Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Upsetting times on a worldwide scale

I don't know if I am over-empathizing or it's the season or the knowledge that in a few days we will begin the long trek back to Oregon, but two nights ago I woke up worrying and feeling highly stressed. It was at least an hour and a half before I went back to sleep and that after taking an anti-anxiety med. 

My problem is if I stay informed, I know about so much that I cannot impact. The latest horror for me was the Sydney lone wolf terrorist. Anybody can walk into a coffee shop in a nice district. How do you protect yourself or your loved ones from those who have failed at their lives, grown violent, and want to make a name for themselves? You cannot is the simple answer.

Then waking up this morning to learn of the horror that befell another school-- this time in Pakistan. Children beheaded, a teacher burned alive in front of them-- all because the children were getting an education. There is no doubt that education is the evil to those of radical persuasions and it's not just Muslims.  

Muslims are afraid they will be blamed for what these extremists do. Except are these Muslims speaking out against the atrocities? Are they afraid? Do some secretly think it's okay or even good? When we don't speak out against clearly evil deeds, are we not in some ways part of the problem? How do we speak out if we aren't informed? See how it's a Catch-22?

The question I have is should I quit being informed? Do I need to know about the marches against the police in our country which are claiming blacks are being unfairly murdered in the supposed line of duty? Do I need to know about the big storms in California and Indonesia (that one leading to more deaths by mud slides)? Do I need to know about Bill Cosby's latest accuser? How about the senseless murders of family members when a woman wants to leave her husband or boyfriend? How about that the Senate and House agreed to trade land, that is considered sacred to the Apache, to a foreign company (Australian this time) for more copper mining? This one gets me about like the XL pipeline-- where the chickens have come home to roost and we are the new third world country where other nations profit from our resources.

I am a fast reader and absorb a lot of information-- some because as a writer, it's good to understand human nature. Except I am not sure that I want to understand human nature right now. Can I bear what it is like in too many cases? Like that 51% of Americans approve of the torture that Bush and Cheney did during their time in power. 58% think it kept us safer. 

Mark Twain said it well, 'It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.'

Worse, those who have believed a lie get mad at the one who tries to explain actual facts. They have the truth they want and Rush told them it was true. 

So here we are in this country defending torture when our ex-President has to avoid traveling overseas as he could be arrested. Keep in mind being the leader of a country that breaks international laws can end up in court-- thinking back to WWII...

I got a surprise when I read about Barbra Walters  interviewing one of the Koch brothers and he said he was a social liberal but a fiscal conservative. Hence he supports all fiscal conservatives but he doesn't let their social views enter into it. He then favors freedom of choice on abortion but will be giving money to someone who supports personhood that would criminalize abortion. He has let one of his set of values overrule the others-- and it's about what's good for him. I tend to often support people also where I don't agree with all their values but it's based on what I believe is fair whether it impacts my life or not. Should we only vote our own self-interests? Back to-- should we be informed?

For a long time I have wondered who we are as a people? I don't think the answer is clear but it is getting closer to seeing something a lot of us would rather deny about a large percentage of this country. I am sure the same experience happened in Germany as the Nazis slowly took over. The water gets hotter and hotter and you don't realize you are being cooked until it's too late.

The problem is we just don't know who is behind what is happening but we do know it's not hard to fool people when you flatter them along the way.

Friday, December 12, 2014


With the poison pill to enrich Wall Street farther, as a bribe to keep the country funded-- you know to pay bills that were already accrued-- we are seeing the first results of Americans handing over the reins of power to the right. 

Some has been showing up for a few years when the House was given to the right. First was blocking any action on problems. Then were bills to benefit the wealthy or to end health care insurance for those too poor to afford it. Some was outright okaying of theft. 

Others were ignoring of environmental concerns by those who don't believe there is such a thing as global climate change-- or if there is, it wasn't them. Bad air and water? Whoever heard of that!

