Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Nationwide Insanity

Jeebus Effin’ Christ, I am so sick of writing about this.

Here.

Here.

Here.

Here.

Here.

And here.

With every mass shooting we have in this country, my outrage and frustration grow. This keeps happening over and over and OVER and we still cannot bring ourselves to pass common sense gun laws, despite the majority of Americans favoring them. Even Republicans!

Congresswoman shot in the head? Nope.

Dozens shot and killed in a theater? Nope.

Twenty kids dead in their elementary school? Nope.

Nine dead in a South Carolina church? Nope.

Fifty dead in a nightclub in Orlando? Nope.

And now they—Republican House members—have been targeted. Several of their own were shot. The response?

They will not do anything to weaken the 2nd Amendment.

Some of the members will start carrying guns.

I honestly have to wonder just what the fuck is wrong with them. How can you look at what is going on here and look at our rates of gun violence vs other countries and NOT COMPREHEND that we have a major problem with guns? What is this bizarre fetish that we have with guns?

It is SICK. It is not normal, and it is not healthy. This isn’t the fucking Wild West and these open carry assholes are not fucking Wyatt Earp.

If you want to have guns to hunt, I support that. Well, I don’t support hunting. I think it’s gross and cruel and it makes me sick. I get it, though. But no one needs to be carrying guns around and it is about goddamn time that we start passing some common sense gun laws in this country.

You’re all so scared of terrorist attacks? From 2001 to 2014, for every life claimed by terrorism (including the 9/11 attack), over ONE THOUSAND died from gun violence. This is not just a matter of domestic terrorism and mass shootings, it is domestic violence, murders, and suicide. We have a major problem in this country and as long as our legislators continue to kiss National Rifle Association ass, this will not be solved.

The NRA is a boil on the ass of humanity. They don’t give a flying FUCK about dead kids or legislators who get shot in the head or a bunch of gays getting killed in a nightclub. All they care about is the money they can rake in with gun sales and lobbying.


As far as I’m concerned, they are a hate group, and they have so much blood on their hands that those damned spots will never be gotten out.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Well Respected Man

And he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

~~ “A Well Respected Man” by The Kinks

My, my, what an interesting week.

Like millions all over the country, I was glued to our TV set (not literally) Thursday morning as I watched former FBI Director James Comey have his say when he appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (I really wish Senator Al Franken were on that committee.) It promised to be quite a spectacle, and it didn’t disappoint.

Let me preface this by saying that while plenty of my friends hate Comey for the way he handled the Hillary e-mail brouhaha, I’ve always had mixed feelings about it. I didn’t like it, either, and I think it may have played a part in her EC loss, but I don’t think it’s fair to lay it all on him. There were many factors involved. I also read quite a bit about his thinking, and I get where he was coming from. His goal was to protect the Justice Department and the FBI from any allegations of wrongdoing or coercion or undue influence or whatever you want to call it. Of course, it turned out that it probably did influence things somewhat, but I just don’t think we can lay it all at his feet. I remember talking to Ken about it at the time, and we agreed that he made the decision that he had to make. The guy was between a rock and a hard place. Neither of us cared for it much, but we understood his reasoning from a logical viewpoint. I felt then, and still feel, that Comey was a man of integrity.

I know that some of my friends on the left will disagree with me. Hell, probably plenty of people on the right will disagree with me. If you’re pissing everyone off equally, doesn’t that mean you’re nonpartisan? I don’t know. But really, I think the guy is the real deal and genuinely wanted to follow the law and fight crime. One of the Good Guys.

As for the hearing...holy shit! I was so riveted that I didn’t even get up to take a bathroom break, and since I’d fixed myself a Bloody Mary, things were getting quite urgent by the end of those two and a half hours! It was absolutely fascinating and Comey was beyond impressive. He was a cool customer who came across as highly competent, committed to the truth and the law, self-deprecating, but obviously intelligent and sharp as a tack. I enjoyed it so much that I watched it again via video from another network, and this one included lots of dramatic closeups of Comey’s face. That was fascinating in itself because you could see his rapid eye movements and his nods as the Senators were asking their questions. He was like a machine processing everything and figuring out how he was going to answer. Probably exactly how he reacted when sitting with the Yam, figuring out how he was going to answer those inappropriate requests.

