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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dear Anthony Weiner

Image from People

Mr. Weiner,

There is an old saying about going out for hamburger when you have steak at home. What I would like you to do is compare what you have at home right now to what you went looking for online.

Mr. Weiner, your wife is beautiful, classy, elegant and highly educated. She has stayed by your side during what I would guess are some of the most humiliating moments of her life. Huma Abedin has been the victim of vicious attacks by Michele Bachmann and other Islamophobes yet she never gave up, she never crumbled. In fact, that mythical link to the Muslim Brotherhood is being batted around by the right wing even now, yet she stands tall and does not yield.

Sydney Leathers is none of those things. Let's look at what Ms. Leathers has done this week alone. She has met with Steve Hirsch, the president and founder of Vivid Entertainment, one of the largest producers of pornography in America. She was a guest on The Howard Stern Show where she waxed eloquently about her desire to enter into the adult film industry, but only after she has a breast augmentation. Ms. Leathers also mused about having sex with your wife, saying "she needs it."

When Ms. Leathers discovered that CNN and other "news organizations" would not pay her for an interview, she headed over to "Inside Edition," who were more than wiling to give her money in exchange for her story. She and Steve Hirsch are allegedly in talks to make your online affair with Ms. Leathers into an adult film. If you'll recall, Hirsch and his company were behind the Kim Kardashian sex tape along with other faux-celebrity films.

You, a man who has a wife most men with half a brain would kill to wake up to in the morning, went trolling online and found Sydney Leathers. A woman who might make a porn film about your "sexting" after she gets her boobs done, a woman who happily denigrated and insulted you on a nationally syndicated radio program and who, when she discovered news organizations don't pay for interviews, told her story to "Inside Edition."

If I were your wife, Mr. Weiner, I would kick you to the curb so fast you'd have road rash. There is a fine line between supporting the man you love, the father of your child, and being embarrassed and humiliated by his obvious lack of conscience and his serial adultery. Make no mistake, Mr. Weiner, this is adultery. Online or not, "sexting" or not, you cheated on your family. Not just your wife, but your child as well. If you are mentally ill, then seek help. Get treatment so you can begin to repair the mess you have created in your life.

You have this amazing woman at your side, and you choose to hurt her and betray her over and over again. You sought out Sydney Leathers. You chose her just like you chose all the others. But unlike all the others, Ms. Leathers seems to be using your affair to claw her way into celebrity mediocrity. Ms. Leathers isn't going away.

She will keep talking and laughing and calling you names and contemplating entering the porn industry and making snide comments about sleeping with your wife because you chose a woman who looked for sugar daddies on the Internet. 

H/T To Gretl Riedel for the sugar daddy link.

Monday, July 29, 2013

No more Starbucks

Image from New York Daily News

Man, Starbucks. Your perfect (and slightly overpriced coffee), your frozen treats, your pound cake (I can make that myself) and your barsitas who create little hearts in cappuccino foam mean nothing to me anymore. The bottled icy beverages tempting me from the little freezer by the checkout lane...I must resist. Because you love guns.

You read that correctly. Starbucks has decided to allow armed gun lovers to rally in their stores. Starbucks doesn't allow smoking in their stores, but hell YES you can wander in with an AR-15 strapped across your shoulder! Second-hand bullets are apparently less hazardous than second-hand smoke.

Oddly enough, Starbucks does not allow guns in their corporate headquarters nor do they allow employees to carry firearms at work, even in states where it would be legal. Guns are bad except when they're good?

The problem is families patronize Starbucks. Moms and dads get a cuppa while kids can enjoy a cocoa or lemonade. Do unsuspecting parents really want little Susie and Johnny standing next to a guy armed with a semi-automatic weapon? Oh hell no we don't! But Starbucks refuses to back down. They "support the Second Amendment," and are "following state laws" regarding allowing firearms in their stores.

You know what I support, and millions of other people support? Being able to get a frigging cup of coffee without having to worry that Johnny Ammo's Bushmaster might go off, either accidentally or just because he's had a super bad day. Is that really too much to ask, Starbucks? According to the lamest email response I have ever received in my life, it is. Starbucks is very clear on this point-they will not back down. Put another way, Starbucks is Standing Their Ground.

Well, so am I. So are other people who don't feel comfortable walking into a coffee shop and seeing armed Americans five feet away from their kids. No more Starbucks. Not in this house, not on the road, just no more. If Starbucks thinks guns are more important than customer safety and comfort, Starbucks just roasted their last coffee bean for my family.

Please take a moment and sign this petition from Moms Demand Action. Help Starbucks understand that just because someone can carry a gun into a coffee shop doesn't mean they should. Restaurants all over America have policies that often differ from state law. Tell Starbucks this is not the Wild West, and we just want to buy a cup of coffee. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Louie Gohmert vs a Box of Hair

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In 2005, a man named Louie was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. Since that fateful election, Louie Gohmert has made a name for himself as a staunch, right wing conservative, an advocate for fetuses and against the poor and a true patriotic misogynist. 

Rep. Gohmert has also been compared to a box of hair, as in "Louie Gohmert is dumber than a box of hair." There are quite a few reasons for this comparison, not the least of which is what happens when Louie opens his mouth. For example, on DOMA being declared unconstitutional, Louie quoted a very famous polygamist by saying "They were not aware that the most wise man in history, Solomon, said there's nothing new under the sun." Do you know how many wives Solomon had? Seven HUNDRED! Busy guy, that Solomon.

Then of course there's Louie's softer side. Especially when it comes to actual children. See, Louie Gohmert hates food stamps. Hates 'em. So when the farm bill came up for a vote, Rep. Gohmert was front and center, defending cuts in SNAP for nearly two million people. He pointed out, quite incorrectly, that the reason poor people don't need help eating is because they're all fat:

"We don't want anyone to go hungry, and from the amount of obesity in this country by people who we're told do not have enough to eat, it does seem like we could have a debate about this issue without allegations about wanting to slap down or starve children."

See? All you poor people who can't afford to buy produce because the game's rigged in ConAgra's favor are too fat and don't deserve food. He also made up a constituent who was angry because some pretend poor person in a pretend grocery store bought pretend crab legs with pretend food stamps. Cue Reagan's Mythical Welfare Queen!

And don't get me started on "terror babies."

BUT the topper, the all-out best (or worst) thing Louie Gohmert has ever said he said Wednesday. This Wednesday. Louie was speaking passionately of his love of discrimination when he compared civil rights to snail darters. And chickens. No really, here:

"There is nobody in this chamber who is more appreciative than I am for the gentleman from Tennessee and my friend from Michigan standing up for the rights of race, religion, national religion of the Delta Smelt, the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouts and so many other insects who would want someone standing for their religion, their race, their national origin and I think that’s wonderful." 

