Holy Hell and Despots

I read somewhere recently that hungry hearts willingly eat lies, or something to that effect. This simple statement stuck with me and I wondered how many different situations it might apply too.

Certainly in our personal relationships. All of us at one time or another have fooled ourselves or allowed ourselves to be fooled because of our own need for love, safety and security. Maybe we simply allowed our hungry heart to override our intellect diving into the shallow end head first even knowing it was ultimately going to hurt. We eat the lies fed to us, the lies we need to hear for our hearts survival.

Now I come to the real crux of my meandering thoughts on why this simple statement has stuck with me. The real question I have been asking for days, weeks, months even; can entire groups of people become ‘hungry’ and swallow lies? Swallow them whole and without question, without challenge. Is this how cults are born? Is this how the souls of nations are lost? Is this how despots are lifted up as saviors while heroes are cast down and spat on, kicked in the head and sullied for their contributions and sacrifices.

If this is true, what has caused this starvation at the heart of our nation? Truly, I ask this in all sincerity. What is the worm that has eaten away at our national pride? What has turned us from the beacon of hope and the shinning city to the era of Governing by Tweeter proclamation, personal animosity and Reality Show Carnage.

If this is how it happens, this hunger that will eat any lie no matter how outrageous, no matter how contrary to previous norms, ethics and values I fear for us all. I think of the cult following of Jim Jones that resulted in 918 people who willingly murdered their own children, loved ones and selves  while shouting Hallelujah. I compare them to all the many once respectable Republicans of Washington who willingly heap praise on the singularly most ignorant President in our history and his quest to ‘Make America Great Again’.

I consider friends, family and others who I know well and who willingly turn a blind eye to the corruption of this administration. I wonder what would cause them to do this, why would they support this tyrant despite all the evidence of who and what he is. None in my circle are racists, none are bigots, none have ever abused a child or a woman; these people love America just like I love America. Once upon a time they were true Conservatives, now I don’t recognize them or their politics. Now when we talk, the discourse turns ugly. Now when we disagree the rally cry is “I am for Trump” and “you can leave if you don’t like it”. Now when we talk, forbid there is anything at all that challenges this President’s competency, decisions, or his leadership on any scale, immediately the gloves come off and the name calling begins. This, from friends and family.

Civility has left the building. The shining city on the hill has turned the lights off and closed door. France has asked for the Statue back and Canada has  kidnapped the Bald Eagle to protect it from us.

We are not the laughing stock of the world, we are something far worse. We are a source of fear and anxiety. This president has aggressively pursued a systematic destruction of long-held alliances. He has insulted heads of states without consideration to how his personal perverse piss-off of the day affects world-wide relationships. We have, thanks to this president entered an era of isolationism and exited the world stage right leaving it in the hands of those who will run with it, economically and politically leaving us poor and strangled on our own miasma and a willful failure to engage. What does the world think of us?

We lose, if we don’t demand the two arms of government intended to provide checks and balance on the Administrative arm begin exercising their authority rather than cowering in fear, we lose. The GOP has shown they are willing to kowtow to the pressure of the Trump Cult rather than speak out, to stand up. They have shown they are afraid of the Cult of Trump, the ‘base’ of ginned up terrified White folk. Because of this fear we will lose this nation and our position in the world for generations to come.

Civility is gone. Common decency is gone. Alliances are going, maybe forever. Now, SCOTUS will be gone, by two seats and possibly by two more before the end of Trumps first term. While we look for the President to represent what is best in us on the world stage, this president is everything that is and has ever been what is the worst in us, he is the incarnation of our worst angels.

Donald J. Trump is the personification of 246 years of slavery

Donald J. Trump is the personification of 100 years of Jim Crow

Donald J. Trump is the personification of the Immigration Quota Act of 1924 establishing quotas based on national origin and limiting numbers specifically from Asian nations

Donald J. Trump is the personification of the turning away of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany as a ‘danger’ to the security of the US, 1939 St Louis is the most prominent case

Donald J. Trump is the personification of the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans beginning in 1946

This is just the short list. Donald J. Trump has a desire to ‘Make America Great Again’, what this means to him is an unknown but based on his history all of us can guess, can’t we? Worst than his daily horror show though, is his cult following, all too willing to repeat and even act on his lies.

Hungry hearts eat lies. A nation ate the lies of a con man and in so doing sent us down a slippery slope with an despotic leader at the helm and no one willing to hold him accountable. Donald J. Trump is the accumulation of all our worst inclinations, our worst actions and worst moments in history. He is the very personification of all that has ever been horrifying in our past embodied in a single person and he has a cult following willing to resurrect those times to ‘Make America Great Again’.

28-June-2018

If not now, Tomorrow?

Soapbox LogoMy silence does not indicate lack of interest; in fact I have, like so many others, remained glued to the tragedy that is the United States of America. Each day it seems there is some new ‘thing’, some new chaotic stew of childishness, some immoral or cruel act from those who would be leaders. Each morning I waken to worse and coarser communication bombarding me from every corner of the world. Every single night I crawl into my bed and wonder if the world will see another morning, with heightened levels of fear, for my nation, my friends, children and grandchildren I wonder what we will be left with in three years. Hell, some nights I wonder what, if anything, we will be left with in three months let alone three years.

Do you think I am being dramatic? Really, do you not wonder the same things I wonder?
I am constantly stunned by the level of depravity and craven corruption that is now our entire body politic. One side has their Inglorious Leader, why hide? Do not for one minute believe though, I am pointing at one party and leaving the other out of this, no indeed both are equally shady and own the corruption that is this dissolute hell the United States of America is now become.