I’ve said from the very beginning of this whole mess that the Yam picked the wrong FBI director to fuck with. This guy is a true professional who knows how things work.

Speaking of inappropriate requests, I’ve seen multiple stories equating how Comey felt in these encounters with his boss with how women sometimes feel in the workplace when we are faced with such comments. It even extended to the hearing, when several Senators—including a couple of female Senators!—asked him why he didn’t do more, say more, speak up, fight back at the time. Amazingly enough, James Comey was victim-shamed. As one Twitter comment said, “Mr. Comey, what were you wearing at the time?” The awful truth is that anyone, no matter their gender or any other qualifier, can be subjected to feeling that their job hinges upon how they respond to the advances of their superior. I think plenty of us have been in such a situation and it can be very uncomfortable and you try to tread as lightly as possible. Imagine that your boss holds the most powerful position in the country. How would you react?

Comey did the smart thing and documented everything. Ken and I have both been in that situation, too. His situation did turn into one where he had to give a deposition and his notes were invaluable. I give that advice to anyone having issues at work. Document, document, document! Of course, Comey didn’t need my advice. He was the freakin’ FBI chief, so he knows about documentation.

He also knows how to play the long game. One of the most fascinating things that came out of the hearing, at least to me, was that he said yes, I gave my notes about the meeting to a friend and asked him to give it to a reporter in the hopes that a special prosecutor would be appointed. He just flat-out said it! And that is exactly what happened. Checkmate, em-effers!

Now the Yaministration is trying to portray Comey as a “leaker.” Good luck with that, you incompetent dolts. He was a private citizen—you know, ‘cause you fired him—and he was careful to ensure that nothing included in his memo was classified. The Yam maintains that Comey is lying, which means that he is accusing him of perjury. I think only the most rabid Yampeople would look at the Yam and at Comey and conclude that the Yam is more trustworthy. Comey will win that contest every single time among the majority of the American people.

Also, James Comey is hot. Everyone knows that intelligence and integrity are attractive. Two of the many reasons I married Ken.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Return of the Yam: A Vignette


After the senior staff draws straws as to who will meet the Resident when he gets back from his trip, the one with the shortest [ahem] is Steve Bannon. He awaits his leader’s return in the Oval Office.

The Yam enters, glares at Bannon, and stalks over to the desk. He plops down into the chair, which gives out a loud and alarming wheeze.

Bannon: Welcome back, sir.

The Yam: What are you doing here?

Bannon: I'm here to welcome you back, brief you on what has happened in your absence, and hear about your trip.

The Yam: [waving his hand as if to brush it all away] Whatever. Where’s Spicey?

Bannon: In his room, sir. He hasn’t come out for days. When we knock on the door, he just yells at us to go away.

The Yam: [smiles for the first time] So he’s upset that he didn’t get to meet the Pope?

Bannon: He seems to be, yes. Reince said he heard him crying the other night.

The Yam: [rubs his tiny hands together] Excellent. I could have taken him, you know, but I knew how much he wanted it. A sign of weakness. I hope he learned his lesson. The Pope was a loser, anyway. As a present, he gave me some kind of paper to read, said he’d written it himself. What kind of a gift is that? Everyone knows I don’t read anything longer than a page. Spicey didn’t miss anything.

Bannon: Yes, sir.  So how was your trip?

The Yam: [he loses his smile] Those damn Europians. Did you see how they treated me?

Bannon: In what regard, sir?


The Yam: When I walked in the room, they acted like they’d just stepped in dogshit! Very, very rude. Losers. They would have lost World War Two if we hadn’t helped them out.

