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Thursday, February 28, 2013

One hundred and thirty eight


Image from Planned Parenthood

Aderholt
Amash
Bachmann
Barton
Bentivolio
Bilirakis
Bishop (UT)
Black
Blackburn
Bonner
Brady (TX)
Bridenstine
Brooks (AL)
Broun (GA)
Burgess
Campbell
Cantor
Carter
Cassidy
Chabot
Chaffetz
Collins (GA)
Conaway
Cotton
Crawford
Culberson
DeSantis
DesJarlais
Duncan (SC)
Duncan (TN)
Ellmers
Fincher
Fleischmann
Fleming
Flores
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foxx
Franks (AZ)
Garrett
Gingrey (GA)
Gohmert
Goodlatte
Gosar
Gowdy
Graves (GA)
Graves (MO)
Griffin (AR)
Griffith (VA)
Guthrie
Hall
Harris
Hartzler
Hastings (WA)
Hensarling
Holding
Hudson
Huelskamp
Huizenga (MI)
Hultgren
Hurt
Johnson (OH)
Jones
Jordan
Kelly
King (IA)
Kingston
Labrador
LaMalfa
Lamborn
Lankford
Latta
Long
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Lummis
Marchant
Marino
Massie
McCaul
McClintock
Meadows
Mica
Miller (FL)
Mullin
Mulvaney
Murphy (PA)
Neugebauer
Noem
Nunnelee
Olson
Palazzo
Perry
Petri
Pittenger
Pitts
Pompeo
Posey
Price (GA)
Radel
Ribble
Rice (SC)
Roby
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rohrabacher
Rooney
Roskam
Ross
Rothfus
Salmon
Scalise
Schweikert
Scott, Austin
Sensenbrenner
Sessions
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Southerland
Stewart
Stockman
Stutzman
Thornberry
Wagner
Walberg
Weber (TX)
Wenstrup
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Williams
Wilson (SC)
Wittman
Wolf
Womack
Woodall
Yoho

Every single one of these people voted against VAWA. They are all "Republicans." They are all horrible, right wing cowards and hatemongers who claim to represent the party of Family Values. They claim to be Christian. They claim to love America. They do not represent families, they do not represent Christ and they hate this country. 

It's wonderful that The Violence Against Women Act passed and is on its way to President Obama. It is, however, disgusting that it took this long, and that so many on the right voted against it. Compassion? Not if you're conservative. In 2014, we have an opportunity to undo the damage our apathy did to America in 2010. We can fire all of these right wing bigots, we can bring America back to a place where the wall between church and state still stands and where all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, skin color or immigration status, can be protected under the law. 

We can do that, if we work together towards the common goal of making America great again. For too long, right wing bullies have driven our country into the ground, using propaganda, lies, false science and violent rhetoric to scare their base. The proof of that is in those 138 names. Those 138 men and women would rather a lesbian die than have access to help and protection. Those 138 men and women do not see Native Americans, LGBT and undocumented immigrants as people. 

Those 138 men and women need to go, and in 2014, we can replace them with representatives who love America, who want us to not just meet someone's expectations but exceed those expectations. We demand politicians who understand America needs better schools, better jobs, equality for all and a better global reputation. We demand representation for all, not just for those who can afford it.

Thank you to the politicians who voted for The Violence Against Women Act. Shame on those who did not.

H/T to We Are Woman for the list.

An interview with my cat

Her Royal Highness


I've interviewed a rock star, world-renowned writers, a former punk rock icon turned spoken word artist, LGBT activists, and a brilliant, witty and wonderful comedian/pundit. And I have also interviewed my cat.

This is that interview. It was done under duress, and primarily because I was bribed with the promise of a hairball-free week. Enjoy.



EMN: Are you serious? I can’t interview you, you’re a cat. This is silly. Are you doing this because you think you are underfed?
Princess: That’s part of it, yes. Have you noticed that everyone’s a dog person now? Cats are shelved, unless of course you have some stupid cat video of noble beasts, once worshiped, playing Patty Cake or falling into a toilet or spinning around on a ceiling fan. We were GODS, and now we’re fodder for comedians. It’s sad.
EMN: I’ve never owned a dog, you know that. I love cats, and always have been a cat person. What is…
Princess: Yes, let’s address your alleged love of cats. Did you not tell your son that when I DIE, you might get him a dog?
Oh God, I thought, this is going to be very awkward.
EMN: Okay, yes, but understand that is simply because I don’t think I can ever have another cat after you. I mean you’re the best cat I’ve ever owned and…
Princess: I’m sorry, owned? You OWN me? You don’t own me, I can leave whenever I like, and I would except is seriously cold outside and those damn foxes are wandering around. Look, you think you are the boss of me, but you are not the boss of me. I am the boss of me, which is why I continue to chew the bottom of that silk chair you inherited from your mother. And you never know…oh crap.
At this point, I dashed into the living room to find, yes, the little sweetheart has been eating the bottom of my mother's Chinese silk chair. I thought we nipped this problem in the bud; I was obviously mistaken. I returned to my home office and glared at her.
Princess: WHAT? I’ve explained this-if there is no food in my bowl, I interpret that to mean I will starve and you hate me. Therefore, I must draw attention to my starvation by chewing on your rugs, your towels, your socks, your furniture, and throwing up in your slippers. It’s all about me, not you, ME. And when you think how much nicer it would be with a DOG, remember this: it’s 5 degrees outside. I pee in a box, which I hate, by the way, but if I were a DOG, you would have to take me outside, with a plastic bag, and pick my poop up with your hands. -13 outside with a 45 MPH wind? Oh well, doggie has to crap. HA!
EMN: I don’t want a DOG! I want you to stop chewing on everything in the house! You’re not starving, for Christ’s sake, your stomach hits the middle of your leg!
Princess: Oh you did not go there. Oh hell no, you did not…you know what? Stay here and write your little article while I go devour the mat in front of the kitchen sink. I hate you.
Let me point out that Princess weighs 19 pounds. She is not exactly emaciated. She eats 3 times a day, and she’s FINE. Oh mother pus bucket, she’s eating the…end of interview. DAMMIT!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Aggravating Aggregating

Image from Prism Magazine.org


I very rarely aggregate. I annoy, bother, poke, offend and otherwise piss people off, but I don't enjoy aggregating. This is probably why I will never even have an Alexa rating.

Writing is therapeutic for so many reasons, the main one being it keeps me from screaming and punching walls. Writing is sometimes fun, it's sometimes incredibly painful but my writing is always mine. You will never pop over to Poking at Snakes and read an article from another website all by its lonesome. I do, from time to time, paste portions of other work into my own, but I always include wrap around text of my own creation. And I always credit the original source, but that is another topic for another day.

When I see someone post a piece from a website I know is an aggregate site (other than Huffington Post because they have Soraya Chemaly, one of the greatest writers online), I go looking for the original source. And I always find it. I do this because it's lazy to just grab someone else's work and receive adulation, hits and advertising money for doing so. The credit, the notoriety should always be given to the person who did the actual work.

This is hard, wombats, really hard. I cry tears of blood when I write and my fingers are often worn down to the okay FINE, yes, writing often comes very easily to me, but not all the time. There are articles on this blog that took two days to put together. The Bachmann Diaries are extremely difficult, because I have to walk the fine line between satire and lawsuit. Pieces I have written about my life, what I've survived are terrifying to write, more so after my former editor wrote a "hit piece" on me. I am hyper aware that putting my own heart into a piece can expose me to ridicule, cruelty, lies and threats. I write anyway.

