Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome, add a great deal to a blog, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled insults, or links (unless pre-approved).

Monday, April 30, 2012

Up is Down and Down is Up

Because this time in Tucson we are trying to keep our costs down, we opted for a 'light' cable package from our DirecTv.  That meant that I, someone who loves to watch the MSNBC political pundits in the late afternoon, have had to go cold turkey as we get no cable news at all (I don't count Fox Business News.)

Finally I could stand it no longer and turned to the local channels for news-- in the process learning what most people get in terms of news. It's not encouraging-- superficial, banal, and long stories on nothing while ignoring real stories that will impact lives far more. Oh they fill the space all right, but with what? No wonder people are clueless-- as to get Cable news (and that means CNN, MSNBC or even Fox News) is pretty expensive at least with our dish.

Then there are the ads. Evidently the PACs consider Gabby Gifford's House seat important and they are tearing at Ron Barber. What they used to attack him is he supported Obama's Health care bill where everybody can get insurance and health care when they are ill. That's the accusation and maybe in some right wing communities, that's all it takes. Is Tucson that right wing? I have no idea.

The thing is there are a lot of rich people down here (who knows how the rich see this since they can afford their own care and may worry more that they'll be crowded out of their doctor's office), but there is also a sizable community of the very people who will benefit from health care changes. They are the ones, who if a family member gets something like epilepsy or any one of a number of chronic illnesses, they'd lose everything as many insurance companies have a lifetime limit on what they pay.

But maybe this is a far right community, and I haven't been here enough to know. I was shocked to go into Costco here and find big boxes of survivalist food and water supplies. Seriously what are these folks expecting? There has been nothing like that back where I live in Oregon (yet anyway), but Oregon is mostly (with some geographic exceptions) pretty left wing.

It hit home with me because I am editing one of my books for Kindle which will come out in mid-May. The story is a romance but revolves around a militia and fear mongering group that uses that kind of thinking to gain power for itself. I wrote that story in 2002 although I never tried to get it published. It's also a bit of a paranormal and maybe that's why I didn't go the query editors route with it.  It didn't fit a genre tidily. Well soon enough it'll be out there (with its own trailer), and it's as pertinent today as back then.

I saw the latest Romney PAC ad against Obama. The accusation is Obama is too cool. So let's just look at this for a minute. Everybody knows Romney is not cool. He's like the handsome nerd from school who was born into a wealthy family, made even more money for his own family, and makes the worst jokes, laughs at the wrong time, sings off key, and lies like a fiend. So how do he and his PACs combat someone like Obama, who is good at singing, can do a mean comedian routine, is handsome, cool, and a good speaker? You make being cool bad. While doing it, you ignore the accusation you are also making that Obama has done too much to change things and figure people will never check. So cool is out and dull is in?

That is so Republican, and it makes me wonder who really runs their whole system. Clean air meant more pollution.  Patriot Act meant hold onto your Bill of Rights as it's been undermined with airport humiliations, arrests with no right to a trial, and guilty until proven innocent. Can't forget the argument they make that wealthy people are job creators. Don't need to mention most of those jobs are either overseas or at lower incomes because the voter won't bother to check. I will tell you one thing, Republican leaders don't respect their own voters. They know they won't bother checking and will continue to believe right wing radio pundits no matter how ridiculous it is what they say.

Fear works and lies are no problem to a certain voter. I find it all amazing but what can I say here that might change any of it?

Stop believing lies?

Ignore TV ads?

Work and donate for the candidate in whom you believe because the hate and fear mongers are working for theirs?

Think what matters most when you vote and don't get distracted by silly, pointless issues that a president can't fix anyway?

Concentrate on the damage a man like Romney could do with more power, a man who has killed jobs every which way for his whole career, and don't let them distract you with the fact that Obama didn't do all you wanted (or did too much)?

How about this one in case you have already bought those survival boxes-- be sure you rotate their usage because if a real disaster occurs, and it's not in the near future, you will find you have nothing edible.


And one further suggestion for us lefties who feel sometimes we are going nuts-- get out in nature, listen to some good music. A good start on that is watch again one of the videos I created awhile back but recently added to my Rain Trueax channel on YouTube--

Saturday, April 28, 2012

On aging and fashion choices

I saw this, thought it was great, and that it fit well with the recent discussion on aging.

Now I am not into the kind of fashion written about there, but think it's totally great and admire women with that kind of verve. I had a grandmother with some pretty showy wigs (the other one kept her hair in a coronet of braids all of her life). The grandma with the wigs also wore colorful styles and had an attitude a lot like those ladies.

A very dear friend of mine has worn interesting hats all of her life. She's short and said it made her be seen. She felt more empowered with them. Now I wear hats hiking but otherwise maybe I think it would do the opposite for me being I am a tall woman.

I offend the fashion police though as I still wear jeans. They say that's not at all appropriate for old women. Tsk tsk. I have worn them all my life and am not about to give them up over an accident of age.They say women of a certain age should not wear sleeveless tops. Sorry but do 'they' have any idea how hot it feels with long sleeves when the temperatures rise. If aging arms bother someone, look away.

Anyway for those who didn't already see the article, read it, and come back to comment maybe on your own ideas on that kind of fashion for yourself or others-- of a certain age.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sonoran Desert

When we got to the Tucson house, the temperatures were heading toward highs of just over 100F. There were many maintenance tasks that had to take priority for the cooler hours with a lot more yet to do. With some of the major jobs crossed off and the daytime temps cooling to the 90s, we finally took one of our favorite morning hikes and were surprised to see some water in the pools.

The bird is a vermillion flycatcher and the first time we have seen one. This is its natural habitat though and down into Mexico.

When you get to the deep pink flower, look for the bee.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Philosophy of Aging

In my late 60s and a lot closer to 70 than 65, I generally spend little time thinking about my own aging; but for some reason I've been more aware of it this winter and spring. Adding to my awareness have been more articles I notice on it.

Were there this many articles on the subject before the social media grew into a powerful factor for information? Maybe. I don't know, but I do see more than when I turned 50 or maybe even 60. It's analyzing a lot of the feeling about what age brings. Some would say it's shallow when it's about what we look like. So they can say it.

On a personal level regarding my awareness about aging, this winter I seemed to jump to old more than middle aged. I don't know if that's reality or simply my attitude. For a long time, when it came to my physical being, I didn't see that much change-- like from my mid-40s into mid-60s. I have a possible theory on why it might be now, and it would relate to hormones-- the same thing that makes for big changes in early teen years and then a kind of leveling off. If my theory is right, my 70s may not see the fast changes I notice now-- unless there are health problems to throw the whole calculation in the air. I would expect then more changes again in my 80s as more of  the body wears out-- like kidneys, liver, etc.

