Head on over to Medium to read my latest post on how I used to be a Donald Trump fan. No really, it’s all true.
Much of my recent mileage has been spent thinking about politics. Yeah, I know, it’s boring inside my brain. It’s not just the usual politics bullshit about our inept Congress or my worry over the negative, soul-crushing presidential campaign, but more about my friends and family, the people I love and respect, and their WIDE RANGE of political leanings and how those relate to their religious or non-religious beliefs. It’s a lot of intense thought and I’ve had an inspiring idea for how to talk to my circle of liberals, conservatives and everyone in between. More on that to come.
I do want to suggest a very good read to all of my people, about the Chick-Fil-A controversy. ( Here’s a primer if you have been living under a rock). Wayne Self, a playwright and writer of the blog Owldolatrous, has posted what I consider to be the most coherent, authentic and courageous argument for the boycott of Chick-Fil-A. I would encourage ALL of my people to read it because it really does affect ALL of us. It helped me confront the biases I still cling to, and that I am working to release. Please, take a deep breath, find a few minutes, be brave and dive in. I would not steer you wrong into a one-sided polemic. This one matters.
Find his post here.
“Throughout the history of mass gun killings in America…” is a phrase I never want to hear again, but as the meta-indication of the phrase denotes, I definitely will. This time, as with so many times before, a former FBI profiler used it while being interviewed by a cable news anchor whose actual expertise for his network is early morning political analysis, not breaking gun murder news. As such it was not surprising, yet slightly disingenuous, when he called Aurora, Colorado an American suburb straight from central casting. I do however, know what he meant: that Aurora could be any American suburb, we all know that town, that strip mall, that theatre multiplex with the stadium seating and the THX sound system. Any one of us could have been in that midnight show of the new Batman last night. We are all from central casting, and we all know this script by heart. The coverage goes something like this, I will bullet point it for you, pun intended:
- Heavily armed, likely mentally ill young man walks into a crowded public space and opens fire.
- The victims are all age ranges, from the very young to the very old. It’s always the kids dying that really makes us sick. The first responders are deft and often heroic. The shooter is either killed or subdued and brought into custody.
- Cable news scrambles to get the facts straight, sometimes they screw up badly like when NPR prematurely announced the death of Representative Gabrielle Giffords after her attack last January, and the TV news went with the unverified reports. They start interviewing surviving or merely wounded victims who give their eyewitness accounts using phrases like, “it sounded like firecrackers” or “it seemed like a movie” or “I slipped on some blood.”
- We cut to the news conferences and endless interviews of police authorities, the chiefs of surgery, the friend who knew a guy who had a class with the shooter, the open carry advocates, the gun control supporters.
- We shake our heads and fight back tears and swallow the mouth sweats down hard.
- We remember the last one and we always, ALWAYS remember Columbine.
- Some of us start pleading for more gun control, but weak to do anything, we can only unfriend the person in our Facebook list we didn’t realize was an NRA talking points automaton.
- We feel like shooting someone.
Why is this happening again? WHY? What the hell is wrong with us that we cannot, as community members, Coloradoans, Americans, as HUMAN BEINGS, once and for all stop with the free flow of guns in our country?
My mother has a gun. MY MOTHER HAS A GUN. I do not agree with this at all and I tell her every single chance I get that she is part of the problem. Before you start parsing the 2nd Amendment and talk to me about hunting, let me make the uniquely American statement that if you are a hunter who uses guns to kill your animal prey and you keep those guns locked up in a vault and your ammunition is kept separately and also locked and you have registered and insured those guns and maintain the good working order of those guns, I am not talking to you. I am talking to my mother and the millions of Americans who own handguns because they feel they the need to protect themselves. You people, the legal gun owners, are the enablers of our entire gun problem. There, I said it.
