Changes…

Changes…

And these children
That you spit on
As they try to change their world
Are immune from your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…

–David Bowie

A little under two years ago, I wrote this post in reaction to Philando Castile’s murder:

Storm’s here.

In that time, nothing changed, until last February, kicked off when a series of white males took up arms against their social circle and inspired a movement in the aftermath of their destruction. Except, that’s not the whole picture.

Compare and contrast.

Four articles from The Guardian, a somewhat left-leaning source with roots in the United Kingdom:

1. Florida shooting: suspect escaped scene by hiding among students as they fled
Nikolas Cruz, 19, charged with 17 counts of murder as officials confirm the AR-15 rifle used to commit massacre was purchased legally

(Incident: February 14, 2018. Dead: 17, injured: 17)

2. Austin bomb suspect left video ‘confession’ before he died
Police say footage portrays ‘a very challenged young man,’ but nothing to show he was motivated by hate

(Incidents: March 2-20, 2018. Dead: 2, injured: 5)

3.  ‘They executed him’: police killing of Stephon Clark leaves family shattered
A young, unarmed black man was shot 20 times in his grandmother’s backyard. Now his brother is fighting through grief to demand justice

(Incident: March 18, 2018. Dead: 1)

4. Maryland student who shot classmate dead killed himself, officials say
Austin Rollins, 17, fired a fatal shot to his head just as he encountered the school resource officer at Great Mills high school

(Incident: March 20, 2018. Dead: 2, injured: 1)

Wait. Did I say four? I meant five.

5. Alton Sterling shooting: two police officers will not be charged with any crime
Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II won’t be charged for incident that occured [sic] in July of 2016 that sparked unrest throughout Baton Rouge

(Incident: July 7, 2016. Dead: 1)

Two of these incidents are not like the others. In fact, the victims in those two incidents stand in stark contrast to the others, even though they are connected by the way in which they died. And in how the victims were described. And in the accountability of those who perpetrated their murders.

On March 22nd, I wrote this piece, after the Associated Press put out a horrendous article describing the Great Mills murderer as a “lovesick teen.” The phrase AP used seemed completely tone deaf, wholly inappropriate given the reality that, according to the Violence Policy Center, 11 murder-suicides happen every week, and that 9 out of 10 murderers use a gun.

As the article above shows, the Resource Officer originally credited with stopping the murderer actually hit him in the hand, and that the kid died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

The hand.

Think about that.

In contrast, Stephon Clark was shot twenty times in his own backyard, murdered in cold blood, and the only thing the cops could find after the dust settled was a cellphone. And nobody could explain why they had to turn off their body cameras.

When Alton Sterling was shot, he did have a gun on him. And it shouldn’t have mattered. After all, Louisiana is an Open-Carry state, and Sterling was within his legal 2A right to possess and carry the gun.

According to an eyewitness report from his friend inside the store, near where Sterling was murdered, the gun was in his waistband, not in his hands.

What Sterling and Clark, and Castile, and Brown, and all the others have in common is an abundance of melanin, which most of the cops and all of the civilian murderers listed above, lack.

People of color have been targets since the first of the slave ships landed on these shores. And cops have proven that lynching isn’t necessary as long as they feel free to pump lead into any individual they view as a threat, regardless of reality.

Being born with dark skin isn’t inherently threatening unless one wants an excuse to pump the entire contents of a gun clip into a human being and call him a target, to exercise summary justice outside of the legal system, to shut down any possibility of accusations of police brutality or corruption.

Any excuse will do, regardless of whether the victim’s legal and civil rights say otherwise.

I’ve been writing about racism since the first few posts I wrote in this blog, way back in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the Bush family turned a blind eye to reality and cost the lives of almost 1,500 people and displaced a huge number of poor families, many of color, in New Orleans.

#BlackLivesMatter, which started as a hashtag on social media,  came into existence in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman’s acquittal finally drew attention to the massive disparity between being black and being white in America.

But not enough. Not nearly enough.

No, it took a major tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in a privileged part of Florida’s Broward County, to focus the movement like a laser. These students are articulate, driven, privileged kids. They have finally, firmly, seized that banner of truth and anger and sadness, raised it high, and reached out to their siblings across the country who have been targets far longer.

Inclusive, determined, driven by force of will, these kids who founded the March For Our Lives movement, who have declared #NeverAgain in places across the country, are defining the future in their terms.

Now that they’re coming of age, their movement looks a lot like the Vietnam War protests of our past. And no wonder.

We ARE at war.

We are deep into Civil War, and we have no idea where it will lead, but the children…OUR children…have declared in more than a million clear, strong voices of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and cultures, that #EnoughIsEnough.

Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and their friends speak not just for the students at MSD, but for kids across the country, and they will sit in silence no longer.

It’s no surprise that they have welcomed their siblings of color, who are considered “at-risk” merely for existing. After all, they’re theatre kids. They understand diversity in ways only some of us fully understand.

In a time and place where our people of color are maimed or killed in disproportionate numbers, simply because they’re not white, these kids see only one thing: Themselves.

In our gun-saturated society, there’s a reckoning coming. It’s coming at the ballot box this year.

This is just the start.

May these children succeed where we have failed, in the ten years since the District of Columbia v. Heller  decision, to force change. I only wish David Bowie was still here to see it.

David Bowie – Changes (Olympia)

Language means something…

Language means something…

My friend on Facebook says: “This kid was a domestic abuser. His girlfriend had broken up with him, so he SHOT HER. This headline is BS.”