Bannon: Well, sir, Germany DID lose World War—

The Yam: And that French guy! Did you see the way he shook my hand? Like he was trying to dominate me or something.

Bannon: [silent]

The Yam: By the way, get me some BenGay. My hand hurts.

Bannon: Yes sir, I’ll get it for you as soon as we finish here.

The Yam: And Merkel. Boy, isn’t she a piece of work? Her and her pantsuits. Her and Hillary would have gotten along just fine, I bet. But I won. Have you seen the electoral college map? Here’s a copy.

Bannon: Yes, I’ve seen it, sir. Many times.

The Yam: Whatever. Merkel kept staring at me with this weird look on her face. I saw her whispering to the French guy and then they laughed. They’re mean.

Bannon: Yes sir, they are.

The Yam: Mean, mean people. They didn’t let me sit with them at lunch. They all sat around and said there were no seats open. But there was! I saw an empty chair. Merkel said it was saved for my missing dignity. What does that even mean?

Bannon: [silent]

The Yam: And that French guy. Did I mention that handshake?

Bannon: Yes sir, you did.

The Yam: I saw him and the Canuck standing over there and talking French talk. They kept looking at me, too. Then they’d laugh.

Bannon: I’m sure it was some sort of French joke, sir, nothing about you.

The Yam: And they thought they looked so good, all trim in their suits, thinking they were hot shit. I think Merkel was flirting with them, but they wouldn’t go for that. She’s barely a 4.

Bannon: Sir, I—

The Yam: They don’t look nearly as good as Jared, anyway. He’s much better-looking. Bigger hands, too.

Bannon: Sir—

The Yam: I showed ‘em all who was boss, though. Did you see me shove that Negro guy out of the way? Ha! That was great.


 Bannon: Sir, that was the Prime Minister of Montenegro.

The Yam: Whatever. I pushed him out of the way like the loser he is. They’re all losers.

Bannon: Sir, I need to tell you about—

The Yam: By the way, Ivanka and Jared had a really nice time. I don’t know about Melania, she wouldn’t talk to me much. She must be on her period. But Ivanka and Jared had fun! I bought Jared some treat in Italy that he really liked. What was it, Jell-O? Gelatin? I forget, but you should have seen his little face light up. He’s a good boy.

Bannon: Sir, I really need to tell you—

The Yam: In fact, Jared wanted me to ask you about the news from while we were gone. Did anything happen? He wants me to email him.

Bannon: [silence]

The Yam: Well?

Bannon: Sir, I’m going to go get that BenGay for you now. You just sit and...get some rest, okay?

The Yam: Cool. I’m exhausted. Who knew foreign trips were so complicated?
 
~~


FINIS

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Health Care For All!

Love is but a song to sing
Fear's the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

~~ “Get Together” by The Youngbloods

I’ve been laying low lately. We spent a fun week in Vegas, I’ve been reading a lot, and with the shit show going on in the Yamistration, I just haven’t felt like writing much. Some days it’s all I can do to not Hulk-smash everything in sight. Sometimes it is best to just hunker down, and as REO Speedwagon says, I’ve been riding the storm out. As much as I can, anyway.

Today was a lesson in how engagement can energize, inspire, and strengthen our resolve.

I headed to downtown Mishawaka with Shane and Matt to join a protest outside of the office of our so-called representative, Jackie Walorski. I say ‘so-called’ because she doesn’t really spend a whole lot of time with her constituents, especially the ones who didn’t vote for her, so I guess she only wants to represent part of us. Hmph.

Anyway, this was a protest organized by Indivisible Indiana District 2 and the Northern Indiana Community Coalition for Health Care. The latter organized the recent town hall meeting concerning the Affordable Care Act and the so-called American Health Care Act, and although Jackie was invited numerous times, she didn’t show up and didn’t even bother to respond yes or no if she would be attending. I don’t think she understands the meaning of the word ‘representative.’ But we had the town hall without her.

