Posts Tagged ‘Warren’

Dear Professor Warren,

I woke up this morning thinking about the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.  I remembered how attuned we were, as a party, to the needs of those on the margins.  As those on the right accuse us of godlessness (and I admit, I myself am an atheist), I saw people preaching the true message of Christ and professing the values our nation is built on: that yes, we are our brother’s keeper, and yes, we are in this together.  That together, we are greater than the sum of all our parts.  You quoted a piece of scripture in your speech that resonated with what I think we stand for as a party.

You said: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  And you explicated the passage well, stating that the passage “teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and we are called to act.”  You, along with the rest of the speakers, reached out to those on the margins – the poor, the homeless, the undocumented, the disabled, the LGBT community, and the various racial communities that make up our great nation.  You drove home the point that health care is a fundamental human right that no one in this country should go without.  Because of this, I woke up and donated $20 to your campaign.

Then I saw Scott Brown’s response to the Michelle Kosilek case; he called it “an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars” and I said (publicly) that this was yet another reason I would not be voting for Senator Brown.  Certainly, transgender folks are treated as some of the “least of these my brethren.”  The prison community even more so.  And for a woman who has been forced to live her life as a male by a society that refuses to understand the needs of gender minorities – for a woman who has been forced to live in an all-male prison – for a woman who has repeatedly self-mutilated and attempted suicide over the lack of medical care (again, something we as a party deem a fundamental human right) – I knew that you would understand Kosilek’s plight.

So I was surprised today to learn that you agree with Senator Brown.  Surprised and disheartened, really, after what I found to be such a great convention speech.  Although you weren’t as blustering as Senator Brown, you told WTKK the following: “I have to say, I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars.”  It’s true that this is the sentiment of many of our friends and neighbors who do not understand transgender issues.  It’s true that, in an election year, it might have been political suicide to come out in favor of trans rights (especially in the case of Kosilek, a murderer who garners little public support).  But there was an out for you, Professor; you could have simply deferred to the medical expertise of those in the prison system who stated that this was medically necessary treatment.  Certainly the great people of Massachusetts don’t want the Government intervening in the decision of doctors, right?  Isn’t that everyone’s great fear about “ObamaCare” – that bureaucrats will be deciding the treatment of Americans?

I know that you would not deny anyone the chemotherapy to cure their cancer, or the medicine to control blood pressure, or the drugs to treat depression.  Why then would we withhold treatment for someone who has fought the last twenty years trying to live as a woman the treatment the medical community has deemed necessary.  We do not allow prisoners to fund their own care; we take on that obligation as a state and as a nation.  That means that we cannot withhold treatment, even from – especially from – “the least of these my brethren.”  What Michelle Kosilek did to her wife was deplorable; it’s easy to hate her, and seek vengeance against her by denying her treatment.  But that’s not who we are, nor is it who I think you want us to be.

Trans folks face some of the worst treatment our society has to offer, and to keep her in an all-male facility, and to deny her the care she needs, sets her up for further suicide attempts, further attempts at self-mutilation, further attempts at rape and abuse.  The Bill of Rights protects every American from cruel and unusual punishment – even those on the extreme margins of our society – and I would hope that a candidate as progressive as yourself would recognize that this is not about an operation; this is about a human being.  It’s about our own humanity as we remember what a Reagan-appointed federal judge remembered: that we love our neighbors, that judgment is not our prerogative, and that – with God in each of us – we are called to act.


Resources for those trying to understand trans issues:


Normally, I’m not a believer in the following logic that seems to be pressing Romney to release his tax returns: “Well, if you don’t have anything to hide, why not show it?”  I just find that line of reasoning dangerous.  If you’re not committing a crime, why not have Government cameras in your house?  Because there is a certain point at which it’s an invasion of privacy.  So the question is: are the repeated calls for Romney’s tax-returns being made public one of these points?

Consider briefly the birth-certificate imbroglio that weighed down the beginning years of Barack Obama’s presidency (and almost his entire candidacy).  I was vehemently opposed to the rhetoric floating around back then, as in my eyes it was clear that people just could not believe that this man — with an exotic past and dark skin — could be President of the United States.  After all, I had never seen anyone claiming that Bill Clinton was born in Kenya.  No one ever claimed that George W. Bush was born overseas.  To my knowledge, no one has claimed that Mitt Romney was born in Canada.  So why was that question reserved for Mr. Obama?  I think the answer’s obvious, but to suggest it is to open oneself up to attacks of “playing the race card.”

So now the shoe is on the other foot, and people are talking about Romney’s taxes.  I don’t think comparing these two questions as witch-hunts and here’s why: almost every candidate for president — since Mitt Romney’s father released an unprecedented 12-years of returns — has released more than a year of tax returns.  Federal law only requires two years, and so far Romney has only provided one year’s worth, with another planned for October.  Do you see the difference?  Almost every candidate has been asked to release tax returns and has done so; Romney has not.  No candidate had been asked to prove his place of birth; Obama was.

There’s all kinds of speculation about why Romney won’t release his returns.  To be fair, McCain only released two years of returns prior to his candidacy, but nobody at the time was claiming that McCain was hiding millions of dollars overseas or failing to pay any taxes at all.  McCain also didn’t fail to disclose to the Federal government that he had a corporation in Bermuda.  Romney states emphatically that he’s paid what is legally necessary — and only what is legally necessary — and the IRS has audited him, so we should believe him.  To be honest, I don’t disbelieve him.  But the reason Romney doesn’t want this as part of the conversation isn’t because he’s done anything illegal (I don’t think), but because it will bring the realities of tax-policies for people worth hundreds of millions of dollars into the forefront again.

We will begin having the same conversations that both the TEA Party and Occupy Wall Street started — except we’ll be having them in the context of a Presidential election.  The question will be simple: “Do we want a leader who has benefited from years of tax loopholes and off-shore accounts and who has promised to maintain those tax breaks for the wealthy?”  That’s a real conversation to have.  Do we continue the idea of “Trickle Down Economics” or do we reform the tax code so that those who benefit the most from the American system also pay the greatest proportion of taxes?  Either way, this isn’t a discussion that’s going to be going away anytime soon.  As Romney’s numbers fall in key swing states, it might be time for him to bite the bullet.  Better now than in November.

Liz Warren sums up my position, but the American people are entitled to see the tax records and have the conversation: