Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Women's Rights, Right To Life, and Any Other Pro-Choice Label You Can Think of....

Ok. So abortion rights is back in the spotlight supposedly because of New Hampshire making a law requiring doctors to notify in person a minor's parents 48 hours before an abortion. This is how I feel about this whole issue.
1. Men should have no say regarding this issue at all. Why? Because, I'm sorry that God didn't give you the absolute power to sustain a life for not only nine + months, but also have the capacity to nourish a baby for over a year after birth but as you have no ability to perform this delicate yet amazing task, you cannot decide who will or will not amongst those of us who can.
2. Those people screeching about girls who use abortions as a form of birth control are literally talking out of their bee-hinds. It is humiliating enough to have a gynecological exam, uncomfortable as well. But you cannot begin to fathom the emotional, psychological and physical pain one experiences having something that is inside your body, a part of you in every sense of the word, ripped out from between your legs. I have two children. The option was given to me by my now ex-husband to "not have" my second son. Yeah, right. That choice was always mine and never his, but being the control freak that he was, he allowed me to consider it because frankly, we were exceedingly poor, I had come to realize that he was not the person he pretended to be, and the first kid was totally infringing on his drinking time. Anyway, I didn't consider it. I wasn't a Christian at that time so, now, it wasn't a religious move. I looked at my first child and thought - what if there was no you? No brainer. I had my second son, my marriage crashed onto the rocks and I see my sons as my best accomplishment ever. When a person has an abortion, and believe it or not ALL women young, old, poor, rich, black, white, etc. feel these things, the ghost of that choice haunts you. It lurks behind the face of every child near that age, on every anniversary date, in every wee little outfit in the mall or precious tiny nikes at the shoe store. The memory of that child is in every stroller and swing. People who act like they understand have no concept.
3. When you restrict public education about sex, guess what? Kids don't know as much as they should about it! Isn't that an incredible revelation? I mean, think about don't teach math, and kids can't add. Whoa...sorry head rush. Anyway, as much as we want to keep our adorable pre-teens and teenagers asexual, too bad. These guys are married off as full blown adults in other countries. These guys are SEXUAL! Not equipping them with as much info as possible is setting them up to fail. And with the way parents are working so much and not talking to their kids, kids as usual are talking to each other. And really, you should hear some of the stories expressed as fact! It would make your hair stand on end.
4. Now, do I have to say this? Abortion legislation is targeting the poor. People with money can buy their way around laws, we all know that. They can go to another country, order the morning after pill online or have someone "help" them out. Just like with child abuse. Just because you have money doesn't mean you don't abuse your kids, you just have the means to cover it better. That's all. Plain and simple. My last case as a child advocate involved a doctor and his wife, the nurse. And these kids had suffered for years, horrific abuse. But the parents had the means to move around and wiggle out by hiring lawyers and pointing at the kids. Pathetic. They got away with it again in the case I was involved in. This is what educated people do when they have the resources, they have too much to lose otherwise.
5. This legislation is sexist. It targets one segment of our society and restricts them more aggressively than others. How about, instead of attacking the end result we go for the instigation? Any male who has sex without a condom will be fined. That'll keep that puppy wrapped.
6. The cliche applies, morality cannot be legislated. Sure punishments can be assigned to things we know to be wrong - rape, murder, kidnapping, theft, etc. But it appears to me that again, we are punishing instead of really using our heads and thinking about the roots of all this. It goes back to something I have mentioned before. Parenting. Parenting classes being a part of the K - 12 educational curriculum and a comprehensive national health program are the two most important things this country needs to do to fix itself. If you have no example of how to parent, if you have no education as to how to parent, if you have no feeling of worth in this society because you cannot afford medical maintenance and therefore, don't have a working knowledge of your body - you are set up to fail.
9. Here's an important one. How much of an issue would abortion be if there wasn't a rightwing/neocon block on the morning after pill? If girls who had made a mistake - which having sex without a condom definitely is - but a girl that has been raped, made the wrong choice, much better would it be for everyone?
8. Any time the political picture is looking bad - Iraq, immigrant issues, members of congress getting million dollar homes from special interest groups - hot button topics suddenly jump to the forefront. Last time I made an effort to comment on a rightwing site about, I think, Katrina the immediate response was something about being an abortionist and a "millions of tiny fingers pointing at me from heaven asking me why..why did I hate them?" interesting imagery but typical of the slap and dash style of the rightwing neocon - a hard smack out of nowhere across the face and then off they go! One is left with a throbbing cheek and stunned expression of "where the heck did that come from?" Stay on task people.

Reproductive rights are a women's issue. Let's turn away from all this ranting and raving and fervent prayer. If you start talking to your kids when they are little. If you keep a constant communication with them about everything - no matter how embarassing. If you teach them to respect themselves and others. And you educate them not only with pertinent materials but through example - they will have a much better chance of getting to adulthood successfully.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

From what I gather from a morning report on NPR, Venezuela is in the process of buying arms from various sources, like Spain and the areas of the now defunct Soviet Union. The rumblings have of course begun about Hugo's being buddies with the dreaded Castro (boo hiss) which again, knee jerkedly, causes everyone to scream in unison in the 5 second soundbite which is now the only form of news we show any affinity for "communism threat!" arrrgggh! Hugo has stated that this is purely a defensive move, since, gee, I don't know, he is referred to as bush's "nemesis" and Pat "I'm-the-turn-people-away-from-Christianity-kinda-Christian Robertson's nationally televised call for assassination. And now efforts are being made to block the sales. That's right. Block the sales.
I am just coming away from reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and personally, I think fortifying my military would be a good idea if I was Senor Hugo, but I think it far more important that a) I had someone filming me, everything that belongs to me and everything I plan on ever traveling in and b) continuous vigilant bodyguards supplied by my mom since really she is the only one that would not be corruptible when it comes to my demise. If you don't play with the US, you not only don't get paid, you get dead. That's all there is to it. Saddam had his opportunity to go along like the Saudis did and get a nice, new, modern country and strong ties to the US. Sure the US would have owned his economy, but guess who owns it now? Huh, smarty? Great job, buddy! Next time choose curtain number 3!
Do you think I've plugged this book enough? Are you getting that it caused such an incredible sense of relief to me - knowing that something was wrong with the way things have been going, not fully believing "conspiracy theories" but just knowing that stuff was going on that was so incredibly twisted? And I found out that yes, but twisted is putting it mildly. Oh, com-mon! Read the book!
I close with my cabbage patch cheer - Go Hugo Go Hugo Go Hugo! You're a rock star! Keep on thumbing your nose at our good ole boy but just make sure you stay important enough and interesting enough to stay on the news media's radar otherwise you are in a grave danger, pal.

