Long ago I decided to openly share my political leanings on my blog and business website.

Mainly because folks who disagree with the work I do are going to assume I’m a bleeding heart liberal  (do people still say that?), or an “elitist”, or a Commie, or a Socialist, or whatever pejorative is au Courant. It’s simpler to be clear.

If you’ve worked with me as a coach, or participated in one of my workshops, you’ve heard some version of my core beliefs:

  • We are all good people doing the best we can – and we can do better.
  • Assume ignorance before malice.
  • To know the good is to do the good.
  • The common good is worth individual commitment.

These are beliefs that inform my thinking and my actions. The language may change depending on the audience, but the guiding principle is static.

Maybe its 6 weeks of isolation, or maybe its my over-dosing on the news, but I am struggling damn hard today to live my values.

The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified behaviors that once upon a time in our society would have been unthinkable. The one that’s getting to me today is the appropriation of the language of civil rights struggles to promote a fringe, anti-quarantine agenda.

It is twisted and cruel.

Some may call it framing or spin, but I fully believe “words create worlds” to paraphrase David Cooperider.  So calling “Stay-at-home rules” a “Lockdown Order” makes space for all kinds of outrage and false equivalence.

Citizens unhappy about actions meant to protect the majority – to which they belong – are posturing as if their civil rights are being trampled. I want to know:

  • Who is marginalized?
  • Who is disenfranchised?
  • Who is being sacrificed because “we” are more important than “them”?

There’s a big difference between believing you are marginalized or disenfranchised, and demonstrated evidence that you, in fact, historically and currently, have fewer rights and less power.

Anti-quarantine rallies have appropriated phrases like “My body, my choice” to support not wearing a mask. The same “choice” that they would withhold for a women’s personal reproduction decisions.

When I say “My body, my choice” I mean I will fight for everyone’s right to make their own reproductive decisions and I won’t interfere with your choice.  Appropriated that phrase means “My choice will be your choice too.”

Anti-quarantine folks equate their “struggle against injustice” and loss of their liberty to shop, dine out, and watch sports, to Rosa Parks’ fight for integration and civil rights after slavery and Jim Crow.

Even though public safety is a common good, not evidence of oppression, anti-quarantine folks are falsely equating pandemic safety measures to actual genocide – to Hitler putting “Jews on trains”.

I support Free Speech because I value my rights enough to fight for your right to express your views even when I find them morally reprehensible. Like the statement about Hitler.

Today I can feel myself struggling to find my balance and grace in the face of the appropriated language and the many inflammatory, falsely equivalent headlines.

So I am reminding myself right now, out loud and in front of you,  “I am a good person doing the best I can, and I know I can do better.”

I know we can all do better.

FDR Memorial, Washington DC

I’m working with one of my coaching clients  – I’ll call her Sally because I don’t know anyone called Sally – on strategies to manage a couple of her problematic team members.

The guys Sally is dealing with have been bad apples for years. They have toxic personalities that affect everyone. Consistently rude in emails, nasty, demeaning comments to colleagues in meetings, a whole gamut of objectionable, rogue behavior that we’ve been teasing apart so she can address it layer by layer.

It may seem shocking that this behavior is tolerated in a workplace, or maybe you recognize this kinda guys and try to avoid them every day, either way Sally’s problem exists because other folks chose to kick the can down the road.

Former team leaders decided, for whatever reason, that they were not going to confront these guys about their behavior. “Not worth it”, “bigger fish to fry”, “that’s just how they are”, is what I’d probably hear if I asked prior team leaders why they didn’t step up.

When Sally first approached me last year about coaching her she explained that she felt she needed help figuring out what to do about the problem “because it’s the right thing to do for my group.” She felt obligated by her position as team leader to confront the issue.

I pointed out that confront at its essence means “to face”, not “to fight”, in my mind this is turning your face toward the work that needs to be done, and I agreed to coach her.

Yesterday while discussing a thorny obstacle I reminded Sally that my job as her coach isn’t to get these guys to change their behavior. My job is to support her to so she can grow her skills, confront the problem and not feel compromised. Despite how much she (and other clients) want to credit me with “giving advice” my coaching provides a frame, resources and guidance, but the work is all hers.

This morning I watched a video talking about Ferguson and I thought of Sally because she clearly knows herself as the person who is obligated to address a problem. That’s worth more than solving the problem in my book.  Because she knows who she is.

