Monday, November 25, 2013

Full Circle Observations

This weekend was full of news stories, the biggest one being the U.S. and several other countries reaching a deal with the Iranian Government over it's nuclear program.  I'm not going to talk about that.  I think the deal speaks for itself.  I've decided to take on another, far less covered story.

Crystal Mangum was convicted of Second Degree Murder.  (If you don't know her name, it's okay.  She faded into oblivion after April 11, 2007. Most of the major media outlets are not going to give her top billing.  It wouldn't really do much for their reputations.)

Let me diverge off course for just a moment.  Not too long ago, my daughter was in a discussion with her TV Media teacher.  The teacher requires the students to have a news story to discuss every day, and this day, one of the students mentioned the miscarriage of justice in the Steubenville Rape case.  In the course of the discussion, my daughter mentions how false rape accusations lead to these miscarriages of justice in cases where rape actually does happen.  Her teacher says there are is no such thing as a false rape accusation.  My daughter mentions a few that have happened in her high school (stunts that were intended to gain attention.  It seems in high school fake rape accusations and fake pregnancy is the way to go these days).  Being that she was only 10 at the time, the case I would have brought up wasn't anywhere near her radar.  We discussed it at home.

Which brings me back to Crystal Mangum and who she is.  Ms. Mangum is the stripper who accused three Duke Lacrosse Players of kidnapping and rape.  The story became a national media frenzy, and as is the case with all national media frenzies, editorial pages opined about how horrible this all was.  Allan Gurganus in the New York Times, had this to say about these boys: “The children of privilege feel vividly alive only while victimizing, even torturing.”  The media, professors at universities all across the country, and even politicians raced to judgment.  These boys of white, rich privileged lives must be guilty.  

Only they weren't. There was very little evidence to prove they had done it, and a whole lot of evidence that made it obvious they didn't.  Evidence that Prosecutor Michael Nifong, who was trying to win re-election as the District Attorney of a racially diverse Durham County, illegally hid from the Defense.  This act of severe prosecutorial misconduct led to him being fired, disbarred and charged.  More than six years after the Attorney General for North Carolina dropped all the charges because, as he said, the accused were innocent, the media, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and 87 Faculty and Board members at Duke University have yet to apologize.  It was truly stunning, the rush to judgment, and then the slow slinking away of all those judges when it turned out they had hitched their stars to something that never happened.

So Crystal Mangum won't be making front page news as a convicted murderer.  To bring her up is to remind people of medial malpractice, an act that to this day is simply brushed under the carpet and never brought up again.  I'm sure those three boys whose lives were ruined don't care, right?

Media Malpractice is alive and well.  It was before this, and it will be for years to come because we, the citizens who read their garbage, refuse to hold them responsible.  In their rush to be the first to cover a story, they almost never get it right.

Outside of the Rocky Mountain News, most media outlets got most of the massacre at Columbine High School wrong.  And their observations are still taken as gospel today.

The same can be said of the shootings in Aurora (remember the accusation that James Holmes was a tea party person?), Sandy Hook (we are still finding out how bad they got that wrong), and the list goes on and on.  It's called Media Malpractice.  They try, convict and sentence without a shred of evidence.  After the Boston Marathon, it was a full day before any news channel even got a hint of the right information.  For 24 hours they were permitted to disseminate information that they had absolutely no clue if it was correct, but, they had to have their 24/7 coverage, so they made things up.

Back to Ms. Mangum. It's probably cold consolation to three people who had their lives turned upside down by a pathological liar, who is now a convicted murderer.   It's a cold consolation to those of us who questioned from the beginning whether the Duke Lacrosse "Rape" Case deserved the attention it was getting.  It's no consolation to the true rape victims who have that much harder of a time, because this case caused people to doubt those accusations.  And in the media silence we hear ... crickets.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Demonizing the Guy Who Might Run For President....

In Three Years.

 “If I didn’t care so much about our country, I would hope he would get the Republican nomination for president, because that would mean the end of the Republican Party." (Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, Rachel Maddow Show, October 31,2013)

The next Presidential election is 3 years away.  The Primaries for that election are 2 years away.  And yet, I've seen a bunch of headlines in the last few weeks about Ted Cruz, and his ability to be nominated and to be elected President of the United States.  It's possible I'm suffering from Post Presidential Campaign Syndrome.  I'm tired of the campaigns and the politics of personal destruction that come with them.  Maybe that's why I'm trying to figure out why the Democrats are on a rampage against Ted Cruz running for two years.  It seems that even though we just elected a President a year ago, we are still in campaign mode, and people like Harry Reid want you to know that if you vote for Ted Cruz (in three years), you will destroy the Republican Party.

First of all, Senator Reid, as I'm not a progressive, or a liberal, or a Democrat, the odds are I'm not really concerned with who you think I should vote for, in an election I haven't even started thinking about.  Nor am I concerned with what Rachel Maddow thinks about anything.  I watch the Kelly Files.  Sorry.

Second, I have to wonder why all these Democrats, and all these Pundits on both sides of the aisle are going after Ted Cruz on the basis of an election no one (but Pundits with nothing better to do) is thinking about.  What is it about this man that is driving so many people to say some very nasty things about Ted Cruz and his supporters?  

Look again at Harry Reid's quote.  He is essentially saying that if you care about the USA, you wouldn't possibly cast your vote for Ted Cruz.  

We heard from a lot of people, even conservative pundits, that Barack Obama was the smartest man who ever ran for President.  If his accomplishments prior to becoming President were the reason people said that, maybe we should look at Ted Cruz.

  • Graduated from South Baptist High School in 1988, Valedictorian
  • Graduated cum laude from Princeton University, BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
  • Won Top Speaker at the US National Debating Championships and the North American Debating Championship in 1992.
  • Graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, Juris Doctor.
  • Editor of the Harvard Law Review
  • Executive Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy
  • Founding Editor of the Latino Harvard Law Review
  • Law clerk to J. Michael Luttig, US Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • Law clerk to William Rehnquist, Chief Justice, US Supreme Court
  • Associate Deputy Attorney General, United States, `1999-2003
  • Solicitor General, State of Texas, 2003-2008

That's some list of accomplishments.  Alan Dershowitz called him "Off the charts brilliant", when he was at Harvard Law School

Ted Cruz is a pretty smart man.  He's a minority.  The people in Texas love him.  (Okay, I realize maybe that isn't a bonus.  After all, to many people, Texas is a foreign country.  God bless Texas.)

So why, 3 years out from a Presidential Election, are people like Harry Reid going on news shows, telling people how bad Ted Cruz is?

Maybe, just maybe, because they think he can win.

Monday, October 14, 2013

What's In A Name?

I love football.  For six long years, I gave it up in protest.  Protest of both a quarterback and a coach, who I thought received far too many accolades for missing the coveted prize in the NFL:  The Superbowl.  I was ecstatic when the Eagles fired Andy Reid, and despite the team's less than stellar start this season, I firmly believe it was a decision that should have been made a long time ago.  

I love football.  I have a passionate dislike for several teams in the NFL.  Most of this is due to a conference rivalry that dates back to when the NFC East was the hardest division to play in.  The Dallas Cowgirls (oops...boys), the NY Giants, and the Washington Redskins.  You can't be an Eagles fan and not hate those teams.  It's just not allowed.

I love football.

What I don't love is smarmy commentators who decide to use their national airtime, during a sport that remains the most popular in the U.S., to score political points, or worse, to promote some trumped up charge of racial injustice.

The Washington Redskins.  If you aren't a football fan, it's just a name to you, and maybe you find it offensive, I don't know.  79% of all Americans don't, but maybe you're in the 21% who do.   I've honestly never even though about it, because to me, the Redskins are the team from Washington D.C., who have beaten the butts of my team more than once, and have more Superbowl Wins than we do in Philadelphia. (Ok, pretty much everyone has more Superbowl rings than we do, we haven't won any.)  

To listen to Bob Costas speak so eloquently you'd think that it's plainly obvious that the name, whether now, or sometime in the past, was specifically chosen to twist fingers in the eyes of Native Americans.  It's obviously a slur, even if it wasn't meant that way.  It's just not ok to name your team the Redskins.  Of course the players, the coaches and the owner don't men anything bad by it, but it's still horrible, evil, cruel.  (You can skip the part where he freely admits that a majority, as in 90%, of all Native Americans don't have a single issue with the name.) 

So, once again, Bob preaches to his immense television audience, telling them how they ought to think or feel about a certain issue. (Remember his gun control rant during Sunday night football last year?)  

Bob, this is football.  We do not need or want you to give us lessons in your political or social views on Sunday night.  We want to talk football:  the good, the bad, and the ugly of a game that involves men throwing, catching, kicking balls and tackling other men, all in the quest to get the pigskin past the goal line.  But you Bob, you just can't resist the urge to lecture us all on right and wrong.

So, now I get to lecture you on facts.  If you want to be some great commentator, do your homework.

The team in question, originally the Boston Braves, was created in 1932.  The year after that they became the Boston Redskins.  The first Redskins team had four Native Americans players, and a Native American head coach.  I'm sure if they found the name offensive they could have protested, but they didn't.  Their logo, that infamous Indian that we Philadelphia fans live to hate (for purely competitive reasons), was created in conjunction with the Red Cloud Athletic Fund, which has it's base of operations on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  George Allen, then coach, worked with Native Americans on that logo, and was later honored by those same Native Americans.  All without a hint of protest over the name.  

You see Mister Costas, outside of your politically correct, there must be injustice, pathetic bubble, Native Americans are seen as fierce, brave, strong and loyal, all things you want in a top notch professional football team.  They are the kind of people you can get behind and cheer for.  They are inspiring.  And by denoting themselves the Redskins, they encompass the entire Native American population, not just the braves (who were the warriors), or a specific tribe (like the Blackhawks), or some caricature (like the Indians). One look at that logo, and you are looking at a proud, strong person.  One willing to fight for his brothers.  

It seems 79% of Americans, and 90% of Native Americans clearly understand what has somehow escaped your oh-so-enlightened mind.

Speaking as a life-long die-hard, even gave up football in protest, Philadelphia Eagles fan, how dare you even suggest that a team I look forward to watching my guys play each and every season, just so I can root again them, change their name?  I don't want to play the Washington Whatevers, I want my team to play the tradition of the Washington Redskins.  The name that's become associated with a division rivalry.  That to so many Redskins fans is associated with winning a Superbowl.  Somehow, Bob, you've managed to make me defend a team I live to hate. 

And you've also managed to do one other thing that was never, ever possible until you opened your big mouth on Sunday night, again.

You've made me root for the darn Redskins every time they play (unless they are playing the Eagles.)

Monday, September 30, 2013


At no point since it's passage, has the Affordable Care Act ever been approved of by a majority of the American people.  When it was passed, a majority of the American people didn't want it.  And while the numbers have fluctuated somewhat, it's always been majority against.

The House of Representatives recently passed a Continuing Resolution to fund every aspect of government but the Affordable Care Act.  The Senate added an amendment restoring funding.  When sent back to the House, they compromised.  They delayed the implementation of the individual mandate for a year.  The Senate is saying they will table the bill, and the White House is saying if it passes the Senate it will be vetoed.  

Who would be responsible for shutting down the government?

By all measures of sanity and logic, it would appear that it is the Senate and the White House, not the House, that is perfectly happy to let the government shut down all over a health care bill that a majority of the American people have never wanted.  And all those horror stories?  They appear to be true.