Today’s protest was termed a “Die-In.” The goal was to get at least 80 people to show up, with 80 representing the number of people in Indiana District 2 who would die each year without the guarantees of coverage by the ACA. We all held signs shaped like tombstones with various slogans about who would suffer if the ACA is repealed and the AHCA takes its place. The last time I looked at the sign-up sheet, we had around 60 people, but the turnout surpassed the goal. We had over 100 people there! Not bad for 4:30 on an overcast weekday afternoon. (The rain even held off until we were done!)

We were all fired up and happy to be there. Everyone was friendly and peaceful. The overwhelming majority of people driving by honked and gave us the thumbs up. (Yes, those were thumbs, not another digit.) A couple of people drove by and gave us some grief, but they were definitely in the minority.

The most memorable of those was when a guy in a blue car pulled up directly in front of where I was standing with Shane and Matt, and stopped because of a red light. The guy turned to us and started saying “Trump for America! Trump for America!” I don’t know what came over me, but I started yelling back, “Health care for all! Health care for all!” Me and the guy kept at this for a few moments, and then a lady behind me took up my chant. Shane and Matt joined in, and soon our entire group of over one hundred people was chanting “Health care for all!” at this guy. He tried keeping up his chant for a bit but we kept chanting louder and louder...and then here was the best moment. He finally turned away, put his hands on his steering wheel, shut his mouth, and faced straight ahead. But he couldn’t go anywhere...because the light was still red.

[falling over laughing]

So he had to sit there with all of us chanting “Health care for all!” at him, probably thinking, “When is this fucking light going to turn green?” When it finally did, you can probably guess what he did. Yep, he flipped us the bird as he drove off. We all cracked up.

Somebody got owned! Man, what a douchebag.

Our organizer gave a rousing speech, we sang a song, and then we all filed into Jackie’s office to drop off our postcards that stated why we are against the AHCA or support the ACA. We weren’t there long, but we made our presence known, and we had plenty of traffic driving by and seeing us. On the way back to the car, we stopped off at Smith’s for a beer and a bite to eat and discussed things and had some laughs. It was a good day!

I feel reenergized. It is very easy to insulate ourselves against what is going on and to withdraw. That holds especially true for introverts like me. (I know that Shane is, too. Matt? Maybe a bit, but not to the extent that Shane and I are.) I think it is important to make an effort to get out every once in a while, connect with others, and affirm our commitment to resist and change the current administration, locally and nationally.

Being a part of this peaceful protest and talking with others who are committed to this cause really gave me a boost and made me want to continue to be involved to the extent that I can. I also enjoyed learning that I could confront others peacefully but forcefully. I didn’t flip the dude in the car off or call him names and I didn’t call his candidate names. I just affirmed my support for health care for all. And I’ll be damned if others didn’t join in and we got him to shut up. 
That is empowering as fuck.

I encourage others to get out as much as they can and check into local groups who are involved in protests and activism. Things are popping up everywhere and there are plenty of things you can do, big and small.

We are all in this together and we will help each other get through it!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bates Motel in the rearview mirror

We all go a little mad sometimes.

~~ Norman Bates

After five seasons, the series finale of “Bates Motel” aired tonight. It’s been a wild ride and I feel the need to write a bit about it. (If you haven’t watched it and plan to, please note that there are major spoilers ahead.)

Some of you know that my favorite movie of all time is “Psycho.” Don’t read anything into that! There is just something about the movie that appeals to me on so many levels. The lighting, the way Hitchcock framed his shots, the perfect soundtrack, the masterful performance of Anthony Perkins, and of course, the classic shower scene.

In other words, those were some big shoes to fill.

What a pleasure to watch the show live up to its source material and see it develop into a genuinely interesting backstory of the movie and the characters. There were many twists and turns along the way, with the biggest coming at the very end of tonight’s episode. What I didn’t expect was that they would move past the ending of the movie and show the ultimate fate of Norman. I think it was a stroke of genius, because I watched thinking that I knew where everything ended up, and it was a genuine surprise to see where it went.