Reading and listening to Louie Gohmert gave me a raging headache and it also made me wonder how a box of hair feels, being compared to someone like Louie Gohmert. Luckily, my hairdresser was able to put a large pile of hair in a box, and that box was kind enough to speak with me.

I shared a few of Louie's more repugnant comments with the box of hair, then informed it of the comparisons between itself and Rep. Gohmert. The box twitched and replied "Wait. People think a guy who equates gun control with bestiality, who told a woman she should have given birth to her brain dead baby and who compared civil rights to a chicken is smarter than ME? Oh screw that, no way. I'm smarter than Louie Gohmert and I don't even have neurons. I don't think he does either. WHAT THE HELL?"

There you have it. A box of hair does not like being compared to Louie Gohmert because the box of hair feels it is more intelligent, more empathetic and a more eloquent public speaker than the Texas congressman. I have to agree.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: The Interview

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From Relic to Gideon's Sword, The Ice Limit to Thunderhead, Douglas Preston and Lincoln are known all over the world as one of the most talented writing partnerships in modern literary history. It is my great pleasure and honor to share with you my interview with New York Times bestselling authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Q) How did the two of you meet? When you met, did you know you would become one of the most successful writing partnerships of modern fiction?

A) Doug: I had been writing a column in the magazine Natural History, published by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where I worked. An editor from St. Martin's Press, who had been reading my pieces, called me up and asked if I wanted to write a history of the Museum. I said yes -- and that became my first book, Dinosaurs in the Attic. After the book was published, I gave the editor a tour of the Museum -- at midnight. I showed him all the best places in the Museum to which I had access--the dinosaur bone storage room, the collection of 30,000 rats in jars of alcohol, the whale eyeball collection, the preserved mastodon stomach with its last meal inside, and a lot of other unusual things. We ended up in the Hall of Late Dinosaurs around 2:00 a.m., with only the emergency lights on, the great black skeletons looming in the darkness around us--and the editor turned to me and said: "Doug, this is the scariest building in the world. Let's write a thriller set in here." And that was the birth of Relic. That editor, if you haven't guessed by now, was Lincoln Child. We both discovered we shared the same kind of sick, twisted view of the world. And that began our long and fruitful collaboration. When we started, it was just going to a single book, a one-off. We had no idea where it would lead us.

Q) The first Agent Pendergast book is Relic, which was made into a very popular film, but Agent Pendergast was left out of the movie treatment. Did anyone affiliated with "Relic" ever tell you why they chose not to include Pendergast in the film version of your book?

A) Doug: Pendergast was in the early drafts of the script, but gradually his role was reduced and then finally cut. It was our understanding that he was too complex, too difficult, a character to both capture on film and cast. D’Agosta was a far more understandable character.

Q) Both of you are best-selling solo authors. How difficult is it to switch from writing on your own to collaborating?

A) Doug: It’s nice to be able to switch back and forth. Each way of writing offers its own challenges. Writing is an inherently lonely process and it certainly is easier with a partner to keep you from going down the wrong road, someone to brainstorm and commiserate with.

Q)Where did Alyosius Pendergast come from; in other words, how did you create such an enigmatic and unique fictional character?

A) Doug: Linc and I were talking about the first few chapters of Relic, and Linc complained that we had two New York City cops who were exactly the same. He said: "Why don't we come up with a character who is completely different, a fish out of water." I made a joke: "You mean, like an albino from New Orleans?" Linc laughed but then we followed that line of thinking, and almost immediately Pendergast materialized, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. He stepped out and shook our hands and said, "I will be your character, thank you." It was extraordinary. No other character we've invented materialized so suddenly and so completely as he did. He seems more real to us than even many of the real people we know.

Q) You introduced Gideon Crew a few years ago, as the title character in a new series. How was this new adventure received by your fans? And there are rumors of a Gideon Crew film, directed by Michael Bay-if true, are you pleased with the movie so far?

A) Doug: He got a mixed reaction. He is less complex than Pendergast, younger, a little wild, with a checkered past. Many fans loved him, but some thought he wasn’t quite as interested as Pendergast. I suppose it would be hard to create another character equal to Pendergast. The Gideon books are shorter, more action, more linear, fewer points of view, with a more techno-science background. As for the film, it is still in the preliminary stages.

Q) What authors have influenced you, both collaboratively and singularly?

A) Linc: I think we were both highly influenced by nineteenth-century English (and to a lesser degree French and Russian) literary fiction. Writers like Dickens and Dumas taught us that great literature doesn’t mean the stories can’t also be cracking great yarns. George Eliot taught us the importance of subtlety and nuance and depth of character. And of course the early thriller writers such as Poe and Wilkie Collins, and their successors such as Erskine Childers and Geoffrey Household, made deep impressions. I can’t speak for Doug, but of modern thriller writers I admire the early work of Thomas Harris and such Dennis Lehane books as Shutter Island.

Q) Do either of you still struggle with writing? Do you have moments where you look at the sentence you just typed or wrote and say "What in the world is this?"

A) Linc: No, I don’t have moments like that, but there are of course days when writing can be a struggle. It’s incredibly satisfying to see your ideas develop and take shape on the page, and I think you have to love what you’re doing if you’re going to be a successful writer, but there are times when it’s a job like any other. Some chapters are just more difficult to write. You have to do it every day, set a goal, achieve that goal, move forward. That makes things easier.

Q) Doug, what is your favorite Lincoln Child book, and Lincoln, what is your favorite Douglas Preston book?

A) Doug: My favorite book of Linc’s is Deep Storm. That is an extraordinary read.

A) Linc: I really enjoyed The Codex. The underlying idea that drives the story is so original, and yet so classic.

Q) One of the most powerful moments in Agent Pendergast's life was his recollection of "The Event" that destroyed what was left of his brother Diogenes' sanity. Are you planning on revealing anything else about Pengergast's past with his brother?

A) Linc: Yes. And that’s all I’m going to say on the subject!

Q) The latest Pendergast novel, Two Graves, deals with the horrific topic of Nazi experimentation. How much research went into making that portion of Two Graves accurate and so chilling?

A) Linc: It is a genuinely horrific topic, and we did a lot of research, as we always do, but we wanted to take that research in a different direction than one usually sees. There are so many “evil Nazi” books and movies out there that it was important for our own take on the subject to be unique and not clich├ęd, and to conclude the “Helen Trilogy” in a very unexpected way. I’m glad to hear that you characterize it as ‘chilling.’

Q) And finally, if one of the Agent Pendergast books was ever made into a film, who do you both see playing Aloysius Pendergast, Vincent D'Agosta. Constance Greene, Diogenes Pendergast and other main characters from the books?

