Saturday, March 31, 2012

Romance and starting over

Romance.  Ah I know for as many sighs of satisfaction, there are an equal number of groans and bah humbugs. Well I go in spurts for how I see it all. Right now with doing a lot of writing, romance is high on my list and that includes romantic films.

So being on a James Garner film festival kind of mood, I remembered Murphy's Romance. It came out in 1985 which means I was 42. Good Lord. That seems like a lifetime ago.

James Garner was 57 and I might add in prime condition. Oh I am being distracted. Sally Field was 39 and playing someone somewhat younger. I might add, she was in prime condition too.  Let's just say, she fit those jeans really really well.

Murphy's Romance is a sweet story that builds slowly about a woman who left a bad marriage taking her son and trying to build a new life for herself a long way from that old life.  With a lot of work, she settles into a small ranch on the edge of a small town in Arizona. Another reason for me to love the story. Old house, old ranch buildings and her desire to start a horse training business. I admit I did keep wondering when do they run into the scorpions or rattlesnakes... old deserted buildings and all, but I guess that was another distraction.

Murphy is the most successful man in town. He's gone through his own hell as a widower, pulled himself together, and has a pretty good life going. He knows himself well and soon goes about wooing Emma as we used to say our bull would do-- slow and steady. Then along comes the ex-husband.

It's hard to say how well the story would do in the romance genre today given  readers seem to want something that grabs them instantly while this story builds slowly without a lot of action unless you like stories about human nature.

From Netflix, we watched Larry Crowne, a nice story about a really nice guy who had recently been divorced, when he didn't want it, and then finds out he's being fired supposedly because he doesn't have any college. This is the kind of guy who goes out of his way to do everything right. Now he finds that doesn't count for anything. He has found the life he planned totally thrown up into the air. He has to figure out what he can salvage-- turns out more than he imagined.

Tom Hanks really does capture this man's soul as he goes back to school and slowly rebuilds his confidence. Boy, can Hanks use his body in ways about which other actors can only dream. He goes from an insecure dweeb to... well rent it and find out.

Julia Roberts is the disillusioned community college teacher who teaches speech, has a lousy marriage, and learns a few things herself. She is the only one who can make those puffy lips work-- because they are naturally hers!

Then came When Harry Met Sally which is an oldie with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan before she ruined her lips.  Nora Ephron, Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal wrote it with a lot of improvisational ideas that they worked into the story which is really about male-female relationships. We thought it was funny but also a lot to think about. Interspersed in the plot are old couples discussing how they met. The words came from interviews Ephron did but the couples are played by actors. Divorce and starting over is a factor also in this film.

There are times when I can barely stand watching romances. I still don't like them when they are tragic. I need happy energy. Comedies are perfect. Laugh. Yep, we all need to laugh these days.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Did liberals screw Obamacare?

Just guessing, I'd imagine the average reader of this blog has been following the health care debate. It is the kind of thing, no matter whether you have insurance, whether you believe others should have it, whether you love or hate Obama himself, that the average citizen of the US knows they will be impacted one way or the other by its existence or its denial. I thought this article was excellent on the reasoning the White House should have used to support the mandate. We should not only be aware of this argument but use it the next time a rightie tells us the mandate is too far reaching or unfair.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On aging

After reading this blog-- Age and Its Awful Discontents (?), I was going to write a comment there. My thoughts were so lengthy that I knew it'd never pass muster as a comment and decided to put it here instead as a blog on the topic. Ronni was writing about an article in NYT-- Age and Its Awful Discontents.

I felt torn on what I would say there about her thesis and the original one by Louis Begley. On the one hand, I do believe it's better to be positive. On the other hand, he's living his truth. He is openly saying what he feels is ahead for him after a very good life. Should he deny what he feels because it makes someone else  more comfortable? Should he pretend he's happy to be looking old? Denying their reality is how many people feel about those suffering from depression-- take a pill or pretend you don't feel it to make the rest of us comfortable.

The thing he is experiencing is what elders do experience-- if they are aware. He's just admitting it. Whether it has to depress you, that's another story and I didn't feel he said it was depressing him. Just he could see the road ahead. He now better understood what his mother once felt. Today the talk is that 60 is the new 30. No, it's not. It's different. Going under the knife won't change that.

Recently I read a blog where the writer was feeling down on knowing things wouldn't get better. It wasn't whining. It was his honest feelings after some major health problems and knowing with old age, it wasn't going to be better as so often in life, he had felt it would. Now he might have been wrong on what would happen, but I didn't try to tell him that.

What I said (more or less) was when I get to feeling some of that, I think of this as part of a stage and cycle of life. Yes, the aches and pains of age won't be going away-- aspirin and glucosamine do help with it. The lessening of strength won't disappear-- although some of that can be temporary after an illness and will be better. We won't be back to what we were at thirty no matter what we do. Youthful, physical beauty won't come back-- not even with plasticating our faces.

What Begley was saying was he could now empathize with his mother as he finally understood more of what she felt. I understand what he felt about his regrets as I have some of them regarding my mother.

Mom lived on our farm in a mobile home. We took her to doctors and shopping as she had macular degeneration which meant she could get around but she 'read' through audio books from Oregon State library and she could no longer drive. Mom was not a complainer, but I was busy during those years. Kids in their teens. Often driving to town (20 miles each way) several times a day.

Then the kids were gone, but I still did not do for my mother what I could have done in being with her more often. We had holidays together, saw her daily, but she was alone a lot. There is no use in thinking back and bemoaning it; but I think of it now and then. I could have related more to her needs but Mom was not one to go to doctors nor to complain. I had my own life to lead...

Now my kids have their own life to lead, and I try to remember how it was with Mom and understand this is no time to get my feelings hurt. I have things yet to do before I sleep also. I do live an exciting life right now. That won't last. That's not depressed talk. It's reality. How long the good energy years last will differ for us all.

I related to what Begley said not as a whining but as an awareness. He's a writer; so he uses those awarenesses.  He also was trying to put out that there are two sides to this last stage of life. Half the time the oldsters want to be taken as though they are as good as they ever were. Half the time they want special compensation for not being as good as they ever were. I think the best way to look at it all is be who you are and where you are. Live it fully. Don't anticipate the future in a negative fearful way and don't live in the past. The moment is all we have, any of us-- at any age.

In my own life, I have seen a lot of growing old-- with my older relatives (who are all dead now), with the livestock we raise and keep until they are geriatric, and with the many pets I have had throughout my life.  What I think is that old age is different. It's not middle age. I can see and feel those differences beginning. I feel I am lucky to have gotten here as many I have loved never did.

For each of us, it is what it is. I could try to deny it, not live it fully, live in a fantasy about what it is-- negative or positive-- or I can do what I did in all the other stages-- live it fully, every bit of it and that means owning the aches and pains, the aging body, but also the many experiences and the wisdom I have accrued through those years. There is so much about it that I am enjoying to the nth degree. Some parts are less fun. But it's all real.

If Begley was to be a curmudgeon (the article didn't say he was), he probably won't find people wanting to be around him, and if that's okay with him, then it's his choice. But it won't be because he's old. It'll be because people like to be around someone pleasant.  And frankly even if he was acting pleasant (even when he didn't feel it, his family still might not want to come around as they are busy with their own lives).

If an elder wants to live in their past, they can do that, repeat the same stories over and over, but again, they better be the type who enjoys solitude as most people will get tired of the stories they heard so many times. That's not because that person is old. It'll be because they are boring.

Elders who live actively in the present are interesting to be around because they are still doing things. I think young or old people search out certain kinds of people with whom to spend time. Elders don't get a pass on that. If someone is a person who likes to be around people, young or old, they better develop interesting topics they can talk about or be a great listener and share wisdom-- when asked.

