Does anybody read these?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Because it seems like a waste...

... to spend $40,000 on a degree I never use.

So, I wanted to toss out these two dime-store commentaries on elections and campaigns. And then, I'm going to shut up because I've already voted, and none of it really matters anyhow.

1. In this, the era of "early voting," organizations who put out voters' guides might want to step it up and get those out a little early. I voted three weeks ago, so sending one this week really didn't help me. Not that I needed one, but I did appreciate it and when every dime counts in an election, you need to really make your sure your literature is making an impression.

2. Yesterday, in case you didn't figure it out, I had someone I considered a friend blow up on me because I said Karl Rove has a political strategy to use particular issues to target "ignorant" voters. She called me rude, deleted me from Facebook and then told other people that she never wanted to be in the same room with me because of my "bullshit."

It's OK, I am not ever going to be in the same room with her because she's a class A "asshole." And I am half-tempted to call her out by name in case she ever googles herself. But frankly, that'd be a waste of time, because I think there's a reason she got defensive when I refered to ignorant voters.

OK, enough of the sidebar and drama. What's done is done, and words -- on either side -- can't be erased. But Google Karl Rove and "wedge issues," and you'll see that this is shit I didn't make up in my mind. And, as for "ignorant voters," well, let's go back to the founding of our country. The electoral college exists because some of our founding fathers believed that the general public would not be smart enough to elect their leaders by popular vote. Yes, in some ways that's elitist and contradictory to the spirit of democracy. But, to be honest, I haven't thought it was a bad idea for a long time. After all, in the time that I've studied electoral politics, we've had the Republican Revolution of 1994, numerous primaries getting rigged to put the weakest link up to the more formidable opponent (I'm not positive this doesn't explain some candidates this year), two bullshit presidential elections and this whole mess this year.

And, I don't care what you have to say about it, when you have a candidate for U.S. Senate who doesn't even know what's in the first amendment, America is not putting its best foot forward.

And, deep down, even if we disagree on what it means, don't we all want America to put its best foot forward?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Politically incorrect

I don't care if people are Republicans or Democrats. Life would be boring if we were all the same. Actually, some of my dearest friends are Republicans, and I don't love them any less. I don't think they are stupid or that they have made the wrong decision. Because they aren't stupid. They've done their homework, and they can tell you why they are Republican. I can respect that. I often wonder if I were in another tax bracket if I would be a Republican, but since I will probably not ever be in another tax bracket, we don't need to worry about that.

I generally tend to identify more with Democrats, although I will tell you that Tennessee's race for the Governor this year had me thinking outside the box, so to speak. It was two very moderate candidates with similar positions and similar backgrounds. I had even met both of them, and they were both very nice guys. However, the Democrat has been classless and negative the last few weeks.

It was hard to make my decision, and no one will ever know how I voted on that one.

I am a middle-class, white-collar daughter of a retired autoworker. I'm a woman who believes that men shouldn't be allowed to make decisions about our medical care (although I do believe that people have the obligation to sort those decisions out with their religious beliefs). My family hasn't ever been wealthy, and I highly doubt that we ever will be. We're not destitute, but it's my guess that anyone in my family is only a few paychecks away from it, if that.

But, I have always believed that society has an obligation to help its own. Whether it's through offering affordable health care for everyone or giving people a hand-up when they are down on their luck, we can't let people rot and suffer. We need our school kids to be smart and competitive in a global market place. We need to provide unwed mothers with a full range of options -- from reproductive services to financial assistance.

We are only as strong as our weakest link. And yes, as one of my heroes, Hillary Clinton, said: it does take a village to raise a child.

In my village, we would all come home on payday and throw what we could into the pot. And then when someone needed something, it would be there for them. Maybe that makes me a communitarian, or maybe it makes me a socialist. I don't care what the label is, hungry kids without access to warm beds, clean water, adequate education and health care make me sad. It breaks my heart and makes me ashamed to be an American.

It surely doesn't make me a Democrat or a Republican. All they do is fight amongst themselves, sling mud and waste our money on stupid attack ads. Yep, you heard me, they're both guilty and I'm just about fed up with our special-interest-run "democracy."

Maybe people hate me because of my beliefs, even though I'm respectful to those who believe in a free market, capitalist society. I don't think it's right to not provide affordable healthcare or to tell someone what medical procedures they can or can't have, but I have to admire people's convictions. Especially when they are religious beliefs. After all, they'd tell me that my faith requires me to think like them.