People said the employer mandate would cost jobs.  The Administration said that was hogwash.   But as the date for that mandate to kick in drew closer, companies across America started dropping full time employees to part time employees.  Other companies froze hiring to stay below the 50 employee threshold.  So the President, in a move that was nothing but political to anyone with half a brain, delayed the employer mandate for year.  To right after the mid term elections.  

We were told if we liked our doctor and insurance we could keep them.  However, over the last few weeks, pictures cropped up all over the internet.  Pictures of letters, sent to people by their insurance companies, telling them that their plan is not compliant with the Affordable Care Act.  They will have to purchase a new plan, and that new plan, which includes a lot of extra stuff, will cost them more money.  For some it's more than twice what they were paying for a plan that did what they needed it to do, but might not cover birth control and in vitro fertilization.  

Howard Dean recently admitted that Sarah Palin was right about those death panels.  Death panels was a term coined to describe the Independent Payment Advisory Board, who would decide whether your life was really worth that life saving treatment.  Or did everyone forget the President himself mentioning that controlling health care costs might mean giving granny the red pill instead of the blue pill, that was more expensive, but that she really needed to you  

You might be interested to know how much control of our healthcare resides in the hands of one person.  The Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The bill has this to say about the powers of this one person:  700 references to the "Secretary shall", 200 reference to the "Secretary may" and 139 references to the "Secretary determines".   So, in a 2,000 page bill that no one read before they passed it (Nancy Pelosi:  We have to pass the bill so we can find out what's in it), 1,039 times it is determined that one person, not elected, and with no Constitutional check on their powers, can determine the outcome of YOUR healthcare.   

The truth is the bill was never really written, and for it to work in any manner, whether good or bad, it will need to be amended hundreds of times over.  It was 2,000 pages of open ended government control over your very life, and by life I mean, the breathing, heart beating, brainwave thing.

And it is this law, this one little law, this one train wreck of a law (according to Max Baucaus), that is going to be the reason the Democrats shut down the government.  They are so tied to a law they passed (and which they then exempted themselves from, big surprise there), that they will allow every other government service shut down.  Oh, except their pay.  In 1992, when they were still in charge of the legislative body of the government, they suckered us into passing an amendment which doesn't allow them to give themselves pay raises, but it also ensures they still get a paycheck in the event the government shuts downs.  Congress needs their pay more, than say granny needs her social security.

So who is responsible for shutting down the government?  

Monday, September 9, 2013

To Those Who Never Got Involved.

I posted Steve Taylor lyrics to facebook last night, from his song "Whatever Happened to Sin". At the time, I was thinking about the church today, and how so many churches are preaching a feel good, social justice gospel in order to make themselves more acceptable to the masses.  

Today I realized how appropriate those lyrics truly were,  not just to the church, but to our political scene today.

I remember after the election, seeing posts on facebook where people were talking about how they didn't really speak out during the election, but now there were things going on they just couldn't keep silent about.  Those posts made me angry.  Most of the things that were so upsetting after the election were going on well before the election and during the election.  Suddenly deciding to speak up now, when the damage is already done, seemed to me to be a case of "too little, too late". 

You see, I believe we have a duty to at least TRY to make a difference when it comes to the things we believe in.  Putting your head in the sand and not speaking out, for whatever reason, is a cowardly move.  This will make people angry.  I get it.  We don't want to upset our friends or family.  We want to keep the peace.  I truly do understand that.  Those things, however, do not let us off the hook.  It just doesn't. 

I can go back to that old saying from Germany during World War 2, about how someone didn't speak up, and when they came to take him, there was no one left to speak up for him.  But we've heard that one before.

It's quite simple.  If you don't speak out when it counts, when you could make a difference, when you could challenge the status quo, or all the news that fits the narrative, then really, how much right do you have to complain now?

In case you are still sitting there saying "But, people will delete me off facebook, or stop talking to me, or get angry, or..."

I have had 2 family members delete me and block me on facebook.  Not because I said something hateful to them.  Not because I was mean or horrid.  Simply because I had the nerve to post an opinion different than theirs.  I challenged their assumptions, and this made me persona non grata.   They were constantly posting things that challenged my assumptions.  They made me look deeper into what I thought.  In many cases, they didn't change my opinion, but I became much more capable of defending my own position, because I was forced to see the other side.  I welcome this.  I guess they didn't.  And while occasionally it still stings, I refuse to stop speaking out. 

I have been called a bigot, a racist, homophobic.  I have been told I am more concerned with other women's sex lives and that's why I"m pro-life.  I have been told I am annoying and useless.  And yet I still speak out.

The ability to speak out, to challenge, to verbalize our opinions is one of the foundations of society.  If it wasn't for people speaking out, there would have never been a Revolutionary War, the Abolitionists Movement, Women's Suffrage, Civil Rights.  All of those things challenged in a deep, profound, life-changing way, the status quo.  People, individual people, made a difference.  

So I will continue speaking out, and I'm challenging you to do the same.  

I'll leave you with this little tidbit, from Steve Taylor's song:

If you don't care now
How the problems get solved
You can shake your head later
That you never got involved

'Cause the call came ringing
From the throne of gold
But you never got the message 
'Cause your mind's on hold 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Liberal Logic 101

I am sorry if the name of this post offends my liberal friends.  Wait.  Nevermind.  No I'm not sorry.  The story I am about to share with you is a classic example of liberal logic at it's best.

If You Send Your Kid To Private School, You Are A Bad Person.

Yes, that really is the title of an article written and posted on Slate this morning.  The title itself is a joke, but surely the article can't be as bad as it's title makes it sound.  Right?  Wrong.

If you feel up to reading it, please do so.  If not, I'm here to point out some of the more asinine statements made by Ms. Benedikt.  

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murdererbad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

Let's start with the opening sentence.  You aren't as bad as the Ft. Hood Shooter, or even George Zimmerman, but you are really bad.  Why?  Because the fact that you want the best for your own flesh and blood is selfish I tell you!  Your personal decision about your child's education means public education will be ruined!

 I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

Yes Ms. Benedikt, you are being judgmental.  You just told a good portion of your fellow citizens that they are bad people, because they pay their own hard earned money to not send their kids to a failing school.  Think about that.  Let's move on.  "It could take generations...".  Ok, so we sacrifice our children now, for something that may or may not happen somewhere down the road.  Unless she's become psychic, she has no true idea if this plan will work.  I wonder if she has kids, and has ever tried to change things within a system that is run by teacher's unions and politicians.  Where teachers sit in school board meetings of school districts they don't even live in, and just demand that the district's citizens pay more in taxes so we can keep full day kindergarten, and we don't have to cut any staff.  (In a school district where a good amount of classrooms have more than one teacher.)  It's all for the common good.  You sacrifice your kid, so maybe one day your great great great great grandchild can attend a better public school system.

She goes on to say that unless your kid is in the school, you aren't truly invested in how it works.  That's true.  I have often thought that people who send their kids to private school, or even homeschool, are taking care of their own without addressing the larger issue.  Taking your kid out of public school doesn't solve the public school's problems.  It just solves your own.  However, a parent's highest calling is not to every other child in the country.  It's to their own children.  Dumping them in a failing school and then trying to change it, is not in the best interest of THEIR child.  Ultimately, the author is saying you are a bad person if you don't sacrifice your own child to benefit future generations.  (A benefit that we don't really know for a fact will happen.  This is just one person's opinion.)

There are a lot of reasons why bad people send their kids to private school. Yes, some do it for prestige or out of loyalty to a long-standing family tradition or because they want their children to eventually work at Slate. But many others go private for religious reasons, or because their kids have behavioral or learning issues, or simply because the public school in their district is not so hot. None of these are compelling reasons. Or, rather, the compelling ones (behavioral or learning issues, wanting a not-subpar school for your child) are exactly why we should all opt-in, not out

So, your child getting the best education you can provide for them is NOT a compelling reason to send them to a private school?  Or better yet, send your kid to a substandard school because you want them to have the best education possible.  Understanding of course, that your child won't get that education.  Some future child might.

I understand. You want the best for your child, but your child doesn’t need it.

Wow. Okay.  So now you have determined what my child and everyone else's child needs.  It's not the best education, they don't need that.  Nope.  They'll be just fine in a school that teaches them that getting the answer right doesn't really matter.  Where the teacher doesn't teach but just tells them to read the book and answer questions.  None of that matters because they have supportive parents.  (Who may or may not be able to teach them the correct way to solve for both x and y.)

After going on to say she got a terrible education in a school with no AP classes, and she even had a terrible college education (which she paid for, by the way), she turned out just fine.  Your child will turn out fine too.

 I’m not saying it’s a good thing that I got a lame education. I’m saying that I survived it, and so will your child, who must endure having no AP calculus so that in 25 years there will be AP calculus for all.

And there is your liberal logic.  GIve up your child's good education now so that everyone will have a good education in 25 years.  Not that it will really happen, but it might.  And just the idea that this could work is reason enough.

There is more, go ahead and take a stab at reading it.  Her colleagues that send their kids to private school are morally bankrupt.  Her worldview was changed by getting drunk with the trailer park kids before basketball games.  I'm sure these are all values you want instilled into your children.  Reading Walt Whitman?  Whatever.  Getting drunk?  RIght On!

Now comes my morally bankrupt, spent most of my life in private school, have sent my kids to both public and private school opinion.

Most of the children in America go to public schools.  Quite a few of them have parents who care and who get involved.  Not all parents have the same outlook on what's best, and their goals are not the same.

I sat in on a school board meeting last year where the discussion was on how to deal with our budget shortfall of 3 million dollars.  (About what it cost to put in our state of the art turf football field a few years ago.  The field used for a team that gets introduced with "they didn't count their victories in wins and losses". Mostly because the football team doesn't win games.)  There were teachers and parents arguing that we keep full day kindergarten and just shorten the high school day (which would  save the same amount of moeny).  As a matter of fact, the general consensus of those people was that we should cut high school and middle school, while leaving elementary school intact.  My guess is those people didn't have high school and middle school students.  I heard a few before the meeting discussing the cost of childcare if they could only keep their kids in kindergarten for half a day.  (Much much better for the school to shaft the high school so you don't have to pay for daycare, right?)

My point is, parents, depending on their children's ages, goals and what activities they participate in will fight for their OWN child.  Not the collective good.  A parent with a child in elementary school would much rather have their child's class sizes stay at 15-20, and keep all their teachers, than make class sizes 25 so the high school can keep an  AP class.  The elementary parent isn't considering high school yet.  They have time for that.  But me?  My daughter is a senior, and she doesn't have time.  This is her last year.  I wanted her to be able to get her AP classes, still have a music program and get the best education she can get.  So this idea that if parents who cared enough to put their kids in private school would just put their kids in public school. we could make the system better?  Not  likely.  You'd have a variety of parents, with a variety of opinions on what is good and what isn't.  

And this of course doesn't count in the teacher's unions.  Who want higher pay, better benefits, less working days, less working hours, a whole class period every day so they can plan (because coming in early or staying late just isn't an option).  This doesn't include the fact that firing a bad teacher is really hard because of union contracts.  

It's not as simple as Ms. Benedikt makes it sound.  Maybe  because she's never had to deal with it.  She's an idealist who has blindly ignored the reality of why our public school system is a failing, and has just decided that those parents who choose to not participate in that failing system are bad people.  All we caring parents have to do is sacrifice our own child's education, and this will solve the problems that come from parents who don't care, don't get involved, etc..

Liberal Logic 101:  Let's take away from one set of people and give to other people.  This will solve all our problems.  Except it doesn't.  It doesn't count in human attributes at all.  It doesn't account for individual ways of thinking.  It doesn't make our kids smarter.

Wanting the best for your child and sacrificing to obtain that does not make you a bad person.  And for Ms. Benedikt to say so, makes her woefully ignorant of what being a parent is all about.  Maybe if she'd spend less time drinking and more time reading Walt Whitman....

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

That Which Divides Us.

My daughter was looking through posts on facebook the other night when she came across a term she didn't know:  Cisgendered.  I didn't have a clue either, so we looked it up.

Cisgender and cissexual (often abbreviated to simply cis) describe related types of gender identity where an individual's self-perception of their gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

So we need a term to describe people who are okay with either having male sex organs or female sex organs.  

I look around our country and watch politicians and regular people alike assign everyone they know to a group.  White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Male, Female, and now we have....Cisgender.

There used to be a time when we encouraged our children not to label people based on the circumstances of their birth.  We told our kids not to judge a book by it's cover.  Now, all we do is separate our society into groups based on skin color, religion, and it appears, sexual orientation.   Now according to all those people fighting for transgender rights, I am obligated to qualify myself as cisgender?  

Take a look at all those groups above.  Instead of seeing what's different about them, try finding what's the same.  Let me help you.

We all have a mother and a father. (Whether or not they were good parents, or even parents who were around, it's a basic biological fact that you need both to exist.  Crappy parents is a post for another time.)

We all have a beating heart and a brain.

If you cut us, we all bleed.

We all have fears, hopes, goals and dreams.

We've all smiled, and we've all cried.

We all have unique personalities.

And yet, we divide ourselves, every day, based on one characteristic.  Whether it's skin color or religion, political party or sexual orientation, we separate ourselves into groups.

I am not cisgendered.  I'm a person.  Just because I am a girl, who is perfectly okay with being a girl, doesn't mean I need to be separated into some group, just so that some other group has a name for me.

I am a white female, stay at home mother, of both Christian and Libertarian values.  But beyond every single one of those individual things you will look at to label me, I AM A PERSON.  Same as you.  Same as my neighbors.  Same as people who live on the other side of the world.  

And as far as this country we live in?  We have one more thing in common.  We are all Americans.

You want to end divisiveness and hate and bigotry?  



The End.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Outrage, Justice and What Comes Next.

For two days now, I've debated on whether or not to write this blog.  There is way too much animosity and emotion in the subject I am about to discuss.

On July 11th, the body of Darryl Green, 17 year old black male, was found rotting face down on the floor in Chicago.  Cause of death?  Gunshot wound.  His family says Darryl disappeared after refusing to join a gang.

On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, black male, age 17, was shot and killed at close range after an altercation with neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman.  This happened in a gated community  in Sanford, FL.

Both of these deaths are tragedies.  Both are young men snuffed out before their life ever really began.  Only one made national news, occupied the airwaves for months, and has resulted in the most vile language and threats.

Why?  Because one of them involved a Hispanic male, the other was most likely black on black violence in a city where kids dying has become normal.  One is obviously seen as less of a tragedy, because President Obama has yet to stand up and say "If I had a son, he'd look like Darryl Green."  

I'm so tired of the outrage and calls for justice in the death of Trayvon Martin, even after justice has clearly been served.  A jury of 6 females acquitted George Zimmerman of both the charges of second degree murder and manslaughter.  Plain and simple, the state of Florida did not have evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that George Zimmerman acted in anything other than self defense.  Him being a different skin color than Martin is not proof, because as the death of hundreds in Chicago has proven over and over again the last two years, black men are more than willing to shoot other black men. 

And yet, as more and more young black men fall victim in the President's home town, there is so very little outrage, so few people demanding justice, so few people wondering what the heck is going on.

That was all reserved for the town of Sanford, FL, and one death, that by all evidence was a tragic shooting in self defense.

Trayvon Martin had 4 minutes from the time George Zimmerman placed his call to police dispatch, and the time that call ended, to walk the 80 yards to the house he was staying at.  Get home, lock the doors, call 911.  And  yet, we are painfully aware of the fact that he chose not to do that.  Before George Zimmerman ever left his truck, Martin took off running, not to his home, but to some other destination that would eventually lead to the confrontation that ended up being the last thing to happen in his life.  I urge everyone to listen to that full four minute phone call.  At one point in the call, George Zimmerman says he has no idea "where the kid is".  We will never know what happened in the time between that phone call ending, and the gunshot, but we do know why Trayvon Martin didn't call the police, didn't go to the house 80 yards away, and ended up on top of George Zimmerman, pounding his head into the pavement.  The only injuries, outside of the gunshot wound, to Trayvon Martin, were knuckle injuries consistent with the testimony of George Zimmerman. We know the trajectory of the bullet was consistent with Martin being on top.  The gun was fired at close range from a downward angle.  And despite all efforts, even the FBI has stated that race was not a factor in the shooting.  

It was a tragic death, and one we should maybe be using as a teachable moment. Instead, actors, sports figures, and musicians took to twitter and pontificated on racist America, told jury  members they should commit suicide, and threatened the life of George Zimmerman.  Not to mention the thousands of young people who offered to kill Zimmerman themselves.  Seems we've learned nothing from this.  Violence killed a 17 year old boy.  And the response is more violence.

And in Chicago, the family of Darryl Green mourns in private.  Most of this country doesn't even know he exists.  His only crime was refusing to become part of the circle of violence decimating Chicago's young black male population.

Where is the outrage for all those other dead boys?  Is this country so obsessed with race, that we only care if someone who is not black kills a black child?  In Chicago, killing young black men is an industry, but because the shooters are other young black men, no one even pays attention.

In Chicago this year, more black children have died, then all the white children killed in Sandy Hook.  In the past 40 years, we have killed more unborn black children, than black people have been killed since before the civil war.  Where is the outrage over ANY of this?

