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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Contrived Through Christ

The Regressive Party are not only bastardizing any intelligent discourse in our society, but the narrative surrounding understandings of our Constitution and the Bible. How far will we allow them to go? They have worked very hard to deny rights of others while demanding they are the ones being persecuted. When is some credible facet of our society going to shut this nonsense down? The Constitution has been interpreted to them as having given them rights to allow for discrimination based on their Bible. When thoughtful Americans counter their bullshit, these Christians (who make up the bulk of our population) determine that they, and their religion, are under attack. This assertion is being fed to them all day long in messages laced with fear and hate from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, their hundreds of presidential candidates, and, of course, the Fox cable channel with the word 'news' in its title. This belief in their own persecution is sincere. Its ridiculous. But it is sincere.

Presently the far right is demanding that the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution be used to allow businesses (which, apparently, can have a religion?) to discriminate both in hiring/firing and in determining which citizens they want to serve. If that is the way we are meant to interpret ones freedom of religion, shouldn't there be a means of differentiating religious ideals?
The right has recently allowed for new translations of the Bible than those Americans had traditionally been raised to believe. Jesus, as well all know (or once knew, at least), wanted us to love and not judge one another. However, Regressive Christians are trying to pass laws so they can discriminate against those they pass judgments on. The old time Christians still believe that it is our duty to care for the sick and the poor but the Regressive Party Christians are fighting against allowing everyone to have access to healthcare and condemning the poor by using a misinterpreted line from Thessalonians to support it. These new Christians are also very anxious to start wars in the Middle East and many have said this was a means to "administer the wrath of God upon an unbelieving mankind." I remember having learned about Jesus being anti-violence and bringing on 'end times' was never given to me as an objective. Was my minister a quack?
How is the law meant to differentiate which interpretations of Christianity are right? Translations are, quite obviously, subjective. Do we need for the Supreme Court to have a mandate to tell us exactly which passages in the Bible can negate which of our laws? We will then need to identify each religion, each of their sects and each of the laws that their followers are allowed to ignore. Does everyone need to carry an identification card to show the police that they are absolved from arrest and prosecution? It seems like a lot of work to allow people to break laws we would otherwise be bound by.
The Regressives use the Old Testament to support a lot of their beliefs. Would we need to pass laws to support both Testaments? The Old Testament supports acts of extreme violence and violate many laws we presently have to follow. Should adultery be illegal? Would it be okay if someone killed a cheating spouse? Will everyone currently in prison for this offense be released if they are Christians? If a teenager is caught masturbating by his/her parents who believe it is a sin, can they legally stone their children? The Old Testament said that if an engaged woman was raped she would have to be put to death. Should her fiancé be allowed to go through with that if his particular sect of Christianity supports these values? (Of course, we would first have to determine if it was a 'legitimate rape')
When we open ourselves up to defining our rights based on something completely subjective, we are asking for trouble. Recently a Satanist group petitioned the courts to overrule a law imposing a waiting period for an abortion because it was against their religion. I don't know what their religious tenets are, but they are Americans. And they are afforded the same religious freedoms as the rest of us, right?
As much as the entire conversation in society is disturbing and shows the tragic regression of our citizenry, it is curious to me that it is even a part of our discourse. How does it get to be a legitimate discussion when it was created by the Regressive Party who, to their own definition, support the Constitution without exception? No exceptions would mean that this interpretation of their right to religion is impeding on other people's freedoms. Although they don't seem to be aware of it, we have more than two Amendments to the Constitution.

Those on the right who are demanding their religious freedoms only like to believe that those freedoms are inherent to Christianity, but many other religions exist. The fears that have been instilled in those in the GOP about Islam have offered them a very dark vision of its teachings and they are being conditioned to believe that all Muslims are terrorists. These zealots want to dismiss every question posed to them about the tenets of other religions, but if they sincerely believe that Islam is the boogey man they have been told about, do they want to allow the 'Sharia Law' they've heard so much about practiced in America? Because that is what it means to define rights in our Constitutional democracy.
The Regressive Party does so many things to create and perpetuate hate, but the thing that is most painful is their misuse of the Bible. They are blasphemous when repeating their newly interpreted words of God. I don't know how America can abide this and allow so many GOP hopefuls to run for the Presidency without being publicly condemned daily for furthering this hateful narrative.
Maybe somehow, before we have to go any deeper into this completely irrational discussion, we could have some intelligent discourse in America where a respected leader can explain to these 'patriots' what it means to actually be an American and take that privilege seriously. We are all afforded the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If, in pursuing happiness, you are hyper-focused on taking away the liberties of others, you are not just a shitty American, but you are not a Christian.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lift the White Man's Burden

Lift the white man's burden.
Its weight is much too strong.
He's sacrificed for many.
And ignored himself too long.
The white man traveled 'round the world.
To civilize us all.
He taught us to accept him.
But now we must stand tall.

Lift the white man's burden.
His grip must be released.
He brought us to this moment.
We leave him now in peace.
Offer him your patience.
Offer him your grace.
As the white man moves along
Shame not his true disgrace.

Lift the white man's burden.
His curse is now his own.
The white man has a place to be.
This place is what he's sown.
What the white man created
Won't be reversed from here.
But his captives can move forward now.
And go forth free from fear.

To all the nations women:
Its time now that you stand.
Rule your body and your mind.
They'll have dictates by no man.
The needs of every woman
Can now be met alone.
She will create her future.
Where triumphs are her own.

To every person forced here:
The white man needs his time.
He's focused on your actions.
And forgotten his own crimes.
He gave you laws to live by.
He gave you names and deeds.
He ignored himself through all of this.
He must now take his leave.

To all of those with variance.
The white man now is done.
This place belongs to all of us.
Where judgments will be none.
No 'comply' demand needs answered.
No person now is small.
The white man has no means here
To define or rate us all.

Lift the white man's burden.
His collective has grown weak.
He does not know just why he's wrong.
Be wary of his pique.
The white man has confusions.
The white mans lost his way.
The white man will be fine, its true.
As his discontents allay.

In my own acknowledged arrogance, I tend to read any piece with my own interpretations as being the satisfaction of its understanding. Even in school when we were met with opposing ideas, I was content to stop at my own and ignore all others. It is who I am. I admit my short-sightedness but don't intend to change it this late in life. The following is a response to Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden. I do realize that this poem was initially met from two sides when it was published. Some found it to be sincere where others determined it was not. When I was young I desperately needed this poem to be sarcastic. No one could really be that arrogant, right? But now I see that the arrogance defined therein is pervasive even today. Our entire society is still based on a mentality of the universal "white man" who not only has the right to overtake any nation of 'heathens' he determines useful, but enslave its people and take claim to their land. Today that collective white man is still trying to invade other countries for their resources and 'civilize' its people. He still wants to pass laws that control the rest of us so we can fit into his mold and be civilized to his dictates. Id really rather not. Thankfully, I am not alone.

I spend none of my time believing I am a great poet. I am a bitch sometimes, though. So the above was a nice opportunity for the bitch inside of me to have a little fun. She thanks you. Kiss Kiss.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dear Media: Your Advertisers Want More Money

I had the most ridiculous conversation with my mom last night on the phone. I asked her if she had heard about the interview with the former Deputy Director of the CIA where he admitted that Dick Cheney lied when he said Iraq had reconstituted nuclear weapons. My mom didn't believe me. And do you want to know how she knew that I was not telling her the truth? She didn't want to hurt my feelings so she implied first that I must have misunderstood the interview, then she reasoned with me, and I quote, "Angie, if that happened, why wouldn't it have been on the news?" Great question mom! I don't know. I don't know why they don't bother to cover a lot of things that are newsworthy but find it necessary to open every hour with a story about a deflated football or some pseudo-patriotic bullshit that an asshole politician decided to say on their campaign today.

I find myself still exhausted by that call today. Of course, I am not the only American who is pissed. I am not the only one of your consumers who is being ignored daily. I have decided that this time I will forward my letter on to your biggest advertisers, too. It seems that you want us to constantly be mindful of the fact that you are a money making venture whose concern for the actual information you are meant to be relaying to us is secondary to the profits you can turn. (We can tell because of how much time you spend hyping and telling the same stories that are more worthy of tabloids than actual news coverage). So I will let your advertisers know that if you covered a story like this, you could certainly be making them a lot of money. People would tune in. More people. More than the ones you just want to come back every day, but the people who don't even watch the news.

Ewww... are you drooling? Wipe that. Now listen.

