Game Over

One hundred days, really it has only been just over one hundred days. I am not going to rail against the current President of the United States, it is not worth my time or the click-clack of my nails against the keyboard. There is too much to say, too much to rail against and many others have made it their lives work to pound their heads against that immovable object. Instead, I am going to take on the other side of the house, the other apparently immovable object….the DNC, the Progressives, the Liberals of this nation.

My first question, just what the hell is wrong with you people?

Do you think I am asking this question in a vacuum?  It is an honest question, what the hell is wrong with all of us? We are shrinking the tent, making ourselves smaller and less interesting to the common man and woman in the streets. We are in fact scaring the bejeezus out of many of the everyday people we say we represent. So I have to ask, just what the hell is wrong with all of us.

People who say they represent our interests, say they are Progressives / Liberals / Democrats are rioting in the streets of cities, tearing up businesses and personal property and we say nothing. We say not one single thing at all. Instead, we sit back and allow the Anarchists to run wild in the streets and we shrug our shoulders.

People who say they represent us, our interests are standing up in public making the most ridiculous statements, including the idea of ‘purity tests’ on seated Democratic Congress men and women and Senators in secure districts. Yes, that’s right purity tests. Let me help you on this one, we don’t all have to think exactly alike, we don’t all have to tow the line on every single issue, we are not the Tea Party or the Freedom Caucus. We are, I hope, the party that invites those who are from many walks of life and who seek to be represented by intelligent, thoughtful people who will vote their conscious and in most cases vote in support of a platform we can agree on, one that is representative of a wide range of people from many walks of life.

I need to point something out right here, we do not all vote for every Congressional Representative or Senator. The people of their district or state vote for them, in state elections. The duty of the Congressperson or Senator, even while voting on legislation that affects the entire nation is to also represent their own constituents in the best way possible. If they are doing a good job, they are representing all their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them, not just the ones who scream the loudest, but all of them!

So let’s have a conversation about why we find ourselves where we are. Maybe first we should define exactly where that is, before we move on to more esoteric discussions.

  • 33 States have Republican Governors, which amounts to 60% of the population
  • 25 States Republicans have a Trifecta, where they control both Legislative Houses plus the Governor’s Mansion

This brings us to Washington, that quagmire of corruption.

  • White House, Independent Donald Trump spent his entire life as a Democrat until he decided to run for president. He picked up on the worst of the rhetoric, appealed to the lowest common denominator and hijacked the Grand Old Party.
  • Far Right Wingnut Mike Pence is his loyal lap dog, went along with him. Colluded in every scheme and made excuses for his madness. All to be one step closer to the office chair he would never have gained on his own.
  • Congress and the Senate swept in on his coattails. Where usually we would have checks and balance instead we have nothing but more complicity, more turn the other way and hope like hell you aren’t caught in the coming storm. They are falling, slowly and one by one, they are falling.
  • Supreme Court, we lost it already. Be fully aware it is gone unless something dramatic happens to bring this entire administration down to its knees SCOTUS is gone for a generation. Shame on all of us.

So how did we get here? It wasn’t in a single election. It wasn’t because we blinked in 2016. It wasn’t because White Women voted for the wrong candidate (Trump). It wasn’t because not enough people got out to vote. Stop, stop here and now with the blame game and the finger pointing. Really? It makes you look unintelligent, every single time I read some post or blog blaming everyone but the true culprits, I cringe.

Trump is President of the United States because he won the election according to our laws, according to our rules. The fact of the matter is we, every single person who calls themselves a Progressive, a Liberal or a member of the corrupt Democratic National Party put him in that office just as surely as those who voted for him.

We blinked. We didn’t fight at the state and local level when the RNC was pouring money into those elections and gerrymandering those states to ensure the future. We didn’t pay attention as we slowly bled Governors and state legislatures; as cities flipped and one by one congressional seats flipped, we ignored the signs. We thought the only important thing was the office of President so that was all we paid attention to. We allowed the DNC to unwisely pick battles, withhold much-needed money from winnable battles, losing fights we could have won had we just had a little more help from a national party with more than enough money to spend.

We didn’t complain when the DNC put up a bad candidate. Yes, I said it Hilary Clinton was a bad candidate and she ran a bad campaign. She lost because she shouldn’t have run. She had too much baggage, she may be an accomplished woman but she should have bowed out, recognized it was not her time, would never be her time. She should have given this nation a fighting chance. She put herself ahead of us. That should have been our first clue she was a bad damned candidate. Then she had the audacity to ignore entire states, believing she could afford to not campaign, to not show up.  Now? Frankly, I wish she would sit down and shut the hell up for just a little while.

Purity tests? What do you, the DNC and others exactly want to test for? Oh, yeah I know what these tests are don’t get me wrong. You all want to be certain Senators and Congress people are Left enough for you. You want everyone to be exactly aligned with some mythical party line, voting records so pure as to require sunglass to be read. But that isn’t realistic, is it? We don’t all align on every single issue, we disagree on many issues truth be told. The reality is, what we should want is a loosely built coalition of like-minded individuals who will vote in the best interests of the nation, seeking common ground with the other side when possible and demanding the best solution for our national security, economic health and civil rights and freedoms at all times. The fact of the matter is, we need strong, independent men and women who will help us frame the future. We need those who are not afraid to take on party politics when those politics are not in our best interests. We need those who will speak from the floor of Congress for the people of their district and their nation, against injustice from wherever it comes.