But the beauty about God, just like the beauty of American politics, is that we all have free will and the right to make our own mistakes. God forgives. We all get the opportunity to live and learn.

I had someone I liked and considered to be a nice person get upset with me today. And, for some reason, it really bothered me. I think it mostly bothered me because I completely misread this person. I thought she was accepting, kind and caring, and obviously she is not. Or perhaps she only is to people who watch Fox News.

I guess the whole point of this blog is that I have laid my politics and beliefs all out on the line here. If you don't agree with me, I have no problem with it. But if you have a problem with it, you can go on with your life. I would say "you won't hurt my feelings," but you probably will, especially if we were "real" friends. But, please don't try to argue with me. I'm not going to wake up tomorrow thinking that Glenn Beck is the best thing since sliced cheese, so there is no point in trying to convince me. Either you accept who I am and learn to tolerate it or you move on.

Case closed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

News flash!

Really, US magazine, is this headline really breaking news?

Charlie Sheen found drunk, naked in hotel

I'm not surprised. Anyone? Bueller?

I shouldn't make fun of Charlie, but don't we just wait around to see what mess he gets himself into next and how he manages to get out of it?

And, most importantly, why the hell do I get these US magazine "breaking news" emails anyhow? Who signed me up for this crap? Lindsay Lohan?

Does anyone else lose brain cells when they try to follow celebrity news? It almost makes me want to follow the elections more closely.

You know, because real breaking news would be a headline like this: Rand Paul is not crazy.

Ha ha ha ha ha

Crossing the line

I have a friend -- a real friend, not one I met on the Internet -- who sends me tons of e-mails on various topics throughout the course of the day. A lot of them are forwards, with or without her personal commentary. Some of them are just funny, "Hey, look at what I saw on the Internet;" some are urban legends (I used to reply back with a link to, until she sent an email out about how is just liberal propaganda); and, speaking of propaganda, a lot of her e-mails are crazy-ass, right-wing bullshit.

I don't know if she reads my blog or not. I guess we might find out. And, I've never responded negatively to her e-mails, even though some of them have insulted me to the core of my being.

Why, you ask?

Well, because she is a good person with a kind heart. Everyone has their own political beliefs, although sometimes I wonder if people use "political beliefs" to hide behind some other beliefs from some of what I've read... She's just of a different generation. At least she keeps in touch.

So, even though Barack Obama isn't a Muslim, has a birth certificate and is no less capable of being president than any other native son just because his skin's a little darker, I've never gone off on her or called her out. Even when she sends me crazy Glenn Beck rants that are flat-out wrong, I never correct her.

There's no point. Much like I'm never going to read one of her right-wing e-mails (well, what I read of them, most of them hit the trash because the subjects piss me off) and become a Republican, she's not going to suddenly believe that Obama was born in Hawaii because I e-mail her a PDF of his birth certificate (it's readily available all over the Internet, for any loony toonies who are interested).

As for being insulted, for those of you who may be new, I have my lovely cunada (how do I make a tilde on here?!), Senorita Benitez, and mi sobrino favorito, Juanito en la familia. Translation: My sister-in-law Miss Benitez (now Mrs. Richards Benitez) and my favorite nephew John in my family. Anyhow, I don't take jokes about spics and beaners and whatever else nastiness people come up with, very lightly. I'm color blind and I don't care whether you have your papers or not. It's not my concern, nor is it anyone else's as long as you are a valuable member of society. And let's face it, no American with papers is going to pick oranges for $5/bushel. It's not really legal anyhow. And god forbid the price of Tropicana go up.

But, still, her Mexican jokes took me aback, but never once did I try to make a right with two wrongs by going on the defensive. Even when I wanted to lash out because it hurt me and my family. I just let it go. I shouldn't, I know. I should stand up for mis amigos y mi familia (my friends and family). And, for the most part I do. You don't want to debate immigration reform with me, and you sure as hell don't want to let me know you're a racist.

Yet, none of that really pissed me off. Different generation, head full of Fox News propaganda. Sometimes you can't help it.

Until today. Today, I get an email about the "truth about the pink ribbon campaign." I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say, breast cancer awareness is some big sham created by the pharmaceutical companies and it won't ever cure breast cancer because they don't want it to. Masectomies, chemo, radiation, medications -- all part of the sham. Getting the cancer removed can't actually save you, according to this email. It just makes you look like a deformed freak, who's still full of cancer.

