“When words stop meaning anything when truth doesn’t matter, when people can just lie with abandon, democracy can’t work.” ~ President Barack Obama, Miami (11-2-18)

Tuesday night, clear and mild 66 degrees.

I had big plans to follow the returns throughout the afternoon and into the evening. My body, however, had different plans. Spent most of the afternoon in bed, and fell asleep around 8:30.Woke up briefly and thought that I’d just post this little update quickly.

I really hope that I’m not coming down with something because Corey’s parents will be here this weekend, and we still have so much to do just to make the house look somewhat presentable. Just my luck.

Anyway, we voted this morning at the local polling place—a lot different from Norfolk. Everyone spoke to us and asked us questions about where we live, where we used to live. Everyone knew exactly where our house was. It was weird and nice at the same time. We’ve met some really nice people, and no one looked at me too oddly because of my olive skin and funny last name.

So that’s it for now. I’m attempting to post at least something each day until I can find my writing groove again.

More later. Peace.


In honor of the midterms and the incredible division among us, an oldie but goodie, Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

 

Had Olivia last night and today.

Here, have this . . .

P.S. Had “Dora, Dora, the ex—plorer” running through my head until about midnight . . .

“Binders full of women” ~ Mitt Romney, the man who would be president

                  

Yep. He said it: “binders full of women.” I know. It’s not the most important thing discussed in last night’s debate, but it sure is the most memorable. Memes of the phrase are sprouting heads like a hydra on Viagra (deliberate mixing of metaphors, there). But people, please, how can I not go here, especially since the Mittens did it first, although not in the way that he claims (fact: he was presented with the binders full of women by a caucus, didn’t ask for them; see details below*).

                   

*According to political writer David S. Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix:

“What actually happened was that in 2002—prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration—a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

“They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.”

Yes. I do have to go there.

Okay. I’m on that horse again. You know the one, the one that goes straight to wonderland, where everything is rosy and pretty . . . no wait. Not that one. The dead one. That’s the one I’m on, the proverbial one in the front yard that I continue to beat whenever I come across some glaring instance of some person who is pretending to be for the people, while that same said someone is obviously not of the people.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ann Romney, spouse of the Mitt, and her take on what it means to be without.

And P.S. Dressage (aka dancing horses), even in the Olympics, is not the same thing as hippotherapy.

                    

Reprinted from the Huffington Post

Larry Womack: Ann Romney Addresses the Common People

Last night, Ann Romney took the stage at the Republican National Convention to tell us all that she (and, by extension, Mitt) understands the troubles of the average American. That she knew what it was like to be one of us.

The problem with that, obviously, is that she doesn’t.

I hope I’m not dating myself too terribly by recalling that old Pulp song, “Common People.” If you haven’t heard it, you can listen to it here. Or, if you would prefer a William Shatner cover set to suggestive clips from Star Trek: The Animated Series (and who wouldn’t?), you can check that out here instead. The song is about a sort of poverty tourist — a privileged woman who thinks it’s very novel and amusing to slum it for a bit. The narrator, of course, doesn’t find his own meager means nearly so amusing because, unlike his delighted companion, his poverty is real, not pretend. “If you called your dad,” he points out, “he could stop it all.” Still, she persists.

Last night, Ann Romney was that woman and we were the common people.

Romney opened with a long, agreeable “I feel your pain” routine that, at times, seemed to resonate. She, like most speakers last night, was especially interested in appealing to women. She then applied it to a personal narrative, portraying her upbringing as exceedingly modest. In fact, her father — admittedly a remarkable self-made man — was a manufacturing magnate and mayor of the affluent Bloomfield Hills by the time Ann was growing up. Finally, she went on to describe her early days with young Mitt in rather humble terms:

We were very young, both still in college. There were many reasons to delay marriage. And you know what? We just didn’t care. We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on saw horses, our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. But those were the best days.

The image is adorable, you must admit. Two struggling students, madly in love, happily eating tuna off of an ironing board. Even doing their own housekeeping! No staff at all. These people actually had to wash their own dishes. Mitt Romney, we are told, started out with nothing.