My mother was that kind of old woman. When she found out my husband's mother loved a particular soap opera, my mother who hadn't seen soaps for years, she watched them to have something to talk about. When a person is old, they can read the newest book and be able to discuss it, have seen a good movie (assuming they can see) and doing those things in order to share is part of the key. It helps to draw people to them (if that's what they want) and also to stay interested in what's going on themselves.

Learning to listen to others can be a real key. Telling someone younger what to do, or not listening to what they say and only trying to turn each conversation to ourselves, none of that goes over well-- at any age. Stay interested and even if nobody shows up, life will be better.

I think this guy was sharing what he saw and he will be jumped on by those who want to deny the full experience of aging and turn it all into something enjoyable. I think it's more that way for some elders than others. Some of that is a person's temperament to begin. Some is their health.

Old age has its fun aspects. I felt it rewarding when I reached a point (when I turned 60) where I felt wow, I did it. I had a life. I lived it all mostly as I wanted. Some would say you should have done more. It depends on what they consider more. I followed my path. I raised children to adulthood who became responsible adults. I got to see my grandchildren. I had my share and then some of experiences and now it's my turn to come to the last act. The last act can have some misery attached. It is all important but it won't all be a pleasure.

Begley is a writer, something that encourages introspection. He uses what his life is and what he observes for his fiction. I saw the movie based on his book, About Schmidt, and thought it was wonderfully done but wouldn't want to see it again.

For a film on aging, I preferred Water for Elephants. We saw it last night. it began with an old man, who had had a full, rich life and didn't want to stop living it even though his kids weren't going to be any help. He shared his story, which is the bulk of the film, with a young man as a way to keep leading an active life. Hal Holbrook played the elder, and he got it.

Before I write a book here myself, I'll end but this is a topic that is, of course, of interest to me, since I am living it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Moral Grounding

Are we  a people who have lost our moral grounding? Do we no longer have a concept of right and wrong? Have we turned right and wrong into something that only relates to out own religion or political party? There are so many examples right now of this seeming inability to comprehend moral grounding.

When some Americans ignore or worse try to justify what the killer of Trayvon Martin did, do they really have a sense of morals? Or is it all party and partisanship? I was shocked to hear Geraldo Rivera try to blame the killing on wearing a hoodie. Does he have a clue that teens and preteens all wear hoodies. My 13-year old granddaughter likes them. I wear them. He said it was as much responsible for the death as the shooter. Frankly that is as nuts as what Hannity said when he said it might've just been an accident. It's as though they were busy trying to come up with excuses for a murder.

The latest, on a less major scale, is a new football scandal. Some would say football is just a game. Really? It's more than that. It's another place we show our morality. From where does our belief on what is acceptable behavior in ourselves or others come?  Is it in childhood where winning is everything when someone teaches that it doesn't matter how you did it? As The above article says, this wasn't just about coaches but also players who knew what had been offered and said nothing.

The ability to use logic and come up to conclusions that fit actual facts seems to be lost on more and more people. I saw this as a headline on Huffington. This guy is a billionaire, whose wealth started at $4.1 billion when Obama took office and now stands at $10 billion but can he identify what socialism is? Comprehend how government works? Not so far as I can tell. And what happens to anybody but him is obviously not of interest to him. Guys like this one believe they can buy elections. Are they right?

This 80 year old clearly doesn't know what socialism is. He appears not to get how our system of libraries, public schools, police and fire departments,  highways, food inspection, and military are all government programs that citizens decided they wanted-- you might say democratic socialism.

The new health care system would all be through private businesses; so isn't the same as Medicare because the insurance is not government but private companies. The VA has government doctors but Medicare does not.  I have a feeling that he gets ALL his news from Fox and Drudge which means he doesn't have a clue what's really going on in the world, other than his wealth accumulation. With friends like Rove, he won't be finding out.

Back to my topic, I suspect you first get moral grounding from parents. It's the first line and then in schools where, in my generation at least, you were taught right behavior. Your friends reinforce that-- if your friends have sound moral principles. But if they don't, they confuse the whole thing.

So when those football players saw each other thinking it was okay to accept a bounty for hurting players on the other team, it reinforced their own concept that it was okay.

When I went looking for a definition of morality or morals, it came down to right conduct. But what if you think right conduct is cheating for a good cause?  What if it's sucking your profits from other people? Who defines right conduct? Some would say it's religions, but I have known too many religious people who do things that hurt and cheat others for me to buy religions really teach that. More they teach how to get away with it-- you confess and go on. You pray to God to fix your problems and help you avoid consequences.

Religion actually confuses someone for deciding whether someone is moral. You look at a candidate like Rick Santorum who claims great religiosity, then you look at the actual words of the one he claimed to follow, Jesus, and you can only shake your head. His morality has come from his religion, not the one who began it. If his religion lost its way morally (and all religions have at one time or another), then he's going to be following a false morality.

Personally, I think the easiest way I can imagine to find moral grounding is through the old saying-- walk a mile in another's moccasins. Some people have a very hard time even imagining what others feel; so it's not easy for them to do that. It doesn't do away with the concept of tough love either. If we just think about a very simple concept which is called the Golden Rule, it's easy to understand. Treat others as we would like to be treated.

Another good one from religion which seems to be overlooked these days-- judge not lest ye be judged. Too bad more Christians who call themselves by that name aren't more aware of the actual words of the one they call the Christ.

Lao Tzu had some excellent things to say on the subject of morality-- Lao Tzu on the Tao. 

Usually we know someone with moral grounding when we see it. We recognize they are the kind of person whose word is good and they are living their truth. We admire that or maybe I should say did as today it seems living a lie is admired by too many. If it wasn't, how do you explain people voting for Romney despite the lies just because he got wealthy. It seems they have a vague idea that his money making ability will rub off on them. It might if they are already in the wealthy class.

The problem of a sliding scale of morality might be from where you got your sense of moral order. Does it enable you to shoot down an unarmed youth? Massacre 16 civilians? Attempt to break arms in a football game? Live in ignorance because you feel secure there?

The following is a quote by Lao Tzu, which might seem a contradiction until you think about it for a bit.

Throw away holiness and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away morality and justice,
and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit,
and there won't be any thieves.

If these three aren't enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course.

At first is sounds as though it contradicts everything I just said about morality. But then when you look deeper, it is saying the right way of behaving is within us-- not through obsessing on words. When we depend on a system (a government, religion or philosopher) we accept their system. We live by the rules with no sense of why and that leads us to disobey them at will.

Instead, what we need to find is what is within us and within us will be moral grounding. We don't really get it from our parents, our community or our religion. We get it from slowing down, taking time and looking within and from considering that very ancient concept which if more people lived that way, this world would be a better place. The Golden Rule is in 21 different religions [Unification].

do unto others as you would have them do unto you
the rule of reciprocity
We are all one. When one is harmed, all are harmed.
When one is helped, all are helped
what goes around comes around
mind the three-fold law--
three times bad and three times good
(which means live and act as though what you put out,
you will get back-- multiplied)

 It would simplify understanding moral grounding if more followed the Golden Rule. Or if those claiming Christianity, thought a bit more on what it means.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Walking while black

This link came from Tara. Everybody should read it-- especially those who thinks the killing and even more police reaction to the murder of Trayvon Martin weren't about race. And if they think the problem is localized to the South, there is even more reason to read it. If a person only gets their news from Fox and thinks this story is another leftie plot or all about gun control, even more they need to read it. Please!

A few years ago a Congresswoman in Arizona ran into the same thing as she was pulled over in a nice neighborhood (happened to be her neighborhood) while driving an expensive car (her car). There was only one reason for the officer to stop her.

