Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Heavier Heart

I can't believe that at the age of 55 years old I am still shocked and saddened by the injustices in our judicial system.  I always think the best of people and think "right" always wins out, but time and time again I am proven wrong.  My world view is very different as a white mother than my friends that are black mothers.  I can't totally understand the fear and terror of raising a black male, but can understand the total dismay and pain of the repeated outcomes of our system.  The scales are tilted against black youths and I can't understand how the scales of justice still aren't balanced. 

The Grand Jury decisively declared that no criminal charges would be brought against Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown.  I sat there listening to the Prosecutor read the decision and try to explain away how a cop can shoot an unarmed young man 12 times and nothing happens to him.  I can't wrap my head around that.  I am not blaming the citizens on the Grand Jury.  They are doing their best in a very difficult situation.  I do blame the prosecutors giving no guidance in the possible litany of charges and the law.  None.  I blame the decision by Governor Jay Nixon a week ago to bring in the National Guard to patrol the streets of Ferguson.  I blame the Prosecutor that decided that announcing the Grand Jury decision would be best to deliver at 8pm.  Every step that was made since the tragic death of Michael Brown by the local and State government has wreaked of cover up.  

Seriously, hundreds of people anxiously awaited the announcement in the streets of Ferguson.  Crowds kept growing. Schools were closed in advance of the announcement for fear of the aftermath.  The anxiety of what was to come was manipulated and toyed with by those people in charge.  It was apparent that "they" knew the outcome and it wasn't going to please the masses.  By every single decision made, it felt like the government was the matadors and we, the people, were the bulls.  The red flag being shaken in our faces, taunting us all.  

The longwinded, unsatisfying outcome was presented at around 8:20pm Central Time Zone.  First of all, what f**king nerve for them to plan for 8pm and be late!!!!  Just adding more tension in the air!  The media types immediately went to their people in the streets to report on the unrest.  They, too, were ready for the worst and tried to hype whatever they could in the immediate aftermath.  It seemed tense but somewhat under control.  When I woke up in the middle of the night and saw the images of burning stores and cars, my heart sank.  I will never understand the destruction of one's own neighborhood.  These aren't big box stores being burned to the ground these were small, mom and pop stores.  Neighbors'.  It happened in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict and they burned down buildings all around their own neighborhoods.  What good does that do?  Seriously?!  I can empathize with the despair and the anger, but not destroying businesses of innocent bystanders.  

The person who came out the very best in this entire tragedy is Michael Brown's father.  He repeatedly has asked for calm and peaceful protests since his son was killed.  He has gone out of his way to thank neighbors for their support.  The statement the Brown Family put out was clear, thoughtful, and brave:   

We are profoundly disappointed the the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions. While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make positive change. We will need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen. Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera. We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction. Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference.  - The Brown Family

​Sadly, many people didn't listen. Justice was not served. 12 bullets. Overkill, no matter how you slice it. 

​Sidebars: In two days, it is Thanksgiving and many people are not feeling it at all. ​Please take the time on Thursday to thank the people in your life. Take a moment to think of others that may not be as lucky. I must give a shout out to my dear, dear friend Steve on the passing of his Dad. It feels that November has been a very tough month for loss, so this Thanksgiving I want to hold on even tighter to the people that I carry in my heart.  Wishing every one a moist turkey and many laughs with your friends and family.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Family Values, Shmamily Values!

The Party that always screams about family values and the Pastors and Preachers that scream about family values have to take a step back and look at what is going on in our country.  On one of our most cherished holidays, Thanksgiving, many companies, stores, and malls have been eroding the holiday to line their own pockets.  Instead of Black Friday, many stores are opening around 6pm on Thanksgiving. Some malls are fining stores that refuse to open as much as $200/hr. On so many levels, this is so crass and disgusting.  This is all about consumers saving money and stockholders making more money.  It's about dangling carrots in front of the most vulnerable so that the rich can get richer.  

It's not the 1% who are leaving their families to work or shop.  You do realize that, don't you?  It really turns my stomach.  There are so few days that families have and, God knows, the uproar if companies tried to do this on Christmas.  Why is Thanksgiving being slighted?  It is a holiday to give thanks for all we have, not for what we will save at the mall.  I can't bear how disgustingly commercialized Christmas has become.  Many stores put their Christmas displays up in October.  Remember when we were kids?  October was all about Halloween?  November was all about Thanksgiving?  AND the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas started in full swing.  Now, we don't get to enjoy or appreciate any holiday.  By the time we get to December 25th, we are thoroughly sick of all of it.  

Why do we stand for this?  All of this commercialization has nothing to do with peace on earth good will towards men.  It's how much can I save, how much can I sell, how much, how much????  It's a true disgrace and like gerbils, if the stores open, people come.  We don't stand up to cling to our valuable family time.  So, I ask of you all to stand firm, stand tall and have another piece of pie, sing songs, snuggle up with your family.  Don't support this madness.  Don't support the hypocrisy.  Families must be your first priority, not the bargains.