Frankly, we need new blood. We need to flush the two houses of Congress of all those who have made of living off of swimming in the quagmire that is Washington politics. We need to demand term limits. We need to demand those term limits extend to the Courts, including the Supreme Court. The only way we quash corruption is to take the issue into our own hands. Purity tests? Really?

I am an Independent for a reason, I could not pass a Purity Test. This is what I look like:

60% Progressive

20% Liberal (yes there is a difference)

10% Conservative (did you guess that?)

10% Libertarian

Really think about your politics. Can you honestly say you are all one thing, entirely one thing? That you cannot find common ground with your opponents, ever on any issue. We have come to an impasse in this nation and it is frightening. We, on the Left though, we are hypocrites and we need to get our house in order before next year. We need to stop our hand-wringing and whining about the last election and start figuring out how we are going to take back at least one House in Washington and some of the States. How we are going to undo some of the damage done over the past twenty years that allowed this disaster to take place. If we don’t step up our game, it is over for a very long time to come.

Race to the Bottom

OpEdWe are truly a nation to be reckoned with, if you are worried about your position at the bottom of the pile, the bottom of the world ranking in nearly all relevant areas; the United States is working hard to grab the title. We are international bullies, we stand up and are counted policing the world to do what we say not what we do. Our leaders condone torture; in fact, they are proud of their participation or at least their tactic approval of the torture of other human beings. Our nation enters wars, costing tens of thousands of lives, killing heads of state and civilians alike for no good reason but we want the natural resources of that nation, we want to destabilize that region, we want to break the world.

We spend billions, sometimes trillions of dollars in nations other than our own. Nations that do not need our money, that do not appreciate our interference, nations that do not align with our stated values. Meanwhile, here in our own country we have children going without food, shelter, education. We make some of the top lists, such as:

Homelessness, top fifteen cities the USA has the grace to steal six spots on the list, with an estimated total 212,579 homeless living on the streets of these cities alone.

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Once you let that lovely sink in, the idea we have so many on the streets consider this one, we haven’t had such a large income gap since 1928. In fact, the United States made another list; yes indeed, we made the list of nations with the largest income disparity, number 4 on the hit parade of 10. We should be wondering what the hell is wrong, only Chile, Turkey and Mexico are ahead of us on this list, the GOP isn’t doing their job if we haven’t made number 1.

Now while you are absorbing the thought of all your fellow citizens living rough; men, women and children living without shelter consider the findings of Transparency International, we aren’t doing so well on the issue of corruption. In fact, we are suck. Our perception of ourselves, as a nation isn’t great so how do we justify sending our military out to police others? Just asking mind you.

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Now let’s discuss the idiocy on the Hill, yes that hill Capital hill. While the nation falls down around our ears, the ijits on the Hill are busy writing twenty-four new anti-choice bills, well to be fair one of them is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. You know they do this because they are afraid of women, they are afraid of our power if we should ever figure out we actually have a majority in this nation and we band together, breaking down all the false lines they have drawn to keep us apart. If the vast majority of us reach across the walls of race, religion, classism and poverty we will find we have far more in common than not. When we do this, we might find most of these Bills are intended only to infantilize all of us, stripping of us of our rights to both body integrity and economic freedom.

We could talk about so many other things, the education system in this nation and our lack of commitment to excellence. Our race to the bottom of the heap, our fear of intellectualism, our on-IgnoranceMapgoing outsourcing of innovation. Despite our great wealth we don’t even come in at the top ten of the Pearson ranking. In our race to the bottom though, we have achieved one top score, we are the second most ignorant country in the world, on the Ipsos Mori social survey only Italy is more ignorant that the US.

We could discuss the bulging prisons, the one thing we are number one in the world. With over two million of our fellow citizens within the Industrial Prison Complex, this is not something to be proud of. The problem of course is, the prison system is another capitalist scam, with well over one billion a year in profits to be made, no one is going to start dismantling it in favor of better justice, not when the favored few can line their pockets on the backs of the disadvantaged.

We could discuss the horror of joblessness and ask the question, why in the world this administration the GOP, along with several Democrats wants so badly to continue to destroy our future opportunity to grow through trade agreements. Trade agreements the citizens of this country are kept in the dark about. Trade agreements that do not favor us, but instead favor multi-national business. The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement is not about free trade, believe me.

As we continue our race to the bottom, I ask myself where does it end? I wish we would all ask the same question. I continue to love this clip from the Newsroom, it says it all; we sure use to be.

Choices are Terrible

1343863240_3320_fearFear is a terrible thing.  The stories we tell ourselves of what will happen if we do or do not do certain things can spin out of control in our own heads.  If we have any imagination our internal stories can cause us too cower in corners refusing to take the steps we know in our hearts are right.

What do I fear?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Losing everything
  • Never working again
  • Being alone for the rest of my life
  • Never being loved again
  • Dying alone
  • Not achieving any of my dreams

What am I willing to sacrifice so this doesn’t happen?  Apparently everything at least that is how it feels right now, today as I face the nearly untenable return to work in a hostile environment leaving too much unsaid at home.  What is it in my personal psyche that will accept what is indefensible under any normal circumstance rather than take risks that are not grounded in facts.

Yes, some of them are grounded in personal  historical realities.

Yes, some of them are grounded in societal standards and those translate into well founded fears.

