When I tell the story of my career path I often use the image of a mosaic.

I sometimes use the words “Once upon a time…” to help bridge the distance between the idea of “job” and “career path” for audiences who may be more comfortable with one word and not the other.

At one point in my life I had jobs in what is now called “the gig economy”, scraping by in the nonprofit world doing what I loved. To make that possible I also worked cash registers, served fast food, cleaned houses, sold advertising and hustled for free lance.

When I was a child I loved books, and school, and my teachers so I thought I would also be a teacher.

As a young adult I imagined my life would always include the arts (Once upon a time I was an actor & director…), or arts management (I spent years at Cleveland Public Theatre & then founded and ran Red Hen Productions, Feminist Theatre…), or some creativity (play and story writing…), outside of this peripatetic blog.

Then I imagined I would spend my life in the academy reading, writing, discussing and teaching philosophy. (That’s a longer story…)

I was lucky to find my true vocation (coaching & facilitating change) and now devote most of my time and energy to working with people and organizations who do good in the world.

Because I was a citizen of the USA and worked at liberal (or tolerant) organizations, I always had the freedom (within reason) to be politically active without fearing repercussions or retaliation.

Now, as someone who is self-employed, my job is my career.

That means I have thought long and hard about what repercussions my opinions and political activity will have on my ability to get work. I know that I am a small fish in a small pond, and maybe (hopefully!) I am being paranoid, but the world seems to be titling toward those who take names and make lists.

Years ago, while canvassing for domestic partner registration, I spoke with an elderly Jewish man who said “I will never vote for this! It is a terrible idea! Lists make it too easy for them to find you.”

Thinking of this Jewish man, and with conscious choice, I have decided to resume writing about my politics on this blog. It is part of the mosaic of who I am and will only become more so if we continue our drift toward despotism. (Please watch this crystal clear 10 minute explanation of despotism if you think my use of that phrase is hyperbolic.)

And, as an American citizen, I believe political engagement really is my job.

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For the last week I’ve been listening to the chatter about the Congressional Budget Office report about the impact of ACA on the economy.  The Republican interpretation is that 2.5 million people will suddenly quit their jobs just to qualify for the ACA subsidy. While its clear this is Republican propaganda, I kept thinking, who are these people? Who are they trying to demonize?

The default target is poor blacks and Latinos but the ACA subsidy isn’t about poor people it’s about the folks in between poor and rich.

In Ohio, to qualify for the ACA subsidy my family of three would have to make between $30 – $78,000. At the top end, the cost of a health plan would be roughly $8,500 with an $1,100 subsidy. At $55K the subsidy becomes $3,500, and at $30K the subsidy is $7,200 meaning the plan costs about $100 a month.

Someone who makes $30K a year in Ohio does not exactly fit the Reagan profile of welfare queen. So who is this person willing to lower their income in order to “play the system?” What job would they quit? They would still have to pay the premium, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs up to with less money every month.

So who are they demonizing this time? I haven’t figured it out yet.

There is always abuse of any public welfare program (see Welfare, Corporate: “JPMorgan Chase, which made a preliminary $13-billion mortgage settlement with the U.S. government, is allowed to write off a majority of the deal as tax-deductible, saving the corporation $4 billion.”), or the fact that whole industries pay workers so poorly that they still qualify for public assistance while working full-time.

But the ACA subsidy isn’t about fast-food workers because they already qualify for Medicaid and Food Stamps. Think tanks like the Heritage Foundation are asserting that people will turn down higher paying jobs if it jeopardizes their subsidy. The same argument they make against unemployment benefits by the way Again I ask – who?

Why do the richest people in our society assume that poor people want to stay poor? All the poor people I have ever known would gladly give up any and all benefits for a decent wage and a nice place to live. Public assistance on its very best day is still degrading.

The disincentive argument seems knee-jerk and thin. I dont think its going to stick unless they can find a particular group to consistently demonize. The GOP as a whole is out of touch in a way that is amazingly dangerous to their future.

Then again conservative Americans can usually be counted on to vote against their own self-interest, so who knows.

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There has been a lot of discussion lately about poverty in the US both because of the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s War on Poverty, and the proposed extension of federal unemployment benefits. An unfortunate amount of the analysis centers around why LBJ’s war failed, and stresses and how social programs like welfare and unemployment benefits cripple a persons natural drive to succeed.