Ferguson has been on my mind and tongue lately as it has with a lot of people. “What should be done?”, “What can be done?”, “Who should do it?”, “Where are the leaders?” – are all questions pinging around in “the national discussion.” The man in the video linked below eloquently reminded me this morning that in all situations we need to know who we are before we can know what to do.

Or recognize the fact that we are the ones who should do it. Watch and tell me what you think.

 What No One Wants to Say About Ferguson

photoVideo courtesy of PRINCE EA – Richard Williams, better known by his stage name Prince EA, is an American rapper, music video director and rights activist from St Louis, Missouri.

Been thinking a lot about obligations lately. What you owe to colleagues, family, friends, society – why and how the calculations are made. Fortunately, when I get caught in a very sticky problem I have a hierarchy of defense mechanisms that kick in:

  • Invariably I start by talking it out. Haven’t met a problem yet I couldn’t talk to death.
  • If/when rigor mortis fails to set in (some problems are zombies),  I start researching. Surely someone somewhere has done a meta analysis of all the research and possible solutions. Which I can then adopt.
  • If the problem refuses to yield to the sheer weight of expert opinion, I then try to translate it into a formula in the hopes of discovering rules. The formula stage is usually evidence that the problem is either long-term or I truly have no clue.

Currently, I’m working on a formula for “Obligations”.

Everyone has some version of the “me & mine” mindset that would kick in during times of natural disaster, revolution, or Armageddon, but other assorted obligations shift and change over time.

Some of these obligations are steel cables from the past, subterranean and invisible until some event pulls them taut. And that is the formula I can’t quite work out. How much does the past obligate me in the present?

I have managed to climb very far from where I started in life. Some family & friends who were there with me have not. Calls from that past come more infrequently now but the steel cable of obligation reels me in so quickly its staggering.

Some twisted sense of survivors guilt, plus my mother’s catholic (guilt) training, makes saying no almost an impossibility.  Someone else always has it worse. Your success means you share and help.

Thankfully my long-suffering and understanding husband has a more realistic perspective that keeps me from going into debt to float people as I have in the past.

It’s hard to be on either end of that cable.

I usually have an image  or song at the end of my posts, and I was tempted to put a photo of Richard Harris from his famous scene in “A Man Called Horse”, but that’s a bit dark even for me. So instead I leave you with 3 minutes and 30 seconds bittersweet by an under appreciated and brilliant artist you should check out if this is the only song of his you are familiar with.

bittersweetpic2
As bittersweet vines grow, they will tend to strangle whatever they are climbing on. It is extremely aggressive, often growing sixty feet or more in a single season, and spreads rapidly from any bit of root or stem severed from the plant so removal by pulling is nearly impossible. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous.

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I am Pro-Choice, Pro-Abortion and Pro-Reproductive Justice. The objections people raise about other people having an abortion don’t move me. I find it ludicrous that a stranger can disagree with, and try to influence, a medical procedure I elect to have.

Given this is an issue I have been championing for 30+ years, I thought I had read and/or heard all possible arguments for and against abortion. I was wrong.

I recently found myself listening to a broadcast called “Station of the Cross” while driving through a rural area. A project I am working on is requiring a bit of driving and when I am alone in the car I tend to cruise the radio stations rather than listen to music or pod casts.

Station of the Cross is a Catholic station that alternates call in talk shows with liturgy and religious music. The talk show I came in on was talking about a demonic possession in Gary, Indiana. A reporter, and supposed eye-witness, was relating the exorcism preformed on two boys under ten who it turned out were being infected by a demon that was actually possessing their mother.

The possession, with its details of children talking in demonic voices and floating to the ceiling at the pediatricians office was bizarre enough, but the explanation the talk show folks gave for the cause of the possession was even more bizarre.

The host asked the reporter how the priest discovered that the mother was the conduit for the “The Evil One” and she related the following story.

The mother had been engaging in extramarital sex with a boyfriend who was not the father of her children. This created a moral crack in her soul that allowed “The Evil One” to come in. It was this kind of sin that the demons were looking for when they were flying around trying to find a host.

The host went on to discuss at length how “The Evil One” especially hates and targets women for possession because the Virgin Mary defied him. Because he hates Mary he goes after women and tells them its okay to kill their children. He sets traps for women by making them think that killing your baby while its inside you is okay. He uses the so called Women’s Movement as a way to create cracks in women’s souls.

Women have to fight “The Evil One” by refusing to use birth control or having abortions, which lets him into your body.