The President of the United States is an antagonistic, juvenile delinquent with the spoiled-bratmindset of a schoolyard bully who has never been told NO. Meanwhile, the Republican controlled Congress chip away at our Freedoms, chisel away at our rights, our economy, our Democracy; at the very foundation of what makes our nation Great and none of us are paying a bit of attention. Each and every single day, we sit staring at our electronic devices, bitching and whining at the latest tweet by that fool that is POTUS, while Congress has their way with us without a single cry being raised.

So I have to ask, with all the warnings we have been given by their acts, their words and the clarion call of those who have watched Presidents since before the days of Nixon and his fall, if not now when?

When do men and women of dignity, morals and ethics finally say enough; when do they say, no damned more. Where are they perhaps is the better question.

When do these lost men and women say, pack your bags, turn in your badge and carry your happy and undignified asses out of my House (Congress, Senate) before you embarrass this nation further than you have. No more with your dog whistles, your stunts, your ignorant statements of patriotism, your blatant and ugly hypocrisy,

DCSkyline

Washington D.C Skyline

no more tearing our nations foundations up by the roots, no more of your terrible families, your corruption, your sycophant ways, no more of your bullying, your nationalism, your pseudo Christianity and worst your followings and encouragement of Nazi’s, White Supremacists, Xenophobic Nationalists. I am certain my list could be longer, this is simply the tip of the iceberg, the very tip. This list applies not just to the current occupant of the White House, but members of his legal team, Congress, Senate, his advisers, Family and Friends, Spokespersons, Cabinet and Media mouthpieces.

Our nation is more divided than ever before and we simply sit and twiddle our thumbs bemoan our situation remind ourselves that he is not legitimate as Madam Secretary Clinton won the popular vote (so what). Or even worse, that Bernie was cheated (no he wasn’t).

Truly my silence does not indicate a lack of interest. My silence has been self-imposed, my psyche shut down and I drew a blank each time I tried to write. I have over hundred half written odes to the state of the union in my file, I simply could not finish them. I have over fifty poems, I could not finish my heart was breaking as our nation shattered. I have over fifty simple bridges of what is happening with my world, to break the silence and reenter the world; I could not finish them my writers block built a wall I could not scale. I am beating it down today, I am speaking today. Maybe I will speak again tomorrow. I hope you, my friends are still out there as there is much to say.

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3 May 2018

American Taliban and All

soapboxpileThe new order of the GOP has truly and entirely lost what little mind they had remaining. I say this without tongue in cheek but in all seriousness and with not some little fear for the safety of anyone ‘not like them’. Like so many others I use to sit back and shake my head in wonderment and not some small amount of amusement at the foolishness of those who would follow these ignorant and arrogant little men through the gates of hell.

Yes, I said it and I do not consider it hyperbole. These preachers and their minions in the GOP, the ones who suck up to them for votes, who seek their endorsement, who slide through the muck bobbing their heads at the most outrageous vitriol; they are our worst nightmare. We should be pointing our fingers and screaming from the highest mountaintops, ‘Terrorist’. Instead, we point from the sidelines and laugh, ‘Clown’ or ‘sideshow freak’. We fail to understand these ‘sideshow freaks’ have a following, their words have power, elected members of Congress agree with them, candidates for President line up for their endorsement.

Why aren’t we afraid? Why aren’t we scared to death when preachers call for the death of citizens of this nation whose only fault is to be born with a different sexual orientation from the majority, from what is considered ‘normal’.

Why are we not afraid when elected officials and those who would be President pander to these delusional and angry Biblical literalist, scream ‘Death to the homosexuals’ and are followed on the stage by Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz? Oddly, most of the videos for National Religious Liberty Conference in which Pastor Kevin Swanson suggests killing all Homosexuals, have disappeared. I found a snippet of one though, this one is the only one I could find after searching hard and having to listening to manic ravings.

We giggle behind our hands when one of the front runners of the GOP presidential primaries writes he stabbed a classmate, beat another with a lock and lifted a hammer against his own mother; but it is all okay now because he was saved by God. Of course, all this is likely a lie written to make his story more compelling, more readable and more sellable. We, the malleable and forgiving Left, we shake our heads and say, ‘well he was a child, he was redeemed’, on the Right of course, it is ‘God saved him, we love him’. Now, that he wants to be President and his story is being vetted and none of it is true, not one word, he is crying foul, his pathology is being discovered but according to him the ‘liberal media’ is out to get him and no candidate in history has ever been more vetted than him. In the meantime, we simply sit back and giggle at the sideshow.

Another front runner is a bully, a narcissist, a xenophobe and an outright racist. What do we do? We create humorous memes about his hair, we protest his appearance on SNL. We speak in whispers about his bad behavior, but secretly we cheer him on, hoping he will be the GOP nominee because in our asinine thinking we can beat him Donald Trumphands down. He has no real experience, who would elect him, right? Yet history tells another story, we sit on our asses at election time, we turn away and fail to go to the polls. Our nation has been on a downward spiral to hell since 1981, because we were taken in by celebrity, despite a lack of experience, fundamental knowledge or an understanding of economics or international geopolitical influences or even the basics of diplomacy, we have gone from a first nation to tipping into third nation. Yet, here we are again thirty-five years later another ‘celebrity’ in the running this one full of ignorance and bluster and the party of know-not-a-fucking-thing is touting him as the Ronald Reagannext best thing.

The rest of the clown car, help me please to not lean to heavily on my cornucopia of foul language to describe this horrifying group of baseless cowards. Yes, cowards. They will say anything and do anything to rile up those who don’t know they are being flim-flamed. Tragedy? We got that covered, just look what the lovelies on the right are doing with Paris, if those victims had guns they wouldn’t be dead, here for your viewing pleasure just a few of the many quotes from the Right side of Hell in America;

Imagine a theater with 10 or 15 citizens with concealed carry permits. We live in an age when evil men have to be killed by good people

— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) November 13, 2015

They can wait if they like until next November for the actual balloting, but Donald Trump was elected president tonight.

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) November 14, 2015

“I want to tell you something else – it is what goes through my mind,” he continued. “I bet it goes through your mind – thank God for the Second Amendment. Thank God for the Second Amendment or we’d be Europe. We would all be disarmed. You know Obama and Hillary, all of the Democrats, most of the Republicans. There would be no NRA. There would be no groups trying to protect us. Thank God for the Founding Fathers, the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Thanks God because you see this going on – these poor people who were slaughtered going to a sporting event or a restaurant or a concert or potentially a shopping mall — slaughtered as they stand there by these animals, by these barbarians – and none of them are armed, none of them.”

— Mark Levin, Radio Show November 13, 2015

They will say and do anything to stoke the fires of hate and fear, in a population who are certain their life is worse today than it was yesterday and simply need a target to blame it on. Well hell, why not blame it on ……

  • Homosexuals (they’re all child molesters and Gawd hates them ya know)
  • Blacks (they’re all lazy and on welfare sucking up our taxes ya know)
  • Muslims (they’re all terrorists ya know)
  • Illegals (they’re all rapists and murders ya know)
  • Planned Parenthood (Abortion Factories ya know)
  • Women (should be home making babies ya know)
  • Liberals (cause you know, usins are terrible Gawd hatin’ folks)
  • President Obama (he’s a Muslim, Communist, Socialist, wants to take their guns, ruined the economy, lily livered, weak, non-patriotic, non-American don’t ya know)

That is just the smallest of lists of who the GOP points to when they want to get the base jumped up. It is good enough though, isn’t it? The GOP moves further and further to the right. Never mind talking policy that matters. Never mind talking about the Economy and how we are going to fix what remains broken, let’s instead talk about fantasy football and fantastical new tax policies, everything from Biblical based tithing systems to tax forms that will fit on the back of a post card and eliminating the IRS. Never mind, we have a nation to run and infrastructure to fix, which is just the tip of the iceberg.

Haven’t we been here before? Haven’t we seen this before?

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I can only say, we should be afraid. We should in fact be scared to death. We should be fighting mad. We should be standing up, pointing our fingers and demanding better of both our elected officials and those who would be the President of the United States of America. That we are not doing so says we simply don’t give a damn, this saddens me more than I can possibly measure.

Three Legged Stool

3leggedstoolSome would have us all believe we are in a ‘post racial society’, those who say this with a straight face are either delusional or simpletons. Others would have us believe women have achieved equality or something closely resembling it, I say those who say this, ‘you are beyond half bent over and should return to whence you came, 1890 perhaps’. I would like to note, if the person uttering this nonsense are of my gender, they are likely being paid well for the garbage dripping from their lips. What keeps us in line is the distinct and bright line of money, or the lack thereof. Let us call it what it is, poverty; we live in a society where money buys your way through life, if you ain’t got it you ain’t going to get it. Those born with it are working hard to keep it and keep it out of the hands of others.

It is a three-legged stool, an ugly and nasty stool. One we have been sitting on and pondering our navels from for far too long.

One from which we watch and shrug our shoulders as our African-American brothers and sisters die, as they are shot in the streets, as they are beaten in jail cells, as their children die of preventable disease for lack of access to health care. One from which we watch our schools crumble and our children fail even basic educational skills. One from which we watch as women/mothers struggle to make ends meet, while the fathers of their children languish in corporate prisons for the crime of trying to pay the rent. One from which we refuse to acknowledge there is a problem and it is called institutional racism, we are a part of it. We inherited it, we continue it, we benefit from it if we are White.

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One from which we watch and shrug our shoulders as our sisters are raped and beaten, we make excuses for their rapists rather than protect our young women in the military and on college campuses. One from which we watch as women who once had the right to agency to choose to protect their reproductive health through birth control and yes, even the right to choose abortion if necessary no longer have this agency, as men strip them of their adulthood of their rights over their own bodies and push them further back into poverty and dependency. We watch as women are paid less than men in every field of endeavor and our leaders at every level of government refuse to acknowledge the inequity. We watch as women struggle to gain parity and representation without success.

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We watch and shrug, refusing to acknowledge the widening gap between those who have and those who have not. We uphold the wealthy as heroes to be propped up, while we lose more of our own small value in the market. We watch the gap widen every year without demanding changes to the very systems of inequity that created the abyss we are unable to cross, no matter how many jobs we hold or how many hours we work. We watch as our neighbor loses their home, shrug and are grateful it isn’t us that lost our job to outsourcing or the latest free market con. We shrug as our neighbor drives away never drawing the line to it could be us next time given our abysmal lack of compassion last time we voted. We blame everything without ever considering the agenda of the person or group who has put forth the illogical Meme of the week for why we are sinking in to the chaos of poverty, why our neighborhood is losing market value, why the middle-class is shrinking, why we don’t have any damn money.

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We are a nascent society, with the emergence of social media and our use of cell phones and other means of communication there is at least one thing changing and rapidly. Can you guess? We are beginning to talk, we aren’t saying much yet but we are beginning to talk. We are beginning to look at each other and see humanity rather than enemy. We are beginning to see violence against another person, not like us, and challenge the violence rather than challenge those who protest the violence. We are beginning to look across the road and at a burning church and pick up a bucket full of water.

It isn’t all of us, not yet but some of us are beginning to say, ‘no more’. Some of us are beginning to challenge racism, challenge historical structures and challenge symbols with the truth. It isn’t all of us, but it is more of us, more of us are asking the question, “What can I do? How can I help?” It matters, that we ask, that we see and that we are offended and aren’t afraid to offend those who sit and shrug.

