Defending real liberties

By Gilbert Schramm, Newport News Times “Viewpoint”, August 18, 2016

I sometimes see letters here by people who claim to be concerned about defending our constitutional liberties. This should make me happy, yet on issue after issue, I often find their outcry for liberty is a sham — a cover-up for implementing a quite dierent and more sinister agenda. Time and again, a vague abstract “liberty” is used as a motive to restrict or even violate a very clear, obvious, vital American right.   

The right to vote is the very core of our constitutional democracy. Over the last decade, a large number of states have passed laws that disenfranchise legal voters. Without exception, these laws were promoted by Republicans. In case after case, they failed to show evidence of any widespread voting fraud. Yet, arguing that a single fraudulent vote violated the rights of other voters, they passed restrictive, unnecessary and intrusive legislation that knocked literally millions of legal voters othe rolls in states vital to presidential elections.   

A few years back, the GOP argued that the Voting Rights Act was no longer necessary,   that racial discrimination had ended in the South. What a farce. Again they made a false case for liberty, arguing that states’ rights were more important to liberty than the rights of real people who were still the obvious victims of systematic institutional racism. The GOP Congress has managed to paralyze any correction of this problem.   

There was no more blatant a violation of a basic liberty (property rights) than the illegal bank foreclosures on homes that was practiced during the 2008 mortgage collapse. Republicans have fought against making restitution to victimized homeowners and prosecuting guilty bankers ever since.     

What about a woman’s right to make choices about her body? Conservatives have asserted that the liberties of beings who don’t even fully exist outweigh the real liberties of living women. Recently GOP senate candidate Marco Rubio proposed banning abortions for women exposed to the Zika virus, thereby condemning these women to a pregnancy fraught with potential tragedy and a lifetime of potentially   serving as a caregiver to an essentially brain-dead child. Will Marco be there to help?   

In Oregon last winter, armed intruders occupied a public wildlife refuge. Their action effectively prevented the public from using that land. They justified this criminal act with an outlandish interpretation of liberty.   

In Texas, millions of children will be deprived of a $1.3-billion contribution to their right to good education because the GOP governor there thinks that asking them to share a bathroom might somehow violate some other (unspecified) student’s rights.     

The second amendment, specifically citing the nation’s need for a “well regulated militia,” in no way entitles me to machine guns or high capacity magazines. Unlike the founding fathers, we have the Pentagon as a “militia.” Yet, every time there is the slightest commonsense move to stem the rising tide of gun violence the NRA champions of faux liberty start screaming about a hypothetical “slippery slope.” Freedom of religion is fundamental to the U.S., yet the NRA has endorsed Trump, who is essentially seeking to demonize and ban a whole religion. No slippery slope here, that’s a straight jump off of a steep cliff into outright religious persecution.   

Finally, no assault on personal liberty in the U.S. is more sinister than Citizens United, the GOP’s odd notion that corporations are people. The founding fathers made the one person, one vote rule for a simple reason — each person has a conscience; last I checked, corporations did not. That’s why corporations are not people.   

Everywhere, the same dynamic is repeated relentlessly — loud ranting about faux liberties disguise ruthless attacks on real ones.   

Last week, Donald Trump said that Americans accused of certain crimes should be sent to Guantanamo and tried in military courts. I hope people will carefully examine the fake version of liberty that the right wing has set loose in this land, and then defend their real liberties with their votes.   

Gilbert Schramm is a resident of Newport

Newport News Times, Friday, August 19, Page A8

TESTIMONIAL: Why the National Organization for Women (NOW) is So Important for Me