Finally, some are simply my own fears, my own personal insecurities built over years of hearing “not good enough”.

Somewhere, somehow there comes a time when it is important to separate what are unreasonable fears from what is simply the truth about choices we make and why we make them.  Is there a part of us that chooses jobs because we think, ‘this is something that makes sense and I can do this; be successful at this.’  Or, as we get older in a market that values youth and beauty do we think, ‘shit thank you Jesus, someone is willing to pay me now if I can only stay under the radar long enough to retire I will be good.’

I wonder about this one, I truly do.  After twenty plus years in an industry that is unkind at best to women, one that I have fought hard to succeed in I find myself on the cusp of antiquity.  I still love what I do. I badly want off the road, badly want to find a ‘forever’ home that will value hard won knowledge and my years of experience.  Truly want to find somewhere to rest myself, on the laurels I have earned through years and 3 million miles in the air.  I still have it in me to work hard and contribute to success.  I still have it in me to mentor and lead.  What I don’t have in me any longer is surviving in hostile environments in silence hoping it will be better tomorrow.  I just don’t have that in me, I simply can’t find the strength or wherewithal to hope next week or this week will be better than the last one when I know the same people will be there and nothing has been done to change their bad behavior.

hazardous-waste-symbolsThe idea of getting in my car and driving four hours to an environment that is so toxic it makes me want to weep or scream every single day makes me weep now.

Funny though, when the environment I am leaving is as toxic it is choosing between two rooms one full of Sarin the other full of Rican.  Which is worse?

Dying alone seems a better choice, it is simply a matter of telling myself this isn’t the worse that can happen.  Never being loved is a silly fiction, I know I am loved it is simply a matter of definitions, love comes as a gift in so many different packages.  Being alone, how much worse could it be than it is right now when I am more alone together than I have ever been.

Losing everything, now this is a terrible one.  Terrible because I have been here before and I am too old to start over again.  Terrible because it is a very real fear, not just one I made up in my over active imagination but one I have lived.  Terrible because it truly does scare the hell out of me and causes emotional and intellectual paralysis.

Love is a sometime horrible state of being, we hope beyond all reason what we love and whom we love will be good for us and that in turn we will be good for them.  We hope, rightly or wrongly we can fix what is broken in ourselves and that our baggage will match theirs so our travels are along the same roads.  We hope we speak the same language, from our hearts and our minds; both are important as we walk along paths no others have medium_diverging_paths-270x180tread dragging our histories behind us.

Sometimes we fail.  Sometimes, despite all our best intentions we fail miserably.  Sometimes there isn’t enough love to fix what is broken inside of us.  Compassion, empathy, humor, self-confidence these have to be part of the mix we bring.  When we try to force another person into a mold, whether it is an image we have of him or her or of how marriage should work we are doomed before we place our feet firmly on the path.  When  we have no flexibility in our personal views, in our vision of the world we have doomed ourselves to a very narrow future and we doom our partner to unhappiness if they don’t agree.

What am I willing to sacrifice?  Myself? My pride?

What happens when we don’t tell, or worse when we do but the other person doesn listen or doesn’t hear?

I have to answer these questions soon.  Choices are terrible things, aren’t they?

I leave you with this from one of my favorite Broadway shows, I think it says what we should all ultimately strive for.

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

Omnipotent Really

Hands_of_God_and_AdamWhat if you had a single day to do whatever wanted, just one single day. Whatever you did would remain, no one could undo it or wish it away. What if you or I were granted the power to affect change, what would you do with that single day and all that power.

The ramifications of that much power at the tips of your fingers sounds spectacular, doesn’t it?


Untutored in being an omnipotent  entity would we look around and begin to right all the wrongs we see? Where would we start?

But wait, your vision of utopia might not be the same as mine? Your changes might well bring misery to others. You are a minority of one, you could of course choose to talk your decisions over with others or simply go it alone.

What will you do? How to choose with this great power to make dreams come true and only a single day to accomplish it all in. This could well give you a few grey hairs by the end of the day.

Maybe you would cure terrible disease, eradicate Aids and Cancer, other scourges Alzheimer’s and Dementia. That leaves so many other terrible plagues though, maybe you could broaden your scope and eliminate all illness from the world now and in the future.

A-helmet-rifle-set-of-dog-tags-and-pair-of-boots-called-a-Fallen-Soldier-Battle-Cross-stands-in-front-of-the-Vietnam-War-Memorial-Wall-repLooking across the globe there are terrible wars, you could wave your hand and stop them. Bring peace to all the lands, causing all the warriors to put down their weapons of death. Eliminate all the horrible tools of mass destruction, the poison gases and nuclear bombs. But in doing this could you also eliminate all the reasons for war?

Conceivably it is something of more immediate concern you would try to change, something more in your neighborhood, something more real to you. What would that be? Are you in the United States? Would you consider the violence marring our landscape and think, ‘I can fix this with a wave of my hand’. Then do it. How would that look afterward, would the Constitution suddenly be without the 2nd Amendment or instead would our attitudes, our culture of violence the hearts and minds of our citizens be changed. Could you possible conceive of what this means? What is underneath this terrible culture of death and mayhem, this murderous nature of ours. How did you fix the trajectory? What are the ramifications of your ‘fix’?