Show more support for these twelve stores that are valuing their employees over their bottom-line:  Costco, Marshall's, Barnes and Noble, Game Stop, T.J. Maxx, Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom's, Burlington Coat Factory, Dillard's, R.E.I., American Girl, and Patagonia. These stores are all choosing to be closed Thanksgiving Day!  We should spread this list around to everyone. 

And, by the way...many analysts have said the sales aren't even their lowest on Thanksgiving/Black Friday.  Before you rush from the table to shop, look around at what you are leaving behind.  I will never think it's okay to marginalize this holiday.

Sidebars: The Polar Vortex is back.  It is so cold throughout much of the Country.  More than 10 degrees colder than last year at this time.  Many inches of snow in some parts.  It's Friday.  Time to go out, see friends, go to movies, and shop.  I tried to go see Foxcatcher today and it was sold out for the 12:15pm showing on the first day out.  I will get there.  Happy weekend wherever you are and whatever you do.  

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

No Harm, Please.

Okay, the Republicans have won back both Houses of government.  That's done.  Only happened because the Democrats suck.  If the Dems knew how to run campaigns, the outcome would have been different, but they don't.  No vision.  No singular voice.  Never know how to frame the achievements.  Run, baby, run away.  Don't talk about the good. The Republicans own the conversation.  They are always focussed during campaigns.  Can't even say that the Dems were out spent.  There was far too much money spent on another election season.  Ridiculous amounts of money wasted and no outrage anywhere.  

Can you imagine what good could've come from all that campaign money?  We could've solved so many problems in our country.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non partisan group in D.C., more than $3.67 billion dollars was spent on this midterm election season!!!!!!  What if all that money went to education?  Wouldn't that make a dent in our suffering school systems?  It's such a disgrace.  Can't forget that elections are bought and paid for by huge donors and lobbyists.  Doesn't anyone see that it's wrong?  Why aren't the citizens understanding this?  

The registered Democrats didn't show up to the polling locations.  The Independents didn't either.  How the hell can anyone want things to be different if the masses don't show up at the voting booths?  If you don't vote, you get exactly what you deserve, but what about the rest of us?  We're screwed. We do our part.  We show up. In NYC, we had three unpublicized bills or propositions.  What the hell?  How does that serve anyone?  Showed up, got our ballots, and there are three wordy bills to vote on. That's pseudo democracy, not real democracy.  Growing up in California, voting is intense.  Before election day, you get a sample ballot.  It's clear, thick, and tons of propositions.  The only problem there is the wording is always tricky.  Are you voting for something or against something.  The props have to be read thoroughly and discussed to clearly know which way to vote.  

Okay, so now what?  Well, I am very afraid about our future.  The Republicans in government are largely climate change deniers or so deeply in the pockets of gas and oil that they pretend to be ignorant.  Never understood the concept of not believing in science, but many Republicans own that.  Why can't our elected officials err on the side of caution?  What harm would it do to make some regulations to protect our one earth?  Why aren't more people worried about the many earthquakes in Oklahoma?  Could fracking have something to do with it?  I don't know, but certainly I'd take a long hard look at it.  I'd err on the side of caution.  

Republicans everywhere think that this midterm election is a mandate from the 10 people that voted, but I don't see it that way.  They are just better at spending money and running campaigns.  They hit the "right" notes for their people and they vote.  The Democrats are lousy at the tag line to get their people out.  LOUSY!  Why isn't there talk of replacing Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC Chairman?  I admire her, but she isn't able to get the candidates and campaigns in lock step.  It's a thankless job and maybe that's why she still has it.  

So, please, please to all of our elected officials, do no harm.  Our children and our children's children are depending on you.

Sidebars:  It's Veteran's Day!  Thank you to all who have served. Television has been really kicking it.  Homeland and Blacklist have really been jaw dropping.  The Voice went live this week.  It's not too late to start watching.  Whether or not they've produced a stand alone star doesn't matter to me,  it is just fun, fun, fun.  Winter has blown in way too early for mid-America and now it's coming this way.  Ugh!  Not ready.  I'm sorry, what?  Oh, did you say global climate change...?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How He Lived

Yesterday, November 4, 2014 at 10:00am, a friend died.  He was diagnosed in March with cancer and from the moment he heard his prognosis, he didn't stop cherishing life, living life, or celebrating life.  I am paraphrasing, I'm sure, but when the doctor told him that his cancer was terminal, without skipping a beat, he said, "I've lived a great life."  Who says that?  That is a response that I can only dream of saying. I don't think that I would have that first reaction.  His friends rallied around and feted him time and time again.  Just one week ago, his friends threw him an incredible dance party.  He was laughing, dancing, shmoozing with everyone. It was his last hoorah! He wanted to leave his mark.  