It isn’t all of us but some of us are beginning to challenge women’s ‘proper place’ and why we are taking steps backward rather than forward, how we are losing ground. It isn’t all of us, but some of us are asking the questions, stepping forward fearlessly with our stories and demanding to be heard. It isn’t enough of us yet, but some of us are standing up and saying we will be heard, we must

a demonstrator after the Eric Garner Grand Jury announcement Mark Makela/Getty Images

a demonstrator after the Eric Garner Grand Jury announcement
Mark Makela/Getty Images

be heard, we must be represented in State Houses, in Board Rooms, in Congress. Women cannot afford to sit back, to lose the rights our mothers and grandmothers laid down their bodies, their reputations and even their lives to gain for us. Yet, we are bleeding them out again in back alleys; it isn’t all of us but some of us are beginning to stand up and take up the fight for our agency.

We are beginning to recognize we are losing ground, all of us. We are losing our voice, the voice we each have the right to express through our vote. Money has stolen our voice, through a bought and paid for SCOTUS and Congress we have seen our vote being slowly eroded. Through Voter ID Laws, through Super Pacs, through other egregious acts by our acting leadership we have handed over our voice. Now, some of us have recognized how bad it is and we are beginning to fight back.

Poverty comes in many ways, as a nation our worst form of poverty is that of spirit. We have suffered a terrible loss of spirit, of national soul. We have sold ourselves for a dream, to slick talkers with the promise that if we allowed those at the top to lift themselves without limitations or consequence for bad acts, we would somehow be lifted with them. It was a lie, it was always a lie and we were warned but were blinded by the con of free money. Now we are paying for our desire for something for nothing.

I can only say, if you haven’t already WAKE THE FUCK UP!

Jingle This

Linda1We are coming onto Christmas 2014, only a day away before some of us begin to celebrate with family and friends. For others, this is a time of sadness, a time of loneliness and harsh emotional undoing. For some of us it is a time for introspection, of considerable thought about where we are, who we are and what we might want for ourselves and those we love.

For me, this past year has been a roller coaster. Don’t mistake me, I love roller coasters; hell, I miss roller coasters. The day my doctor said, ‘it is probably a bad idea for you to ride roller coasters anymore’, I wanted to weep. That was many years ago, I have ridden a few since that day and discovered much to my chagrin he was right; don’t you hate it when that happens? There are many things I could say about this year, some I believe I will keep to myself, forever and ever, amen; some, I will say because it needs to be said and some I will say only if and when the opportunity presents itself to say to the person who needs to hear it.

This though is about the holidays, specifically this is about Christmas and the changing of the year. It is also about what I have observed.

First, people are insane. For the most part, people are downright crazy mean. Why is it the season that should bring out the best in people brings out the nastiest and ugliest in people? I mean really, will little Tom or Sally just DIE if they don’t get that latest toy under the tree? Did you really just shove that woman to grab the last one off the shelf at Wal-Mart? Are you really in such a hurry you cut off that woman with three children so your azz could have a parking spot closer to the door? Did you truly just say to the elderly couple in line ahead of you, ‘can’t you move any faster?’

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Gawd, you people suck so badly it is difficult for me to even believe we are related somewhere back in time. Do you know what else is difficult for me comprehend?

download (1)Next on my list, the just downright mean and nasty across social media right now, really people give it a rest would you please. We all know what you think on any give subject, but must you spew your bile all over everything at this time of the year? Worse yet, must you do it all over everyone else’s timelines and pages? Honestly, if you disagree with someone is it impossible for you to do so with civility and common courtesy? Better yet, how difficult is it for you too simply move along? I will admit, I love a good debate as much as the next person but if the only thing you bring to the table is fictional talking points made up by some squirt mouth in the backroom of Faux, The Heritage Foundation or WorldNet Daily then please do us all a favor, keep it too yourself. I truly am all for diverse opinions and mixed government, fully in support of a true democratic solution (which we do not have today). Nevertheless, at this time of the year, you know ‘peace on earth and goodwill to men’, is it imperative you beat down those who think differently from you?

I have deleted and blocked more people on Facebook and other social media sites in the past five weeks than I have in the entire past year. Is it, is it me or them?download

Finally, let us for just one minute talk about your religion, it is after all one of the cornerstones of your life; right? After all, you have spent the better part of the past several centuries trying to enforce your morality, based on your religion on others. You have done this enforcing and force-feeding through wars, legislation and just plain simple making it miserable for everyone around you who doesn’t believe like you do.  Now frankly the insane part of this is, you are all nodding your heads right now and thinking to yourself, ‘Yeah, those f’ng (insert other religion here) sure are a bunch of Fundamentalist / Extremist / Terrorist / Nutjobs’. The fact is, all of you all are exactly all of those things if you can’t leave well enough alone, can’t leave other folks alone to believe what they choose to believe and can’t see for just one minute, you can’t be the only ‘right’ way if there are over four thousand (4,000) other ‘right’ ways out there right this very minute, all of which believe they are ‘right’. So give it a rest, would you please.

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By the way American’s in particular, no, no, no! America is not and never was intended to be a ‘Christian Nation’. It was intended to be a nation of laws. While the majority of you may be Christians, this does not change the Declaration of Independence and its intent, it does not change the Constitution and its intent. It also does not change all of the writings by those who wrote those two documents on their intent regarding the Nation and its relation to Religion, read up on this if you have any questions. Your desire to bend history, making it more palatable to your desires is both pitiful and frightening. Pitiful because it shows the shallowness of your intellect, frightening because it shows your willingness to sink our nation into ignorance to achieve your goals.