Come on. We as a nation can do better than this. Can't we? Or have we come to accept threats and violence are okay, racial profiling is okay-- so long as they happen to someone else! These incidents don't all end in someone's death but they should not happen at all because the potential for it to be worse is there in every one of them.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Snow, violence and our culture

Yesterday we woke to snow and the amazing part is it snowed all day but with an accumulation of only three or four inches because this wasn't a heavy snowfall but more of a steady fall of mostly tiny flakes. The thing is we don't get all day snows that often in the middle of winter, let alone when it's nearly the end of March-- as in never then. I will say it was pretty as it fell but snow doesn't photograph that well while it's falling and best not until the sun comes out and the sun never came out.

Last year was a little odd too as our spring was colder than usual and wet. Summer, once it finally got here, not the usual May but nearly the end of June, was lovely with a lot of warm dry days, never hot enough to need the room A/C. Summer weather lasted well into October. Snow falling in the mountains was very late with little accumulation on Santiam Pass clear into January. So I wonder if that polar shift they talk about, if it is happening gradually and the earth is doing a little shift without asking any political party...

I have been following what is happening with the murder of Trayvon Martin-- and it was murder whatever the legal system decides to call it in Florida. Their law for self-defense is not meant to cover a big burly guy in an SUV deciding to track a citizen, follow them, intimidate them, and then when the citizen recognizes they are being hunted (but not by who), they try to defend themselves (how would the victim know this wasn't someone out to kill them-- oh wait, it was.  Even the man who wrote the law says it needs to re reworded. They figured when they wrote it that it would really be self-defense. This clearly was only self-defense on Trayvon's part.

The sheriff's office in Sanford amazes me but likely when it's a black, they have been used to thinking hey it's gotta be okay because doubtless the black had done something wrong. We have seen many sheriff's offices across this country (Arizona comes to mind) who think exactly that way.

But there are saner minds, and I am hoping Florida will realize what this was-- a homicide and I don't mean manslaughter. You follow someone, reveal through tapes that you were angry and out to get them, then when they resist, you, a private citizen, have a right to shoot them dead-- that scenario sounds like self-defense to any sane person? I don't think so.

I get it-- there had been burglaries in that neighborhood. But it could have well have been whites. The idea that a black youth isn't as safe as anyone else to walk the street is horrifying to many of us. Frankly with a vigilante like this guy, any young guy might not be safe. And I've heard of this too many times to not believe the black community is right when they say a young black male is not as safe. From what I have read, it actually was a mixed neighborhood; so the killer had no right to assume anything as he clearly had.

In most states even to prevent a burglary in your home you do not have the right to shoot someone. You only have that right when you are being threatened. What kind of threat could this boy have had beyond a few bruises if he had decided he had to defend himself.

I don't know what kind of man this self-appointed vigilante was. The police there didn't do a drug and alcohol test on him (they did on Trayvon's body). Most people would be feeling awful now not only for the chance of a criminal justice system coming down on them but also that they took the life of someone who was clearly innocent. For all I know, he felt proud of himself though. We aren't hearing there was even much questioning of him or what his reaction was.

I think the reason this has gotten so many of us so upset is we can visualize it being our son, our grandson, and the teen who lives in the neighborhood. We relate to the boy, to his parents, and those of our population who do not (you know who they are, the 30% who are bigots and more worried that they might not have the right to shoot someone themselves), well we know why they are not upset at it.

Maybe I am a Pollyanna but I really do think this will lead to rewritten laws, in states all across this country, because the average Republican doesn't really want this kind of hunt and kill law-- at least not where it involves humans.

I also think there will be a spring here... Although it won't be one with daffodils inside our fenceline (these are from the bulbs that self-planted themselves along the gravel road, just outside our fence, under the shelter of the trees there, as the lambs are eating the blossoms as soon as they open. Theoretically sheep don't eat daffodils...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Right wing media on Trayvon's kiilling

This doesn't surprise me at all even though I do not watch Fox news ever.

How Fox covered the story might have surprised me before I went to Drudge and looked to see if it was covering it at all-- it wasn't. There were plenty of Drudge's little nothing stories, shallow and right up his alley. There were big headlines on Romney's win.

Drudge really really wants Romney. Not hard to understand why given how easily Romney has been told what to do by the right wing. They probably assume when he gets in, they'll get all that they want. One suggestion was Bolton for Secretary of State. Can you imagine a worse choice? I can't, but they had other things they would want from Romney. Given how Romney has bent over for them so far, it's not surprising they feel they will get it all. But back to that link...

I used to regularly read several right wing news sites just to keep up on what they were doing. Finally it went down to one-- Drudge. That is right up until yesterday when I deleted it from my own blog roll. The reason being this exact case.

Drudge had nothing on it. I am guessing if he follows the Fox line, he'll have some stories, how this is all about getting gun control. For yesterday there was not one story about a case that involves violence, the most scary type-- the kind you can accidentally find yourself in. To me, its absence reveals their own totally partisan stories, and yes, bigotry as part of why they are so opposed to Obama.

I might add they have regularly carried links to anything WND has had suggesting Obama is a Muslim, part of a plot against Americans, or regarding some mailman who has definite positive proof that Obama is secretly an extreme leftie terrorist wantabe as he wrote a book (nothing surprises me on what the right wing can get published in books) about what he knows because he delivered mail to the Ayers family home (this supposedly reveals that they paid for Obama's education) during those years.

The extreme right wing will do anything, and I do mean anything, to get power in this country and keep it. We have seen it time after time. And for anyone who thinks they can get all their news from fair and balanced Fox, they won't even be told the full details of a lot of what is going on. Anything they do get will always be shifted to the far right viewpoint. Just the facts. Forget that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trayvon Martin

Tell me again there is not racism in this country.  Arming Zimmerman

In the story of Trayvon Martin and his killing, the injustice doesn't stop with one black youth who was clearly hunted down and killed by someone who should never have had a gun, but it goes to the law that protects his killer.

It also goes to the community that allowed this volunteer to patrol their streets. This man should clearly have never had a gun, was puffed up in importance at protecting the stuff of others in that neighborhood. Calling the police with some kind of report more frequently than every other week for the last year, it's clear he was out of proportion, but he was authorized by others who deserve some responsibility for what happened next.

Wandering through that neighborhood became a death sentence if this vigilante  didn't already know the person and their skin was the wrong color. Supposedly the killer wasn't a bigot. That's what people who knew him say. Maybe not. I don't know about that but listening to his 911 call, clearly he was zeroing in on Trayvon for being black, a stranger, and walking through his neighborhood. That justifies murder?

And then there is what the police have done since then-- rather not done. This isn't the first time this kind of killing has happened in our country, but might be the first that black parents have been able to speak up, had the money to hire a lawyer, and demand justice for their son.

Too often minority parents have remained silent out of fear for their own lives. These stories are happening across the country and sometimes the perpetrator is a police officer who appears to have totally misused their power. I want to defend our police, have written stories about their problems, but when power is misused, citizens should care!

Florida even has a law that protects someone like the killer of Trayvon-- a self-defense law where if you just say you felt threatened you can use lethal force without any question if you misused it. Just your word that you felt threatened-- no need to prove you could have backed away.  It's why the police didn't consider the killer to be in the wrong. All he had to do was say he felt threatened. Think about that for a minute and then ask if it had been a white boy, killed by a minority, would the story be different.

This man followed the boy, even when told by police dispatcher not to follow him, clearly scared him, got out of his vehicle in what would scare most of us, and then said it was his need to defend himself that made it okay to shoot down the youth.