A) Linc: We get asked that question all the time, and in fact have been asked it over so many years that the actors we originally suggested play, for example, Pendergast back in 1998 or thereabouts are now too old to do it credibly! I do think Tom Sizemore did an excellent job playing D’Agosta in the movie of Relic.

I have to thank Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child for taking the time to participate in this interview. Please visit their website and Facebook page for more information on their collective works, book signings and to sign up for their extraordinarily fun newsletter.

Please note: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child were very kind to agree to this interview. Having this published here on Poking at Snakes in no way means they agree or disagree with any of the political pieces here. They were simply generous enough with their time to honor this long-time fan with one of the most amazing interviews of my life.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The plot thickens, HuffPo publishes first and asks questions later and I get an email from Justin Timberlake's management

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Hello, fellow snake pokers! Today is Tuesday, July 23rd or as I am calling it, "Eat crow asshats" day. Thanks to my amazing friend Carol, a lot of research, Justin Timberlake's management and a previously unknown blog that I now love and adore, we can finally (probably not) put all these rumors to rest about the make-believe boycott of Florida by musicians some of whom aren't even touring this summer.

 A few days after the Zimmerman verdict of you can just kill anyone you want now, Grammy-award winning artist Stevie Wonder announced while performing in Canada that he was boycotting Florida. He went on to tell his audience he would also boycott all states with Stand Your Ground laws. Which is his right to do. Joining with Mr. Wonder were gospel group Mary Mary and most recently, Dionne Warwick. 

What didn't happen was the en masse jumping on board the Boycott Ship that began making the rounds in the form of an anonymous list TYPED ALL IN CAPS. But people were so desperate to believe Rod Stewart (who has a permanent show in Las Vegas and isn't touring until the fall and then in Europe) and the Rolling Stones (who just told Mother Jones they are not participating in this nor have they even heard of it) and Jay-Z were boycotting Florida that when confronted with the proof that the list was total and absolute bullshit, they went off the freaking rails. 

There's more! This quote, allegedly made by Justin Timberlake was included on the list:


The tour did not "kick off" in Miami. Note the typos in the statement. If that thing was real, Justin needs to fire his publicist. And after emailing Justin Timberlake's management, I received a response stating this quote is false. 

This list originated somewhere but began getting actual attention when a blogger named April Ryan posted it on her website as fact. Oddly, that post is riddled with comments telling her it's fake, but as of today, she has not chosen to remove it. 

It gets BETTER! Huffington Post, aggregate site to the stars published the list BEFORE corroborating anything, and has had to post three updates, including one about Rihanna not participating (she's on the list), and the reply to Mother Jones by the Rolling Stones. Whoops! Best thing about the HuffPo disaster is they claim they can't get anyone from Justin Timberlake to get back to them. Gee, Arianna, they got back to me...

And finally, Carol (researcher and amazing wombat) shared this article from The Hill. I guess a very angry badger Republican named Mario Diaz-Balart vented to Laura Ingraham on her radio program about Jay-Z boycotting Florida because Jay-Z and Beyonce went to Cuba and dammit, this just isn't fair. Except of course, Jay-Z isn't boycotting Florida.

So there you have it. Will Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly (who has already whined quite obnoxiously about Stevie Wonder) buy the fake list and begin "bloviating" about all these uppity entertainers? If they do, will Sony music PLEASE sue them? Will HuffPo ever receive an answer from the nice people at Justin Timberlake's management group? How much are tickets to Rod Stewart at Caesar's Palace? Is Bruce Springsteen ever coming home from Ireland? 

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 22, 2013

I'm the bad guy

Image from Tumblr

As someone who tries desperately to promote facts and truthfulness, when I come across something that does the exact opposite, I stand up and say "No." It turns out I'm not supposed to do this. Who knew?

There's a list going viral online of performers who have allegedly publicly stated they are boycotting Florida as long as Stand Your Ground exists as the law of the land. The list is accompanied by a quote from Justin Timberlake, a quote he didn't make. Also making its way around the Internet is a meme of Bruce Springsteen, also containing a quote he didn't make. And by pointing this out, and also correctly stating that this sort of thing can get someone sued, I'm the bad guy.

I need to "lighten up." My initial post was "threatening." Really. Well, let's look at this from a different perspective. We are liberals. As such, we are supposed to use truth and facts and research to make our points. We're not supposed to just make things up and share them as factual. This list, the Springsteen meme and the Timberlake quote are being shared almost exclusively by liberals.

My friend, John Henry is a stickler when it comes to ethics, sometimes more than I am. He is extremely proud to research every article, every video, every post he shares, whether his own or someone else's. When he screws up (which isn't often), he immediately apologizes, issues a retraction and pulls the misleading or false item. When I screw up (which is probably a bit more often), I do the same thing. Which is why you will not find that list or that meme or that quote anywhere on my Facebook wall.

Perhaps the problem is the list doesn't technically qualify as an article. Semantics might be at play here, I don't know. What I do know is the list, other than four musical groups, cannot be verified. I tried. One would think if Bruce Springsteen had indeed made the statement attributed to him, it would be front page news, much like Stevie Wonder's statement was front page news. Or if Justin Timberlake announced he refused to play in Florida. According to his website, he's playing in Miami in August.

No news, no headlines, no press releases. But it's all okay because geez, Erin, you need to lighten up, it's just a list, why are you "threatening" people? I didn't threaten anyone, I pointed out that making up lists and quotes about extremely famous people can get someone sued. Especially after you've been informed that 90% of that information is utterly false and you continue to promote it and share it.

This is a symptom of a larger problem, a problem liberal bloggers are seeing more and more. In the world of hits, shares and ad revenue, some liberal websites have just decided to throw out the rule book and make shit up. If you are mad at me because I point this out, and are mad at John because he points this out, why? Why are you angry with people like us who cling to truth, who go out of our way to make sure everything we share, from our own writing to other articles to memes to lists, are factual? Why not just do what John and David and Carol and Karen and Manny and Julian and Gretl and Quiet Mike and myself and so many other liberal writers do when we see something that makes our eyebrows go up a smidgen-research it? Five minutes would have told you the majority of people on that list have made no public statement about a boycott and the meme and quotes are false.

I won't lighten up. None of us should. We are the ones fighting the lies and the darkness of the right. When we do that and other liberals attack us and tell us we're wrong, it makes us wonder if we're fighting the right battle. If liberals start doing the same things as conservatives when it comes to disseminating facts, maybe those who see the bigger picture should turn away from the right and start wondering about the left.