The next time you see an article shared on an aggregate site, find the original piece and share that instead. Don't fall for the lie that it's okay to post because the link is in the aggregate piece, usually way down at the bottom. Someone worked hard to write a good article, someone edited that article, and those people deserve credit and recognition.

Support writers, not aggregate sites. God knows, we're not doing this for the money.

Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey "Money!"


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Blue Chevy Nova




Image from downwithtyranny.blogspot.com


Since the pope announced his resignation, I haven't slept much. I'm not eating and this afternoon, I had an anxiety attack on my way to the local library. Pulling the car over, I really felt as if I was going to vomit.

My family was nearly destroyed by a predatory priest. We rebuilt some of the normalcy, but we were never the same, never. We were broken, together and separately, and in different ways. I don't speak his name; when I called my dad, crying, I couldn't say his name. No, he didn't molest me; in fact, up until I learned the truth, he was my friend. Today, I finally spoke his name, and I will write it as well. His name was Father Bernie Cassidy, and he seduced married women. Women like my mother.

Over the past week or so, the jokes have been flying. I even jumped on the bandwagon, declaring my desire to run for pope. Underneath the humor and the sarcasm, I feel as though I've been hit by a wrecking ball. There are 6 people in the world who know what happened to my family. Now you all will, because I need people to understand there are many different kinds of predatory priests.

Father Bernie Cassidy was a leader within the San Diego Cursillo movement. Cursillo was a Catholic organization for lay people, run by priests. For the kids, it meant waking up at about 4 AM, driving into the mountains and running around, hopped up on donuts and hot chocolate while our parents "graduated" or something. It was through Cursillo that my parents met and befriended Father Bernie.

When Father Bernie came to our house for dinner, or my mother would cut his hair or volunteer at his church, it made sense, because you were supposed to do those things. You're taught in Catholic school that the priest is the earthly representation of Christ. Father Bernie knew that my mother was a devout Catholic. He became her confessor, and took on the role of therapist. It was not uncommon for his blue Chevy Nova to be at our house on the weekends, but at some point, that car began to frighten me.

I rode my bike to school a lot. There were many afternoons, too many to count over a 2-year period of time, when I would turn the corner onto 32nd Street and see Father Bernie's blue Chevy Nova. I was about 11 years old, but something inside me told me not to go home. So, I'd ride to a friend's house. At that age, I had no idea why I couldn't just walk into my own house, but I trusted the feeling in my stomach.

It wasn't until my father moved us to Minnesota that I discovered why I was terrified of that blue Chevy Nova. Digging around in a shoe box on the floor of my mother's closet, looking for photos of my San Diego friends, I found a letter. It was addressed to the archdiocese of San Diego and it detailed the affair between Father Bernie Cassidy and my mother. In the letter, my mother wrote that she was not the only woman Father Bernie had seduced. The seeds of borderline personality disorder that had been planted three years earlier all bloomed at that moment. It was a wave of hatred and betrayal that drove me out of my mind for over twenty years.

The reasons I am writing this are confusing and many. I had to get it out. I have to sleep, I need to stop seeing that blue Chevy Nova every time I close my eyes. I want people to understand there are others like me, other victims of predatory priests who are reliving their own horrors, because the layers of the onion are being peeled back. You have to realize that we all have memories, we all have flashbacks, and to some extent, we all have PTSD. When someone you trust, someone who has been elevated to a position of not only power but divinity abuses that power, and purposely destroys your family, you never really get over it.

The jokes are funny, as are the cartoons and the pundits. But something broke inside me 33 years ago, and every once in awhile, the emotional putty I use to put myself back together cracks. Writing this helps heal the crack, it helps calm the fears and I really hope it makes that blue Chevy Nova disappear into nothingness again.

Facebook Narcissism

Cartoon by Doug Savage 

A friend posted a video on Facebook Tuesday morning of Dr. Sylvia Gearing, a psychologist, educating her viewers on Facebook narcissism. Some of her points made sense: posting an abundance of photos of oneself in various stages of undress (showing "skin"), sharing every single detail of your life, only writing about yourself. But there was one point which made me a wee bit uncomfortable.

Dr. Gearing claims that having more than one thousand Facebook friends makes you a narcissist, unless you are a celebrity or the president. Now, I have to vehemently disagree with that, and not simply because I have over 1,000 Facebook friends. If I had 50, I would still have a problem with Dr. Gearing's assertion.

I have a friend on Facebook named Bruce. Bruce is not a famous actor or musician, he's a small business owner, part time writer and activist and he has recently wandered into the realm of image creation or memes. He's a great guy. And I bet he has over 1,000 Facebook friends. Is he a narcissist? No! He goes out of his way to help people, he's a dad, he's survived cancer and he has a wicked sense of humor.

Am I a narcissist? I don't think so. I use Facebook for a number of reasons, but none of them are to state "Look how frigging awesome I am." I use Facebook to read what other people post, to share my writing, to bring awareness to issues that matter to others, to beg for interviews (it works, dammit) and to play a few games. I do tend to be a prolific poster, I will admit that. But it's usually someone else's article or photo or video.

See, I know a real, honest to God narcissist. Since he will never read this article, I can share a bit about him. I've known him for about 20 years, he's stunningly handsome, extremely smart, wouldn't know monogamy if it punched him in the face with a Honda and truly believes he is all that and a bag of chips. When I met him, I knew he was a narcissist, but that didn't stop me from having a 2-week affair with him. There's something about him that's almost irresistible, and that something only lasts about 2 weeks. After that, you realize it's exhausting being with someone who only thinks of themselves.

Facebook does allow us to share way too much about ourselves. Of course, so does blogging. Hell, the entire Internet is one big mirror. Why do you think some people use the Internet? Yes, most of us use it for research or work or cat videos, but there are folks who use the Internet to just promote themselves. Not for being talented or gifted or famous, just for being, well, alive. That's narcissistic.

The true irony of all this talk of Narcissus is I've seen a narcissist on Facebook. She's a flaming right wing conservative Christian whose profile photos are all of her showing her plentiful cleavage. She loves showing her cleavage. Bikini tops, low cut sweaters, tank tops, you name it, all posted for the specific purpose of having people, mostly men, tell her how sexy she is and how pretty she is. Funny thing-she's the same woman who called a bunch of liberal women "c*nts," "hags" and "bitches."

If you want to hang out at the edge of a pond and fall in love with your own reflection, be my guest. But I don't think having more than a thousand Facebook friends will lead to your demise. Narcissus died, and the gods took pity on him, turning him into a flower. Being connected to a lot of people on Facebook won't kill you. Not getting up every once in awhile to move around, go to the library or the store and eat something might. So, since this is the end of my piece, get up, walk around, Google Narcissus and have a sandwich. Below is Dr. Gearing's video. What do you think of her assessment?

Dr. Sylvia Gearing and Facebook Narcissism


Monday, February 25, 2013

Right Wing Utopia

Image from Asylumonline.net

The idea for this piece has been skipping around in my brain for a week or so. It was supposed to be satire, like my Bachmann Diary about a reproductive registry. Then I had an online conversation with someone I worked with at Disneyworld about The Violence Against Women Act, and I realized a right wing Utopia isn't funny. It's scary and disturbing and sad and invasive and deadly.

In Right Wing Utopia, women have no rights. We're breeders. Remember when Rick Santorum said it was "elitist" for President Obama to suggest everyone in America should have the chance to attend a college? My guess is that Frothy McSweater Vest didn't have a problem with men getting a higher education like he did, just women. Women don't need school; after all, we're just uteri with legs. 