So 60s are the gateway to old age. 70s, you are fully in it. 80s, you are entering the second act. 90s, make ready for the curtain to go down. Some plan to live into their 100s but average people don't. They are fortunate (or not) to make it to their 90s especially if they are in good health.

My basis for how I see it is not so much my own aging as I am only barely through the early part of this old age chart, but more what I have observed with others. Middle age actually lasts a long while and begins in our 40s (for some even their 30s) and lasts until early 60s for what it is like and how things appear. Not to say there are not subtle differences all along the way. Genetics and lifestyle, of course, play their part in all of this for appearances and health.

So we have gradual and faster aging which is pretty much what we have in  puberty. It's hormones. I won't say it's all hormones because the body is also wearing out and that is a fact of life regardless of how some want to deny it. Denying we are old won't change the fact that we are old. What it will do is deny us what old age can mean, what it should mean.

I see aging and yes awareness of it in my BB when he comes back to Tucson and cannot do what he could the last time here. He looks up as though-- I used to leap to that fence. I don't know how much animals understand that kind of rather abstract concept; but he, of the white muzzle, and slowing of his movements, does seem more aware than I would have expected. Even though he wants out down here, I cannot let him have the freedom he once enjoyed as there are predators here that would take advantage of his slowing down.

We as humans though, we can assess our experience and our reality, we can learn through books, listen to the stories of others, calculate, observe, project, and think abstractly. We can use all that to improve our days, plan for the future, or we can deny what is out of fear or ego.

To me a major philosophy of aging should involve simple awareness of physical reality. Denying our own by saying 60 is the new 30 is silly talk. Someone 30 is not closer to the end of life or when that happens, it's the unexpected. Sixty is moving into a new territory where change in the body is going to be part of  life right up until life ends.

What I am trying to adjust to more than fear of dying or physical weakness right now is what some would say is shallow. It's what I hear others talk about (and what the article above was about) that invisibility that some say comes with old age. That writer was enjoying that (but she's in her 50s if I remember right). I won't like not being noticed. Well I no longer have guys honk as they drive by or yell out something as I walk past, but they do still see me. Being noticed gets me service, lots of smiles, and an acknowledgement I am here. I don't know what it will be like to feel invisible. I don't think I will like it.

But what's the alternative? If I get bent out of shape over knowing I don't look as good as I once did, if I fret over why people don't still treat me a certain way, who's the one going to be miserable? I am working to adjust to the coming change, and I admit for me it's not always easy.

Before somebody says old women can be beautiful. I agree, but what they cannot really be is sexually exciting. Sorry but that's just a reality and it's the rare old lady that still will have a man's libido turning on (unless he's her mate anyway). I think virility and sensuality are more a product of those young and middle years. The beauty of old age is a different sort and won't have a horn honking as a man drives by. 

It's not that I'd ever want to be young again. Young might look better (although I have always felt women reach their peak of beauty around 35) but young had so many drawbacks for the need to gain experience, to get a handle on who we are, what we can do, build our life. It's a time of finding our power. By its very nature, young has a lot of strife and chaos attached.

Those middle years, however,  I liked them a lot. I loved the period from when my kids were launched, where I could see them doing well, where I still felt strong and had power to draw people to me. Good years and for anybody still into them-- enjoy. Those really are power years. Yes, I would hold onto them as long as I could-- but not at the cost of denying reality.

That's the key to old age, I think-- alertness, awareness and acceptance. Pay attention to bodily signs as catching problems early is a big plus in solving them. Be aware of what is real versus a fantasy and finally accept what is without wishing for what cannot be.

In some ways my life right now is as exciting or more so than it's ever been; but those pesky changes, they are more and more obvious. I have dreams, plans, but they take into account reality-- I think.

I used to have a theme song (one of a couple actually) which said a lot about what I felt. It's by the Eagles-- Take it to the limit. As I got older, I felt myself do that time and again. One more time I can pull it all together and present an image to others that is all I want it to be. I can do it. (for anybody who says they don't need an image, well good for you, but I enjoyed that feeling, that ability. It was fun for me) Today I am feeling less and less that I can do it.  That doesn't depress me. It just is what it is when someone is on the border of 69.

I need a new song... Maybe Bitch... Yeah, I like that one-- Or am I too old for that one too? ;)  Good-night Irene? I am waiting awhile for that one! I hope.

Photo from webcam and at Tucson house on April 23-- it's 100 F. outside...

Monday, April 23, 2012

old family photos

When I did a recent blog on our culture, beauty and how media can impact photographs of families, I put in two more or less random ones of my own family. I decided I'd share a few more. There are no labels for most of them.

Old family photos came to me when a younger cousin died two years ago. Among them were a lot of black and white negatives which my aunt, the dark-haired woman in the center back of the first one, had kept. I took time to scan some of them, often not aware of what I'd find.

I saw photos of my father that I had never seen. When I began, I only knew one thing about them-- these are my people. They are from whom I came and impact still who I am today. I am the oldest left of my direct line on my dad's side.

This one I know my grandfather is the one at the top with the big cigar. He's smoking or holding one in most of the photos I have seen of him. My grandmother is down in front with a kind of coy look (my great grandmother to her right behind her). I wish I'd known that side of my grandmother, but I think when Granddad died, she lost that kind of joy. She had married him at 16.
This one is uncle, my father, grandfather, grandmother and two aunts and likely taken for some holiday as they all look dressed up, and our family was together for pretty near every holiday until Grandma died. Then it all went away as it was probably a bit of a matriarchy.

It was a big family. One side had come to America in the 1400s and the other in the 1800s. They moved across this nation and found places they could make a living, one branch ending up in Oregon. The family's numbers have now dwindled down. I am not much for thinking about the past but sometimes it's good and I can even get teary as I think about those beloved people, some I never knew except through these photos. I am glad they took the time to record their existence with images.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

From Here to There on a trailer (no, not that kind)

When I learned there were trailers for books, I went to YouTube and clicked on a few. They varied a lot in complexity and effectiveness. The idea of doing my own grew. I had already purchased some images because to have the covers meet reader expectation, I had invested some of the book money on stock photos. To put my trailers or anything else onto YouTube, as the place they most likely could be seen, all images, words, and music had to either be mine or where I had purchased the license.

Although I have now looked at quite a few stock photo sites, my favorite for economy and variety became Can Stock. It has several useful features. My favorite is if you see a model you like, you can click on an image, move to the purchase page, look below the image and click on a link that takes you to all available photos. That saves a lot of time. On these sites, there are all kinds of images. They also offer buying credits which makes the costs quite reasonable. I only wish in the beginning I had realized how many I'd be wanting for the different books as I'd have saved even more money.