UPDATE: I contacted Justin Timberlake's management group via email and received the following response:

"This is a false statement. Thank you for bringing to our attention."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Scottie Hughes and Context

Image of Scottie Hughes from Facebook

Prior to last Wednesday, I had never heard of Scottie Nell Hughes. Never seen her on television or online, never heard of her group The Tea Party News Network. I had no idea who she was. But on Wednesday, a video of her appearance on "Viewpoint" began showing up in my news feed. Friends posting were tagging the video with "Cannot believe she wants rape victims to go to prison," or "Tea Party leader wants rape victims in prison." Rape victims in prison? What? Shaking my head and thinking someone, somewhere missed a few details or misheard her comments, I found the segment on You Tube and watched all seven minutes.

No, she said it. At the five minute mark, John Fugelsang asks Ms. Hughes a hypothetical question: If Roe V Wade was overturned and abortion was made illegal, what should happen to a rape victim who is impregnated by her rapist and has an abortion? During the question, John correctly points out that if Roe V Wade is ever overturned, rich women will still be able to get a safe abortion while poor women will end up with someone like Kermit Gosnell.

Scottie Hughes asked if the abortion is "medically necessary." John responded no. Ms. Hughes asked if the woman told the doctor why she wants an abortion, and John answered yes. Scottie Nell Hughes then said the doctor, the rape victim and the rapist should all serve the same time in prison. Her exact words were "Across the board" and "Go for it."

I've watched that video three times. Once because I could not believe someone, especially a woman could say something like this. The second time to make sure I didn't miss something, because after posting on Ms. Hughes' Facebook page, she told me to watch the entire segment before I started "throwing any stones." After the second viewing, I emailed John Fugelsang and asked him if after the segment, Ms. Hughes had a brain blast, realized what she said and retracted it. I have not heard back from him, but my guess is, since she is standing by her statements on "Viewpoint," she did not.

The third time I watched it because after Ms. Hughes says that rape victims who get an abortion in the right wing Utopian world of every egg is sacred should be imprisoned, she states she believes in "grace." The two other women on the panel say off camera "Obviously not." But in Scottie Hughes' mind, she really does. Grace for six cells knocking together in some rape victim's uterus. Grace for herself, the "victim" of stone throwing.

I didn't lob one pebble at this woman. You know what I did? I used her own words against her, and I'm not allowed to do that. Other women have posted on her Facebook wall as well, including one woman who was kidnapped, tortured and raped. That victor (new word replacing survivor in my vocabulary) told Ms. Hughes that until she is raped, she has no right to speak for the rest of the victors. Ms. Hughes' first response to this amazing woman was asking if we can agree on common ground regarding making abortion illegal except in the cases of rape or incest. Which is not what she said on "Viewpoint."

She then went on to point out that less than 6% of rapes result in pregnancy, as if that's a teeny, tiny number and we shouldn't pay attention to those women at all. Oh, and by pointing out that women DO get pregnant from rape, we (pro-choice advocates) are manipulating victims and using them to "justify these women" who use abortion as birth control. You know, women who use the Planned Parenthood Abortionplex.

She ended with the piece de la resistance that all "pro-lifers" end with: adoption. Her exact words (again):

"The pain of rape is inflicted the second the action happens, why add to it the pain of murdering a life as well when there are couples who are suffering everyday from infertility."

Let's go over this one more time. On an adoption form, there is an entire section for information about the father. If you do not have information about the father because you were raped by a stranger or "roofied" and cannot remember your attack, what the bloody hell are you supposed to put on that form? Oh, I know, you're supposed to go through a private attorney, because so many people can afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to find a couple who doesn't mind that there is nothing to be known about the male portion of this pregnancy.

Ms. Hughes can use the word "context" until her perfectly glossed lips fall off, but we know exactly what she means. And she can backpedal and tell people like me that she has "grace," try and tell us we're not understanding what she meant and she's the victim. We know exactly what she meant because we hear it every single day. Ms. Hughes, I am very lucky. My rapist did not impregnate me. If he had I would have had an abortion. Because that would have been my choice.

If  Shelley, the woman who posted on Scottie Nell Hughes' page reads this, you are braver than I could ever be. To take what happened to you and use it to educate and draw attention to the hypocrisy people like Scottie Hughes spew is courageous and heroic. You are a true victor.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What is Moral?

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As many of you know, I write a weekly column for Quiet entitled "The Kitchen Sink." Over the past few weeks, two letters I wrote, one to a conservative man and one to a conservative woman have been published and received a fair amount of attention by both liberals and conservatives. As is my "way," I am less than subtle in both, and it has been suggested that I am being divisive.

I thought about that this morning. Divisive means that I am consciously trying to divide something; in this case perhaps liberals from conservatives. But I don't just write about conservatives. I've written quite a few pieces on the Democratic party, the far left and even my own fellow liberals that were less than flattering. The reason I write so often about conservatives is simply because that party is currently doing the most damage to America.

In order to appear fair, I guess I should write more often about the things the two parties have in common, and for that I turn to a TED talk. In 2008, psychologist Jonathan Haidt gave a speech in California about the differences and similarities between liberals and conservatives.

The talk begins with two male friends traveling through Italy. They come upon Michelangelo's "David," and are both frozen in their tracks. One man is amazed at the beauty of the statue while the other is embarrassed by the nakedness and genitalia. Dr. Haidt then asks his audience a rhetorical question-which man was more likely to have voted for Bush and which man was more likely to have voted for Gore? And he attributes this to a personality trait called Openness to Experience.

Dr. Haidt points to a quote from the main researcher on this trait, Robert McRae that reads:

"Open individuals have an affinity for liberal, progressive, left-wing political views, whereas closed individuals prefer conservative, traditional, right wing views."

Then Dr. Haidt asks the audience to raise their hands if they have liberal views (he's primarily focused on social issues), libertarian views or conservative views. The majority of hands go up for liberal, about two dozen for libertarian and maybe ten for conservative. Which poses a problem, Dr. Haidt responds, because when you surround yourself with like-minded people, you become a team and when you become a team, you close yourself off to other ideas and form what he calls a "moral matrix."

Along with another researcher Craig Joseph, Dr. Haidt began searching for the origins of morality. What do we have in common, what transcends right or left, open or closed? What is on the first draft of the moral mind? Haidt and Joseph found five things, and call them The Five Foundations of Morality. These foundations are Harm/Care, Fairness/Reciprocity, Ingroup/Loyalty, Authority/Respect and Purity/Sanctity.

It turns out that everyone places Harm/Care and Fairness/Reciprocity at the top of the list. Dr. Haidt shows results from questionnaires both in America and all over the world, and overwhelmingly, liberals and conservatives both rate Harm/Care and Fairness/Reciprocity as as extremely important. In fact, the graphs show liberals and conservatives rank very close to one another when it comes to caring for and protecting others.

