Tag Archives: North Carolina

A Pot To Piss In

The United States of America  has, in its long history, faced a number of issues of  massive importance. The debate over the very founding of the nation and the separation of powers.  The issue of slavery, debated by Lincoln and Douglas and finally determined by war. The issue of Jim Crow. The woman’s suffrage movement. Civil Rights.Various conflicts between the federal and state governments.

I remember George Wallace standing on the steps of the University of Alabama, pledging to deny entrance to young Americans of color. The federal government nationalized the Alabama National Guard  troops to move the governor aside. Momentous.

Now, we add to the list, the battle over bathrooms.

The greatest nation on Earth. The nation of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Reagan is facing another Constitutional Crisis.

To pee, or not to pee. That is the question. Shall the people of North Carolina be granted the freedom to pee in the toilet of their choice? Or should the iron hand of government compel them to pee in  approved lavatories? Shall freedom be taken away and driven into the night or shall all men, and women, and transgender men or women, be allowed to urinate and defecate in the restroom most fitting to them? Each to his or her own?

Can the great state of North Carolina demand a birth certificate as proof of one’s right to pee in a specific place?  Should the federal government join in and demand that all men, or women, or transgender men or women, have the right to eliminate in the facility of their choice? That, my friends, is the question facing America.

The intellectual titans of the USA, that beacon of freedom, are now engaged in a debate over the very hearts and souls of toilet bowls. To flush or not to flush? Put the seat down or leave it up?

Can you think of anything more humiliating or embarrassing than a government, whether local, state or federal, becoming enmeshed in where one goes to the bathroom? I can’t.

I know, sometimes major universal truths and rights are determined by small incidents. Does it matter where you sit on  the bus? Does it matter that a school closes it’s doors to you because of your skin color? Does it matter whether or not a baker has to bake a cake? I suppose it does.

At the same time, not everything needs to be a court case. Not every principle needs to be fought over . Sometimes we can let stuff slide. Even stuff that is wrong. Maybe a little perspective?

We are not talking about getting an education. Or a job. Or the right to vote. Or the right to dine in any public establishment. Someone just needs to use the toilet. Does the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina and the United States of America really need to get involved? Is this an issue worthy of a Constitutional crisis? Do we need a “law”?

Do we have more pressing problems?

I am reminded of the first time I traveled to Guatemala. Early in the morning  I was watching some man walking past a side street in Antigua. He must have already had his morning coffee. He stopped, glanced around (he didn’t see me), and proceeded to urinate against the side of a building. Zipped up. Walked on.

Problem solved.

 

 

 

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Filed under Constitution, government, governor, homosexual, North Carolina, Politics, Religion, Society, Supreme Court, United States, US

Carolina on My Mind…or in My Toilet

North Carolina just passed a law about using public bathrooms. I assume LGBT folks using bathrooms has become a statewide epidemic of sorts! While I usually don’t care what kind of genitalia anyone else in the bathroom is packing, I thought I better clarify some issues so I don’t break any laws. Or customs.

This is a copy of a letter I submitted to the Charlotte Observer.

 

Dear Folks. I am coming down to North Carolina this October to play some golf and am a bit concerned about the new bathroom law just passed. I guess I don’t understand it so maybe you can answer some questions so I don’t make a fool of myself. Or break any laws.
1. When I enter a restroom will I have to drop my pants so the attendant can see whether or not I have the proper equipment? If so, would you suggest boxers or briefs?
2. If I suspect the “guy” (or maybe not the “guy”) in the next stall is not really the “guy” in the next stall, should I dial 911 to handle the emergency?
3. Will I need to bring a birth certificate to verify that I was born with the right equipment and have not just added it later on a whim? Will a photocopy be acceptable? (I don’t want another Obama situation!)
4. Can I ask a fellow toilet user to produce his (or “her”) equipment if I suspect he (or she) may be hiding, or not hiding, something? Like a “citizen’s arrest”?
5. Are the public restrooms now clearly labeled: Men, Women and Other? And do you still have some labeled: Whites Only?
6. If my equipment is challenged by another “guy” will I have to appear in court and produce proper evidence?
Not being a lawmaker or a lawyer I am afraid that I might inadvertently make a “faux pas” by using an inappropriate facility.
I am really looking forward to heading into North Carolina. Up here in Yankee land we are dealing with unemployment, poverty, gun violence, high taxes, etc. It will be a real pleasure to relax in a place where the biggest problem is determining the sex organs of fellow facility users.