My heart should not have to go out to the victims, or their loved ones, or the theatre staff, or the first responders, or the doctors, surgeons and nurses, or the mental health professionals, or the good people of my first home state of Colorado who are dealing first hand with this attack on their sanity and security. My heart should be celebrating for the everyday triumphs of all the aforementioned, none of whom I know, but are all part of my central cast. My uniquely American central cast. I will of course, share my heart with those who are most in need.
And then, I will use my brain:
***Updated: My mom and I have had a long talk about this post. I got very emotional in telling her again how much I don’t like her gun. In her words to me, “I love you. We are okay.”
For those following along, those on the extreme far right of the Republican party have been trying, and in many, many cases succeeding, at taking away the health care rights of women for the better part of the last two years. This has mainly been happening on the state level (Arizona, North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia to name a mere handful), but nationally the US House of Representatives has been trying to defund Planned Parenthood even though it is the number one provider of reproductive health care services to women and families. It should be noted that most of these laws start with taking away choice rights, mainly by making laws that make it illegal for doctors to perform abortions, or to force women to watch ultrasounds before the procedure. Most of these ultrasounds are stipulated to be “transvaginal” which is a clinical term for when they stick an ultrasound rod inside of your vagina to get the pictures. That’s not invasive or stressful at all.
This week the women state representatives of Michigan were the latest to fight these extremists, with a taste of their own medicine. A new bill restricting abortion providers ad nauseum was up for debate and vote, so the women, per procedure added amendments to the bill. Representative Barb Byrum proposed an amendment that would require proof of a medical emergency prior to a doctor performing a vasectomy, which you know, only happens on penises. Her sister-in-arms, Representative Lisa Brown said during debate, ““I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no.” For their trouble, they were gaveled down by the speaker. Sorry ladies, you’re upsetting the men folk with talk of your parts. But please, show us your tits!
Here’s how I know ALL women are over it. Fox anchor and stalwart right-wing mouthpiece Gretchen Carlson, however half-laughing, WALKED OFF THE SET OF FOX AND FRIENDS this morning after being fed up with women-bashing, sexist jokes. Although I hate it when Gretchen plays dumb (she is a Stanford grad, Miss America 1989 AND plays the violin), she was all smarts this morning.
Bottom line: the point has tipped. Watch out extremists. Not only will you soon be enjoying less vagina for your penises, you will soon be out of jobs.
I have a vagina and I vote.
I have been searching for the right analogy to describe the contradiction displayed when a person runs for and becomes elected to public office with the stated intention of dismantling the regulations and institutions that make up the government itself (think Ronald Reagan, at times Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Scott Walker, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, the entire Tea Party, Libertarians…) I will of course report it here first because I think we are in dire need of a way to explain why that is so incredibly destructive to the people who are simply not getting that they are actually tearing themselves and their communities down in the process.
As I am going through this creative process, I am paying even closer attention than I normally do to the way writers use analogy and metaphor to express concepts and ideas, a skill I have retapped from when I was teaching. And I guess because I am so tuned in, I was profoundly affected by the way writer and blogger John Scalzi used an Ursula Le Guin story to frame his very concise description of the way adults failed to protect children in the Penn State child molestation scandal. The story describes a utopia where everyone is perfectly happy and well cared for, with the exception of one child that is kept in a miserable and disgusting solitary confinement. Each citizen is ultimately told of the child and then must make the decision whether or not to accept that their seemingly perfect existence requires the constant suffering of an innocent child. Obviously, this means that everyone who has been living there knows and has done nothing to protect the child.
This powerful and simple metaphor should give every single person who reads about the adults’ lack of action in protecting the children that were sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky the clarity to understand that all of these adults willfully chose to let a child suffer to protect their utopia that was Penn State. And yes, that includes the man at the top himself, Joe Paterno. Few things in life are black and white, almost none. The one exception: there is nothing defensible about doing the least to protect a child from being raped by an adult. Not. One. Thing.
Please read John Scalzi’s excellent piece here.
And stay tuned for my breakthrough analogy on government and it’s elected officials.