Boy, howdy, is it ever. Entitled asshole with access to deadly weapons. But this isn’t the first time I’ve had trouble with headlines.

What headline?

From the Associated Press via all sorts of media outlets, but notably the New York Times earlier this afternoon:

Police: Maryland School Shooter Apparently Was Lovesick Teen

Here’s a link to the original article, via Time.com, because the New York Times has updated the title and removed the above (which I suspect was a wise move on their editor’s part): Maryland High School Shooter Was Lovesick Teen, Police Say.

But that’s not all:

Select articles from multiple sources using the word “lovesick”

This afternoon, as reactions to the article’s original title lit up my FB feed, a different friend asked a question that generated the hottest post I’ve had on my wall in a long time. The post is here. It’s still active.

This article is the result of that conversation, and so here’s my take on it. Buckle up.

The cops and the press have GOT to stop painting these kids as forlorn and pitiful. If the kid had been any better at aiming, or if he’d had access to anything more deadly than Daddy’s Glock, this would have been much more than attempted murder / suicide with collateral damage.

Just stop it.

It’s a bullshit line. Imagine the headline if this wasn’t a teen: “Heartbroken man shoots ex-girlfriend and then himself.” The only difference is the age of this entitled little shit.

First off: This is domestic abuse taken to its extreme conclusion. Don’t know what I mean? Here are several places to read up:

Second, does premeditated murder get a pass because of arbitrary chronological age?

Kids as young as 16 are allowed to operate vehicles in Maryland. And while I loathe the false gun/car dichotomy, in this case it proves a point.

I was a lot younger than Austin Rollins when my dad took me to the shooting range the first time. Rollins couldn’t buy the gun he used on his own. If you’re under 21 in Maryland, it’s illegal to buy a gun like that anywhere. Instead, he used a deadly weapon that belonged to his dad when he exacted punishment on his ex-girlfriend for leaving him.

Who should be held responsible? The kid holding the weapon or the parent who bought it and left it accessible? Are the parents punished enough by losing their child? We still don’t know whether Rollins took his own life or the Deputy on the scene did the job, and now we will never know the complete motivation for the incident, because that died with Rollins.

See, I come at this from two directions: I have kids in high school who could be likely targets of this sort of abuse. I also have a brain that still thinks I’m only a couple of years removed from high school myself. Because of these things, I harbor an overwhelming level of empathy with the kids who are the targets of these violent offenders.

Rochester isn’t a small town, but it had plenty of places for gun shopping when I was a kid, and I can still smell the gunpowder and oil inside the last gun shop I visited with my dad. His collection included two .22s and a repro Kentucky musket for which he cast his own ammo. He had other guns that were higher caliber, which hurt to shoot. The .22 rifle was sweet, though. And I could hit the center of the target with it when I still had access to it. I’m still here. I haven’t shot anyone.

No, it’s not about the guns or the location of the individuals in question. And I’m sorry, but I have no stomach for any of this crap. I’ve seen more eyerolling article titles in the last three weeks because cops can’t figure out the motives for the Parkland shooter, or the serial bomber, or the kid down in St. Mary’s County. Why?

I have a guess: I think it’s because they’re afraid if they give any credence to the possibility that easy access to guns makes these incidents possible, they’ll get a raft of shit from the gun lobby and all those “my guns are legal so why hurt me” people who love the NRA, and you know what? They’re probably right. We can’t admit we have a problem or we’ll be forced to do something about it. And so we go another day or two, or maybe a week, and Great Mills will be old news as we turn to the next entitled asshole with access to weapons and an axe to grind.

I am truly sick to death of all this soft pedaling of white violence. All these armed snowflakes are a lot more dangerous to our society because of this crap language. We have GOT to stop protecting people just because they have a melanin deficit. Call them what they are and stop finding excuses for why we couldn’t see it coming.

Let me tell you: I listened to the hateful rhetoric against members of the Obama administration while I sat in the bleachers during a rodeo way back in 2011, in Logan, UT (with my kids in earshot). I watched a couple of guys get two wheels off the ground in their pickup as they exhibited road rage against my liberal bumper stickered car outside of Cheyenne during that same trip. And that was years ago, before Sandy Hook even happened. Years before the current administration in the White House that gives white violence a pass.

I can tell you exactly what this sounds like.

We are broken.

“But if he’d had a knife…”

Sure, Rollins could still have tried to kill his girlfriend, but it’s also possible that he might also still be alive and she might not be fighting for her life right now. Yes, it would still have been violence, but it’s far less likely that it would have been fatal.

Bottom line: The police need to change their methods and their language.

Pretending that the motive for violence is unclear–that we have no idea why a kid would do such a thing–has the effect of giving violence against women a pass. It’s the same willful ignorance that lets people describe a domestic terrorist who plants serial bombs as a troubled youth.

I’m talking about language. When we soft pedal with words like “lovesick teen” and then can’t figure out that a kid is dangerously close to murder, is it because we give kids the benefit of the doubt or because we soften the language? How is it that Trayvon Martin was a thug but these kids were just misunderstood?

The Parkland murderer was after his girlfriend and chose Valentine’s Day on purpose. And now 17 kids are dead.

When the discussion is “walk up” instead of “walk out” and women are told to be nice because otherwise they could be dead? Why is a stellar black musician with a bright future dead, blown up?   Police can’t imagine. Why is a black man shot dead in his own backyard for holding a cellphone? We have no idea. That’s what I’m talking about here. Body cameras won’t fix this.