There are so many things any one of us might pick on our day of omnipotence, while we sit in our seat of power with just twenty-four hours to exercise our will. We could of course choose the selfish way out of this dilemma, we could choose to do not one damned thing at all for World Peace, Earth or Human Unity. We could choose instead to do only selfish things, things that serve only ourselves. We could promise with our new future we will do good works later when we have fixed ourselves first.

Do you think I am rambling just for the sake of it? No, I am really not.

There is this idiotic rumbling by many in our nation the President isn’t doing enough, I have to ask, enough what? He is one man and he is not infused with omnipotence through his election. In fact, the President of the United States does not write the law, he does not vote on the laws that are written, he has the limited power of doing one of two things when they arrive at his desk from Congress; he can sign them into law or he can veto them.

The President is not a God, not even a minor God. He does not have the power to wave his hand and fix what is broken. Unfortunate really given the situation this nation finds itself in this morning. The tawdry demagogues of the far Right have brought our government to a screeching halt, as they had planned since before they took power in one house of Congress in 2010. Their self-awareness is limited to what they want, what they have promised to their constituents since before the elections of 2010, Anarchy. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, only they bring down the government:

  • Budget Cuts – give us our way or we will shut it downAnarchy Reigns
  • Planned Parenthood funding – give us our way or we will shut it down
  • Block access to birth control for women – give us our way or we will shut it down
  • Repeal ACA (twice) – give us our way or we will shut it down

The above are only the five (5) times and a partial list of why, the House Republicans have pushed this government to the brink of shut down. Until now, today government workers in all branches of government have been ordered to proceed with shutdown activities, take their toys and go home until further notice. TURN OFF THE LIGHTS.

I did not include in the above the two (2) times those same selfish Azzhats from the Tea Party and their beaten allies from the original GOP threatened to carry this nation over the Fiscal Cliff, not pay our bills, not raise the debt ceiling. Of course, what these irresponsible idiots fail to understand or maybe simply do not give two shits about, the first time they did this our Bond Rating was lowered making the cost of credit higher. By threatening the Full Faith and Credit of the United States, they threaten not just the economy of this nation but the economy of the world.

Since the GOP took power in the House, they have not passed a single piece of relevant new legislation; in the two years prior to their taking over the House fifteen (15) major pieces of new Legislation were passed. They have obfuscated and obstructed, they have threatened and they have puffed up their chests along with fear mongering among their base. Their hubris is monumental in the face of their failure to accomplish a single positive outcome for this nation.

the-fall-1511Oh wait, they promised to shut down the government before they were elected. Now, on 1-October-2013 they have finally accomplished what they set out to do, Government Shut Down.

So, Anarchy rules in the House. The Government of the United States is Shut Down. Eight hundred thousand government workers will be without paychecks and we do not know for how long. Government services will not be open for business, the only good news on this one NO NEW GUN PERMITS.

Guess what? ACA is open for business, Americans can start signing up today.

So if you were omnipotent for just one day what would you do?

Widening the Chasm

Idiom: a condition of being unequal of different, in disagreement, opposed. The idiom uses ‘odds’ to express the condition of ‘being unequal or different’ and transfers it to a difference of opinion or quarrel. [Late 1500’s]1


soapboxpileWe are a nation at odds. What does this mean, to be at odds as a nation? It could mean any number of things, I am going to tell you what I believe it means from my personal perspective. Given this is my personal opinion, although backed by a certain amount of boring statistical notations and research and facts, it remains my interpretation. There a couple of caveats I should make before continuing, I am a Boomer, I apparently do not follow my generation on many social trends, voting trends or overall political thinking. My guess is I am different from the majority of my cohort because of my life experiences, which are also vastly different from most of the Boomer generation (1946 – 1964).

How are we at odds?

First, there is the issue of being a ‘Christian’ nation that refuses to care for its weakest members, its aged, its children and those who cannot care for themselves. I find this to be fully ‘at odds’ with the philosophy born of the man who was Jesus of Nazareth, The Christ and all of the religious houses that lay claim to his teachings. One of my favorite examples of how American Right Wing zealots have fallen away from the teachings they pretend too is Matthew 31-46 The Son of Man Shall Judge the Nations, here is just a small piece of it if you are interested read the rest for yourself:

41“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’44“Then they also will answered Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’46“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

How does this translate into how we behave as a nation? If as so many wrongly insist, we are a Christian Nation, why is it so easy to watch children go hungry, entire generations incarcerated, poverty grow and illiteracy expand. Why, if we are a Christian Nation, as so many wrongly insist is the culture of violence the only culture we worship with any fidelity?

The Farm Bill is mired in partisan bickering, with the R’s praying to the idol of greed and Ayn Rand to cut billions of dollars from SNAP (Food Stamps) thus ensuring children, disabled veterans, women, other disabled and the aged must learn to subsist on even less than $133 per month for food currently allotted (sometimes less). I don’t know about you, I am fairly certain I could not survive on approximately $4.36 per day. If these cuts go through, for those who do not lose their benefit altogether the new benefit will be approximately $90 per month that is $2.95 per day. How, tell me just how does this translate back into the whole Christian Nation thing? Just curious mind you.

Census_Poverty

census_Povertyageandgender

Not to be pedantic about this whole issue, however why does GOP wander down this path, revisiting entire swaths of the 2012 presidential election, trying hard to forget THEY LOST. Why are we bombarded with foul rhetoric, 42 votes to defund ACA at a cost to the American public of $84,000,000. This number is calculated based on a daily rate of $2,000,000 per day for each time Congress meets to vote on something they know does not have a snowballs chance of snowballinhellgetting to the desk of the President. Why do they continue this folly, at a time when the acolytes of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of absolute selfishness (not Christianity) are trying hard to forget there are consequences to elections and ignoring their own stump of deficit reduction and fiscal conservatism. I guess their principals only count when it isn’t them who might be hungry, without work, buried in student debt, losing your home or facing life without health insurance for your child or yourself.