That was a neat trick getting from possessed children to don’t have an abortion.

What really struck me about the discussion was their matter of fact acceptance of the existence of devils juxtaposed with feminism being a tool of Lucifer. I knew in theory that people literally believed in these things but I had never heard anyone in real-time admit it.

There is no space for rational discussion of reproductive rights if your belief system supports sins as means for the devil to enter your body and steal your soul.

That, my friends, is the ultimate reason that abortion must be protected by law.

Happy Valentines Day.

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It is disheartening how little impact the mass murder of 20 elementary school children has had on gun regulations. Increased background check legislation stalled, restrictions on automatic weapons and military grade ammunition not happening. I guess the horror fades for some folks if it’s not your kid, and the political will to take on the gun lobby is clearly nonexistent.

In fact “In the 12 months since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., almost every state has enacted at least one new gun law“, however, of the 109 laws passed 70 eased restrictions and expanded the rights of gun owners.

Unbelievable in the wake of the unspeakable.

Below is what I wrote a year ago in reaction to the massacre of 20 children and the 6 teachers trying to protect them.

December 21, 2012

It is such a short trip to the land of fear. It’s a place you can get to from just about anywhere.

The predictable response from the NRA to the massacre in Sandy Hook was to blame every other societal ill beside gun proliferation. And of course to advocate for more guns because “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre points to our “blood-soaked culture” as reason for the violence rather than the ease of obtaining military grade weapons equipped with high-powered ammunition. One of many arguments based on the idea that our culture has disintegrated, youth are desensitized, music videos glorify thug life, and we are not safe.

What we are is a gun culture. And the easiest way to perpetuate the need for guns is through fear.

After it happened, we talked with our daughter about Sandy Hook. She talked about the intruder drill they had at school the next week and how unsatisfying it was. She said she didn’t feel safe with this one particular teacher, and that the room had too many windows. The drill had kids hide under the desks, and most of them are too big to fit, which doesn’t matter anyway because it’s about as useful as  “duck and cover.”

When she identified other rooms and teachers she’d rather be with if “something happened for real”, I asked her to imagine what she’d do if she was in charge of that classroom. She had an immediate answer. I said if something “real” ever did happen, she should trust herself if she didn’t think the adult could keep her safe. This is a dangerous thing to say, but I don’t know how better to clarify that we trust her to trust herself.

This conversation was actually Part 2 of an earlier conversation about fear. We were in a run down neighborhood and she remarked that she always felt a little afraid in poor neighborhoods but then she feels bad because she is afraid that’s racist. (I think the DSM-V should consider including this as “The White Folks Dilemma.”) We teased apart what she was afraid of and why, and it was clear that none of the reasons were because the people were black. Poverty scares a lot of people. It can look like desperation, potential crime and violence.

What I was afraid of with The White Folks Dilemma was that she would talk herself out of her instincts. Our bodies always know danger faster than our minds. And our minds are trained to overrule all sorts of useful signals. It’s useful to be afraid sometimes, it heightens your awareness. It’s not useful to be afraid all the time because, again your mind is overruling instinct.

It’s so easy to give in to fear. Its much easier than joy, or love or trust. But that kind of “the world is a dangerous place” fear, seems implausible to me. I’m much more afraid of easy access to semi-automatic handguns than I am of a shooter going in my daughters school. Or randomly shoot me through the floor to ceiling windows in my office, which just occurred to me today after 8 years in this office.

I don’t have any solution except to keep reminding myself and others that fear is just one of our emotions. And I will continue to stumble stupidly through the world believing that humans are inherently good. I am a Platonist at heart – “To know the good is to do the good”.

Now we just need to teach the NRA the meaning of “the good”.

birds_eye_view_map

The other night I watched a movie about lateterm abortion. It was a documentary called “After Tiller” that followed four doctors who were colleagues of Dr. George Tiller the abortion provider that was murdered by an anti-abortion activist in May 2009. These four doctors perform abortions at 25 weeks and later.

The procedure is controversial because a baby might be considered “viable”, or able to survive outside of the uterus, after about 27 weeks. But viable is a word with a lot of room for interpretation.

The movie showed the women, often with their baby’s father, seeking this procedure because their baby had horrific fetal anomalies discovered through testing. I remember from when I was pregnant that bone-deep fear during scans if the technician hesitated a moment too long.

These women were living that nightmare fear.

