That is now a thing and a phrase in our lexicon. Despite the absurdity of it all, Pence announced that Space Force will be established by star-date 2020 in a speech to the Pentagon. And just to double down on the need for said Space Force, apparently China and Russia will be our main galactic enemies, even though we currently work with them on all International Space Station related projects. So much so, that we launch our own astronauts into space via Russia’s space agency (pesky details).
According to constitutional law, however, only Congress can establish a new branch of the military. So with midterms looming it is yet unclear if the establishment of Space Force will become a platform that both Democrats and Republicans run on or against. The last time Congress established a new branch of the armed forces was in 1940 with the creation of the Air Force. In his press conference, Pence also said, “Today the Department of Defense will release a report outlining the first stages of our administration’s plan to implement the President’s guidance and turn his vision into a reality,” and that the report, “identifies concrete steps that our administration will take to lay the foundation for a new Department of the Space Force.”
CNN has reported that the new Space Force will fall under the purview of the US Space Command. Pence cited the threat from Russia and China more than once and alluded to the fact that both countries are developing technologies to target US satellites. Namely laser beams and hypersonic missiles to launch attacks in space from here on planet Earth (a place the VP should return to).
This statement by Pence sums up everything we need to know about Space Force, “What was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial. Today other nations are seeking to disrupt our space based systems and challenge American supremacy in space as never before.”
It would appear that the vast and infinite emptiness of space has become crowded; or the US has just ran out of countries to invade. Welcome to the age of Space Force.