In Right Wing Utopia, they adopt Pastor Charles Worley's idea for dealing with the LGBT community: build a great big fence, electrify it, drop gay men behind one part and lesbians behind another, give them some food and let them die out. I don't know where bisexuals and transgender people will go-Worley never mentioned those groups specifically-but it would most likely involve more electrified fences and starvation.

In Right Wing Utopia, the poor would be forced into camps, along with young black men, much like Grady Warren promoted in his eye opening videos. They wouldn't be able to vote, because if you're in a camp, you don't own land. My husband and I might be able to vote even though we rent, since we're white and not poor, but once the powers that want to be find out we're Democrats, we'll probably wind up getting our voting rights taken away.

In Right Wing Utopia, the Christian religion is now the law of the land. America will become a theocracy. Children will no longer learn about science, evolution, climate change, biology or geology; all information will come from the Christian Bible. Rapes will increase, of course, since rape is sanctioned by the Bible. Polygamy will become the norm as will adultery and incest. Children will be beaten, because to "spare the rod" is "spoiling the child." And not just a little spanking here or there, oh no. You have to leave marks.

Black or brown-skinned children will also have jobs from the age of 8. Newt Gingrich's belief that poor kids have no concept of money since the only consumerism they experience is drug related will be proven true by right-to-life "scientists," and all minority children in lower income brackets will be required to work at least part time for less than $3.00 an hour. Minority girls will be saving for baby clothes while minority boys will be saving to attend trade school. No minority will be allowed to attend a 4-year college.

We will wage holy wars all over the world, making certain that infidels are either converted to Christianity or slaughtered by the millions. The goal of Right Wing Utopians is a white, male-dominated, Christian environment, cleansed of anyone they deem unfit. Our taxes will not be used to fund any socialist programs like roads or public schools, clean water or regulatory commissions, only war. 

In Right Wing Utopia, anyone can own a gun. Any gun they want. Recently paroled violent predator? Have a gun. Paranoid, delusional, non-medicated schizophrenic who suffers from auditory hallucinations? Have a gun. Currently stalking a woman in your neighborhood who gently turned you down when you asked her out? Have a gun. Beating your wife? You can have one for free.

If I had written this 20 years ago, you would have thought me certifiably insane. But look around you. Listen to the rhetoric, read the speeches and the press releases. Now think. At some point while reading this, bells began to go off in your head. You thought "This all sounds vaguely familiar," and you're correct. The camps for LGBT? Nazi Germany. Women married off as soon as possible, with their only task being giving birth? Medieval Europe. No education for girls, holy wars waged against countries who don't follow our tenets, religion as government, strict moral codes? The Taliban.

Yes, the Taliban. The Right Wing Utopia could have been taken directly from the Taliban. The irony is that if you tell someone who believes in Right Wing Utopia their dream world resembles the Taliban's idea of Utopia, they'll probably shoot you. Which is exactly what the Taliban would do.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Heroes

Image from the personal collection of the Snyder-Hill Family


We all have heroes. Maybe it's our great grandmother, the Suffragette, or our brother, the firefighter. It could be a celebrity who puts their money where their mouth is and travels the world, raising money and awareness for others in dire circumstances. And sometimes, a hero is someone who never wanted to be one at all.

The reluctant hero is a theme that has resonated throughout human history. People who simply did what was right and were suddenly shoved into a spotlight. One such hero emerged in 2011; a man who just wanted an answer to a question and found himself the headline in every major newspaper, the lead story on the evening news and heard his experience mentioned in a president's speech.

When I met Major Steve Snyder-Hill, he was an officer serving in Iraq. I was trying to organize a giant care package to his unit, consisting of signed books donated by famous authors. I bumped into Joshua, his husband, on Facebook and subsequently, Joshua put me in touch with Major Snyder-Hill. That idea became an impossibility, and we moved on the Phase 2. You can read about Phase 2 in my piece, "A Shining Moment."

Meeting Steve and Josh was a turning point in my life. Up until then, I had always considered myself an ally to LGBT, but I had never sat down and spoken with two people so affected by the draconian laws and beliefs America has regarding marriage equality and homosexuality. Our first interview was extremely emotional for all three of us; emotional for Steve and Josh because it reminded them of how far this country has to go for their marriage, their lives to be considered "normal," and for me because I never understood how much pain a gay couple must endure, especially in the military.

Returning members of the Armed forces are offered counseling, along with their families, to assist them in reentering civilian life. Josh, as a gay military spouse, wasn't allowed to access any of that help, so he became an amateur psychologist, searching the Internet, looking for clues and articles and anything, really, that would give him the information he desperately needed. When Steve was in Iraq, he and Josh spoke as often as possible over the phone and via Skype. During one of their phone conversations, a bomb went off near the compound where Major Snyder-Hill worked, and he said "I gotta go." Click. As a gay military spouse, Josh would be the last to know if something happened to Steve, and he sat in his house, staring at the phone, shaking and wondering if this was the last time he would ever speak to the man he loved.

Those stories were heartbreaking to me. I'm a straight married woman, I've never experienced any of this. Listening to these two amazing men, this family, tell me that before the video question in 2011, they would run around their house, pulling down photos of themselves if Steve's Army friends were coming over brought me to tears. Imagine that for a moment: phone rings, a friend wants to drop by and play video games, and instead of pulling out a few beers and laughing with your spouse, the two of you careen around the house, yanking down every piece of evidence that you are a couple. When the friend shows up, you're college friends, or a pal of someone's brother. You're anything but married.

This past week, Mr. and Mr. Snyder-Hill read their story into the National Archives at the Library of Congress. Their love, their fight, their heroism is a part of American history forever. Major Steve Snyder-Hill began his journey into the public eye as "The soldier who was booed." Josh was the "gay spouse." This week, they took those labels and threw them into the wind. This week, Steve and Josh Snyder-Hill became heroes, not just to me and the people who know and love them so dearly, but to America.

Steve and Josh are active in the battle for equality in Ohio and all over this country. They are taking couples to Washington DC this June to be married on the steps of the Supreme Court, an event known as "The C-Bus of Love." Steve wrote a book, Josh created Marriage Evolved, and through all of it, they never forget that what started with a terrified gay officer in the desert has touched millions of people all over the world. Steve and Josh are humble, thankful, gregarious and unafraid.

The Snyder-Hill family never again has to deny who they are, lie to protect a career, and they never have to take down photos and hide their love. Steve and Josh are my friends, they inspire me and they are my heroes.

Friday, February 22, 2013

There Will Always be Monsters

Image of Christian Choate from Tumblr


In the last year of his life, 13-year old Christian Choate did not know love. Christian knew pain and fear and hunger and betrayal, but he did not know love. His father, Riley, kept Christian in a cage, beat him and starved him until Christian's body simply could not deal with anymore torture. Riley Choate buried Christian in a shallow grave behind a trailer in Indiana.

What makes a man a monster? What happened inside Riley Choate's head to turn him from father to murderer? We may never know, but neurologists, scientists, psychologists and behavioral specialists are using a combination of modern technology, medical research and psychological testing to formulate theories.

The age old question, of course, is nature or nurture. Are serial killers, rampage killers, sadists and sociopaths born or made? Riley Choate would qualify as a sadist and a sociopath, as he beat and broke his own child until that child died. Christian was an object in Riley Choate's eyes, a thing with which he could do whatever he wanted. That's how most predators view their victims-as things.

Edmund Kemper was a troubled individual from early on. As a teenager, he murdered his own grandparents, and spent 5 years at a state run mental "hospital." When he was released, his doctors recommended that he not live with his mother, but the state ignored their pleas and "Big Ed' was sent home to Mom. A mom who locked Edmund in the basement because she believed he would rape his sisters and who berated him, verbally and emotionally abused him and blamed him for many of her problems.