I don't know what was wrong with this neighborhood watch person but that neighborhood should recognize their own part in this tragedy, a tragedy that the police excused despite the shooters record of questionable judgment, and Florida added to the unfairness by a law that protected the killer.

Killing someone when you have a choice, when you put yourself in a questionable situation, should not be condoned by any nation if that nation expects justice for itself.

First day of spring

Well, it's spring... Or so I thought. While I have seen blossoms on flowering trees when I go down closer to the Willamette River, out here at the farm, it still looks like winter.

I had some hope when vultures were seen and the quince began to open as they usually mean the hummingbirds will soon arrive. So far no hummers, and it looks like they were onto something we were not.

Perhaps the hummingbirds decided to skip our place this year as last summer Blackie got several of their babies :(. I would not blame them if they said forget that place. It would be hard to keep him in as he has always gone out during the days. He came to us as a stray from out there somewhere. Now BB, our geriatric cat, is too old to catch the birds. I dread the day Pepper goes out as she will be a very effective hunter. She's quick and loves to play with fast moving toys. That's the problem with the cats, it's a game-- a killing game.

Earlier this month, Farm Boss had to fly to Washington D.C. for a business meeting. He had not been gone more than fifteen minutes when Pepper, kicking her paws and vicious trying to destroy a toy on a string (attached to a pole for playing), got that string attached to her.

In a panic she began running through the house as if that pole was attacking her. I ran after her imagining her being strangled by it or having a leg broken as I had no idea how she had wrapped it around herself. Finally she went under one of the overstuffed chairs where the pursuing monster couldn't get her and finally I could.

I was relieved to see it was attached to a back paw and when I cut it free from the pole, I was able to unwind it from an undamaged leg. I had been visualizing a late night trip into an emergency veterinary clinic.

It seems things always go wrong when Farm Boss leaves and that trip was no exception. He flew home to Oregon on a second red-eye, arriving back at the farm at about 2 AM, just in time to hear the mourning sound of the cattle. I had hoped he'd get back and I wouldn't have to go out. Some of the cows had gotten out of their barn and into the sheep hay but their babies had been unable to follow them. It sounded like the furies out there.

This snow should be gone by noon... hopefully. My sinuses and I would just as soon skip spring and head straight for summer. Any chance of that?

It might look like it, but these were not black and white photos...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Moon Dust with two free days

Although I don't usually talk about my eBooks in this blog, the topic of this one is important on several levels and so I am making an exception-- plus it's going to be free for the next two days.

Sometimes I write a story that I expect not to be appealing to the average reader because it's about a difficult topic. Such a one is Moon Dust. The hero is not a cowboy or some exciting undercover agent. He's a high school principal doing one of the toughest jobs out there in the inner cities.

In the schools is culturally where rubber meets road. Principals are caught between tax payer demands, different political agendas, school boards, superintendents, and finally parents who may not always be supportive of Johnny paying a price for trying to set fire to the school.

I remember my principal when I was in high school. He was a very sexy, tall, strong, good looking guy. He was tough, but I felt fair and did a pretty good job of keeping order in the school. Even though for school credits I had one period a day where I worked in the office of the school's counselor and health teacher (where all staff offices were), I had very little direct contact with our principal. That was exactly as I wanted it as when a student had contact with him, the reasons generally weren't good.

His job was safer back then. For one thing principals and vice-principals had more authority to discipline than they have today. Some would say it's better this way; and in part I agree; but children should be safe in schools and today they are not always. Back then I don't think kids thought about bringing guns or knives to school to right what they perceived as wrongs.

The world of a high school principal in an inner city is an especially tough one, sometimes a dangerous one, and we are lucky there are those who want to do the job. In Moon Dust, Dane Connors is such a guy, and he has put his all into the work because not only does he believe in education but in making a difference in the lives of kids. He is constantly in conflict with the powers that want to keep things as they have been-- or as they thought they were-- as he supports innovative ideas. His superintendent is only concerned with his idea of the bottom-line-- not getting the school in trouble and the budget.

Dane is facing problems on all fronts when Moon Dust begins. His wife has had enough because emotionally he has shut her off, and the demands of his calling have had him never there for her. After two years of marriage, the closest they came to a vacation was an away conference. The same day Dane faced down a scared kid with a gun, Susan was waiting to tell him she wants a divorce. Dane, who tries hard to not face any personal emotional issues, is suddenly bombarded by them.

So there is danger, educational philosophies, Susan's decorating business, the kind of love story that has hit a seeming dead-end, and most importantly, the reason Dane has shut off his emotions-- his physical and sexual abuse when he was a child, something he's gone out of his way to put behind him.

Before writing Moon Dust, I did research on the ramifications of such abuse on adult males. So many see sexual abuse in particular as not an issue for boys as they would for girls. They are wrong. Sexual abuse is about the ultimate loss of control. When the victims later shut away what happened, the problems can go underground to resurface other places in their lives. Moon Dust is about those ramifications and possible ways we can make a difference in the life's of others. Moon Dust itself is a fairy tale within the story, but it has a message that anyone can apply.

I didn't dedicate this book to anyone (have never done that), but if I was-- it'd be to all the school principals who are on the front lines of helping make citizens out of students. They hold the future of our society.

'Moon Dust' has a special for the 19th and 20th where it will be free at Amazon. For anyone without a Kindle, it only takes downloading a free app (it's right below the button to get the book). With that, you can read Kindle books on your computer.

One more thing, all of my books do have some sexuality as they are always about getting to a place of wholeness and healthy living. A healthy view of sexuality is something I believe is a part of that. 

To get the book, click on the link below which will take you to its page where it should have the price of $2.99 crossed out. Remember it's only free for the next two days and always look to be sure they have it set right.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Health Care

I will doubtless be writing more about health care as it's the big thing they are pushing as being bad about Obama's policies. We don't need no health care... Oh wait, we do but you don't.

Well the scary argument they constantly dredge up is how bad health care is in the countries that provide single payer. Just read this and be sure afterward you spread the word as if the righties win in November, even the care many people have will deteriorate if they are among the working poor unable to afford the best and not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.

My belief is we need to be working hard for single payer in the U.S. Enough already with buying what the corporate interests use for scare tactics. Universal health care will not deteriorate everybody's care.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Doonesbury and the abortion furor

The party who wants us to make our own choices, who believes in independence and freedom, that party is doing all they can to take choices from women regarding contraceptives and abortion. This last week Doonesbury, written by G. B. Trudeau, presented an informative series on abortion that many newspapers (including the Portland Oregonian) decided was just too tough for tender-hearted Americans to see. Well not to mention it might remind people who really wants to take away our freedoms.

After making it clear what he'd do about abortion choice and contraceptives, Santorum is heading next for pornography. If he gets the power to do it as president, one can only guess at what he'll consider pornography.  Religious freedom will doubtless be next. Oh, not your right to be a christinist but your right to criticize what passes for Christianity today.

So I decided, since I always read Doonesbury online anyway (we cannot get a paper delivered out here-- other than the day after by mail), I would copy them all and put them onto my Picasa site for as long as I can as I don't know how copyright laws work for this kind of thing.

This series is a good reminder of what is at stake with this election. Don't dare tell me Republicans believe in freedom. Maybe for themselves but sure not for women! We've seen it in state after state and if any of this bunch of front-running Republican candidates get in office, it'll be federal next!

Thank you, Garry Trudeau for your courage in taking on the tough fights as you do again and again to the dismay and disdain of the right wing in this country. There is nothing obscene in this set of cartoons except that we have come to this point and brought to it by the party who supposedly touts their belief in freedom and independence. Who knows what will be next if they gain federal power.