At the heart of the belief that handouts hurt is the old “bootstrapping” narrative. The rags to riches, work hard and pull yourself up by the bootstraps, anyone can be a Rockefeller stuff of American legend.

This kind of twisted, blame the victim argument really gets under my skin. Not only is it not logical – by the rules of logic not just my opinion – but it is also usually spouted by millionaires. In this case millionaire politicians  – 1% of Americans are millionaires, but more than 50% of Congress are. Go figure.

I find myself irritated by all the talk about poverty and no talk about poor people. I’ve seen working class, lower-middle class and the working poor all used to describe the same income brackets. That would seem to indicate that there is still a stigma to being called poor.  Of course stigma is minimized if you are “hard-working”, “upstanding”, “church-going” , or other kinds of credit-to-your-station adjectives.

Maybe referring to poor people as the Un-Wealthy would be more in line with current attitudes. Or better yet Pre-Wealthy so we can still incorporate the idea that just a little more effort on their part will propel them to the promised land of the middle class.

As the Senate debated the extension of unemployment benefits the people affected become in Janice Yellen’s words “less employable”.  Talk about a downward spiral.

Studies are showing that the longer you are unemployed the less likely you are to actually get a job. Not having a job is being used as criteria to screen applicants. And its legal for hiring managers to do so. If you don’t have a job there must be something wrong with you so why would we hire you? What part of that is being lazy, unmotivated or entitled?

While the unemployment extension bill is not 100% dead yet it is certainly on life support. Maybe 6 or 7 of those wealthy GOP senators will be persuaded over the weekend to stand up for the un-wealthy. It’s not too late for me to suck up to Rob Portman is it?

A logic refresher since I promised myself I wasn’t going to rant about bad reasoning. Today.

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It’s taken five years but I feel I am now fully trained. I got really excited yesterday when the six Republican Senators voted to allow the vote on the bill to extend unemployment benefits. I was ready to email Rob Portman’s office and thank him for being one of the six! Positive reinforcement and all that. Cloture is now sexy!

Then, this morning while reading the transcripts of Obama’s speech, I thought about how I had gotten excited about a bipartisan vote (of the slimmest margin) to prevent filibuster, which of course doesn’t guarantee those same Senators will vote for the actual bill.

The bill would only extend benefits for three months, the media is still full of the “lazy poor” bullshit narrative and the House is floating the idea of passing it in return for a one year delay in the Affordable Care Act so its likely dead in the water anyway.

The political obstructionism we’ve lived with for the last five years has trained me to treat these scraps of cooperation as victories. Maybe it is progress but I sure felt conned. Congress has trained us to expect nothing from them so NOT having a filibuster counts as progress.

I must not be cynical about national politics yet if I can still be conned. That’s something at least.

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The budget shenanigans of the 112th and 113th Congress have irritated me more than any other idiocy they have indulged in. Even the 30+ house votes to repeal the ACA had some comic value compared to brutal reality of 16 days of government shutdown, sequestration, and the debt ceiling crisis.

We very nearly have a federal budget that will prevent shutdowns for the next two years (woohoo!) but as we all know it ain’t over till it’s over. A test vote isn’t the final vote. Why? Because “some Republicans who voted yes on Tuesday’s procedural vote said they would ultimately oppose it.”

So even if though it got through the Crazy House, it can still fall apart in the Senate because someone is up for re-election which means the Koch Brother and the Tea Party are breathing down their necks.

So here I am rooting for a budget that boots millions of unemployed off their benefits and doesn’t restore food stamp cuts because NOT having a budget is even worse. And this is being praised as a “rare bipartisan accomplishment.”

It’s no mystery why the 113th Congress approval rating is currently below 10%. Let see if they get it done.

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So it all boils down to this.

The GOP does not believe health care should be a government responsibility. War, prisons, executions, walls to keep immigrants out, tax breaks and subsidies for billionaires, restricting and limiting voting, these are all the governments business, but not health care. Unless that health care has to do with women’s reproduction, that of course is an acceptable place for GOP noses to go poking. Continue reading

…almost everything! The Republican sideshow we are being forced to endure is not only irresponsible, its destructive.