There is none.  There in only outrage reserved for this one death, this one tragic death.  

What should come next is a serious discussion about why our young people think violence is the answer.  Why bragging about fighting and beating people up is the cool thing to do.  Why Trayvon Martin thought confrontation would be a better outcome than just going home.  

A few years ago, a couple of drama enabled teenage girls showed up on my property trying to get my girls to come out and fight.  My girls figured fighting wouldn't solve the problem, not to mention what their parents might have done when we found out.  These girls were on our property, making threats, and yet, my girls locked the doors, stayed inside and alerted my husband and I. We walked out on the porch and had two teenage girls at 10 pm at night, screaming profanity at us, ON OUR PROPERTY.  Once my husband stepped off the porch they ran like the girls they are, and then told all their friends they beat up my kids.  

Maybe the problem isn't about race or George Zimmerman's gun, maybe it's that kids have no respect, think they are invincible and think violence solves problems.  Maybe we should use this moment in time to start teaching our kids differently.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Confessions of an Independent Turned Libertarian

How many people reading this truly remember September 11, 2001?  Do you remember exactly how you felt, or has the passage of time muted those feelings?

My daughter said this past year, on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, that really, her class was the last one that truly remembers anything about that day.  She may be right, but even then, I think most of us have forgotten so much.  Especially those of us who weren't in New York City, Shanksville, or Washington D.C.  

We were scared, in a way I don't think the American public has been scared since Pearl Harbor or the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Pearl Harbor was our entry to World War II.  The Cuban Missile Crisis gave stronger legs to the Cold War and also to our involvement in Vietnam.  9/11 gave us the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act.  

If you look at the numbers, at the time, for the approval of the Patriot Act, they were high.  People wanted to be safe.  While there were lone detractors, most Americans were willing to sacrifice a little in the name of safety.  Of course, in all honesty, the Patriot Act, as it exists now, is far worse than it was in the first days of its passage, but that's the way government works.  We were scared, and we consented to a reduction in freedom for safety.

Today, we are bowing under the burden of multiple government scandals, the biggest one being the revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA), is monitoring the phone records of Verizon customers, and monitoring the internet actions of members of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and even Facebook.  It seems the places we spend the most time, the government has decided concerns of our National Security.  Who we talk to, when we talk to them, where we are calling them from, how long we talk to them, what we share on facebook, what we search for on the internet via search engines.  It's crazy, right?  

There were voices crying in the wilderness that this would happen, way back when the Patriot Act was first passed, but most people brushed those voices aside.

I was one of those people who brushed aside the warnings, and I'm here to confess.  I was wrong.  Whether or not the this monstrous intrusiveness was initiated under the Bush Administration or the Obama Administration, I was wrong.  Even if the original intent of the Patriot Act was only to track the activities of those suspected of terrorism, I was wrong.  With the exponential growth of the Government, year after year, Administration after Administration, it was foolish for anyone to believe that we wouldn't eventually come to this point.  Power corrupts, you know.  I was scared, and I wasn't thinking long term or down the road.  I was thinking only that my world had changed dramatically, in just a few hours, and my children would be forced to grow up in this new world, which was far more frightening than the old world.  I was wrong.

What puzzles me, is that the voices that were so clear, those voices in the wilderness back in the aftermath of 9/11, many of those voices are notoriously silent.  Some are even defending this policy, now, when under a different President, they were screaming bloody murder.  I've started to think many of those voices were simply partisan voices, trying to undermine one administration.   Especially those voices going on during the election of 2004. Where are they now? 

I was wrong.  The overreaching power grab by the Bush Administration, backed by a bipartisan majority of the Congress and Senate was wrong.  And if it was so wrong back then, it's even more wrong today.  Anyone who decried that action nine years ago, but is silent today, is the worst kind of hypocrite.  The actions didn't get better, they got worse, as is almost always the case when the government seizes control of something new.  If it was bad then, if it was a civil liberties violation then, it is even more so now.  

I realized a few months ago, that I never quite understood Patrick Henry's speech on the floor of Congress.  I never quite understood what he meant.  If I had, I would have been less supportive of the Patriot Act, and more supportive of the voices in the wilderness, now gone silent.  "Give me liberty or give me death."

I'd rather face the barrel of a gun, than face the erosion of my freedom.  That's what Mr. Henry meant, and that's what, in our fear, in our life altering moment, that's what we forgot.

Do you remember how you felt on September 11?  I do, and it doesn't change that I was wrong.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What Do We Know About Benghazi

I'm sure a lot of my more conservative friends will  take issue with what I'm about to write, but I've always been more interested in truth than in appeasing someone.

I watched portions of the most recent Benghazi hearings. Several news organizations revealed the trail of emails that led to the final talking points released on the Benghazi hearings.  I think we can safely assume at this point, that the President isn't the one who ordered the talking points changed.  Whether or not he knew about it, whether or not he deliberately lied, are questions left for another day.  The orchestration of the lie, however, can be laid directly at the feet of the State Department.  Simply put, emails reveal that the State Dept. had issues with the the talking points, because they feared what Congress may say or do if it became known that we were well aware there was terrorist activity, and it was prevalent, in Benghazi.  One of the emails came right out and said it.  So, for political protection and coverage, whole swaths of the talking points were removed, and the first ambassador's death in 30 years was attributed to a non-existent protest related to an obscure video.  We know this now, along with knowing the repeated requests for additional security were denied.  We also know that the Benghazi Consulate was kept open, because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton felt that it would show goodwill to the Libyans.

