“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” 

“All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.” ~ Albert Einstein

USS Peacemaker Tall Ship (barquentine)

    

“A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future.”  ~ Leonard Bernstein    
The American Rover Tall Ship (Hampton Roads)

Still feeling puny. I didn’t sleep well last night (as usual), but it was particularly trying: sleep one hour, awake another hour, sleep one hour, and so on. Around 4 a.m. I got on the computer, thinking that I might post, but instead I looked for images and quotes. Thinking that I had done enough to tax my tired brain, I went to bed. Six a.m. awake. Seven a.m. awake. Corey arrived home from work around 7:30, and I was still awake.

Maddening, quite maddening.

Anyway, Tuesday afternoon. The sun is shining intermittently. The Jack Russells are asleep beneath the chair, and Tillie is trying mightily to get Brett to play pool ball with her.

Speaking of the Jack Rusells, Alfie, the smallest dog in the house, has begun to do something new: For the past three or four weeks, he has taken to sleeping with his head buried in my shoulder and his body pressed against my side. It’s quite cute, actually, except that I feel obligated to remain in the same position while he snores quietly into my ear.

Still no joy on finding the part for my computer, which I don’t quite understand. I mean, it’s an HP. The part had to come from somewhere, so why can’t we find it? It’s a right-wing conspiracy; that’s what it is.

“Beware
At war
Or at peace,
More people die
Of unenlightened self-interest
Than of any other disease.” ~ Octavia E. Butler

USS Niagara Tall Ship (brig)

Speaking of right wing and things that I don’t understand, Fox Not-the-News won the coveted first row seat vacated by veteran UP reporter Helen Thomas. Why? How? Is the White House so afraid of Fox that they will capitulate to them in the hopes of better coverage? Not going to happen.

Unbiased coverage is one of the most basic tenets of journalism. Report the news. Don’t comment on the news. That being said, political reporting is an entirely different beast. Everyone has an opinion. Reporters interview other reporters for commentary. I can deal with this as long as the facts are correct, as long as those commenting do not play fast and loose with truth.

Of course, this cannot be said of Fox, which consistently plays with the facts, makes huge gaffes (mixing up Shirley Sherrod for Maxine Waters anyone?), and takes things out of context. Truth is completely insular, presented as something elastic to be stretched and shaped depending on whim. This is not journalism, nor is it news. So why then reward them with a seat at the table?

I am increasingly disappointed in this administration’s lack of balls. Obama came roaring onto the scene, full of good ideas and better oratory. But once in office, it seems that he lost at least half of his fire. I mean geez, he has a Democratic Congress and he still cannot get anything done because of his need to be liked by everyone, or so it seems. Granted continued obstructionism from the right doesn’t help, but it’s not the only reason for the lack of progress.

Obama was elected on a platform of change, and yes, there have been changes. But the Republicans are threatening to reverse those changes if they retake power, and it seems that everything coming out of this administration is transitory, sort of like cotton candy. I’m waiting for the Dems, especially the administration, to realize that they have some advantages before they piss them away this November. I fear that it will be a long wait. 

“Politics: ‘Poli’ a Latin word meaning ‘many’; and ‘tics’ meaning ‘bloodsucking creatures.'” ~ Robin Williams
USCG Eagle Tall Ship (barque)

Speaking of (yes, I know that I’m repeating this phrase) things that I do not understand:  supporters of Arizona’s immigration policy continue to act as if America sprang up as a populated nation, instead of emerging from generations of immigrants from all over the world.

What confuses me about this issue is the Constitution. Well, not the Constitution itself, but the right’s continual shift on said document. I mean, the tea baggers and their fanatical female trifecta Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Sharron Angle constantly preach on strict adherence to the Constitution. Yet as a result of Arizona’s xenophobia regarding all things Hispanic, Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) are coming out in favor “rethinking” the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born in the U.S.

According to the Huffington Post, in addition to McConnell, “Sens. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have all called for re-thinking the 14th amendment (to one extent or another). And as a Democratic source points out, back in April 2008, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced a bill that would have required at least one parent to be a legal resident in order for their child to be granted U.S. citizenship.”

Which is it: strict adherence or adherence only when it suits the platform?