Those are my three peeves as we come into the holiday season and the New Year. Do I think it is getting better? No, in fact I think this nation is sinking fast, compassion and empathy seem to be in short supply and ignorance is on the rise, even celebrated. As a nation, we seem to have lost something, perhaps it is our soul. I am saddened by the great chasm dividing us as a people.10402430_10205015207440428_9211021343351180985_n

For me? I am going to try to do better this coming year. I am going to try to visit you more often. I am going to try to write more frequently, spread my wings to more subjects and see the world beyond my backyard. I am going to try to engage my community and do more than speak.

For the season? I will be with my family and I hope all of you will be with those you love. I am going to try to remind myself to tell those I love, whether family by blood or by choice that I love them and am grateful to have them in my life.

So with that off my chest and out of my system.

holidaygreeting

The News Cycle Bites

soapboxpile“A bad year and a bad month to all the backbiting bitches in the world!…” 
― Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraDon Quixote

Disclaimer

The first man to call me wife also called me whore and property. I have written about my nearly three years under his roof and his fists, here and elsewhere. I have exposed small parts of my life as a runaway at 15, a claimed woman child with no safe haven until he stretched out his hand and lifted me up. No, he wasn’t a ‘true’ husband, but by Texas law, he could claim the title and I did not know better. I was young, uneducated and afraid. I was afraid of him, I was more afraid of the streets.

I will not catalog every abuse, suffice to say in my nearly three years with him he broke several bones, he beat me so badly I lost my uterus and one ovary, he broke my nose more than once. Other parts of my body, suffered long-term damage and I carry many scars where I had to be stitched up after one of his beatings. This doesn’t even come close to cataloguing the emotional damaging those three years did to me. I never fought back after the first time.

People often ask why we stay, why an abused partner stays. There are many reasons, sometimes fear is the overriding reason. He told me if I tried to leave he would find me and kill me, I believed him. I was also afraid of the streets I had already been on, something I had already lived through and understood. I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to for help. In the early 1970’s there was no domestic violence laws, no shelters to protect us. In fact, domestic violence was ignored entirely unless someone died.


 

Domestic violence took over the news cycles the past couple of days; we have been subject to the left hook of Ray Rice in the elevator. Everyone has an opinion and for the most part that opinion is there is no pit in hell deep enough or hot enough for Ray Rice. Furthermore, the NFL and the DA didn’t do enough to punish him for that left hook and what followed. Dragging his fiancé out of the elevator, leaving her lying on the ground, legs and arms akimbo and name-calling, AP presumably has a video with audio in which the casino offers to cover up for him.

Here is the problem in this entire scenario, Janay Palmer Rice slapped Ray Rice first, she spit on him first in the elevator  and appears to have been the aggressor before the infamous left hook. None of us knows what came before the three minutes we have been made privy too, we don’t know what else their lives look like. We don’t know who they are, separately or together. We only know the Left Hook and being the good little drones we all are, we have drawn our conclusions and we have publicly pilloried Ray Rice, without ever once questioning her actions that came before.

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Could he have handled it better? Restrained her instead of punching her, maybe he could have. Likely, this would have been a better choice. However, this says people don’t have a right to defend themselves from an assault if they are men and it is a woman assaulting them. It says as a woman, short of wielding a knife and threatening a man’s life, I can do just about any damned thing I like and get away with it, that no man has a right to hit me, not even in self-defense.

I call bullshit. Yes, me a survivor of horrific domestic violence where I never once defended myself, where I never once raised my hand or my voice, I call bullshit.

There are far worse in the NFL then Ray Rice, if the NFL wants to make examples start with those who have killed, used drugs, been arrested for DWI, or hand all the abusers the same outcome as Ray Rice, it is simple to find this information, go here.

In the meantime, I have another issue with this entire news cycle. It is the diversion, the look over there style of reporting. The amazingly simplemindedness of it all has me dumbfounded. While the entire nation focuses on the left hook of Ray Rice, we forget the national tragedy of a militarized police force in every town, big or small across the land. We forget the unarmed men and women, mostly of color, mostly Black bleeding out on our streets.

We forget Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, Marlene Pinnock and these are just the names of those beaten or murdered by cops between July and August of this year.

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At no time did these names, did these murders, did this tragedy elicit the call to action by so many from every side of the aisle, as the left hook of Ray Rice. The murderous acts of cops do not so much as cause our elected representatives to blink. Riot gear, tear gas and wooden bullets turned on peaceful demonstrators doesn’t elicit even 5 minutes of; ‘calm your asses down out there’ from the administration. But the Left Hook of Ray Rice has Congress demanding action from the NFL and the President of the United States issue statements.

I will say it one last time; I am a survivor of domestic violence. At no time did I defend myself; I knew if I did, it would be worse. I was fifteen when it started. I was eighteen when I ran. There are many reasons why a person stays, sometimes it is fear, other times it is love; sometimes it is because we are so broken we think we deserve the abuse. No one can judge. We do not have the right to judge Ray or Janay, not now and not then. What we do have the right to do is step off and start looking at this situation with more clarity.

Men should not hit women; in most cases, they are larger and stronger. However, women shouldn’t hit men, shouldn’t attack, shouldn’t place themselves in the position where a man must defend himself and thus will likely hurt her in the process. I am sorry but self-defense is not abuse. It is a fine line, I understand this however, women are as responsible for staying on the other side of that line as men are. Some of the things I have heard over the past couple of days are idiotic, things that would seem to mean that we expect men to be saints, at all time. Things that would seem to mean a man has no right ever to defend himself under any circumstance, this is simply wrong and wrong-headed.

Some things that are important to know with regard to Domestic Violence, men make up approximately 40% of domestic violence victims.

Over a year ago we fought to refund VAWA, the battle was hard fought and there were some significant concessions that had to be made. Some of the issues the GOP hated? The expansions of services to poorly served populations including Native women on reservations and the LGBT community.