Two nights ago the former CIA Deputy Director, Michael Morrell, was on Hardball with Chris Matthews. Morrell admitted that, even though Cheney told America that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted nuclear weapons, this was not true. The information Cheney offered to finally get America behind going to war in Iraq, even though we knew that the attacks on 9/11 were from bin Laden, was a lie. This was not reported anywhere. Why? How?

The sad part is that last night when he closed his show, Matthews was actually upset, you could tell, by the fact that Cheney had lied. The rest of us were surprised to have heard it verified on live television, but no one who has been paying attention was really surprised that it was true. Matthews has such a sweet and pure heart. His love for politics and America is so sincere that he often doesn't see through the rhetoric a lot of us do. Because he is that type of person, it should have been even more important that this story be covered nationally. No one reporting on it (who is in a legitimate news organization) could question whether or not there was anything untoward about the story having come from Chris Matthews. And, lest you forget, you certainly have no problem relaying absolute nonsense you hear from the Fox cable channel with the word 'news' in its title.

America united after 9/11. We were one country. I stood behind my leadership and ignored the fact that they were of another party. I didn't care. I was an American. My country was attacked. And with that unity and with our excitement for retribution, our Vice President created information to take us into a war that would benefit he and the Bush family. And its only costs have ever been felt on the families of those lost and injured and the economy of the country that was so anxious to offer its misdirected trust.

Just think, not only could you let America know tonight that you had a story about how we fought a war that we are still paying for, and, more importantly offer the cost in the numbers of lives lost, because Dick Cheney told lies, but then you would have many night of follow up stories. The kinds of stories that are actually newsworthy. You would have real American stories to tell. About how Americans feel after having been betrayed. And about the myriad circumstances we now find ourselves because of those choices. You could go back to remind us about how Cheney commissioned a story to report on his lies. And then he offered those lies to Congress. There would be real goddamned substance in your reporting. It sounds glorious, doesn't it?

It is your job to bring the information to the country. It is your job to remind us of what we had been and help us to heal so we can find our way back there. At present, we have leaders who are trashing the name of America every day. They demand her exceptionalism while condemning the majority of Americans for not having met their very narrow definitions of those who are exceptional. You give them validity when you give them a voice. As was true in  2003, is true today, you are perpetually complicit in where we are finding ourselves. It is time to bring America back to a place that is unified and healthy. And it needs to start today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mental Health Stigma

Have you ever been unable to find the energy to get off of the couch for over a week and started to ask yourself, "I wonder if I stink and I just cant tell because its me?" Not only have I not done anything remotely physical, but I haven't had the energy to hold my hands over my head long enough to wash and condition my hair. So I just keep it in a ponytail and ignore my own hygiene and care altogether. My house is pretty much a wreck, too. The parts of the house I use, anyway. I gave up on going to bed a long time ago. I am on the couch. My pillow is on the couch. I have a blanket on the couch. Its too much energy to carry it all to bed every night and back in the morning.

I am too tired to take care of myself. My body doesn't have the energy. My mind doesn't have the energy. And I don't even think that bothers me any more. That is depression.

Every year I ride in a 50 mile bike tour that raises money for cancer research. I never train for it. I literally get my bike out of the shed, go to the gas station to fill the tires, and go line up for the event to ride for 50 miles. I finish my ride and come home exhausted with a body that hates me every year. Never, after finishing my ride and coming home, have I been this tired.

While raising my daughter, I always promised she would make it to Disney before she was 10. We were always poor and 10 seemed so far away. I refused to let her down, though. So the summer before she was to turn 10 I took a second full time job. Both of them required overtime. In one week I worked 96 hours. At the end of that week, I wasn't this tired.

When my dad was dying in hospice 3 hours away, I traveled to and from his bedside every weekend and spent more nights without sleep than I did manage to find sleep. I probably cried, exhausting all-encompassing cries, more in those last 3 weeks than I had in all of my life combined. By the time he passed I was not this tired.

There is a big difference between the kind of tired that comes from having run your body or mind too hard and from having run your soul too hard. I don't know the words to describe it. I'm not sure those words exist. My tired comes from having given up. The energy I have to write is the only energy that I have. My mind does not stop. My mind is tired and requires up to four naps a day, but my mind does not stop. So writing has become my outlet.

When I was an adolescent, I was diagnosed with severe depression twice. I didn't understand that depression was anything more than being sad. Mental health not only had a stigma back then, but it was often dismissed or discounted. My father had taken me for them to confirm that I was a bad kid and tell him how to fix me, not to justify my 'pity parties.' He pulled me out of them each time and determined they were quacks.

I am presently experiencing my third major depressive episode in my life. I don't know if they are precipitated by having had too much to deal with or having a chemical imbalance that makes it harder for me to deal with things that come my way, but each time I had more going on than I could find a way to endure. The first time that I was suicidal, my daughter was a toddler. I begged my parents to watch her so I could commit myself. My dad still had no use for such nonsense and told me "You created this, you fix it." Because he refused to believe in depression he thought I was looking for an escape from my life. And, as anyone would imagine, the best vacation I could think of was a mental health facility. Anyway, I did find a therapist and, with counseling and medicine, I was able to pull through it eventually. I believe now, however, and I believed then, that if I didn't have Audrey, I wouldn't have even tried.

This episode has been much worse. My daughter is grown and off to college now. I don't have to take care of anyone. Care for myself has never even been something I have ever really thought about. of course, that is why I find myself where I am now. I don't care. I never managed to find a value for myself beyond being a mother. Although I am still a mother, she doesn't need me to take care of her now. When my life began falling apart a year and a half ago, I had nothing to hold on to. I had nothing to fight for. I didn't need to be well. And I think my brain just kind of started giving up.

Initially around Thanksgiving of 2013 my life hit a wall that no one could have ever seen coming. I still can't talk or write about it because the tragedy is not just mine. But the pain and its mark will, undoubtedly, be with me for the rest of my life. At that time I only had my job to hold on to. I have always been loyal to my work and proud of my work ethic. Aside from Audrey, my job was the other thing I found external from myself to attribute my own value to. Even while things were collapsing personally, I managed to keep up my workload, but often had tears streaming down my face while I was doing it. Because of this I told my manager what I was dealing with so she understood because it must've looked very unprofessional. Having told her, I was sure, she would understand.

At this time I was 41 years old. I had been ignoring all evidence of an anxiety disorder for years. I really didn't even know that anxiety was a disorder, to be honest. I had accepted claims from those who knew me as being 'high strung' or 'neurotic' as truths. It was just the way I was. It didn't make me a bad person. So I just figured that was the way I was. My body had been telling me for almost 20 years that it was more than just quirkiness but I had always found ways to ignore it. Hives. "Sure people get those." My back would go out and make me immobile but x-rays would find nothing wrong with me. "I must've pulled something and forgotten." My stomach would get incredibly sick every time I was upset. "What did I eat this time?"

So last year I guess my mind finally determined that it would give me a sign I could not ignore. My body literally betrayed me. In public. My boss, who knew that I was already on the edge and suffered from severe depression had been harassing me to a level which was so bad that by the time the legal department saw the evidence of both the harassment and Human Resources deciding to completely ignore and, thus, condone it, they offered me a settlement check to never tell anyone what she had done. But one day her harassment pushed me over the edge and my heart was pounding so hard I could feel it and hear it pounding in my ear. I was hot like I was immediately sick with a high fever. My entire body started shaking and I couldn't control or stop it. And my breathing was out of control where I could not catch my breath. I literally thought I was going to die from not being able to breathe. It was terrifying. I had no idea what was going on. Before that I day I thought a 'panic attack' was something else. "I'm having a panic attack" is a phrase people used when they were stressed out. I had no idea its actual reference was to a complete physical collapse.

I went for months after that day completely unable to leave my home. I was diagnosed with agoraphobia. It pissed me off. I finally looked it up and read that it is very common with people who have panic attacks, especially after their first, because your subconscious is trying to protect you from having a similar situation. I then accepted that this was a thing and that it made sense why it was happening. But I can also completely rationalize that it is irrational. So it still pisses me off.

Ironically, I honestly think that if my anxiety didn't keep my mind going at this seemingly fast pace (although compared to what my life usually offers when not combined with depression its not really fast at all), I would probably already be dead. The writing is the only evidence I have that something inside me is trying to counter my daily revelations that I would rather be dead. The fact that my life insurance doesn't pay out if I kill myself is the only thing that has kept me from thinking seriously about finding a way out.

I feel like my world is so dark that if I didn't have something to focus on I could actually fall asleep and just not wake up. I could stop eating and drinking. I already ignore the phone and repel visitors. My writing allows me to look outside of myself, like I always have. I can focus on something else and ignore whatever hurts. I'm sure that's not healthy. But spending time inside my mind isn't, either.

