Election Have Consequences

Nel's New Day

Election years between presidential elections are usually pretty ho-hum. Primaries come and go with almost no one caring except for the people who lived in the states where they occur. No longer. The Tea Party obsession with destroying the U.S. government which hit a peak in 2010 makes primary-watching right up there with the World Series and the World Cup. Some pundits may have thought that Rep. Eric Cantor’s loss to an unknown Republican two weeks ago was the high point, but Tuesday’s struggle in Mississippi surpassed that in another GOP crisis.

In early June, incumbent GOP Sen. Thad Cochran failed to get over 50 percent in the Mississippi primary and was forced into a runoff with opponent Tea Partier Chris McDaniel. The night before the runoff, he described his election as “unstoppable,” and then lost by 6,693. Cochran won by 1.8 percent after he asked for help from black, probably Democratic, voters. Mississippi…

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SCOTUS Rewrites Constitution

Nel's New Day

“The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session–U.S. Constitution, Art. II, sec 2, cl. 3

On the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court justices handed down its decision that violent anti-choice protesters can block women from entering women’s clinics, they also ruled—again unanimously—in NLRB v. Noel Canning that the U.S. president’s constitutional rights to make recess appointments should be limited. The case came from President Obama’s recess appointments in 2012 to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after the GOP members of the senate stopped the board from functioning because they didn’t want to accept any of the president’s nominees.

The question of legal appointments arose after a NLRB ruling against Noel Canning because of its unfair labor practices. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with…

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City Blocks Little Free Library

Nel's New Day

I love books. Not the electronic ones. The ones that have covers and paper pages and real ink. Sometimes I’m in the middle of reading five or six books, and there’s always a high stack of them next to my bed. Occasionally, they spill over on the floor as one of the cats walks around them.

That might be why I was so caught up in a recent article from the Eugene (OR) Register Guard about a Little Free Library. I looked at the pictures and said to my partner, “Can you make a waterproof thing to hold books outside.” She never accuses me of being crazy; she just patiently listens.

free library redAll over the country, cute home-build cabinets with doors and shelves filled with books are appearing in front of houses, on street corners, and in other accessible locations. Each one is a Little Free Library for a free exchange…

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Fix Our Country First

Nel's New Day

Thirteen years ago, Bush/Cheney went to Iraq to rescue it from an oppressive dictator that the United States had installed decades earlier. Saddam Hussein may have killed 250,000 Iraqis during his 25-year reign, and the country suffered from U.S. sanctions that may have killed at least 500,000 infants.

When Bush/Cheney invaded Iraq, with no cause, it had several successful export-oriented industries such as leather goods and agricultural products that employed hundreds of thousands in fairly well-paid jobs. It had a resilient electrical, water, and highway infrastructure although sanctions were taking their toll on the infrastructure.

Iraq’s primary and higher educational system was the best in the area, and its government provided the best free health care in the Middle East. In a nation of 27 million people, it had the largest percentage of middle-class employed at three million people. Women enjoyed greater equality than any other Middle East country. And it had…

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LGBT Pride and History Month 2014: Binyavanga Wainaina

Social Justice For All

Binyavanga WainainaToday we honor and celebrate Binyavanga Wainaina. Wainaina lives his life as an out and visible gay man in his home country of Kenya. He has become a greatly celebrated gay rights activist for all of Africa — no small feat given the laws in Uganda and Nigeria criminalizing homosexuality.  Sadly, even members of parliament in Wainaina’s home country of Kenya are now looking at adopting serious anti-gay laws.

Recently, Wainaina was described by Time Magazine “as one of the most influential people of the year.”  The Kenyan writer describes the struggles for LGBT people in Africa:

Africa is going through an amazing time. Both turbulent, terrible but moving. Change is in the air, and I want to be inside those changes.

Wainaina also won the Caine Prize for African Writing. The chapter I am a homosexual, mum from his memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place, is garnering a great…

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Summer Hunger: more than waiting for the ice cream truck


Elleanor Chin

Editor’s note: Today, we welcome Elleanor Chin to the ranks of BlueOregon’s regular contributors. She’s an attorney and activist. Read her bio, and see the links to her earlier guest columns. Welcome, Elleanor!


Public school in Oregon is out for the summer. No more homework, no more worksheets and no more free and reduced price school lunches. Over a quarter million Oregon public school students(approximately half of all students) are eligible for free and reduced price lunches. For many students, this means they do not get enough to eat in the summer. Federal subsidies for feeding hungry children and families include not only free lunch, but free breakfast and backpack programs that provide children with food to take home on weekends and school breaks.


Oregon is a state where both food culture and agriculture play a significant role, but we still have a significant population living in poverty, including 23 percent of children. Despite living in one of the most technologically advanced and wealthy countries in the world, poverty in the United States means food insecurity – the basic inability for all people in a household to have enough food to live an active, healthy life. This includes children living in households with one or more parent working.


Food drives get considerable publicity in the winter months, particularly during the holiday giving season, however, there is still a substantial need in the summer months – as the more fortunate are planting their gardens and going to farmer’s markets. Oregon hunger relief programs have multiple summer feeding sites. In the Portland area that includes school affiliated sites and the Rockwoodbranch of the Multnomah County Public Library.


There are many opportunities to support anti-hunger programs in the summer, including volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank learning gardens, and supporting food banks and other programs by Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. In Portland New Seasons Market is partnering with hunger relief organizations throughout June and July, including Sisters of the Road, which has a work and barter focused program.


However, hunger relief is still not hunger prevention. Consider also the underlying causes of hunger: inadequate wages, unstable employment and high costs of living. Hunger is a secondary effect of poverty and as a society we can make choices at the local, state and national level that reduce child and family poverty. These include mandating wages that do not require a family to choose between eating, rent and transportation. In some parts of the country that can be as high as $22.00 an hour, but it makes an immediate and significant difference. Parents need to not only make living wages, but to be able to keep them, meaning having access to affordable childcare and having the ability to take a paid sick day to care for a child. Creating a society in which working families do not require food assistance should be a basic priority.



Video: June 2014 To The Contrary Appearance

Erin Matson

I appeared as a panelist on a recent episode of To The Contrary, and discussed home births, Pope Francis offering advice to have more children, and the World Bank and advancing progress for women worldwide. You can watch a video of the show here or here:

Also, I recently appeared on the awesome podcast Fortnight on the Internets, run by my hilarious and incisive friends Alison the Business Casual and Alpine McGregor. We discussed online misogyny and #YesAllWomen. You can listen to that here.

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