Edmund Kemper made national news in the 1970's when he confessed to being "The Coed Killer," murdering 6 young women and terrorizing Northern California. According to his own statements, he was a necrophiliac who decapitated many of his victims and "played" with the heads. Edmund's second to last victim was his mother. He beat her to death with a hammer, cut off her head, ripped out her larynx and tried to destroy it in a garbage disposal. Edmund Kemper placed his mother's head on a mantel, screamed at it and threw darts into the eyes. All those coeds were Edmund Kemper's way of working up the courage to murder the one person he truly wanted dead. During interviews, he teared up when speaking of his mom, claiming that he still loved her. John Douglas, former FBI profiler, called Kemper the smartest killer he's ever met.

Edmund Kemper is a perfect storm of nurture and nature. His own darkness was exacerbated by his mother's abuse, and eventually the desire to kill was too strong. There is a more famous serial killer who, in my opinion, was born not made. That man was Jeffrey Dahmer.

As a child, Jeffrey Dahmer was outgoing and enjoyed interacting with other kids. Jeffrey was always interested in how things worked, especially animals. His father tells a story of gathering the bones of small animals that had died under their porch and dropping the bones into a metal bucket. 4-year old Jeffrey was intrigued by the sound those bones made as they hit the metal. He picked them up and dropped them in, listening closely. How did they make that sound?

Jeffrey's mother suffered from depression and spent time in a mental hospital being treated for anxiety. Upon her release, the marriage began to shatter. Jeffrey was already becoming something truly horrible, but because his parents were embroiled in their own nightmare, his odd "experiments" went unnoticed. Jeffrey would travel the roads near his house, carrying a large trash bag, looking for road kill. Once he gathered enough dead animals, he would bring them back to his house and dissect them.

Jeffrey Dahmer went on to murder 17 men and boys, cannibalizing some, collecting souvenirs from others and attempting to turn his last victims into sexual zombies. Dahmer managed to keep his horrendous hobby a secret, as did Kemper, from family and friends. Kemper hung out with cops at a local bar and Dahmer managed to escape police interest twice, once while carrying trash bags containing body parts in his car, and the other when he convinced Wisconsin police that a naked, terrified teenager was his drunk boyfriend. Dahmer murdered that young man the same night.

Jeffrey Dahmer was not abused. His mother suffered from depression, his parents fought and later divorced, but many teenagers go through similar events. When Jeffrey Dahmer began puberty, sex and violence intertwined in his head. His neurons misfired somewhere along the way, and what could have been a normal man became a violent predator.

Research shows that in order for a person to become a predator, timing matters a great deal. Abandonment in childhood is a red flag, but it's what happens during the teenage years that causes the most harm. Constant and consistent abuse, neglect and a stressful home life can destroy a teenager. But again, there are millions of teens who live with abuse, neglect and incredible stress who do not become predators. So, the predictive capability of this science is hit or miss at best.

What others think might be to blame is the MAO gene. This gene controls serotonin levels in the brain, but sometimes, the MAO gene floods the brain while in utero. Think of it like this: you take antibiotics for years, and eventually, your body builds up an immunity to antibiotics. The same thing happens with serotonin. If the brain is overrun with this normally calming chemical, it seems that the brain simply no longer responds to serotonin.

There isn't just one answer, any more than there is one kind of monster. And the research could still be faulty. Why? My teenage years were filled with abuse, neglect and high levels of stress, but I am not a predator or a rampage killer or a sociopath or a sadist. One size, especially when it comes to predicting psychotic behavior, does not fit all.

There will always be monsters, but perhaps the men and women at the forefront of emerging science and research will someday find a way to help stop them before they kill. In the case of Christian Choate, it's too late, and we as a society must mourn him and promise him to do everything we can to help the next Christian.

Please visit the links below for more information on psychopathy, predatory behavior and the scientists trying to break the code.

NOVA: The Mind of a Rampage Killer

Jim Fallon's TED Talk

Thank you to my friends Lynne and Kim for contributions to this piece.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Skecher's-What the hell?



When I was a kid, I lived in sneakers. Well, and ballet slippers, but I was a tomboy squared. I fell out of trees, ripped the skin off my knee playing basketball at John Doolan's house, ran off the edge of my own lawn and just played with my whole heart and soul. I once took my own father over a cliff. Not on purpose; I refused to use the brakes on by bike and tried to avoid hitting a woman by shoving my feet into the grass at Balboa Park. Whee!

It never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with being a tomboy. Or anything wrong with being short. Or anything wrong with constantly having Band Aids on my knees and scrapes everywhere else. This was the 70's, and life was freer I guess. According to a new style of sneaker, my childhood was seriously messed up.

Skecher's has introduced a new sneaker just for girls. No big deal-many companies market to a specific gender, including shoe companies. But this shoe is not your typical sneaker. This shoe is called "Daddy'$ Money." No, I am not kidding.

"Daddy'$" (get it?) "Money" sneakers look like high tops, but they have a hidden 2" wedge, like a pump, to add height, back pain, strained arches and aching calves. These sneakers are not made for fun, they're made to make girls as young as 9 look taller and thinner. Wait, there's more.

The video for "Daddy'$ Money" features adolescent girls in various revealing articles of clothing, dancing and waving money around. Their "Daddy's" money. Each shoe style has the word "Gimme" in its name, and the message here is, well, disturbing.

1) You, as a girl, are not supposed to play. Your sneakers are worn to make you taller and thinner, because you're not good enough the way you are.

2) Women need a man in order to buy things.

3) No matter your age, use sex to get stuff.

You're doubting me right now, aren't you? You're thinking "Erin, this is obviously satire, because what company in their right mind would destroy their brand like this?" A company like Skecher's apparently. Below are links to the Daddy'$ Money website, where you will find "Daddy'$ Money" videos, and "Stupid Girls" by P!nk. I need a drink.

Daddy's Money website

P!nk "Stupid Girls

Thank you to Jes at We Are Legitimate for alerting me to this story.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The failed re-branding of the GOP

Image from Google

For over a decade, the Grand Old Party has sold its supporters an odd bill of goods. Thinly veiled violent rhetoric combined with not so thinly veiled racism and bigotry is spewed out into the minds of right wing conservatives on an hourly basis. With the reelection of Barack Obama in November, the GOP realized this hate mongering might not be working.

Republicans were slapped in the face with the fact that in order to win the White House, they need (gasp) minority voters. But what does a party do when their own language has attracted neo-Nazis, white nationalists, Sovereign citizens, separatists, homophobes, Islamophobes and delusional paranoid conspiracy junkies? Why, it re-brands itself! Without any success at all.

It's obvious that the GOP has no idea how to do this. After alienating every American except for white, upper middle class Christians over 50, Republicans are struggling to convince Hispanics, African Americans,  the LGBT community and women to come over to the dark side I mean vote for them. The proof reared its ugly head this week, roared loudly and kicked John McCain right in the nuts.

Senator McCain held town hall meetings in Arizona this Tuesday on immigration reform, and one such meeting got very ugly very quickly. I really don't know what McCain expected-Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio have been blaming undocumented immigrants for everything under the sun, so why did the senator think presenting facts and a gentler approach would go over well?

According to Huffington Post and a delightful You Tube video, Senator McCain was speaking to his base (old, white, angry people), pointing out the Yuma border was fairly secure, but smugglers were using other border crossings near Tuscon to "pump drugs" into Phoenix. McCain promoted some of his ideas, including a tamper-proof Social Security card and noted that any path to citizenship must include immigrants learning to speak English. Honestly, I really thought his constituents would like that one: Tea Party rallies are always riddled with signs demanding everyone speak English. Unfortunately, many Tea Partiers can't spell in English, but I guess they can speak it.