Since my first trailers are all for contemporary stories, costuming wasn't a problem. I think though when I get to the historic books, if I put them onto Kindle, I can paint the clothes and use copy paste features when I have the right faces. Somebody would find a sweet business if they could put together stock photos of interesting faces in period costumes. More and more I think indie writers will be growing in numbers and the need is real for all kinds of images. Some, like me, are fortunate to have a lot of photos (minus people) but many don't have them and would buy them at a reasonable price. They are available now but in the hundreds of dollars.

 In looking for these characters,  I began to have the feeling I was casting a movie, and in a way I was. Naturally you cannot get exactly the face you want, but you can come close and with paint tools, alter what is needed. My initial resistance to doing this led to finding it a challenge but also rewarding when I hit on the right image.

When you purchase a license, you also acquire the right to make certain changes, to crop and use in an eBook with the stipulation you cannot sell more than 500,000 copies. Not a problem!

While looking at faces, I'd get tired of it (never have I looked at so many people for personality, features and pose) and look through my own photos for landscapes and animals (bringing back a lot of wonderful memories of the times we shot those photos). I frankly have enough animal, insect, landscape etc. shots to put up my own stock site if I so desired-- which I don't.

So what I needed were the right images, and not too many of them, accompanied by carefully chosen words. One night, literally in the middle of the night, I had the words for the first story trailer and got up to write them down as I was afraid when morning came, I'd have forgotten them. I know it sounds simple to find a few words but it's harder than it seems as you are looking to tell the essence of your story with those words and images-- a story that might be 80-140,000 words.

I already knew I had bought the right music from  Jewel Beat as every song there is $.99 and with it, you receive a license. For the same price you can choose it to last from 15 seconds to several minutes. They also have free music if you put the credit to them in the product. They offer real melodies with different emotional impacts. It is also easy to download and use.

Playing with different combinations of images, I used a combination of my own digital painting and a tool called Oilify --available on GIMP 2 (free software for your computer).  I could have digitally painted them all but that would have taken too much time. This was a nice mix of fast and fun-- as I enjoy painting digitally.

It took several go rounds to get the timing right and find one of the Picasa tools to move between photos. Again Picasa, which I use a lot for my photo work, is a free download. After I had the video up on Picasa, I found how to use YouTube and got myself a channel -- Rain Trueax YouTube Channel -- where in the future all my public videos (bookmark it as scenery also will be there with Jewelbeat music probably (or the classical that has an imbedded credit to them). I don't know how well the YouTube embedding will work for readers with slower systems but I learned how to make that work-- some of the time.

To create this trailer did take time, although I expect less so with the next. It's not really work for me. It's more like creating an art project. I want it to do what I want; and when it does, I get my reward. It has added to my love for this story and these characters. Plus I had fun as I always have when I've done scenery slideshows with music.

And for my readers who don't have the speed to watch a trailer on YouTube, for just this one, I put the photos into a slide show. You do miss the western themed music this way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Writing progress report

 Since I put my manuscripts as eBooks, I haven't written much about it here although I've gone more into it on the blog on writing, Rain Trueax, for readers interested in new books coming out, free days, and want to hear about my experiences in writing and eBook marketing. Once in awhile I have something I want to write about here. It's hard not to do it more often as it's all a major part of my life these days.

When I began the writing blog, I wasn't sure what I'd do with it. I wanted it to be an encouragement to others for writing and possibly ePublishing. It's been pretty much the nuts and bolts of writing and what I am learning about marketing (bit by bit). When I get time to take a breath, I'll evaluate where that blog goes.

In my life, until that blog about it, I really haven't talked or written a lot about writing as a process. Mostly I saw writing as something I did, as part of who I was; but I didn't think others would find it that interesting. I had a bit of the attitude-- those who can do; those who can't talk. I was wrong. I am finding I like writing about the process as well as writing the stories.

When I decided I wanted to go independent, not self-publish in paper but online, I saw several benefits. The biggie is that the books would be out there, and I would own my work. I would have control of the whole process. I knew from the start that marketing would be the problem, something I knew very little about but see as part of life in many ways that we often don't think about. For me, the idea of marketing, where it had come to my paintings or sculptures, had been almost a bad word.  I had to change that view to see my books not disappear into the black hole of Kindle.

From the get go, I made a decision that I would not put money into any of it until the books made a little money. I would, at least to begin, invest what they created.  I have heard of people who put over a thousand dollars into getting just one book out. I had a lot more than one, and I felt putting money into it would increase the pressure on me to see them sell. What if they didn't-- despite paying someone else for editing, graphic artists, publicists, etc.? With no money in it, I felt I could afford to let them sit there until the right readers came along.

Taking that view didn't mean I intended to do nothing about attracting interest to the books. Although I opted to not push them here, that was as much selfish as noble. I didn't want to lose readers who had come here for discussion of ideas, politics, photos, or something about the farm and had not come for sales of books. I didn't want to change what Rainy Day Thoughts was originally meant to be. So sales not-- but the creative end of it, well that does belong here sometimes.

While my process of editing and publishing was going forth, art has been a surprising part of it all . At first I thought how neat I know how to do this. Then the covers became a less positive issue. I learned there is a bit of prejudice against indie writers from readers who comment in the Forums. They look at covers as a sign of whether the authors are going to do sloppy, amateur writing. They really thought a graphics artist should be hired. Besides my view of not spending money, I also believed I could do the work-- after all I knew art. The thing was I didn't know the readers and their expectations.

Bottom-line, there was no way I could afford a good graphics artist and a bad one would put up something maybe showy but not fit my work or characters. Besides, I wanted to do this. So I set about looking at what would work, what needed to be changed, and redoing covers again and again. I wrote a lot about that in the writing blog.

Doing those covers, plus reading the forums led me to learn something else-- they make trailers for books. Who knew! For me, once I saw a few trailers, the idea of creating my own was attractive even though I was also reading that trailers don't actually sell books  (not hard to see why given most folks probably don't know they even exist).

Well there was no choice for it, I had to do one... and then two and now three. After all, my goal for this has all along been to turn out the best and most complete product I can. A trailer was too big a temptation to resist-- sell books or not sell books.

So taking my art a step beyond the covers (while editing a story that I put out on Friday the 13th-- just because) led to creating trailers. It's like an addiction and more about how it's done and what I've done with it comes next as this is already too long.

Monday, April 16, 2012

stay at home moms

1981 Betatakin in Arizona

In the nature of full disclosure regarding stay-at-home moms, an issue that arose in this campaign, I was one of those. I did it during an era when it was not much respected by the rising feminist movement, where they felt that only women with a career could use their full range of skills, be independent and have power.