I just got a 16 page memo from a federal budget office about how to proceed with grant funded work if the shutdown goes forward. This does not affect the work that I do very much, but there are many others who will be hurt by this. Continue reading

Moral restrictions on medical procedures. That is the framework of the anti-abortion movement and other conservative positions. My God says “No”, therefore it should be “No” for the whole country. We have been down this road before in history, which is why we have separation of church and state. Or we used to.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has until 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 30th to make any line-item vetoes on the state budget before he signs it into effect for July 1, 2013. Politicians should not be making medical decisions or forcing doctors to lie. For your Friday reading pleasure I give you an Op-Ed I submitted to Ohio newspapers, which they unfortunately declined to publish.


 

My Hands Are Tied
“My hands are tied” is phrase Ohioans we will get used to if Ohio House Bill 200 becomes law. This is the outcome desired by anti-abortion activists, and the future feared by those who believe medical decisions must be between a patient and their doctor. The people of Ohio cannot let this bill become law.
Women have been preventing and terminating pregnancies for 4,000 years. Because women who desperately need an abortion for whatever reason will do everything in their power to get one, they have died for lack of a safe, legal abortion. Access to safe, legal abortions has been the law of the land since 1973.  Since then, anti-abortionists have found ways to limit access, intimidate women, and yes, even kill physicians who have abortion practices.  This means that today 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties have no abortion provider.
Now Ohio legislators are attempting to further thwart this legal medical procedure by increasing the waiting period before a procedure and requiring doctors to give untruths to their patients and perform an unnecessary, invasive ultrasound or face criminal charges.
By increasing the waiting period to 48 hours, and requiring two visits to a provider before she can secure a safe legal abortion, the legislators effectively “tie the hands” of many women who cannot afford to travel twice in two days to obtain their medical procedure. By adding the provision that doctors who fail to comply with the House Bill 200 rules would be subject to a first-degree felony charge (the same class as rape, aggravated arson and kidnapping) and a fine of up to a million dollars, the legislature has tied and double knotted the hands of Ohio doctors.
This bill is a textbook example of a slippery slope. A slope that would be all but impossible to climb back up if it becomes law.
Doctors who are oath-bound to “do no harm” will be forced to lie. The bill requires doctors to provide patients with the patently false information that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Good clinics already provide information and counseling through trained patient advocates who talk with women about their feelings and beliefs without pressure or judgment. The goal at Preterm Clinic in Cleveland is to ensure that every patient is informed and sure of her decision whether it is to have an abortion, choose adoption or continue her pregnancy.
The slope gets slipperier. This bill requires doctors to divulge in writing “their gross income and the percentage of that income that was obtained” by performing the procedure. Will we have the same declaration when from a doctor before an MRI or a hip replacement? How does this information help the patient? The theory that there is a multi-million dollar abortion industry exploiting and “tricking” women into having abortions they don’t understand or want is a lie.
By restricting abortion to a “medical emergency”, this bill removes the right of a doctor to decide what is medically necessary for a patient. How can we expect a doctor, under threat of a felony charge, to not hesitate when deciding if a situation has gone from “necessity” to “emergency”? The American Council of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly opposes legislative interference that “causes a physician to compromise his or her medical judgment about treatment in the best interest of the patient.” As women – as mothers – we oppose that interference as well.
Where does it end? House Bill 200 ruthlessly and viciously restricts a legitimate medical procedure, forces physicians to compromise their ethics, and treats women as incompetent. After abortion is effectively inaccessible, what will be restricted next because legislators don’t trust you and your doctor to competently decide your medical procedures? Will you allow your judgment to be overridden by lawmakers? Will doctors let their medical training be overridden by politicians? Will you trust politicians to make your medical decisions?
We must stop this bill – and the slippery slope it creates – before all of our hands are tied. Women, and men who respect the right of a woman to make choices about her health care, would be wise to contact Governor Kasich and demand that veto House Bill 200 in its entirety.
Call Governor Kasich at 1-614-466-3555 and tell him to veto this bill.
Tweet Governor Kasich @JohnKasich and tell him to veto this bill.
Contact Governor Kasich through his website and tell him to veto this bill.
Do something.
Please.
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I am very disheartened. I can’t even muster any rage at the Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act today.