They were grieving and distraught and very relieved there was a clinic and a doctor that could help them. Everyone who knows me knows that I am not just Pro-Choice, I’m Pro-Abortion. This movie reinforced those beliefs and made me notice where and when my judgement kicked in. When I thought a woman was making a bad choice, or a doctor should have been more authoritative, or what I would have done.

That’s what the question always comes down to when we cut through the rhetoric. What would I do in that situation? My answer won’t be the same as yours. My decision today may be different than what my decision would have been 10 years ago.

And why exactly should my decision about my life and my baby have any impact on your decision? I will never understand that bit.

The thing that really struck me about what I saw going on in those clinics was the mercy and compassion offered to these women in profound need. A stark contrast to the judgement and ugliness they passed through on the sidewalks outside the clinic.

You hear people say sometimes “No one wants an abortion” but I think that’s backward. What no one wants is an unplanned pregnancy. What no one wants is a baby with profound complications. Lots of women want an abortion.

And when they do want an abortion, for whatever reason or no reason at all, having a kind, compassionate doctor trust that they can make their own decision is a mercy.

See “After Tiller” if you can.

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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 have been avoiding writing about politics this week because the “stay-at-home Mom versus working Mom” stuff makes me tired and we still have 7 months to go. The trumped up and fake debate about women’s so called choice to work or stay home with their kids gets trotted out every election cycle as a wedge to drive voters into slots. Talk about Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – why didn’t they run the old clips from the Hillary Clinton “cookie” flap from 1992?

Let me be very clear [picture Obama’s non-pointing emphasis hand gesture]  – there is no Working Mother Wars, just like there is no War on Christmas, no War on Guns and no War on Religion. The real war is the War on Truth, also known as Willful Ignorance.

The willful ignorance of potential voters is the one we should really put some money into correcting. Truth panels and issues only debates! Three month campaign season limit! Reform the electoral college! Mandatory paid holiday for voting!…and other fantasies.

I heard a woman on NPR this morning say she was voting for Romney because “He’s not a communist like Obama”. Seriously folks, my blood pressure can’t take seven more months of make believe. Truth is an optional requirement for any stated opinion about politics anymore. Politicians & talking heads lie purposely all the time because they know you can never unmix the Kool-Aid. Once you hear a false statement, even if they apologize for it later, it is out in the world and repeated. And re-tweeted.

Josh Mandel, as opportunistic a politician as you could hope to meet, lies about Senator Brown, who he is trying to unseat, and the lies get repeated. And published. Mandel is a well-funded irritant that needs watching and countering.

In all this Hilary Rosen v. Ann Romney coverage I would love to see more focus on what it means to be able to choose to stay home with your kids rather than work for wages, rather than Rosen’s words and Romney’s gloating.

There is a very deep layer of classism and racism buried in the word “choice” when used by people like the Romney’s of the world. Pick up a little women’s history once in a while folks! The idea that women can stay at home and raise their kids if they “choose” to live on one paycheck is a white middle class assumption stemming from the industrial revolution and codified by post-WWII American prosperity. Some people dream of being able to make that choice.

As soon as we let ourselves get distracted by the us-against-them we no longer have to examine the assumptions and biases we perpetrate in our culture. On the backs of all women… I am sliding into a  feminist studies lecture so I will stop.

Lecture notes will be posted at the end of the semester.

Had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone I don’t know very well. This woman was coming to me for advice on a sticky situation and so spent some time defining herself and giving me a thumbnail of her personal narrative.

This is always fascinating.

I have a habit of sliding into a meta analysis of what and why people reveal certain kinds of things in conversation. Probably should have trained as a therapist or done less Lit Crit in college. It is also a trick I used to use at parties when I wanted someone to go away:

Them: “What do you do?”
Me: ‘I study feminist epistemology as it intersects with ancient Greek philosophy.’   Them:  “I need to freshen my drink – can I get you anything?”

Works every time.

So a key part of this woman’s narrative was how she came from money on the Upper east side of New York and rejected her WASP roots by converting to Catholicism and joining Catholic Worker. Both the action and the telling of it spoke volumes. Because I have run around the edges of the lunatic fringe I knew all about Dorothy Day and understood what the woman was trying to convey about her perspective on the world. Serving the poor and oppressed is how she defined herself.

She was both surprised and delighted that I was familiar with Catholic Worker which also told me, a) what opinions she had formed about me and, b) that she generally expected this to be “outsider territory”. I refrained from sharing my rejection of Catholicism and embracing of Atheism as this wasn’t about my belief system.