My training malaise is still hanging tight, so I intend to find a way to channel my growing rage at the Congressman Anthony Weiner sex scandal to get my ass in gear. For those of you who are blissfully unaware of the latest bad behavior by a member of the US Congress, here’s a quick summary in my own words. Democrat Anthony Weiner of New York sent a picture of his erect penis bulging through his boxer briefs to a 21-year old college student who followed him on Twitter. He mistakenly sent it over his public timeline rather than as a direct message and in the time between his realization of what he did and deleting it, some crazed troll who watches the accounts of politicians which they oppose had nabbed the photo and sent it to troll-overlord Andrew Breitbart, a far right-wing gadfly who roots out left-wing mistakes and hypocrisies and then publicizes them (way to use your power for good and not evil, shithead). When confronted by the media after the Brietbart exposé, Weiner lied his ass off for TEN DAYS that he’d been hacked, etc., etc., etc. This past Monday, he held a press conference and confessed that yes, he had in fact sent the picture and even worse, weirder and MORE DISGUSTING, confessed that he has been doing this for years with at least a half dozen women. Oh, but don’t worry, I am really sorry, my wife loves me and we’re going to stay together and I plan on not resigning my seat in Congress, because I didn’t do anything illegal, just completely objectionable and possibly deviant.
Are you puking yet?
Go ahead. Puke now. Aim your projectile vomit at the media for not staying the hell out of that very personal piece of business. I have been close to where Ms. Abedin is now and I cannot even imagine what it must be like to have the entire world know about the avalanche of cursed circumstance that has come down upon you. She should call up Sandra Bullock or Maria Shriver or the ghost of Elizabeth Edwards. Even though I didn’t agree with Hillary’s decision to stay with Bill, perhaps her counsel will offer some latent projection and she will tell her to get out.
I find myself particularly enraged with this whole mess for a number of reasons, even though I also agreed with many of the sentiments that Maureen Dowd brought up in her Op-Ed on this very topic. I want to be clear that I am not a prude nor a moralizer. I am a realist and a feminist and a mature adult. So while I understand that human beings are extraordinary at making terrible decisions that complicate their lives when if they had paused for thought for maybe 10 more seconds beforehand all would be averted, I will NEVER understand the bald-faced lying when they get caught as a result of their impulses! (Made the bad decisions, but I personally have not lied in regards to the consequences of said bad decisions. I have however, denied myself the self-respect to express true feelings in the vain hope I was not hurting another. Lessons learned, will never do again.)
Much is being made of whether or not he should resign, a charge for the “not” being led loudly by Rachel Maddow, mostly with the partisan angle that Republican Senator David Vitter was caught being a client of a madam in DC and patronized brothels in Louisiana for years (prostitution is illegal remember?), but no one, Republican or Democrat got any traction with calls for resignation, not to mention he sold his candidacy on family values and he was reelected. She is right. But for me, I still think Weiner needs to step down, because of the lying, and ironically, that we know now the personal info about his wife’s pregnancy. My thoughts on this were crystallized in this brilliant post from New Yorker writer Amy Davidson. She argues that his inability to understand that his actions, while not illegal like Vitter’s, do not properly estimate levels of risk, and isn’t that what a politician is elected to do? She writes,
That is why it is, sad to say, a matter of legitimate interest that Weiner’s wife was pregnant when he sent those tweets. It widens our sense of just how careless he is with the lives of others, particularly those of people who are more vulnerable than he is. That is good to know about a politician; it is distinct from the question of whether someone who lies to his wife will lie to the public and, I’d argue, is more important.
So, if he lies to his wife, the thinking goes, he is going to lie to his constituents. Funny, he was a co-sponsor on the legislation that I support and have been to Capitol Hill twice to lobby for. Was he just lying to us too? Imagine if the media spent the same amount of time, energy and resources to rooting out the near daily corruption scandals and collusions between our elected officials and the lobbyists and corporations who care only about money and not people? Imagine if we were not hearing about the sad and personal circumstances that Ms. Abedin now faces, but rather how if we just raised the income limit on Social Security from $106,000 to oh I don’t know, $200K, it would be funded for like another 100 years. Did you even know about the limit??