These came from Slate which is where I regularly read Doonesbury as the only cartoon I follow anymore.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chickens come home to roost

Awhile back Matt Taibbi wrote a good article for Rolling Stone describing what he saw as going on with the Republican party:

That these kind of candidates would rise to the top of the Republican party tells me that Republicans who are more moderate have let their party be shanghaied. Barry Goldwater would be a moderate or even a liberal to this bunch.

You moderates, want it back? Then do something because the haters, the religious zealots, and the shallow thinkers are doing something-- they're running with the ball.

Their supposed moderate choice, Mitt Romney, is out there pandering so far to the right that he sounds like an extremist more than any moderate I know. By now everyone has heard Romney saying he'd end Planned Parenthood if he gets in office. Now unless we assume that's another lie, here is a man who once supported it (many moderate Republicans did as about responsibility and wise use of resources) and his wife donated to it. Now he claims it will be one of the first things he jettisons. 

The sad part is when 'their chickens come home to roost (like Arizona now making it legal to fire a woman for using birth control-- guess it's okay when it's a man whose wife used it), it's the poor and disadvantaged who will pay the highest price.

Or these states who want to put a woman wanting an abortion through hell before she can get it-- if they can't ban it totally. (Doonebury is doing quite a number on that and I am copy-pasting them all to eventually post a link so that if your paper doesn't, you can read what many don't want you to see-- a truth many don't want to face!)

Really-- you right of middle people can vote for any of these guys??? Oh okay, it's not your birth control they are going after. Give them time!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reality Driven or a Great Ride?

One of the things that I think Americans need to get straight in their heads-- and really from any country where it comes to their leaders-- what is truth and what is hyperbole? Are they out for excitement or do they want a solid leader? Leaders have always used fantasy and mythology to control a population. It is not, despite what some would like to say, unique to today. Read the mythologies of any ancient people, and you can see how the stories were used.

The night after I had watched Game Change, I had a dream with my family where we were at the ocean with some big waves, homes on the edge of cliffs mixed in with the usual stuff families are talking about. We were somewhere that is vague to me. I was reading a book, as was my son-in-law but different ones. I knew he wouldn't think much of the quality of my choice. Not sure what it was, but it seemed like some sort of adventure story.  I asked him-- well what do you want in a book? Something totally realistic or a great ride? I woke up thinking of that where it comes to our political choices and campaigns.

We run into that choice a lot with the books or films we choose. Sometimes either can seem to be very realistic-- like they are about events that could happen. Sometimes we are along for the ride where the only thing that matters is that the story stay consistent within its own world-- like say Harry Potter. Our entertainment and fiction choices are rife with these options. Do they eventually confuse people with mixing up reality with these imaginary scenarios?

You know, in fiction, it is all fiction even when it seems realistic. It seems like between the books we read, the films we watch and all the games out there that people can get caught up in the ride and try to take it along when they choose a leader. I believe that happened with Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, both very charismatic people. To see and hear them is to like them-- or hate them. That's the price of charisma.

The problem is people want leaders to be like characters in those books-- handling everything, making it all work out right, exciting them, solving their problems. But the leaders aren't those heroes or heroines. They are just people with charisma. That charisma is a tool in their arsenal and it can be used for good or bad.

We, as ordinary people, need to be discerning except too often we have been caught up in the ride. You can see it in history and today. We have been raised and trained to think heroes can do things they never can. In life often the same hero will be a villain. Humans aren't trained to think that is possible.

Good fiction can make you suspend all disbelief as you go along for that great ride. You begin to think it could happen or did happen even if it's a Harry Potter. The only thing that this kind of fiction has to do is stay consistent within its world. If it creates a fantasy world, everything within it has to mesh. The writer cannot forget that or they lose the audience.

Before Game Change came on, I watched a bit of the prior film-- A-Team starring Liam Neeson-- one of those actors I like in anything. That was a movie that was a quite a ride but so confusing that I couldn't keep track of any consistency. You not only had to suspend your belief in logic, but in cause and effect. I guess it didn't do well when it was out which makes total sense to me as it was not the great ride that say the first two Jurassic Parks were.

What I think more Americans need to do, and the film Game Change was a good reminder-- is not confuse what they wish was true with what is-- and be sure the truth stays consistent with their own world. This confusion between reality and fiction happened to the left and the right in 2008. People got excited and some of it was for a miracle worker who would fix it all. To a lot of those who voted for McCain, it was all about Palin. They really wanted her to be at the head of the ticket. When she wanted to talk at the concession speech, I think she saw that it was really her who had been the one running for President. (Something a lot of us on the left also thought)

We voted for Obama. We donated pretty heavily (for us) to his campaign, but we never once expected he would be some savior. We listened to his words and believed him when he said it would take us working together to do it. A lot of lefties did not and have ended up furious with him. Some of them so angry that they won't vote for him in 2012 because he let them down. No, he didn't. They let themselves down by their turning him into the hero he was not. Maybe he profited from that and who knows got caught up in it himself (I think that happened to Palin), and maybe he didn't-- but people with charisma like say Bill Clinton,  it is a tool they use. It can turn on them.

When we let ourselves become confused with believing what is in a book or film is what life is about (and that includes those leaders), then we are open to being manipulated-- manipulating ourselves. We want the instant answer, the excitement of the ride, but also real results. Fiction benefits from that. We do not when we confuse it with reality. It is going to end up without that consistency that we also want.

You can see it in the news programs how they want that exciting ride. I listened to Chris Matthews saying it the other day how he wanted there to be someone really strong on the right, something he feared wouldn't happen. He wanted an exciting campaign. For some it's all about the ride-- and when that one fails them, the next ride. The sad thing is that loses all touch with reality and the issues. A great leader without charisma doesn't have a shot at it. It's to the point that the belief is they must have charisma as part of leadership. The great ride is all that matters.

In Game Change they said how they had to settle for running the candidates they had as they didn't have a Lincoln or Washington. Well who knows how charismatic those men were. Washington clearly was a leader; so he likely had charisma. He could take men into battle and make them follow him but beauty? Did he have that? Today the scrutiny is intense. It's all about image and maybe theirs wouldn't have stood up to that.

There are those questioning what happened to Palin. Suppose they had had longer to give her the lines, to understand her weaknesses, they could have put out a more perfect product. And exactly how would that have really made her able to lead, to put together facts? It would not have but as one character said in the film-- we'd have won and winning was all he cared about-- not what came after.

An interesting look at what this book and film might mean for future politics in our country: Game Change and Loyalty.  It is a good question to ask but who can honestly believe the first loyalty should be to the candidate and not the country? Well I know who but is that wise? Has it become so much about the candidates that it is not as us as a people. When playing a game, some people get to thinking all that matters is winning and will cheat to win. Politics should not be just a game but to some it is. Is that likely to improve or grow worse?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Game Change

Because I have HBO, because I am a student of human nature, because I follow politics (which is about human nature), naturally I was going to watch Game Change when it arrived Saturday night. I had read a lot of reviews regarding what the right and left wing thought of the film (right-- boo hiss, you there, yes, you in the bubble, do not watch; and left-- painted McCain as a saint and Palin too sympathetically). The film didn't try to follow the whole book which covered the left and the right side of the 2008 campaign.

Despite liking to follow politics in the papers, articles, news, etc., I had not read the book because I read very very few books about it-- not even Primary Colors, which was a best selling book with a somewhat similar behind the scenes look at politicians. If you remember Primary Colors, the author wanted to remain anonymous for a long time but was finally outed. That book, which also became a movie, was not friendly to the Clintons with the colors it painted them. I did see that film which starred Travolta as Clinton.

My reason for not reading Game Change was I had just been through it. I was tired of it, wanted to go on myself, and thought I pretty well understood what had happened behind the scenes. It was based not on a writer who had been on the scene but interviews and discussions with those who were (who would talk to them). I might read it now to get the Clinton/Obama story.