ImageBy Amanda LePine, May 4, 2014
Years ago somebody ran a study on girls’ grades.
One interesting point was that if one (1) boy was put into the classroom mix, the girls’ grades all went down.
Apparently, the researchers felt that their studies showed that there is a built-in bias:  Boys are supposed to do better than girls.
The female students, even in at an all-girl school, made that happen.
We all seem to have a cultural bias that favors boys.
When a male compliments a female they use terms of violence:
She’s a knockout, or
She’s dressed to kill,
I know you’ve heard more expressions just like these.
Some where along the way a study showed that a female who is attractive, smart, and successful is more likely to be seen as taking advantage of everyone.
Back in the 80s we had a terrible event in Westwood Village.
Someone decided to drive their car on the sidewalk, and mowed down a lot of pedestrians.
On the west side of LA every other person is an MD, more so in the Village.
Triage was set up right on the sidewalks.
Any number of MDs and other medical professionals volunteered right on spot.
The point being that only one pedestrian died:  The overweight, unattractive, badly-dressed girl.
Her injuries were not as severe as other victims who survived.
We need to be aware of our own biases.
They have been entrenched for the last two thousand years.
Even though we can all see that they are destructive, we have a hard time getting rid of them.
Yeah, we still use male achievement as the benchmark, whatever the field.
Surely, we women can do better and support each other on all levels.
Yes, we may earn good grades, but what if we go home to hear nasty comments from our family such as:
Smarty Pants,
Know it All,
You think you are so smart,
Good grades in school don’t me a thing to me (this was said to a classmate of mine by her husband).
Let me share with you a shocking lack of support that I witnessed at Chemeketa.
The teacher in one of my HIM classes asked for a quick answer to a complex question.
To my surprise, one of the women instantly had the correct answer.
What do you think the instructor said?
Good Job?,
Nice work?, or even,
You’ve done your homework?
NO, no, no!
For knowing the answer the student received a public verbal slap-in-the-face.
“Show Off” in a demeaning tone of voice was all that young woman got for knowing her material.
This is why NOW is so important to me.
We women (of all ages) can be the support we’d like to see.
We can create by our own success benchmarks in all fields that up-and-coming younger women can see as achievable — because another woman did it.
There would not be that old taboo of not being entitled to be smarter than a man.
Long live NOW . . .
The Author, Amanda LePine, is a member of the Central Oregon Coast Chapter of NOW.  This was originally written as a commentary to the post For 100 years, Female Students Have Gotten Better Grades In Every Subject, but we felt it was too important not to give it its own space.  Thank you Amanda!


National Spokesperson to Speak in Newport on Supporting Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth

National Spokesperson to Speak in Newport on Supporting Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth

The founder and Executive Director of the nation’s leading transgender youth service organization will present two workshops on affirming and supporting transgender children and youth in Newport on Wednesday, November 13th.

Jenn Burleton, founder and Executive Director of TransActive Education & Advocacy (, believes the evidence is clear that societal intolerance of diverse gender expression is a primary factor in all forms of bullying.

As the national conversation on bullying grows in the wake of numerous tragedies like the suicide of a student in Florida and the death of La Grande, Oregon teen Jadin Bell earlier this year, it becomes ever more urgent for communities to find better ways to support the kids that need help.

TransActive, a non-profit based in Portland, Oregon, is the leading national providing a holistic range of services to transgender and gender nonconforming children, youth and their families. They provide
counseling, professional education and advocacy services to more than 200 families in the Portland-metro area alone, and many more throughout Oregon and nationally.

Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

The March 11 meeting of Central Oregon Coast NOW will focus on women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM):

“Women are faring better, academically, than ever before. Today, the majority of college graduates (57%) and master’s level graduates (60%) are women,vi and nearly half (48%) of this country’s work force is comprised of women.vii
However, there are some fields in which female representation has remained low. Within STEM
fields women are better represented in life sciences, chemistry, and mathematics; women are
not well represented in engineering, computing, and physics.
• Womenaccountforaboutonly20%ofthebachelor’sdegreesinengineering,computer
science, and physicsviii, ix
• RegardlessofspecificareaofSTEM,onlyabout25%ofthesepositionsareheldbywomen.x
Researchers and experts in STEM education agree that boosting the number of women in
STEM fields would expand our nation’s pool of workers, educators, and innovators for the future,
bring a new dimension to the work, and potentially tackle problems that have been overlooked
in the past.”