Monday, November 28, 2005


I gazed out the window on a foggy SF day
Down from a seedy motel by the Tenderloin way
Watching the vultures circling and rolling by
As the low did try
To live a life of absolute despair
No hope no care
To have nor to share
How can you begin to imagine the life
Lived by the one born of strife
The burden of every second of being
The inside from the outside’s tendency
To burn and hurt and pick at the scab
Created by the stab
Of a needle
Into the skin that holds her in
Keeps her from falling apart into the incinerator
With the other trash
Which she has become
But how
How did she get here
I rest my head on my arm as I gaze down
And watch the predators’ circling around
As the children grabbed by the arm are dragged down
From the fun of the stoop
To sit in a room coop
Waiting for mom to return with some food
Please God not another dude
My spirit so buoyant and free
Feels the weight of sadness, death and disease
For empathy can sometimes be a curse
Feeling only the worst of the worst
Seeing the face of the beautiful girl
Destroyed by the cards dealt by the world
Seeing this man led by the bottle into the room
With only shame and relentless gloom
Watching from this window of mine
Seeing the thieves the swine
Steal the pathetic scraps from those with none
Who scarce remember the warmth of the sun
On their face
This place
Suddenly the world did move
My God! You’ve come to prove
The Truth! The Light! The Glorious Way!
For those of us held at bay
From the buffet
Of life
Of love
Find sure feet couldn’t be done
What to do? Be still? Run?
As quickly as it moved, it grew most silent
With clouds of dust shaken and spent
Over the emerging masses congregating on the street
Some of which did never before meet
Before this time of collapsing bridges and buildings
The sun’s light is waning
The electricity is feigning
The darkness envelops a city indeed
But who will take this city block and lead
That man led by the bottle emerges with a light
To guide lost souls in the swathing night
To safety steering past ill
Those would rob and steal
Look! Listen! The ho!
With the radio
All gather round to find out the scope
Of horror and damage and level of hope
But on this street at this time a great thing did occur
Living dead with respect hope did stir
With a purpose given
Life worth living
A daily earthquake prescription.
National Healthcare NOW!
There is no obstacle greater to the mental and emotional well being of the average American than his or her health, especially as each of us ages. To someone facing a catastrophic illness, every day is filled with soul-destroying worry and stress. Add children and the concern of childhood illness, compound that with not having insurance and our society is crippled with a cycle of stress related illness brought on by anxiety and helplessness. I have been in that situation. I worked, but I was in the middle of a divorce, from a man that saddled me with an incredible financial burden. I became terribly ill with endometriosis. I had to have a complete hysterectomy at the age of 34. Still working, I had to go through the humiliation of Medicaid, which initially turned me down, but eventually covered a portion of the two operations. My credit was decimated, my financial burden was staggering, and due to my illness, I lost my job. There is no way to describe the total and complete enveloping of despair that followed. I was despondent due to the changes in my body, my living situation, my failed marriage, and my joblessness. I actually considered giving up custody of my two boys because my ex-husband was doing so much better financially than me. An abusive alcoholic. That’s how bad it was. That’s what happens when you have no insurance.
Our country has got to have a national health care plan. This can no longer be sidelined. Our citizens’ health is the absolute most important concern. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce. The collective exhale would be heard around the world. My idea is simple. We do not need to reinvent the wheel.
1.A bipartisan, interracial, intercultural committee decides which countries have similar attributes to the US – percentage of certain diseases, demographics, economies, or other indicators, which would demonstrate a workable system. A standard questionnaire would be created.
2.The same committee then organizes as many groups of people to research each country’s system. These people can be doctors, nurses, citizens, technicians, patients, and clerks. It would have to be a well-rounded group that would be able to exercise individual knowledge to select areas. There would be a required minimum number of hours that each group collects relevant research information formulating a “brief” to be shared among the team to ensure that each has a complete understanding of their country’s system before embarking on their fact finding mission.
3.Each research group would then go their assigned country and collect data based on the committee’s questionnaire. Doctors, nurses, lab workers, hospital administration, orderlies, patients, citizens would all be interviewed to determine the pros and cons of their system. The questionnaire would be extremely factual but there would have to be opinion options as well – how does the average citizen feel about their system? What would they change? What ideas do they have to make it better? What are necessary/unnecessary trademarks of their system?
4.Once sufficient data has been collected, the groups convene. A meeting would then take place where “leaders” (appointed by vote within the group) presents their findings to the other groups.
The data is submitted to the committee, which compiles the data based on a program that organizes the questionnaires (much like a survey). All opinions are included with the final compilation of data in an appendix.
5.This data should show the best possible system for our country. The data should then be presented to congress.
6.The entire process should take less than a year.

Too simplistic? Not taking into consideration the healthcare “business”, drug industry, and medical industry? I say, it is time to stop overcomplicating and throwing out ridiculous, false analogies. Our country will not turn into France or Germany (surprising that the two countries that refused to go along with us in our preemptive war are the ones held up as the example of what not to be!). I was in England in 1987. In the middle of the night I had an ovarian cyst rupture and burst, spilling toxins into my abdomen. I was taken to hospital. I filled in my critical information (name address age etc) three times. I was in the hospital for a week. I had excellent care. Upon discharge, I was handed a plastic bag with assorted medicines. I asked where I went to pay my bill. The woman looked at me and said “there’s no charge.” Can you imagine? Can you even fathom writing your information down three times – without having to pull out endless paperwork and cards? Can you even begin to grasp the relief I felt as a twenty something girl in a foreign country already struggling, not to have to deal with a bill I knew I couldn’t pay? Initially, I believe we would have a flood of people going in to get healthcare, but once people realized that this was going to exist, like public education or libraries, it would fall off. People would make maintenance appointments. People would have “well checks”, because the fear of finding out that you are not so well is the number one reason people don’t maintain. Not just because it is so mind-numbingly awful emotionally to discover that something might be wrong with you and you might be sick for a while and your kids and family will be affected, but primarily because the cost is insurmountable. And dealing with insurance companies who suddenly decide that whatever is wrong with you is the thing they don’t cover. Why is a catastrophic illness the number one reason middle class families file bankruptcy? Isn’t that just categorically wrong to anyone? Every other industrialized nation in the world cares for the health of its citizens. Let that sink in. Every other country. Our health should not be part of the market. It shouldn’t be part of the equation as to whether you entire world will come crashing down around you should you become sick. Why do businesses have to maintain the health of their workers? Why do small businesses have to carry such an incredible burden? Or carry the shame should they not be able to provide that insurance? Does this make sense to anyone? I won’t bring up the obvious hypocrisy of carrying on a multi-billion dollar war yet flatly refusing to care of the health of our own citizens. Simply absurd. What is so amazing is how long people have ignored that our government and the big businesses that run it would become a lot more environmentally conscious if they had to pay the tab for making us sick with their substandard regulations on pollution. This is an idea that might not be paper clips or sliced bread, but it would change everything in our country. Every aspect of our lives will be changed when we finally have a government that says, yes! You matter. Your health and well-being matters. I believe in the dream of that happening. I believe it is what the people of this country yearn for. Life is stressful enough, don’t you think?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Back Home
Sigh. There's always something extraordinarily warming about getting home, regardless of where home might be. I was able to go to San Francisco and absorb some much needed tolerance and liberal energy, not just from the city but from my sister, her partner and their friends. If you are ever there go to the restaurant- Herbivore. It was an amazing thing to be able to choose anything - anything! - from the menu. I had lasagna for the first time in three years. Could have brought a more tender soul to tears. And I had two desserts - carrot cake and german (sniff) chocolate (sob) cake. Amazing. And it didn't feel sacrificial - as most of my meals feel normally. I did make - like in a kichen without a box but with a recipe (a how to with a list of ingredients....for those not big on kitchen lingo) - (drumroll) a spectacular pumpkin soup (not just my words but shocked adulation from Steph and Lisa) and (ahem) a chocolate mousse. Both vegan and yes, both fantastic. I have never been known for my wizardry in the kitchen - I hate cooking shows, cook books intimidate me, and frankly, I am not a big fan of eating. Sure, I like to eat good stuff on occassion but for the most part, eating is just a time waster - I have to stop doing stuff I want to do to do something I don't really want to do that makes me sluggish and tired. I like the thought of eating my main meal at lunch so that I can burn it all off during the day, but I get so lethargic that it is not something I do on a regular basis.
This trip was definitely different than others in the past. This was the first one I took without a member of my family. I have to say, I like my kids and husband. And I don't like being away from them for more than a couple of days. It was good because I got to do stuff that I wanted to do, but sincerely, after a couple of days of that, I would have preferred to share the experience.
My sister's partner, Lisa, took me to an Afro-Brazillian dance class which made me remember how much I love to dance. Everything about it. The movement, the expression, the music, the fumbling through routines, the swirling of trying to get my very English butt to swivel like a South American butt and my very English feet to step in time like African feet and my very ballet arms to move to primal,tribal beats. Needless to say, a bit of internal conflict arose, but my love for dance and music vastly outweighed my inabilities.
My sister, Steph, has always been a mighty and strong woman. She, my mother always says, was such an athlete. To say she is strong is like saying Matt Damon has potential as an actor. Anyway, through a series of being (loves food, loves sedentary activities like movies and tv sports) and living (desk job) she had become unhappy with herself. I won't tell you how much she weighed because I have been sworn to secrecy - but I was surprised when she told me. Anyway, she started rowing. And being as powerful as she is, she did well. Being obsessive compulsive helped when she realized that she was - alas! - getting into shape! Now she works out at the gym everyday. And plays raquetball three or so times a week. She has dropped at least twenty pounds and looks fantastic. It makes me happy to see her look so if I could just get her to drop the meat-eating. I left some DVDs that would help her - but she has to watch them.
It was a good trip. But I am glad to be home. Even if I am in the area that boasts the biggest concentration of the 34% of Americans still supporting bush at this time. I am surrounded by my three lovely dogs, my husband and at 6 o'clock today my two beautiful boys. Can't wait.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Visiting SF
I arrived yesterday morning after an uneventful trip from Houston to San Francisco. Maybe it's my extreme sensitivity, but the change is palpable. Although I connected with some great people in my area in regards to animal rights and activism, which is surprisingly huge for me, I still live in a place where the vast majority of people have polar opposite beliefs. Hopping...ok not hopping..the airline managed to dislocate one of my wheels, causing my suitcase to list to one side, and it sincerely felt that I was dragging a dead body through the airport, BART (bay area rapid transit) and the streets o' San Francisco. That aside lugging my dead body onto the train, I felt that inexplicable sense of relief, hard to explain really. When I am at home (not necessarily around my sons and husband) but around or on the phone with anyone, I have a tension that is everpresent. When it starts to ease, when I begin to relax something always comes along to renew the depth and intensity of that tension. From seeing "Delay" and "W" bumper stickers to overhearing "biased liberal media" and "aiding the enemy" to conversations with perfectly nice but oblivious people. Racism bothers me to such a point that even minor infractions - if that really is possible - cause tightening in my shoulders and neck. Putting on dialects, buying into stereotypes, passing derogatory comments...I don't know, it puts a truly bitter taste in my mouth. I find it funny that these same people get so offended when racism is thrust back at them. When an African American says something not so complimentary, suddenly, it's big up in arms indignation, and the "and they call me racist!" responses are bilged out like an RV sewage pump.
But I am here. I feel the acute effort in the air to NOT be judgemental. To be tolerant. I see love around me - maybe because I am looking for it. Maybe because I look at San Francisco as a city that we could all be. Even though there is still racism (it is still in the US after all) and of course improvements can always be made, it is a city that is trying. It doesn't appear to be a city that thinks it has arrived. It seems to always surprise me how brutally honest and aware people are here about how much better it could be. I so dig that. I talk to people in my area and I am struck by this "We have worked hard to get here. We have morals. We have values. I will not tolerate thugs being transferred into our area bringing with them gangs, drugs and who knows what else." My problem with that is the essense of superiority it connotes. Somehow you have had the opportunity to better your position in life and you...what? Feel it is reserved for you? Others can't have any because...why? They aren't worthy? They haven't worked as hard as you? They don't have the same social graces or have the same educational background as you?