The McCain/Palin side of Game Change was all from the aides who had adored McCain and, I think, the story was impacted by that. If Senator McCain really chooses to never see the film, that's his choice, of course; but I thought it painted him as a heroic man, who if he had been president might have done a pretty good job at it (incidentally, something I do not think is the case).  I've read criticisms that his picking Palin was shallow. The film didn't show it that way. It instead showed that did what he thought would be good for the country and his chance to win. You can't govern if you can't win!

I have often said I thought if he had picked who he wanted for VP, Joe Lieberman, he would have won. His aides felt he'd have lost his base. Seriously? That radical right group would have sat it out or voted for Obama? The mainstream Republican who always votes would not have? I disagree as they hated the idea of a leftie who was also black and charismatic. They would have come out and he'd not have lost so many in the middle.

Ed Harris, of course, always seems heroic even when he's a bad guy; but in this film he's playing a man who is good, who feels he deserves his shot at being president, believes his ideas are good ones, and ends up making a catastrophic choice, partly because he does fly by the seat of his pants and considers himself a risk taker. I have read a ton of reviews that disagree but still do not think the movie was unflattering to him.

You might say he trusted the wrong people, those who vetted her. Somehow they missed important questions that, to me, a grade school kid would know-- like that the Queen doesn't rule England. When Steve Schmidt heard her say that is when he knew (in the film) that they had a problem.  It wasn't the complex other issues that was so disturbing but a simple lack of interest and knowledge of history and the world. They didn't ask her foreign policy questions until it was too late.

What the film showed was frankly a sympathetic view of a very complex woman, who had a back-up mode when threatened (one she wasn't kidding about in her speech-- pit bull with lipstick). Sarah Palin is depicted as a pretty nice person until she feels cornered. From all I have read of her performance in Alaska as mayor or governor, this wasn't new to her behavior. It's what she does when she is under pressure and feels out of her depth.

And boy was she out of her depth running for the vice-presidency of this country, and I think she felt she would become president through that route. I didn't expect to feel sympathy for her but teared up as I saw the pressure she had been under, her total frustration at being asked to do what she couldn't, separation from her family, and not being allowed to use what she felt were her best qualities. Moore said she was not aiming for a caricature but the real woman as the book evidently portrayed her. I felt she succeeded.

What Game Change showed was a woman who truly believed in her religion, her family, her own role in the greater picture. She simply didn't have the ability to understand deeper concepts. She had another ability though that made her very popular with a certain group-- she could connect with people, and she could arouse their passions.

As she learned her power, and felt betrayed by the McCain/Palin aides, she became the dark to Obama's light which makes it a bit ironic. By that, I mean, if you heard her speeches back then, she wasn't talking positively but rather playing to the fear and anger that some already felt at the possibility of an Obama presidency. She was heating up what was already a dangerous situation.

It turned the fall campaign into something John McCain didn't want as the people who were most angry and frightened at the possibility of Obama gaining power were stirred to a non-thinking rage. Whether the movie totally showed McCain accurately in all ways, I remember the news clips when he confronted these crowds, when he and his aides saw the hate and fear that was being aroused by a combination of the Palin rhetoric and the temper of the people. It is something that is still with us and only getting worse. Some politicians are stoking it and others see, as McCain did, where it was taking the country.

To me, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, and Ed Harris were superlative. You do not get better actors than those three. I have seen the real Steve Schmidt many times on television and Harrelson nailed him as did the other two actors with Palin and McCain. They interspersed news footage of actual people with the actors and it worked to make you feel you were looking in on what happened.

Yes, it was from a viewpoint that Sarah Palin didn't discuss in her own book or the positive films about her. That's logical. Palin is not a deep thinker in terms of even assessing her own abilities. She could memorize lines and deliver them flawlessly. It showed her as totally believing in herself, if nobody got in her way; but she didn't grasp her own weaknesses.

To me one of her biggest flaws was her inability to put together facts into a concept. A + B = C.  If you can't connect things, it is to me a fatal flaw if you want to be President of the United States.  When asked to do that, she was nearly in tears. She just doesn't get the complexities of life, how things aren't black and white. In this film, they showed that to her-- they are. Which leads to my next blog because this subject deserves more than one.

Really though, don't be afraid of this film if you are leftie or rightie. It's well done, well acted, and like Ides of March, it does give an idea of what is behind the people out front, those who often make decisions for all the wrong reasons and without enough thought. Yes, it is from one viewpoint as was Palin's own memoir as well as that of Obama or McCain. What we as people need to do is be able to synthesize the different views into one truth. That's the catch, of  course as well as a fact. A + B = ?

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Is there any better reason for the United States to get out of Afghanistan-- now? The reason for this is the same for the killings in our country-- out of control people with guns. How dare we inflict that on other countries.

It seems to me we need a smaller military with better quality control. Not exactly talking points either political party is using with the exception of Ron Paul. You know this violence, that is part and parcel of fighting wars, does come back home in both attitude and emotional consequences.

We need to rethink some of our policies and take responsibility for something that although it might only have been one out of control man, why did he have a gun and why was he in our military? And if only one person did the killings, there were a bunch of soldiers there who the citizens claimed were drunk and laughing. It should make us all sick and willing to rethink what the heck we are doing.  We should demand our leaders do likewise! You cannot repay something like this.

The truth of Obama!

From the beginning, a radical agitator, just as Hannity suspected!

I got the link to this photo from Andrew Sullivan

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Mystery of Romney

The longer we are into the Republican primary skirmishes, the more I want to know what is going on that this is all Republicans can offer as viable candidates? The one most likely to get the nomination, Mitt Romney, in some ways is the worst of the lot and that's saying a lot.

Romney is played up by right and left as the moderate. Moderate what? The man lies-- not once in awhile but blatant, easy to check and often why-would-he-say-that type of lies. I mean this is in the age of YouTube. It's easy to check the lies. Does he so little respect his own potential voters that he knows they won't check or doesn't care if they do?

This really is to the point of pathological and yet nobody calls him on it in his own party. Well actually Gingrich did but it was buried quickly as just resentment.

 Romney won't state a policy position on anything that comes together to do what he says. He's scared to even discuss pro or con what he thought of Rush Limbaugh's three-day rant and now extending into the next week to blame the left for what he said.

Even Romney's Mormonism is a question mark to me. He is a long standing and high up Mormon, has been a leader in his religion, donates heavily to it, but does he believe in the Mormon doctrines? Will he let his religion impact his policy positions? I have yet to know. People seem scared to even ask him for fear they will find the freedom of religion card played against them.

Yes, I think it does matter how he sees his religion, how it impacts his business and political life. It matters if you are at all knowledgeable about official Mormon beliefs. They do call themselves Christian; but it's a side sect, if it is, because it has its own book, of equal weight to the Bible (make that two books), and they have teachings that I think would be of interest to people casting a vote.

No, I don't mean the little weird ones like holy underwear. Who cares about that? But big ones like a Mormon male, head of the home, who has done it all right here, can become a god on another planet and that is what, at least officially, they teach Jesus was.  This is not Christian teaching, I can tell you.

The calling to become a god elsewhere has to be higher than to be a president; so would it impact that person's job as president? I'd like to know because there are a lot of other beliefs that could very much impact their position on many things that would impact the rest of us. Does Romney believe that their church president, appointed by god, has a direct line to God for what to do next where it comes to things like polygamy, blacks, women, etc.?