One of the best things about the Norman Bates character is that despite his murderous nature, Anthony Perkins played him as a sympathetic, even likable character. His boyish charm, his nervousness, his smile...you want him to be okay and it’s heartbreaking when you realize just how damaged he is. Freddie Highmore as Norman in the TV show understood that and played it perfectly. In tonight’s finale, Norman (with his poor bloodied face) drives Norma’s corpse home and relives the good times of the past. He is lost in his memories and has obviously had a very serious break with reality. It made me cry to see his battered face and his bewildered smile.

Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates was also incredible. Of course, Mrs. Bates never got a genuine word in the movie, but Farmiga created this amazing, destructive, enabling force of nature that was Norma Bates. She was funny, she was loving, she was messed up, she was irresistible. She was Mother.

A character who wasn’t in the movie was Sheriff Alex Romero, played by Nestor Carbonell (he of the dreamy eyes). He was a perfect addition who became a surprise love interest for Norma when Norman was off getting some much-needed mental health attention. It was a beautiful thing to see their love blossom and grow (Christ, that sounds sappy...but that scene at the Winter Carnival when they first realized that they had real chemistry was magical!) and when Norma died, Romero’s grief and fury was palpable. His vow of revenge upon Norman wasn’t consummated, and we had to say goodbye to Alex tonight. But damn, that final scene with him and Norman was intense!

Other characters not from the movie were Norman’s brother Dylan (Max Thieriot) and Norman’s friend Emma (Olivia Cooke). Dylan and Emma end up together and their story arc was rich and interesting. I feared for Dylan tonight but the ending to the brothers’ story was fitting. Dylan did his best to help Norman and I believe he truly loved him. His face when he walked into the dining room and saw Norma...what a perfect reaction of horror and sorrow and some major nausea! I think it broke Dylan’s heart to do what he had to do but there really was no other way, was there?

I don’t mean to rehash the entire episode but those were some salient moments for me. The entire series was inventive and intelligent, fleshing out the story of Norman and his mother, providing so many interesting subplots that all came together perfectly in tonight’s finale. I really wasn’t sure they could pull it off, but they did, and in a very satisfying way. Would I have liked to see at least a couple more seasons with these characters? Of course! But you can’t always get what you want, and in this case, I think it was the right decision. The story played out in a perfect way, giving us so much backstory in the previous seasons, and then things really coming to a crisis point in the last few episodes of this season. We were rushing to the inevitable end, and it was the right time to finish the series.

Obviously, they won’t read this, but I want to put this out there: thank you to the entire cast and crew for a job well done. I was skeptical of a show premised on my favorite movie, but you allayed my fears. It was brilliant.

Farewell, Norman. Forever in my heart.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Love’s all that matters

We equal m c squared
Einstein drank his wine in pairs
We equal m c squared
Beyond mathematics there is love in the air

~~ “Relativity” by Grafton Primary

We had a really fun weekend! Ken got a new lawnmower (that’s a big deal ‘round these parts!), we had brunch with Shane and Matt at Brew Werks and then saw the stage production of “Dirty Dancing” (fabulous!), but the highlight was the wedding of our friends Tom and Roger on Saturday.

It’s hard to explain why, but there was just so much joy in the air. The wedding was at a historic building in the area and everything was beautiful. We knew quite a few people there, I got to meet Tom’s godson in person (after doing Tom’s podcast with him), and we got to meet new people, including the guy who conducted the ceremony. The dinner was wonderful, we got to take some fun and goofy pictures, and we got to dance a little bit. Everyone was feeling great and everyone was so happy for Tom and Roger! There was just an air of festivity and celebration and it makes me smile just to think back on it!