The fault for the coverup lies directly at the feet of a State Department, who realized that the ugly truth about terrorism in Libya was about to come to light. It wouldn't do for the narrative of the administration, that Osama bin Laden was dead and Al-Qaeda was on the run, to be blown to bits by an obvious terrorist attack.  Nor would it do for the American Public to realize that the threat from terrorists was well known, and had caused other foreign entities and charitable organizations to pull out and go home.

it appears that Susan Rice was never briefed on the truth, turning her into a scapegoat for a false narrative.  We don't have any idea what the President knew and when he knew it, since he isn't saying, and frankly, it appears he gets his information from the news just like the rest of us.  Possibly, had he decided to preside over the ongoing tragedy in Benghazi on 9/11, instead of going to bed, he might have known more.  He is responsible for shirking his duty in favor of sleep.  He is responsible for not keeping a reign on the people who work for him (see..IRS, DOJ and HHS). But in the end, the responsibility for the outrageous lie told to the American people lies at the feet of the State Department, in a sweeping implementation of CYA.

My question now is...who's getting the axe for it?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thoughts on Dr. Gosnell and Abortion

If you've been living anywhere outside of the Philadelphia area, odds are you know little or nothing about the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell that's been taking place the last few months.  You may not even realize that he was arrested in 2010, and that a horrific report by the Grand Jury was released in January 2011.

Yesterday he was convicted on three counts of first degree murder in the deaths of 3 babies, who were born alive in his Philadelphia abortion clinic.  He snapped their spinal cords with scissors.  According to testimony, he did this to hundreds of babies, because it was easier to deliver them and kill them afterwards.  

Late term abortions are difficult and dangerous, despite what the Pro-Choice movement would have you believe.  After suffering several lawsuits for malpractice, which he settled out of court for around 1.7 million dollars, Dr. Gosnell decided it was more profitable just to kill babies after they were born.  No chance of puncturing a uterus or damaging internal organs with sharp instruments.

The pictures were horrific.  It was obvious these were human beings, not blobs of tissue.  He had jars holding the severed feet of babies.  Fetal remains were stored in refrigerators with lunches of employees.

Numerous complaints were filed with the PA Department of Health, all of which went without investigation (for political reasons), until the FBI initiated a sting operation due to Dr. Gosnell's side business:  Selling prescriptions for controlled narcotics.  

The press gallery remained empty for much of the trial, as newspapers found Jody Arias to be a more national news story.  One reporter went so far as to say that Dr. Gosnell was a local story, and she didn't cover local stories without policy implications.  One perpetual college student's whiny hissy fit about how she was going bankrupt over her birth control pills was a national story.  An abortion doctor who butchered women and babies alike, nothing to see here...move on.  The press was eventually shamed into covering the story by Kirsten Powers, who was brave enough to say what most of us in the Philadelphia area were already thinking.  This story is a political football, and it's damaging to the wrong side of said ball.  If an abortion doctor is murdered, that's national news.  But we can't speak of the horrors going on in an abortion clinic, by a man who was one of the forefathers of the abortion rights movement. (See: Mother's Day Massacre.)

The story boils down to a few points.  A man, who was not a board certified OBGYN made millions (about 2 million a year), performing abortions.  Originally he did most of those within the boundaries of Pennsylvania law, until too many women were suffering complications.  He then turned to shady practices like selling prescriptions for narcotics, and performing illegal late term abortions in the middle of the night.  He made around 15,000 dollars a day.  He used untrained workers.  Complaints about his practices were unheeded, when Governor Tom Ridge and his administration decided to stop inspecting abortion clinics in the state.  Their reasoning was that too many violations were being found, and if clinics were shut down, it would restrict a woman's access to abortion.  Complaint after complaint went unheeded, or was shuffled away with the same attitude as the press:  Nothing to see here, move along.  In the end, Dr. Gosnell is likely to have killed hundreds of babies born alive, moving, one even swimming in a toilet.  He was complicit in the deaths of two women that we know of, and who knows how many more we don't know about.  And all of this because abortion is a political football too hot to touch.

Technology is the reason the press finally covered the trial, or at least made a half-hearted attempt to cover the trial.  It was a picture of the empty press gallery, tweeted by a Bucks County journalist, that got the ball rolling.  It was blogs on the internet by conservatives and Kirsten Powers that pushed the ball further down the road.  Technology is so prevalent that the presiding judge in the case banned reporters from using any electronic devices during the reading of the verdict.

And yet, as pictures were presented, showing fully developed human beings, we have removed that technology from playing any roll in the future of the abortion debate.  

When Roe vs. Wade was decided 40 years ago, we didn't have the technology to show what a baby looked like inside the womb.  It was easy to pass it off as a blob of tissue, as something sub-human at best.  Deciding when life actually begins, as a scientific matter, was next to impossible.  It's not anymore.  Now you can hear a clear heartbeat at 8 weeks.  4D ultrasound allows you to see all the moving parts.  Technology has advanced, but our national understanding of abortion has not.

The abortion rights advocates don't want mandatory  ultrasounds.  Maybe it's because those ultrasound images might show a confused single woman that she's not evacuating a blob of tissue.  They don't want to have to explain in detail what's going to happen, because maybe a confused hurting young girl would be horrified by the procedure.  People spouting about choice just don't want to know the facts.

The best way to test this theory, is to describe an abortion technique to an abortion rights supporter.  You will hear things such as "I don't want to know what it is", "you don't have to go into graphic detail", and my favorite "you are  trying to horrify me".  Okay.  

Abortion is horrific.  It is the killing of a human being.  The methods used are horrific.  Saline, which burns a baby alive.  Suction, which rips a baby into pieces and the removes those pieces one at a time from a mother's womb.  D&C, which is essentially cutting a baby into pieces and then removing them one at a time.  Chemical abortions, which induce violent labor that ends up crushing the baby during delivery.  A variation of the C-Section which cuts the umbilical cord in the womb, suffocating the baby.  And my favorite: Partial birth abortion. which involves the doctor grabbing the baby by the leg, pulling it out through the birth canal  up to the neck, stabbing it's skull with scissors and sucking out the brains.  And Amnesty International thinks lethal injection is inhumane.