I think that answer matters for anybody who runs for the highest office, who makes laws for the rest of us, who can start wars, who can work for or against environmental protections, who might have less reason than the rest of us to worry about how nice this planet is because they figure after they die, they get another shot at running things on a new one. Wouldn't Americans like to know how Romney sees all of that? Would his religious beliefs only matter if he was an atheist?

When someone is religious as Huntsman was, it doesn't concern Americans because it is moderate-- or sounds moderate; but when it's like Santorum, where they believe God speaks directly to their divinely appointed leader, it matters more. Kennedy was Catholic too but a very different kind of Catholic.

Generally the majority of Americans do not want a leader who follows rigid dictates from a religion-- any religion. This country has not been a theocracy. When someone runs for office, I think we should know if they do want a theocracy and regard themselves as a harbinger of it. Some Americans might want that but shouldn't we all be told where these candidates stand?

With Santorum, I do know because he openly speaks of it. He's basically a Papist. Although he has denied it, some believe he is a member of a very strict religious sect of Catholicism called Opus Dei which can be considered very good or very not good depending on your own view of religion. [Santorum's Church and Opus Dei].  Whether Santorum is a member, he admires Opus Dei and he walks the talk as far as we can tell anyway.

So what are Romney's views toward his religion? Is he moderate? Does he follow it all? He doesn't tell us, and he doesn't tell us pretty much anything about how he is as a person. He's long-time married, happily from the evidence, has a nice family, but what kind of man is he inside? Some say that Mormon's like him, the males who rise up in the party, have been indoctrinated to the point that the public image Romney presents is very typical.

The further this goes on, the more I hear Romney speak, I have to wonder how this man ever gathered to himself a quarter of a billion dollars. What made him good at getting money that doesn't show up on the campaign trail? Was it who his father was and his connections? Was he good at getting money because he drained it from the little people and sucked it to himself? As president what will that mean for a country to have a man like that running it? We know what the richest think because they are the main ones donating to him? Based on his history, should anybody who isn't rich be giving him a dime or a vote?

He's bragged all along how he saved the Olympics. Then he says how he doesn't like government handouts... Except his getting a big government handout is how he saved the Olympics. Does he see any conflict in those two statements? If not, why not?

You ask Romney about his positions on anything and try to follow through what it means. Look at the macho talk that he, as President, wouldn't let Iran have a nuclear power facility and he'd go to war over it but no explanation on what that would cost in American lives, dollars or anything else. How does he balance the budget when he adds another war to the mix? That kind of talk is typical of Romney. Long on hyperbole and short on details and facts. That's how you get really rich? It doesn't seem possible. It's not like he's charismatic nor can he talk on his feet. He stumbles over any answer that wasn't written down. He doesn't appear good with small groups. His talk when he's speaking off the cuff astounds. Just exactly what is he good at?

And please don't tell me Obama is also not good off the cuff. Anybody who saw the video footage of him in college (which evidently Breitbart  and Hannity thought would end his chance to be president for a second term) speaking about the need for minorities to get more opportunity knows he can speak off the cuff. In fact he sounds like the same guy, just with longer hair back then.

The talk from the right that Obama needs a teleprompter ignores all the interviews where he speaks just fine. Romney has avoided any tough interviews. I don't see him talking to the leftie equivalent of Bill O'Reilly (Ed Schultz) as Obama did to O'Reilly, who totally disrespected him and yet Obama held his cool. How would Romney do in that situation? His handlers will make sure we don't find out. The only casual interview I saw, that wasn't totally friendly even though it was on Fox, had him acting distracted and angry at any kind of question that didn't pat him on the back or let him tout his accomplishments. Romney has avoided pretty much anybody who isn't a sycophant. He cannot talk on his feet without a speech. The way he distorts anything makes me wonder if he knows what he's talking about or is just handed a sheet of paper and told what to say? I don't honestly know the answer. Who does?

Basically is there anything behind the pretty fakade? (that came from My Fellow Americans where a Vice President was not able to talk logically, and used that pronunciation for facade as he thought he'd gotten away with stealing the presidency. There is a lot of that guy in politicians today and not just Romney-- the thing is they aren't so close to becoming president.

Read the following about Romney's 'tax' policy. Seriously Republicans need to think a lot about what they want to let loose onto this country. I know if Romney can't get the numbers (but I think he will with the super delegates as Obama did in 2008), Sarah Palin is waiting in the wings rubbing her hands together-- ready to serve her country. That's it? Really that's what the right can offer? This is what the leaders of the Republican party want?

The Mysterious Mr. Romney

And please for anyone who is going to try to nail Obama before they deal with Romney. Do it the other way around. Answer to the Romney lies, his exaggerations or total lie as to what Obama has said, and whether you have heard him say what role his religion would play in his policy positions. You might add how the heck you think he earned that much money when he seems unable to put two sentences together in this campaign -- like about Michigan:  "I love this state. The trees are the right height." Don't take things out of context either. I am not. Just answer what he honestly can bring to the country in terms of running it besides lies about what his policies would do when anybody who looks at them says it doesn't work that way.  And if your answer is anybody is better than Obama. That's how you gave us Bush-- and very few of you will defend Bush now despite voting for him twice.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Death of a symbol

When Andrew Breitbart died suddenly at the age of 43, it not only shocked a lot of people, but led to very different views of what his death meant depending on the person's political persuasion. There were those who saw him as a hero and those who saw him as a villain. Not too many were neutral-- unless they paid no attention to politics.

I used to have Breitbart bookmarked as one of the places I'd look for right wing thinking (back when I also read WND); but finally couldn't stand either and deleted them only checking in when a big incident would arise. They were both good sources for far rightie thinking (for those who call it thinking).

Breitbart put out the ACORN YouTubes showing the stupidity with which some staffers addressed those coming into their offices, where discussing using underage prostitutes had the staffer acting as though it was an everyday occurrence to hear such (and suggest child credits be applied for). It gave right wingers an excuse to say-- see I told you so-- and left wingers to argue it was not representative and manipulated-- a trap.  While tapes like that are definitely stings of a sort, the obviously poorly prepared and trained staffer had to say what was said even if it was edited to make it as bad as possible. ACORN learned (I hope) from it as they took their lumps.

Breitbart routinely used tapes that were cut and spliced to make things look how he wanted them to be. He didn't though usually do the splicing. He just put them out without research on the truth of the edited version-- so long as they played to his prejudices. He considered himself a conduit but one only for his agenda.

That was Breitbart, an associate and friend of Drudge, one who helped start Huffington Post. One who evidently was putting together a program where he would debate Anthony Weiner on CNN... Yes, the same Weiner whose press conference he tried to hijack and who he outed as a misuser of his own sexuality online. Can anybody say Weiner hadn't done what he did? We didn't like losing an important voice in our own causes, but Weiner brought that on himself.

I remember seeing Breitbart every now and again on Bill Maher, and he was actually pretty likeable there-- as are a few other righties even like Rep. Issa *boo hiss*.  Something about the Maher format leads them to discuss things in a way that benefits any who are intelligent and don't stick to the phony laugh and smile at every salient point made by Maher-- as in ha... ha... ha! as they ignore the points and repeat Republican talking points. Breitbart wasn't one to repeat. He listened to what was said and came back with his own agenda, an agenda in which he believed and voiced pretty well.

Because he said something big was coming March 1st, something big enough to cause Obama to lose the November election, his death on that day has also led the nutcase fringe to do their usual thing.

In hushed tones of paranoia, they are suggesting it might've been assassination-- although that idea is just thrown out for the non-thinkers to latch onto-- just like the birthers throw out their accusations. Now the idea that any videos of Obama in college associating with left wing extremists will matter to anybody who isn't already a hater or bigot would only be taken seriously by those who are desperate to get Obama out of office. The people that Breitbart would have impressed are the same ones who will be eating up Sheriff Arpaio's recent press conference that shows the sheriff to be a birther (as if we had doubts).