Of course, because I don't leave my house, I don't have a job. And because I don't have a job, I cannot afford insurance. So I am, at present, on a very long waiting list for psychiatric care. My writing is my distraction and my care at this time. To prevent a panic attack I don't even spend time thinking about what kind of anxiety I will have to deal with whenever I finally have a psychiatric appointment and it is time to leave my house and go to an unknown place to meet an unknown person and offer them my life story and my fears and entrust them with my mental care. That complete notion is so overwhelming that I cannot find the words to express it properly. That is probably the worst thing about mental health issues. You won't find them in an x-ray or in blood work. And I don't imagine I am the only intelligent person with a large vocabulary who cannot find the words to tell you just how terrifying and awful it is to be in this place.

That's where I am. That's what I call depression.

But for most in our society its easier to just call it lazy. Or crazy.

And that's a shame.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dear Media: Is Fox Your Master?

For some reason, Americans are supposed to accept a biased report on all issues out of your fear of being condemned for being too liberal by people who, quite sincerely, have their own bias and their own media. The conservative media is an astounding conglomerate of groups who report the same misinformation to create conspiracies and encourage hate and fear. They have a cable television channel with the word 'news' in its title, they have a myriad of bloggers that right wing consumers accept as journalists, they have noted radio personalities and they have their hands in many of the nations largest newspapers. This is literally an entire market that, due to freedoms of the press and speech, Americans have to accept as being a part of our society and hope that the rest of Americans have enough sophistication to know the difference. However, we should not then be forced to accept that the rest of our media opt to follow them directly down the rabbit hole.

You are literally allowing them to direct the narrative in America. As a resource, I offer you this: every morning open this link and watch it on your way to work while reminding yourself that your sole responsibility as a journalist is to offer the country true journalism completely devoid of anything that would be found on a station which would air this in something other than a diatribe against what the worst of our society has to offer. (You are quite welcome).

I am amazed quite often at the times media are compelled to retract and apologize for inaccurate information. Recently several media outlets had to retract a story that had only been aired on Fox about a black man in Baltimore having been shot in the back by a police officer. How is it possible to have a cable television channel which has been discredited countless times not just for journalism in specific stories, but as a news outlet altogether, lead the narrative for any media that would want to be noted as creditworthy? No true journalist in America believes that the stories or opinions they offer are based on fact. Then how can anyone excitedly pick up their reporting and offer it to a respectable audience? Because you are lazy.

Your laziness has been on display lately as all news stations started reporting on the varied answers Jeb Bush has offered about whether or not he would've taken us into Iraq if he'd known then what we know now. I mean, it was such a triumph, right? Because he was changing his answer again and again. And you have been conditioned to know a 'flip-flop' when you hear one and pounce. Oh how exciting. In all of your excitement you missed the opportunity, as journalists, to ask yourselves, "So, if the 'hard-hitting' question that stumped him came from the Fox channel, should it be repeated to others or should I take a minute to analyze the question to at least make sure the facts are included in the question and any responses?" Instead, you repeated the question and allowed the answer to then direct or conclude the narrative with no contradiction. None of the candidates or pundits are being corrected when offering their denouncement of GW Bush to reply, "By the way, Hillary Clinton doesn't want to have to answer this question, either." She has already given us her answer. And no one is taking the time to remind us of that. Is fair journalism only a concern when attempting to deflect scorn from the right? Christ!

That has concluded every dialogue offered. And that pissed me off. I was so pissed off that I managed to miss the even bigger failure pointed out by Rachel Maddow last night (there is a reason one of us has a television show and the other has a blog (wink)). Once the generic slant is offered back to Secretary Clinton, it is then your responsibility to interrupt and inform your audience who may not be aware by inserting into the dialogue "To correct you quickly [fill in the blank with name of candidate or pundit], Secretary Clinton has already answered that question in her book. And she was not a member of the administration who commissioned the answer then offered to Congress." (You will be forgiven for finding a more respectful way of saying that, but not for omitting it altogether). The onus is on you, the journalist, whose job is to inform America, to remind us of the context of the questions and their answers. You cannot expect your newsmakers to give honest accounts. And you cannot expect your audience to know everything, otherwise, we wouldn't need you, would we?

This morning in an interview with Rand Paul on CNN, the candidate was asked about what he would do about ISIS. He delved into a discussion where he inserted a sentence, unchallenged even though this was obviously pre-recorded, saying that President Obama wasn't hard on terrorism because he called the attacks on Fort Hood 'workplace violence' instead of 'terrorism,' the word Paul, apparently, would prefer be used. This is a favorite talking point repeated in the right-wing media. But on CNN, this new idea to the thoughtful American audience was allowed to air without having been questioned. Of course, the interview was concluded by Alisyn Camerota asking about his curly hair and its maintenance. I guess we couldn't really be expected to find anything integral from that piece of journalism, so were we meant to discount the entire interview? In asking for so many contrived understandings, you are asking a lot of your audience.

In 2013, CBS apologized for misinformation offered in an interview of a source using an assumed name about Benghazi that ended up to have been proven false. It was not a live broadcast. The story offered was not vetted and was offered to America as fact. CBS bore a lot of criticism from many journalistic outfits for this failure and for the retraction which was insincere and offered no explanation for their profound neglect. Here is a way to avoid this in the future: If someone wants to use an assumed name, be damned sure you know that they are legit. Also, again, if the story is about something only the right wing is excitedly jumping all over, there is a very very good chance its bullshit.

We learned from tabloid print, and then tabloid television, that people get really excited when something negative happens or someone says something derogatory about another person in America. And those stories sell copy or ad space. And news outlets, at their core, are moneymaking businesses. I suppose Americans are just supposed to accept that you will run this type of content to make money? I don't accept it. I don't accept that because something is outrageous I should hear about it every hour on the 24/7 news channels. I don't accept that you compel your viewers to come back so you can tell them the same thing you told them the last hour. I don't accept that you are giving me garbage because you don't demand more of yourselves.

It is unfathomable that a man like Peter Schweitzer can publish a book and outlets which we are supposed to consider legitimate report on it. It is hardly newsworthy that he has written another book. New books are released every week. You might find it newsworthy that less reputable news outlets are reporting on an, as yet, unreleased book by a man who has been discredited at least 10 times. Otherwise, it is not newsworthy. Let the right wing media cover it. Let America see distinction in the media who don't cover the tabloidesque stories. I feel insulted when I hear these ridiculous stories coming from anyone other than right wing talking heads. It is as if those of us who are intelligent and genuinely want to know what is going on in the world are either irrelevant or expendable as an audience. Please give the rest of America the respect we are due and just ignore the stories that are, quite obviously, garbage.

The New York Times and Washington Post were contractually obligated to report on the book release. What kind of shit is that? So, before its release, they were "briefed on the books findings" along with major Republican candidates for the 2016 Presidential election, and, without having read a single word of the book, without having vetted a single contention, its conspiratorial information was reported to America. We were not offered information about the illegitimacy of his many past 'findings.' It is not journalism to assume your readership has such information. And it certainly isn't journalism to report on what is, quite obviously, slanderous nonsense meant to be released just as Secretary Clinton is beginning her campaign for the Presidency. The New York Times mentioned the fact that the book was published by a News Corp company, but neglected to tell its readers that News Corp is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Fox cable channel with the word "news" in its name.

Upon its release (when people actually had read it and were able to vet the information they were reporting on), Amazon immediately released a message to buyers that significant changes had been made to the Kindle copies purchased. But, of course, the damage has been done. The negative associations attributed to Secretary Clinton that were all based on supposition are now ingrained in the minds of Americans. And that was the objective. And you did that.

That distinction is what would make you the legitimate media, at present you are not. You would actually prove your legitimacy by reporting on the discredited outlets who did report on it and then had to retract their contentions while holding yourself in esteem for having ignored it altogether. But when you end up adding your own retractions to the list, you become their equal. Ill bet that as a journalist or a media outlet, that thought just kind of made you queasy. If it were my career, it would certainly offer me a nauseated pause.

Deliberately neglecting to inform Americans about the goings on in the country is bias. The majority of Americans still support a woman's right to choose offered by Roe V Wade. However, a House Bill passed last week to limit those rights profoundly and Americans weren't informed of it by the major 3 (PBS did cover the story). This bill, if passed, would be cruel and potentially dangerous, as many birth defects are not detectible until after 20 weeks. Not only were Americans not made aware of the passing of this bill, but they were not offered the contradictory information where the Supreme Court found in Colautti V. Franklin:
Because this point [of viability] may differ with each pregnancy, neither the legislature nor the courts may proclaim one of the elements entering into the ascertainment of viability — be it weeks of gestation or fetal weight or any other single factor — as the determinant of when the State has a compelling interest in the life or health of the fetus.