This political football, which allowed a brutal butcher to operate unchecked since 1979 is something most people are not intimately acquainted with.  in the past few months, if you were lucky enough to get any news coverage on the trial, you got a birds eye view of the horrific, horrendous side of abortion. The one we don't talk about in polite company.  And while it's possible a majority of abortion clinics don't operate in this fashion, the outcome of legalized abortion was patently clear in this trial: a complete disregard for human life.

The defense of Kermit Gosnell didn't call a single witness.  People across the country who happened to be watching the most undercovered trial of the century, opined at why this was.  I will tell you why.  Simply put, Dr. Gosnell was killing babies outside the womb, that in places like New Mexico it is perfectly legal to kill inside the womb.  Think about that.  It is no more horrific to snap the spinal cord of baby outside the womb, than it is use forceps to dismember a baby inside the womb.  One is legal, one is not.  Yet, I can understand why the defense wouldn't call a witness.  Killing babies who aren't wanted, as long as we kill them before they are delivered by a parent who wants them, is the standard by which the abortion rights movement operates.  What Dr. Gosnell did was simply kill unwanted children.  The difference is a few inches.  

If you are horrified at what I wrote, good.  If you are horrified that I used graphic images, good.  You should be horrified.  The next time the words "it's a woman's right" pass through you lips, just remember... a few inches.  That's the difference between life and death for the most innocent in this world.  A few inches.  The difference between murder and a trumped up invented right to kill, is a few inches.  The difference between abortion and infanticide is a few inches.  Think about it.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Maybe It's the New Math...

I'm awake far too early on Saturday morning.  My oldest pet, Chewbacca, a typical dachshund, is in his twilight years.  I think he hurt his back again, because every once in a while he moves and lets out a yelp.  He woke me up.  So while I was sitting on the couch petting the little old man, I was thinking about Ed Schultz, President Obama, and the sky-is-falling crowd.

We've heard multiple claims over the last few weeks about how bad Sequestration is going to be.  I guess the President forgot about his interview with the Des Moines Register, back in October, where he said this:
So when you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, the sequester in place ... we're going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business. It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain.

That sounds like someone who is so very much upset with Sequestration, right?

So, in a remarkable about face, he's spent 3 weeks telling us that if the Republicans don't stop Sequestration, the sky is going to fall, meteors are going to kills us, the TSA will somehow become more incompetent than it already is, teachers will lose jobs, firefighters will lose jobs, and we will die in some terrorist attack because we can't protect our country.  Maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but you get my point.

The sequester is an 85 Billion dollar cut.  It WAS proposed by the White House during the stand off of the 2011 Debt Ceiling increase.  Congress agreed to raise the Debt Ceiling if there were budget cuts that would stop the insane spending.  This was the White House's grand bargain.  Sequestration, which by the way, hits the DoD the hardest, was the end game.  If the bipartisan commission on Debt Reduction couldn't agree, and Congress couldn't come up with the same amount of money in cuts, this automatic cutting would occur.  Obviously, the commission failed.  Congress has proposed two bills to replace Sequestration, both of which have never even been allowed a table vote in the Democrat Controlled Senate.  And so, the President thought he would win.  Those evil Republicans would NEVER cut defense.  Except they were adamant that they would.  So the "world is going to end" scenario was the only option left.  The Campaigner in Chief took to the airwaves and the road to tell everyone how bad the end of the world would be, if the plan HE proposed, and which he hyped to the Des Moines Register, took effect.

85 Billion Dollars cut from a budget that has left us with trillion dollar deficits and an astronomical 16.6 trillion dollar debt.  85 Billion Dollars in cuts to a 3.5 trillion dollar budget.

And now we come to Ed Schultz, of MSNBC fame, one of the President's personal water carriers.  On his radio show (yeah, he has one, I was surprised too), he told a caller who was in favor of Sequestration that this amounted to one third of the federal budget.  I am not sure where Mr. Schultz learned math, but when did 85 billion equal one third of 3.5 trillion?  It's 2 percent, give or take.  In this hard economy how many of us have had to cut 2 percent of our budget?  For the average American that's what?  A night out once a month?  

So, Democrats are basically telling us the world is going to end over the equivalent of a night out.  I know 85 Billion dollars is a lot of money, it's just not that much of a 3.5 trillion  dollar budget.  

We spent 1 million dollars on a mechanical squirrel last year.  We spent $100,000 on training for the zombie apocalypse.  We dumped billions of dollars into green energy companies that went bankrupt, because the average Joe can't afford solar panels.  Hollywood gets 3.5 billion dollars a year in federal, state and local tax breaks.  Federal tax breaks are also extended to the poor members of the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA.  Line by line the federal budget, and I'm guessing any first year Economic student could find 85 Billion dollars that doesn't include releasing criminal illegal immigrants, refusing to deploy an aircraft carrier, or somehow results in the layoffs of 70,000 teachers.  Those things were done, because they would have the most effect on the citizenry of the U.S.  We would see them and think "bad".  They were not required by Sequestration.  They have to find the cuts, but it doesn't mandate down to the letter what has to be cut.

Let me help you out here.  Instead of zombie apocalypse training, pay a firefighter.  Instead of firing a teacher, layoff some paper pusher in Washington D.C.  Cut Head Start since it's been proven through various studies that preschool/kindergarten has no discernible benefit after the second grade.  Make Defense Contract bidding competitive, stop using it as election payoffs for Congressmen and Senators, and deploy the aircraft carrier.  See?  Not so hard.

Every Middle Class American has had to tighten their budget, most by more than 2 percent.  The government can do the same.  It will not end the world.  It will improve our fiscal outlook.  And everyone will live, unless of course, you prefer to become Greece 2.