The part I don’t get – and its not the first time this has come up – is rejecting inherited money in order to stand in solidarity with the poor. I am not attacking her choice, but having been poor and knowing poor people, I am flabbergasted when I hear something like this. The person seems to expect to be congratulated because of their sacrifice for solidarity.

Every poor person I have ever known would love to get out of poverty, the bad neighborhood, the deadend jobs, and here is someone who had all that and rejected it. Makes no sense to me. Why not stay rich and use your money for good? No one needs to know you can write big fat checks, you can be an anonymous donor and still serve soup at the shelter.

This idea that poverty is somehow noble, or poor people have such dignity because of adversity, smacks of objectification if you ask me. I am not implying she has no true regard for poor people or that she is faking her commitment to social justice, but I do wonder if her act of rejecting her wealth planted a corrupting seed of self-righteousness.

Like I said, I find it fascinating to consider what people tell you and what they leave out.

It might be useful for folks to remember that the moral high ground doesn’t come equipped with safety rails or any other protections. Those cost extra.

I really thought Newt Gingrich would be gone by now.

I also thought the loony-bird called Santorum would have flown back to PA by now (btw typing rick santorum is batshit crazy into google brings up 195,000 results). But here we are.

Still listening to people debate – and I use that word very loosely – things like evolution, the personhood of sperm and whether or not god hates fags.

Maybe Jon Stewart can start a campaign “Opinions are not Facts!” to help people understand that just because you believe something it doesn’t make it true. You can clap your hands until they bleed and the fairies will not arrive to take you to Neverland.

Every time I think the political dialogue can’t possible sink any lower, I am proved wrong. I no longer believe the class divide the Occupy folks are bringing to consciousness is the biggest problem in the US. The intellect divide is more troublesome because it cuts across socio-economic lines. Not intellectual, which often implies academic and abstract, but intellect, the ability to use the mental process of reasoning. Emotion is trusted more than reason. And the rhetoric of emotion plays well in sound bites.

Why do we allow emotion driven opinions to dominate every political discussion? Is logic anti-religion? I must have missed the moment when logic was denounced like science as an evil tool of the liberal, elitist New York Times reading, NPR listening, atheists.

We need a new political system. A year-long presidential campaign is surely cruel and unusual punishment.

I really need to go on a news diet. Limit my intake to 1,200 high quality words a day obtained from organic, bozo free sources.

The first thing I am giving up is the Letters to the Editor section of the local paper. I read these letters and swing between being outraged at the 100% lies that are permitted because it is opinion, and being depressed because these people live in the same city as me.

I always look at the signature first since I know all the local cranks by name. I cruelly categorize them as frustrated novelists, wannabe talking heads, living room preachers and of course, religious nut jobs.

One unnamed (because he wants you to know his name I refuse to print it here) white, suburban crank spends a lot of time crafting his vitriol before he spews. A recent letter of his about health care in the news contained this nugget “…the Faustian bargain that Congress passed late at night in a swarm of lobbyists and militant, progressive estrogen.”

Isn’t it cute when they get all frothy at the mouth?

Today there was another one blaming “the false promises of the sexual revolution” for “mothers being married to government benefits” rather than their “babydaddy”.

Being rather tired of it all, this particular “militant, progressive estrogen” (yes that is a quote from a letter today) is declaring herself on a news diet before I become One of Them.

212 days until the Republican National Convention.

212 days of rich people accusing other rich people of being too rich and out of touch with the less rich people.

212 days of God = good, Immigration = bad, small government = good and taxes = bad.

212 days of Newt Gingrich because he is staying no matter what and it also drives up his speaking fees & book sales. Even though Alex Castellanos, a GOP strategist said “Newt has to hold his breath all the way to Super Tuesday, March 6th, raise 30 or 40 million dollars for advertising and fix his problem with female voters [emphasis added] to catch Romney. Those are grandiose problems, even for Gingrich.”

212 more days of people pretending Fox News is, well, news.

On the up side it may only be 35 more clown days of Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Super Tuesday might purge the field like a 10 state enema.

Even Fidel Castro is sick of the primary.

Just finished Penn Jillette’s book “God, No!: Signs you May Already be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales“, a rambly, often funny interpretation of the ten commandments. This is not a book review, but some editor should have persuaded him against the constant swearing. Swearing in comedy or conversation doesn’t bother me but after twenty pages of reading “f*****g” every other sentence it interfered with the ideas.