As I watched the ceremony (which included lyrics from Prince and “The Princess Bride”), as we all congratulated the happy couple, as friends and family toasted them, as we all broke bread, drank champagne, danced, and talked, one thought stayed prominent in my mind:

Who would ever take away this happiness?

Who, because of whatever religious tropes they are clinging to, or because of whatever personal issues they have, would deny this happiness to these two people who were so obviously in love?

Who would do that?

Apparently, there were one or two people who had some issues with this marriage. I won’t name any names. But we all know people like them, don’t we?  They just can’t accept anything outside their own narrow purview.

From my perspective, all I saw was a dear friend and his beau declaring their love for and commitment to each other.

I will fight for their right to do that forever.

I’ve seen the usual arguments about how marriage is about having children. Stupid argument. Millions of people get married and choose not to have children. [raising hand] That doesn’t make a marriage invalid. Besides, ADOPTION. Duh. Or there is “the Bible says” argument. It really doesn’t, but even if it did, who gives a flying fuck? Despite what some might say, we do not base our laws on the Bible. We base our laws on the Constitution of the Goddamn United States of America. In your face!

I suppose there are other arguments, but yeah, they’re all stupid. You know what isn’t stupid? Love. Love isn’t stupid.

And when people love each other, when two consenting adults want to enter into a committed, legal relationship, they have that right under the Constitution.

It was my great pleasure and honor to see the Constitution in action Saturday night and to see love win. Tom and Roger’s program included this paragraph from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion in the Obergefell v Hodges case, which guaranteed the right of marriage to all citizens, and it is worth quoting it here:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

It damn well does and if you try to take that away, you are going to have a fight on your hands. I guarantee.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reckoning Day

And this is a call to arms
This is a call to hands
This is a call to the voices and the minds
Of the people in every land

~~ “Reckoning Day” by The Rainmakers

Today we attended a town hall meeting focused on health care with our District 2 Representative, Jackie Walorski.

Except Jackie didn’t show.

We knew she wouldn’t. She was invited numerous times and not only didn’t she have the balls to show, she didn’t even have the balls to RSVP.

But we carried on without her. It was a moderated town hall, with a panel of folks who deal with health care issues in their jobs, and I was delighted to see my own doctor there! (She had a great moment, too...more about that later.)

The most compelling part of the meeting was the testimonials from various citizens—all constituents of Rep. Walorski—that told about their experiences with health care and how the Affordable Care Act helped them. A woman whose daughter is disabled; a woman who, at a very young age, was diagnosed with breast cancer; a molecular biologist who spoke about the importance of federally-funded medical research; a woman who had premature triplets; and our friend Cassie, who despite her fear of public speaking and an anxiety attack, stood up and told her story about her own risky pregnancy and the premature birth of her son. I am so proud of Cassie for having the courage to speak about this!



Every question is being sent to Rep. Walorski and if she has a shred of decency, she will read them. I hope the organizers send her the video, too, because she needs to see it. She needs to realize that she works for us. The fact that she refuses to listen to her constituents is unacceptable. The crowd was well-behaved but there was a palpable sense of anger that we feel we are not being heard.




As for my doctor, as if I didn’t love her enough already! She has been a wonderful doctor, responsive to my questions and encouraging in my efforts to stay healthy. Seeing her there as part of the panel let me know that she is on the side of her patients and not happy with the efforts to repeal the ACA. She had one of the coolest responses of the entire meeting, when one of the mediators read a question from the audience. The gist of it was that the Hyde Amendment is already in place to ensure that federal funds are not used for
abortions; the Republican party continues to push for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which means that thousands of Hoosiers from rural areas would have no access to basic medical care. Can anyone on the panel explain that thinking? The panel hemmed and hawed and looked at each other, and then my doctor pulled the microphone toward her and said…

“No.”

The crowd erupted in applause and I elbowed Ken and said, “See why I love her??”

If I were Jackie Walorski, I’d be pretty darn scared about 2018. Ignore your constituents at your own risk.