Representative John Lewis called it “a dagger in the heart” of the act but it feels to me like a dagger in the heart of the nation. I am struggling with the evidence that we are more and more a country without compassion for its citizens. The purported Christian foundation that drives conservative politics applies only to the individual, not the group. The willful rejection and/or obfuscation of facts is standard operating procedure. There is much analysis to be read on this ruling, and endless spinning to be endured in the coming months. The two quotes below capture what I would be ranting about if I had the energy.

John Lewis reminds us that rights now unprotected are continuously threatened and abused, not historical:

“I remember in the 1960s when people of color were the majority in the small town of Tuskegee, Alabama. To insure that a black person would not be elected, the state gerrymandered Tuskegee Institute and the black sections of town so they fell outside the city limits.

This reminds me too much of a case that occurred in Randolph County in my own state of Georgia, when the first black man was elected to the board of education in 2002. The county legislature changed his district so he would not be re-elected.

I disagree with the court that the history of discrimination is somehow irrelevant today. The record clearly demonstrates numerous attempts to impede voting rights still exist, and it does not matter that those attempts are not as “pervasive, widespread or rampant as they were in 1965. One instance of discrimination is too much in a democracy.”

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a personal hero of mine, speaks to the flawed reasoning of the current SCOTUS. Mother Jones culled the most notable from her dissent:

“In my judg­ment the Court errs egregiously by overriding Congress’ decision…Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

Alito’s contemptuous, disrespectful eye rolling and grimacing at Ginsberg while she read the dissenting opinion should be grounds for a reprimand from Roberts. Alito leaves no illusion that the court is now a place where political insult can be offered without dignity.

Too many daggers for one day.

The Supremes: Justices Sotomeyer, Ginsberg and Kagan

School funding in my state is a giant, tangled unconstitutional mess in which our state legislature is currently wading. Their actions will reverberate for many years to come as they have during the previous 30+ years of trying to establish a constitutional state funding plan.

Their nonsense is already felt in my district which is cutting 34 positions to compensate for the reductions, that even the levy that passed during a recession cannot offset. The current funding formula is a somewhat fuzzy (to me) calculation based on local property taxes + a base per student rate that the state awards, plus an increase cap, which boils down to rich districts getting more money per student, and poor districts getting less and less and less as the residents flee because of poor schools.

This is a really tricky topic with strong feelings even if we leave the money out of it. Everyone wants their kids to go to a good school with engaged teachers and extra opportunities. Some people can afford to move to a community where this is guaranteed, some pay for private schools and some try to make their neighborhood school better because that’s all there is. In many ways it becomes an issue of privilege.

Studies show that the education level of the parents is a consistent predictor of the child’s school performance. Unstated is that the education level of the parent can also predict income level which allows the school district to be chosen rather than dictated by circumstance.

Our district is a mixed socio-economic area which means lots of well-educated wealthy people send their kids to private schools, middle-class folks who make sure their kids take AP & Honors classes, and parents who rent here because it has the best public school they can afford. Then there are the handful of wealthy, well-educated parents who send their kids to public school as a statement. We all do what we think is right no matter what it looks like from the outside.

I am really torn about some of these issues.

On the one hand, if we had the money, I would probably enroll my daughter in one of the nearby private schools because its the kind of opportunity I wished I’d had. On the other hand, I went to inner city schools in a district with the nations 3rd highest drop out rate, during mandatory desegregation and busing, and still managed to get myself over-educated and end up in the suburbs.  Then I think about children in third-world countries so desperate for schooling they share a stick to do sums in the dirt, (dangerously close to my mother’s “some people don’t have any legs” here), and wonder if what we should be worrying about is motivation.

I have very little faith that our GOP dominated state legislature will find a way to be nurturing, kind or fair in their school funding budget, let alone constitutional, as we are talking about 1) money and, 2) people who think poverty is a character flaw.

Out of sight out of mind is apparently a bona fide political strategy. Schools out next Thursday, so that means we can forget all about school funding until August rolls around and we see the class sizes and lack of extra curriculars. 

My husband is traveling for work.

When he is home we wake up to the alarm, her turns it off and goes to get coffee which he brings to me in bed. I know that makes me sound like a spoiled princess and I don’t care. It is a monumental kindness for someone who is a slow riser and “not a morning person”. When he is not home I lay there and listen to BBC news segue into NPR before I drag myself to the kitchen for the much needed coffee.