Happily for them, the Romney idea of “nothing” is probably not yours, mine or even that of a lucid billionaire. Before they got married, Mitt Romney’s regular “allowance” from his parents was large enough to buy him regular flights back and forth from Stanford, where he was attending college, to Ann’s home in Michigan. When they did get married and move into that “basement apartment,” both were spared the inconvenience and indignity of actually having to get a job — Mitt just sold some of his stock to “get by.” And while they may have walked to class together, they probably didn’t need to; even they acknowledge that Mitt’s parents had given them a car. And when they moved to Boston — after Mitt Romney obtained his MBA and JD from Harvard — his parents “helped” the young couple buy a house.

Even slogging through that pile, Romney came across as sweet, good-natured and, to the best of her ability, genuinely empathetic. There were even moments that felt truly candid — a rare thing coming from a convention stage — as Romney spoke about her battle with MS and her no-doubt horrifying brush with breast cancer. After Rick Santorum’s long whisper through a fog of insanity and Nikki Haley’s jarringly oblivious implication that companies like Boeing don’t need the government to succeed, Ann Romney was one big, huggable breath of fresh air. But the financial narrative she presented contrasted so strikingly with reality that I actually found myself wondering if she really is crazy enough to believe that she has at any point in her life been genuinely poor.

The Romneys ate off of an ironing board. They seem to think that’s what poverty feels like. Well, I went camping once. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what homelessness feels like. Trying to pass this situation off as anything like the fear and heartbreak experienced every single day by millions of Americans living in genuine poverty is insulting, insensitive and, frankly, deranged.

The people living out of cars, in homeless shelters and on the streets didn’t have more stock to sell. They don’t have two rich daddies they could turn to if things got scary. Or two rich mommies. Or every rich person doing business in one entire state and two entire industries, who knew that helping out an influential person’s son or daughter might benefit them later.

Just to be perfectly clear: I do not mean to imply that Mitt Romney has been some sort of slouch. Whatever you or I might think of his methods, the man has obviously worked hard for his fortune. Not “digging ditches” hard or “nursing home orderly” hard, but hard. A lot of trust fund babies waste their lives partying and pretending that they’re important, instead of working hard and actually becoming important. It’s a sad thing to see, but you see it often. Young Mitt Romney took full advantage of every opportunity he was granted and is clearly a genuinely successful businessman. Anyone can—and should—applaud the young Romneys’ frugality, determination and dedication.

But that success must also be credited in large part to his unique level of privilege, which clearly shielded the young couple from the true nature of poverty. And real poverty, I am afraid to inform Mrs. Romney, is not merely a series of choices in décor. It is not some sort of a lark. It is not an act of youthful defiance. It is not living frugally simply because you want to prove a point. It is having nothing to fall back on. It is knowing that if you fail or run into even a tiny bit of bad luck, you and your family will not have food or shelter.

Real poverty is not knowing where your children’s next meal is coming from. It’s not being able to put shoes on their feet or take them to the doctor. It’s living in constant fear of losing your job or getting sick. It’s not having a car to take you to that job. It’s wondering if you’ll still have a home two months from now. It’s hunger. It’s cold. And, above all, it is fear. It’s a thousand other worries that millions upon millions of Americans have endured that Ann Romney never will. It is not a cute anecdote about how cheap your insanely privileged husband is. [emphasis mine]

I don’t say this to pick on the Romneys, or to suggest that anyone resent their circumstances. I say it because, unlike many others who have never really known these fears, either, they sometimes seem incapable of discerning the difference between their reality and everyone else’s. That is an enormous problem.

You see, a man with this mindset might understand what it takes for the very wealthy to succeed, but cannot possibly fathom what it takes to allow the rest of America to do the same. In Mitt Romney’s world, college kids can just borrow tens of thousands of dollars from their parents—if they can’t bring themselves to part with more stock. In the real America, there are over one million students who are currently homeless. Still, in Mitt Romney’s world, there’s nothing wrong with wasting billions in taxpayer money that could be used to pay down the national debt or lift these students out of poverty, so long as the nation can also move more money from those college kids to private lenders. In Mitt Romney’s world, unemployed with $200,000 million in the (known) bank is somehow comparable to unemployed with nothing. In Mitt Romney’s world, people say things like, ” I’m not concerned about the very poor,” and “corporations are people, my friend!”