The police can’t imagine why Rollins would do something like this? So why can all the women on the aforementioned thread come up with a reason?

You’d better believe if these kids were anything but white, there’d be different language in use and we’d be in a state of emergency trying to figure out how to get the kids and their guns off the street.

“Shooter.” Too subtle. Too polite. Let’s use a new word: Murderer. That’s what these kids are.

These kids assassinate the people they think have hurt them. The culture in which they live gives them access to the tools they use and tacit permission to use them at will by making them available and telling them they’re entitled to whatever they want. And god forbid we should try to make it harder for them to get access, or to hold their adults responsible for the aftermath.

We’re not talking about a temper tantrum. We’re talking about death.

When men stop solving their relationship problems with gunpowder, talk to me.

Speaking of elections and Governors…

Speaking of elections and Governors…

I rarely talk about local politics (because all politics is local), but where I live, in Maryland, parents are waking up this morning to discover that their Spring Break is about to be shortened by a day.

Why?

Because Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan is a Republican, which means he hates public education and the teachers’ union. In a fit of capriciousness and misplaced magnanimity toward parents who

It started here, with proposed budget cuts which disproportionately affect Prince George’s, Montgomery, and Baltimore Counties more than the rest of the state, but the damaging effects across the board will really hit when parents realize they’ll be required to shorten their plans for Spring Break due to weather.

According to Hogan, in a WTOP article posted on August 31, 2016:

The order “will help protect the traditional end of summer, not only for families on vacation this week, but also for the teachers and the students working here in Ocean City and all across the state for the summer.”

Maybe, but how many parents are going to lose the money that they’d otherwise have when they have to adjust their Spring Break plans because of winter weather?

And then there’s this claim, from the same article:

For their part, defenders of the shorter school year point out that Maryland’s Bureau of Revenue Estimates say the move could generate up to $74.3 million in direct economic activity for the state.

How do we test this? We wait until the end of the summer and see how things are doing in Maryland, of course. That means remembering the annoyance of calling to shorten or cancel travel plans, working around camp schedules (when parents can afford them), or dealing with an uptick in kids who stay at home while their parents work, because THOSE schedules haven’t changed.

Hogan has already declared his disinterest, if not open hostility, in working with Maryland teachers. I want to see how well our residents remember this when we go to the ballot box on November 6th.

Hogan should never have gotten a space in Government House and we need to show him the door come November. Our kids depend on it.

Still standing…

Still standing…

Six days left.

It appears Hurricane Sandy is the October Surprise folks have wondered about. The unexpected size and devastation in the super storm’s wake (it still hasn’t finished with the states, though the storm has finally dissolved across the lower part of Canada) leaves a lot of questions  unanswered.

The storm’s intensity has surprised the people in its path, not only with its extensive damage, but also with the areas it left mostly untouched. So, too, will this election bring about vast changes in some areas and not in others.

I had amassed twenty or thirty links to articles I wanted to read and possibly include in this post as indicators of the things you should consider when you go to the polls (if you haven’t already gone). The list below is all that remains. I suggest you read these articles before you vote, though I strongly suspect you’ve already made your decisions.

I’m off shortly to vote at an early polling place in Maryland because it’s my civic duty and because I want to make sure that I take advantage of the opportunity. Nobody knows what will happen in the next six days. As the blue sky finally shows here in Maryland, I can smile and be thankful that I survived this storm knowing in my heart how many others did not. Even if they have their lives, some of our brothers and sisters have lost everything they own, washed away or destroyed by water and mud.

There are six days left until Election Day. If you really, truly want to know what the next President will do, listen to what he does NOT say as much as what he does now. President Obama has canceled campaign stops because his duty is to the people. Gov. Romney is taking advantage to stump and offer ill-timed photo ops when he should do what he can to give direct aid to those who need it most.

I can’t say it any better than Susan Eisenhower why you should vote for President Obama and why you should select candidates for the House and Senate who will move our country forward and not simply stand in the way of progress. The numbers don’t look good, especially for the House race. The obstructionists are winning, and so we’re likely in for another two-year slog (at least) before parts of the country are finally fed up enough to choose change instead of retrograde politics.

We can no longer look to the past to recapture the golden era of cocktail parties and social-climbing. We should be all about social justice now, for those of us who are denied their civil rights through marriage equality bans, by blocking or destroying chances for our youth to reach for higher goals through the Dream Act than working at the counter at the local McDonald’s. You each have it in your hands to improve things for your fellow humans. It all comes down to this.

Two years ago I was still mourning the loss of my father from Lewy Body Dementia and reeling from the death of a board member at my theater who had finally succumbed to breast cancer when I packed up and headed to Florida for the [failed] launch of Discovery and a week at the parks.

On the way there, another friend was on the brink of death from cancer in California and my friend Richard was in the hospital for what we thought would be another relatively brief stay that turned out to be his last. His birthday was October 30 and in all the hubbub of trying to get to Disney on schedule, I managed to forget.

We made it there in time for Halloween, had a relatively up and down week where we kept readjusting our schedule to accommodate the on-again, off-again launch windows, until finally Kennedy Space Center decided to scrub the mission so they could do a thorough check of the shuttle.

We pulled out of Epcot’s parking lot late on my birthday, November 6. When we finally stopped for dinner, I chose Perkins and ordered pumpkin pie (instead of chocolate cake) in honor of Richard’s birthday. Kayta passed away while we were on the road. At some point near the same time, Richard went from ill to critical and I found myself breaking speed laws to get north as quickly as possible.

Aside from the obvious ugliness of the last few days, I have a couple of years’ worth of grief and baggage floating around in my particular morass of a brain. Coupled with this, I last spoke with my father for my birthday, almost three years ago.

Forgive me if I seem angry a lot lately. I’m sick to death of the rhetoric that says the needy should just suck it up and take the cards they’re dealt. I’ve lost so many friends in the last few years, along with family members, I can hardly keep track anymore. Many of them died because they couldn’t afford better care, or the right medicine. Funerals are in my future as we move into the real fall and winter. And as we progress through the next five to ten years, these events will increase. Baby boomers are aging and the excesses of the sixties, seventies and eighties are catching up with them.

This is the real disaster that frightens the rich. They know what universal healthcare will mean to the country as 75 million people age, become unable to give their share of the work and pay taxes. The more we understand the foundations of autism, the scope and breadth of other diseases, the costs of mega storms like Hurricane Sandy or the devastating earthquakes in Haiti, the cost of tsunamis and storm surges in Japan, the more they realize where their money will go and how hard it will be to justify their comfy multi-million dollar homes.

This hurricane has taken away so much, even though parts of the US went untouched, even as I grieve for those who are in the cold and dark because of a senseless act of nature, I’m incensed at the political rhetoric that would seem to portray these victims as money-grabbing freeloaders who only want to suck the futures away from our children.

Remember your brothers and sisters in Haiti, Cuba and elsewhere along the coast as well as your own family, friends and familiar places. The temperatures are dropping and many of these people are without heat, light, or even homes. Snow has fallen in West Virginia because of the merged cold front. It’s not just about flooding.

Don’t do what I did during Katrina. Collections of tangible goods are meaningless. These donations waste valuable time and resources. If you can spare something, give to the Red Cross, including your blood. Those of you who swear by private donations, now’s the time to step up and give money or volunteer your time if you can.

Thank you.

Why ‘Voting Your Conscience’ in Deep Blue or Red States Is a Terrible Idea For Those Who Don’t Want a Romney Presidency (The popular vote may become a factor this year.)

Big Mitt Romney Supporter Caught In Voter Fraud? (Texan Meat Loaf seeks to cast ballot from former L.A. home.)

How The United States Is Reinventing The Slave Trade

Mysterious Docs Found in Meth House Reveal Inner Workings of Dark Money Group

No Exception: Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock aren’t outliers. Banning abortion for rape victims is the new Republican mainstream.

A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians (WARNING: this post is going to be oh-so-very-triggery for victims of rape and sexual assault. I am not kidding.)

Retired NSA Analyst Proves GOP is Stealing Elections

Between the Debates – Maryland’s Question 6 and Marriage Equality

Between the Debates – Maryland’s Question 6 and Marriage Equality

Obama Pride: LGBT Americans for Obama

With only a few weeks to go to get the word out, rhetoric on my Facebook friends’ pages has heated up. Today’s issue seems to be Marriage Equality (aka Gay / Same Sex Marriage). Here’s what Maryland’s law says: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012rs/chapters_noln/Ch_2_hb0438T.pdf

Maryland is one of four states voting on the question. Two others (Washington and Maine) are also voting to support Marriage Equality, as Minnesota votes on a ban. http://www.towleroad.com/2012/09/thefour.html

I came out a very long time ago as a Straight Ally for Marriage Equality and I will be voting FOR Question 6. This ought to come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or my politics. I have many friends whose relationships with long-term partners have outlasted my straight friends’ marriages and my own. We should not have to vote on a matter of human and civil rights based on sexual orientation. The vote should be unnecessary and those rights should simply be recognized for what they are: basic and fundamental to each individual.

These questions should not be necessary but we still fight about context, putting words into the mouths of our founders even as we try to view and interpret our ruling documents in historical context.

I am often shocked and saddened by the claims I’ve heard from the other side of Equality questions, of why we shouldn’t support what is clearly a civil rights issue. Marylanders for Marriage Equality has a whole series of ads which are not seeing wide release because advertising is expensive (http://www.youtube.com/user/MDers4MarriageEqual).

There is no argument that is as valid as a human being’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, especially in the United States of America, where these are considered basic rights granted by birth and not privileges granted by government.

LGBTQ people have begun to recognize a level of freedom that, until very recently, they believed was unattainable except in the narrowest confines of private space. They are becoming less concerned about their safety, job stability, family reaction or bullying because of a fundamental shift in the views of society that have increased rapidly in the last few years. If we remove these rights, we become guilty of shoving these people back into the dark who might otherwise be welcomed as contributing members of society, for something as basic as the color of their eyes, size of their bodies or texture of their hair.

Beware the restriction of your rights and those of others.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. –Ben Franklin

[Edited to add]

It must have been something in the air this morning, because shortly after I posted the commentary below, news items began popping up on my feed declaring that the Federal Appeals Court has Struck Down DOMA. It’s only a matter of time before the question goes to the Supreme Court. And here’s the thing: Whoever sits as President in the next term will help decide whether DOMA will be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, because it’s more than likely that at least one, possibly as many as three members of the Supreme Court will need to be replaced by the President as they retire.

This issue is far too important to leave to Romney or Ryan. Please consider this as you go to the polls and make your choice!

Education cuts? Good grief!

Education cuts? Good grief!