And thus it will go as apparently the American people, those who hate the very idea of health care for all but approve torture for some, want this. Who are we? Seriously-- who are we? Don't bother saying a Christian nation. That is just a bad joke and it's not funny any more.

And then, there is

Who is defending Dick Cheney or torture? I have heard them out there online trying to say well ISIS is worse. Probably but what leads to an ISIS? And even if none of this despicable torture did influence people to join ISIS, does one evil justify another? I can steal because someone else steals more? We know that's not true-- or have we lost all sense of values?

Monday, December 01, 2014

finding truth in difficult areas

I have either a stomach virus or more likely food poisoning based on eating out as it came on me last night. I can think if a possible source. Either case, it's miserable. 

But I was skimming around the net especially for something relating to race relationships in this country. This article is worth looking at and taking the time to watch the video, which makes the case that it might not have been protesters or looters who set those fires the day after the grand jury came to its decision...

Before you say no way, just think about it. It's not as though we don't know there are those who would do such things. Watch the video and think about how doing it could have served some people's purposes. 

Figuring out any of these things is more complicated than just forming an instant opinion. It reminds me of the OJ Simpson trial where I thought he most likely murdered his ex-wife but also was framed by the police. One truth doesn't automatically make another not true. It takes thinking and sometimes time to sort things out-- if they can ever be.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

wading in when a smart person would not...

Here's the thing. I am a moderate who leans liberal on a lot of issues. I know that what I am about to say is not popular with liberals. But...

I can see how it's possible that Ferguson has a problem with police who jump blacks aggressively and still how what happened to Brown was not something for which the officer should have been indicted. 

If the reason Ferguson has so many arrests of blacks for traffic infractions is because the police stop a black differently than a white, that's different than if it's because the blacks have an arrogance that leads them to purpose to break laws because they feel the system is stacked against them. Do they feel that way because it is? Or do they feel that way because they have leaders and media who tell them that it is?

If I had been on the Trayvon Martin murder jury, based on all I have read of the evidence, I'd have found that shooter guilty of murder in the second degree at the least. I doubt he started out that night thinking he was going to murder someone, but he was aggressive, looking for trouble and had NO reason to stop the young man. Wearing a hoodie and walking at night does not qualify as a reason.

But Michael Brown is different. He had committed a robbery of a $50 box of cigars. He had manhandled a clerk, all on videotape. He was in a very aggressive mood as is seen by that tape.

What made these two young men then walk down the middle of the street? Who feels they have a right to walk down the middle of a street? I will tell you what I think when I see someone doing that-- they are on drugs or they are looking to be aggressive. As a citizen, I avoid them. Officers don't have that option. They are there to keep the law. 

When this officer heard on his radio that there had been a robbery and he knew these two young men were carrying something, he had a duty to stop them to find if they were connected to the robbery. His job was not to look the other way. 

According to his testimony and what others saw with Brown reaching into into the patrol car, the young man was as aggressive as he had been earlier. I wonder if they drug tested him as it seems as though something else was going on for how he was acting or was he just growing into the strength he had as a man and was no 'gentle giant' as his family claimed. Gentle maybe with them but not with anyone where he could use his size to gain power.

Nobody will know if that officer felt he had an option and shot Brown anyway. He does have his testimony out there -- testimony the grand jury heard. He said he told the youth to stop and to get on the ground. It's what I'd have expected an officer to say based on films I have seen of arrests. If Brown had done that, there'd have been no dead man but he likely would have gone to prison. When he walked toward the officer, hands in the air or not (and autopsy results that I read said that is up for debate), he was being aggressive again. If he got close to him, he could have killed him given his size, mood and strength. He had a deadly weapon with him-- himself. 

White or black, a police officer will react when you don't obey their orders.

What it sounds to me like is the Ferguson area needs an outside investigation of what's been going on. As someone who does not live there, who does not know those people, but who has had black friends (some I still consider friends whenever we meet), I feel this has been encouraged to blow up by black leaders who have instilled a sense of abuse in the community and a media, greedy for a story like this. It's why I kept my tv off last night. I didn't want to give them ratings for what they had worked to manipulate for even bigger stories-- and boy did they manipulate.