Now, I am not a doctor. And I don't know who started the pink ribbon campaign. I do know that I give money to Susan G. Komen every year, and I can't believe that someone wouldn't have called them out if they didn't give that money to scientists who were working on a cure. And I also know that regardless of how close we are to finding a cure for cancer (which is no easy feat, I might add) that the pink ribbon campaign is important. If you don't believe me, ask one of my best friends who lost her mom to this horrible disease. Next year, she gets the genetic testing and, if she has the gene, she plans to go ahead and get a masectomy to try to prevent cancer. Is that really any different from eating whole foods or stopping smoking? I don't think it is.

Whether the pink ribbon ever cures cancer or not, it has brought awareness to the cause. Because 26 years ago (when the campaign first started) you still talked about cancer, especially breast cancer, in whispers. I know this, because that's about the time that my mom's best friend got diagnosed with this horrible disease. And we always whispered about Cindy's cancer. Hell, that's how you knew it was bad, when people whispered about it.

Now, 26 years later, we have "feel your boobies" and "save the ta-tas" campaigns. The valet at the Hard Rock Cafe last night was wearing a pink polo shirt and the restaurant had a line of pink drinks, with a portion of the costs going to breast cancer. And no one whispers anymore. When we talk about Shay's mom, we don't whisper. When we talk about Shay maybe having to get her breasts removed, we don't whisper. Hell, we tell people to feel their boobies and save their tatas.

I love that this month is one big, giant ball of pink awareness. And, you know what? I will bet every dime I have (although it's close to pay day, so that's not much) that this pink ribbon campaign has saved lives. Because now we shout "feel your boobies" instead of whispering "she has the breast cancer," and I bet at least one woman has heard us, given herself an exam and found a lump in time to fight the cancer and beat it.

Yeah, definitely, at least one.

Happy Pinktober, everyone. Don't forget to feel your boobies!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Falling in love again

It's fall again, so that means my favorite time of year has arrived. Apple cider, caramel apples, trick-or-treaters ... I am ready for it all.

I've even been watching football this year, although after last fall, I've realized that watching football by yourself is pretty lame. Well, I guess it's lame after the company I've had the past few falls.

We're having a Halloween party this weekend. That should be fun. Nothing major, just some snacks and hopefully everyone will wear costumes.

As for falling in love with anything besides autumn, I'm not sure how I feel about that. As you can see, this time of year reminds me that I'm not a huge fan of doing things that are fun with men (like watching football) by myself. But, at the same time, I'm not a huge fan of men's nonsense.

And, it's always there. Even when you think a cat can change his stripes, they always reappear. Generally when you least expect them.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Politics 101

Last night, I went to a fundraiser for the Nashville Women's Political Caucus. It was a great event, and they invited me to participate in their future leaders program next week. So, I'm pretty geeked about that.

For those of you who may be new, I have a degree in political science. I always thought I'd be some big-time political operative, or, at the very least, live out of my rusted out Chevy Lumina while working for the next Harry Truman or something.

Then, real life, with all its student loans and total craziness happened upon me. I went back to Detroit, dove into a new world with the car guys, and gave up the dream of full-time politics.

That's not to say that I didn't get in with the auto unions -- the real car guys -- and spend my weekends and evenings eating finger foods with Debbie Stabenow or going door-to-door for John Dingell. Because I did. A lot. I love people and want to do whatever I can to help all humans, but my real Democratic roots come from being the daughter of a second-generation American auto worker.

Well, that and my commitment to Catholic social teaching. Which, somedays, it seems like the church isn't committed to.

But I digress. This is not supposed a political rant. Just some political guidance from your favorite armchair quarterback.

I want to give everyone one little piece of advice for this election. I know that people are pissed off with America and fed up with the way things are in this country. We all feel that way. But, remember what your grandma said about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Despite what you're hearing on TV ads, voting the old guys out of Washington isn't going to fix the problem. Yeah, some of the people in Washington are despicable, but so are some of the people running against them. But most of the people are there are just hard-working, everyday men and women just like you and me, who are trying to make a difference. They don't deserve to be voted out because you're pissed off at the President.

Or more likely, you're pissed off at the former president, because Obama hasn't really had time to screw things up like if he'd been given free rein on the executive orders and eight years like some other people. You can be pissed off at "Obamacare," if you want. I know I am, but only because it doesn't do enough, like tell the insurance companies to go fuck themselves because America isn't going to be the only nation with for-profit healthcare anymore.

This is probably why I don't get to be president. Well, that and the fact that I am not 35. Or a man.