I am reading a fantastic book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins. My suggestion to everyone is not only read this book but get a list of all your family, friends, and acquaintances that a) watch FoxNews, b) listen to AM talk radio, c) are Republican or d) believe America is the be all end all country in the world and send them all a copy with your love. The paperback version, I think, is coming out in December. Every member of my family (all Christian, all conservative - except my sister who lives in SF - all completely delusional - and I say that with all the love in the world - when it comes to this administration, and the absolute fact that the US has been involved in global empire building for over 30 years. It is not manifested by the military (that uncivilized response would have to be a last resort) but by very clever manipulations of economies, less developed countries with a plethora of natural resources, and a small group of very powerful people. It's not a conspiracy, per se, but it is a twisted approach to global supremecy that has made us hated all over the world. The sad thing is, it is an absolute certainty that the oppressed always rise up to overthrown the oppressors. That day will come. The preponderance of citizens in this country will have no idea why it is happening, but those that perpetuated it will be, I think, completely immune to any kind of fallout. They have too much power and money. It will be the average American citizen that will suffer the consequences. But the book is absolutely fascinating - being a kindred spirit with John, he was a peace corp volunteer and a person who would prefer to visit the real city of any country and not the "Americanized " version, I feel his conflict and understand how he could have been pulled into this life. To be honest, though, not out of any strength of character or superiority in any way, more like no real concept of money, power or drive for either but a very strong sense of rebellion against the conventional, I couldn't have justified my actions had I been in his shoes. He wrote the book, which, is an incredibly brave thing considering the absolutely shocking world and webs of greed it exposes. Seriously. I knew that something about the corporate world, Wall Street, government made my skin crawl, but I had no idea why. I remeber going to Wall Street and seeing the trading floor of the stock market. I have to admit, there were some classmates absolutely transfixed by the frantic pace, the yelling, the seemingly unrecognizable language of gestures and words that these guys were exchanging. I remember looking down and trying to spot the cutest trader. And then just feeling an overwhelming headache coming on. Sigh. I love excitement and adventure and risk. But raquet ball courts are horribly loud and echoey and make me feel nauseated. The same with the trading floor. Echoey. Disorienting. Put me in the middle of a vast wood on the side of a mountain, and I am stoked. Plop me down in the center of the business district and I experience horrible vertigo. There are some people cut out for this life. They love the complexity. The competition. And to be entirely honest, I have no problem with them. Kind of like the people who why about the universe or the evolution of any species. There are people who are cut out to investigate and thrive on the mysteries of our existence. I have no bone to pick with them. I just have no interest. I find their discoveries fascinating. But the thought of pouring over data and information about those subjects, I find it all mind numbing. It's kind of like Bible study. I know a lot of people who have read the Bible and can quote a thousand verses from all sixty six books. This however does not interest me. I do not have to read about my husband to have a relationship with him - especially if he is alive. Which I believe God and Jesus are. They are alive and guiding me all the time. I have a personal relationship with them. No we don't hang out drinking coffee and they don't give me directions when I am lost and as of yet, they have been abysmally bad at lotto numbers. What lives is the absolute...stay with me here....the absolute knowledge that falling backward in faith I am calm and secure in my belief that I will be caught. Does that make sense? When I am lost - say, driving in San Francisco after dropping my sister at work - the calm that is with me as I drive down a 90 degree angle street is not me - it is not in my nature to be comfortable in the unknown. The calm is knowing that God is with me. I fall off the path all the time. What's cool is I am not "struck down by God!" (echo echo), I do not have a heavenly father that blasts me with punishment for mistakes I make. He might shake his head in disbelief that I am making that mistake yet again, but he knows that I have absolute faith in the teachings of Christ. Teachings that said love - worship one love all. And I fall and hate people and swear at them and wish them really ill, but God knows that my human frustration does not erase my true character which is desperately trying on a daily basis to love my freakin' neighbor.
That's it for now, from the beautiful city of absolute cool - SF.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Toxic Texan