What gets me, as a law abiding citizen was the reaction of some in the black community. They were apparently just waiting for an excuse to loot, burn buildings and police cars. Those who did this look like the worst of Brown's behavior. They were waiting eagerly for a chance to do what they did. Who will it hurt? Them and the small businesses who used to serve them with jobs. Anyone who defends that response as being justified is part of the problem. I even saw headlines today saying that the system should be indicted where the Grand Jury didn't indict. So let's stoke these flames higher...

I would not want to be a police officer in today's mood as they are being randomly attacked and not just by blacks but by anyone with a grudge against the system. They are out there as the blue line who walk into danger when the rest of us run off. Yes, there are those who do abuse their power. Some of it happens when they are afraid, as humans they can be hurt and killed just like anybody. Some may be bullies. The media right now is full of stories where they seem to have been too quick to shoot-- okay, indict that system but not the Grand Jury in Ferguson. 

With all the pressure they were under, I think they were couragous to come to the decision they did. If this had gone to trial, mob justice would have still demanded a guilty verdict or the looting and burning would be waiting. This is being fueled by those who don't know what it's like to face what officers do on a daily basis. The reaction now will be fueled by those who profit from violence even when they do not personally act violently.

So I hope there is a look at Ferguson from outside to see if the police have been abusing their power. But it should also look at the community to see if it is causing some of the reaction. Do they teach their kids to live by the laws, get an education, react politely, or do they make excuses for any misbehavior and blame it on the 'other'? 

We can all look at ourselves to see what we are doing might be part of the problem of growing violence-- whatever the cause is race, religion, or ethnicity. When we excuse one kind of violence and make a big deal of another kind, we aren't helping. Peaceful demonstrations make a point. Burning buildings does also. They don't lead to the same conclusion. 

We either are a nation of laws or we are not. When the laws are being abused, we need to request outside investigation but when we burn our buildings and destroy the very system that is serving us, where will that end? Anarchy doesn't serve anyone. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

delisting the grizzly bear

One big difference between Americans comes down to the environment. Righties often don't accept the reality of global warming and they don't like any endangered species act. The more extreme right sees it as a communist plot intended to take down the economy. People like me, more in the middle, see it as sometimes misused but in general important as nature is a balance-- lose the balance and uh oh. Of course, to the vast middle of America, it is not a factor in anything that they care about.

 Yellowstone grizzly that was digging for grubs (we think)
Most Americans today have never seen a grizzly bear in the wild. There are only a few places in our country where it would be possible. Some who have seen a grizzly died in the process; but most, like myself, found it to be a thrill that they never forgot-- while still understanding it's potentially dangerous business to roam their lands with them (however, a lot more people are killed by buffalo).

It's hard for me to believe anybody is into trophy hunting, which is what the article is about (actually, global warming and trophy hunting). I can relate to owning guns, killing an animal for food, but for a trophy... I just can't understand the appeal. I also could never have respect for someone who was into that-- not that they'd care.

Some hunt bear for the meat and that's a different thing that the trophy hunter. I have eaten bear meat. A neighbor of ours killed one and gave us some of the meat. I don't remember it as so delicious I'd want to repeat it-- but it was not inedible either.

I grew up in black bear country, the Washington Cascades, right on the edge of wilderness. I knew they lived nearby as when we'd go back to pick the summer's plums, we'd see their scratch marks on the trees as they shook down plums. We always made lots of noise to alert them humans were coming. My mother told of how she was walking to the back to bring home the milk cow and she saw an eagle, watched the eagle soar and then dive and only then see that she was being observed by a black bear. It ran off. Mostly black bears do although they can also kill humans if someone comes on them unexpectedly.