I did it because I had a choice-- not because someone told me to do it. I had had a stay-at-home mom and liked the idea of being there for my kids. I did it because Farm Boss made a living such that my income was not required. Now I won't say it would not have bought extra luxuries for the family, but he and I talked about it that we had a good piece of the pie with the money he made. If I had taken a paying job, it'd have meant someone else wouldn't have it. Plus we both knew  I liked the freedom no job meant which is that I could be there always for the kids, I could pursue my own interests, and I always had plenty of them.

When I decided not to go to work when the kids left the home, I again had a choice. At that point I wrote (much as I do now) pretty much whole days. I was developing my skills as a writer and creating plots. I also sculpted and painted. I had the time to do research on anything that interested me-- leading to the fact that today, with Farm Boss all but retired from outside work (unlikely he'll ever totally be retired), my day isn't different than it ever was-- him around the farm or not.

Now I had no hired help during the years of child rearing. Babysitters only happened once in a great while. When we took a vacation, we all went. Once when our daughter was small, I hired a woman to do our ironing (remember the days when everything had to be ironed). It was quite a luxury, but I never did it again. Never have had professionals clean our home nor wash our windows nor do the gardening.

I stayed home by choice. No religion dictated it. No husband demanded-- or demanded the opposite way. It's not the case with many women. Some want the challenges of the career and nothing wrong with that. If someone doesn't feel fulfilled, they won't be happy. An unhappy person won't make anybody else happy either. Some women work because they are the only ones with a job, or both partners are underpaid or have jobs that aren't always steady.

There is a big difference in why a woman would decide to not work outside the home. There is a big difference in how she can use that time when she is freed from outside restraints. Staying at home doesn't mean lack of intelligence nor ambition. It might not mean a person is more capable of being self-motivated. Likely there are stay-at-home moms who sit in front of a TV all day. I just haven't known any. She or he (these days there are stay-at-home dads too) can be informed, stay productive and basically make from that freedom whatever she/he chooses.

I speak of my own history in the matter because it was another of those issues last week, you know the ones that don't matter compared to health care, tax rates, income inequality, legal system inequality, racism, gun laws, gas prices, abortion rights, contraceptive availability, equal pay for equal work, equality of marriage, and so forth. The dignity or not, of stay-at-home moms, of making a choice to stay home, became the topic of the week.

The party, which does not believe women have the emotional intelligence to decide on an abortion, should be protected from contraceptives, the ones they do not think deserve equal pay as a legal right, yes, that party got very sanctimonious as it jumped on Hilary Rosen's statement that Ann Romney had no right to talk about economic issues for women as she had never worked a day in her life.

Romney himself, of course, could not resist jumping on it, setting himself up once again as this holier than thou figure as he got up on the podium with that look on his face and said all moms work. He had a great time-- while forgetting in January he had said mothers on welfare need the dignity of outside work and should not be permitted to stay at home and care for two-year olds. That man needs a better memory or possibly should stick to the canned speeches his handlers write for him to avoid these things.

Oh how the words flowed as the pundits latched on as though finally something deep they could cover-- do Democrats disdain women who do not hold down outside jobs?

Democrats tried to distance themselves from the kerfuffle. Rosen apologized. But Republicans all but rubbed their hands in glee as they found a possible way to divert from the accusations that they are engaging in a war on women.  If they aren't into an assault on women, I don't know what you'd call it. It really does seem to be that they want to take us back to the 1950s if not the 1450s.

This was handy for Romney who knows he has a gender gap problem. He's been trying to prove he'd be good to women because after all a rising tide carries all boats-- except of course, it doesn't as the Bush administration proved conclusively to all but strident Republicans.

On the stump, Romney began using a statistic that shows women lost the most jobs during Obama's time in office. He had his 'facts' and was jumping on them. The fact that he has said he loved firing people, did a lot of it when he took over companies, that won't be noted by the right wing but it should. Also that his statistic is meaningless as you have to look at the whole recession but hey numbers don't lie-- except when they do. [Geithner weighs in]

Republicans can say what they want, but for anybody who cares to note what they have actually done, it's pretty obvious that they are not the friend of women-- including those in the work place. They do not favor any laws to help women be sure they get equal pay. Their governors have immediately gone after abortion rights and even contraceptive availability. Their attacks on unions will injure all working people. If workers can't go as a group, as a single person, they have little bargaining power for working conditions or salaries. When you add in the Republican assault on public education, men and women will have a harder time breaking through class barriers.

Romney pretends to care about women's issues but when reporters asked, at one his campaign's own planned events on women's issues, his spokespeople didn't even know what he thought about the Lilly Ledbetter Act even though this was supposed to be a meeting about economics and women. When Romney himself weighed in, he said he would not try to repeal it. That pretty well says he would not have signed it. What is complicated about equal pay for equal work???

Republican Pete Hoekstra labels Ledbetter Act a nuisance -- Sure he does. He doesn't want women getting equal pay or when they discover they are not, being able to sue to receive compensation (the threat of that helping to discourage it even happening). Only if corporations are held accountable (by their own ethics or our collective power i.e. unions and government) will women get equal pay for the same job. This is complicated?

 Romney is a man who clearly says whatever the times require.  Here's what he said in January on mothers staying home to care for children if they are poor [Get to work and government pay for childcare to do it].

Mitt obviously has no moral compunction about lying because he thinks it's all about him and his higher goals. Listen to anything he says and you hear the same thing. Right now he pretends to care about women. His own history and that his policies would make job loss even more entrenched, says otherwise. His concern for the poor (which disproportionately are women and children) he himself stated was negligible as we already had programs for poverty (which he then says in speeches that he would eliminate if he gets the power to do so).

But the reason Hilary Rosen's statement took wings isn't just because of Republicans. Early feminists, generally Democrats, did show disdain for women who stayed home to raise children. However she meant it, Rosen said something a lot of them (excepting Betty Friedan) have said at one time or another. They frequently implied women who didn't work outside the home were leeches and not developing their full powers. They saw a woman working out of the home as the only way she could attain security.

Rosen wasn't so much saying it's not work to raise five boys (even with a multimillionaire as a husband), but instead that if a woman stays home, she won't have had the experiences of women who are trying to squeeze multitasking in a hundred ways into a set of hours every day.

Now there are reasons to question Ann Romney's ability to understand economic issues and how women are impacted by them. The first would be her privileged life in so far as money can make for privilege. Ann Romney had the choice to stay home (assuming her husband would have let her work outside). She didn't witness her children not having what others did because she was there.

She has not though led a totally protected life as in she has suffered big health issues with MS and breast cancer, but she has had the best care possible for fighting those-- something Mitt would deny poor or really any other women.