I know I am not the only one that distinctly recalls the prez's claims that the evil dictator, Saddam Hussein (boo hiss), had used chemical weapons against his own people (shock horror). This was yet another of the many reasons to go to war with that smidgeon of a country known as Iraq. One could easily make the jump - if he used it on his own people (people much like himself in religious and political persuasion) it would be even easier for him to use it on us, the infidels. That was a good one. I mean, the thought of chemical vapors swirling through our public mass transit system or dropped on some booming metropolis causing hundreds possibly thousands to fall victim to horrible symptoms and effects of a burning agent leaves the imagination to enter into a terrifying arena.
Enter Italy's state-run RAI24 news television, who last week broadcast a documentary regarding the use of white phosphorous by the US military in Fallujah. If you click the link to your left (bushflash), Eric has the video. The pentagon categorically denies that it was used on civilians. Yet, in the video we see companion animals, kids, and women. From what I gather, prior to entering Fallujah the requirement to be considered an insurgent was to be over the age of ten. Ten. This is who we are fighting? This is who we consider to be a threat? Is that in dog years, because the animal looked pretty menacing and...golly! Was that an rocket propelled missile launcher next to his left paw? Probably. Bastards. Now, let's see. Is there a history of this sort of thing coming out of this administration pretty much on a regular basis? We see video or photographs and some idiot gets on television or the radio and says "no, wasn't me. we don't -fill in the blank-." Isn't that the definition of insanity? Repeating an action over and over again expecting a different result. Eric also has some compelling evidence that this administration believes that it creates its own reality. That regardless of what others see, hear, touch or smell, this administration believes that if they say that they saw, heard, touched or smelled the opposite then that is the reality. Torture pictures and video? We don't do that. Chemical weapons? huh? Us? Ok...maybe against the evil insurgents but not against innocent civilians. Video? Can you say computer generated stupid are you American people anyway? Do you think Mickey Mouse is real? Good thing those grounded in fact and reality are in control.
It absolutely floors me that the resident in the White House who, with that smarmy smirk, a wink, and compulsive head bobbing three years ago told everyone that he was privvy to ALL the information as president, and, therefore, knew much more than we or anyone else did, so war was inevitable. Yet, now, he shrillingly screeches that Clinton knew, congress knew, the aboriginal natives in the most remote reaches of the world had the same information as he did - and hell! Congress voted for war. How lame is this guy? What was his platform? Integrity and character? Stellar examples of that.
The only bright spot I am beginning to see is a semblance of sanity eeking through the blinds of congress. Moderate republicans are beginning to say ".....hmmmm. This war sure is costing a lot. Maybe these tax cuts for the top 1% aren't the best idea right now." or "Golly, Iraq isn't looking so great. And you know, citizens that elected me are beginning to call and ask when we'll be outta there." and of course "Yikes! Have you seen the resident's approval rating???" Would you want to be associated with that?? As an elected official? You have to pay attention to polls and calls. You have to as an elected official. If you want to keep your job anyway.
Now is the time to start thinking about change. We, as compassionate people, have to start mobilizing. My primary concern has always been the dependents or the oppressed in our society - animals, children, gays and lesbians, seniors, the environment, the disabled, etc. I want someone who cares about those outside the inner circle. I want someone who consistently proves that they will reinforce the safety net, not slash it to bits. I see several people, but I personally want a Boxer or Pelosi/Obama ticket for 2008. These two women constantly stand up and speak out for those without or with a very weak voice and no one moved me more at the democratic convention that Barack Obama. What a freakin' rock star! I will always remember him saying "I AM my brother's keeper." Right on. I am. We all are.
Charitable Homepage

I have made the animal rescue site my home page for one easy reason. Every morning, I see it and am able to click the free food button. This simple exercise allows the site's sponsors to give food to an animal in shelter or sanctuary. A daily tally is displayed on the site to give you that added bonus of warm feelings when you do a good thing. There are also other areas that you can click for support - breast cancer, hunger, literacy, child health, and rainforest. Think about it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Shame of Puppy Mills

As a long time animal rights activist I am staggered by my own ignorance when it comes to animals at a pet store. Sometimes ignorance once the bliss has been shattered, turns into mind numbing guilt. To know what happens in the lives of these animals, dogs and cats alike, is to know the true depths of human cruelty. Anyone who owns a dog knows that the nature of these wonderful companion animals is to be clean, able to stretch its legs, eat, drink and be a companion. How happy is that animal when you get home?
To see the horror of a puppy mill is to see what a human will do to make money at the expense of a living creature. I am not talking about all breeders, but to be honest, the whole thing makes my skin crawl. Considering how many companion animals are put down every year - what on earth are we breeding for?
Anyway, most of these animals are put into tiny crates (wooden with tall sides) so their entire world is these wood walls or small wire crates. They are stacked on top of each other. So we have six to eight dogs in a crate stacked from floor to ceiling. Feces and urine splatter down to the ones below. Feces can get to be knee high on a human being. The females are bred every six months regardless of health, until they are bred out at which time they are killed. These animals never know a kind human touch but they know a cruel one. The dogs get very vocal, which of course, the millers don't like. Punishment is swift and harsh. Veterinary care is non-existent. The millers care for these animals. One yorkie I saw on website has a severely broken jaw. She wasn't yawning, that is, I'm sorry was, her permanent condition. She was put to sleep because she had been so badly treated and the treatment was so painful no one could stand to cause her any more pain. Her teeth were rotted. Terrible abuse, neglect (some of these mothers are frost bitten, have untreated eye infections so bad their eyes are hanging like plums from the socket, hair so matted that the dog can't defecate, urinary disease, twisted legs, mange, skin diseases that have eaten away half the dog's face). Then there is the mental state of these animals. They are normally locked away from the "main house" - like in a shed or barn, because the smell of ammonia is absolutely suffocating. Now when I say suffocating, I mean, you cannot breath. Your eyes and lungs burn. Your flesh burns. And these animals live in these conditions - day in day out, month in month out, year in year out. When someone new enters these places the noise level reaches deafening, unless the miller is accompanying that person. Then the silence is horrifying. They cower. They shiver. They pee and defecate all over themselves in absolute terror. Most do not have any kind of water or feeding bowl. They do not see day light. Those that do, are unfortunately exposed to the elements with no shelter whatsoever.
Do the research - google puppy mill. Then read. The USDA is supposed to monitor these places, but they do not. The only way to get rid of these places is to stop buying from pet stores. Any pet stores. Do not do it! Go to the Humane Society or the SPCA, look until you find the dog you want. Go to
,type in the kind of animal you are looking for, the age, sex, and area you live. You will find tons of animals looking for homes. There are breed specific "rescuers" out there as well. If you want a particular kind of dog - boston terrier, greyhound, german sheppard, really any kind, there will be an organization to help you.
But whatever you do, do not ever go into another pet store and buy an animal. You might be saving that one, but you are increasing the demand and in turn, forcing an increase in the supply. We are supposed to be protecting these loyal beings, not allowing others to torture them. Please do what you can to end the puppy mill industry.

Another Proud American Moment

The "accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."--James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 47

blatant defiance of the Constitution's guarantees of Habeas Corpus and separation of powers, the Senate on Thursday approved the Graham Amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 49 to 42. Five Democrats joined all but 4 Republican Senators in giving the President unfettered power to hold prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for the rest of their lives, with no criminal charges, and no right to challenge their confinement by Habeas Corpus.
Last year, the Supreme Court held in Rasul v. Bush that the Guantánamo detainees are entitled to file habeas petitions in US courts to contest their detentions. The high court determined that non-US citizens held at Guantánamo, "no less than American citizens, are entitled to invoke the federal courts' authority" to hear their petitions under 28 USC § 2241, the US Habeas Corpus statute.
The Supreme Court stated firmly in Rasul, "Consistent with the historic purpose of the writ, this Court has recognized the federal courts' power to review applications for habeas relief in a wide variety of cases involving Executive detention, in wartime as well as in times of peace."
The Graham Amendment is crafted to render Rasul a nullity by cutting off the rights of Guantánamo prisoners to have their habeas petitions considered by the federal courts. The Amendment limits federal court review to the narrow issue of the validity of decisions rendered by Combatant Status Review Tribunals. These kangaroo courts were set up to determine whether the Guantánamo prisoners are "enemy combatants." They are not independent judicial tribunals, but rather administrative proceedings stacked with military officials who can use secret or even fabricated evidence. The prisoner is not entitled to be represented by an attorney.
Only a handful of prisoners at Guantánamo have been charged with crimes. Their cases will be heard in military commissions that George W. Bush established to impose long sentences and even execute detainees with virtually no judicial oversight. Without habeas access to federal courts, Bush and Donald Rumsfeld will ostensibly serve as prosecutor, judge and executioner in the military commissions. This flies in the face of the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers. Three days before the Graham Amendment was passed, the Supreme Court announced it would review the legality of those military commissions in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.
Even though the majority of prisoners detained at Guantánamo admittedly pose no threat to the United States, they continue to languish in virtual isolation under torturous conditions. Two hundred of them, who have decided death is preferable to life, are trying to starve themselves in a hunger strike.