We are a nation at odds, we truly are. I speak to so many people both on-line and face-to-face throughout the week who cannot seem to reconcile their ‘Christianity’ with their gut level responses to the current ideological rhetoric coming from talking heads, written word, elected officials and even their pastors. It is damned near pathological and it is frightening. When faced with reasoned argument they have no response, but to name call and fall back on age-old arguments.

  • “Are you saying you think children should go to bed hungry?”
    A penniless mother hides her face in shame after putting her children up for sale, Chicago, 1948

    A penniless mother hides her face in shame after putting her children up for sale, Chicago, 1948

    • “That isn’t what I am saying. Their parents should get a job.”
  • “What if there are no jobs? Are you saying those children should go to bed hungry, go to school hungry?”
    • No, I don’t want children to be hungry. I am not heartless. Their parents shouldn’t have had them if they can’t take care of them.”
  • “But they are here now; their mother didn’t have access to birth control and couldn’t have an abortion because in this state it isn’t available. Are you saying her children should go to bed hungry and go to school hungry?
    • “That isn’t what I am saying dammit. She should get a job. She should get off Welfare. Maybe she should give her children to the State.”

The above is a conversation I had recently with someone in a store, her comments are in blue. The person I had it with is someone I know fairly well, we talk often about these issues; obviously, we are on different sides of the chasm.

My question to everyone, how do we fix this? The 113th Congress is the most ineffective Congress in history. They have done nothing since their swearing in. They waste money and time, they continue down this path of attempting redefine the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election, THEY LOST. Whether or not you like the outcome, it is frankly not relevant. What is relevant?

  • Poverty is growing in this nation.
  • Incarceration is growing and becoming a for-profit industry.
  • Unemployment is not going down perceptively in this nation.
  • The infrastructure of this nation is crumbling.
  • The middle class of this nation is nearly dead.
  • Violence is growing
  • Global competitiveness is shrinking

The list goes on and yet we sit back and do not one damned thing but stroke ourselves for what? American Exceptionalism? Really?


1http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/At%20odds

http://frac.org/leg-act-center/farm-bill-2012/

http://www.offthechartsblog.org/farm-bill-amendment-would-pay-states-to-cut-off-snap-benefits-for-people-who-want-to-work-but-cant-find-jobs/

http://hungercliff.org/

http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/34SNAPmonthly.htm

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/health-care/what-cost-house-vote

http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-245.pdf

Appease or Alone

Sleeping BeautyWhether negotiating a peace treaty between warring nations or who will do the dishes, each side has in mind a desired outcome. The parties come to the table girded for a war of words, their negotiating tactics firmly in mind. Each party, whether they admit it or not wants the upper hand, wants to win.

Do you find yourself wanting to win? Maybe just who makes the coffee in the morning or whether the coffee cup belongs in the sink or the dishwasher sometimes these simple things grow into what breaks us with resentment. Marriage, partnerships whatever we find ourselves in are not hearts and flowers all the time despite what we would like others to believe; indeed they are often something far more challenging than negotiating a piece of contentious legislation or world peace.

Princess Bride Forever

Princess Bride Forever

With the pronouncement of solemn vows, the agreement to love, honor and cherish something shifts. We think the honeymoon will last forever, it doesn’t; truthfully it cannot life has a habit of moving in with you when you return from paradise. We may believe roles don’t or won’t change, they do and they will.

No matter how clearly we have drawn our lines in the sand, written our boundaries (in our heads), those little words “till death do you part” have a profound effect on both of you. Whether it is social norms, cultural norms, gender norms or a combination of all of these, whatever you thought during courtship will change.

In the politics of relationships our hearts and our futures are on the line, we have often invested years in our marriages / partnerships. It is what you do when negotiating your relationship, your boundaries and your future that makes or breaks you. Not just your relationship but you.

  •   Concede – Accede
  •   Appeasement – Concession
  •   Compromise – Reconciliation

The above are words we might think of, might act out in the rough waters of our marriage or partnerships. Only one pairing has a good outcome, yet all too often, we find ourselves doing something other than what is healthy, what is good for our relationship and ultimately us as individuals.

We make concessions, or concede our positions on some points. Perhaps these are minor, things we can easily give. Concerns that have no real bearing on our long-term happiness or the foundation of our relationship or the agreements we thought we had made. But wait, before we accede do we talk about them, do we discuss why these concessions matter or do we simply give in, setting the pattern for all future interactions within our relationship.

My mom & dad 1951

My mom & dad 1951

With each concession, do we allow our resentment to grow? Do we disappear under the weight of another person and his or her demands for ‘their way’? Do we become a passive member of our relationship simply to appease the other, out of fear of loss, fear of public condemnation or shame, fear of loneliness. What happens to our ego or our boundaries as we appease, as we concede positions?

The boundary we established for ourselves that line in our mind the one that said we would be a full partner has now changed. We have agreed to a different more passive role in our relationship, without realizing or acknowledging the change in our status. Our emotional investment in the relationship is greater than our partners, it is no longer an equal partnership. Truthfully, it is no longer a partnership at all, rather it is a relationship without balance.