Interestingly Ann Romney did donate to Planned Parenthood at one time; so whether she's like Laura Bush with a mind of her own, I don't know. She might have her own ideas on a lot; but if so, they aren't drifting through the ether to her husband (unless he likewise has other ideas but is lying to the Republican party). To add to the questions about Mitt's positions, there are those among his advisers who say his own personal opinions differ from what he is saying to get elected evidently on pretty much everything-- hence the etch-a-sketch president.

Mitt Romney really is a pig in a poke as to what people will get if he attains the presidency. Is he trying to fool the right wing or the independents? I think his lying is one of the aspects that scares me most about his gaining the power of the presidency. Lots of presidents cannot do what they promised when they were candidates but some have a deliberate swindle in mind -- think compassionate conservative.

We aren't supposed to mention religion in considering who Ann Romney is, what her knowledge might be about economics, but she lives in a Mormon household, became Mormon to marry Mitt, and frankly Mormons are not exactly noted for their equality toward women. A Mormon man can rise to the level of a god. A Mormon woman could become a god's wife but that's about it. Only men can lead their religion or, as I understand it, even lead the wards or stakes. Their infallible-on-such-matters President did end polygamy but because of politics in the United States which was the same reason they ended the belief that blacks were the descendents of Cain and hence not eligible for godhood either.  Does Ann believe all a true-believing Mormon woman would, if so, she's got a male fixation on leadership (true of fundamentalists also, of course).

She is a wealthy woman with the ability to hire whatever help her husband permits or wishes. She doesn't experience what it's like for single moms or poor women and for her to imply or him to say that she can advise him on women's issues, is basically a good example of his cluelessness.

She is, as was Laura Bush, a very appealing woman and an asset to his campaign in that sense, but her understanding of what it would mean to poor women to eliminate Planned Parenthood (which he has said he would do-- if we can believe what he says), if she has an understanding of that, she's not permitted to speak out on it.

So, Democrats got some of this on them because of their own history where it came to denigrating women who did not work outside the home as though they weren't fully developed.

I think, based on my own experience, that women can be informed as stay-at-home moms, they can be developing skills that would be marketable should they need them. BUT the important thing here to remember is that Ann Romney, as did I, had a choice. I would add that women who raise children with a full time job or even career, can be fully engaged in our culture, know what's going on politically, be there for their kids. It's just harder.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder-- or is it?

When I read this piece on Daily Beast by Ashley Judd, I thought it was worth bringing here.

Her article led to Daily Beast posting a follow-up--

Generally I don't get into these kinds of debates as she's a celebrity, she is under more pressure to always look her best, does it really impact me or readers here? Well it does in the sense that when the media ridicules or puts down women for their appearance-- especially as it relates to weight, beauty, health issues, or aging, they do impact how we see ourselves. It doesn't just happen to movie stars.

Think how often Hillary Clinton has been put down by one media or another for her hips, her legs, her hair style, or her aging. It takes a confident woman to go through that and stay true to their own style. Then there has been the physical putdown of Meghan McCain who, if you have seen her know, is a beautiful woman. That's not good enough for some people and the media, as they decree her to be fat and bring it up regularly as a way to ridicule. And if you follow the media's talk about women, a size 10 is plus sized.

Where it comes to aging celebrities, how many times have you heard someone put down Clint Eastwood for looking old? Not happening. But a woman in his age bracket better be skinny and have done some face work or she will be virtually asked to put a sack over her head.  If the celeb has had work done, the appearance police will evaluate whether it was a good job. Woe to that slim celeb (of any age) where her muscles show. Woe to the celeb male where they don't.

In some ways it would seem it shouldn't matter to women like me. We don't have to get out into the celeb world and be photographed regularly. The thing is do ordinary women then avoid being photographed in their own world?

How many young women, who are raising kids, feel fat compared to Cameron Diaz; how many will have zero photos of those years because they felt fat? Or when they get old, refuse to be photographed because they look their age and did not have surgery? Someday in a family album they will be as though they never existed, weren't really there-- and if you think that doesn't matter, consider the future generations who won't have known that person but might have a feel of who they were by those kind of photos.

Last lady on the right is my great grandmother. I never met her, not even as a baby but have seen a lot of photos of her proudly with her family and did she mind that she looked old, probably had no teeth by that age? If she did, she didn't let it stop her.

I only know how much fun my grandmother could be because I scanned some old negatives that had belonged to one of my aunts and saw this photo of her looking through a watermelon rind with her youngest son. My grandmother was overweight all her life but I have a lot of photos of her through the years. It means a lot to me now. Someday it might mean even more to my great grandchildren.

Some of this drive for perfection comes from advertising and our entertainment choices. Smile and if your teeth aren't perfectly even and nearly glowing with whiteness, shame on you and get ye to the dentist or the newest teeth whitening treatment. I had no idea how much was out there until I was in the toothpaste aisle and saw all the whitening products for teeth and that doesn't count the money going to dentists for even more advanced whitening.  If those teeth aren't totally white, do NOT let anybody take a photo of you smiling.

Yep, I have not had mine professionally whitened and feel lucky I just still have them. Well most of them...

For every Oprah (who is always battling her weight) there are more slim and beautiful TV and movie success stories. In a lot of the books out there, the hero is muscular and handsome-- heroine slender and beautiful. I can only think of a few exceptions like Bridget Jones Diary who was trying to lose weight but looked like an average woman-- oh the misery. In books off the top of my head, I can think of two obese heroines-- Little Giant of Aberdeen County and The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (and to play the role in the HBO series, the actress had to be inflated to fit the part. No really fat actresses to do it?) Jane Eyre is supposed to be plain but when you see a movie of the book, no plain women playing the part, are there?

Recently in the writer forums at Amazon I heard women complaining about there being only one male model who is regularly used on the covers. And it's true. He is everywhere from indie to paper covers and frankly he's found a market that it's too bad more interesting looking men and women don't mine by providing photos of themselves that would be suitable for say historic or contemporary book covers.

Besides, access, there's a reason he's on so many. He looks like who is in the books. And that includes some of mine as I have him on two because he does look like those heroes. I could have two more if I decide to publish my historic books and create my own covers for them. Why did I write about those kind of heroes? Well they came to me but why did they come to me?

One factor is that it's what readers want. I wrote one book with an ugly hero (who the heroine, of course, saw otherwise) and I have yet to find a cover model who could make it work to do a trailer-- and I will be doing a trailer for that book. I see men in real life all the time who don't have perfect features and yet have that certain something. Try finding a photo of one where you can buy the rights to use-- at least for a price independent writers can afford.

One writer said we can blame this on Clint Walker and she might be right for my age group. I had such a crush on him when he was doing Cheyenne (western TV series for you younger readers). Oh my and when he took his shirt off, well it's not too surprising a man looking a lot like him is making money these days pretending to be the hero about whom the writers wrote. I so wanted Clint Walker to be my husband someday and was quite disappointed to find the actor who played him was already married.