The last time Habeus Corpus was suspended was during that other great and proud time of Japanese-American internment during WWII. Good times. Good times.

Now, everyone! All together now!
"Oh I'm proud to be an american, where at least I know I'm freeeee............................."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Parenting 101

I am just full of ideas today. I guess this is one that has been rolling around for about thirty years now. As a child advocate, over and over I see parents who haven't the vaguest idea how to parent. We've all heard the "no owners manual" cliche in regards to kids but I wonder where society as a whole expects people to learn how to be good parents? I honestly can say that the vast majority of mothers and fathers out there have it wrong. I am not coming from an expert position by any means, I am making mistakes pretty daily, and I know that my name will come up in therapy in fifteen years...a lot. But the bullying, the disregard, the dismissal, the rejection, the spite I see tears my heart out. Yesterday, I saw a woman in a grocery store with two young girls in the cart with one of the girls in tears obviously from the blotchy red patches and the "hicking" breaths that she has been in tears for a while. Mom leans over and snaps "dry it up! dry it up now!" and adds a little pinch to the girl's arm for good measure. This of course brings renewed upset with feeble attempts to gain control. Feeble because the girl must be about four. Not exactly the optimum age for controlling one's emotions - in fact, it appears from the mother's actions that control is a bit of an inherent defect. Anyway, this woman who is walking with another woman talking about whatever inane subject they felt like discussing, gets in the girl's face again, and says again "!" and pinches her thigh. I, of course, being the trained professional step in and say "what's the likelihood of your calming down if I pinch your arm and thigh as hard as I can?" in what I consider to be the calmest voice I can muster at this time. The woman looks at me with all the hatred she has up until this moment reserved for her daughter, and eloquently hisses "step off bitch. this is none of your business." This is when I hand her my card and say "oh but this is where you are wrong, m'am. Child abuse is my business, and unless you would like for me to report you to one of my many friends at CPS you will take your daughter into your arms, hold her, tell her you are sorry you got frustrated and ask her if is she ok." We have a stare down. The other woman looks over her shoulder at the card and then at me. The daughter has SO stopped crying. The woman picks up her kid, hugs her and walks with her friend pushing the car shaped cart after her. Sigh.
We need training. All of us. From kindergarten to seniors in high school, age appropriate parenting classes should be a mandatory part of education. Kindergarteners can learn how to hold a baby, how to help care for a baby, how to entertain an infant, what not to do or give an infant. Elementary school kids can be given projects regarding care, medical needs and developmental needs. This should never be aimed just at the girls - both sexes need this instruction. High school kids can be taught about the financial and psychological needs of babies, toddlers, and kids. There is so much to know about when it comes to children. But too many of our kids do not have good examples from which they learn their parenting skills. So many are terribly abused psychologically, emotionally, physically, sexually and mentally. One thoughtless comment from a parent could very easily send a child down a desperate path.
There is no other alternative. Imagine the generation that grows with this sort of curriculum added to their educational plan. Can you? An entire generation with owners' manuals? How awesome would that be?

I Know What Boys Want......

There has been a movement for the past few years, maybe, what? Eight or nine years? I don't know, but it seemed to hit its stride, as it was moving at a pretty good pace before, but it came into its own when we had the rash of school shootings, culminating with Columbine. It seemed that everything went just a little bit haywire upon the realization that all of these shootings had one thing in common. Boys. And only boys. Boys were losing it. So what happens? Do we delve into what is making boys so unhappy, frustrated, angry, and inevitably out of control? Do we follow "average" (whatever that is) boys through a year of life or over a period of years to see what is going on? Heck no. Our fab society, especially the schools decide, you know what? Boys just can't be boys anymore. I was actually told this. By a principal. A male principal. Is that the saddest thing you have ever heard? My son's fourth grade class was almost 3/4 boys. The wise teacher decided, as she was having a difficult time with control, that she would tell the class that she was going to choose five kids from her class who she deemed to be the type of students that exemplified model behavior. Shockingly enough four out of the five were....girls! And the fifth was a boy that had a very strong feminine side (not a bad thing, that's just the way he was). My point is, we are working against the natural chemical and physical makeup of the prepubescent male. Boys are physical. They don't sit quietly perfecting their handwriting. They don't decimate their friends and enemies with pointed words. They don't cut other kids down with acid looks. Boys allocate friendship out to other boys that have the same interests. Or laugh at their jokes. Or who they think are "cool". Involved conversation about feelings and relationships are absolutely foreign to boys. That does not interest them, even in the slightest. So, when they get in trouble - A) they cannot express themselves effectively because they are not practiced in this artform, and B) they do not trust adults in key postions of authority - especially in school. Why? They are absolutely surrounded by women all day long. I remember when my oldest was six. He wanted to be a teacher because he thought they needed more guy teachers. The average teacher relates better to the girls because, no surprise here, they are girls. Unless that teacher has boys, she is far less likely to understand and therefore tolerate boy behavior. It is disruptive. It is annoying. It is repetitive. It could cause injury. So, what is the standard elementary school punishment for boys? No recess! Now doesn't that make sense? Active boys, unable to contain their energy as they are wired to be physical and active, get punished by taking their activity away. Clever. Boys, especially sensitive boys, do not deal with this sort of thing well. They do not learn to control they "physical-ness" - that's like controlling blinking or breathing - you might be able to do it, but only after you have gained a certain level of maturity. Boys get resentful. They are sitting, usually forced to watch as others play, and they get angry. The attitude is zero tolerance. But really I see it, especially on the elementary school level, as breaking the will. They will break these boys. They can't hit them but they can humiliate them. They take away what they love. They can remove what makes them happy. And what is the end result? A bunch of resentful, angry boys moving into less controlled arenas known as middle and high school. This approach is not helping boys to gain control over themselves. It is making time bombs. These boys often get punished at school and then at home. Most boys endure physical punishment long after girls do. They resent girls because they consistently see that girls get preferential treatment. I am actually very happy with the way we have managed to lift up girls so that they realize that they can accomplish anything. But I don't believe that it is neccesary to beat boys down to raise girls up. I am fortunate in that I have been able to be home with my sons. They are kind, caring, empathetic, smart, athletic kids. Not once but several times I have had to come to their defense and beat back teachers and principals who believe they have a right to take shots at my guys' characters. I can't understand not appreciating the essence of boys. They are so physical. They love fun. They love a good laugh. You know what they're thinking (the young ones anyway) just by looking at their face. Their expressions of kindness and love are almost always genuine because they don't understand manipulation. They are action oriented and are up for an adventure. Don't underestimate them or think that the outward expressions of fun and adventure are all that are to them. Boys are incredibly sensitive. They have incredible potential for kindness and generosity. I think that if the public school systems allied these boys, brought them in and befriended them, made them feel part of the group instead of an outsider that would never be quite right, they would be doing the best thing for them. If we adapted lessons to appeal to what boys enjoy doing - the physical or the technical, boys would learn faster and gain more confidence in their ability. The vast majority of boys do not learn well, heck, they don't do well at all, just sitting and learning. It's boring. That's like expecting a lion to sing and fly like a bird. It works against their nature. Let's take the target off the backs of boys. Balance can be achieved and society will benefit from giving both boys and girls what they need to be successful members of society.