“Education should prepare our minds to use its own powers of reason and conception rather than filling it with the accumulated misconceptions of the past.” ~ Bryant H. McGill
Amazing Grace Tall Ship (schooner)

Finally, I found a wonderful paper on political misconceptions written by Brendan Nyhan, a University of Michigan political scientist. The paper was referenced in an article written by Marty Kaplan, Director, Norman Lear Center and Professor at the USC Annenberg School.

Kaplan’s article, “The Best of All Possible Americas,” discusses the intimidation of the free press we once knew by right-wing pressure groups. As I mentioned above, instead of reporting the facts, journalism has morphed into a deformed entity; as Kaplan states, the media has become so afraid of being labeled “lamestream” and “liberal” that “the job of fact-finding has been replaced by the grotesque practice of “balancing” charges with countercharges.

Nyhan’s report, “When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions,” analyzes why people continue to believe things that they think are true (WMD’s, anyone) even when presented with facts to the contrary: “Corrective information in news reports may fail to reduce misperceptions and can sometimes increase them for the ideological group most likely to hold those misperceptions.”

Take, for example, those who continue to insist that the president is not a U.S. citizen (aka birthers) even when presented with evidence that he is. The insistence on continued belief is strengthened by ideology. In other words, facts do not necessarily change a misinformed individual’s mind, especially if that individual is politically partisan. Truth does not always out.

Why is this important? Well the misinformation being dispersed by outlets such as Fox is taken at face value by certain segments of the population because this misinformation reinforces beliefs that are already held. This information, whether or not factually valid, is ingested and remains solidly embedded in those who believe it even when faced with factual corrections. And—and this is the most important point—those armed with this misinformation vote.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cowboy Junkies, “Mariner’s Song”

“Complacency by the watchdogs hurts both taxpayers and beneficiaries.” ~ Charles Grassley

On My Soap Box Again

    

“We need to make sure middle-class people are able to pay the bills. We need to make sure that poor people don’t starve. Those are values, too.” ~ Charles Schumer  

I read a great article by Bob Cesca in today’s Huffington Post and thought that I would share some information with you, especially in light of the upcoming mid-term elections:

According to Michael Snyder of the Business Insider:

• 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1 percent of all Americans.
• Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
• In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
• More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

As Cesca so astutely pointed out, those Americans who are planning to vote Republican this November need a reality check:

And yet they want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which would add $678 billion dollars to the deficit—and that’s just the cost of the tax cuts going to the top two percent of earners. In other words, the Republicans want to spend $678 billion in further giveaways for the wealthiest two percent, and they don’t care whether it increases the deficit.

. . . Put another way, $678 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy? No problem. Deficit-shmeficit! But $34 billion in unemployment benefits for an out-of-work middle class at a time when companies aren’t hiring (say nothing of the aforementioned bullet-points)? Evil! Instead, the Republicans want to give $35 billion to Big Oil in the form of corporate welfare during the worst oil spill in American history while telling unemployed middle class families to piss off . . .

The long term budget impact of the wars and the Bush tax cuts literally dwarf the stimulus. Here’s the CBPP evidence in colorful graph form:

“We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.” ~ Thomas Edison

People, please. How is a desire to make the richest among us richer going to help end the great recession? Trickle down economics did not work when Reagan first proposed it, and time has shown that continued tax cuts of the wealthiest do not stimulate the economy as much as jobs and unemployment bills ($.32 ROI for tax cuts versus $1.61 ROI for unemployment benefits). Keeping the Bush tax cuts, rewarding big oil, turning a blind eye to the needs of the majority of Americans—these are the mainstays of the Republican agenda for America. In other words, more of the same.

The same led to the massive financial crisis that still keeps the nation in a death grip. The U.S. economic situation, which at one time was diamond-shaped, with the largest sector of Americans falling into the middle, has continued to morph into an hourglass, with the largest sectors being the very rich and the very poor. How is this good for America or Americans? How does rewarding big oil help middle America?

Continued complacency among Democrats and a fervent desire among conservatives (Reps and tea baggers) to make the first president of color look bad are driving this train wreck. Enough already. Enough with the bi-partisanship. The Republicans in Congress only know how to say no to this administration, and that determined obstructionism is killing the middle class and the poor.

I would apologize for preaching to the choir, but I fear the choir went out for celebratory Slurpees post-election 2008 and never bothered to check back in.

I’ve worked myself into a headache. Beh.

More later. Peace.

Music by Terra Naomi, “Say It’s Possible”