When he looked at the results for the last three-Ingroup/Loyalty, Authority/Respect and Purity/Sanctity the results were a little more dramatic. Dr. Haidt's example is the purchase of a dog. You research the breed, you buy the dog and then you learn a little more about it: you discover the dog is independent-minded and sees its owner as a friend and equal. For liberals, that's great (he jokes that liberals say "Fetch, please") while conservatives prefer a dog who is "extremely loyal to its home and family and doesn't warm up quickly to strangers."

Dr. Haidt then goes on to use "The Garden of Earthly Delights," a triptych painted by Hieronymus Bosch to show why Ingroup/Loyalty, Authority/Respect and Purity/Sanctity are in fact part of the moral mind.

This is a fascinating TED talk, and I listened and watched intently, bookmarking it so I can go back and revisit it. My father accuses me and many of my friends of "stereotyping" conservatives, and perhaps we do. Maybe we're as guilty as they are when it comes to ad hominem attacks and generalizing. So what can we do? How do we non-politicians reach across our aisle? Liberals and conservatives see the world very differently, and over the past five years, the vitriol has become much more harsh, on both sides.

Watch Dr. Haidt's TED talk, via the link here and tell me what you think. How can we find common ground if no one is willing to listen? I know something I allegedly have in common with conservatives: if I were a dog person, I'd want the one who might rip out the throat of someone trying to harm my family, not the one who sees me as an equal. So, there's that.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Bachmann Diaries: Someone needs a spanking!

Image from Google

Dear Diary,

World Net Daily, my favorite online source for unbiased news about our Muslim Kenyan gay president, invited me to appear in a series of videotaped interviews because I am amazing. And I look good fabulous on camera. Did you know World Net Daily discovered a little boy who looks like a bat living under John Wayne's porch?

Oh my God, Marcus is driving me insane. He's never home. I know summers are very busy with all those Andrew Christian underwear models and I do think it's nice that Marcus found ex-HOMO Christian men to help him with his work, but it's like I don't even exist anymore. He was kind enough to leave me 4 pitchers of my special vitamin drink, which helps. I've had 8 glasses today. He told what's in them, but all I can remember is wheat grass and cognac. Which is French for calcium.

So, in my interviews I talk about all the illegal people living here on our taxes and how Obummer is going to wave his magic wand to make them all legal so they can vote for him in 2016. My mani-pedi gal, Chi-Wee tried to tell me that Obummer can't actually run for president again, but I set her straight! I reminded her of Thomas Dewey who was president for about 15 years.

THEN I said Obummer is wearing a costume under his clothes like Superman, except he's black and Muslim and when he rips his shirt off you know, he's pretty good looking for a communist. I saw this photo of him at the beach, and he only had on shorts and he had this super tight stomach and his hair was glistening in the sun and I sort of wished Marcus could look like that. Marcus never looked like that. Steve King probably looks like that, except whiter. And of course, Steve smells so good. I wonder what Obama smells like.

OH! We need to spank Obama. I need to spank Obama. I really want to spank Obama. Congress needs to spank Obama with a checkbook. What does that even mean. Did I SAY that? I should read the transcript. Oh spank him to get rid of his perpetual magic wand. That's sort of sexy. I wonder if I was trying to be sexy. Do I remember how to be sexy?

I'm so lonely.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Adrenachrome, Log Cabin Republicans and Conservative Jesus

Image from

In a moment of obvious weakness and exhaustion, my friend David made me an administrator for one of the most popular liberal pages on Facebook, I love it when I wake up in the morning and Barack Obama is President. As an admin, one of the many things I get to do is read the messages we receive on a daily, and in the case of Saturday, hourly basis.

We have no idea what happened Saturday. It was as if the Earth opened up and bored, angry conservatives poured out of a gaping chasm. All of a sudden, we were being inundated with messages from people who...well...hate us. And I mean hate. But in a super Christian kind of way you betcha.

This is not my first admin rodeo, but it is my first experience with this level of angst, poor grammar, epithets and TYPING ALL IN CAPS in a single message. Or many messages. If I didn't know better (and really, I don't), I'd wonder if this was just one seriously weird person.

One man, a Mr. Driver sent us two words: "Fucking joke." That was it. I realized he was playing Jeopardy, and tried to guess the question. I failed miserably. I know this because he told me so. Okay, not really, but he responded to my "What is a guy named *** who sends a sentence fragment as a message to one of the most popular liberal pages on Facebook" with this pithy reply:

"Log cabin republican here hates Obama."

At least he capitalized Obama, right? Another admin expressed their amazement at being a Republican and an alleged member of the LGBT community by pointing out to Mr. Driver that his own party hates him. To which, Mr. Driver typed:

"Not all of them at least they believe in God."

Err, but it's that twisted belief in a hateful deity that gives them permission to equate homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia, so what in the world? Admin One shared a little about The Christian Left and wondered why Mr. Driver wasn't more excited about DOMA being declared unconstitutional and Prop 8 being struck down. I jumped in with my usual tact, asking which Jesus he meant-the real dark skinned, liberal one who loved everyone or the conservative version, etc. David told me a few minutes later that Mr. Driver had written a "scathing" response to me. I hopped over, hoping for an eloquent, well-thought out paragraph or two, inviting a spirited debate. What I got was:

"Fuck you."

See, no. That's not how you play! So unfair.

We also had a charming woman named Shannon who kept promising to leave but came back again and again, prompting me to ask her if she was a masochist. To be honest, I thought Shannon was a man at first, simply because of her penchant for swearing (admittedly, I swear like a merchant marine given the chance, but never in Facebook messages to total strangers so that might be why oh never mind) and her extreme rage. Grrr. Shannon wanted us to know that all liberals are on welfare and none of us have jobs. Then she went to the place where one simply doesn't go; a place so dark and frightening, it chills me to the core. That's right, Shannon called us "libtards." I'm still crying.

But our personal favorite of the evening was Ryan. Ryan is a "very successful" married "Christian conservative" with "6 healthy children" (that poor woman) who has never ever used the federal government for anything. Zip. He doesn't drive on public roads, he doesn't have electricity, he has never called the police or the fire department or an ambulance; he lives on an island somewhere in Houston, Texas, completely self-sufficient. In Houston, Texas. Of course he does.

Ryan didn't really type all that, but he did claim to have never needed government. Which translates into everything I just wrote above. He's in the construction business, and as another brilliant admin pointed out, odds are Ryan has received loans, backed by the federal government. Ryan began his assault on our collective cerebellums with "You bunch of dang liberals!!!!!!!" Seven exclamation points means Ryan's serious, dang it. Ryan has not been back since Admin One explained about business loans.

Finally, we have Mr. Garrison who, with malice aforethought threw a bunch of angry squirrels at us then ran from the room. Mr. Garrison believes the abortion debate is really all about Adrenachrome. He claims there are judges, celebrities and other important people "making babies" in Simi Valley for magic/witchcraft/Satanism/flight spells (???) and using homeless people to harvest Adrenachrome. For more information on Adrenachrome, read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Or just Google it.