The real problem with this is that I then hear things like “House Republicans have vowed to defund as much of the Affordable Care Act as possible and will be addressing preexisting conditions today.” I know the GOP doesn’t like the ACA and would like to take every penny allocated for health care and convert it into a gun, but hearing the intention at 5:46 am is depressing. One of the supreme injustices of our world is the manner in which insurance is able to reject you just when you need it most.

Sort of like all those Boston store owners who are now finding out about the terrorism exception written into all of their policies. Their loses from that day, and the subsequent days lost revenue, are their losses to swallow.

The mishegas with the preexisting conditions is actually more sinister than it sounds. The Republicans created legislation that will undermine ACA prevention programs (immunization, nutrition, screenings, tobacco cessation) while appearing to help people with preexisting conditions, but then it would expire 12/31/13. Pretty slick and twisted. I’m starting to think that Eric Cantor is the actual Devil. If there is any doubt that this is a ploy and not intended to actually help people, the evidence is found in Grover Norquist’s public support of the bill.

So the question is do you spend the money allocated for prevention, now called the “slush fund” by the GOP marketing machine, so that fewer people get seriously ill between now and Jan 1, 2014, or do you divert the prevention money, enroll more people with preexisting conditions (who should’ve been kept on their insurance in the first damn place) for coverage that will expire 12/31/13?

The answer of course depends on what political points you are trying to score, not which pathetic little lives you are trying to save.

The GOP plan does a good job of making Obama look like a schmuck for not wanting to cover (more) preexisting conditions, and the White House & the Democrats are doing their usual piss poor job of countering the propaganda. Why do liberals suck so bad at the marketing and propaganda? Where’s James Carville? Barney Frank? People willing to call the GOP maneuvering what it is are conspicuously missing from the media landscape.

I really need to switch the alarm from the talk radio station to a chime or something when my husband is out of town. I’ll stick with the newspaper for my morning coffee. Better for my blood pressure & general outlook on life.

I am predicting the tag I will use the most on this blog during the next four years will be GOPfail.

The expired Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is back in the news cycle. The objections around VAWA are as political and idiotic as the defeat of the UN disability treaty back in December.

Seems the Senate hopes to get greater House support now that they removed the provision to protect illegal-immigrant women suffering from domestic violence or sexual abuse by granting them additional visas. However, Republicans also object to including language that prohibits discrimination against LGBT folks.

I am continually disappointed that laws and protections designed to normalize treatment of all humans in the US are routinely undermined. I fail to see how condemning domestic violence in the LGBT community can be perceived as supporting or encouraging “the gay agenda.” Then again I fail to understand a lot of the GOP platform.

I am re-posting an experience I had with a black eye last year. It speaks to many of the issues that come up in these “There but for the grace of God” moments.

12 March 2012 – Black Eye

I have a black eye.

I woke up the other morning with a shiner like I caught a softball with my nose. No trauma, no injury, no logical explanation. I went to see an internist who had no idea what it was, who sent me to an ophthalmologist who had no idea what it was.

After extensive questioning they could tell me what it wasn’t – it wasn’t a sinus infection, an “allergy shiner”, or related to vision, optic nerve or glaucoma. Nor was it related to any vitamins or medicine I take. They also asked if there was any domestic violence in my home. There is no violence in my home and I told them so, but I also said I appreciated that they asked.

This has been an odd experience for me, and hard on my husband to know that strangers think he hit me. Even though he doesn’t know them, and isn’t with me every moment, he knows the world has judged him. Reactions have been interesting. Some women glance at my face and look away. Some stare fixedly. Some see the black eye and then give me a dismissive once over. People seem to be creating a story about how I got a black eye, yet no one asked me how I got it.

Why wouldn’t anyone say anything? I bet the majority of look-away-quickly people assumed my husband hit me. And maybe the long stares wanted to to see if I “had work done”. The once-over folks felt judgmental – like I must be someone who “allows themselves to be hit”.

While the assumption makes me uncomfortable, I would have been amazed if any stranger (or acquaintances like women at my gym) had asked about my eye or even said “I hope you are OK.” But so far there has been four days of silence.

I remember when my one sister was living with her (physically and mentally) abusive husband. I talked to people at the local domestic violence shelter and found out what to say and how to say it. “You do not deserve this. It is not your fault. He does not have the right to hurt you or make you feel bad. I will help you if you chose to leave.”