I want to attribute these failings to laziness and not bias. Please prove me right. If you have been lazy in allowing the right to manipulate the narrative, take it upon yourselves to seek truth in your stories and objectively offer your audience all of the information they need to be sincerely informed. As with every political season, I believe that this is one of the most important election cycles in a long time. I think I might be right this time, however. The right wing voters have become noticeably more extreme and all of the present candidates are speaking only to those people. If their dialogue becomes imprinted in the American mind in the next year and a half and they all get the seats they need in DC with the Presidency, we are fucked. I think anyone who can see what is really going on would say the same.

The really cool thing about your job and your industry is that you get to direct the narrative of America. You get to determine what we need to hear and in what manner it should be delivered. That is a very heavy responsibility. How can you allow that responsibility to be dictated by the least credible sources in the industry? They have very overt biases. The rest should not.

We will quickly begin to see noticeable changes in journalism once a few adjustments are made. For instance, there will be little need for phrases like "a credible source has said." The sources credibility should either be clearly defined or be named and allow the audience to interpret their credibility. It should be a rare occasion when your source should require anonymity. And, it should never be necessary in reporting on politics. Politics are, by nature, biased, we have to believe your sources aren't. Likewise, when reporting on 'a study' please offer your audience the information on who performed the study and who commissioned it. I can offer you a study of what people in an apartment complex think about property taxes, but neither I nor my findings would be remotely credible. The right-wing media have their very own studies. They are not reputable and intelligent people realize that. We don't want to have to question your findings, too.

Americans are growing impatient for something they can believe and not have to immediately discount for fear of its being 'more of the same.' Imagine what kind of respect will be afforded the outlet which decides to step up and offer that to us. (Just tell your owners and VPs that means lots of ratings, which means lots of money!!)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mutual (Dis)Respect

I was recently offered an opportunity to review a book by Captain Edward Zellem called 151 Afghan Pashto Proverbs. It was such a neat opportunity and a sincere honor. I love the idea of reflecting on proverbs because they are absolutes, right? The way my brain works is very cyclical and tries to see all sides of things to understand whatever I am thinking about. That often leaves me far from absolution and more in a state of chaos. So this was a very exciting undertaking for me.The revelation of absolutes, coupled with the lessons of our cultures commonalities, made it one of the most unexpectedly rewarding facets of this journey I have been taking through my writing.

The Afghan proverb that stuck with me was Ezat kawa ezat ba de kegi. Its literal translation is: Respect others in order to be respected.

It is so simple. Right? I have had that instilled in me since I was a kid. And I'm still pretty sure that I don't have it right. I treat everyone with respect, at first. I truly don't care what a person looks like, where they come from, who they love or whether or not they follow a religion. However, if they are an asshole, I cannot respect them. I cannot pay respect to a person simply because they have a title of CEO or because they are in any other position that society has deemed superior to my own. Needless to say, that has often not gone over so well. But after serious reflection on this proverb, I have determined that it is not going to be one of the things I want to change about myself.

I imagine this proverb is found in most cultures. It would be much simpler if it were not just universally accepted, but universally practiced. I have lamented for months about the TeaParty. And they have kind of exceeded even my expectations of how low a person can go in order to win an argument. That is not to say, however, that we were ever having the same argument. Any fact offered is generally met with something to the level of, "Nu'huh. You are." One guy was good enough to rewrite the Bible for me today to justify his disdain for the poor. I'm sure Jesus appreciated his efforts. That was probably an oversight or mistranslation. Many will send you a clever meme to make a point. When, exactly, did a meme become such a valid piece of evidence in a debate? It then hit me. This is not a debate. This is a game.

I can't play games. As with most things in life, I take politics too seriously. In January I took a look at the controversy over the movie American Sniper (see blog here) where I tried to start my reflection from the center. I am generally pretty left on a lot of things, but when I hear people talk shit about soldiers and vets, I get pretty pissed. I could understand the controversy about what a sniper does and the fact that he said he did not regret it, but I could also go deeper and realize that he would have to think that way to exist. I also realized that he was saying this after many tours and any PTSD that he may have been suffering from would be veiled under a demeanor that could say nothing else. I concluded that his job is very necessary these days. In my deliberate attempt to start from the center, I was quite proud of my ability to remain there throughout. I determined that this was going to be the way I would approach all things in the future. I would always want to really dig into the mindset of the opposition so that I could have a level and respectful dialogue.

Respectful dialogue is impossible, however, with the Tea Party fanatics. They don't want to debate or discuss, they just want to fight. And, I will admit, I do play along. In general, I am a lovely human being. But if you ask me to be a bitch, I will oblige. I think I am guilty of baiting them, too. I'm sure I am, actually. I discuss something that is an actual fact and complete my contention by letting them know they are stupid. Its mean. It really is. I never judge people for things about themselves that they can't help. That is, by the way, why I am a Liberal.

These fanatics can't help that they are stupid. But they can help that they are mean. And they choose to be vile. Some of my little hashtags on my profile say #Adoptee #AnxietyDisorder #Depression #Feminist. And my profile line, which is a joke to anyone with just a hint of a sense of humor, states that I am unemployed (I am unemployed, but its only in my profile because I was making light of it). Oh Holy Shit do they have a field day with that information. Since I've been a kid I have been really funny about whose judgment I am willing to receive. Basically, if you aren't one of the handful of people in my life that I am really living for, I don't care about your opinions. I doubt that I would have listed any of the things in my profile if I were vulnerable about them. Of course, they don't know that. And someone with less self-esteem could really be hurt by their shit.

One guy, after seeing that I have depression suggested that I drink bleach. I am adorable. It went straight over my head. I asked why anyone would want to drink bleach, it sounded so stupid. He then explained that I should kill myself. Charming. Another suggested, due to my having been adopted, that it was a shame my mother couldn't afford an abortion. Brilliant. Countless have criticized me in the last couple of days for being unemployed and demanded my shame for taking up their hard earned tax dollars. Ok. My favorite though, was a guy who defined the sex acts he had done with my mother. Do these people really represent the mentality of those who have the loudest voice in my democracy right now? Yep.

But honestly, this is how they have a discussion. Why discuss the issues? Just try to hurt someone's feelings and consider it a victory! It boggles my mind. How do they function in society? How do their families bear them during the holidays? How much hate can one soul embrace? It really is sad. I often tell them that I feel bad for them. And I do.

When they aren't throwing barbs, they are posting memes. I guess that it doesn't occur to them that the best way to prove my point of your having been conditioned to believe what you do is to send me the talking points you have been sent. One of my more ridiculous arguments today was with a guy who was working hard to convince me that the Dems are racist. Its one of their new talking points in this opposite world they don't question. He sent me this meme to make his point, asking me what part of this wasn't racist.

To which I (obviously) replied: "The part where he's stating a fact. Moron. Acknowledging that racism is a thing isn't racist. Denying it, however, is." Great. That should give him pause. Of course not. His reply was (sigh): "Get a job Angie I'm tired of supporting dumb asses like you with my tax $." Well played, sir. I think you've made your point.

Another fine gentleman decided that my contention about the Tea Party using Goebbels' tactics was absolutely ridiculous. He sent me this:

I have absolutely no idea how to respond to that. How could anyone be expected to even attempt a dialogue with someone who implied that poor Joseph Goebbels has been falsely accused throughout history?

I don't know. It goes on and on. It took me a single day to realize that trying to have conversations would not be useful. I thought that if I challenged them and asked them to support what they were saying it might give them pause. But they have been so well conditioned that they have an answer for everything. And the worst part is, their answer is, quite often, the exact opposite of the truth. This should prove my point:

There is nothing you can do with a group of people who actually believe every single thing they are told. But I still think they are the minority. I still think there are a lot of people out there who don't realize that the "R" on their ballot really represents a "T." If we could find a way to get the message to them in the next year and a half, we might be able to get our country back on track.

I do, quite sincerely, respect everyone. At first. I am often let down later, however, because I assume everyone I meet is a nice person. And I do believe that if you don't treat others with respect that you shouldn't expect to receive it in return. From now on, I will gladly concede any respect I believe I am due when dealing with the fanatics on the right. Its exhausting to work out how they think and why they behave the way they do. I guess everyone who said its best to just ignore them was right. But my bleeding liberal heart still wants to fix them. Poor Angie.