Taking Responsiblity
I just received an email from my buddy, John. Gosh, sorry, of course, John Edwards, the guy that should be VP right now? Anyway, I got this email apologizing for the mistake of voting almost three years ago FOR the war in Iraq. I find the apology noble, but misplaced. It's kind of like this for me. The principal at my son's school calls me up and says that he had heard that a child at his school had brought a homemade bomb and was planning on detonating said bomb. Then he asked, should we go in, take him down, and toss him into juvenile detention? I, based on this information, and believing that I am not part of the circle of information that the principal is entitled to, defer to his knowledge and access, I would say, gee, yeah! My kid goes to that school, I don't want him blown up! Then the cops are called in, they blitz into 7th grade science and throw my kid to the ground who just happens to be involved in lab with twenty other students. This action furthers the feeling that this kid is a danger as the sweep was able to catch him in the act of "actions with chemicals" or other such telling lingo. He is thrown into the back of a car and taken to juvenile hall. Later, it is discovered that some kid that doesn't like him very much and wants to get in good with the administration, has lied and since the administration is not real fond of him either, they believe the kid without really looking into it themselves. Now....should I apologize? Was it wrong of me, based on erroneous information to say, gosh! Yes, do something about this imminent threat! What are you on the phone with me for? Go! Go! Save the children! Save us all! Arrrrgh!
Hearing that an emergeny exists and not responding to that emergency is lax. But, pretending that an emergency exists for ulterior motives and to forward your own agenda is criminal. There is protocol and a system of checks and balances in place to keep one branch of our government from making monumental mistakes. However, there are very clever people out there with a lot of power who know how to manipulate for their own benefit or to push what they want through. When the system that our forefathers (mentioned often by the other side) is circumvented, then we have done a great dishonor to their intentions and their brilliance. It is time to stop apologizing for believing lies. I didn't believe it, but I don't judge members of my party that did. I am not in Washington. I don't presume to understand how the system and inner workings of the house, senate and oval office operate. But I do know that I have believed many lies by many people. That makes me gullible, but it doesn't bring me down to the liars' level. However, if you continue to roll over and show your submission, then you are a fool. The same people that allowed false information to lead us into a preemptive war, are also using a parallel doctine of middle east change. Either we went to war to quash a threat or we went to change the political makeup of a region. I am offered several excuses for the same offense often by my two teenage boys, in the hope that one will be the correct answer to satiate the angry beast (that would be me). It does not work that way. If you did something, there is always a reason that far outweighs all the other reasons. No by-reasons here. What was said at the time? WMD. Imminent threat. Period. Sure, evil dictator, but you can't rely on that one, there are a lot of very bad people running countries all over the world. My response to that at the time it came up was when are we headed to Burma?
So. No more apologies. Mistakes were made based on lies. You didn't lie, Johnny dear, you believed them. Now, let's get rid of the liars.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I hate Texas

So it's official. I live in a mean, spiteful state. I can't imagine anyone thinking it is ok to take rights away from people - indirectly as well as directly - which is exactly what prop. 2 is about. The pathetic "marriage is one man and one woman", and no other union will be recognized. Churches, predominantly, in this state are absolutely wrong in pushing this agenda. We already ban gay marriage. What was the point of this? Why is it so important to people who have all the rights (hetros) to purposefully go out and vote to take away the few rights of the people struggling (gays/lesbians)? Exactly what is it meant to achieve? Will all the gays go away? If we don't allow them to visit each other in the hospital or get insurance coverage for their partners, it will drive them to rethink this "choice" and go straight? I mean, are we really that clueless? Did I miss this part of the New Testament? I mean, we are supposed to love one another, right?This is not love, people. This is mean and spiteful and I hate it. Shame shame shame.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Animal Matters

This weekend was the PETA - Helping Animals 101 conference for Houston and ran 8 - 6 Saturday and Sunday. I kind of knew what to expect, I hoped to meet people in the surrounding areas, with any luck alleviating, even if temporarily, my feelings of being isolated. I expected a lot of information that would help me in my efforts to step up my knowledge and awareness in order to be a better witness to others for the animals. I expected great food - all of which I can eat - a true halleluja moment. But I can't really say that I expected to be shocked. My first exposure to animal rights was in England, where I watched an animal rights movie narrated by Julie Christie. I have always been a very empathetic person, but the quaint image of farmer Brown and his happy farm were dashed forever on the jagged rocks of reality known as factory farms. I became vegetarian immediately. Almost twenty years later, I finally made the connection between dairy and veal and that was the end of my consuming anything related to animals. A personal choice that I could live with, and made a real effort not to inflict my choices on others.
But today I think I might be again, changing.
I think it is in the human chemical makeup to turn from anything horrorific. There is also that primitive instinct thing going on that makes us turn back to look with curiosity....that is, as long as it is nothing related to us or ours. A car crash, a terrible malformity, a tower on fire. If its relativity can be distanced, a disaster can be fascinating. But if its proximity is close to one's own, then it becomes something from which we avert our eyes. That is why, I believe, people can walk into a grocery store, a fast food chain, or restaurant, order animal products without any attachment whatsoever to that item, except the positive experienced gained from its consumption. It tastes good. I believe that if every single person saw how this "product" is treated from birth to death, that person would not only not ever consume that product but he would do everything in his power to shut down the operation that produced this product. What are the arguments? God put animals on this earth for our consumption. This might be true, but there is nothing even remotely godly about the way we are treating these creatures. They are removed from all things natural to them. They are warehoused in deplorable conditions. Diseased. Disfigured. Malnourished. Drug addicted. Tortured. Abcessing. Tumored. God did not put animals on this earth for us to torture. There is no excuse for this type of treatment.

We love our dogs. We adore our cats. Yet we eat animals with higher cognitive ability and that every scientific community on the planet acknowledge have central nervous systems and therefore have the same capacity for pain that we do. Yet we brand. We experiment. We castrate. We anally electricute. We hobble. We inject. We scald. We burn. We apply caustic substances to shaved flesh. We amputate. And we remove the actual skin from alive fully conscious cows. All without any pain medication whatsoever. It makes no sense to me that there are no restrictions, no controls of any kind when it comes to the treatment of animals on factory farms. Does that make sense? Products that we actually ingest have less controls and regulation than the products we put in and on our car? Did you know that every single piece of chicken in the US has arsenic in it? Did you know that becoming a vegan essentially removes all risk of your getting any kind of heart disease - the number one killer in the US? Not only does it remove your risk, the change will eradicate damage that has already been done.

I feel so overwhelmed by this industry. There is such an incredible network of money and power that control business of animals. Lobbyists, heads of important agencies, that are from the very industry they are in charge of the industries that they are meant to ovesee, special interest groups with unbelievably deep pockets keep powerful legislation off the table. If something does make it though, it is killed in committee. As a compassionate person I could not kill an animal to eat so therefore I will not pay someone else to do it for me. It's personal integrity. I would not stand by and watch as someone bull hooked, hit with a metal pipe, burn or otherwise torture an animal, and I will not pay someone to do it.

There is also the appalling practice of using animals for entertainment. Have we not grown as a society past the senseless incarceration of magestic animals like elephants and tigers, who are spending 95% of their miserable lives chained for circuses? 50 weeks out of 52 in boxcars traveling from city to city. And the training. People really want to take their kids to see animals who are performing unnatural acts because of sheer terror? This is entertainment? Tigers' front paws are burned, in order to keep them on the back legs. They are punched in the face, whipped, beaten with bats. I saw a video of a head elephant trainer for one of these abominations known as the circus, his direction to his staff in the secrecy of the "barn", was to hit them, hit them hard, make them scream. Make them scream. Baby elephants, mother elephants. Skin pierced repeatedly with bullhooks in the most sensitive areas to make them do what is unnatural for them to do. It's the little man's power trip. The little human being with the whip and the mind for torture that allows circuses to exist. What incredible shame this brings on us as a people.