It took almost fifteen years for her to separate from him as she left and went back to him a dozen times.

I started to wonder what I would say if I saw someone with a black eye. Today. In my current crunchy, suburban life where things like that aren’t supposed to happen. But they do. We know women (and some men) are physically and emotionally abused everyday. The statistics are awful – One in four women and one in nine men are physically abused by an intimate partner during their lives.

We need to ask ourselves tough questions. ‘What would I say and how would I say it?’ And ‘When is it my responsibility to say something?’ Or more importantly, why isn’t it everyone’s business to end domestic violence?

Every year around this time I feel compelled to inventory and “use up” overstocked items in my house. I’m not sure how I end up with four different moisturizers with a 1/4 inch left, or three different kinds of aluminum foil, but the end of the year seems a good time to use one thing until its gone and make some room in the cupboard, medicine chest or linen closet.

This happens in the frig too, mainly with condiments. I think right now there are six different Asian sauces, five kinds of mustard, four salad dressings, three kinds of horseradish (ghosts of passover past), two kinds of ketchup …and a partridge in a pear tree.

If I trace it back my urge to purge started when my mom died in 2001 and I had to sort out her house. Always a bargain shopper I knew she “stocked” certain items, but the reality of dozens of tubes of toothpaste, cases of toilet paper and cans of pie filling that expired in 1982 was disturbing. I could almost understand the fact that she had saved every ATM receipt since they were invented, but looking at the amount of money she spent on bargains made me think a Just In Time buying strategy made more sense and I cut down on my own “stocking up cuz its on sale”. I also purged many, many papers from my own house that I’d been holding on to for no good reason.

A few years later I was doing laundry in my mother-in-law’s house (a much longer story there) and went to get Bounce out of her cupboard and discovered a jumble of products. So I started sorting & stacking. I’m a sorter. I know its a problem, but disorganized cupboards & refrigerators make me anxious. I literally put items in the same place in the frig (and force my family to as well) so that I know exactly where the sour cream would be if we had any. Middle shelf left.

Anyway, I start pulling things out of my MIL’s cupboard and by the time I am done I discover she has something like 20 cartons of wax paper, and a dozen rolls of foil along with many, many boxes of baggies, ziplock and the Bounce I was after in the first place. This was the wake up that made me start using up and reviewing what I already have in the house every year. Refraining from purchases until we actually need something, despite the siren call of the half-off coupon.

I’m hopeful, as I determinedly use up the body wash that was a little too sweet, that President Obama and Speaker Boehner are doing the same thing. A practical review of what we have and what we need. I am getting behind the analysis that no news is good news with respect to the silence about how the negotiations are going. There is a nearly infinite number of combinations of budget cuts, tax increases and tax “loophole” reforms that they can choose from. A veritable smorgasbord of ways to compromise and piss everyone off.

I was thinking about possible compromises they might be talking about. Maybe they’re considering cutting the $188 million a year dedicated to military music, or the $80 million a year for sport sponsorships for “recruiting” efforts. I bet boots on the street recruit more desperate high school seniors than NASCAR ads. Just a guess. Maybe if Boehner is motivated enough to keep the Lockheed-Martin F-22 fighter jet in production, despite the fact that its never worked properly, he might throw the bands under the bus, or into the NASCAR crash wall.

Or Obama could agree to raise the Social Security and/or Medicare eligibility. That would hurt the 95% the most, but maybe theres an assisted suicide amendment they could tuck in so the the old, ill poor can legally exit. They could call it Self-Deportation to Heaven. Might catch on if a major multi-national got behind it as a “green” initiative – Soylent Green Heavenly Foods, Inc.

As I finish my household inventory I wouldn’t be surprised if the federal inventory being conducted on the cliff results in tax increases with a higher threshold (I’m thinking $500,000 will go down easier than $250), a few tax loop holes closing (mortgage interest deduction restricted to one property), and an increase in medicare eligibility with a higher co-pay for high-income seniors. However it ends up, I think the federal government should be going through their cupboards every year to determine what is needed rather than just reflexively buying or cutting out of habit.

I was going to call this post “My Republican Neighbors” but it is really about more than them.

During the election, and the rest of the time, I work very diligently to keep a hard line attitude about free speech. It only works if everyone has it so I support and protect your right to spew whatever illogical nonsense tickles your fancy. Few republicans, or tea party patriots, seem to appreciate what a tough stance this is.