My husband was deer hunting in the Coast Range, back when we were a young family. He came upon a female bear who was as surprised as he was as she rose up on her hind legs and roared at him. Only then did he see the cub in the ferns. They ran off and he relaxed as he took his finger off the trigger of his 30-06. He didn't want to kill her and she didn't want to kill him.

Our little ranch is in black bear range. They have woofed at us from the brush to let us know they did not like us being there. They are why we carry a revolver on walks. They are why I quit carrying my little .38 on my hip and turned to the .357 with more stopping power. I always figured if a bear showed up in an aggressive mode, that maybe one shot to make a big noise would be the first but then I'd have to hope I made the second one good if the bear didn't take the hint. Bear spray apparently is not effective with black bears-- not sure of the why. My point in adding this is I am not someone who says animals never need to be killed. Raising sheep and cattle, I am well aware sometimes it has to be done. But for a trophy???

My experiences with grizzly bears come only from visiting where they live. The above photo is in western Montana. We were driving a gravel road when I decided I needed to use the bushes. We found a place that seemed good and I got out only to see a steaming pile of scat-- very big scat. I decided I could hold it and went back to the van. He took a look at it and said, yep, grizzly. That bear didn't want to see us anymore than we wanted to see it.

I've seen them several times in Yellowstone where they have less reason to be afraid of humans. It's always a thrill but I treat them with respect, always carry bear spray when walking trails, don't walk alone, don't try to approach too close when seeing one, avoid any appearance of aggression, and take a lot of photos when I get the chance. I also want them to stay protected because it is important that someplace in this country stays wild. It's what separates me from many righties...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

so soon? Another rant so soon? How can it be!

A rant again so soon? So it appears and I am putting it here to stay out of trouble in Facebook where the post that inspired it led to writing this before I decided posting it here was wiser. It is down to the same thing as the last rant. How can right and left see things so differently? Is it location? Astrology? Parenting? What can it be?

After yesterday listening to Rush Limbaugh feed the flames of hate and resentment on his talk radio program, it's hard to not speak my mind-- okay, impossible. Amazing how so many who claim never to listen to him parrot what he says. Yesterday he was in total glee over the story of Jonathan Gruber and comments he made last year but which only recently showed up online-- just in time for the Supremes to do what they can to gut ACA.

Gruber is not denying he said Americans were stupid. He said he misspoke but he didn't deny he thought it because he most likely did. Humans so often look for the short term and not the long term. I think though ignorant is a better word-- often a chosen ignorance. What he said is nothing I have not heard right wingers say about Americans every time they vote in a way that to them seems wrong. 

The place I nearly put this on Facebook claimed Gruber is a liberal leader. Give me a break. Only policy wonks had probably ever heard of him. I had not. He has not been elected to anything. He was though instrumental in the design of the ACA because it followed the bill he also designed (or helped design) for Romney in Massachusetts. And pretty much the approach Dole had earlier when he took on this problem of the working poor who cannot afford health care, can't qualify for Medicaid, and become ill or injured. As well as the issue of rising health care costs which are making even those with insurance having a tough time paying (more on insurance below).

I get it that Limbaugh and his dittoheads are making this about Gruber and him saying Americans had to be lied to or they'd not have gone for it. As Forbes said, ACA transfers money from the young to the old. That, of course, is not quite true since the truly old are on Medicare. It transfers money from the young, who are betting they won't have an accident or get sick, to the middle aged who are more likely to have illnesses. It forces people to buy insurance as a way to avoid ER visits and those who will have to have everybody else cover their accident-- or die.

What I think righties miss is that lefties didn't want it this way either. It protects the profits of insurance companies, who have been very profitable middlemen who actually contribute nothing to real health care but only take money from the system. We can look at countries with basically Medicare for all and see how their costs are much lower for the same treatments.

Calling Gruber a liberal leader is a stretch. He's a professor. He has not been elected to anything. To call him arrogant (which he probably is) as though that explains all Democrats is a bigger stretch. The shock is that he admitted he lied. No rightie ever admits that to get elected. Compassionate Conservative anyone? No plans to attack Iraq? How about ignore my personal beliefs about personhood or marriage amendment as they won't impact my governing? Etc. etc.