This all brings me to today's point (see, I almost always have one). Special interests are the problems with American politics today.

It's not the Kennedys or the McCains or even Sarah Palin. It's the big money, special interest lobbies that run this country that are the problems. Just like health care reform. We didn't really get anything done (contrary to what Rush Limbaugh might want you to believe) because Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Kaiser, who have big ass, shining skyscraper offices in DC, gave tons of money to all the candidates to make sure that they protected their bottom lines.

Even my beloved car companies squash public transit bills and fuel economy standards because it affects their profits.

When you're picking a candidate this fall, don't look at the Ds and the Rs. Don't say "Fuck you, old guy, I'm voting for this random person no one's ever heard of!" Don't pay attention to the ads you see on TV. Instead, I want you to actually do your homework and see where the money is coming from. For example, 91% of all the money given to the Tea Party is from a handful of billionaires. Who's in the pocket of big oil? Who's in the pocket of the health insurance companies? Even who's in the pocket of the UAW and the car companies?

Try to find the guy who is truly for you and me. It will be hard and it will require some work and reseach. It's a lot harder than voting for whomever is blowing up Glen Beck's skirt this week. Or even Rachel Maddow's. Turn off the TV and look on non-partisan watchdog groups' websites. Find out where the money is coming from. Find out who is truly and honestly most aligned with your values and who will truly and honestly go to Washington to represent you.

It takes a lot of money to get elected, and everyone takes money from someone. But I'd feel better about someone who took money from a teacher's union than someone who took money from SarahPAC. And, look at the amounts, too. For example, Blue Cross gives just about everyone 500 bucks. It's when they give your guy 5000 bucks or 50,000 or start running ads for him that you need to start to worry.

Get involved in the process. Regardless of who wins, let your elected officials know how you feel on issues. Visit their local offices or stop by if you happen to be in DC. Call them and talk to his aides. If you support him, attend a fundraiser and get to know him better. I can guarantee if you put a little effort into it, it will pay off in the long run.

We need to stop letting government happen to us. We need to stand up to the people who don't care about anything but making money.

After all, as one of my great heroes, Tip O'Neill, said: All politics is local.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A lover, not a fighter

In the past, some folks have taken occasion to insinuate (or flat-out say) that I am a drama mama and I thrive on a good conflict.

Those people are smoking big, giant crack rocks that would make Whitney Houston proud.

I hate fighting with people. I hate conflict. I am the first one to back down when I sense a fight coming up. I will walk away as you shout out me before I dive into the fray. I don't like to fight. I'm a communitarian. In my utopia, everyone holds hands and sings kumbiyah all the time (John Mayer is leading this sing-along with his acoustic -- after all it is utopia).

OK, maybe we don't hold hands. I don't really like holding strangers' hands. I sit by myself at church so no one will want to hold my hands during the Lord's Prayer. It creeps me out.

Anyhow, fighting is bad. No good ever comes from it. Feelings are hurt, and assholes are never anything but assholes.

Recently, I was asked to join the board of a nonprofit organization here in Nashville. Normally I would not be inclined to do such a thing, but I was there when the organization was founded and it's something that I believe in. I was not asked because of whom I know or how much money I have, which is a good thing, because I am just an everyday person. But now, that is becoming my detriment.

There is a person who doesn't want me on the board because she looks down upon me. Now I can guarantee I know people in this town who could buy and sell all of her friends, even if I don't drop their names every 22 seconds. In fact, I find most name-droppers do that because they don't really know shit. And from her own donor history, I am guessing that she probably talks a really big game.

I could fight her. In fact, I've already lined up a pretty big celebrity to participate in our spring fundraiser next year. I think that's going to be a pretty good opportunity. Of course, it's months off, but I can guarantee that she's not nominating the pet of a major country artist to be Nashville's Top Dog.

But, I'm tired. It's exhausting trying to prove myself, especially when it's not necessary. You all know, I don't beg people to like me and I don't blah blah blah on about myself in order to prove my worth. I am what I am, and if you don't like that, you're more than free to go fuck yourself.

I don't want to do it. I just don't have the energy. I work 65 hours a week because I don't have a rich husband to pay my bills, nor do I ever see that happening for me. I like working. I also like helping people, but I do not like people who give me attitude while I am trying to help. Volunteers, especially those who go the extra mile, should be appreciated not treated like shit.

Because otherwise, one day you'll look up and they'll be walking away as you're shouting over their shoulders at them.