GOP nonsense


Or maybe just I am.

Dad’s first cousin on his mom’s side, Joe Fagan, got up in GOP hopeful Mitt Romney‘s eager to be POTUS face today on the subject of Medicare and Social Security. While I don’t disagree with Romney that given its current trajectory Medicare and SS benefits aren’t particularly sustainable given the current and projected worker to retired person ratio, I applaud Joe for exposing Romney for the corp whore twat he is.

“Corporations are people, my friend.”*

Dear Universe, hear me while I scream until my tonsils burst into flames.

My earliest memories of Joe are his visits when he was attending seminary in Dubuque. He would stop by in the evenings, sometimes bringing along a fellow classmate, and he and Dad would reminisce and argue about current events and politics. It was the late 1960’s. Joe was ten years younger than my Dad, who’d served in the Navy in the last months of WWII. To say that they disagreed in those turbulent times would be understating.

Joe admired Dr. King and supported Bobby Kennedy. Dad didn’t understand civil protests and voted for Nixon – every single time.

But Dad always said, “Joe stands up for what he believes is right.”

The organization Joe worked for in Des Moines for decades until his retirement not long ago has been accused of being “socialist”, which in Iowa – indeed anywhere in America these days – is code for “not American”. But they fought for the underprivileged, the working poor, the over-looked and the people who are and will continue to bear the brunt of the economic slide.

He never sought fame or power or riches. He was a working guy with a wife, who taught school before becoming a principal, and two kids.

By standing up and not letting Romney shush him with charm and platitudes, Joe Fagan was doing what every American has the right to do – question the motives of those who seek to lead us. To rule us.

Good on , cuz!

*This statement – destined to be a POTUS 2012 classic – is apparently already available on t-shirts with bumper stickers to follow I imagine.


2012 Republican Presidential Candidates

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

If there is one thing I hate, it’s defending the less defensible of my gender from sexism. In the wake of the apparent upcoming tug of war for the hearts and minds of conservative leaning voters that pundits feel certain that Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann will wage, the stereotypes fly about in the thick and annoying manner of mosquitos on an Alberta late May evening.

The Huffington Post referenced it as “the battle of the Snooki’s” and I stumbled across a blog whose author believes that both Sarah and Michele are hot enough to settle their differences in bikinis and a mud pit.

A friend posted a reference to their combined, and supposed, brainlessness to her Facebook status that elicited a lot of yuks, but I just cringe and sigh.

Why?

Because even though there are easily just as many male politicians with batshit crazy ideas in the GOP, they are seldom the butt of jokes that infer that their gender is to blame.

It’s a given that women in the public spotlight, and especially those that dare to seek political office, can be taken down via their appearance, attacks on their single, married, mother or not choices, and by insinuating that their extra X exerts a difficult for them to control influence over emotions and their ability to think. Men are seldom, if ever, held to such stringent accounts. And so even if Palin and Bachmann are intellectually deficient, and I don’t believe that based on their levels of success, unless the same measures of fitness are applied to male candidates as well, this is not a good plan of attack for those opposed to either woman making a showing in the coming 2012 primary season.

The reason I feel this way is simple. Whatever modus operandi is sanctioned for use against them will be used again and again in the future. It will deter women from entering politics and marginalize or sink those that do.

And Palin and Bachmann are credible threats even if you don’t think much of them, their politics or the religious, conservative and very white-power oriented views they represent. What they are pushing sells and given the dire straits of many Americans – particularly the white working class which feels increasingly left behind and victimized – allowing them, Palin especially, a legitimate access to playing the victim role, is bad strategy.

Underestimating women seeking power roles, in my experience, nearly always bites back hard. Make no mistake that both Palin and Bachmann are in politics for what it brings them and not what they can do for their country, and people like that should be taken seriously.


Child labor, can't we try to stop it?

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“I was coming home from kindergarten–well they told me it was kindergarten. I found out later I had been working in a factory for ten years. It’s good for a kid to know how to make gloves.” – Ellen DeGeneres

It’s not just women. The Right is equally at war on American children as well. They’ve been strangling the public education system with a steady pressure and two hands around its neck for nearly a decade though the campaign itself began with the over the top alarmist Nation at Risk in 1982.

Currently, our Congress – already a year overdue at setting the budget for the current fiscal year –  paper cuts what’s left of the K-12 budget in an attempt to bleed it to death so slowly they won’t be suspected of murder when it finally keels over. As their minions in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana work to destroy what little influence over educational practices and curriculum teachers have left by stripping unions of their right to provide input into the profession they’ve earned university degrees to be allowed to practice, Congress ignores the real budget issues and the public goes along with it.

