Thursday, February 25, 2010

A dictionary in every Congressperson's desk would go a long way ...

This is, perhaps, the best segment I've ever seen on Rachel Maddow's show, and because I believe it needs to be seen and spread far and wide, I'm linking you to it here and hoping you'll pass it on:

This is the message Democrats should have been pressing since day one of this administration, not the namby-pamby begging for bipartisanship or the waffling while awaiting the latest polling results. And it's fucking criminal that the one man willing to stand up and speak the truth was shut out of the healthcare "summit."

Yes, it's true that a large percentage of the American people are not in favor of the current healthcare reform bill(s) being put forth in Congress, but not for the reasons the Republicans claim. We are not in favor because the crumbs the current bill(s) are likely to throw at us are piddling and pathetic. We are not in favor, not because it goes too far, but because it doesn't go far enough by a long shot. We are not in favor because it's not in our best interest to continue to be screwed by for-profit insurers.

It's a sad fucking state of affairs when I'm better off being uninsured than being insured. I should kiss someone at Blue Cross/Blue Shield for denying me coverage. Who knew what a blessing that would turn out to be? I'm ahead of the game by a lot. It cost me exactly the same amount to be uninsured this year as it did last year, and no greedy corporate bastard got paid a million dollars, took home a big bonus or went on a spa vacation on my dime.

And about that socialism crap? We are a society.

This is a definition of society - a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests.

This is the definition of Socialism - a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

Every phrase that contains the root "social" is not Socialism. Social programs protect the members of a society who need protection. This is one reason we don't put our old people on ice floes and no longer throw our mentally ill into prisons and hell-holes. A civilized society doesn't live by the "kill or be killed" law of the wild. It is not "socialism" to live as a goddamned civilized society.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Just Stop It!

Two things are stuck in my craw today ... lucky you!


In the wake of Andrew Stack's suicide bombing of the IRS building in Austin, TX, I want to address those of you who hate the IRS with a passion. According to the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration,

"In the past four years, there appears to have been a "steady, upward trend" in the number of threats against IRS employees."

Just stop it.

I was speaking to one of those employees in that same Austin office just hours before Mr. Stack tried to murder him, and he was a very nice man. In fact, I've dealt with employees of the IRS on a few occasions when they could have been exactly the assholes they're purported to be, and have never had an IRS employee be anything but helpful, cordial and soft-spoken, even when I owed them money. Especially then, actually.

Let's remember what our taxes pay for. In addition to funding things we might disagree with, like wars and corporate bail-outs, our tax dollars also provide roads, bridges, public schools, social services, breathable air, untainted food, drinkable water, scientific and medical research and a whole lot of other things that make our lives better. If we weren't forced to pay for those things, would you voluntarily sit down and write checks to the Social Security Administration or the Food and Drug Administration or the Department of Transportation? Yeah, me neither.

Next, let's remember that IRS employees are employees. They don't make the tax laws, they just do their jobs, and they do them with a lot more compassion and better customer service skills than your average tech desk help person or doctor's office appointment clerk. If you want to fly a plane into a building full of the people who are really responsible for the unfair and egregious tax laws in this country, fly it into the US Capitol. Try to hit the Republican side of the aisle.

Next subject: Down Syndrome

I understand that supporters of Sarah Palin are now posting all over the Intertubez that Andrea Friedman, the professional actor who lent her voice to the "Family Guy" episode presently giving Caribou Barbie fits, could not possibly have a) written the e-mail in which she defended her performance, or b) even understood what her father got her to do, because she has Down Syndrome herself. If you clicked that "Andrea Friedman" link (and if you didn't, please do) it's clear that Ms. Friedman has accomplished more in her life than I have, certainly, and (I'm guessing) more than most anyone who will ever read this blog. People with Down Syndrome are not incapable of expressing themselves in e-mail or making decisions about their lives. They are not props and they are not pets and they are not here for you to exploit.

Just stop it.

I'm Sofa King tired of hearing Sarah Palin talk about her poor, pitiful, handicapped child and what a wonderful mother she is for having him (however she got him, which is a question still unanswered). I'm tired of her illogical off-again on-again band-wagon jumping over words like "retarded," and I'm tired of her petulant whining and her pedantic lecturing when she hasn't done the very first thing that parents of children who successfully deal with the challenges of Down Syndrome do ... parent them. That's their special need ... attentive, encouraging and hands-on parenting.