But you know all about Weiner’s peen. It’s gonna take a lot of miles for me to forget about it.
Tripped up by a few bits of emotional gravel the past few weeks, I have been quietly focusing on slowing things back down to one-minute-at-a-time-if-that-is-what-it-takes mantras. Don’t really want to spoil my success with long winded posts about the noise in my head; I have a lot of material to write and edit, but this week it is way more important to me to be making the ferry on time wearing a proper work outfit and a polished face of make-up.
That being acknowledged, current events seem ever more pressing in our hyperspeed electronic world so I cannot wait to get over myself to do a little politics updating.** In the face of the union v. Governor stand-off in Wisconsin (Day 22!) and several other states dealing with similar budget issues that Republican and Tea Party backed politicians want to resolve by busting unions (first public employees, then private companies sure to follow), cutting taxes for corporations and imposing backdoor tax increases on the poor and middle class. They are using the argument that it is about the budget (cue freak-outs!!!) and that the only way they can solve the problem of massive deficits in state coffers is to not collectively bargain with public employees (police, firefighters and teachers make up the biggest parts of the budgets) because they need all this power to make budget cutting decisions on the fly. Um, NO.
In the past year or so, the Republicans (and some Dems too to be perfectly honest) were gaining traction with the strategy of having all of us tearing each other to shreds. There was never a better example of government abuse than here in California in the relatively small town of Bell. A few greedy and frankly very stupid people got themselves elected to the city council and then began to basically embezzle municipal taxes to pay themselves huge salaries and pensions. This went on for years. Once the financial crisis hit and there was no tax money to pay themselves and the numbers did not add up, citizens were disgusted and shocked to find they had been bilked by these jerks. The media meantime had been running with one side of the story, villainizing public servants and lumping them all into this bad batch. But then, a funny thing happened. People remembered they have the right to vote. Unlike in a private company where the CEO and Board can decide everything down to the penny of how much to underpay their workers and overpay themselves not to mention lay people off at will, the citizens of Bell used their VOTES to oust these jackholes. In the recall election today in Bell, OVER NINETY FIVE PER CENT OF THE REGISTERED VOTERS turned out and overwhelmingly elected a new council!!! The last election only had about 10% turnout. This is no coincidence. Voting is extremely powerful. Give ’em hell voters!!!!
Finally, tonight as I was getting ready for my run, I had Rachel Maddow on in the background, feeling very proud of her on International Women’s Day. Her segment on the possible turn of events in favor of the workers in Wisconsin perked me right up and then, even more awesomely, her guest was another powerhouse woman, author Naomi Klein. Naomi’s current book is called “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” and outlines the way that far-right billionaires have been creating policies and plans for the past 30 years to invalidate government for the people it is supposed to serve and instead exist only to prop up the 2% who own 98% of our wealth. Am I over-simplifying? Yes. But am I wrong? No. The good news is that people are finally waking up that this is NOT okay.
The link to the interview is here. Please scroll ahead to the 4:00 mark and let Ms. Klein explain it. My favorite quote (transcribed poorly) is below:
“Crisis was created on Wall Street, that was moved to Main Street and this crisis as we know was deepened by the policy decisions that were made. The decision to bailout banks instead of homeowners, instead of bailing out workers, and what that means is that your tax base collapses. So your tax base collapsed and now we have to pay for the crisis again. First we paid for it with bailouts and now we are paying for it with budget cuts.”
The crisis as they describe is not really real my friends. The money is with the banks and corporations who CAUSED it. FIGHT people FIGHT!!! We can make THEM pay and we can win.
** this is for you, Echeve. :-) thanks for encouraging me to write some politics. I pretend I am just telling you!