I didn't cheer Breitbart's death for a lot of reasons even though he certainly isn't someone whose philosophy or way of operating I felt was admirable.  Some of the reasons I didn't feel satisfaction is he was a human being, had a wife and four children. Unless toxicology shows something more, he wasn't doing anything so bad for his health that many haven't lived into their 80s doing the same. He was living what he believed was right (wrong or not, I really do think he believed in his positions); and I know a lot like that who aren't of my political persuasion. I don't wish bad on them nor do I feel happy when bad happens to them.

When I read the above article about his last hour, his passion for politics right up to the end, I saw that as a good thing. Too bad he wasn't more honorable but maybe to him he was. Maybe someday he would have seen the light about his right wing positions.

Admire Breitbart?  Nope. Like his tactics?-- Nope. But relish anybody dying at 43, I'd rather the right wing stuck to that kind of nastiness.  I consider it a tragedy, when someone that young and with a family, dies so suddenly. I didn't know until this that Orson Bean was his father-in-law. I used to like Orson Bean when he was on game shows. I didn't know anything about his politics and for that matter, still do not. I do know he loved his son-in-law as he spoke of it after the death.

You know in the end, it's never about the Breitbarts, nor the Limbaughs nor the Palins. It's always about those who cheer what they already want to hear. In a lot of ways these people in the center, the symbols, they are as much created by the mob as they created it. If you read history, that kind of mentality has always been with us. The symbol is just a symbol-- and if the mob changed its ways, the symbol would change!

If you are okay with some tough language, check out the following piece by Matt Taibbi. Especially the update of what he got from right wing haters after he wrote his own Breitbart obituary.  He titled it something that I don't use for language in this blog-- so be warned. But his piece is excellent on the man and the kind of people who helped create his fame.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Does money corrupt?

There have been several studies recently indicating that rich people are more corrupt than average folks. This take by Andrew Sullivan has some good links as to why money might insulate us from other people, make us less apt to understand how it is for those without money, and more into the addiction of getting more and more of it. We have all seen the corporate heads who did something unethical to get more money when they already had a lot. Jesus warned about it in his talks. Anyway it's a good article.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Ides of March

For anyone who hasn't seen it or heard about it, I recommend Ides of March which is now on Netflix. It is a behind the scenes look at what happens in political campaigns from the perspective mainly of the people who are truly behind the scenes, the strategists. Is it disillusioning? Probably but only if you thought politics is an inspirational, noble method of working out what will happen in a country-- who the leaders and what the laws will be.

It's not as though politics are only about governments. They are in every aspect of life where a group of people decide how to spend money, what needs to be done, what they want for a business, what their product will be, and on it goes. I've seen it in schools, churches, and corporations. I don't think there is a way around politics other than staying away from other people, only concerning ourselves with what we do, and being willing to let someone else call the shots for the rules we must live by.

Even then politics will have determined the food we can buy, how much money we will need to spend for this or that, and whether the community in which we live will be changed totally right beyond our fence-line-- if they let us have a fence.

The workings of human nature; how we do things; at what point will we be corrupted; what we expect from others; what is nobility... Is there nobility? These are all things Ides of March explores.

Is it disillusioning? Maybe-- mostly though for someone who hasn't been paying much attention to humans in group interactions and most especially the political climate today. If someone can go into a group meeting and not notice the snipping, the aggrandizing, the pressure to win, maybe they won't think politics impacts them. It still will have.

I thought the film was excellent, fast moving, informative, thought provoking and had a perfect cast led by Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giametti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (all four among my favorites), and although their parts were smaller, on the distaff side, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, and Jennifer Ehle (one of those three doesn't exactly fit the definition for distaff).

This film was put together like a fine work of art as it was adapted, mostly I think by Clooney's vision, from a book by Beau Willimon-- Farragut North. Willimon had worked for the Howard Dean campaign although this is clearly not autobiographical. What it is is an inside look at human nature using the vehicle of a political campaign

I really liked it and would say it was one of the best films I have seen recently not just for the story, the acting, but the warning, and I don't just mean for politicians but all of us for our own motivations and moral values.

For anybody who thinks moral values mean a religion-- it doesn't. Moral values are those which we have within us for the rules by which we live, our own personal code of conduct. Are they bendable under the proper persuasion?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

too little too late

As an addition to the last blog, now we have seen an apology from Limbaugh. Does anyone believe this is about anything but losing his sponsors, big sponsors?  The sponsors say they will stay off. I hope they mean it as it's the only thing that will teach him and his ilk lessons about how they treat other people.

Maureen Dowd wrote about it in her NYT column today and said she's been there, been attacked by his nasty idea of humor; and no matter how you try to insulate yourself, it's hurtful. Any woman who speaks her mind will be attacked by these kind of guys. And all that will ever influence them will be dollars. Sad, isn't it!

And Limbaugh fans (and yes,there are some) are probably already complaining how abused he is.

This was interesting on how much contraceptives should cost: from Crooks and Liars .  Sooooo typical!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

A divided view of life

Currently I have two ways of looking at whatever is going on in our country. The two views alternate-- from total frustration to a sense of serenity.

How can any woman not be furious reading that Rush Limbaugh said women who want to use birth control are sluts. He didn't even add when not married, but I am pretty sure it's what he meant-- maybe. What I have to wonder after hearing him double down on this-- is he back on drugs? But then why did Republican politicians add to it? None had the guts to stand against him. It was pathetic how they kowtowed.

Limbaugh appeared to think women need to take more birth control pills if they  have more sex... So he thinks it's like Viagra (which he likely knows something about)? Could he be that ignorant of how birth control pills or an IUD work? Incidentally do you suppose he and his ilk (most Republican politicians and rightie commentators like O'Reilly) think Viagra should be covered by insurance?

Basically by Limbaugh's slander of this young woman, he just also named Gingrich's current wife as a slut; and I wouldn't be surprised if his own current wife would fit his category as not too many married couples haven't had sex before they marry. Using contraceptives to avoid pregnancy in that situation is slut behavior?

More than who Rush is, what I want to know is who are his audience, those supposedly twenty million who daily listen to his radio program.  That he has an audience bothers me more than what he says. He's just one man, but who all does he influence?

Worse in this case was knowing that with the evening, I'd not only have read what he said but then listen to it on my favorite leftie news program. Do you suppose Fox also had it on or do they just want to forget he said it?

But there is a bright side to it. So often when you hear something like this, there is the other side of the coin and it's uplifting. In this instance is the quality of the woman Rush called a slut. (Who evidently the right wing is investigating now to try and find something evil in her background to use against her. Uppity women... cannot have uppity women!)

For anybody who has been in a vacuum recently, the lady in question had been refused a chance to testify before Issa's lynching panel when they were discussing the need of the religious right to mandate that everybody follow their legalistic dictates. It mattered how the religious pharisees saw it but not how the women impacted by it saw it. Argh and why the first picture here!

But the bravery of that young woman who wanted to testify, to talk about the need for contraceptives for women like her friend who lost an ovary because she couldn't afford to take the pill and did not have insurance to cover it. The pill is as much medical as a supposed free pass to have sex. Birth control even when it regards sex is about responsibility. Women like that young woman give me faith and hope for our future.

Mostly, as I have mentioned before, it's in nature that I find the greatest comfort. Nature and our need to protect it, to value it. For another upbeat story, I just read that the federal government will stop charging user fees for hiking on federal lands. ☼ No more 'adventure passes' needed for a spontaneous walk in the woods or up a desert canyon (if it's national forest). If more people got out and did that, I think we'd have a lot less Rush types...