Well, my dear, Glenn, you left a mark on all of us.  When I heard the news yesterday, all I could hear in my head was the music and words to Brian's Song.  The soundtrack has been playing over and over again in my mind.  I can't pretend that I was a part of the inner circle, but I feel the loss deeply.  Glenn was one of the sweetest, kindest, funniest, and most loyal people I've met.  Met him through our children's school experience.  Never had kids the same age, but somehow we clicked and spent many poker nights and athletic events side by side.  His passion for his children, palpable.  

I will never forget the incredible "Life" magazine cover of Glenn hugging his son after a terrible basketball championship loss under the hoop at City College.  It was real and raw.  He didn't care.  It was as if, they were the only two people in the gym. He was at every game of his son and daughter's ( and as a parent at our school, not an easy task).  Lots of ups and many downs, but always supportive.  Yes, Glenn had to learn to bite his tongue in the stands, and he did. He did it for his daughter.  From where I sit, he was one of the great Dads.  

The loss is great and, again, makes me beg the question, why?  Why do truly good, loved people get taken from us far too soon or ever?  It's something that I have never been able to figure.  It makes it very hard to believe in God or a higher being. Glenn, you were really taken from your beautiful wife and children, far too soon.  You have left a deep imprint in all our lives and I only hope, that I can live by your example.  It won't be easy, but I can try.  All I have right now, are these few words of love and admiration and the words of Gale Sayers about Brian Piccolo:

"I'd like to say a few words about a guy I know, a friend of mine. His name is Brian Piccolo, and he has the heart of a giant and that rare form of courage which allows him to kid himself and his opponent -- cancer.
He has a mental attitude which makes me proud to have a friend who spells out "courage," 24 hours a day, every day of his life.
Now you flatter me by giving me this award. But I say to you here and now, Brian Piccolo is the man of courage who should receive the George S. Halas award.
It's mine tonight and Brian Piccolo's tomorrow.
I love Brian Piccolo.
And I'd like all of you to love him too.
And tonight, you hit your knees:
Please ask God to love him."

Monday, November 3, 2014

So No One Can Say I'm Crying Over Spilled Milk, I'm Saying It on Election Eve

Until the Republican Party stops talking about abortion rights and pro-life, I'm out.  Until they stop talking about religion, I'm out.  Until Republicans stop talking about guns and bastardizing the 2nd amendment, I'm out.  The party of Lincoln has turned into a party that I completely can't support, which means, no matter what, for any National offices, I am stuck with one party, and only one party.  I wish it could be different.  I think that there was a time the Republican platform may have been far more interesting and palatable.  Now, they have made it impossible to vote for any of their candidates.  The people that they've put on the ballots are diametrically opposed to my basic philosophy of life, right and wrong.

I can't believe that since Roe v. Wade became law, the Republicans became dogs with a bone.  They have come up with all sorts of cuts to abortion clinics and laws in various States that is making it harder for women to exercise their constitutional right to end a pregnancy.  Every election season, I think they won't make abortion an issue and for my entire voting life of thirty-seven years, they do.  Leave us alone.  Get an abortion, don't get an abortion, but to think that women get abortions without pain and thought, is incredibly presumptuous and ignorant.  

I've said it before and will keep saying it, keep your religious views out of my government!  Now, obviously everyone's life experience informs decision making, but don't make me hear about your belief in Jesus, God, Allah, or any other specific religious theology.  Not everyone has the same belief system. More and more believe less and less, so own your beliefs but don't project them on others.   I would rather never hear if a candidate goes to church, believes in God, or prays to a God above.  I would rather atheists or humanists, but that will never happen.  

Republicans stance on guns is distorted and disgraceful.  The many mass school shootings hasn't gotten the Party leaders to stand up and pass common sense gun laws makes them a Party that I have no room for in my life.   They are all about re-elections and money. 

The Republican party was always the Party of Big Business and low taxes, now they just say the most horrific things about women and abortion rights and immigration and, and, and....The Democratic Party is not much better, they're just not as bad.  That there are people going to the voting booths that will, again, vote against their own personal interests is staggering to me.  Look, I always vote.  Am I thrilled about the candidates that we are given?  Not at all, but it's all we've got.  In New York, many Democrats are also running under Women's Equality Party.  That may be the ticket for me.

So, it's election day.  Don't blow it off.  All you young people, take the time to vote for the first time.  To all of us jaded people, still, carve out the time.  As much as I complain, it's all we've got.  Until we make our voices heard, we have to play within the lines.  Stand up, people.  VOTE!  And before you put your mark down or flip the switch, think about what's important to you and your life.

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