Senator McCain then stated the following, which seems to have been the tipping point for the audience:

"There are 11 million people living here illegally. We are not going to get enough buses to deport them."

The responses came fast and furiously. Attendees yelled out that only guns will stop undocumented immigration, undocumented immigrants should never be able to become citizens or vote and (my personal non-favorite) undocumented immigrants were illiterate invaders who wanted free government benefits. Gosh, wherever did they all get these ideas (cough, Tea Party, Fox, Drudge, cough).

At this point, McCain tried to appeal to the Christians in the crowd, to no avail. He urged them to be compassionate, saying "We are a Judeo-Christian nation." I know, you almost feel sorry for him. John McCain has never been one of the "they're comin' to take mah JOB" Republicans, but he is paying the price for all his buddies who tirelessly bang that drum.

When your "grass roots" rallies are infiltrated by Stormfront.org, and when one of your presidential candidates has staff members meeting with A3P and another candidate tells the African American community to stop asking for food stamps and start asking for jobs and your Wicked Witch of a governor, Jan Brewer confuses Hispanics with Asians, no amount of marketing is going to fix it. The GOP is no more; it has become home to the fringe, the Quiverfull families, the Alex Jones followers, the lovers of all things Pamela Geller.

Republicans can re-brand until the hormone-laden cows come home, but I think we can all agree, it won't make a damn bit of difference. Too many people, including former sane Republicans, see what the party has become. In the words of conservative judge David Posner, they're "goofy."

Thanks to NPR and Huffington Post for contributions to this piece.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's an organ! It's a person! It's snake oil.

Image from livingstingy.blogspot.com


Mary Sue McClurkin is famous today. Ms. McClurkin, a Republican representative from Alabama has made history with her claim that a fetus is an organ. And not just any organ, oh no, Rep. McClurkin believes a fetus is the largest organ in a woman's body. Don't tell the skin that, you know how skin gets.

Now if I were a fellow flaming conservative, I would be calling Rep. McClurkin, screaming at her hysterically. Conservatives are not allowed to deviate from the "it's a person" script, and Ms. McClurkin just did that in spades. My guess is Lila Rose had a mild stroke this morning, and Paul Ryan is flagellating himself as I write this.

What's interesting is that both claims are wrong, and conservatives prove that every day. Ignoring the "it's an organ" argument, simply because that may be the dumbest sentence ever spoken, let's look at the "it's a person" argument. When a conservative husband walks into the delivery room and sees his equally conservative wife holding a new baby, he does not say "Oh my gosh! He's only 9 months and 15 minutes old and he's already smiling!" He says "Oh my gosh! He's only 15 minutes old and he's already smiling!" That smile will fade once little Johnny realizes both his parents are conservatives, but for now, he's too innocent to understand.

My birthday is April 9th. According to conservative logic, no one's birthday is the date of their birth. We should all be celebrating our Conception Day. I would celebrate in August, my husband would celebrate in April, and my son would celebrate in January. But we don't do that, do we? No conservative politician has ever introduced a bill to make birthdays obsolete, replacing them with Conception Day. Of course, it's only February.

Why is that? Why don't conservatives celebrate Conception Day, or count the 9 months in the womb when giving the age of a newborn baby? I have a theory, and I think it's pretty good.

During the time of the Old West, snake oil salesmen wandered the plains of America, selling health tonics from the back of covered wagons. These health tonics contained everything from arsenic to ditch water to liquid cocaine, and they were marketed as super magical elixirs that cured whatever ailed you. Snake oil salesmen never drank their own tonic, because they knew it was toxic. They just sold it to unsuspecting farmers and mothers and even children, reaping the monetary reward then fleeing when folks began dying.

The conservative "pro-life" brigade is the 21st version of snake oil salesmen. Their tonic is life begins at conception, they know that what they're selling is toxic and dangerous, and they won't drink it themselves. Remember Rick Santorum's wife received a "therapeutic abortion," but Rick doesn't want anyone else to be able to receive one. Snake oil.

Rep. McClurkin is obviously nuttier than squirrel poo if she truly believes a fetus is an organ. The problem lies with the conservative men and women who are selling the idea that life begins at conception and any attempt to end that is murder. There are people on the right who want to make miscarrying a fetus a crime, and quite a few states are looking at creating laws making it legal to murder an abortion provider. We're smart enough to refuse the snake oil, but in this case, the salesmen are more powerful than a guy traveling the countryside in a wagon. Conservatives are trying to make drinking the poison mandatory, and just like the people who died drinking the original version, people will die drinking this one.

Snake oil salesmen were often run out of town. In 2014, let's run these snake oil salesmen right out of a job.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Women who hate women

Image from Feministcampus.org


When I made the "We Are Warriors" video last year, I talked about how conservative women must hate themselves. My comments angered a few conservative women, but many people agreed with me. I have read so many statements from conservative women that attack, demean and denigrate women. We all heard Dana Perino on Fox state that women in violent relationships who are killed should "make better decisions," and we were, for the most part, shocked that anyone could be that heartless.

There is a liberal troll on Facebook who calls himself Ahnold Schwazeneggah. Monday afternoon, he posted a topic thread on The Violence Against Women Act, and asked his followers to lend their voices in response to a woman's comments. I clicked the link, read her words and my stomach flipped over. Never, and I mean never, had I read such hate, such loathing and such cruelty towards battered women. As I am wont to do every so often, I copied her comments into a draft, and will share them with you here in this piece, along with her name. She deserves for people to see exactly what she, as a conservative woman, thinks about other women.

The post in question was a link to a petition at Credo, urging House Republicans to stop blocking VAWA. It was published on a Facebook page entitled "Telling Dick Cheney to Shut the Hell Up," and many of the people posting were outraged, including one woman who shared her own experience with domestic violence. However, there was a voice of dissent, a voice so strident and soulless and...well, see for yourself. The following are comments posted by one Kathy McCarthy under the Credo petition link.

"Well, Lisa, I see nothing but stupidity and I don't want to pay for it, so I'm very glad the program was cut. How about this? First domestic violence call, they arrest the batterer. Second call, they arrest both parties and take the kids. That I would support. I am not interested in helping women who choose to play victim."

A response to that comment:

"...she must be one of those types who believes that if you are beaten or raped you must have asked for it."

Kathy McCarthy's response:

"Absolutely, Nancy, because the children are victims. The women who keep going back are participants in a toxic relationship. If they started charging the mother, too, everytime [sic] her boyfriend killed or abused her child, and told these women if they returned to the abuser they would be arrested, I think you would find a decline in domestic abuse."

Another woman named Linda answered Kathy's heartless statement, and received this in return:

"Actually, no, Linda, I'm just a taxpayer who is sick of seeing her hard-earned money taken to pay for someone else's poor choices. If you want to help these women, give YOUR hard-earned money to charities that allow them to play the victim-something you really don't have the luxury of doing when your kids are at risk." (Bold and Italics mine.)

Normally, I would post statistics about what happens to women who try and leave a batterer, but I know my readers are already aware of those facts. What I want to do is show you proof that conservative women hate women. My guess is that in Kathy McCarthy's world, only poor, brown-skinned, stupid, drug addicted women get beaten up. Or lesbians, liberals and non-Christians. Because if you believe in Jesus enough, you won't get hit.