In the meantime, cops are beating and murdering in the streets and the outcry isn’t near what it is for the Left Hook of Ray Rice.

What is wrong with the morality and values of this nation? Don’t you think it is time to start asking this question?

Another take on it: http://theobamacrat.com/2014/09/09/raymell-mourice-ray-rice-abuser-victim-or-both/

I leave you with this.

Pro Ugly

soapboxpileThe announcement by Chelsea Clinton of her impending motherhood later this year brought out the hate, we should have known it would. As I read some of the twits tweeting, I thought to myself, is there nothing, nothing at all off-limits or out of bounds. My other thought was, ‘God people are mean-spirited and ugly’.

How did we get this way?

The argument surrounding abortion is a nasty one. Full of spite, religious rhetoric, name-calling, slut shaming and vitriol.  There is no one, not a single person I know who is Pro-Abortion, only those who are pro-choice; thinking human beings, mature adults who have found the wherewithal to understand there are reasons, sometimes emotional and other times physical a woman may choose to end a pregnancy.

I told my own very personal abortion story in three parts:

Part I is No Bastards No Choice

Part II is Never Again, I Will Hate You

Part III is History isn’t Mutable, But We Are

It isn’t a pretty story, no hearts and flowers there is no happy ending. My personal story doesn’t put a positive spin on choice. It does however; reinforce the need for choice to exist for every woman in this nation, no matter her age, socio-economic or marital status.

This fight, it truly isn’t over ‘babies’, were it over ‘babies’ we would not see children living on the streets, living in cars without enough to eat, without enough to wear in the winter, without clean water. Were this truly about the ‘babies’ we would not be fighting to keep intact programs to provide for born children, for healthcare, education and their overall welfare and well-being.

No this is not about ‘babies’ or children. This fight is about slut shaming and it is about religious imposition. This fight is about smashing a great big red A or S depending on which you prefer on the breast of every woman who demands a life of her own, including the freedom to choose how, when and with whom she will have sex.

A and S extended

The fight over abortion has been ugly; it is about more than abortion though and none of us should ever forget this salient truth. It is about access to healthcare for women and children, as well as, access to birth control for all women and young men too. This fight has extended well beyond the fight over access to safe abortion, it is about whether women have the right to control their lives, not just their reproductive lives, their entire lives including economic, educational and even whom they choose as partners. This fight is about our future as women in this nation, thus it is also about the future of men.

I will not get into the science of when a pregnancy represents a viable human life, we honestly could argue this issue day in and day out and it would break down into name calling and ideology within no more than five comments. I tend to believe what those who have studied human development, embryology and medical science tell me, for a view of the entire process I quite like Visible Embryo I think this site does a superior job of showing and telling the story.

We use conventions to identify the sides of this battle over women, their bodies and their choices. Naming the one side Pro Life is inaccurate and poorly defines them. I do not want to spend time defining the contradiction of the Pro-Life platform with some of their other ideologies, suffice to say it is impossible to align them, at least for me.

This isn’t to say all those who are ‘Pro-Life’ fall into the vehement and ugly ideologies some are truly well meaning with sincerely held beliefs. Arguing with these folks regarding ensoulment is a waste of breath. My preference is simply to accept their beliefs and explain gently I have a different belief and am entitled to it, Constitutionally. I then ask, if you are truly Pro-Life do you support the following and if so how do you align that support:

  • Reduction of SNAP
  • Reduction of Education programs, for adults and children
  • Reduction in funding for after school programs and Head Start
  • Reduction in funding for Free Lunch programs
  • Reduction in WIC
  • Reduction to programs to help disadvantaged neighborhoods and youth
  • Reduction to Planned Parenthood funding, which is sometimes the only source of healthcare for women
  • Reduced access to Birth Control for women
  • Abstinence only education

I have likely missed several programs; these were the ones I could think of off the top of my head that directly affected women and children already born, in this world and needing our help every day.

Getting back to what spurred this entire rant though, poor Chelsea. She no sooner announces the happy and momentous news that she will be delivering her first child later this year the ugly begins. What is it with the The Ninth Annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards - Inside Arrivalsopposition; nothing can simply be a happy announcement of a new stage of a young woman’s life. This nation is all turned in and upside down when Kim Kardashian delivers a child or when the royal family has another prince. For these events, we spend hours of bandwidth. But for the daughter of a President, we have nothing but scorn?

All I can say at this point, there is no one I know who is Pro-Abortion. Many I know who are Pro-Choice, without qualification or question. Should there be limitations in the later stages of pregnancy, yes of course, however these are well known and accepted by all right thinking human beings. The ugliness of this argument and how it leaks into everything, even the happy announcement of a young women who is not in the public eye except infrequently is simply another indication of how very ugly this nation has become. It makes me sad.

A good read (short).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-aaron-alexander/stop-calling-it-a-pro-life-movement_b_3577440.html

The Problem is Us

soapboxpileWe are the greatest problem in our own government at every level, we the people that is.  Our lazy, pedantic manner of shuffling to the polls, pulling the lever or punching the card with no thought other than what letter is after the name, rather than considering the consequence of our vote.  With our pitiful allegiance to party or even worse our zombie like love affair with those who have screwed us time and again, we know their names though and pull the lever for them as if they were members of our dysfunctional family.

We are the greatest problem with Washington, we have no one but ourselves to blame for every single bad behavior, delinquent assclownery and filibuster for fun currently occurring on the hill.

America, we truly do have a problem and that problem is us!