His wife may have just given the common people another glimpse of it, but Mitt Romney’s world is nothing like the one in which we live and our nation cannot be effectively governed from it. Sounds like a nice place, though.

I had never seen the video clip above (from “The Newsroom”) until Sunday when I found it on Izak Mak’s I Want Ice Water, and boy did it do a number on me. This guy is saying all of the same things that Brett and I have been discussing on the way to school all summer: America is not the country it once was. As I told him, he is unfortunate enough to be witnessing the decline of a nation, and I was fortunate enough to come of age at a time when this country was riding high.

What happened to us? Way too much for me to go into in just one short post. But this I do know: We are our own enemy. We do not have the best interests of our citizenry at heart. We do not place value on education for all. We do not work towards a common good. Everyone is angry at everyone else. Everyone is to blame and no one is to blame. The system is broken, and still we hear the same things over and over and over.

When Barack Obama ran on a platform of change, I believed him. I believed the idealistic young Senator, and I think that he truly believed as well. Then he was elected. Then everything changed. That’s how our system works: wear everything down until nothing happens. Change? Screw that. Status quo all the way. Change means that we can’t have things the way we want them to be. Change means that we cannot continue to do what we’ve been doing all along. Change implies that something is wrong, and in our collective xenophobic minds, such an implication is an impossibility: America is never wrong.

Yes, I’m ranting. But dammit Jim, I’m doing the best I can . . . The engine is still going to blow.

Here’s some food for thought (also found on I Want Ice Water):

“Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.” ~ Poe’s Law (2005)

HRH Queen Elizabeth II in Ascot Purple Net Hat

                    

“It is impossible for an act of Fundamentalism to be made that someone won’t mistake for a parody.” ~ Poe’s Corollary

Since I managed to raise a few hackles with yesterday’s posting of the article “What Republicans Really Want,” I decided to follow up with another brilliant editorial by Mickey Maurer in The Indiana Business Journal. I mean, I’m just about well enough to gather my own thoughts to create a real post, but I figured in the interim, what the hell?

And besides, who knew that I’d find so many great pictures of purple hats . . . I want a purple hat.

“In any fundamentalist group where Poe’s Law applies, a paradox exists where any new person (or idea) sufficiently fundamentalist to be accepted by the group is likely to be so ridiculous that they risk being rejected as a parodist (or parody).” ~ The Poe Paradox which results from an unhealthy level of paranoia

The Indiana We’ve Always Wanted

My fellow Tea Party Republicans, I have an idea. Let’s enact legislation requiring immigrants and homosexuals to wear purple hats. If we are going to treat them differently, we have to know who they are—on sight. Then we can confront someone wearing a purple hat and if he doesn’t speak English, boom, back to Mexico. Likewise homosexuals. We do not want them here, either.

There are no legal challenges to the current law banning same-sex marriages, but the law does not sufficiently set apart and condemn homosexuality. The proposed marriage rights amendment that passed the House and is before the Senate in committee goes a long way. It prohibits not only the union but the other incidences of marriage attached to any unmarried couple.

Under this legislation, homosexuals cannot receive violence protection against assault by their partner, cannot automatically make health care decisions for their partner in an emergency, cannot qualify for partner’s benefits for health insurance or life insurance, cannot share custody of their shared children, and cannot adopt. But the amendment does not go far enough. We need to compel gays to wear purple hats so we can identify them and encourage them to live in San Francisco or Key West, anywhere but our God-protected sacred land.

I confess—this idea is not original. Remember armbands? They have been used to identify the people who are not like us for hundreds of years — before even the Spanish Inquisition or the Aryan Society of Germany. This kind of designation and identification of the objects of righteous wrath has been seen many times before in many variations—and it works.

