On What Happens When It Doesn't Matter

It's hard to believe now, but there was a time in 2003 when the Democratic Texas house, cowering in their minority, found themselves voting on a resolution - HCR 75, whose sole purpose was "Memorializing the U.S. Congress to support President Bush's policies of war on terrorism, homeland security, and disarmament action against Iraq." The Texas Legislature passed the resolution overwhelmingly, with only three Democrats voting against it: Lon Burnam (Ft. Worth), Paul Moreno (El Paso) and Eddie Rodriguez (Austin).

It could be -- and has been said -- that this resolution didn't matter. It was a showcase resolution, made to become a political weapon for another, bloodless war -- the upcoming campaign season. Good Democrats with a working knowledge of the military, like Rick Noriega, who could have taken a stand for or against Bush's war policies, abstained from voting in an effort to avoid sullying their political strategies. Because, if you asked most people, it didn't matter anyway. We were at war.

It didn't matter -- no amount of posturing on a Texas House resolution would bring home the troops, or stop the bleeding of our forces' endless occupation. The only brigades that these votes affected directly were the Democratic foot soldiers of the Texas House, their Republican opponents unable to hit them with anti-war flak.

So it is no surprise it was quickly forgotten -- forgotten by the very people who, after casting their votes in 2003, now proudly puff their chests against George Bush and his policies of war on terrorism and homeland security.

A new resolution was quietly introduced in early January, in the US House by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). The resolution, HR 104, seeks to establish a national commission "comprised of experts outside government service to investigate the broad range of policies of the Bush administration that were undertaken by the Bush administration under claims of unreviewable war powers." With a relatively low budget of $3 million, it will allow the commission to have the subpoena powers necessary to investigate issues ranging from detainee treatment to waterboarding to extraordinary rendition.

As the resolution awaits its fate, likely doomed to be set aside for seemingly more important issues, one wonders whether its presence even matters. And I'm reminded of a quote I read in my research on Texas's HCR 75. Leo Berman, a Republican from Tyler, rejected Lon Burnam's amendment to HCR 75 stating that the war was "illegal," Berman saying that it was merely Burnam's opinion. Burnam retorted "Actually, it's the personal opinion of a majority of people in the world. They just don't happen to be in the Texas House of Representatives."

If there's anything we've learned over the last eight years, it's that it does matter. If you're a voter, you've either learned or had reinforced that your vote matters -- and even more, your involvement after that vote. Saddam Hussein has found that a bluff matters. Corporations have discovered that regulations matter, and banks have found that their own fiscal responsibility matters. Texas Democrats and Republicans alike will forever have a resolution supporting Bush's war on terror. They have memorialized a policy of torture and waterboarding and as-yet investigated war crimes. And so to my politicians -- local, state, and national -- I make this reminder: The next time you think it doesn't matter, please remember that it does.

To sign the CREDO petition urging the US House to pass the resolution, click here.

Breaking news from the House!

An alert MR.com received on Wednesday:

House Video/Audio Services has received phone calls about the House Session web-cast on the Texas House of Representatives web site at www.house.state.tx.us/media and the "crackling" noises that can be heard on the audio. Our department is investigating the problem and hope to have it resolved as soon as possible. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

After launching my own independent investigation, I have determined the "crackling" noises to have been caused by one or more of the following interferences:

* Mark Strama's well-earned ego
* Patrick Rose envying Mark Strama's well-earned ego
* Representative Elliott Naishtat's most recent haircut
* Chris Riley bicycling through the Extension
* The Ghost of Tom Craddick
* Karen Brooks' hangover
* An illegal immigrant trying to vote
* Republican lobbyists burning left over Benjamins
* Larry Joe Doherty counting CD10 votes by hand
* A medium-rare steak

As the investigation continues, it's expected that other sources may make themselves apparent.

If Men Could Become Pregnant

(I am participating in a weeklong blog-a-thon on Roe v. Wade on Amplify.com. Crossposted here.)

If men could become pregnant, an abortion would be renamed a gentler term, like "release." This would remind those around them that they're not aborting a life but declining the option to begin one.

Religious men would argue that the Bible's failure to directly address abortions indicates that becoming pregnant is such a personal event, even God himself could not seek to interfere. Psalm 139, when David praises God for letting his life begin in the womb, would no longer only symbolize the sovereignty of life. It would instead remind us that babies are "made in secret (v. 15)," and that a child should be "skillfully wrought (v. 15)," not hastily or unilaterally brought into this world for lack of an alternative.