#CCOT #TCOT #UniteBlue #P2 #Racism #TeaParty #Gop #Hate #Brainwashing

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dear Media: All The Black People

We have repeatedly been offered opportunities, as a society, to discuss race issues in America in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, every time we have a story that creates a division between races, the commentary on the news has been generic and tippy-toed around what the true story was. I hate to think that the thing that makes us wake up is a nasty comment by a school principal instead of the murder of an unarmed black man, but I am going to continue to point out your failings as they come. And maybe this time the media will have dialogue in their reporting to begin a conversation about insensitivity, at the very least.

This weekend a principal at a graduation ceremony condemned "All the black people" for leaving when she called security to escort a man out who was up front taking pictures and selfies of himself with graduates and the valedictorian in the background. She never took a moment to consider that this might be a family member who wanted to capture this accomplishment. In calling security to remove a man who she was being rude to because she thought he was being rude, many in the assembly determined to walk out for her having been disrespectful.

The principal saw the event completely differently. She said, "A man, who just happened to be black, was up there with a camera taking pictures and selfies with the kids and interrupting the valedictorian." Then, as many in attendance got up to leave because of her trying to get the "rude" man to be removed from the building, she said "Look who's leaving, all the black people." And she said she believed the assembly was insulted was because she used the word "black."

She was offended that people called her a racist and defended herself by saying,"I didn't know that 'black people' was a racist term." She genuinely doesn't seem to understand that the implication of the "term" was the racist aspect as she went on to say "Was I supposed to say African American? Were they born in Africa? No. They're Americans. I never disrespected anyone". She didn't understand that pointing out that the people in the room who were not doing what she thought would be expected at a graduation ceremony were, of course, the black people. She absolved herself because she didn't use the N* word. Apparently, in her mind, if she insults a group of people but doesn't use the most derogatory term in her condemnation of an entire race, she is not a racist.

The principal, when interviewed, said that this school was specifically for kids who wouldn't have an opportunity to graduate otherwise. If this is true, what an absolute shame that she decided to behave like trash and completely ruin their day. Its a big day for all kids when they graduate and move on in the world. But for kids who society had deemed 'disadvantaged' and unlikely to graduate, this is a remarkable accomplishment and celebration. And she ruined it. And if any American doesn't understand why that is a tragedy, that needs to be a starting point, I guess. It also means that we are a lot further behind as a nation than I thought.

It is the responsibility of the media to do more than report on her belief that she is not racist. It is the responsibility of the media to explain to those Americans, who think like she does, why it was insulting. It truly is a shame that our media should have to explain to people who can be so ignorant and selfish as to not consider the intent behind a statement to be insulting. But it is a discussion we must have. And you are the place to start the conversation. I compel you to create that dialogue tonight and explain to your audience why this woman's statement was both racist and insensitive. We really can't keep going on like this.

The Space Between Us

As fascinating as it is to sit and watch the Tea Party continue to self-destruct, it is growing tiresome. Because the loudest of the voices don't see it coming, they are just going along spreading hate and a self-defined superiority that is tragic, but tedious. Only the rest of us can see what they are doing to themselves. A thoughtful group of people can evolve. They can admit their own mistakes and amend their actions or beliefs accordingly. The most intellectually incurious and lazy, however, never have that capacity. I imagine it is too difficult. Or their egos won't allow for their own poor judgment to be acknowledged. Whichever, it is beginning to collapse in on itself, and because I sincerely resent those who mean to do harm to my country, I am enjoying it.

I have been told countless times on Twitter by those identifying as teabaggers that they are only part of a movement and not a party. They will remind me that each group is its own subsection having and upholding its own beliefs. There is a group in New Hampshire who are strictly Libertarian and disavow all of the evangelical ideals which have been added by the most vocal teabaggers; the ones the 2016 nominees are talking to. But what about the others who still identify only as Libertarians? There seem to be a lot of them. They seem to be quite off-put by their party having been hijacked. Who will they vote for? To vote for any of those out stumping right now, they would have to forfeit their entire belief system.

Do the Libertarians even realize the party is now neocon? Do they see the distinctions? Do they realize their once universal and selfish demand of "if it doesn't help me I don't want to pay for it," which used to mean having no interest in foreign affairs and war has now become a complete contradiction of itself? Do those who once supported a woman's right to choose because it was Constitutional mind that it is now being re-interpreted? Also, the Libertarians had a large number of atheists. How do they like having their party which was once aimed at upholding the Constitution, now trying to get the Constitution redefined to mirror the Bible?

I don't know why Boehner and McConnell and the rest of the RINOs in DC allow the Teabaggers to control their agenda. They should be intelligent enough to see that the bulk of Americans are too intelligent to even listen to the morons on the far right. Just because they are loud doesn't mean they are right. Even Koch money won't get a Teabag nominee to the White House. The tide is getting ready to change as their voices are all over the airwaves and televisions and the traditional Republicans begin to hear what has become of their party.

Many of those who were once neocons now identify as Tea Party 'patriots.' Because Rove tried to dismantle the Tea Party in 2012, the talking heads quickly told the followers to have nothing but disdain for GWB, Cheney, Rove, etc. Without question, it was done. These are the people who once thought President Bush was an excellent candidate because he was the kind of person who they would want to have a beer with. They supported him when the rest of America came to realize that he had deliberately taken us into an illegitimate war. They supported him when he neglected an entire section of America when they were hit by a hurricane.

And these are the people who thought Sarah Palin was a fantastic candidate because she had 'spunk.' They championed her credibility even after she clearly showed that she neither had a capacity for understanding geography (really?) nor diplomacy. She had an ego so large that she disrespected her senior on the ticket repeatedly. And for those who cheered on, this made her a 'maverick,' instead of an asshole.

These present day teabaggers are quite convinced of their own superiority in a political landscape and in their capacity to direct policymaking or narrative in the country and define its best means of progressing. You can't finally submit to a place where you think Bush & Co. were ruinous to America and then spend time condemning those of us who knew that all along. This is the arrogance and depth of a constituency who is now convinced that they should be driving our futures.

With such little thought as to whole-heartedly support both Bush and then completely dismiss all that you embraced is curious. Or to allow a neocon movement to now become a contradiction in a Bible-thumping Libertarian party, no one can take anything this group says seriously. None of them realize that their lack of foresight (or their delayed hindsight, for Christ's sake) defines their being unworthy of any political gravitas in future decision making because they have historically, willfully been so incredibly wrong.

The bulk of the present Tea Party movement supported Bush. And supported Palin. Palin quickly became a Tea Party darling and many followed her willingly. The Tea Party movement became a mangled conglomerate of ideas and theologies. To this day followers are reminding themselves (and others) that they have no leadership or clearly defined message. No one in the movement has yet stepped up and claimed to be a leader or attempted to define its platform in a meaningful way which embraces all of the contradictions of its present fellowship. The only thing we know for sure is that these are the same people who all passionately supported President Bush.

America would like to find its way out of the war you supported taking us in to. And we would like to find a way of repairing the myriad of failed policies and (non) attempts at diplomacy that we were left with after the 8 years you were so excited to support. If we are to be thoughtful about the means by which we are to continue as a nation, it would certainly be in the best interests of the country to ask these new 'Patriots' who they would consider the very best candidate for any representational position next year and then, collectively, vote against them.

I guess the primaries will offer us our guidelines. Thanks.

#TeaParty #TeaBaggers #GOP #NeoCons #RINOs #Repubilcans

Friday, May 8, 2015

Dear Media: (Part 2 - ABC)

I saw a poll that showed the least informed Americans are those who watch the Fox cable channel and that people who don't follow the news knew more about what was going on than the Fox audience. I thought that made sense, actually, but it also gave me an idea. I decided that I would start watching all of the news outlets and try to determine what it is that America is being told.

Initially I was outraged, to be honest. I wrote a blog entry called Dear Media and figured all media outlets would have a revelation and forward to all of their staff and their immediate understanding would be reflected in what would be produced from there on out. I am pretty adorable, I know.

But seriously, I am actually shocked at what I am seeing on the major news outlets. Where is our country headed if those who are meant to inform us do so lazily and leave out important variables? Those who only watch their news at 6:30 with their dinner are getting a pretty narrow view of our political world as it stands now. And if they wanted to jump on your websites, there would still be a very skewed focus toward generic and useless informing.