It is so past the time that we take a very real look at the many ways we have imprisoned living beings and tortured massive numbers of them in the name of entertainment, medical research, food, etc. There are very real very good alternatives out there - human only entertainment acts, wonderful companies offering alternatives to live animal testing, and the alternatives to meat-eating are getting more diverse and digestable by the minute. It is time to take the blinders off, TAKE THEM OFF, and look at what is happening to these defenseless beings in our care. We cannot call ourselves a compassionate society, ever, until ALL these practices are extinguished. No more factory farms! No more animal research! No more circuses! No more rodeos! No more pet stores! No more zoos! The last slaves must be set free. If we truly are an honorable and thoughtful society.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Lessons in Parenthood
Recently I have been conversing fairly regularly with a wonderful woman, ultra conservative, but a great person, nonetheless. We have quite a bit in common, two teenage boys, our youngest in the same grade at the same school, with pretty similar personalities. Our older boys are pretty similar too. Anyway, we have reached a place of familiarity and comfort in our relationship where we can speak pretty openly with each other. She questioned why I allowed my son to go out on a date with his girlfriend, alone at a movie theatre. Did I know what was going on in the dark at these theatres? She also asked why I allowed my son to be friends with certain kids that had less than stellar reputations. And did I have "parental controls" on my home computer? The kind that document activity, etc. Hmm. After a while, as a parent, and I think just about anyone else for that matter, with enough effort, can have his/her convictions shaken . You begin to wonder if you are doing the right thing, being blind, manipulated, not as good a parent as you think you are. So after several weeks of this type of conversation and my responding that - I let him go on a date because he respect girls, knows that she sets the pace and I trust him. I let him pick his own friends because, again, I trust him, and maybe he will be the person that helps to change their lives.
Anyway, I ended up talking to my husband and getting a parental program that documents IMs, emails, websites visited, etc. Why? I don't normally cater to fear. I use my common sense and intuition, and I am educated. Horror, disaster, murder and mayhem do not lurk behind every corner and door. I am not fearful in impoverished neighborhoods, I am not frightened by homeless people or gangs of boys. I will not fall victim to the idea of stereotypical behavior. With all that said, I am a mother. I have two amazing, healthy, incredible boys that I have devoted this portion of my life to raising, and the thought of something coming through the web and infecting my children, well, I just needed to keep my eyes open. Would I read my son's journal - no. Would I snoop through my son's dresser or bedside table looking for incriminating materials - no. But no pariah is on the hunt in those areas.
One evening, my younger son was home while I took my other son to a meeting. When I returned, I walked into the room, and he immediately minimized the screen and looked at me expectantly. I said hi, and then walked out. Suspicious, after everyone was in bed, I went to my parental spy program, logged in, and saw that there were fifteen IMs - meaning conversations with fifteen other people. AHA! I scrolled through - drugs? Sex parties? Plastic bracelets that signify different sexual acts? Fights? No. No. No. No. Innocuos conversation about field trips, weekend plans, interpersonal relationships at school. And then I came to the last one. He was conversing with a girl - not his girlfriend. What was it about? Are you ready for a demonstration of a seventh grade boy's intimate, personal interaction with a girl in his class? Are you sure? Positive?
She thought she might be anorexic and he was counseling her.
Thirteen years old. Male. Telling her that she was not fat, that she was beautiful, and he would lend her money at lunch if she needed it. She didn't, so he told her to eat a little bit more every day at lunch and that he would be there for her if she needed him. Punk.
Peer pressure doesn't end in high school. It never ends. Sadly, it was me, not my thirteen year old son that fell victim to it. It is one thing to be vigilant and engaged with your kids. It's another thing all together to disregard what you know to be true about something, anything, simply because someone else thinks you should.
I have great kids. I haven't touched the spyware since.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

This is who we are?

I have been preoccupied with a question all morning.
Is this who we are?
The kind of people that believe in the the sanctity of life conditionally? Abortion is categorically wrong, but sentencing someone to be put to death by the state is ok? To spread our message of democracy and a government run by and for the people, we invade a country and kill over 150,000 of its citizens?
Is this who we are?
A society that admonishes a dictator for the treatment of his people, yet embraces torture? A nation that demands respect and pretends to care about human rights, yet by the cover of darkness disrespects others and destroys souls?
This is who we are?
A country that embraces a government which is run by and for the people - yet does not value the health and well-being of ALL its citizens enough to ensure that the bare minimum of the human existence is covered? Can you imagine? A family where only the wage earners have access to medical care, but the children or other dependents have no access? Wouldn't that be categorized as abuse? A society that has a strong sense of self and an enviable work ethic - but does not pay those who work for a living - a livable wage? Burdening enterprising, motivated individuals who have the ability to start their own business with the crushing weight of health insurance for his/her workers? Where a company so big that it has the economy of Israel and Ireland combine, that projects an image of family and caring, purposefully and diligently works to keep people from getting healthcare coverage or access to benefits?
Is this who we are?
The kind of people that believe in love conditionally? Promoting commitment, loyalty, respect and honor as well awarding benefits to those who make a lifetime commitment, but only if they fit a certain criteria? Saying, basically, we have a pie. It is our pie. We don't believe in what you do or who you love so you cannot have any of this pie, and we will pass laws and amendments to keep you away from this pie. What is the point? We really can't fall back on the whole "Biblical" reasoning. Because if we do, we need to start adhering to all the requirements - not just the ones that are in line or in keeping with our personal fears and phobias. Mixing fabrics is a no-no. If a wife does not have a child with her husband and that husband dies, she needs to have sex with every man in that's husband's family in order to have a male baby. Having sex during menstruation? Shock horror! That's not allowed. There are a lot of things that we ignore or feel do not apply to our modern society. Does that mean we are morally bankrupt? Or does it mean that we are trying to adhere to the message of the New Testament? Do we have the 10 commandments in a death grip or do we live by the Beattitudes? Do we arrogantly wear our beliefs and religion as suit of armor brandishing our sword of righteousness to those who do not see our perspective or do we humbly allow others to witness our faith in action? The saddest thing to me is the fact that we will not be judged by our reaction to crisis - because that is when I believe our entire society behaves like true believers. That is when we see people immediately put aside their anger, frustration, biases, intolerance and bitterness and do the right thing. Unfortunately, we will be judged by our every day actions.
So. Is this who we are?
I pray that this is all part of the painful teenage years of America, when we make our most character building mistakes. When we venture off the path, experiment with what we know is not good for us, only to get back on course as a more mature and wise nation. That is what I pray. I pray for the reality of the global perception of us to come to the forefront our of collective consciousness, for us to realize that they aren't just jealous. We really are behaving badly.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Dirty Secret
I can't fathom anything more horrifying than the purposeful destruction of an innocent being for pleasure. The fact that child trafficking exists sends shudders up and down my spine. What a soul destroying human affliction! The reasons for its existence are grounded in poverty - for the vast majority of children are sold by impoverished families who deceive themselves into believing that their child will be used for something legitimate. And then there is just pure human averice. What causes a person to seek out a child of five, seven, nine? What has happened to that person to halt their desire in the prepubescence of the human being? But what is going on with someone when they lust for a girl who is thirteen, fourteen, fifteen? Most of these kids are rejected by the very community from which they were snatched because of the shame associated with prostitution, rape, etc. Education. What a huge instrument for change it is!
It is not just rampant in East Asia - Cambodia, is occurring right now, right here, in 48 of the 50 states. Children. As young as five sold to men. Here. For a Christian nation running around telling everyone else how to be, we're not doing such a great job. Time to wake up. This has got to stop.
Setting The Example

That's what I understand my purpose to be. To set the example for those around me. Isn't it the reason why everyone blames Bill Clinton for the increase in teenage oral sex? Because he did it and he said "it wasn't sex"? So, now, we have a leader who sets the example or precedent in this case, of torture being an ok thing to do. Now, I know I'm not up on my scripture but I believe I missed the part in the Bible where it says that it is ok for Christians to cause physical, mental, emotional or psychological harm to another being.
Are we so far removed from reality that we can say "whatever" to this? I mean, as an animal rights activist I have seen some things that would make you physically ill, no lie, in regards to the treatment of animals in factory farms and research labs. You would never ever buy meat or not look for the "not tested on animals" logo again. But, as much as it might affect me, I understand that a lot of people can turn away from this sort of thing, consume and never really be bothered with the plight of our furry friends.
But now we are talking about people. I know that the general misinformation leads the public to believe that only terrorists are being "interrogated" but surely, surely you can't believe that, can you? Holding people without any charge, not allowing them to speak to an attorney or to their family for YEARS, is this who we are? If it was going on next door to you - a man being beaten mercilessly, having foreign objects rammed into his rectum, electrodes sending hundreds of volts of electricity into his testicles, screaming endlessly would you continue watching "The Biggest Loser" unaffected? I will not believe that our country thinks this is ok. But perfectly wonderful people roll over this stuff like a pebble under the tires of a car, without a second thought. I cannot begin to fathom the fear, the loneliness, the stress, the pain, the horror of living in a place where torture exists. But there are a lot of people who are dealing with that right now. And it's because we say it's ok. Is it?
I say no.