We cannot be derailed by the moderate Republicans and some Democrats who supported the election of a Republican majority in the Indiana Legislature with the encouragement of the governor in a good-faith effort to effect a sound fiscal policy. Pay no attention when those moderates claim that this well-intentioned effort has unleashed the serpent of prejudice and hatred that may send Indiana reeling economically, socially and morally.

The purple hat legislation will be no ordinary bill. It will go to the core, to the heart, of who we are as Hoosiers. Hoosiers are white, heterosexual, English-speaking, Christian men and women. The purple hat legislation will tell the world that we will not abide anybody that is not just like us. That seems fair. Anybody that does not meet our definition of Hoosier must be penalized and encouraged to leave. Live and let live—but not on the banks of the Wabash.

We have to carefully teach our children. They are not born with the same fine-tuned understanding that we have about what God wants. They are too pure and accepting of their fellow man. That is why you must continue your good work in suppressing attempts to enact school bullying legislation. Our children must be encouraged to harass their undesirable classmates, the kids wearing the little purple beanies.

We could take the time to overcome our ignorance and learn that those with the purple hats are more similar to us than we like to think. Though some have problems with our language or have a different sexual orientation, we may learn that they have ambitions, goals and ideals—that they are human beings who love our country and this state. But why bother? Better to treat them like toxic waste and ship them out.

Why stop with immigrants and homosexuals? With this good idea we can double back and pick up the gypsies and the Jews and the blacks and the Catholics. Well, not the blacks, they do not need a purple hat—after all, they are black.

What difference does it make if we precipitate an economic disaster? Who cares that we will lose opportunity for businesses that may have otherwise considered moving to Indiana and for conventioneers who will undoubtedly revel elsewhere? We may not be as economically viable, but at least Indiana will be ours.

Your legislative representatives are going to love this idea. Soon we will have the Indiana we have all been hoping and praying for.•

__________

Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal.  His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.com.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ana Jonson, “We Are”

“She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon. You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood.” ~ Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

Tuscany Landscape by Marcin Sacha

                   
 

“She is not waiting. Not quite. It is more that the years mean nothing to her anymore, that the dreams and the street cannot touch her. She remains on the edges of time, implacable, unhurt, beyond, and one day you will open your eyes and see her; and after that, the dark. It is not a reaping. Instead, she will pluck you, gently, like a feather, or a flower for her hair.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Crovie Banffshire Scotland by Chris Spracklen

Isn’t the picture above just breathtaking? I have landscapes on the brain today—lush green, gold, and red landscapes, far, far away from here. Imagine living in that house amidst those rolling hills, surrounded by nothing but green. 

It’s Sunday afternoon, and the weather outside is lovely, a temperate 76°F with lots of sun and no clouds. If I had any inkling of motivation, I would sit outside and read a book. Obviously, that is not what I am about today. I’m still recovering from yesterday’s migraine, a pretty foul one that kept me in bed all day with an ice pack glued to my head. It’s always such an attractive look. 

The pain finally ebbed around 2 a.m., and I was almost asleep when the dogs decided that it was time to go out, which meant that by 3 a.m., I was wide awake and full of nervous energy. Hence, I loaded the dishwasher, wiped down the bathroom, and took a shower in the hopes that the warm water would soothe me. No joy. 

Spider solitaire until 5 a.m. Ah, the rich pageantry that is my life. 

“There were always in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning and another who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest.” ~ Anais Nin

Bench, Germany, Svetlana aqua2512

I had thought about dedicating a post to that nut job tea bagger in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell, but what’s the point, really? She lies as it suits her, has a platform that would deny women’s basic rights, and ducks the hard questions. How is she any different from anyone else who is running this November? 

I’m so tired of all of them, dems and reps alike. The right is running on a fear-mongering platform, and the left has essentially tucked its collective tail and run for cover. The president is stumping, but I cannot help but feel that it is too little, too late. 

If the right retakes Congress, we can look forward to a dismantling of the first real healthcare reform in decades, and it’s all so disheartening. Just for grins, I called Optima last week to see if I qualified for health coverage . . . three guesses as to their response . . . pre-existing conditions are a bit of a problem. But let’s make damned sure that we undo what has been done, if for no other reason than principle: the Kenyan socialist enacted it, so we must backpeddle, post-haste. 