My mother is a Republican and it always infuriates me that she has no idea who the players are, presently, in her party. She doesn't understand what they really believe. I watch MSNBC, and am proud to admit that I go there specifically because I am a Liberal. And I understand that they have a left-leaning bias. But I do watch other channels, too. The channels which are supposed to be unbiased. And I have noticed a profound difference in the stories. I think I would call them fluff. Or nonsense? If you are not journalists (which is questionable, to be honest) you are certainly marketing something. Because you need to get them to come back and watch the show next time, right? It seems that is the objective. If you are in marketing, your consumers are being ripped off. And you should be ashamed of yourselves, honestly.

For instance, just now I went to because the misinformation of politics is my major concern. You have to scroll down in the political page above to come to the first mention of Secretary Clinton, which is a story about a fundraiser for the Clinton Foundation. You would not be reporting this at all if the Republicans hadn't started a, thus unsubstantiated, rumor (which you have willfully reported on ad nauseam) about the foundation. The position of the writer is negative and points out that this is a curious time for them to hold a fundraiser as there are concerns at this time about their fundraising. There is never an insistence or direction in any of your reporting that I have seen or read about its being a rumor. You are reporting it as if a rumor is newsworthy. (When did rumors become news that wasn't only printed in tabloids?) And questioning the timing of the fundraiser was quite simple-minded as if to suggest this was scheduled last week and not long before they knew someone was going to get started so early with their smear campaign and begin the barrage of attacks with rumors surrounding the Clinton's philanthropy.

To counter, the first thing one sees when they open the politics page is a huge photo of "HOPE" which takes you to a story about Mike Huckabee. This begins with the initial sentence telling the reader that Huckabee doesn't like Bill Clinton, the other famous politician from this small town. This piece goes on to glorify Huckabee through the words of those who live there and tells us that it has turned Republican since the time when Clinton was the President. We are left an image of a small-town southern man who is really respected and honorable; in opposition with President Clinton, who has since lost favor.

There was absolutely no mention of any of his scandals or rumors. None of the readers were offered an opportunity to learn his opinions about and genuine disdain for women. The scandal of his having endorsed a "cure for diabetes" product (which, surprisingly, didn't cure diabetes) was not offered to the reader, either. Your reader might have wanted to know that this respectable small-town guy was one of the few on the right to proudly jump on the 'legitimate rape' bandwagon. And he never jumped off when those wiser then he realized what a trainwreck it was. They didn't find out about how he genuinely believes, and in 2008 campaigned on, an idea that the Constitution needed to be amended to fit God's law (his God- the Christian one). And it would be really important that the American electorate be informed that this change to the Constitution would, in fact, be the sharia law they have heard people talking about.

The fact that he opened his campaign in Hope was the only mention of his campaign. This would seem like the perfect time to tell your audience what he said that day about his campaign and his vision for America. His vision is quite compelling as he means to, "abolish" the IRS and Department of Education. He stated that the Supreme Court could not overrule the "Laws of God." Most Americans would find it interesting that he thought the laws of God were something their country was meant to be judged on. They would want to know that a potential President thought so. If a serious candidate were running for the highest office in the land and repeatedly condemned large swaths of American society, it is your responsibility to let them know that. He literally displays contempt for the LGBT community. And for women. And for Muslims. If they don't make it to one of his rallies, as hundreds of millions of Americans won't, it is your responsibility to let them know what he said.

Americans need to be afforded an opportunity to understand what they are voting for. As journalists, this should be such an exciting time to cover politics. Presently the GOP has up to 20 people vying for the primaries. And all but one of those identifies as a Tea Party hopeful. Most GOP members don't know that those in the Tea Party call them RINOs (Republican In Name Only). They don't realize that the "R" they check on the ballot is really a "T" and that the ideals they believed their party stands for are a joke to this new movement. I believe, as journalists, it is your job to make sure they know. Presently, if they are being informed by either of the big 3 or CNN, they are having a very skewed view of the political landscape. You are doing America and your legacies a profound disservice. Honestly, you should be ashamed.

All of those running in the Tea Party have a lot of things people need to know about that you are not telling them. They have a lot of rumors surrounding them. They have made a lot of contradictory statements in their varied speeches depending on who their audience was. None of these have been reported on.

These Tea Party affiliates have ideas which most Americans would see as quite extreme. If the majority of Americans believe in a woman's choice and gay marriage and the need for stricter gun laws, it is your responsibility to make them understand that all of these Presidential hopefuls will fight against these.

The single most terrifying item for me, however, is that the Tea Party members who joke about the unwitting RINOs were sincerely excited by the shooting last week in Texas. The woman who incited the event is one of their biggest idols. The RINOs would be terrified if they heard her hateful message. Those RINOs should also be made aware of the entire story behind the fear presently being instilled in Texas about a military take over of the state which is being supported by some of their leaders, including some of those running for President. They would want an opportunity to defend their party against such outrageous ideals. And, most importantly, they would want to know that the vocal piece of their party agree with these views.

I imagine anyone who goes into journalism does so hoping to get to investigate issues and get to break a story that no one else has discovered. I imagine a young college student deciding they wanted an opportunity to learn about and report on the world and build a respectful reputation for doing so. This would be a great time to not only get to do some real investigative journalism, but to make a name for yourself as a creditworthy newsperson. The present field is quite underwhelming. And you could be a part of a positive movement for this country. Please step up. Make your mother proud. Make America proud. Its time.

#Media #ABCNews #ABC #DavidMuir #GeorgeStephanopolous #ABCWorldNewsTonight #Nightline #20/20 #ThisWeek #JamesGoldston #CeciliaVega #TomLlamas #JonathanKarl #MarthaRaddatz #JimAvila #CokieRoberts #RickKlein #MatthewDowd #DonnaBrazile #BillKristol

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Generous Heart of the GOP

I have had the same argument handed to me three times now by teabaggers on Twitter. As one might imagine, I am not able to speak in short sentences in real life, and I certainly cannot have a debate in 140 characters. But, I have my very own blog so I will put it all here and forward a link to the next moron who tries to hand me this line of shit.

Now, first of all, for all of my regular readers with an IQ in the triple digits, I want to make sure that you all realize what each of these people sent me. I want you to click this link to see the "fact" that they each sent me and #1 realize that they still do not believe that they are being conditioned even though I have somehow managed to come across this same message and link from three different people at three different times. #2 (giggle) tell me the other thing you see immediately as soon as you open the link (maybe even before it opens and you see the name of what you are opening in the address bar).


You saw it, didn't you? Its an Op-Ed! Jesus. Christ. And two of them were quick to tell me that its from a Liberal and from the New York Times. (sigh). Before reading it the first time, I told the teabagger who forwarded it to me "that's an Op-ED." His reply told me he didn't know what that meant. No part of me was surprised.

So here is what I would have said if I had not been limited to 140 characters at a time and just ceased my conversation several messages in because of ridiculous rants of my ignorance and insistence of the superiority of those on the right:

The OPINION piece said that Conservative households contribute 30% more annually to charities than those led by Liberals. A second study showed that it was up to 50%.

So here it is: Bullshit. I don't need any data to support what I know to be true and I will try to make this as clear as I can devoid of statistical data which could never be collected anyway:

1. As the article mentions, if you were to remove the amounts donated to churches, Liberals would be a higher percentage of donations. It feels funny to include monies that can be bullied out of a donor when being told Jesus wants them to tithe a percentage of their income. A much larger amount of those on the right identify as religious (and many have scared those from the left away altogether).

2. Any moron (most, anyway) could realize that the majority of millionaires and billionaires are Conservatives. The percentages of their donations would far exceed those on the lower end of the income gap spectrum when added together.Those who are wealthier have accountants give them numbers at the end of November to let them know exactly how much they need to donate in order to get the biggest deduction, are doing so for less than philanthropic reasons. It has nothing to do with generosity.

3. Those of us on the left are, traditionally, less well off. Therefore those of us who donate to charities do not keep track of how much we donate because its not going to help us when we file our taxes anyway. AND we don't do it for a tax benefit.

(I give to charities all of the time. I have never asked for a receipt. I kind of get upset when they ask if I need one. I was raised that you don't brag about your generosity or its not coming from the right place anyway. And if a pollster asked me to tell them what I donate annually, I would just give them a blank stare and start rattling off different times I gave $100 to this or $250 to that. I lost 175 pounds and donated an entire plus size Lane Bryant wardrobe once to a charity that gives women getting off of assistance a wardrobe to go to work. I don't know what that's worth. I don't ask. My only intention is to help others, it has never once occurred to me to consider thinking about myself in the new year).