Can a new balance be established?

Is it possible for you to reassert yourself, redraw the boundaries and redefine your needs within a relationship where you have practiced appeasement for peace. This is a question I suspect many women in my generation ask

wikipedia.com

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themselves. We teeter between fear of growing old alone and resentment when we have given too much of ourselves away. We are a hybrid of our mothers and Betty Friedan, we burned our bras yet shopped for the perfect wedding dress. We demanded equality in the workplace, yet remain uncertain how to negotiate equivalence in our homes.

We talk a good game, yet we still lose ourselves within our desire to be loved, needed and not alone. Initially we might say, it is small perhaps even it is nothing. The coffee cup in the sink rather than the dishwasher, the bed unmade or love notes unwritten on our heart. It is important though, are we conceding authentic self, our true need for the sake of not being alone? Is not being alone enough?

These are questions I hear from more and more women today, women my age. Women in long-term marriages, both first and second go-arounds, seem to be questioning their relationships and their standing within those relationships. Are we having another awakening?

Notions, Odds and Ends

soapboxpileIt has been a long slog through the muck. There were things left undone as my attention was diverted by both Campaign 2012 and blogging for Race 2012. I admit it, I love politics it is both an intellectual distraction and a philosophical passion, sometimes futile I admit but this time, I think we all learned a few things. Does the end of the campaign and the re-election of POTUS 44 mean I will stop bombarding you with politics?

Well no, probably not but what it does mean is I will stop blitzing you quite so much. My earlier intent to look at and compare the platforms of the two parties moving forward from 1900 to today hasn’t changed, I think this is remains an interesting subject. What about you?

The world we live in remains disrupted by stand your ground ideology on both sides of the aisle. For those of us who voted for the winning side, we can celebrate today but the heavy lifting is only just beginning. For those who voted for the opposition, I am sorry your team lost. I know you are feeling despondent even today the loss is still sinking in. The problem is we are all Americans; we have to find common ground and move our nation forward. We cannot afford to allow those we sent to Washington to set the agenda against our collective best interest.

We are not:

  • African (Black) Americans
  • Hispanic (Brown) Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Asian Americans
  • White Americans
  • Gay Americans
  • Young Americans
  • Older Americans
  • Female Americans
  • Male Americans
  • Christian Americans
  • Muslim Americans
  • Buddhist Americans
  • Mormon Americans
  • Atheist Americans
  • Deist Americans

Nor are we any other flavor of American the pollsters or for that matter, the Census Bureau can think of. We truly need to begin to think of ourselves not as special interests groups, rather simply as Americans, citizens of this nation. Do not mistake me, I fully agree we have not achieved equality and Civil Rights across the board remain elusive for many of our citizens. Some continue to believe Civil Rights should be a ballot measure, granted only if your neighbor pulls the lever and agrees you as a citizen should have the same rights they have.

This past few years has been ugly. We have seen billions of dollars poured into campaigns, dollars that could have been better spent to feed and educate children, create jobs, research new technologies or study new cures. Instead, these dollars were spent to divide the nation, spread fear and lies, clog our airways with party ideology that did nothing to move us forward, nothing to solve our nation’s very real problems. I along with others, watched in outrage and horror as SCOTUS passed Citizen United and the Super Pacs came onto the political field. My repulsion grew exponentially as gerrymandering became de rigueur and new voter laws begin to pop-up with regularity where there was no reasonable cause.

Worse still, we missed it we missed the most important SCOTUS decision possibly of the century in 2000, in Bush v. Gore while we rung our hands and whined the election had been stolen we failed to see the writing on the wall, the future of our great nation hanging in the balance with these simple words:

 “the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote.”

The state has preeminent rights, greater than individual citizens and greater than the federal government to direct voting. We, the people (remember us) do not have an affirmative right to vote in federal elections! Yes, you read that correctly. There are Constitutional Amendments, namely the 15th, 19th and 26th that prevent discrimination on the basis of Race, Gender and Age. These wonderful Amendments nevertheless do not provide an affirmative right to vote as an American Citizen, they only prevent discrimination where the State allows voting to occur.

What does this mean? Well, think of it this way, as a citizen you have the following:

  • A positive Right to own a Gun
  • A positive Right to Free Speech
  • A positive Right to Assembly and Protest
  • A positive Right to practice your Religion
  • A positive Right to Free Enterprise

You do not have the RIGHT TO VOTE. The right to vote, who will vote or how the electors to the Electoral College for your state will vote is in truth in the hands of your Governor and your Secretary of State. How do you like them apples? Everything the states did leading up to the Presidential Election of 2012, was legal. We might not have liked it. We might have recognized it for what it was and found it repugnant, but it was within the law.

What do we do now? SCOTUS said November 9th, they will hear a case on whether Congress exceeded its authority when they reauthorized the 1964 Voters Rights Act, specifically Section 5. This section requires States with a history of discrimination, gerrymandering and disenfranchising voters to submit changes to their voter laws to the Federal Government before they are enacted. Is there a correlation between the Courts decision to take this case up and the reelection of POTUS 44? The possibility certainly exists and we the people of this nation need to be watching this case along with others they have agreed to hear that quite possibly will change the will of the people as they legislate from the bench what is not the will of the people.