I am not sure why we like our advertisements full of, our movies populated by, our books about perfect looking people when none of us are. Maybe it's part of the fantasy. Well if it is, it's a problem when we take it with us off the pages or away from the screens.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Blog as a Hive

Well it's not as though there is a queen bee, but a blog world is like a hive in that information is coming and going. Nectar comes in, pollen is spread, and honey is produced, or a virus can be spread and kill off the whole hive.

I don't personally think honey, in the case of blogs, is all about sweetness, but it is all about sustenance and spreading knowledge with a positive goal. If the only purpose is to spread hate and dissent, the blog isn't one I'll be reading for long. Now I don't mind a rant from my favorite writers. I put them out here off and on also; however, I read what mostly gives me something positive to carry back to my world-- and that positive can be information-- even if it's unhappy information.

For my own blog I stick to a mix of things, but it is all about ideas which mine are often pollinated by something I read somewhere else. I have experiences in my life that I do use but cautiously as I want this blog to be about thinking more than a daily journal-- not that there's anything wrong with journal blogs and I read several of them. I share some of what is going on in my life but a lot of it is more what goes on in my head than in my routine world.

Last night I had one of those nights where I woke up in the middle of it and simply could not go back to sleep and that went on for hours. I thought about getting up and doing some of what was on my mind except I really was tired still and wanted to sleep. The thing was-- too much was buzzing up there.

Some of it related to my fiction writing-- more about that next blog. Some my life. Some the nation. None of it was orderly. It did lead to a lot of thinking though which moved between my life, community, blog, writing, art and in a circle back through it all again.

That which involved our nation was mostly my hope that the media would let go of the Martin- Zimmerman case now. I have little hope they will but I do wish it.  I am glad the prosecutor charged Zimmerman with second degree murder. I liked hearing her reasonable comments and the equally reasonable ones coming from the lawyer who will represent Zimmerman. The next time I hear about it, I would like it to be when a verdict is delivered. I would like the media to let this go now and let justice run its course-- however that turns out.

This bombardment, of what is going on, what they think is going on, what they wish was going on, with interviews with anybody involved or not involved, is driving me to turn off the TV.  IF they do a wall to wall coverage of the trial, I will not watch it. I think this excessive coverage will work against a fair trial, is wrong, and I don't care if it comes from the right or the left.

We don't need to know what neighbors, family members, experts or anybody else thinks now. Maybe there was a reason for the coverage before. It could be the legal system would have gone here anyway but more likely they would not have-- squeaky wheel and all. It probably was good we had more discussion on race, but for heaven's sake let it be now.

The match-ups for the election in November have now been determined except for who the Veep will be on the right. I do not believe Obama will dump Biden although one never knows for sure when it's politics. I will be interested in who Romney picks but whoever he picks, he will be at the head of the ticket and I really really hate listening to that man talk. There is something in his voice and face that turn me off totally. I know that's not a reason to vote against someone but in his case there are plenty of other reasons. I think I'll like better reading about the campaign than seeing clips from it-- from either side.

In terms of farm news, Farm Boss has a new tractor and I do mean new. He's had old equipment all the years we have lived here that he's kept going by sweat, wire, ingenuity, and sometimes blood. When he was going to sell a piece of equipment he had bought for his consulting business, I told him why not invest that into a good tractor. At our ages, having good equipment is growing more important.

Well the piece of equipment didn't sell (yet anyway) but the idea had been planted and now it has born fruit with a shiny new tractor sitting in our driveway and a very happy (most of the time) Farm Boss. The most of the time relates to the farm equipment place not being exactly reliable for when they delivered or what they delivered. Farm time with businesses is a bit different than city time, I might insert here.

Anyway he's very happy with something that will serve his work quite well. With adding on the leased property to the back, the tractor will be a big help. If he really cuts back on consulting work as he says, he can have all kinds of projects with which to use it.

(Getting him to smile for a photo is always an accomplishment on the photographer's part-- patting myself on the back).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Matt Taibbi tells us the truth-- one we'd rather not hear

Matt Taibbi is rarely wrong. This time I wish he was but don't think so.

It's rather ironic how the Republicans worry so much about Obama's administration being bad for corporations and the wealthy. When he picked Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, it seemed we were in trouble, and over and over it's proven to be the case. Can anyone run for president here without owing too much to the power brokers?

I don't know if Obama himself is corrupt or just has trusted those in Wall Street's upper echelons to have the best interests of the ordinary people in mind. Naive at the least. It's obvious it would be the same only more openly so with Mitt Romney.

This is a corporate dictatorship, and we are kidding ourselves otherwise. It is the people's fault too as time and again we see where money dictates the vote.  I can't say for sure if money determined the vote for Romney over Santorum as Santorum threw the election away with going after birth control, all abortions, and his desire for a theocracy (naturally with him the one getting direction from God). Still at 4 or 6 to 1, those ads must have been effective with some at the least.

Ads don't have to work. Money doesn't have to buy elections. People could read the bills, look at the record, forget what these guys promise and go for what they have done, what they have stood for. People could...

The only difference between the parties is one would take our sexual freedom as well as our money. Both apparently increase the power of the wealthy and put us more under a police state. Republicans can kid themselves all they want but Bush put us on a path. The Republicans in Congress are only waiting for the right time to accelerate that path. Romney won't even tell us what he'd do as he wouldn't get votes (or so he said). Which side do you think he's fooling or is it both?

I don't buy the revolution idea because I do not think it would work. What would work is a solid third party with a new kind of leader and then a population who wants to be informed not just entertained. I won't hold my breath!

Monday, April 09, 2012

A fox in the garden

Last week was a busy one for me, and the future is looking about the same; so for awhile posts here will be sporadic.

When a wild thing walks into my garden, I am always thrilled even when I know it's best for them to stay away and not trust humans too much. This time it is a small gray fox who I first saw in our little rock garden right outside the living room window. That time I started to walk to get the camera and it ran immediately.

A few days later the fox was back and this time I crawled to be below the window view. I guess I took over thirty photos of it enjoying the garden and sunshine. I was totally amazed that it would come so close to the house, but it's young. Twice more we've seen it, once hunting near the bird feeder and then Saturday evening jumping up on our rock bench.

The last time although I'd have enjoyed a photo, I felt more concern that Blackie (one of our cats) was outside. I thought maybe the fox would be aggressive. Instead it was the other way around, and to my shock Blackie took out after it!  Fortunately Blackie stopped at the fence while the fox sat out in the orchard for a bit as though trying to understand why our place had turned so unfriendly. Actually it was also chased across the pasture one day by the cows.