I'm tired of watching her use all of her children, and especially Trig, for political gain -- and tired of hearing her supporters anoint her with sainthood and buy into the notion that she is any kind of expert on the subject of special needs children, since she has never demonstrated any desire or willingness to find anyone special besides herself or to put anyones needs ahead of her own. She's as full of crap as a Thanksgiving goose and you're stoopid if you're falling for her schtick.

I'd like to dedicate the rest of this post to a woman named Missy. She's a personal hero to me -- a successful young woman and a very talented artist who has had her work published on calendars and greeting cards, and, like Andrea Friedman, she happens to have Down Syndrome.

I met Missy when she was a patient in our office about 15 years ago. She was a young teenager at the time and came to us to undergo a Dacryocystorhinostomy to correct an anatomical abnormality with her tear ducts. At that time it was a painful surgery with a lengthy recovery that I've seen bring strong adults to their knees, but Missy was already a veteran of several surgeries to correct her facial abnormalities and improve her quality of life, and she was determined to be tough about it and not complain. Even though she was often scared, she sat stoically in an exam chair gripping my hand tightly, and tolerated whatever we had to do, including the removal of her sutures and the tubing in her nose and tear ducts. No matter how much we'd put her through on her visits she always went around the office and hugged each of us hello and good-bye, and she always had a story to tell us about some wonderful thing that had happened to her lately. Her greatest thrill was becoming Cher's pen-pal and receiving hand-written notes and letters, autographed photos and backstage passes to one of her shows. She was special in many ways, but most of all she was special because of her wonderful attitude about life and the joy she brought to the lives of others.

Missy had attended mainstream public schools since Kindergarten and was about to graduate from Junior High when she came into my life. She didn't get there by herself, though. Her mother had given up her own career to be a full-time parent and advocate for Missy when she was born, and by the time Missy was a teenager her mother was also working long hours volunteering for the MARC Center (that's the Mesa Association for Retarded Citizens).

So, Sarah, until you are even half (oh hell, a quarter) of the mother that the Missys and the Andrea Friedmans and the Chris Burkes of this world have been blessed with, just shut your selfish mouth and stop it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Get It

The guy who flew into the IRS building in Austin, Texas? I get that. And really, it's two birds with one stone: the IRS and Texas.

But mostly it sounds like he was a fairly normal guy who collapsed under the relentless onslaught of financial pressure. As crazy mass murderers go, he makes a lot better sense than Dr. Amy Bishop.

Here's an excerpt from Joe Stack's manifesto:

In my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.
Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

Honestly...except for the arson and terrorism part, he makes a valid point. The system is rigged against people like us. Joe Stack isn't a martyr, but he sure seems like a fairly normal person pushed beyond his limits. It's too bad he chose this way to make his voice heard.

Our Families Count »

It's census time. Let's make sure we all fill out the form and be as clear as possible about our relationships. The Feds say we'll have an actual GLBT box on the 2020 census, but in the meantime, we're "unmarried partners."

Our Families Count »

Scooterbitches in the 'Ro

It's been 20 degrees out for weeks. Snowy, overcast, and gloomy. The daytime part of the day lasts about 15 minutes. So what is the best solution for the winter blues? A scooter!

And really, nothing says cool like riding a scooter around town in an alpaca hat with earflaps.

A scooter is a lifeboat to cling to when you're drowning in a sea of endless winter. Scooters promise sunshine, picnics, and tank tops.

And if summer doesn't get here pretty soon, I'm heading for Central America on my scooter. At 35 mph. With my scooterbitch riding shotgun.

Central America, start watching for me. I'm coming from The 'Ro and I ought to be there in about three weeks, weather permitting.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I heard this on The Splendid Table on NPR last week. I'm not really much of a poetry person, but when Elizabeth Alexander was reading her poem Butter aloud, it was so evocative that it has stayed in my head for days.

Since I've made reference to it in various conversations probably 10 times in the last week, I thought I'd post it here for anyone to admire. Don't sue me, Ms. Alexander. I steal because I love.