In my opinion, one of Obama’s big mistakes was to make profiting insurance corporations an important part of ACA; but if he had gone for Medicare for all, probably the blue dog dems (who might mostly be gone by now) wouldn’t have voted for it. I admit I am getting some satisfaction out of seeing those dems go down, who ran denying they supported ACA (even if they had), who tried to pretend they don't know Obama. Run as who you are, damnitall, but then Repub don't do that either... back to the ignorant or stupid issue again...  

Yes, it is possible that a non-story could lead to gutting ACA and destroying health coverage for the working poor-- you know the people who didn't bother to vote. The Supreme Court could do it. The fact, that the Congress is totally in the hands of those who only want to protect the wealthy, could do it. One man could obliterate health care for all. Of course, it's not one man-- well, maybe it is. It's not the egotistical Gruber though who didn't know when to shut up and loved to talk too much. Nah, it's another talker.

Yesterday Limbaugh, in once again trying to incite his base, repeated all the things I get accused of whenever I speak my mind, you know me, the ‘low information voter,’ when I am not being called a liar or destroyer.  Feeding these kinds of stories and making them seem huge is what he does and why he gets paid the big bucks. For those who say they don't listen to him-- they are getting his talking points somewhere. 

This story is not one to anybody but a rightie, who evidently find themselves shocked to find out the other side lies, when they know their own never do. Wait, it was that they admitted they lied that was the shock. I can see why they'd be so amazed since their own politicians are above lying about anything to get their bills passed... 

And none of this was about what anybody should do about any real problem. That’s the usual game—avoid what to do--and just attack. I'll respect a rightie leader when they address this, but they won't. Insurance corporations, big hospitals, and pharmaceutical corps donate way too much money to their campaigns-- both sides!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

logic or not

Can the right and left politically have real conversations? I am not sure it's possible even as I try every so often. I think those in the middle, but leaning one way or the other, can but the actual left or right-- with each other-- over issues? I am not so sure about that. 

Here is one of those issues-- gun control. I am the owner of guns--revolvers, rifles and shotguns. In my home are usually loaded guns except when grandchildren are visiting. I also have a gun safe for when I am not going to be there for an extended period of time. 

My guns are both for protection of the livestock but also of myself. The loaded handgun in the house is not meant for a coyote-- at least not the furry type. 

I took a class to enable myself to get a concealed weapon permit though I rarely carry a gun anywhere away from my own property. I don't think I am paranoid about the reason for a gun even as I know my left wing friends would say that I am. To them, you do not need a gun for protection from criminals. When I say I have them to an extreme leftie, I am regarded as not quite right in the head.

On the other hand, to talk about gun control and regulating gun ownership to a rightie, is to be insulted and accused of many things-- none of which are pretty. To them everyone should have the right to own guns and not just ordinary guns but extended magazines and assault rifles as who knows when the government is going to misbehave and they will have to fight off the military. Candidates even get elected to the House and Senate, who say such things.

Conversations between rightie and leftie, sticking to the issue, are about impossible to have, of course, are not just on gun control. It's just on my mind after reading this article.

This is not okay. Is it? I mean who defends this and hence owning guns for those who would use them so irresponsibly? I know the answer-- NRA and extreme righties. On the other hand, who would extend this to taking away ALL guns (which can't be done as only some would turn in their weapons)? Ask me; I know that answer too.

Can left and right really talk about any of these hot button issues? Not in my experience and believe me I have tried to discuss them sticking to the issues and not getting insulting. Logic is only rarely used with facts. It's all emotion.

I read yesterday that 47% of Americans want the country to be governed by the Republican agenda and only 32% by Obama's with some undecideds or don't care. While a recent poll said Republicans in Congress are regarded as failed by all but 14% of Americans. Does any of that make sense???