4. Something else we on the left do give that I bet a lot of Conservatives don't - Time. It is much easier to hand someone a check than offer them a day or a weekend out of your life. At the end of any given year if I were asked which events or charities I had donated my time to in that calendar year, I could list some and still end up forgetting others. Again, I do it because it is important to me or someone I love, not because I think it will benefit me in any way later.

The piece didn't cite the actual data used or any means of obtaining it, but I feel confident as a thoughtful person who happens to live and pay attention to what goes on around me in America, the statistics were not inclusive or detailed enough to make a sincere representation of generosity in our society.

I will close by saying that the writer of this op-ed is a Liberal. And he wrote it a few days before Christmas with an urge for all to go out and donate. And he did it through a traditionally Liberal outlet openly encouraging Liberals to make donations. I dare say, had it been an Op-Ed in appeal to Conservatives in the Washington Post, it would've been used as a comical talking point around the Koch's New Years Celebrations before adding it as wadded up kindling on the roaring fire in the grand ballroom in the west wing of their winter hunting retreat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sit Down. We've Got This!

We live in a misogynistic society. You have to literally be developmentally challenged to not realize that. It was a common question to ask, "I wonder what she did to deserve that?" when Ray Rice was seen knocking out his girlfriend. Because, you know, sometimes a woman needs to know her place. We are still fighting to get equal pay in America and then being told we are whining to discuss it. We have a woman running for President and it is considered an appropriate question on every news channel to ask about whether or not she should run because she is a grandmother and might just prefer playing with the baby instead. If America is to progress in a meaningful way where it is respectful to, and accepting the equality of, women, it has a long way to go when women are still finding obstacles in defining their own place in society.

Corporations are presently being offered a voice in what is deemed acceptable for women. The infamous Hobby Lobby debacle is a wonderful example of that. Hobby Lobby cited that they shouldn't have to allow a worker to receive birth control with the insurance they provide because it was against their religious rights. A company, apparently, can have a religion. Who knew?

Wal-Mart, a well-known bastion of ethical superiority in American culture has recently decided that they would not sell a soon to be released book by UFC fighter, Ronda Rousey, titled My Fight, Your Fight. Wal-Mart cited that the book was too violent. The cover art is a close up picture of the author with only her eyes showing above her wrapped fists. The picture is certainly not violent. It's actually pretty bad-ass. The story inside is an autobiographical reflection of her upbringing and overcoming odds to make it to winning in the Olympics and then having a successful career in the UFC. I guess the fights in the book may be violent. You can, of course, buy video games of UFC fighting, or movies showcasing the ultimate battles of the UFC. Wal-Mart even sells a book about the rise of the UFC. And, we need not forget, this is a great place to stock up on your weapons and ammunition. But, somehow, an autobiographical piece about a woman showing a lifetime of struggles and triumphs with an eventual ascendancy in a male dominated career field was deemed too violent for their sensitive customers. After a lot of controversy surrounding this choice, Wal-Mart decided that they would sell her book, but only on line where no one could see it on the shelves in the store. But as a thoughtful consumer, you could also go absolutely anywhere else that sells books. It is not available until May 12, but you can pre-order her book here.

American women are still trying to have the final say in our own health care. In February of 2012, Congress held a hearing over birth control access and the entire board was made up of men. There are plenty of women in Congress who could've been invited to sit on the board, but they were not. These males meant to be representing the women of America in Congress decided they would only invite clergy to testify. Male clergy. They were not determining the best means of ensuring this health care option for women, they were determining if those women might be infringing on someone else's freedom of religion by using birth control. Glorious!

Recently, Mike Huckabee countered the idea of the GOP waging a 'War on Women' by telling us that it is really a 'War for Women.' Well that's certainly generous, Mike! How so? ... He explained that they are fighting to redefine women as they had been. You know? Back when he was comfortable with their place in the world. It is very hard for him to handle this era where women are allowed to wear what they want, say what they want, work where they want, be in leadership positions, procreate when and if they want, and from his many tirades of the past, I would assume he has had this problem since 1973, at least. When he was governor of Arkansas, Huckabee went out of his way to personally deny the states payment of a Medicaid claim to an abortion clinic where a 15 year old had gone after having been raped by her stepfather. He really is just a vile creature. When most deemed it a bridge too far, he was one of a handful of Republicans who proudly jumped on the 'legitimate rape' bandwagon when it rolled out. I cannot write about it without losing my shit. If you don't know, look it up. He has made the most awkwardly inapproriate dismissals of women publicly, with no provocation. In 2012, he posted on his Facebook page a comment telling his followers that men are better than women at multi-tasking and women are even worse while on their period. It is beyond my comprehension why any human being would find the need to post that idea. He condemned Natalie Portman for getting pregnant out of wedlock. He picked a fight with BeyoncĂ© saying that she was a bad example for young girls. He clearly gets out of sort when women rise in the ranks of their careers to find the kind of respect he will never achieve.

I had to laugh when he recently told America that only trashy women use bad words. Maybe he really thinks he is in the 50s. Maybe he needs an analyst? He is quite obviously intimidated by women or he wouldn't spend so much of his time trying to define them so negatively and compel them back to an era of accepted subjugation. Thanks, Mike. We've go this. I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Maybe no one has ever told you but, you are completely irrelevant. You will never make it through primaries, let alone a general election. That is because of your irrelevance. (And the fact that women are allowed to vote). I know that makes you crazy. Get over it. And go Fuck Yourself. (sorry, was that not lady-like?)

The fact that we have so many insecure men in power is unfortunate. They are an embarrassment to their party and themselves. Although they like to say that the right is not promoting hate of women, nobody from the left has been identified as having such vulgar and debasing ideas. As much as Huckabee is an absolute joke and would never make it through to the general, I kind of hope he gets through the primaries. I sure hope he announces soon, too. Its high time we have him all over every news channel and tell all of Americas women just what he thinks about them. It is very important that they realize what has become of the GOP. I don't think a lot of them know.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sharp Right Turn ... Off a Cliff

Its easy to laugh at the myriad of nuts on the right identified as Tea Party members who are declaring their candidacy for President. It is fun to call them a clown car. Its even more fun to visualize this joke of a group dressed as clowns fitting into the clown car. Right? LOL. But you have to wonder ... what is this all about? If they are all identifying with the Tea Party and they are all professing the most ridiculous ideals, who is letting them all loose on America at once? And why?


It is fun. Really. A few weeks ago as I looked at the field of actual clowns the Tea Party were getting ready to unleash on America I thought it would be a great time to watch them self-destruct. I remembered that, first and foremost, the quality any Tea Bag representative needs is a huge ego. I thought the reason they were all coming out from the gate was because the "Me! Me! Me!" occupying each of their thoughts was denying them any means of contending with the idea that they would all be able to cancel each other out. But then I started wondering ... How can the benefactors of the party let this happen?  They are, after all, the only ones who have an actual say in what or who the party promotes. The entire message will be displayed for 18 months all over the country and their message and, thus, their movement, will quickly become illegitimate. Or are they thinking each of them will offer a different appeal and draw in a new targeted group of Americans?

After 2012 the GOP determined that they needed to make their platform more accessible to a broader audience as they realized they had lost because of the women, black and Latino voters. And because they are so intellectually lazy, it looks like they have created their answer. They couldn't be bothered to create a platform that would be more accepting of women or people of color, but they could sure as hell put a few of them out there on the stump to represent their party. That is always where the GOP fails. They are used to speaking to those who are less thoughtful and who don't want to think for themselves. The reason the rest of us don't fall for their shit is because we have the capacity for critical thinking. And the GOP absolutely refuses to learn that lesson.

So, by coupling their arrogance with their ignorance, they shove out Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and TWO Latinos - Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz! Well, there you have it! "See? We support you people." (I am adorable, and I appreciate you noticing). We are, apparently, supposed to ignore the fact that their platform is still misogynist, racist and condemns immigrants.

But Ben Carson is a pediatric neurosurgeon. Yes. And he's black. So there's that. Those are his qualifications. Carly Fiorina was a CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She came out today and told us that she understands how the economy works. Indeed. As the CEO, she laid off 30,000 American jobs and sent them to China. So. Yeah. Those are the two candidates the GOP has decided to counter the "black guy" and the "woman" on the left. Lest anyone forget, they are still telling the rest of us  that President Obama had no business being elected because he lacked experience. And while demanding, even today, that Secretary Clinton (note the title "Secretary" having prefaced her name? It means nothing. Really) has no experience. The fact that they were both Senators, too, seems to offer less gravitas than being a neurosurgeon or condemning tens of thousands of American families to unemployment.