Recently, while in one of my "try to see the other side" modes, I was listening to "talk" radio - I use italics because I don't believe it to be "talk" radio but hate radio - and listened as the host referred to Cindy Sheehan as a "media whore". Media whore. Well, that's delightful. It's nice to see that the hosts of such upstanding, conservative, Christian leaning stations are maintaining such high standards. Media whore. I thought about this for a while and frankly it has stayed with me. It is one of the ugliest terms I have heard in a long time, I guess primarily because this label is being applied to a mother who lost her son in a war that she believes is illegal and wrong and the person labeling her is a man who supports the war but has not been directly affected by it. He also said that with Mrs. Sheehan's involvement in the candlelight vigils for the 2000 troops killed in this war, that she, in essence, is dancing on her dead son's grave. It amazes me that people can say things so incredibly cruel and filthy and still be allowed to get on a mike.
I thought about the different people who have positioned themselves in the spotlight and in front of the proverbial target - Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Stephen Biko (my hero), the women of the women's rights movement, Caesar Chavez etc. - and I do honestly believe that they too would be deemed media whores. Why? Because they do not have a talk show or an instant avenue to speak their truth and facilitate change. So, they show up at rallies, they organize marches and protests, they write demands and they sacrifice themselves for the cause. So, Cindy, keep on whorin', girlfriend, I'm right behind ya.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Ooo yes
You are the man
So defined so strong
Stomping on
Whomever disagrees
With your fancies like the breeze
Flittering and flying with jets overseas
Threatening with might
Will make right
Make them bend to your will
High pitched and shrill
Stomping puffing out bottom lip
Hands on hips
Wanting your way
Right now today
We can't wait
It's bait
Can't you see
Can't anybody but me
Fulfill the destiny
Get them back for kicking sand at me
The country
How dare they take a shot at us
Leaving dust
And soot
Under foot
Making us frightened and scared
We blinked and they dared
We will get them back
Middle East Iraq
They don't even believe
Can you conceive
That they have that weird allah thing goin on
Not believing in God's Son
Idiots and fools
Kneeling on the floor every two seconds to drool
Over some false god and prophet
Don't they get it yet
They're doomed
They're done
They spat upon the chosen one
And now they will suffer indeed
I will conquer if not with a gallant steed
Then bombers and soldiers rockets and power
Then we'll see who is frightened and cowers
Then they will see that we are the best
Not just with money but with all the rest
We are number one we do take first place
Don't think we won't rub it in your face
You will think like us and accept Christ
If not on your own then by our fist
Because that is our mission that is our goal
Forget love they would not be sold
So wrestle then to the ground
Pin them down
Force it on them till they see
They cannot exist without our deity
We will use whatever we can
Even God becoming a man
To divert their eyes away
From what we covet each day
The riches for many will pay
In the black tar Texas tea
Under the desert of your stupid country
We will show how you torture and put to death
Your very own people are you ashamed yet
You are evil so bad
The caricature of a mad
And insane leader
Bears a striking resemblance to the plant seeder
The feeder
Of spin
Who only allows in
The information that makes him look right
And just
And justified
In denying
The rights
Of a country to defend itself
Because who in their right mind
Would hand over his defenses
When threatened in kind
A burglar a murder is at your door
You know what he is there for
Do you say hey here is all my protection
Surely he won't come in
Take what is yours for him
You bolt the doors batten down the hatches
Check all your latches
Hope your arsenal matches
For a melting pot
We sure don't got
An idea of differences in culture
We aren't the police of the world we're the vultures
The poachers
On countries
On their third world knees
Desperate pleas
We make them say please
We swagger around
Like those mirror athlete clowns
So full of themselves no room for others
The sisters and brothers
The mothers
Who are just trying to get by
To survive
The day to day
While leaders play
Do you hear the multitude of citizens
The image you are projecting
Ringleader making everyone do your will
Swallowing a pill
That will make us all ill
While kids cling to dad as he's off
To a place faraway
While the mother does pray
That he returns someday
Parents say goodbye
To daughter who might die
For a cause they don't even believe in
But take comfort
The ones in the fort
Aren't our elite
They're off the street
Trying to get a degree
You see
We only send
The Expendable
It's not like it's the bluebloods
It's the duds
The minorities who can't pay
Their way
See we thought of everything
Who was that guy who did sing
Of soylent green
I don't pretend to know
The writer who bestowed
The idea of sending the poor
Someplace more
Equipped to handle them
Make them into spam
We need a few I suppose
As we will always need those
Willing to dig a ditch build our streets
Produce the food my family eats
We will always need the lower end
Who make the things on money we spend
The thing is these people sometimes refuse
To choose
The choice we've given
Deciding instead to join gangs rob steal
Make record deals
Signing on the line
That's where I draw the line
They cross the line
And start to dine
In places I take my family to
This will not do
For one they don't know the rules
They are easy to spot
Because they fit in not
They think wearing riches is it
But they are nitwits
In order to fit
Into the elite
It takes more than the right street
Cash to flash dressing for success
You'll never be president that way
The way has to be paved
For generations that go as far as I can see
To be
You must start from within
Begin farther back than you can imagine
Believe me we know
That you are not one of us
Four hundred years ago we had you in place
While we made our space
Reserved the spots
At the top
While you were in rice paddy fields
Your returns had high yields
You can't buy your way into this level
Or make deals with the devil
So be happy were you are
Go fight our war
So our companies can spar
Or pretend to For the contracts to rebuild the country we did undo.


Walking home
Along a gray asphalt walk
Banked by tall hedges
On either side
She walks head tall with pride
Fear inside
Masked by a learned lesson
Learned by fire
The burn
The scar not lessened
By time
She pulls her coat close
In the freezing night
The overhead light
Is dim
The clicking
Of her heels
Is sticking
In her head
What am I thinking
She strides to a bench
And pulls sneakers from her bag
Removing the binds
Of corporate requirements
Freeing her aching soles
Instead placing it in a soft
Air filled chamber
She ties the laces
With traces
Of feeling a bit better
But as she stands
She hears the rustling
Of dead leaves and branches
Within or behind
The hedge
The tingling adrenaline prickles
The back of her neck
She hears it again
She starts walking
Heart is thumping
Bringing a lump in
To her throat
Oh no
Don't panic
She feels it rising
Her face grows hot
Her body has a surreal
Hot cold numb edginess
Her strides are quicker
She is outside the ring of light
Ten yards to the next one
Will it happen then
Are those footsteps
Why is she not home yet
Home in this city
Away from all she knows
She grows
More fearful with every second
Trying to get to that place
In tag
The circle from the light
The haven
The other side is trees
And park
And dark
Things are moving
She can feel them
She can feel everything
Her eyes dart back and forth
Should she run
Say something
Suddenly as she is leaving the light
A sensory perception overload
Washes over her from head to toe
The feeling that she was not alone
And her stride did slow
For where fear was courage bestowed
A glow
Of the knowledge
That power
Was hers
Where from who knows
Her stride her own
Not a rabbit's quick pace
Fearing the enemy soon to face
She pulled herself up
Assured she was now
That once bitten
Now smitten
By awareness the glow
She stopped to listen
To silence
For two seconds
Then again struck up her new pace
She was close now
The hand hit her brow
Staggering back
She grabbed inside her bag
Lifting the heel like a dagger
Her eyes met his
Her arm fell to her side
A homeless man scared more than she
I thought you was followin' me
Said he
breathed a sigh
That relieved all the feelings of fright
Me too
He leans
Placing his hands on his knees
A relief as well
Does it hurt
I realize blood is on my shirt
But I feel no pain
And express it
He stands
I see
He is crying for me
Tears well
Dripping on his shirt
I extend my hand
Wipe his face
Say it's okay
And make my way
Home from the train station