If men could become pregnant, they would toss change down on the counter for birth control pills when they picked up their six-pack of Heineken. They would have unlimited access to their reproductive health care professionals and no annual insurance limits on how many times they could be seen.

They would be careful with their promises.

They would be driving along with their girlfriend and announce, without a drop of shame, that they had decided to have a release. It would be understood and accepted; likely commonplace and unemotional. There would be no tears or discussion, just a day where they didn't come to work.

Life would begin at the first heartbeat and clenched five-fingered fist.

Some men might choose to carry the baby, deciding that a release wasn't necessary. Some might decide that they aren't financially stable enough. Some might feel the mother of the child wasn't the one they wanted to raise children with. But if men could become pregnant, they would all agree on one common concept: There would be a choice.


Point of reference: My friend Chrisy received a friend request on Facebook from "Someone," who, at the time, had a "NOBAMA" picture as his profile picture. He said he was requesting her because they'd met at her sister's wedding. The rest, as they say, is Facebook history. Note that since Chrisy's first response, his picture has changed.

Between Someone and Mean Rachel's Friend Chrisy

January 21 at 12:21am
I refuse to accept any friend that is not open and welcoming to our new president.
January 21 at 1:20am
Wow, I'm sorry to hear that. It's a shame that your priorities are that so far out of whack that you'd refuse my friendship, a man you've actually met before, in deference to a man you've never met and will never know. And what about that whole freedom of speech thing? Tolerance?

I tolerate Obama, but I refuse to support his policies. If that is your litmus test for a friend, then I don't want your friendship. That's completely bonkers.
January 21 at 7:17pm
Priorities? Really? So, what you are saying is that having 'faux' facebook friends is more important to you than the recent inauguration. You are just as entitled to speak your opinion as I am to decline your friend request. And by 'actually met before', you mean maybe shook my hand 5 years ago at my sister and her now ex-husbands wedding? Interesting. Don't recall. My suggestion to you: Get off facebook. Make some real friends. And learn a thing or two about patriotism. Good luck rackin' up those 'faux' facebook friends. And for the record, President Obama will affect my (and your) life more than this contrived, now dead, facebook friendship ever could. Yes. I. Did.
January 21 at 7:26pm
lol...ok, crazy lady. enjoy your life.

Postcards from the Lege: An Open Letter to State Rep. Elliott Naishtat

A(nother) Open Letter to State Rep. Elliott Naishtar Naishtat,

Thank you for the postcard from Big Bend. It truly captured the spirit of your surroundings -- an abandoned toilet, a mesquite tree and an old house called the Green Pea. I received it nearly a month after it was sent, thanks in no small part to your somewhat illegible handwriting causing it to be routed to Shelly St.; Pittsburgh, PA; 15203 on accident.

Perhaps you've not heard of what the youngsters these days are calling "e-mail." This ensures a speedier delivery and, thus, a much more satisfied constituent. You can even send a someecards.com card if you're feeling sassy! My current personal favorite is below.

Nevertheless, I'll still proudly display this postcard from My Representative next to your 2009 calendar hanging in my kitchen.

Yours in constituency,


My One Remaining Question

If Clinton's transition staff pulled all of the W's off of the keyboards in 2001, did Bush's staff remove all of the H,O,P and E's?
Welcome President Barack Obama and the rest of the Obama family!

Final Thoughts To a Man Who Never Listened

With nearly morbid delight, for the last three years I have credited my blog to George W. Bush. Started just after Hurricane Katrina, my August 2005 entries were ones that mainly complained about the 1st Cavalry Division (minus the ones otherwise occupied in an occupied country) being deployed to New Orleans to patrol the streets in a clear violation of posse comitatus. I had special interests that were fully disclosed -- my boyfriend at the time was an officer in the Army who spent two weeks in New Orleans driving around in Humvee's with a gun, sleeping in a warehouse on the edge of a bloated Mississippi River -- but it took those special interests to cause George Bush's trouncing of the Constitution to suddenly and directly affect me. I've since pulled down most of my early blog entries. Aside from being poorly written, they were whining and self-serving tirades that no one but me ever read anyway.