Lawmakers looking favorably on cuts in education funding: A first step might be easing counties’ obligation

I don’t get it. We mandate by federal law No Child Left Behind, then pull funding from schools to ensure that the only thing teachers can teach are the ways to pass the tests mandated by NCLB. Who wins here? Certainly not the kids.

I want to rant all over this but I’ve got a headache and I’m trying to work on too many things around here. I could flail around wildly trying to affix blame for where we are educationally, but there’s very little point and in the end I won’t have accomplished anything useful.

Education should be this country’s number one priority. Without it, our kids won’t be able to get themselves out of our houses, and we’ll fall even farther behind the other countries in our ability to compete and grow. If a kindergarten teacher can’t even take the time to help teach a kid to tie his shoelaces, then we’ve done something terrible to our educational system. Driving teachers out because we can’t afford to pay them, increasing class sizes because we can’t afford the teachers, making teachers follow strict guidelines over what they should teach and when burns out all but the most dedicated (or least flexible) of people.

When are we going to wake up and do something about this?

How blindingly stupid can we get?!?

Comments:

CS:
Stupid, or maybe evil. Sometimes I think that certain people, having failed to get prayer into public schools, are now trying to destroy them.

Down here the state budget shortfall is resulting in furlough days for state employees, including public school teachers. If there were teacher unions down here they’d have a much more difficult time of it.

Back in Reagan’s time the conservatives wanted to “starve the beast.” Well, there may be times when smaller government is a good idea, but starving the beast to death is insane. Do these people really want to get elected to the government in order to destroy it? Isn’t that treason?

BJ:
Sadly we can get pretty darn stupid. Neither political party wants to work together because that would mean compromise and that would mean a loss of power. Cant they seem it is not productive to play us verses them? and hat is sadder is that it seems the majority of people can’t see that they are playing a divide and concur game. And the ones who really pay teh price are the children.

RP:
I’m afraid it will only get worse. As a voting bloc, parents of school-age children will lose out to retiring baby boomers within the next 10 years. Guess what parts of the budget will become untouchable?

LS:
Yeah. I have a rant going in my head but it’ll just make my head explode if I let it out. So yeah. Pretty effin stupid, is the answer to your question.

Ok, here’s the rant that’s been brewing over the last couple of days….

Ok, here’s the rant that’s been brewing over the last couple of days….

I woke up to a nightmare that a polite but firm thief was in my house, taking whatever he wanted while we just sat back and didn’t call 9-11.

Now that I’m awake, I find it’s absolutely true, only it’s not my house or my laptop that’s been broken into.

Yes, as far as I can tell, Martha Coakley made exactly the same mistake Kathleen Kennedy Townsend made in 2002 when she ran for Governor and lost to Robert Ehrlich. Maryland suffered a lot from his changes and it took four years to dislodge him. It’s going to take six years to dislodge Brown. In the meantime, we have other places in the country where we should be vigilant. How many Republican senators are in the process of retiring? How many Democrats? Who’s next, this coming November? Have we forgotten this is an election year?

To all my friends who are crowing right now, thinking that somehow this is a win, I repeat: What are you and your crowd going to do for me and mine?

You’re all very good at spouting off the Tea Party’s spiel, but that does bugger-all for the folks who have real problems. It’s head in the sand behavior and a willingness to absolutely ignore how we got here in the first place. Eight years of mismanagement by the GOP can’t be fixed in one year of obstructionist work by the folks who think business as usual is just fine. The 90s are gone. They’re not coming back.

The Internet bubble burst and cost me my company. The housing bubble will cost us when we sell the house. Age and the war have cost me my marriage. My resume’s been out there for almost two years, and I’ve got the best job solution I can get: A part-time job with no paid leave and no benefits. I’ve got health insurance right now because my soon-to-be-divorced husband is paying for it. That won’t be true in the relatively near future and COBRA is no benefit. I didn’t expect this to happen to me. I didn’t get additional degrees or certificates because I *thought* I’d be covered. It’s all bullshit and every man for himself out there.

One guy’s trying to change that, but the sense of entitlement is so very strong, I don’t know now whether he’s got too much to change. And we’re not listening.

You guys who spend all your free time barking at shadows and freaking about how stupid global warming is…you can’t see that we’re choking off Earth’s resources. In the not too terribly distant future we’ll have neither affordable health care nor anything else.

Haiti is THE wake-up call. We’re not as far away from them as you might think. We already have an unemployment rate to rival the Great Depression. The poorest of us live in cardboard boxes and there are more of them than there were ten years ago. There aren’t enough prisons to hold the criminals and there’s not enough understanding or money to keep them off the street and in good paying jobs. The population is getting old and infirm and the kids are only now beginning to understand what life will be like without them. And many of us are so overweight we get sick far younger than we should. Obesity rates are linked to all sorts of illnesses, not just diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

We are imploding and nobody’s watching or cares because so many people in this country are dead certain there’s a better place at the next stop. So many people are treading water, waiting for the second coming. In my not-so-humble opinion, the next place to be is nowhere. Heaven doesn’t wait for me. I don’t take comfort from moving on to the next place. This is it, baby, and when it’s gone, that’s all there’ll ever be.

That, my friends, is what Avatar was about. What Pocahontas and Fern Gully and all sorts of other things were about. It wasn’t just a pretty movie. It wasn’t about “unobtanium” or some other MacGuffin. It was about ignoring the truth and reality of the situation in exchange for some small financial benefit to the detriment of everything that’s beautiful and meaningful about this world.