So that was our Saturday over on I love it when I wake up in the morning and Barack Obama is President. For some reason, I'm very tired. Probably need to go harvest some Adrenachrome from a baby homeless person.

Erick Erickson wants us to stock up on coat hangers

Erick Erickson, founder of Red State, one of the most vile conservative blogs online, celebrated the Texas senate's vote on HB 3 on his Twitter page with the following statement:

Image from Media Matters

That link takes you to Store Supply, an online warehouse for retail stores. They sell racks, shelves and coat hangers. Erick Erickson wants liberals to stock up on coat hangers because Mr. Erickson doesn't give a rat's ass about women.

Megyn Kelly, not one of my favorite people in the world, recently tore Erick Erickson a whole new sphincter after he said it's "natural" for women to stay home, raising children and how working women are "hurting our children, and it's going to have impact for generations to come."

Erick Erickson doesn't care about children anymore than any other self-professed "pro-lifer" cares about children. Erick Erickson doesn't even care about life, evidence above. Like every single other conservative in America (and the Taliban, thank you very much), all these yahoos care about is sex. Sex isn't for pleasure or fun, it's for procreation only and if you have sex outside those parameters, you're a slut and a whore and deserve to be shamed and insulted and demeaned. Men who have sex for pleasure and fun are just studs. Yeah.

Conservatives get very upset when people like me lump them all together. Well, here's a thought, conservatives: if you don't want the sane people in America thinking you're all nuttier than squirrel poo and/or hateful douchewaffles like Erick Erickson, perhaps it's time for you to tell people like Erick Erickson to shut the fuck up. I'd do it for you, but he'd just call me a "FemiNazi" and tell me to go buy a coat hanger.

Friday, July 12, 2013

What is white privilege?

Image from Fox

The first time I heard the term "white privilege," I was in my late twenties. I had no idea what it meant, I just knew how it sounded. Like I should feel privileged because I was white. And that made me angry. No one chooses their skin color, so why in the world should being white make you "special?"

Later on, with a little research, I realized what white privilege actually is. If you're white, you're born with it. You don't choose it, you may not even want it. Being white simply means the world treats you differently than it does people of color. This was driven home for me the night Trayvon Martin was murdered.

All over this country, African American mothers were having a discussion with their teenage sons I would never have with mine. I never have to tell my son he could be killed for WWB-Walking While Black. He doesn't have to lower the hood of his sweatshirt or drive under the speed limit in certain neighborhoods. He can hang out with a bunch of friends at the mall without security paying them more attention than usual. Women won't clutch their purses or lock their car doors when he walks down the sidewalk.

African American mothers looked at the murder of Trayvon Martin differently than white moms did. In their eyes, that could very well be their child dead on the cement. Walking home from the store on a rainy night got Trayvon Martin stalked, harassed and killed because he was a young black man in America. You don't hear of young white men being stalked, harassed and killed just for walking home on a rainy night.

White privilege means my son will never be targeted by a vigilante simply because of his color. White privilege means if he's ever caught with pot, he'll most likely get a slap on the wrist from a judge, rather than prison or juvenile hall. White privilege means if my son is driving a nice car in a white neighborhood, he probably won't get pulled over.

If Trayvon Martin had been white and George Zimmerman black, do you think Sean Hannity would have interviewed Zimmerman? Would there be millions of people, especially conservatives, defending what George Zimmerman did? Would right wing news groups, websites and blogs have written that Trayvon Martin was a "thug" and a "gangster" who may have smoked pot? Would any white person be defending George Zimmerman?

The jury in the George Zimmerman trial is considering what, if any punishment, Zimmerman should face. He claims self-defense. He had a gun, he ignored the 911 operator's instructions, he said "they" always get away and he profiled a teenage kid because of that kid's skin color. The fact that George Zimmerman is not facing life in prison is the ultimate proof of white privilege. Yes, I know he's half Hispanic, but in the words of every racist in the world: "He sure doesn't LOOK it." Which is what matters in Sanford, on television and all over this country. Trayvon Martin was most definitely African America, and for that, at least in many people's eyes, he deserved to die.

I will never know what it feels like to be black in America, nor will my son. Admitting that does not diminish my ability to grieve and cry at the loss of Trayvon Martin and the young black men who are beaten, killed and imprisoned every day. Admitting that does not mean I am proud to be white. I'm proud to be me, I chose to be the kind of person I am today. No one chooses their skin color.

Trayvon Martin would probably still be alive today if he'd been white. What the hell does that say about America?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rep. Jodie Laubenberg is pro-life, except when she isn't

Image from Sodahead

Texas Republican representative Jodie Laubenberg made national news a few weeks ago when she stated, in public, that rape kits were like abortions. For people with any sort of intelligence above that of a pine tree, we know that rape kits are in fact nothing like abortion, but Ms. Laubenberg never retracted her comment, never addressed the harm done to millions of women who have gone through the trauma of rape and never apologized.

You would think that this couldn't get any worse for Rep. Laubenberg, and you would be wrong. It turns out that Jodie Laubenberg isn't exactly "pro-life." Oh, she adores zygotes, but not all zygotes, as proven by a rather spirited debate captured on video from 2007.

In 2007, Rep. Laubenberg introduced an amendment to a bill that would change the eligibility requirement for pregnant women seeking state assistance under CHIP or the Children's Health Insurance Program. She became slightly miffed at Democratic representative Rafael Anchia after Rep. Anchia pointed out that Rep. Laubenberg was publicly "pro-life," but her amendment would knock tens of thousands of children off CHIP.  Ms. Laubenberg responded, yelling at Rep. Anchia that his numbers were "wrong," and her amendment would do no such thing. When Rep. Anchia asked if Rep. Laubenberg was aware these unborn children were American citizens, she responded "But they're not born yet."

They're not born yet. Jodie Laubenberg introduced the radical and dangerous anti-choice bill recently filibustered by Wendy Davis. This bill claims to be all about protecting women while in truth, the bill makes it much more difficult for women to receive a safe, timely and legal medical procedure. Because those zygotes that Rep. Laubenberg did not want having health insurance are now more important than an actual person.

I've been trying for two days to wrap my brain around this breathtaking hypocrisy. At first, I wondered if Jodie Laubenberg only believes wealthy zygotes deserve health insurance. It would seem that way, looking at her performance in 2007. But then why the 360 degree turn? Women from all socioeconomic backgrounds receive abortions, not just poor women.