Butter by Elizabeth Alexander

My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped sweet potatoes, with pineapple,
butter melted and curdy to pour
over pancakes, butter licked off the plate
with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture
the good old days I am grinning greasy
with my brother, having watched the tiger
chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite
historical revision, despite
our parent’s efforts, glowing from the inside
out, one hundred megawatts of butter.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

We were just this morning revisiting the moral outrage we confront annually -- owing to the fact that we can't combine our salaries and file a joint tax return instead of each having to file our returns as "single" (especially since none of the shiny new "middle class tax breaks" will effect either of us, what with having grown children and no elder care to worry about) -- and discussing what we'll do about the new tax debt we will be adding to our ongoing tax debt come April 15th, and we came to the conclusion that, depsite the IRS' generous offer to accept our checks in the amount of the total owed, we have no choice but to tell them to keep on taking those auto-debits out of our twin (unmarried) checking accounts into our dotage. So it was with some consternation that I read the following statement by GOP Chairman, Michael Steele in the Boston Herald:

Steele panned President Barack Obama’s long-stated plan to let income tax rates return to higher levels for families making more than $250,000 a year.

"Trust me, after taxes, a million dollars is not a lot of money," Steele said.

Trust me, you arrogant disconnected prick, after taxes, student loan repayments, household expenses, exorbitant gas prices, car repairs to keep the clunkers running, the occasional grocery item and the annual additional tax screwage on April 15th, neither is the average American income, which falls way the hell short of $250,000. What country are YOU living in??

The city of Colorado Springs is about to resemble something out of Mad Max film, the mayor of Los Angeles just ordered that 1,000 random city employees be sent to join the 15.3 million other Americans standing in the unemployment line and Michael Steele doesn't think being paid a million bucks to be an obtuse asshole is a lot of money. Wev. Take back the country, teabaggers. It's already fucked up beyond redemption.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Outside. A Love Story

Outside, I can see you though my window.

You're taunting me with your sunshine, setting me up for the next disappointment with your secret plan for rain or snow, or rain mixed with snow, or sleet mixed with freezing rain and snow.

I watch you, Outside. Furtively, like a stalker. Someday I will possess you, and I will make you love me as I love you. I will make you yearn for my lawn mower, for my sack of bulbs and my spade.

Soon, my beloved Outside...soon. Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks until we can be together, and then I will hold you tightly to my bosom until you are lost to me again in November.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Kindle? iPad? Wev.

I've had an Amazon Kindle on my "someday" list for the last couple of years. It seems like it would be convenient and very cool, and as a person who always has two or three books going at once, it would be nice to not have to decide which one to grab on the way out the door. With a Kindle I'd be able to grab all three and then some.

Conversely, I have had no interest in an iPad. I have a visceral dislike of all things Apple...too cool, trendy, statementy, showy-offy. I like my technology to be cumbersome, stodgy and reflects my personality better.

So imagine my dismay to read that Amazon is feuding with publishers and removing their titles from the list of Kindle selections while Apple is actively courting publishers and attempting to establish a solid foothold in the e-reader business.

Apple is hoping to topple the Kindle from the top spot and establish themselves as an equally viable e-reader option. But you know how it is with technology...they'll never be able to coexist. As a matter of convenience one format eventually becomes the standard and their rivals all fade away. And during this process potential customers like me will sit on our hands (and wallets) and watch the battle to see which format will eventually dominate. Because there's nothing more frustrating than spending $350 for cool new technology that is immediately obsolete.

This is like the Betamax vs. VCR battle, or the thing with the Blu-Ray and whoever. Or Godzilla and Mothra. It's an epic battle for the soul of the consumer (or in the case of Godzilla, the planet). But lately I've been reading about Amazon's ruthless marketing strategy, which incidentally screws the authors and publishers while trying to suck up new customers, and Apple's absurdly overhyped MaxiPad, which is apparently a larger version of an iPhone but with no telephony. I'm stuck once again in the same place I find myself  with regard to the major political parties: I'm a little jaded about both my options.  I feel like Apple and Amazon and their cadre of advertisers are hoping to manipulate and/or swindle me by waving shiny twirling objects in front of my eyes. Instead, I'm inclined to walk away from the whole mess and let them work it out without me.

I guess I'll stick with paper-and-ink books for a couple more years. By then they ought to have it sorted out.