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

We have the opportunity to choose a different path, before someone comes in here and decides the United States of America are done. Once upon a time, the British Empire spanned the globe. No more. Sure, we’re bigger than they are, and we’re supposed to play nicer than they did, but really? When we think torture is bad except in certain cases, when we treat our poor like dirt, when we can’t feed the hungry and can’t employ everyone? How much longer? We aren’t the only people here. And we’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re immune, just because we’re Americans.

One of my friends on Facebook posted “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” in response to my status message last night. I say “You wake up!”

When we stop depending on the hereafter and start looking around at the here and now, we’ll get it. Let’s hope it’s not too late by then.

Comments:

DH:
Hear, hear!!!

DB:
I couldn’t have said it better myself.

GS:
Respectfully, I disagree. While I know things are tough right now, I really am disturbed by your question, “What are you and your crowd going to do for me and mine?” Bluntly, I shouldn’t be responsible for you and yours.

Mmm. “Tea-baggers”. I assume you know that’s a perjorative [sic]. Do you know anyone who associates with those folks? They’re concerned citizens who just happen to disagree with you. Name-callig [sic] isn’t helpful.

I agree that something needs to be done. I am very sympathetic to your plight, as well as anyone else without insurance – especially with children. But this plan before Congress is a monstrosity. A. It would add even more to our national debt than we have already. B. Politicians admit what they really want is a single-payer system, and they’ll pass ANYTHING to get the infrastructure in so they can change it later. I suspect you’re in favor of that, so I’m not going to try to argue this point. C. Even if it got passed, the health plan won’t go into effect for something like 4 years, but they’re gonna tax us in the meantime to pay of it. That means even less money in your pocket.

Health insurance for all is a noble goal, but not entirely realistic. Forcing people to pay for others by lowering the standards of care for everyone is not American. I believe there are other ways to accomplish close to everyone that do not heavy government involvement. The rush to get “something” done is suspicious for the same reason that I wouldn’t want to be rushed into a major purchase like a car or a home. There’s been practically no transparency to the process where obscene deals are made, incomprehensible language is used, and unintended consequences are not considered thoroughly.

Jumping over to this global warming thing for a sec. I agree, there’s something going on, and there is probably a human element, but we’re probably not the whole cause. Many of the proposals to supposedly “save” the earth would cripple our economy. I recall candidate Obama wanting to make coal-fired electricity plants “ultra-clean” to the point of pretty much putting them out of business. “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” I don’t know about your area, but out here in the Midwest, that’s pretty much all we have. That would probably mean a 40% increase in rates. We can’t build any nuclear plants, so that’s out. Solar and Wind? Too expensive yet, and not efficient enough. That “transition” would cripple the economy further because people would have even less money. I’m all for “green” technology – but we need to be using the resources we have until it’s cheaper.

Are you aware of what our national debt is? Have a look here: http://www.usdebtclock.org/. It should scare the crap out of you. It does me. The government has at estimating costs – a health care plan will cost far more than stated. You think unemployment is bad now? It could be far worse than the Great Depression. Right now, businesses don’t want to hire anyone because they’re worried about what their business costs are going to be with higher insurance rates and new regulations and taxes.

Aaaand the government won’t stop printing money and spend it. China, who we are up to our eyeballs in debt to, is telling US we’d better stop. It’s only a matter of time before we have currency inflation disaster. Everything will cost more. MORE people will be out of work.

I agree we need to come up with some solutions, but government getting MORE involved in our lives, dictating our home temps, how much money we can make, how healthy we should be because they supposedly know better than we do has dangerous historical precedents where we don’t want to go.

Before we start passing legislation or regulations that will affect every American in fundamental ways, we first need to eliminate the massive corruption in government. We have to stop spending and put ourselves on a budget just like WE have to do in our own households. It’ll take us years – maybe decades – to dig ourselves out of debt. But government spending has to stop in a major way.

Watch California. If we don’t clean up our act soon, that’s where we’re headed.

Me:
“Before we start passing legislation or regulations that will affect every American in fundamental ways, we first need to eliminate the massive corruption in government. We have to stop spending and put ourselves on a budget just like WE have to do in our own households. It’ll take us years – maybe decades – to dig ourselves out of debt. But government spending has to stop in a major way.”

You almost had me, right up to this. Before Clinton left office we *had* a balanced budget and we were paying down our debt. Bad decisions over the following 8 years (on both sides of the fence) have made it virtually impossible to get back there. And you are completely right that we’re spending ourselves into oblivion. But you have to tell me how fair it is that the guys running the big banks can give themselves BONUSES when we had to bail them out after overpricing the housing market.

Nobody (and I really do mean NOBODY) wants to take responsibility for the mess we’re in. Until they do, we’re all pretty much screwed. You may be doing just fine. I don’t know who you are, so I can’t say. Maybe you’ve got a decent job and a great health plan. Fabulous for you. Your health? Never better. Your parents? In great condition, don’t need medicine to get by on a daily basis. Not looking at nursing care anytime soon. God bless you.

But while you’re looking at the situation as an American, I’m looking at it as a citizen of the world. And from where I sit, in my kind of chilly office, with faith that my ceiling won’t cave in and that I can have my hot food out of the microwave in the near future, there are people right now who are in need and who I’m reasonably sure haven’t seen a single dime of your money sent their way because it’s not your family that’s in need. As tough as it is for me, I’ve still given something to the Red Cross and I still do give a dollar or a sandwich when I can to those folks who sit in the median strip with a cup and no place to live.