The "pro-life" movement isn't about saving zygotes, it certainly isn't about helping actual, real, hungry and suffering children, it isn't about providing prenatal care to women who are pregnant, it's about sex. If you press a "pro-lifer" to explain their beliefs, really dig down to the core, you will eventually be talking about birth control. Remember the man who thinks the Pill is turning our bodies into graveyards? It's all about that. And if we dug just a wee bit further, we would discover that the majority of "pro-lifers"-pundits, politicians and constituents alike-are all fundamental Christians who subscribe to some version of Dominionism.

What Rep. Laubenberg and all the right wing politicians are trying to do has absolutely nothing to do with saving children. The proof is right here. Watch as Stuart Varney, the man who last year told Fox viewers that poor people aren't really poor because they have refrigerators, slams programs specifically designed to help and feed and care for American children. This whole thing, the entire "pro-life" movement isn't about life, it's about sluts and whores having sex out of wedlock. It's why most conservatives don't believe there's any such thing as rape. It's why Jodie Laubenberg can get away with (at least in her own party) equating a rape kit with an abortion. Women who aren't married at age eighteen, pregnant a year later and pregnant every year after that until menopause don't deserve rights. Rape doesn't exist; the only reasons a woman is ever raped is because she was dressed like a whore, drunk or she's making it up.

Once we see through the rhetoric of the "pro-life" movement (save the fetus, starve the child, execute the inmate, shame the woman), it's easier to combat their lies and manipulation. And that's all it is-rhetoric. Jodie Laubenberg's 2007 amendment and statements to Rep. Anchia make that glaringly obvious. They don't care about women or children. They never have.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

You'll still have one in the Rear

Image from Google

The magnificent teenager had all four wisdom teeth removed this morning. We were both rather nervous-him because he had spoken to friends who had suffered through this and heard seriously awful accounts of their pain and me because I'm his mom. Yes, he's almost sixteen years old and yes, he's eight inches taller than I am but when it comes to pain, he's still my baby.

The procedure took about an hour. We chose not to go with anesthesia, deciding on laughing gas, which worked just fine. When they let me into the room, my son was prone in the chair, his nose covered with an oxygen mask. He waved. His four teeth were on a piece of gauze and he told me in mumbles and grunts that he wished to take them home. We'll get those next Tuesday when he goes back in for his post-op check. I'm thrilled.

I was told to start the teenager on his pain medication as soon as he ate something at home. The plan was to get ahead of the pain that would come once the Novocaine wore off. That medication is Lortab. You know someone is in pain when you give them a measured dose of what amounts to Tylenol mixed with heroin and half an hour later, the patient says "Oh my God it hurts." Lortab obviously wasn't doing much, so I frantically Googled "Can you take ibuprofen with Lortab?" Yes, yes you can. Just not at the same time. 

Friends on Facebook were updated with his progress (whether they wanted to be or not, he's my only child, suck it up), and in the midst of my worrying, the always hilarious and gifted Kona Lowell, writer extraordinaire, penned a poem for my son. He was going to share a rather lengthy tale of passing a kidney stone, but I pretty much put a stop to that. When your head is on painfire, the last thing you need to read is how a man pissed a rock out of the end of his penis. And this is the poem:

Ode to a Teen in Minnesota with Holes in his Head

Although your head is full of holes,

like a vibrant garden trashed by moles
one day those holes will disappear
but you’ll still have one in the rear.

I know it seems unfair today
to suffer in this painful way
to eat mashed peas and chicken noodle
like an aged and epileptic poodle

But life goes on as you will see
And if you’re not as dumb as me
You’ll regain the wisdom that was tooth
And ask for Stoli’s, no vermouth.

I emailed the poem to the teenager...let me explain that. He's in the Man Cave aka the basement, and rather than run up and down the stairs just to ask him a question, we are communicating via the Internet. It's also difficult for him to speak. This does not explain the normal days when I am typing and suddenly receive a message from my child that reads "Can I have mac and cheese for lunch?" I usually respond "Of course you can, get yourself up to the kitchen and make it." 

What was I...right. The poem. He loved it. He's not sure what Stoli and vermouth are, but the line about still having a hole in the rear greatly appealed to his teenage sense of humor. Which confirms something I've wondered for some time: Kona is a teenage boy, not-so-cleverly disguised as an adult. 

Tomorrow we begin warm salt water rinses combined with a prescription rinse that tastes like antifreeze mixed with vodka. It kills everything in your mouth. It also clears up your sinuses and makes you cry, so this should be exciting. Three times a day. Holy Stoli.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Return of the Teenager

Image from Google

On June 27th, our son departed for California with his high school band. At 5:30 AM, kids, luggage, band uniforms and instruments were loaded onto two motor coaches and as we parents waved wearily, the 30-hour drive began. He let me hug him in public. I almost cried.

We had given this six-foot tall child two large plastic bags into which he was supposed to put his dirty laundry. I was confident that, after a long day, he would roll up socks, underwear, shirt, shorts and shove them into those bags. Oh HO, was I wrong.

The buses returned this morning around 12:30. Parents staggered from their cars and were immediately assaulted by bus fumes. The band members sorted luggage, grabbed carry-on bags, blankets and pillows, which were then handed rather unceremoniously to the parents. We then waited for the SUV pulling the instruments and uniforms to show up. And waited. And waited.

During that time, my husband carried the teenager's luggage to the car and I presume he went back to sleep for bit. My son and I chatted about all the places he'd visited and what he'd done while in southern California. He told me about a roller coaster at Disneyland that went from zero to fifty-five miles per hour in four seconds, how they didn't see any celebrities on Rodeo Drive, body surfing, Universal Studios and my hometown of San Diego.

Finally the SUV arrived, uniforms were found, instruments picked out of large piles, everything was turned in and we were on our way home. I told the teenager to just brush his teeth and go to bed-he could shower in the morning. My husband passed out, and I did the same a little after 1:30 AM. My last thought was "Please let the cat sleep in."

The cat did not sleep in and we were rudely awakened at 6:00. After throwing a pillow at her, we struggled to go back to sleep, but she was not going to let that happen. It was either feed her or lose a piece of furniture. FINE. No problem, I thought, I'll get a head start on the dirty laundry in the sports bag our son used as luggage.

Oh. My. God. Have you ever smelled rotting meat combined with very ripe Limburger cheese and onions that have been left in the sun for a week? See, he didn't use those plastic bags. He just dumped dirty laundry in the outer pockets of the bag, including all his wet stuff from the beach and hotel pools. Wet clothes, in the bottom of a bus, during a heat wave. Topped with flip-flops covered in sand. My husband commented it was Santa Monica sand and I growled at him.

It was during my second trip into the garage to empty the bag that I felt empathy for my mother. When I was a little older than our son, my parents sent me on Outward Bound. Three weeks in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota and southern Canada. No showers, no bathrooms (we had a drawing of poison oak and poison ivy as things to avoid when perched over a hole in the dirt), just angry teenagers and way too much nature. Upon my return, I also carried a huge bag filled with filth, and my mother had to do the same thing I just did: go through clothing that smelled like death.