We are lazy, we are intellectual plodders, we are sheep who refuse to see the cliff we are running toward blindly but with great glee.  We willfully wave the flag of patriotism the moment anyone suggests we might not be the “best” country in the world, yet we fail on every scale that matters to measure up to other industrialized nations.  What matters you ask, how about the following:

  • Primary education, ranked 18th
  • University education, the most costly in the world
  • Trade Schools, the most costly in the world
  • Highest number of citizens held in prison for non-violent crimes (millions)
    • Related to this, highest number of juveniles sentenced as adults

I could go on with that list, those are just some of the highlights, poverty grows, racism runs rampant, inequity is wagging the dog and women are dancing the two-step backward with every election.  The real problem though, it isn’t those clowns in the state houses, nor is it the clowns in Congress; the real problem is us.

Every single time we have the opportunity to go to the polls and exercise our right to vote, we fail to exercise our most important muscle, our mind.  We have handed over the town square, kicked over the soapbox and Wikipedia Imageplaced our necks into the Pillory without force of arms.  We are sheep, no matter whether we are pulling the lever for the ‘D’ or the ‘R’ we refuse to demand real change to the way in which our government operates, instead shaking our heads at what is directly in front of our faces.

Do you really believe the following makes any sense?

According to the CIA World Facts Book, the median age in the US is 37.2, which breaks down further to 35.9 years for men and 38.5 years for women.  This is what the US Congress looks like, is it any wonder we are still fighting the same silly azzed battles over our uterus and paychecks.

800px-USpop2010.svg

Most people look forward to retirement, the average age of retirement is 61 in the US though many are working today well into their early 70’s just to make ends meet and make up for heavy losses taken during market crashes.  Statistics say the average American will change jobs 10 – 15 times during their career, some will only spend 4 years in any one job.  So tell me why the average Congressperson seeks tenure, a seat is theirs for life?

Average in the Senate: 10 years

Longest serving member: 39 years

Average Age: 62   *   Oldest Member:  80

Average in Congress: 19 years

Longest serving member:  58 years

Average Age: 57  *  Oldest Member: 90

Then there is the issue we always have to scratch our heads over, why doesn’t Congress look more like the country? I mean really, why doesn’t it look more like where you and I live and work? This is what the country generally looks like:

populationdistribution

I know, somewhat hard to read broken up by all those states, but notice with the exception of a few states distribution of races are pretty even.  So to make it easier, look at these:

race totalpopulation

Does that make it easier to see, we simply do not have a representative government. No way, no how.

Finally we come to what is most puzzling, this constant insistence to pray away every damned thing.  Opening prayers to make certain God is on their side when they take food out of the mouths of the poor, when they give the wealthy another tax break, when they send young men and women to die in another thankless war on a lie.  With the exception of a few, every single last solitary one of these fossilized burdens sucking on the public teat claims some form or another of Christianity, entirely ignoring the rest of their constituents and their Constitutional Rights to live without having their rights trampled by religion every time they draw breath.

RELIGION us

So we are the problem, we allow this continue by not demanding representative government that truly and fully represents the people.  We are the problem, only us not them who are gleefully rubbing their hands together with the money they earn sitting on their collective asses doing nothing, becoming millionaires while talking a good game.  We are the problem when we support this type of government, which is nothing if not corrupt.

Who in their right minds believes any of this makes sense?  When will we demand changes to our government that do?

You must be 25 to serve in the House and 30 to serve in the Senate, there is however no top end no retirement age.  You can just continue to toddle on in there with your drool cup until you drop dead, how about we start considering the consequences?  How about you must retire from elected office at 72, no more running the country sorry folks, leave it those young whippersnappers.

A Congressperson gets two years to screw things up, while a Senator gets six years. Now personally I think we should force a bit of objective thinking into this process, you can’t run for the Senate unless you have served at least one term in the House.  This will weed out some of the real nutcases and move some of the better ones up the chain.  Term limits are critical I think, no more seats for life this is ridiculous; three terms in the House and three terms in the Senate, that is it then it is back to the private sector with you.  If you were really good you can run again for either house of Congress after one Senate term or six years, whichever comes first.

Do we run a risk with this?  We might, but we run far less risk this way than we have today.  What we have today is simply a FUBAR.

Indignity in the House

soapboxpileDignity

A way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control

The quality of being worthy of honor or respect

Merriam-Webster

For our comedic interlude, let’s talk about what America thinks of Congress. I think this is absolutely fabulous and nearly fell off my chair the first time I heard it, however what I do not find fabulous is the reasons for it. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), brought to the floor of Congress a resolution asserting privilege under Rule IX.

This is a bit long, there are shorter versions available, however this is worth a listen I promise you.

The resolution was for nothing more or less than a vote to end the shutdown and insure our debt is paid through next year; he aptly named it the “Anti-Self-Destruction Act”. You can read this lovely and sane piece of legislation here: http://endthelunacy.com

While you are reading it, please I beg of you sign the petition! Last I checked, the petition is still 10,000 shy of the 25,000 needed before it can be presented. Sign it. Tweet it. Send it to your friends. This truly is non-partisan. It is funding at current levels while Congress hammers out a budget.

Now to things I think are funny or important in the midst of the horror show that is our current government shutdown, looming debt crisis. Congress truly has reached a new low, there are only a very few things the American public find more appealing, watch this one2:

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I would like to think we human beings are capable of logical thought, of compassion and empathy. I have always wanted to believe these things about my fellow human beings. Yes, I know you are out there reading this and thinking to yourselves, but Val you have met some real true proof to the contrary. You would be right, I have. On the other hand, I have met some truly wonderful people in my life. I have met people who have overcome real hardship to soar. I have met people who walked out of prisons to stand beside me in Victim Impact and I have cried as I heard their stories. I have listened to offenders tell their stories during Victim Impact and I have been moved.

Then there is this clown, this fool who climbed out of brutal poverty with the help of society to achieve greatness but who would prefer no one else be given the same opportunities. Listen to what Dr. Ben Carson has to say about ACA.