It's adorable but I don't want to encourage wild things to come in close to the house, not with small lambs and my cats outside off and on. Also it's healthier for the fox to learn people aren't safe. It's hard though to do that as it is really adorable. When I see something like that, I worry it's not getting enough food and needs help. That is plain foolish as to put out food for it would not be healthy for the wild thing or our place.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


 We have been told there is no longer racism in America. Or if there is, minorities are as guilty of it as 'whites' (nobody is really white so maybe that should be pinks). But the Trayvon murder began it; but since, there have been a lot of stories adding to the information. There has been a lot going on and not being publicized. Worse, the racism is not just in individuals but also in our system.  Something like the following is hard to explain on any other basis.

This one should worry us all as (unless you only watch Fox) you have probably heard the story of what this man went through. His wife was speeding. They had a four year old son in the backseat. The police officer checked the ID of the husband, who was a passenger, and found an old arrest warrant. The man had dealt with this issue but to be safe had with him a notarized letter explaining that the fine had been paid meaning the warrant was not valid. He was arrested anyway, spent nearly a week in jail, and due to their changing which jail he was in was strip-searched twice.

In the news interview I saw, he said the strip searches were extremely humiliating especially since he was being wrongly held. They couldn't find the truth of it sooner? His wife could not reach him for days. The experience of his arrest, his son witnessing it, then his not being with them for days added to the humiliation. So he sued. That's what we do when we have been wrongfully treated.

It went to the Supreme Court who just ruled (by the usual 5 to 4 majority) that the police can strip search anyone they arrest even for such a minor offense as not raking the leaves off their lawn. Remember when you are arrested, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. That's not how this makes it appear when they can order you to remove all your clothing and go through some humiliating examinations.

This one has particular meaning to me as I had an experience a few years ago, that had I been a minority, likely could have seen me arrested. Farm Boss had made a right turn onto a city street, gone immediately into the next lane to make a left turn in the next block. It was safe, nobody was coming, but on a side street, an officer had watched him do it. When we turned into a parking lot for the video rental store, we both saw the police car behind us.

Now I was totally ignorant of the rule that when someone is pulled over by a police officer, everybody must remain in the car. We had driven into where we were going. Frankly I didn't think there had been an infraction. I got out of the car and walked toward the video store.

The officer evidently hollered at me to stop. I did not hear him and went on into the store. He let it go, took Farm Boss's ID, gave him a verbal warning on the lane change. End of story but I realize now that I could have been arrested as resisting an officer or unruly conduct or whatever they wanted to call it, and today that could lead to a trip to jail and a strip search. Do you think the story back then would have been the same if I had not been an old white woman?

I don't think any of us should feel secure that such a thing might be different depending on our race. When one group is not treated the same as another, does that make any of us as safe? Since Trayvon's death we have heard of many shootings and incidents where race clearly played a part in the approach the officers took or how the court saw the shooter. This plain is wrong.
Then there is the irony (at least to me) as to how the shooting of Trayvon has been used as a political issue, turned from one of wrongful killing into another right/left battle. I was not happy when Biden brought up gun laws should be examined because that's what the right is trying to protect and why they tried to bury this issue. This situation was more about giving someone with a gun the right to go hunting than whether people have guns. The right wants a right to carry assault rifles anywhere they wish.

Then the media blew it by clipping the 911 calls to make what was said sound worse than it was. It was bad enough but when they do that, they deserve the Palin epithet of lamestream media. This wasn't a case that needed to be hyped. It's bad enough as is.

Instead of being a cultural issue, it become another of liberal versus conservative. How the heck did that happen?  I would have thought this was something that would bring us all together. Instead first the Foxies ignored it. When they could not do that any longer, they began to attack the teen rather than the shooter. They attacked the president for saying anything about it. The rest of us could say it could have been our son but how dare he add that his son would have looked like Trayvon. It was the simple truth.

Frankly if the right thinks the outrage from the left is against Zimmerman, it's not. He was a wantabe tough guy with a gun and that kind have always been with us. It's the system that enabled him to patrol his neighborhood, and then when he shot an innocent man, the Florida system did all they could do to protect him even to telling the police to not do their job which would have meant ballistic tests, drug and alcohol tests on Zimmerman. From what I understand, we can lay that one directly on the city attorney who told the police not to charge Zimmerman. Was that racial or good old boys? Although, the stories on who wanted him arrested and who blocked that seem to change day by day. What doesn't change is a youth is dead--  

You know, Zimmerman claimed he was so badly beaten by Trayvon that he had to shoot to save his life. Except surely the police also noticed what the undertaker saw on the youth's body-- no bruised knuckles, no damaged face, and only one wound-- the shot that killed him. Some deadly knock down drag out fight. You know, a fistfight, even if you are on the losing end, doesn't warrant killing another.

Zimmerman claimed he was the one who cried for help. That's not what experts said-- Voice not Zimmerman's

To me more rational righties should be ashamed of belonging to a party that would be so destructive. Over and over the pundits and leaders on the right show their true nature.You real conservatives, you need to clean house. It won't be easy though as your party has been hijacked and it's not by conservatives.

The other day I got an email alert and went looking into this story-- The killing of Kenneth Chamberlain by Police.  Explain that one away.

Or try this one -- Joe Horn Shooting Controversy. That one bothered me on several levels as it's not just that he went hunting and got his game. It's that he was cheered by some for doing it.

This reminds me of the ones who cheered the idea of letting some die because they don't have health insurance. What is going on here? Who are some of us turning into as a people? Most amazing is those cheering would call themselves Christians and yet you can almost hear their type also cheering as Jesus was executed-- that commie, socialist who was upsetting the political order of their time.

Whose fault is it that laws like Florida's and other states are encouraging slaughters and allowing someone to hunt another as Zimmerman did Trayvon Martin? Isn't something badly wrong when a people condone and praise such events? It's our fault if we let it go on.  We should demand safety and fairness for everyone-- regardless of race or connection to the powerful. They used to say if you ignore this unfairness to minorities, they will come for you next, well guess what.

If you have followed what has been going on around the country with the police assaults on the Occupy demonstrators, who usually have been middle class people and totally unprepared to think police would use violent crowd control; and often, as evidently in St. Louis, with no provocation. This is happening around the country with a police force being trained in more and more violent control of the populace.

They came for them and we said nothing. We were next. I have often thought when swat teams break into someone's home on a supposed drug raid, only it was the wrong house, with the occupants being killed when they resist, that could be me. Police who come like that would seem like a threat to most of us when we are in our own home. Wouldn't they to you?