As I wait for Bush to leave office, I've found myself thinking about how if it hadn't been for our President -- and my complete anger with him -- not only would I have never started my blog, but I likely never would have kept writing it. As I continued to be frustrated with the war in Iraq, ashamed of the US's treatment of Iraqis and Muslims, and subsequently disenchanted with my ex-boyfriend's resigned acceptance of the very things he claimed to staunchly disagree with, I found myself writing more frequently and not only writing more, but paying attention more. I found, to invoke Molly Ivins on the eve of a new Presidency, "sustained outrage." My blog entries went from complaining about my personal life to making the case for a better world around me. Now I didn't want to merely blockwalk for candidates -- I wanted them to answer my questions. And while I never felt as though Bush listened, others did.

My coworkers, always curious about my political hobbies -- a bizarre sport, I'll agree -- grilled me on my plans for the Inauguration. One of them said "I'm glad to see Bush go, but really, what has Obama done so far?" I found myself in a moment of Watson-like tharn -- not for lack of material but the inability to verbalize exactly what it is that he has done, before he's even been obligated to do anything.

Bloggers are a strange breed. We spend our days Twittering and writing on Facebook walls. Joining the Obama Dog groups and becoming fans of the Iraqi Shoe Thrower. We write blogs and argue in forums. We check our RSS feeds and set up Google Alerts for ourselves. We track ISPs and recurring page views. We want to be read, but more importantly, we want to be heard. We want issues to change, rights to be given or land to stay unspoiled. Blogs are the No Trespassing Signs staked into the otherwise manicured lawns of the wealthy, reminding those who need reminding that Violators Will Be Prosecuted -- or at the very least, be held accountable.

In Bush's goodbye speech last week, he dedicated a few minutes of airtime to remind us of the horrors of 9/11 and his presidency. He failed to mention that he never listened to the repeated warnings regarding the terrorist threats. He merely blinked and dictated, "As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11. But I never did."

To a man who never listened, it would be hard to hear that not a single American returned to life as it had been before 9/11. We all lost something. We lost our privacy and our dignity. We lost our pride and our patriotism. Some lost their family members, some lost friends, and some lost their lives. But we never lost our voices -- if anything they just got louder.

What I know Obama has done is that in a country screaming to be heard, he listened. When he speaks, he doesn't regurgitate phrases picked from thin air but from the reverberations of the public. He's like staring into a mirror. We can see ourselves in him, because we hear ourselves in him. That's all we really wanted, at the end of the day, among this clamoring call for change. Hearing is a start, but it's time someone began listening. Eight years overdue, give or take.

Front Row of Hope

I got an email yesterday from a photographer, who had come up to me in Denver at Invesco saying that he'd taken my photo and wanted my name. He offered to email me one, so I hastily scribbled down my meanrachel email address.
Apparently the election had taken him all over the place after DNC, so he'd lost my email and only just recently found it.

The photo strikes me as odd because it looks like I'm saying a prayer (I wasn't) and it looks like I'm kind of sad (I wasn't). I was extremely awake mentally, on top of being physically exhausted, and feeling incredibly fortunate.
Thanks to Michael Francis McElroy for sending it. It brings back some of my best memories.

Sharp Knives Well-Done Texas Boggers

For those Texas bloggers, many of whom are my friends and fellow Austinites, I have a message. Some of you attended a dinner at Sullivan's tonight to let John Sharp, potential candidate for the potential Senate race that potentially will start some time in the potential future, buy you dinner in an effort to become popular with those kid bloggers on the Facepage and Tweeter. I have but one thing to tell you all: Shame on you.

I'm sorry, but the day someone offers to buy my support with a steak is the day I know I'm a Republican. What happened to grassroots? What happened to change? You want access to a candidate - I get it. Don't you think you deserve the kind of access that doesn't involve some medium-rare bribe?

How can we truly be progressives if we fall for the same tricks as our Republican counterparts, whose gluttony has led to eight years of no bid contracts and deregulation; Speaker policy biases and massive amounts of pork.

We have spent the last few years raging against this kind of biased favoritism. Suddenly, now that we're nosing forward, it's acceptable to attend a fancy dinner to "learn more about" this candidate? That is equivalent to unravelling the sweater we've been knitting by hand, just because we need the yarn for something else. You cannot, as true progressives, have your steak and eat it too.

Shame on you. And to John Sharp I say this: when you're ready to have a discussion with real bloggers, cut the fat and send an email.