We have allowed this, in some cases encouraged this scourge on our national dialogue. We the people failed to see through bile being spread before us as Truth and the American Way instead we repeated it. We were sucked in. We engaged our friends and family members as if they were foes on the battlefield, all too often forgetting to dull the edge of our sharp tongues, forgetting sometimes we catch more fly’s with honey.  I am as guilty of this as many others, having had to fall on my sword more often than I can count. Having had to apologize to many I love for my acerbity.

We are a nation still divided. I am saddened by this great divide within our country. Separated not because we are really so different but rather because we have allowed those who do not have our best interest at heart to convince us we should be enemies. We have drawn lines in the sand and called them race, religion, gender, sexual orientation; what they really are the boxes others have placed for us to crawl into preventing us from getting to know our neighbors, preventing us from learning we might be friends. We have aligned behind ideologies, believing the talking points without digging down and asking questions and thus defending the indefensible. We have in fact allowed our great nation to be hijacked by two Parties the DNC and the GOP, two sides of a coin Heads I win Tails I lose, nothing in between no diplomacy, compassion or negotiation. Two sides embittered and embattled wanting nothing but power for powers sake, never mind the bodies left on the field in their wake.

Truly, is the middle so hard to find? I wonder, I do. So will I continue to write about politics, I will because I can’t help myself, it is my passion this nation of ours. It won’t be my only subject though, there are other things I think about, other passions I have.

So, for those I insulted with my acidic and barbed tongue, I hope you will forgive me. Believe me as often as I snap (I do I know despite my attempts to do otherwise) will be just that often that I will fall upon my sword and grovel for you forgiveness. My comments are never personal (well mostly never personal) and are never meant to attack anyone personally (mostly not).  

The D.C. Quagmire

I am sickened by our elected officials, truly to the point now where I simply want to put my cowboy boots on and stomp some azz. The problem is, as someone recently pointed out, whose?

Just Like Mine – Perfect to Kick a Little

Is it those who are so comfortable in their offices in Washington, failing to do the people’s business who require azz stomping? Or alternatively, is it those who continue to put them there either through their failure to exercise their right to vote or worse by actually voting to return these dinosaurs back time and again. These are questions that are weighing on my mind, they trouble me deeply.

In 2008, after the election and swearing in of President Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell (R) Minority Leader said in an interview to the National Journal (available only to subscribers):

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

Since that time, the GOP in both the House and Senate have their marching orders and have done nothing but obstruct. Do not get me wrong, they are often assisted by their opponents on the other side of the aisle who fail to lay clear terms and draw clear lines. The problem is, no one is working toward common ground that is in the people’s best interest. Each and every elected official we send to do our business in Washington is beholden to some entity that is not us, not the people. They seem to forget they are there to do the peoples business, that it is us that foot the bill with our tax dollars, they forget us once they have attached themselves to the golden teat that is the public fund.

Let’s take a look at recent events and recent legislation (pass or fail).

House votes to repeal Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), not once, not twice but 33 times in all. Hope springs eternal says Speaker of the House, John Boehner. The cost of this wasted time, it is good question and here is the answer; $71,225,000,000.00 in real terms, I could buy a lot of school lunches and back to school books with what John Boehner and the House Republicans wasted with symbolic debates and repeal votes to

John Boehner
Official Portrait Wikipedia

pacifying the Tea Party.

Since 2008 there has been a war waged against women and their reproductive privacy and rights. This war is at every level, State and Federal. It is waged on Senate floors and on the airwaves. No low is too low and no insult to ugly. No fewer than 1,000 pieces of legislation have been introduced to restrict women’s access to health care services, birth control and abortion. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice is irrelevant at this point, these are just two at a national level.

  • Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced a HR 358 – the “Protect Life Act” allowing states to deny insurance coverage for abortion including transport to a facility that would provide a woman with an abortion even if failure to provide an abortion would mean the death of the woman. The “Let Women Die Act” passed the House on 10/13/11.
  • Finally, last but not least is HR 3803, introduced by Rep Trent Franks (Rep), this lovely piece of trash had no less than 220 co-sponsors. Named the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, it is a nothing more or less than another end run around Roe v. Wade, another clear message to women everywhere, ‘you have no value.’ This Bill clearly says, save the ‘fetus’ first, never mind the pregnant woman. Thankfully, it failed despite the 17 Yea votes by Democrats under Suspension of Rules.

So what is really happening, these days? We have a few Democrats walking off the farm, they do this consistently. Take a look at them, where they are from and you have to ask yourself why do they even bother to call themselves Democrats, why not call themselves Moderate Republicans, centrists? But then, they would face a Tea Party challenge and like Dewhurst in Texas last week, they would lose, they would be

Mitch McConnell
Official Portrait Wikipedia

unemployed faster than they could spend their own money in their campaign.

The world of politics is changing, in truth it is getting damned ugly. Members of the GOP are walking away from their seats, simply walking away. They are leaving us with these thoughts on the state of politics and government in Washington.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R) has announced his retirement two days ago with these words:

I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history.”

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R) has announced his retirement this week as well, here is what he had to say:

“The time has come for not only good politics, but good policy and I have reached a conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground.”

Earlier this year Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) announced she would not seek re-election, here is what she had to say:

As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first

Olympia Snowe
Official Portrait Wikipedia

day in the Maine House of Representatives.  I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.