But, don't forget, they are offering us two Latinos, too! Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are up and comers in the Tea Party. And they have experience! They are both US Senators. They have exactly as much experience as then-Senator Obama had in the Senate. But, if I am not mistaken, we are not supposed to notice that. We are also not supposed to be paying attention to either Rubio or Cruz's voting records where they have repeatedly voted against American jobs and veterans and for the big corporations who sent them to DC. I'm sure they would be more thoughtful about their responsibilities to the rest of us if given the opportunity to be President, though.

So I have to ask myself, what is the objective here? No thoughtful leader or leaders would parade this freak show out to the American people without an objective. And then it hit me. And then my heart sank. They know how to condition people. They know that if you repeat something often enough for long enough it will sink into the subconscious of the audience and it will eventually become accepted. They want these jokers out there on every news show spitting their rhetorical nonsense. Because Americans will be used to hearing it by next year. Americans will accept that this is the direction the country is going. And Americans will gladly accept whichever top clown the Koch's offer up for the general election (Scott Walker). Oh God. I joke about it all of the time, but if our country slips any further into the abyss of complacency and ignorance that has brought us this deep into the dark chasm of the teabagger ideology, I will self deport. I totally will.

#TeaParty #GOP #Teabaggers #TedCruz #MarcoRubio #SecretaryClinton #PresidentObama #BenCarson #CarlyFiorina #

The Least Among Us

I spend a lot of my time pissed off about the fact that teabaggers are so easily duped. The shit they believe is impossible for me to comprehend anyone taking seriously. But the thing that is worse, to me, is that this is deliberate. There are a lot of radio, internet and television talking heads that they listen to religiously. And every message they get is to be afraid. "Our country is under attack. Our way of life is under attack." They totally believe it. Obama is going to take all of their rights away. They are threatened by Muslims, and gays and immigrants and all people of color. They have been convinced that all of these people, in one way or another, are trying to take away their rights. And the worst of them project a violent rage toward all of those who they were programmed to hate. It is terrifying.

Everyone has heard of Rush Limbaugh and the Fox cable entertainment channel. But there are so many more voices that they get their hateful messages from. A lot of them, believe it or not, get messages of hate from their church. I researched a blog I did last month and the pastor of a mega-church here in town was condemning Muslims and the poor. He was supporting the hateful rhetoric they hear all week on the radio. And another pastor, quite literally, told his congregation that he hates the President, prays for his death, and called his mother a whore. (See Here) This conglomerate have been able to successfully brainwash an entire political movement.

It sounds dramatic, right? Angie, you are exaggerating. Ok. I tell you what ... I will offer you a handful of stories here and I want you to imagine anyone on the left doing it. Ever. We have assholes who will throw paint on someone wearing a fur coat, but we don't have anyone who decides the answer to any fears they have about their political or religious views is violence. Or worse.

In March of this year, a man in Georgia planted a bomb in a public park in an attempt to make the community aware of the Muslim threat he believed the country was under. He demanded that "No one is paying attention to what is going on in the world." This self-professed "Patriot" put the bomb in a backpack and added some Muslim memorabilia, a copy of the Quran and a map of the Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. He literally picked out a name that he thought sounded foreign and put it in the back pack. All items were meant to be evidence, after the pending explosion, of a Muslim performing a terrorist attack. Please understand. The bombs in the backpack were real. He left them at a national park. Anyone could have picked that up and been blown up. And once arrested, what was he charged with? Terrorism? Nope. He's a white man. It was probably just a mental issue. He was charged with: an attempt to damage or destroy by means of an explosive property owned by the United States of America.

Also in March, a man in New Orleans went to the airport with a duffel bag carrying a machete, six homemade explosives and poison spray. He sprayed two TSA officers in the face with the poison and then chased another with the machete. He was eventually shot and killed and when they searched his car they found more chemicals to make explosives. The TSA are targets for hate by two right-wing radio personalities, Alex Jones and Glenn Beck. Beck actually tells his listeners that he believes the TSA are working for the President as his "secret army." And he has an audience. Again, its more than my mind can embrace. This man who attacked with explosives and a machete, based on irrational fear, was also determined not to have been a terrorist. He, too, was white. He, too, they said, probably had mental health issues.

In August, 2012, a Wisconsin man shot and killed six and injured four at a Sikh temple. His hate was so ignorant and lazy that he didn't know the difference between Sikhs and Muslims. He was a white supremacist and in a neo-Nazi band. He had been telling friends that a holy war was coming. I found no mention of his having a mental problem, but he lost all of his jobs for a drinking problem. Had he not killed himself that day, I'm sure that would've been his defense.

In September, 2012, a Virginia man killed himself and his family. He as afraid that President Obama was going to be re-elected. He worked as a defense contractor and was sure that, if re-elected, President Obama would cut defense spending. So, out of that fear, one Sunday after church, he shot his wife and two sons and then himself, rather than face whatever world would be created by a second Obama term. Information was released to state that he suffered from mental health issue, as well.

In June, 2014, a couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who were big fans of right wing radio host Alex Jones, went on a shooting spree. They had expressed a lot of anti-government rhetoric and hatred for authority. They managed to kill two police officers, throwing a Tea Party flag and Nazi swastika on their dead bodies and then killed another person before they were finally killed.

Per the Southern Poverty Law Center, in the last six years right-wing hate groups, militias who call themselves "Patriots," have killed 63 people. These groups are literally convinced that America is under attack and it is their duty to protect her. Meanwhile, they are the terrorists. They are the ones who are wreaking havoc. Out of fear and hate they rally around a flag and a right to bear arms and terrorize whomever they deem a threat. And it seems like the list of those who are threatening them gets longer and longer.

So last night in Texas a group of redneck tebagging trash held a cartoon drawing event, arranged by a woman named Pamela Gellar. When I heard this was her event I nearly lost my  mind. A lot of the moron trolls on Twitter cite her or send you a link to some absolutely unbelievable lie. She is so outrageous that I literally sent her a message last month and asked her how she sleeps at night with all of the fear she is deliberately trying to instill in others. And she arranged an event in Texas for people to draw pictures of Mohammad. It is an Islamic rule that no depiction of their prophet ever be made. She decided this would be a good idea to have a celebration of their freedom of speech and said it was inspired by the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

In January she had a rally to protest a Muslim leadership conference in the same town as last nights shooting, Garland, Texas. She told the group that they were coming to take away Americans freedom of speech. You can go here to see her rally in January. It is a little funny. Or a lot. She is literally telling them what to say to the media. She told her audience that they are soldiers in the battle for America. Because..yeah. And, finally she reminded them to be righteous and not to embarrass the movement.

She was OBVIOUSLY trying to start trouble last night. She even had the police there ready to catch the terrorists when they showed up. Fox (not) News interviewed a woman who said, "our way of life is under attack." She thought the event was a great idea to show off their freedom of speech. Now, please understand, this entire event was a reaction to Muslims in Texas having a leadership conference in January.

Apparently when the shooting happened, an officer entered the center where this event was going on and informed the guests that there was an active shooting. The group inside literally started singing "God Bless America" in unity and then they began to pray together. Close your eyes. No. I'm not kidding. Close your eyes. Envision people under a shooting attack that they deliberately incited are huddled together singing "God Bless America" and praying together. Have a moment with that vision. What did you just see? Right! They are as brainwashed as a real cult. (Of course, Fox (not) News pointed out that it was a patriotic display of the true "spirit of freedom of speech").

The Fox host interviewed Pamela Gellar and asked her if she ever considered that this event was a bad idea? She was off-put by his question and snapped back, "What should I do? Abridge my freedoms so as to not offend savages?" She then went on to remind Americans that, "This is the new normal," in our country. This bitch wanted something like this to happen. She said it was in response to the Charlie Hebdo event in January. That event was VERY different. They printed a magazine to show their speech because they had been threatened. The magazine had received a threat and they were standing up to bullies. No one had sent a threat to this group in Texas. They created their own imagined threat because a Muslim leadership conference was in their town. They have been brainwashed to believe that Muslims are coming for them and a holy war is on the way. This is literally a reaction to a fear they were instilled with. They baited the shooters. And they willingly put their own lives on the line in hopes that this might happen.

The next time anyone drones on and on about terrorists, remind them that we have had more Christian terrorist incidents since 9/11 than Muslim. In the last 20 Years 4700 acts of clinic violence were perpetrated against abortion clinics in the USA by "Christians." They are the ones creating all of the hate in our society. And they are too stupid to realize it. And, sadly, we are stuck with them.

HateGroups(See Here)