“Of course you are right,” they nod sheepishly. “How foolish of us to think that it was Social Security or a bloated Pentagon at fault? It’s those greedy teachers and our free-loading children of elementary school age. They are the root of this financial nightmare that prevents us from shopping at will and ignoring public policy issues. But what to do? If not school, where can we warehouse our kids during the day while we hunt for work or pretend we love our mind-numbing, ever lower compensating jobs?”

Missouri stepped up to the plate first with a proposal to lower the age at which a child can apply for a work permit from 14 to 12 and eliminate the need for 15 year olds to have a work permit at all. At fifteen, one is certainly old enough to work at will.

Utah followed with an inane state’s rights ploy* that doesn’t question the awfulness of child labor, just the federal government’s right to forbid it.

The states should be able to decide for themselves**.

Really.

A state like Michigan, perhaps? Where the Governor is asking for the right to declare martial law and replace duly elected school boards, city/town councils with anyone he deems fit – whether that be his out of work brother-in-law or some shill of the Koch brothers?

Do you trust the states to act in the best interest of the people or themselves and those who bought them their jobs through campaign contributions?

In other parts of the world, where women have no rights and children are sent to work instead of school (when they are not being sold outright into some form of slavery) and governments pretend to hold elections but the people are not actually represented – we, the self-righteous people of America – point an accusatory finger and say “Bad totalitarian regime.”

Did anyone ever notice that only one finger points and every other is waving back at us?

*Let’s not forget the states were just fine with slavery, Jim Crow, rules that forbade a married women from having her own bank account as late as the 1950’s and weren’t as keen on ERA as they were for the incredibly unnecessary amendment to forbid flag-burning. The states also are big on the whole idea that women need to be treated as though they are retarded once they are pregnant. Let’s not place too much credence on their ability to do the right thing without federal incentive.

**The states will argue that they are rightly giving control back to parents. My maternal grandfather and the husband of one of my cousins were farmers and worked their kids as though they were hired hands from a young age. Not chores. These children were not just helping out a bit. They were farm laborers on par with adults. One of my cousin’s sons actually died because he was given work to do that outstripped his age and size. Even now the exceptions for agriculture border on abuse when they don’t completely cross the line. Do we want to move the line to ensnare more children?


Statue of (a) mother at the Yasukuni shrine, d...

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Interesting article on MSNBC today by Wray Herbert who writes the “We’re  Only Human…..” blog. The title was Psychology: Time Only Heals Some Wounds. In it he talked about a research study by Michigan State University psychologist Richard Lucas.

Lucas questioned the idea that people have set-points for happiness in much the same way people seem to have set-points for weight for instance. It is the idea that some of us are just unable to sustain prolonged states of melancholy or conversely happiness. We are divided it seems into glass half empty or glass half full camps. What he found, however, was that people’s feelings are effected by life’s stresses and turmoils and that whether or not a person can adapt or overcome them is not predictable or even predetermined by personality. The stressful event has much to do with it.

For example adjusting to divorce is not the same as adjusting to being widowed. Widowed people, according to the study, seem to “get over” their grief though it appears to take about seven years on average* for this to happen, but the divorce appears to leave permanent emotional scarring that affects divorcees for the course of their lives. The reasoning behind this rather odd finding is that it may be easier for  people to adapt to an event that is a one time hit of “bad luck” than to adjust to a “chronic condition” like divorce.

They liken divorce to that of a chronic illness whose reminders are constant and go on to further postulate that people who get married and stay married until” death do they part” were actually happier people anyway whereas divorce seems to strike those who tend towards misery normally.

The widowed are able to reframe their thinking and adjust their goals/expectations and “escape” their misery and the divorced are trapped because the lack of real resolution makes it impossible for them to do that.

An interesting theory.

A poster at YWBB today,  Jenna, posted today about being irritated by the board and other widows. I could relate. Can relate. There have been more than a few instances when I have been “irritated” to the point of snarkiness at the defeatist lifer attitudes of another widow on the board. But what makes me, or Jenna, fight and “reframe” and others content to put on the black weeds of acceptance? Why are some of us “Scarlett’s” and others “Aunt Pittypat’s” or “India’s”?

*Update – Recent studies have found the time limits on grieving to be rather arbitary and anecodotal at best. Researcher George Bonnano has found that the vast majority of people, who have no underlying mental health issues, take on average 6 months to a year to leave active grief and begin to move on with their lives.