We have lost some of our Democratic stalwarts as well, Barney Frank and Charlie Gonzalez, just two among the nine who have announced their retirement in the past year. The field is changing. Nothing is certain and we will see shifts in both houses of Congress with the next election. The problem though, if we don’t see a Congress that is willing and capable of compromise, willing to seek common ground we will continue to be mired in the muck. Our nation will continue to flounder. If we do not elect to Congress public servants capable and competent to govern, we as a nation will continue to degrade in the eyes of the world and as a player on the world stage.

If we don’t seek excellence over a good sound bite, statesmanship over single-issue we fail our today and all our tomorrows. I am sick to death of being afraid of having a discussion about politics for fear of losing a friend. I want to shine a light on our very real need to have those discussions, join those debates and not be afraid of disagreement. We can disagree and still be friends that is what makes us great the ability to debate our ideas without killing each other, at least that is what use to make us great.

These days though, the debate isn’t so pleasant people are afraid to add their voice to add their comments. There is only three ways it is either the vicious attack dog style, the ‘I love you but disagree’, or ‘I agree’. In the first there is never a good ending. In the second there is never a discussion and in the last we already agree.

What comes next? Where do we go from here? I certainly have my own ideas of what needs to happen. Clearly some of the GOP are beginning to feel the same way I do, put on their boots and wade out of the quagmire, but that doesn’t fix the problem does it?

Rapprochement or End Game

Egregious actions and the complete lack of human empathy, compassion and ethics is what this week has brought to us in the wake of Aurora. I will not go on a tear about Gun Rights or my position on them, yes, I have one and it might surprise many who know my history. What I will do though is pull some very real actions and words from this past week’s headlines and talk about why we are completely out of control as a nation, that we casually accept this behavior and these words. That many of us think nothing of these ‘Leaders’, elected or otherwise vomiting their vitriolic and noxious thinking into the airwaves without a single person standing up and saying to them;

SHUT THE F’ UP YOU VILE EXCUSE OF A HUMAN BEING

Example One – Rep. John McCaherty (R-High Ridge)Missouri will be raffling off an AR-15 at a fundraiser to be held 27-August-2012. According to him and his office this has been planned since April and it is simply, well too

Rep. John McCaherty

late to change the prize to be awarded for a donation of $25. Never mind, this is the same gun used in the Colorado Mass Murder of 12 people last week, never mind whoever wins will not have had a background check before picking up said Assault Rifle and will be perfectly capable of killing everyone at the raffle if they come prepared. No, never mind any of that, John McCaherty is planning to go ahead with his Raffle (note he has renamed it a Drawing) but he is praying for the families of the dead.

Example Two – Kenneth Roop, 52 of Cape Coral, Florida who on Wednesday the 25thof July for no reason other than he damned wall wanted to shot and killed a door-to-door steak sales man, Nick Rainey 30. He didn’t have to

Nick Rainey shooting victim

shoot him the second time in the back of the head, after he was down, indeed in his statement to the police Kenneth claimed his victim had screamed ‘You shot me’, in an antagonistic manner after he had shot him in the shoulder the first time. Using words, we have heard from another ‘Stand your ground’ defense, Roop claims he was still in fear when he shot Rainey in the back of the head ‘for effect’. It should be noted, this isn’t the first time Roop has been in trouble with the law for brandishing guns at unarmed persons, at the time those involved believed he wasn’t in full control of all his senses.

Dr. Jerry Newcombe

Example Three – Dr. Jerry Newcombe, of Truth in Action Ministries. Could not wait for the victims to be identified or their families to be notified before he was jumping on the Biblical bandwagon and blaming this tragedy on our Secular nation. Yes, this self-serving bottom feeder was already writing his pronouncement of damnation as they were announcing the numbers of dead and wounded. He was already blaming society and secularism, along with the loss of prayer and Christianity from our public institutions, as if the Constitution and our foundation demanded this from its beginning. This pompous jackass didn’t even have the decency to ‘pray’ for the victims of the tragedy.

Azzhats, all of them.

Of course, the list goes on when it comes to gun violence and the responses to the tragedy of Aurora. My question though is simply this, when we take the time to look at just these examples don’t we ask ourselves what is wrong with the world we have created for ourselves? Can’t we do better than this? Are we so entrenched in our views it is impossible for us to take a step forward, to meet halfway across the table, sit down for détente and find a reasonable middle that will show our respect for each other and our future.

The following are some Facebook postings I came across, at the time I was stunned. Now I am simply numb.

In fact this isn’t true. The shooter in Colorado obtained his guns legally. The shooter in Florida was a legal gun owner. This is at best disingenuous.

This is nearly as good as comparing guns to cars. Yes, it is true guns don’t kills people. People with weapons in their hands kill people. People who purchase weapons with the ability to fire 400 rounds per minute. People with guns in their hand, inanimate objects with only one purpose, to kill living things; unlike a rock or a car. I find the arguments those who insist their rights to gun ownership without a single restriction to be fabulously narcissistic. In the face of terrible tragedy this is the best you can do, defend your right to kill and wrap it in God, the Bible and the Constitution.

I say this all the time, I will always land on the side of being a Nation of Laws. I will always land on the side of defending the Constitution no matter how offensive I might at times find it. But this, this complete lack of empathy for the victims of tragedy is offensive because I am a human being with compassion and concern for my fellow humans, those I share this soil with. All I can say, grow up and get over yourselves. Start serving more than your own self-interests.

I apologize for my rage. I will hopefully move on from here.

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