Of course, life wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging Faux has a new face, yes that is correct the retired good doctor has joined the line-up of talking heads to spew his trash.

Now, on to other wonderful things I found this week across the net. Want to send your congressman a pointed message? I surely did, in fact I think I will be sending at least one a day to good old Pete Sessions of Texas 32nd District, he of the scandalous lying and government shutdown support. I love this great site and whoever set it up, well I think they are magnificent.

http://fuckyoucongress.com/hey-tea-party-doing-nothing-is-doing-nothing

There are plenty of things to do at “Fuck you Congress” besides sending a nice bit of tweeting to your personal Congressman. There are links to voter registration, current information to browse and petitions of relevance like this one I hope you will sign:

Sign to send a message on Campaign Reform: http://www.rootstrikers.org/#!/

Finally, I am leaving you with this; Clint Smith a fabulous Teacher (Government Worker) and Spoken Word Poet. I had some wonderful teachers in my day, but never anyone this good.

This is by far one of the most moving pieces I have heard on the need for community movement and healthcare in a very long time.


1 http://clerk.house.gov/legislative/house-rules.pdf

2 http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2013/PPP_Release_CONGRESS_108.pdf

Everything is not You

The Wild Child returns or was it truly the Prodigal Daughter

My annoyance is at a high point, really, I don’t tell others what to do with their lives I would prefer if others would show me the same courtesy. I am going to rant this morning; I might even descend into raging. This may indeed be one of my off the grid, not so politically polite vents. If I offend you, well not going to apologize for it.

Let me say up front, I am a smoker. I have been a smoker for 45 of my 56 years on earth. Yes, you read that right I started smoking when I was eleven (11) years old. I quit one time in all those 45 years, it was the most miserable two months I spent. Smoking is part of who I am. I enjoy the taste of my cigarettes. I enjoy cigars too. Hell, I was shot because I stopped for cigarettes. After I was shot, I had to give up drinking for the most part, the one vice I kept? Smoking!

I am not stupid. I fully understand the risks and I accept them for myself. I also happen to know, I do not have a genetic predisposition for any of the normal outcomes of smoking including cancer.

Don’t smoke? Good for you, if you never smoked even better for you really. If you are an ex-smoker, you did a great thing for yourself, you quit when you were ready. There you see I can be polite. Now, please keep your non-smoking / ex-smoking opinions and self-righteousness out of my face and air space.

It is already true I cannot go out for a meal and enjoy coffee and a cigarette afterwards. The non-smoker brigade has stripped me of that pleasure. It wasn’t enough for restaurants to provide a segregated smokers section, no indeed you wanted more dammit you wanted it all. Then you went after bars and billiard rooms, now I can’t go play pool and fire up a cigar while I rack’em up and play. Another tick mark on your side, never mind smoky pool halls were once de rigueur or that they are privately owned not public places and you could choose to not patronize those that allowed smoking.

I just spent a week looking for a hotel in Duluth, MN for a two (2) day stay, I looked at my normal chains, nothing. I looked at some others, nothing. I looked at three stars, then two stars, then even one star nothing. I thought maybe it was Duluth.

After my search yielded terrible results, I called Intercontinental, owners of Holiday Inns and other properties. I am an Ambassador member of this chain, supposed to yield me privileges, not so much. I asked if their holidayinnproperties were now smoke free and was told yes, they were moving that direction, while some of the older properties still allowed smoking all new properties would be smoke free. New properties included properties that had undergone renovation.

I will be cancelling my membership with Intercontinental and moving all my points to my airline miles, currently I have over 100,000.

Marriott_NoI wasn’t really shocked when the Marriott chain went entirely smoke free. This was years ago and after all it is owned by Mormons, why wouldn’t they take the first opportunity to jump on the Smoke Free bandwagon. It should be noted, their Asian and European properties are not smoke free, only the North American.

When they went smoke free I moved all my points to airline miles, at the time I had over 800,000.

On average, I stay in hotels 170 days per year. Yet the on-going campaigns of vacationers have driven many hotel chains to become “Smoke Free”. This creates unsafe environments for women who smoke, forcing us out of our rooms at night onto city streets or unguarded front entrances for a cigarette. There we are, huddled on a bench 50’ or more from front entrances out of the light and unseen by the front desk  the perfect target for perverts, rapists or other unsavory characters because you want to make certain entire hotels are smoke free and could care less if we are safe. Your drive for smoke free hotels for your 5-day vacation has created an extremely high-risk situation 170 nights per year for me.

I smoke. It is my choice to do so. I don’t smoke in your house nor would I ever think to do so. I don’t throw my butts on the ground; I have an ashtray in my car. When I smoke outside I make certain I am not near a crowd, I stand downwind whenever possible and throw my butts in the nearest bin.

You don’t own the public parks though you want too, I know. When you stop driving your cars and polluting the air, I will consider not sitting on a public park bench and smoking. My taxes, by the way pay for that bench. My taxes from cigarettes, my hotel taxes in your cities as well contribute to your parks, roads and other comforts.

I don’t complain when your children rampage up and down hallways when I am trying to work or sleep. You are on vacation, your 5-day holiday and I understand you might not be up to controlling your monsters. I don’t complain when you’re next door having that party you always wanted, I get it really I do. It is the first time you have been away from the family and the conference is great, free alcohol and that girl you met at the bar looked great after your seventh martini.

What the hell though, why is it you insist on smoke free hotels? Is it really too much to ask that I am allowed a room somewhere in the hotel with an ashtray? Up to now most hotels put their smoking rooms at the end of a hall on a single floor usually in a place well away from other rooms. Why can’t you be satisfied with that? Why do you need the entire f’ing hotel?Kickm

In fact why do you need everything?

#smokefree #smoking

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