(signed) Joe Urban

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Neocon Papers 5:Toxic Deregulation

West Virginia. North Carolina. Texas. Deregulation.

If there is anything close to a mantra for the neoconservatives it is the idea of “deregulation”.

The argument for deregulation goes something like this. The government, most especially the federal government, over regulates our lives. Not our lives,  really. It over regulates big business. And because the government over regulates big business that does a number of things. First, it drives big business into massive debt. Second, it depresses the economy because it reduces employment. Third, it makes the cost of doing business more expensive, thereby passing on the cost of goods and services to the consumer. So, if government would stop regulating business all three of those areas would be improved. More businesses. More jobs. More profits. Sounds logical.

Except. We have tried it. It failed. The philosophy attributed to Reagan,  called Reaganomics was an attempt to limit regulations so businesses could thrive.  That philosophy has been the mainstay of Republican “thinking” and to a great extent has been embraced by many Dems as well. Since the 1980s we have seen the federal government loosen rules on lumbering, mining, oil drilling and gas drilling. We have seen the EPA gutted and reduced to a weak organization unable to enforce the laws. The same EPA created by Richard Nixon and the GOP in the knowledge that unfettered business has made a cesspool of much of America.

But big business pushed  back. And won. And as the GOP took state houses they have consistently sought to turn back or ignore reasonable environmental safeguards. Those in favor of safeguarding the air and water were labeled as “tree huggers” and “eco-terrorists” or “communists” who opposed “free enterprise”. Job killers. Of course, the near depression of 2007-2009 demonstrated that Reaganonomics was a colossal failure. Where is that booming,  deregulated economy we we promised?

So, today we can see just a few of the results of that GOP success. Texas. A deregulator’s dream state. Fracking goes on unregulated (except by a weak state agency). People in parts of Texas are exposed not only to water pollution but air pollution as massive quantities of methane emerge from the ground. Studies show methane contamination in Weatherford , Texas. No one knows the long term effects of this so the Texas response has been to do nothing to protect the citizens. And the EPA has had the same response. We’ll have to wait and see. But keep fracking. Deregualtion.

In West Virginia this year we saw the pollution of the largest city’s water supply (Charleston). An uninspected tank leaked toxic materials into the river. Then, in a display of incompetence that rivaled the Keystone Kops we had the governor telling folks to drink the water. Others in the department of health saying don’t drink the water. The company (Freedom Industries) admitting, after about a week, that SECOND toxic chemical had been emitted. The government of West Virginia telling folks finally. …(Well, it’s your call. Drink the water or don’t…unless your pregnant…then you shouldn’t…..) Schools closed , then reopened because tests showed the water was safe. Then closed again because these chemicals showed up  again.  Deregulation.

Another GOP state. North Carolina. This story keeps getting better and better. When Duke Energy (company with close ties to the governor) was sued by consumer groups for  dumping COAL ASH in rivers the state stepped in and took over the lawsuit. It then guaranteed that Duke Energy could not be sued by any public entity, only the state. But…but…but…What about the EPA? Evidently the EPA rules allow STATES to determine the validity of lawsuits and remove the original litigants. That’s right. The GOP “deregulators” will determine how to enforce the EPA rules. The fact that the new governor worked for Duke Energy for over 20 years and has at least $10,000 worth of stock (that is the maximum he is required to report) had nothing to do with the decision. So, Duke Energy can dump coal ash into the water supply. Pay a small fine. (But they “promised” to clean up the mess. They “promised”) And  continue to do business. Deregulation.

It is no  accident that these are GOP lead states. Business can be  good if you can dump your waste into the public water ways. Or pollute the air. And pay no meaningful fines. Good for business. Creates jobs. No downside.

Of course someone will have to pay. Pay for the massive coal sludge clean ups of North Carolina’s waterways. Pay for the clean up of the river continuing to flow into the Charleston water supply. Possibly even install new water pipes. And pay the medical costs in the future for damaged children and adults in Texas,  North Carolina and West Virginia. Because these are real disasters. Man made. Someone will be shelling out billions of dollars over the next 20 years for these and countless other disasters. It won’t be “Freedom Industries”. It won’t be” Duke Energy”. It won’t be the natural gas industry in Texas.  It won’t be the “deregulators”. Can you guess who ?

The neocon mantra continues: Deregulation. Deregulation. Deregulation. Let the next generation pay for it.

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