In order to live by my values I have to make sure that Republicans/religious right/tea party yahoos, are able to work within the societal and political systems to undermine my civil rights.

For 72 hours this month I lost my ability and desire to do that.

I worked all day Sunday the 4th so I didn’t get back until after dark. The next morning I saw that my republican neighbors, courtesy of the Catholic diocese, had put another sign next to their Romney sign – “Protect Religious Freedom”. That felt like the final straw, the last insult, the point of no return. I lost my mind and descended into 72 hours of venom laced swearing and vitriol.

The idea that republican catholic religious freedom was somehow in jeopardy when in reality their version of religious freedom means imposing their religious views on me – well lets just say that frosted my cake.

I know it’ss business as usual to accuse the other guy of what you’re guilty of, but this seemed especially egregious. I have a personal dislike for the Mother Church with its special political status, unlimited funds and hypocritical, damaging policies crafted by men, in the name of God.  So to have the catholic contingent act as if the democrats would limit their rights (the flat out lies about the ACA contraception rules) made me lose all patience.

I remember saying to my husband. “I can’t talk to them ever again, they have crossed a line.” All I could focus on was the fact that my political views and values do not force anyone to do anything, but support every ones right to make their own choices.

Have an abortion or don’t! Use contraception or don’t – hope you can afford all those “rhythm method babies” without government assistance. Marry who you want – or don’t! Ain’t none of my business!

My neighbors values however want to impose on, limit, or remove my rights.

  • Their religion does not believe in abortion, therefore no one should be allowed to have access to an abortion.
  • Their religion does not believe in gay marriage, therefore no one should be allowed to have gay marriage.
  • Their religion does not believe in separation of church and state, therefore everyone should have to pray and acknowledge God.
  • Their God of course.

Thankfully Obama won the election and the neighbors took down their offensive signs the next day. I calmed down a bit and by the following weekend I made a point of making neighborly chit chat with them.

I helped the man carry his wood rack to the porch and inquired after the health of the wife. We made nice for a bit and went back to our yard work when the husband came out and asked if we wanted any fresh herbs from their garden. I thanked him and said we would use some parsley which he picked and left in a bag on our front swing. It felt very much like  a peace offering and I am back to my high road tolerance of their opinions.

Unfortunately, other people in the neighborhood have left their religious freedom signs in their yards so I still have to look at them. They are allowed. Because my side won.

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While I have not engaged in a scientific study I do believe I have recently heard the Worst Reason Ever for voting for Romney.

A potential voter said (I will find the link so you can listen for yourself) that he usually votes Republican but he gave Obama a chance so we could have the first black president. He is disappointed because he thought that would mean we would have a post-racial society and since it didn’t work, he’s voting for Romney. “Maybe he can fix all this race nonsense.”

I would bet that creating a post-racial society isn’t even on Romney’s radar. Furthermore, I would be knock-me-down-with-a-feather surprised if Romney and his allies didn’t consider themselves to be “color-blind”. You remember color-blind, that’s when someone with white skin pretends that the color of someones non-white skin is not a factor in their identity. Isn’t that nice of us to say we will completely ignore and disregard a part of your identity for your own good?

That’s the kind of post-racial Mr Disappointed Voter will be looking at with a Romney administration. All those pesky minority issues will go away because the majority doesn’t EVER have to pay attention to them unless they want to. And who wants to? It’s a depressing bore to be reminded that someone thinks they are being treated badly because of their color (or sex or religion).

“Nobody gives me a free pass just cuz I’m white right? I worked for everything I have, no one gave me any handouts…” Blah, blah, blah.

OK that was a little rant-y. If I had more time today I would circle back to the misunderstood comment Obama made that no one makes it alone. Not having to recognize your advantage is called White Privilege, sometimes its also white male privilege. You can learn about it at Teaching Tolerance, or Peggy Macintosh, or the white privilege conference or Tim Wise, a white man out teaching other white men.

Anyway I think Obama’s failure to create a post-racial America through his sheer existence wins Worst Reason Ever. It certainly beats my previous favorite. A West Virginia man said he was voting for Romney because, “Hussein – as in Barack Hussein Obama – means I hate coal.”

And that one was even a little bit funny.

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