My abuser was a flaming Methodist, but I digress. Women like Kathy McCarthy make me sick. They blame victims of domestic violence for their own pain, blame rape victims for their own rapes (well, you were wearing makeup you whore) and just like Dana Perino, fervently believe that all women who get knocked around are choosing to stay.

I didn't choose to stay; I had nowhere else to go. It took three years, but I did finally escape, a little scarred, but alive. Many women don't get out alive, and even if they do, their abuser finds them and murders them.

I posted a reply to Kathy McCarthy. Rather than reprint the entire thing, here is the gist: I told Ms. McCarthy that it's easy to be cruel, hiding behind a keyboard. I dared her to bundle up and drop by a battered women's shelter. Look a woman with a split lip, or a fractured cheekbone or broken ribs in the eye,  tell her it's her fault and she should be in jail. Kathy McCarthy should look down at the scar on the bottom corner of my lip and tell me it was all my fault.

I dare her.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The NRA: Our enemies are everywhere!

Image from whatwouldjackodo.net

I understand the importance of lists. Grocery lists, lists to remind you the dates of birthdays or anniversaries, to-do lists. Christmas gift lists. Lists for Costco. The last time we went to Costco without a list, we left with 6 months worth of toilet paper, 15 mangoes and a giant jar of jelly beans. So, I do understand that sometimes, you need a list.

Lists can also be scary. During the McCarthy era, lists of alleged Communists lined the office walls of the infamous senator. The mob has lists. The CIA might, but they'll never tell.

Recently, a list appeared then disappeared that was neither necessary or scary. It was paranoid and pretty bizarre. This list was the NRA's Enemies List, as in groups and individuals the NRA deemed threatening to the "cause." Pediatricians. Neurosurgeons. Nurses. The AFL-CIO. The NAACP. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The League of Women Voters. National Association of Police Organizations. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Anti-Defamation League. George Clooney. Maya Angelou. Michael Eisner. Bruce Springsteen. Jack Nicholson. Tony Bennett.

That's not the entire list, but you get the idea. Who does the NRA consider their enemy? Well, pretty much everyone. The YWCA is on the list, but not the YMCA. I guess Wayne LaPierre likes The Village People. Oh, and what's this "cause" all these nefarious people and groups are threatening? Why the cause of scaring the living crap out of the fringe so the fringe will go buy more guns and net the NRA's corporate sponsors a huge profit.

I understand a few of the names on that list. Pediatricians work tirelessly to protect and safeguard our children. The NRA works tirelessly to make certain our kids aren't safe anywhere they go. Neurosurgeons often see firsthand what happens when a bullet meets a human skull. The NRA would like us all to believe that bullets are made of cotton candy, sunshine and chocolate, and if a bullet happens to harm you, it's your own damn fault.

The ADL confused me a bit. What did the Anti-Defamation League ever do to the NRA? Was it their outspoken horror and grief after the shooting at the Holocaust museum? Really, I'm asking. And why in the world is the National Association of Police Organizations on the NRA's enemy list? Aren't cops the "good guy with a gun" LaPierre touted during his post-Sandy Hook massacre commercial I mean press conference? This is all very confusing.

That list is gone. Poof. Which is sad, because I'd like to be on the NRA's Enemy list. I am their enemy. I'm smart, I'm logical and I believe in common sense solutions to the epidemic of gun violence in America. I also see Wayne LaPierre for what he is: a sociopath. Now I know it's fun to call him "crazy" and a "loon," but understand something. You cannot fix a sociopath. A sociopath only cares about himself, he doesn't have any concept of right or wrong and he has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to achieve his goal. In this case, Wayne LaPierre's goal is to make sure American gunnuts are convinced the only way to protect themselves against the invisible, make-believe boogeymen is to arm themselves to the teeth.

In Wayne LaPierre's dream world, the people and groups on his list don't exist, Rick Santorum is president and there are no restrictions at all when it comes to owning whatever firearm or weapon you want. Surface to air missile? Sure! Sarin gas? Hell yes! Enriched uranuim? You betcha! Don't believe me? Watch as David Barton explains the Second Amendment.

Thanks to CNN and MSNBC for contributions to this piece.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What's the big deal with Valentine's Day?

Image from Squidoo


Eleven months out of the year, we treat each other like crap, but once Christmas rolls around, suddenly we're all trying desperately to be the best people we can be. We approach Valentine's Day in much the same way. One day out of the year, love matters. Or at least stuff that "proves" your love matters.

Flowers, jewelry, teddy bears, candy, cards, lingerie, expensive dinners-all purchased in the hopes of impressing someone we love. While we go broke trying to meet the Valentine standard set by Madison Avenue for that one day, I wonder where all this "love" is the rest of year.

My husband and I don't really do Valentine's Day. Oh, we'll probably get each other a gourmet chocolate bar (Ghiradelli sea salt and caramel), but there are no cards, no flowers, neither of is getting anything that screams "ERMAHGED I love you so much" because we know we love each other so much. We woke up this morning with no heat. Rather than make me talk to our 400-year old Tea Partier of a landlord, my husband will call him from work. That's love. 

And to the single folks out there who have been inundated with "Every kiss begins with Kay" commercials for the past month or so, it doesn't matter. Are you happy? Are you successful and walking a path that brings you joy and serenity? Do you like your life? Then screw the ads, screw the cards and the flowers and the schmaltz. If you happen to bump into your soul mate in an elevator, fantastic. If you enjoy the single life, fantastic. Go buy yourself a Ghiradelli chocolate bar, give yourself a hug and have a great day.

St. Valentine was a martyr, killed for marrying Christian couples and violating Roman law. He was tortured and murdered. Somehow, we took his bravery and sacrifice and turned it into one of the most profitable retail holidays of the year. We do that a lot, don't we? 

Smile at someone who's grumpy. Buy the person behind you in line at Starbucks a coffee. Tip the waitress who serves you lunch 20% instead of 10%. Lead a sing-a-long at work. Don't just buy love, be love. Single or married, divorced or infatuated, it doesn't matter. Love is a constant, and rather than make Valentine's Day about money, maybe Valentine's Day could be about actual love. 

Love, Erin

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The GOP's sweaty response to the State of the Union

Image from ABC Action News

As 26% of Americans (according to a recent poll, that's how many of us give a rat's butt about the state of our union) sat down to watch President Obama address the nation last night, one man was preparing for his debut. Marco Rubio, Republican senator from Florida, was the GOP's chosen voice to respond to the State of the Union address. Marco Rubio is rumored to have presidential aspirations, and after watching his performance, I think he may be channeling Richard Nixon. At least Nixon's sweat.

President Obama hit it out of the park. My friend, Erin wrote that Vice President Biden looked like a "proud grandpa," while it was hard to ignore how incredibly uncomfortable John Boehner was. When the president mentioned legislation that dealt with climate change written by Joe Lieberman and John McCain, McCain smiled sheepishly, almost as if to say to the fringe "I had no idea he would mention me, please don't stop giving me money." Paul Ryan nodded energetically during a portion about seniors, which I found odd. Maybe he misunderstood that President Obama was stating we need to not slash Social Security and Medicare.

President Obama spoke about education, and strangely, the GOP seemed to agree with at least some of his ideas. Again, odd, since their own presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, poo pooed higher education, calling the president's desire to give everyone in America access to college "elitist." Of course, we all waited anxiously for President Obama to address gun control, knowing to whom the GOP is beholden when it comes to this issue. For those of you who might not know, it's not the American people, it's not the victims of gun violence, it's not the families of the 20 children massacred in Newtown, Connecticut, it's the NRA.