One difference between the band trip and Outward Bound seems to be body dirt. Upon my de-busing and journey to the hotel room my parents had secured, my mom gave me a Buff Puff (a tear drop shaped piece of thick sandpaper we used to wash our faces with I'm serious) and a bar of Dial soap. I thought I was really tan, but after going through the entire bar of soap and destroying the Buff Puff, I realized no, that wasn't suntan that was dirt. Our son does not look quite that horrific.

He is still asleep, lucky little shit I LOVE HIM and the second load of laundry that smells like a dead ferret is in the washing machine. I am sucking down coffee, my husband is perky I LOVE HIM TOO and the cat is asleep, her belly full. There goes the dryer buzzer. Happy Sunday.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Are we really Liberals?

Image from Google

I met David Haberman when I first created my personal Facebook page. A fellow liberal with a caustic wit, a stubborn streak a mile long and an unwavering desire to help people, David and I clicked. But I noticed that in all of his photos of himself, he never smiled.

Last year, I asked him about that. "I have bad teeth," he replied. Bad teeth to me meant they might not be dazzling white or maybe he had spaces in between his teeth or receding gums. People always think something is horrible about their own appearance, and I figured David might be overstating his problem. I was wrong-he was understating it.

Millions of Americans do not have health or dental insurance. They've lost their job, they have a job (or more than one) but they cannot afford the premiums, or they're self employed. Families in this country go bankrupt because of catastrophic illness or injury. Yes, we hear conservatives demean the poor in America every day, stating that our poor aren't really poor because they have a refrigerator or an air conditioner. In America, I guess you're not poor unless you have lost everything and are living on some street corner.

David does not have insurance and he needs extensive and expensive work done on his teeth and gums. He cannot chew, he lives in constant pain and until recently, he had a major infection due to abscesses in his mouth. So David's friends began hounding him to start a fundraiser in order to help himself become well. After almost a year, David caved. He's raised a good amount of money, been able to visit a local dentist for antibiotics and a treatment plan and start the long journey toward health. There's a catch though, when you're paying cash for dental care-you have to pay up front. I know this because I've been without dental insurance and vividly remember handing a check over to a receptionist, hands shaking as I wondered how I would eat after it cleared.

What's interesting is the response to David's fundraiser by some people who claim to be liberal. He has been accused of lying, of being a scam artist and spending all the money he's raised on fixing his car, eating out and going to movies. Because people don't understand, have never been in this position, they are lashing out at David, attacking him on his personal Facebook page, on the website for his fundraiser and on his political page, I love it when I wake up in the morning and Barack Obama is President. And I mean attacking.

David dug in. Not only is he not taking down the fundraiser, he announced recently that the I love it when I wake up in the morning and Barack Obama is President page will be sharing other links to fundraisers. The response was mostly positive, but there were a few again self-professed liberals who flipped out. These folks became enraged that a page about liberal politics was-and these are their words, not mine-becoming a "place for people to beg for money," and somewhere "lazy" people can "scam" for funds.

A family about to lose their home because Dad got sick. A man living on the very edge of society because of an illness. Scammers and beggars. Do you have any idea what happens to your pride when you are forced to do things for money you never imagined you would do? I was forced to sell almost everything I own ten years ago in a pawn shop. In my wildest nightmares, I never thought I would have to do that. Eight hundred dollars for thousands and thousands of dollars worth of stuff. Including some of my grandmother's jewelry.

There's a saying, there but for the grace of God go I. Whether you believe in God or not, the message is true. If you are lucky enough not to get sick, not to be laid off, not to have your company cut your wages and benefits after ten years of employment, pay that forward. You don't have to spend money; you can donate time to a shelter (like my dad and step-mom), pick up a few extra canned goods at the grocery store (generic veggies are less than a buck a can) and take them to your local food bank, volunteer with Meals on Wheels, or even just bake cookies for a neighborhood retirement home.

Liberals are supposed to be more empathetic, less judgmental, kinder than the average person. We don't walk by the homeless veteran-we stop and talk to them, maybe get them a hot meal or a coat, find them somewhere to go. We don't abandon people because their luck ran out and ours didn't.

Below is the link to David's fundraiser. On the page is a video of his teeth. It hurts to watch; watch it anyway. This is not a scam, any more than the other fundraisers posted on I love it when I wake up in the  morning and Barack Obama is President are scams. These are people, good people, who have reached a place where pride just doesn't matter anymore. I hope you never get to that place.

Update: David raised enough money to get the work he so desperately needs, done. So thank you to everyone who didn't call him names and try to shame him. And now, David is paying it forward, much to the chagrin of "fans" over at I love it when I wake up in the morning and Barack Obama is President. We're sharing other fundraisers and oh my goodness, the hypocrites are out in force, including, oddly enough, a woman who is related to someone who uses the Internet to raise money almost every single week.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Always look on the bright side of life

Image from Google

Monday, my husband lost his job. The company he worked for decided they couldn't afford him anymore, and he walked through the back door of our house around 9:45 AM, looking shell shocked and carrying a manila envelope.

We've been through this before, in Vermont. For the same reason, after almost six years of service including traveling to another state during a strike and being called a "scab," my husband found himself unemployed. That was much worse. We owned a home (we're renting now), we had very little money (we're in better shape) and it was much more expensive to live in Burlington than it is to live here.

Our house sold after being on the market for 3 years, and we lost a fortune in the deal. We immediately took that money and invested it. As of last week, we have made a whopping $300. Whoo. But between that and our savings, we don't qualify for any sort of assistance with health insurance.

As a humorist, I try to find the funny in all things. Sometimes that's impossible. This situation begs for a little laughter, so here's a list (sorry, Chris Kluwe) of all the fun things associated with my husband being out of work.

1) He can help me clean the house, and since he's really tall, he can get the cobwebs out of the corners.

2) I have someone to play rummy with when I'm bored.

3) Sex.

4) No sex because our son doesn't have anything to do during the day. Shit.

5) When I begin to hyperventilate because I have no clue how to pay for insurance, he can get me a paper bag and pat my back, murmuring "It'll be okay, sweetie."

6) I can read all my articles to him as I write them. He'll LOVE that.

7) We can make up silly nicknames for each other oh we already did that we'll learn to say them in French.

8) When he's online in the living room and I'm online in my home office, we can Google chat.

9) I'll have him download Skype, then we can video conference from 50 feet away.

10) He can help me kill black flies with my shoes.

There it is. All the reasons this will be a fun and exciting adventure. Our marriage has weathered worse storms than this and we will prevail. Unless he won't download Skype, then we have a problem.

Thanks, Deb for the reminder.