Somebody must benefit from this kind of mentality. I am just not sure who it is.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Yes, it's a rant

Once upon a time I said if you want to stick your head in the sand, it's okay. I don't feel that way anymore. I get it that it's upsetting to think about what's going on. I get it that the country is divided in half on a lot of issues like health care. The thing is,  I think it's becoming increasingly obvious that none of us can hide from it.

You know the ones who worked to fight for women's right to own property, to vote, to use birth control, and to have an abortion, they didn't stick their heads in the sand, or we'd not have had the opportunities we have had.

When something happens like the GOP budget, the one recently promoted by Paul Ryan and applauded by Mitt Romney, the one that would further lower taxes for the wealthiest, in a time when their wealth is growing exponentially, a bill that would further take from the poor and the old, when that happens, it's not an accident. It's not like the Republicans come up with this stuff by themselves.

When you hear Romney say as he did on a recent video that he can't give the details of what his plan would be because he wouldn't be elected, leftie or rightie, you need to be thinking long and hard what that means.

In Washington there are today 13,700 registered lobbyists with a lot more doing the work, as Gingrich was, without being officially regarded as lobbyists. They hand, to the various leaders, what they expect to have done. They virtually write laws. They want more money for themselves and their corporate masters. They don't really care much about anybody else. There are ways they convince the weak to either not resist and even to agree. It's rather insidious actually. And once again I want to know-- how much is enough?

Groups like ALEC  call themselves non-profit charitable organizations and yet all they do is politically lobby and demand from the political leaders the things they want. Their organization gets tax free advantages for its donors.  You cannot donate directly to any candidate for president and get a dime in deductions, but you can these PACs. The thing is no group who only has political goals should be considered tax-deductible but these groups have been.

They lobby for things like denying global warming, teaching creationism or getting rid of public education, tax breaks for business, lessening environmental standards, etc. They have a widespread network of pundits like Rush Limbaugh who benefit from their largesse through advertising dollars. And who is the sucker here? People who don't get informed or pay attention because being ignorant won't protect anybody including themselves.

One might ask why the people behind these groups, the ones who make their huge profits off the sweat of other people, why are they so pro-religion. They certainly do not live their lives like any follower of Christ. They are the very ones he spoke out against. But they use religion as a way to keep the masses placid and submissive.

Many of us have likely never heard of ALEC. Farm Boss had, but I hadn't until I was listening to one of my favorite leftie radio programs, and they brought out what ALEC works to do.

To understand better myself, I found just a few of the many sites on it:  ALEC Exposed, American Legislative Exchange Council and The Nation-- ALEC Exposed. That last one has a lot more links in it.

Now righties might think this is all good. It's working for our goals. Do not kid yourself as what these people want is always less power for the majority and more power for themselves. The talk is that you can manage your money better than the government. Tell me how do you build a freeway that way? Maintain a library? Manage public safety? Make sure your food is safe?

ALEC doesn't care. It's about less power for you because as an individual you cannot do much about things like poor food safety regulations. Groups like ALEC have worked to demonize unions and government because that is the collective will of the people. Until we join together with others, we do not have power which keeps the rich ruling as they did in the time of serfs and peons. For some that was an ideal way of life. Not for the average person.

This legalizing what is unimaginable (like hunting down and killing an unarmed boy), like taking away civil rights, breaking promises, the legal assault on the rights and even bodies of women, it is happening everywhere-- on a local, state and federal level. It's not by chance.

The only thing I can think of what is behind the kind of budget Paul Ryan has so proudly put forth, and Romney says he supports, is its benefit the extremely wealthy and the big corporate interests. Less regulations on banks, on your investments and more chance for them to get your money.

These bills are often nearly written by lobbyists (lobbyists whose numbers have grown exponentially), and this system of big money has provided the fuel for legal assaults everyplace they can possibly take away rights or get more money for themselves.

Frankly it's scary for our children and grandchildren's future. And it should be. I've read propositions to give Congress more staff so they are less dependent on lobbyists for their positions and information. I doubt that will help. They will just have that staff coming from these groups who are going after the average Americans on every level. Congress wants the money and benefits they get from lobbyists.

In our country, it has all reached a point where it's all about 'me' and I owe nothing to anybody-- except maybe to send a military force overseas and fight wars where we aren't wanted and can't really win because the battle is for the hearts of a people-- and you don't win those by killings.

The answer for this has to start with lobbyists, groups like ALEC, who are taking advantage of laws for charities when they are anything but charitable.  Groups that have gained even more power through their Supreme Court Justices, and you can bet this assault on the poor, on the old, on the weak, is not over. What these groups, and ALEC isn't the only one, want soon becomes the American agenda for those like Paul Ryan, Ron Wyden, Eric Cantor and all who want more power and have hopes for future positions with those firms.

IRS is considering the tax free status these groups get because it isn't for those groups who only serve political roles. Wonder how far that attempt will get and if it did, would it be overridden by the unelected Supreme Court Justices?

This next election is critical for the Supreme Court with their ability to unwrite laws Congress and the President have passed.  It is as though the real ruling power in this country is that Court who are accountable to no one. They can say the Constitution means whatever they say it does-- and that includes making a corporation have the legal rights of an individual citizen. That doesn't mean the people who own the corporations. They already had that right. Now their organization is a person and it has enabled this total abdication of any accountability for the money that can go into those PACs.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she is retiring during the next term.  Think for a minute about Romney appointing more Scalias, Alitos, Thomases, and Roberts. If that doesn't inspire us to donate to the Obama campaign (and the ones in Congress), we are kidding ourselves that elections don't matter.

The problem is how do you stop it? Romney is buying his election but considering who he is running against, you wouldn't think it would have taken as much money as it has to do that.

If we want to make sure all citizens can receive health care, if we want to end the insurance monopoly on who gets health care in this country, then we have to support as much as we can true progressives. It's not enough to support those who call themselves Democrats-- look at Ben Nelson. Study their positions and I think donate outside our own states. The Senate matters to us all and we need 60 real votes there with regaining control of the House, and Obama as president.

IF you must vote for a conservative, make sure it's really a conservative. What is passing for conservative today is as bad as what is passing for Christian. If you truly believe it's conservative to pass more tax breaks for the richest, then you are looking for manna from heaven, and it ain't falling, baby!

We could get single payer and end insurance company control for who gets care, as well as lower our costs. I get it that politicians on the left haven't wanted to lose their golden goose either, but we can push for what we want if we pay attention and apply pressure. We need people to run for office who  care about the old, the sick, the real future of our country, those who care about fairness, economic justice, and the future of the middle class.

For anyone who says it is already too late and only a revolution will fix it, I can only say you don't get it. This system is there, and it can still be fixed, but it won't happen without a concerted effort of Americans. Quit dumbing ourselves down and get informed as to what is going on and what our candidate for office has done or says they will do about it.  Volunteer, donate and vote!