You are totally right. How sad it is for us as human beings with brothers all over the globe to have to say that we, most “powerful” nation on Earth, can’t afford to take care of our own.

How long, then, till the people who don’t have decide you’re just like the French Aristocrats or the Russian Aristocracy and decide to take matters into their own hands? It’s begun. It’s already here. And it will take exactly one natural disaster in a place that isn’t quite as remote as Haiti or even New Orleans for us to wake up and smell the coffee or the stink. Wait until it’s St. Louis that shakes to the ground.

The war in Iraq was a misguided attempt at protecting what we didn’t have in the first place. Afghanistan is the new Vietnam. We blew our resources in the wrong place, and now we’re stuck in damage control instead of having the upper hand.

We won’t get past any of this until we get past the almighty dollar. And when the Boomers start hitting the skids, you just wait to see how long it takes for insurance companies to stop covering you.

My dad’s 77, in a nursing home with dementia. I’m 46. I was born the last year of the Baby Boom. Doomsday’s coming in the next 20 years or less, and it will look like my dad.

Hope you’re prepared…

GS:
You mght [sic] be surprised that I paritally [sic] agree with you to some extent.

Balanced budget. I’d have to do some more reserach [sic] on that, but that was “balanced” on a lot of bogus paper from the tech stock boom. A lot of that was phantom money, as we discovered. So I don’t believe it was truly balanced.

Banks. Shoulda let ’em fail. I don’t buy the “too big to fail” arguement [sic]. Same for the auto makers. By propping them up, we’re only delaying the inevitable necessity to reorganize. Kinda like we’re doing ourselves. But playing the envy game over bonuses is dicy [sic]. You don’t want to be telling someone how much they can make. I’ll qualify that where they’ve taken federal money.

Looking at things as a citizen of the world. Again, a good, emotional concept, but we have to take care of our own, asd [sic] as you say, we’re not doing the best job of it. AS it is, we can’t save everyone. And on the grand scale (not counting Haiti and a few other examples), we get little gratitude for when we do try to help. It’s one thing for private citizens to give on their own – we’re the most generous nation on earth. Bar none. But enforced charity through confiscation of our hard-earned money is quite another.

Haves and have nots. I’ll flip that. The haves are feeling less and less prosperous. If more and more money is take from their profits, what motivation do they have to expand, to innovate and – most importnntly [sic] – hire more people?

We’re all one national paycheck away from a disaster – you’re right. Unfortunately, for years our government has been creating services we cannot fully fund. And that creates more and more dependency. That’s why the spending has GOT TO STOP. That means very painful choices will have to be made. Our politicians, on the whole are too gutless to face that yet.

You imply a revolution – I fear one too. It doesn’t matter what quarter it comes from, but with the adminstration [sic] we have right now – with all the tax cheats, publicly self-proclaimed communist/socialist sympathizers (facts – not name-calling), we are in danger of losing a lot of freedom in the name of “the greater good”.

You have my deepest sympathies for your dad. My two parents are pretty healthy, still. But for them, they fear what the government will do to them if we DO have government helathcare [sic]. My dad already had to deal with it on behalf of his brother with the VA, etc. He found the bureaucracy maddening. He already knows what it could become on a national scale.

JC:
>>but the sense of entitlement is so very strong,

>>I repeat: What are you and your crowd going to do for me and mine?

>>I didn’t expect this to happen to me. I didn’t get additional degrees or certificates because I *thought* I’d be covered.

Yes the Sense of Entitlement is SO very strong.

Me:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_George_and_the_Ducky

And the problem is that so many of these people who seem to object to the concept that we should share what we have also seem to value Christian beliefs. What galls me is that the Christian bible (even Thomas Jefferson’s Unitarian version) is clear about beggars and the poor where Jesus is concerned. And yet, when confronted with the same requirements, to heal the sick and feed the poor, we fail. Repeatedly.

It’s very easy to thump a bible and say these things are wrong: “It’s not *my* problem, it’s my money and I don’t care.”

But in the end it’s that same exact attitude that will take this country down and reduce it to the same level as all the other former empires. As Rome, Great Britain and France fell, so too will the United States of America. And we’ll have the nerve to be surprised when it happens.

Hypocrites, one and all.

(PS: I’d love to go back to school so I could find a job that will pay me enough to cover childcare. But see, all the schools cost too much, and the childcare is beyond my means, too. I assumed (incorrectly) that marriage meant not worrying about needing to find a job that would cover these expenses. I shouldn’t have had to. I’m trapped. And I’m lucky. It could be MUCH worse for me. At the rate we’re going, my children won’t be able to afford college either. What a world, indeed!)

SC:
As usual, I can see both sides of this.

To those who say “We can’t afford public health care”, I say “Yeah, but we can’t not afford it.” If we do not pay for people to get care now, we will be paying more for them later when they have serious problems while on public assistance.

As far as the big businesses go, I sometimes wonder what would happen if we DID let them go under. Could it really be more expensive than it has been now – after all, they couldn’t pay bonuses then, could they?

But, one of the reasons we can’t employ everyone is that we’ve become a service economy, and we’re not good at it – even if you could export service. We buy all our goods from overseas because they’re cheaper – and they’re cheaper because those companies pay their workers pennies. Can we afford to “buy American” if that’s what it takes? No, of course not.

So, what’s the answer?