Beh. Double beh. 

I have realized that what will kill the dems in November is apathy: We voted for change, real change. We got dribbles and drabs. DADT still exists. Guantanamo still exists. Rendition still exists. Healthcare reform is tepid at best. We’re still pouring money into Afghanistan, and non-combat personnel are still dying in Iraq. And oh yeah, Newt Gingrich still thinks that he’s Speaker of the House. 

Look, I’m not some starry-eyed innocent who doesn’t understand that certain intelligence policies will always exist. I know that Gitmo and places like Gitmo will always be in operation. But can’t change happen on the domestic front at least? 

Get out the vote is going to be damned hard in November, and I don’t foresee long lines of people waiting at 5 in the morning to cast their votes. But how I wish that I could be proven wrong on this one. 

“She was illusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.” ~ Jerry Spinelli 

Unknown Landscape found on Pixdaus

A few things are going well, though. Brett is adjusting well to college, much better than I had hoped, actually. He has joined a club, and has already made a small circle of friends with whom he likes to spend time outside of class. He gets out of bed and gets ready in the morning without any kind of prodding or mood propping by me, and he actually likes going to class. 

The change in him is pretty phenomenal. He has realized that I wasn’t lying when I told him that college was nothing like high school. He isn’t self-conscious about wearing his beret if he wants to, and he has commented that no one on campus looks the same, as in that high school pressure to dress and look like everyone else. 

He had his first test on Friday (in psychology), and he received a B-. Happiness all around. 

I can feel my need to be in protective mode loosening each day as he gains self-confidence and begins to make his own way. I’m really hoping that the worst is behind us, that he will no longer suffer agonizing depressive episodes that paralyze and drain him.  

Now, if I could just see eldest son more than a few minutes ever few weeks, I might be able to feel less anxiety in the parenting department . . . Who am I kidding? We all know that if I’m not worrying about Brett, I’ll just turn my focus on someone else. Speaking of which, Alexis is adrift again. She is sleeping hours and hours and missing time at work. I wish that I knew how to help her. 

“She could never be a saint,
but she thought
she could be a martyr . . .
if they killed her quick.” ~ Flannery O’Connor, “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”

The northern coast of Normandie found on Pixdaus

Since the hearing last week, I have been obsessing about what I did or did not say. If the judge rules in my favor, it will be a mixed blessing at best. I mean, I will be covered under Social Security as far as income and health insurance (unless the Republicans go through with their threat to shut down the government after the election), but at the same time, I will officially be disabled; my name will be on a government roster somewhere, down as unable to work. 

I really don’t know how that makes me feel. Sort of. I mean, it means that I have moved from that group of people who contribute to society to that group of people who take from society. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been paying into the system since I was 16, and I have no qualms about receiving the benefits due me. 

It’s the emotional part. The part in which I feel as if I have been sidelined. Everyone claps when the injured party moves off the field, acknowledging that the injury isn’t life-threatening, but no one in the stands gives another thought to what happens to the person who was taken off on the stretcher, not really. The attention goes back to the ongoing action. 

Okay. I apologize for the sports metaphor, particularly since I do not like most sports, but it’s what came to mind. Now that I’m on the sidelines, apparently for good, now what? Just put it all away and wait until tomorrow? 

I suppose. 

I’ll close with this wonderful quote that I found by Janet Finch from White Oleander

I regret nothing. No woman with any self-respect would have done less. The question of good and evil will always be one of philosophy’s most intriguing problems, up there with the problem of existence itself. I’m not quarreling with your choice of issues, only with your intellectually diminished approach. If evil means to be self-motivated, to live on one’s own terms, then every artist, every thinker, every original mind, is evil. Because we dare to look through our own eyes rather than mouth cliches lent us from the so-called Fathers. To dare to see is to steal fire from the Gods. This is mankind’s destiny, the engine which fuels us as a race.

More later. Peace

Music by Katie Herzig and Matthew Perryman Jones, “Where the Road Meets the Sun”