When the State of the Union was over, Marco Rubio stepped in front of a camera and proceeded to self-destruct on national television. While President Obama said that government cannot solve all our problems, Rubio claimed that the president said the opposite. Rubio spoke at length about small business, but some of us aren't sure Rubio, or any Republicans, understand what a small business is (hint-it's not General Electric or Halliburton). He laid into Obamacare, even as news released this week showed the benefits of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Rubio even managed to work in a dig about personhood, which impressed me. It was subtle, but it was there.

During his response, Senator Rubio seemed to be suffering from dry mouth and a bad case of nervous sweating. At numerous points, he brought one delicate finger up to wipe the sides of his brow; it looked as thought he was hoping no one would notice. He wiped spittle from the corners of his mouth. And in what can only be called the most embarrassing moment since Michele Bachmann gave an entire SOTU response to the wrong camera, Rubio ducked down, grabbed a bottle of water, took a swig and set the bottle back somewhere out of camera range.
His nervous response to the SOTU was not the only remarkable thing Rubio managed to do Tuesday. He also joined other Republican senators in voting against The Violence Against Women Act. During his response, he spoke about his own mother and how he doesn't want to cut her benefits. Like Paul Ryan, Rubio waved Mom in front of us while voting against her own best interests.

All in all, Marco Rubio proved that he is not ready for prime time, he may not have even watched the State of the Union and he really loves America, but not the actual version. As to the sweating, well, we could chalk it up to nerves, or the heat of the lights, or perhaps he had the flu, banged his knee getting out of a car and was wearing pancake makeup. These were the reasons Nixon sweated during the 1960 debate with John F. Kennedy.

Or maybe Marco Rubio isn't as comfortable lying about President Obama as other members of the GOP. We'll never know, unless the senator decides to share that information with us. All we can know for sure is next time, Rubio might want to avoid the stage dive towards the water bottle and spend a bit more time telling the truth.

Thanks to The Washington Post for video of Senator Rubio's response and Wikipedia for details about the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate. Images from ABC and NBC affiliates and CNN.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shut up and Sing

Image from Progressive Erupts.blogspot.com

This evening, President Obama will give his State of the Union address. A recent poll shows that about 25% of Americans regularly watch the State of the Union, which may explain some of the problems we have in this country. For those of us in the 25%, we are in for an interesting evening.

Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican from Texas has invited Ted Nugent to be his guest this evening at the State of the Union. Let's take a moment and absorb that. Steve Stockman, who has threatened to bring articles of impeachment against President Obama over executive actions regarding gun control, invited Ted Nugent to the SOTU. 

Ted Nugent, during the 2008 presidential campaign, stood on a stage and told then candidate Barack Obama to "suck on" a "machine gun." He told then candidate Hillary Clinton to "ride" one. Mr. Nugent also told a group of gun enthusiasts at an NRA convention that if President Obama was reelected, he would either be "dead or in jail." That quip earned him a visit from the Secret Service. 

Uncle Ted is a lot of things: a chickenhawk who shat himself rather than serve in Vietnam. A man who admitted he is attracted to "young girls," and adopted a 17-year old so he could have sex with her. A man who kills animals for fun. And Uncle Ted is going to the State of the Union address.

During George Bush's presidency, The Dixie Chicks told an audience that they were ashamed of him. That was it. The Dixie Chicks did not tell former President Bush to suck on a machine gun or imply that his reelection would garner them a prison sentence. Natalie Maines simply told a London audience "Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."

The Dixie Chicks found themselves banned from radio stations all over America, people held burning parties for their CD's and conservative pundits were infuriated. In the documentary "Shut up and Sing," Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines and Emily Robison share some of the letters and emails they received, including death threats. All because Natalie Maines dared to say aloud what many of us were thinking-we didn't want the war, the violence, and we were ashamed of George W. Bush.

What if a liberal politician, like Senator Bernie Sanders had invited The Dixie Chicks to one of George W. Bush's State of the Union addresses? How do you think Fox News would have reacted? Again, Natalie Maines didn't make any violent statements, or insinuate that she was going to harm the former president. But the right wing would have gone absolutely nuts. 

So, tonight as the minority of Americans tune into the SOTU, remember that, as Rachel Maddow stated so elegantly during the Anthony Weiner debacle, it's okay if you're a Republican. It's okay to threaten the life of a presidential candidate, tell another to ride a machine gun and imply violence against a sitting president if you don't get your way. It's okay to be a pants-shitting chickenhawk, as long as you're right wing. 

Stockman's invitation to Ted Nugent is proof of the disrespect for President Obama running rampant through the conservative party. It's beyond me how a party who claims to want to attract a smarter voter thinks this is the way to do it. But if this is how they want to play it, fine. It's just another reason I'm not ready to make nice.

CSMonitor and CNN contributed to this piece. Images from IMBD, Democratic Underground and Progressive Erupts.blogspot.com.

Not Ready to Make Nice by The Dixie Chicks



Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Bernadette the First

Image of Pope's Prada shoes from Opera Chic

Pope Benedict is retiring/stepping down/quitting due to "ailing health." I can see where debasing and demeaning the LGBT global community and protecting pedophile priests could get exhausting, so here's to a happy retirement, Bennie.

Pope Benedict did support green energy, universal health care and socialism, so he wasn't all bad. Although, he hated gay people, believed marriage equality would ruin the world and was considered a conservative Catholic. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, right?

Numerous people are having a blast with this information, positing that perhaps Rick Santorum should apply for the papal throne. I think I should. I really do.

I know the Bible (see, I even capitalize it), I'm technically Catholic, our local sports teams are the Cardinals, so I'm a cardinal and I love Prada shoes. My chosen name is Bernadette the First. I always dressed up as Saint Bernadette on All Saint's Day. We had a parade around St. Patrick's playground, to minimize the Satanic effects of Halloween.

There are a few problems with this idea. Obviously, I'm a woman, and the Catholic hierarchy hates women. I'm pro-choice, which is tantamount to being a serial killer in the eyes of the Vatican, and I support marriage equality. I don't necessarily believe in God but I believe in something. And I have a really nifty idea that would raise a ton of money for the poor.

As pope, I wouldn't wear designer clothes or all that jewelry. I'd contact Sotheby's or Christie's and say "Hey, have I got a deal for you. Take all this crap and auction it, keep 30%, give us 70% and you can write some of it off on your taxes because we're giving it all the charity!" We'd keep the art, however. Lose the throne, keep the art. And keep one pair of Prada shoes.

Oh, and my solution for those awful priests is pretty fabulous, too. I'd go through the records that the Holy See refuses to release, find every last one of those monsters and have them brought to the Vatican. I would put them on display in public squares all over the world, and for a dollar, people can throw a rotten tomato at their pathetic faces. When we raise one million dollars for Heifer International and Doctors Without Borders, which in my opinion would take about a week, I would turn the now defrocked priests over to the authorities. Win win.

I'd allow women priest, married priests, LGBT priests. Altar boys and altar girls. Get rid of the stupid ban on contraception. Support abortion rights in cases of rape and/or incest and to protect the life of the mother (there's a limit to how radical I could get here, sorry). Promote equality and love and peace and tolerance. Think of it as Vatican III.

So, at the moment, this plan is in its infancy. I need someone who can use Photoshop like a pro to help me create my papal photograph. I'm thinking a simple mitre, a Lanz flannel nightgown, white Capezio jazz shoes, and a Bedazzled cattle prod.

Yes, I know I'm married, but in my Vatican, that doesn't matter. In my Vatican, your heart is more important than your sex life or marital status, gender or sexual orientation. If you're not a giant, bigoted douche, welcome to the Holy See.