He really started to lose my interest when he got to his hard core atheist arguments. I don’t care that he is an atheist, but how he goes about it.

I am an atheist, no bones about it, but I find fundamentalism in any form hard to take. I see no reason to proselytize or try to shake anyone’s belief system around religion. Sometimes life is so shitty the best someone can hope for is life after death, so why mess with their faith even if you think its all fairy stories?

I know organized religion was the catalyst for a tremendous amount of historical atrocities as well as a boatload of current strife and misery. It is a social construct simultaneously responsible for preserving ancient books and knowledge as well as burning the library at Alexandria. I just don’t see how proselytizing about atheism is any better than proselytizing about Jehovah.

At our house we discuss which conversations are appropriate to have at home and which you have in public and believe me saying you are an atheist freaks people out more than anything.

When my daughter was around four she decided that Santa Claus didn’t make sense and that it must be me and her father. We never pushed Santa, she never sat on his lap and we didn’t contradict her when she told us what she thought. We did say she was not to share this information with her friends.

When she was five and decided that the idea of God didn’t make any sense either, we did not contradict her, but we did say she was not to share this opinion with her friends. The idea that you don’t have to tell everything you know is new to children and many adults.

When she was eight and asked what abortion was, we told her about the medical procedure and why it was important for women to have access to this procedure, and to not share with her friends. We learned a lesson about specifying “at home” when she shared with her five year old cousin. No harm done as he couldn’t really follow it.

Are we wrong to not declare our atheism when ever others speak about God? I don’t think so. I never back down from it when someone asks, but I don’t feel the need to discuss my moral compass or belief system casually. When possible I will err on the side of social politeness even when not provided the same courtesy by the faithful.

My husband and I talk to our daughter about why its important to know what you value and what you find intolerable and why. What comments or behaviors are unacceptable to you no matter what the circumstances. Seems like if you know “why” its easier to know when to stand up and when to sit down.

Our “why” stems from a habit of rational thinking (+ emotions, experience & a little Socratic dialogue) rather than scripture. Its hard to raise a child who understands how to make decisions about when to be vocal about beliefs and opinions. Its not just choosing your fights (the implication being ones you can win), but also understanding that your own good opinion of yourself is at stake.

Unfortunately, I lack Penn Jillette’s certainty that this approach is not equally dogmatic.

I could have just as easily called this post “Doublespeak” or “Having your cake and eating it too”, but I am too irritated to be literary or historical right now.

I was listening a report on the Massey Big Branch mine settlement and a US Attorney said “Its a corporation. It’s not a life, it’s not a being. It can’t go to jail”.

I beg to differ. Corporations are just people you can’t touch.

Corporate Personhood has been a legal status for a long time in the US and the definition was stretched last year by the Supreme Court to show that corporate political donations are protected free speech (see First Amendment, Bill of Rights). The same free speech the West Virgina miners had access to before they died.

So which is it? Is the corporation a person with rights and protections, or an amorphous “thing” that can’t be punished. I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I can appreciate Justice Stevens dissent on the ruling that fertilized the seed that turned into the Occupy Movement. Thats campaign finance reform in case the last sentence was too obtuse.

“At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.” (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558)

There is no amount of money that will satisfy the families of the dead miners. Corporations think in dollars, so Massey skimped on safety, people died and they pay a fine. That’s no kind of justice.

It is a strange time indeed.

People in the media (and in general conversation) keep yapping that they don’t know what the Occupy Wall Street folks want, ‘their demands are not clear’, ‘they have no agenda’, blah, blah and blah. I think their central premise is pretty clear and getting clearer every day.

Through social media, among other sources, increasing numbers of people are becoming aware that big business in the USA is more like the Russian oligarchy than anything that Carnegie or Rockefeller would even recognize. Maybe the OWS folks should resurrect the term “Robber baron” to make their point easier.

Because of the OWS protests people are paying attention to income disparity (even if they think its your own damn fault) and learning about the monumental influence of business on our government.

And because almost anyone can afford a phone with a text plan, information is harder to suppress and manipulate. Be a rebel – get a Twitter account.

A piece of news I hope goes viral is information about the banks – Wall Street Banks Earned Billions In Profits Off $7.7 Trillion In Secret Fed Loans Made During The Financial Crisis – that I consider scandalous in the full 19th century sense of the word.

We use words like outrage and disgrace all the time so even though they are exact descriptors of the reaction the bank scandal should evoke, I suspect we need something stronger.

Revolution