CS:
Meanwhile, Obama isn’t panicking. He started, well before this election, taking a much more aggressive stand against the Wall Street banks. This tack has the potential to garner some populist support and may deflect some energy from the tea-bag crowd.

Keep in mind that the tea bag types hate republicans, too. As a political movement it has limited potential.

And while I sympathize with all that you say, I would venture to predict that your girls will get to attend college. You and I started during some pretty strained economic times, and we came through. Much of what we’re experiencing is cyclical. Hang on tight and ride it out. Our kids will be OK.

Me:
Boy, I hope you’re right. My grandfather helped cover my education expenses when I went to college and I attended a state school with annual tuition well under 20k. I have no idea how we’re going to do that in this climate. It’s not that any of us were rich. My father was a high school principal. It’s that everything was a LOT less expensive.

Back in the day you were supposed to strive towards making a salary that resembled your age. For me that would be close to 50k per year. Last year I might have broken 20k.

I have faith in Obama’s vision. I don’t have faith in the fools who think everything’s fine as it is, or that somehow we’ll break things further by changing them.

I know you understand this…

TA:
The sense of entitlement cuts both ways. A lot of folks seem to think they’re entitled to all the money their jobs get them, without having to pay their fair share towards the society in which they live. Our ancestors fought a Revolution against “taxation without representation”, but now we have taxation _with_ representation — arguably not much better, but we do have a chance to change things about our government if we feel the need. And the average person’s taxes now are much higher — and his life much better — than when we fought that Revolution.

Both Democrats and Republicans feel that the other side will take something they have, and give it to someone who doesn’t deserve it — and so they vote in their own interest. They’d be fools to do otherwise.

I don’t know how to resolve our current crises. But I fear that doing the same things that haven’t worked in the past is not the way.

Been there, done that. Wish I was less annoyed…

Been there, done that. Wish I was less annoyed…

Ok. I get the point. When I get four (yes, that’s right, four) phone calls from a candidate or his wife asking for my vote, I think I can figure out what it is they want. Somehow I must have gotten onto the “undecided” list (which, I’ll admit, was accurate immediately after Edwards dropped out). In any event, I’m glad I got the calls after I voted because if I’d gotten them beforehand, I might have voted otherwise out of sheer spite. Interestingly, I never got the call from the other side. Not a tremendous surprise. After all, we don’t really count, do we.

So, now it’s a waiting game. Fortunately for me, I went early, before work. Coming home tonight was a festival of bumper cars topped off with a nearly disastrous brush with high-graded driveways and sheet ice. I’m home and fed, caught up on email and LJ, and ready to crash. (Didn’t check the mailbox outside. Not interested in ice skating and it’s darn cold outside right now.)

I have one project I need to do before I go, though, and I’m hopping to it mere moments from now.

I just hope I did the right thing.

Gotta find a new hobby…

Gotta find a new hobby…

TOMORROW IS PRIMARY DAY – VOTE!!!

Whew. Got that off my chest.

Cleaning house just ain’t doing it for me.

Voting tomorrow. Window sign in place (lifted from a bunch of enthusiastic Obama-supporters on the way in to work this morning), and plans for what to do with the day tomorrow while I try to concentrate on work instead of the primary.

Interestingly, there’s a neighborhood war going on. Heading out this afternoon to the gym, I checked our neighborhood sign and it has a hand-made Obama sign plastered all over it, with a Hillary for President sticker smacked square in the middle.

I suppose it could be a McCain (or, horrors, Huckabee) sticker instead, but still.

It’s too soon for dancing in the streets…

It’s too soon for dancing in the streets…

…but at least I know my ballot isn’t one of the ones waiting to be counted.

I sat on the fence for several days, my absentee ballot in my hot little hands, but I ultimately decided to go with the electronics. So that’s one less paper ballot to be counted overall.

Still, I can’t get excited yet. With both the governor’s race and the senate’s within 100k of each other, we’re probably not going to know for sure until Thursday at the earliest. So, while I’d just love to crow about taking back the House AND the Senate, I need to wait just a little bit longer.

I’ll definitely feel a WHOLE lot better in January, regardless of the final outcome, but I can’t help worrying that if Ehrlich pulls this one out, we Democrats will somehow be punished for putting up such a close race.

Don’t forget, either: A lot of damage can still be done in the month and a half between now and the end of the current political year. We’re not out of the woods yet.

Looking forward to hearing the Rove spin on this…

Ok, NOW I have a reason to dance in the streets!

No, it isn’t because…

Rumsfeld to Step Down as Defense Secretary
Bush Taps Former CIA Director Robert Gates as Successor

President Bush today announced he is replacing Donald H. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, saying a “fresh perspective” is needed at the Pentagon to deal with the war in Iraq. Read more…

Wa-HOO!!!

I was looking to confirm Maria’s crow about Robert Ehrlich (see Google News here: http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=ehrlich&btnG=Search+News), but this goes way beyond just being happy about the Governor’s race. For the record, I think she’s right, and Steele will look foolish if he doesn’t concede to Ben Cardin before the end of the day.

Considering the sleazy last-minute political move of shipping in homeless people to hand out inaccurate information designed to confuse voters who weren’t clear on the concept (Yes, Steele is a Republican, and no, it doesn’t matter one bit that he likes puppies), I think we just proved that some people at least get the concept.

Proud to say, I’m a resident of a fully Blue state once again!

YAY!!!!!!!

Theme: Elation by Kaira.