Pope Bernadette the First. I gotta trademark that.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ron Paul hates the UN until he needs the UN

Image from Think Progress

This is a short piece, because I have to go the dentist and get more crap done to my stupid teeth. Now, I am not a huge fan of the dentist, but I would never say that all dentists are evil, or all dentists have a nefarious plan to force us to recycle and use green energy. Although, that would be all sorts of awesome. Can you picture tens of thousands of dentists, wearing Kelly green capes over those little dentist shirts, flying around the country, promoting electric cars and flossing? Anyway...

Ron Paul hates the United Nations as much as The John Birch Society hates the United Nations, which is probably why JBS loves Ron Paul. That and the racism. But it turns out that like every other goddamn Republican, Ron Paul is a giant, pulsating hypocritical boil on the butt of humanity. Mr. Dr. Professor Paul is threatening to use the United Nations to file copyright infringement lawsuits against his own supporters in a misguided attempt to reclaim domain names.

I will admit, I had no idea the UN handled Internet copyright lawsuits. I was under the impression the UN was more about human rights and weapons inspections. But Captain State's Rights really, really wants those damn sites back, and in order to get them, he's willing to completely forget how much he despises the United Nations.

Maybe the Ronster should spend a wee bit more time duct taping his son's mouth shut and a little less time worrying about domain names. Let the UN get back to creating the New World Order with the Bilderberg family and our Muslim, Kenyan, socialist, Marxist, communist, Atheist, fascist president. And Crocoduck™.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The War on Christianity

Image from Tumblr

There is a war being waged against Christianity in America. People distort and twist the message of Christ, use his name to attack others and spread lies on his behalf. Unfortunately for conservatives, they are the ones waging the war.

Let's go back to the time when Jesus is alleged to have walked the Earth. He would have been olive skinned, with dark brown eyes, longish hair and less than six feet tall. As he was poor, his clothes would have been covered in dust and/or dirt, his feet, rough and grimy. And his message, according to the Bible, was the antithesis of the message modern conservative Christians spew on an hourly basis.

Jesus Christ preached tolerance, acceptance, love and even equality. He derided the rich, embraced the poor and the downtrodden and encouraged others to do the same. In his time, Jesus bumped into a version of conservative Christians, known as the Pharisees.

The Pharisees believed that the Messiah should be wealthy and powerful, dressed in rich robes and adorned with jewels. They wanted a savior who hated the same people they hated, not a savior who dined with whores and lepers. To prove it, when Jesus refused to be what they desperately wanted him to be, they hung him on a cross and killed him.

I believe that if the actual Jesus came back today, the new Pharisees would crucify him all over again. Conservative Christians want their messiah white, bigoted, sexist and rich. Conservative Jesus wears a suit, carries an American flag in his hand, and steps over lepers to get into a megachurch. He doesn't sit down and eat with them, much less heal them, because everyone knows that if you give a man a hand up, you destroy America.

If I'm wrong, then show me a self professed conservative Christian who is working on behalf of the poor. Show me a conservative Christian who didn't cheer when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a prostitute. Show me a conservative Christian who doesn't call liberals libtards or hate the LGBT community or undocumented immigrants, or who did not agree with Ann Coulter when she stated the kids at Kent State got what they deserved because "that's what you do with a mob." Show me a conservative Christian who thinks The Violence Against Women Act should be reauthorized with protection for Native American women, lesbians and undocumented immigrants.

Lest we forget, conservative Christians were the group that contacted the St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen after Paul Ryan's photo op, pulling donations and leaving threatening voice mail messages. The only two serious death threats I've ever received were from conservative Christians. Conservative Christian pastors want the LGBT community put behind electrified fences and left to die out or believe the government should go out and murder every gay, trans and bi person in America. Conservative Christians believe a zygote is more important than an actual child, until that child reaches eighteen, then they'd love to send he or she off to war.

Media is right about the war on Christianity. If only the media would correctly identify the people waging it.




The Best Man

Image from Krishnaisgreat.blogspot.com

Warning: The following piece is going to be a little hokey and mushy, because it's about my husband. Read it anyway.

This August, it will be fourteen years since my husband and I met on an elevator in St. Joseph, Michigan. I have no idea what he saw in me. I was in the middle of a divorce, a single, unemployed mother in the grips of borderline personality disorder. The moment I saw him, it felt as though I had been struck by lightning. Somehow, I knew this was the guy, my "split-apart."

I didn't know if he was married or not (he wasn't), so I bought him a candle, and attached a card addressed to "The New Family." His apartment was 5 down from mine, and his living room window looked out onto the train tracks that ran behind the building. When my son discovered he could stand on a chair in Jim's apartment and see the trains running by, he was sold. When you're 2, that's really all it takes.

Jim and my son adored each other from the beginning. My parents bought their favorite toddler a tricycle made in Italy, and he rode that little foot powered machine up and down the hallway, waiting for Jim to come home from work. I would leave the door to our apartment open, so Jim could come to dinner and I could hear my adorable child making fire engine sounds on his bright red tricycle. I always knew when Jim stepped off the elevator, because this precious voice would yell "JIM!"

We went through a tough time early in our relationship, that ended with my son and I moving to Virginia. I had two jobs; one as an administrative assistant at a private school and the other as a waitress at a restaurant in Reston. I got fired from the waitress job because my son went to the ER on a holiday weekend and I was forced to call in. The front of the house manager, who had had enough of her husband flirting with me, used this as an excuse to get rid of me. Jim and I were emailing back and forth, trying to fix the broken parts of whatever this was, and we decided he should come for a visit, now that I had more free time.

He drove all night (stop humming that Celine Dion song), got lost, and as I sat on the front steps of the condo, his car pulled into the parking lot. I jumped into his arms, and (he will never admit this), we both cried. Under all the crap and all the drama, we knew we were meant to be together.

After September 11th, Jim invited us to move back to Michigan. I gave notice at the school, packed up my meager belongings and the three of us drove from Virginia to St. Joseph. We lived in a nice neighborhood, my son started kindergarten, and then the rug was yanked out from under our feet. Jim lost his job. I went to work, first at a bank, then as a manager for Radio Shack. And, since our lives were never predictable, it was inevitable that as I became a pretty good manager and considered entering into the district manager program, Jim was offered a position in Burlington, Vermont.

Jim and I got married soon after moving-we flew to Vegas, rented a limo that smelled like stale cigarettes and death and were hitched at a little chapel off the strip. We bought a house. We liked Burlington, except for the roads and the property taxes.  Josh liked grade school, but middle school was 476 kinds of awful. His math teacher was the rudest, most obnoxious woman I have ever met, it was impossible to get anyone from the school to communicate with us, and I spent a lot of time swearing profusely, wishing we could move somewhere else, somewhere the schools weren't a disaster. I got my wish.

We moved to Minnesota a year and a half ago. Our son loves his school, Jim likes his job, I am learning to live in a small, conservative town. But what we've discovered, my husband and I, is that wherever we are is home. Whether it's a crappy apartment in Michigan or a tiny house in Vermont or this rented monstrosity in Minnesota, we're home. The reason we're still together is we get it. We don't sweat the small stuff, we have a good time, we rarely fight and we laugh a lot.

Fourteen years ago, Jim never imagined that his wife would be a political writer and satirist, interviewing people like John Fugelsang and Henry Rollins, getting death threats from "Christian" conservatives and appearing on the radio. To his credit, he thinks it's wonderful and celebrates each milestone with me. He is the best father I could ask for, the best husband in the world, and my dearest friend. And he makes the best blueberry pancakes I've ever tasted.

He's also pretty damn cute.