and she’s back…

Okay, so I’ve tried hard to remain unlabeled politically – I was a lifelong moderate, one who voted across party lines – since, after all, it’s the stand on the issues & not the party affiliation that matter. True – I’ve always been socially progressive: pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, a firm equal rights supporter (good boomer female that I am), member of the ACLU, and supported of environmental causes. But I’m fiscally conservative about many things, and I have concerns about the sheer volume of unfunded mandates that the Federal government forces upon the States. But I also recognize that some things need Federal control or we may as well not be a united Republic. And all societies form in order to provide support for each other – some things have to be addressed at a centralized level. That is the implicit compact for every society.

The thing is that I’ve realized is that I probably have to stop considering myself a Moderate & just cop to the Progressive/Liberal label. Hell, with the force of the Tea Party, the late, terrifying, Barry Goldwater looks like a Socialist. We have a Libertarian Party that is all for crushing big government and deregulation, except when it comes to homosexuality, marijuana legalization, abortion rights, equal pay, and pretty much anything else that does not benefit either the very religious, or the corporations. Apparently, the concept of what a Libertarian is supposed to be disappeared around the time the Libertarian Party was started in the early ’70’s. We have a Republican party that has long been sliding away from Eisenhower & Goldwater, and their quests for smaller government which also included in the social arena. I don’t think the current incarnation of the Republican Party bears much resemblance to the Party of Reagan. And I know, beyond any doubt, that it bears no resemblance to the Republican Party of my parents. And to continue calling themselves the Party of Lincoln is laughable.

The 2012 GOP Platform was stunning in its love of the completely free market & disdain for anything that might actually benefit anyone that was not a large corporation. Anyone who disagrees with me on this should pay particular attention to the section on the First Amendment, which is where they vowed to continue on in the spirit of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision by working to lift all limits on campaign spending, and on funding disclosures. And they did – they backed the fight that took McCutcheon to the Supreme Court – so not only were they supporters of the notion that political spending should be unrestrained, and that corporations are people too, but also that political spending was included in the definition of free speech. Notions that, very disturbingly, the conservative majority on the Court agreed with. A lifelong love of the Constitution, and a childhood dream of being the first female on the Court (long missed, I know) were shattered in a relatively short period of time, by a Court that has proven itself to be quite revisionist while pretending to be strict interpreters. And, courtesy of the Hobby Lobby decision, the same conservative members have determined that since they are people, corporations are also entitled to hold beliefs, and to act on them even when the beliefs they hold are medically inaccurate. I couldn’t have made this up if I’d tried to write a story about the rise of a corporatized dystopian society. I can’t, in good conscience, continue to even consider a Republican candidate in a Federal election – the past few years of Congressional gridlock, and repeated votes to kill the ACA, or to waste money investigating Benghazi,  have made it obvious that those least interested in actually accomplishing something are in charge of the Party. And through redistricting have guaranteed that nothing will improve any time soon.

And the noise, the constant noise from the Libertarian & Tea Party aligned constituency. Openly calling for sedition is apparently a First Amendment right. When GW Bush was President, any attempt made to publicly question the facts behind our rush into war, or to negatively comment on any decision, was loudly & repeatedly called treasonous. But our current President – nope, apparently nothing is even close to treasonous to these guys because they like to pretend that there’s some reason his Presidency is illegitimate. “The worst President ever” – even as Forbes’ magazine lauds his handling of the economy. So much confusion, too – is he a Socialist, Fascist, Communist, Weak, Indecisive, Dictator? And does anyone using those terms realize that they mean very different things? Or just a black guy in the White House who is too Liberal for the Tea Party & way too conservative for the Left? I can’t even voice my legitimate concerns in some circles because that seems to add fuel to the conservative fire. And I disagree with the hyperbole, and the conspiracy theories.

The same internet that allows so much information to be shared has allowed for conspiracy theorists to run rampant. And the great thing about a conspiracy theory is that you don’t actual need facts to back it – just innuendo & reinterpretations. And a place to continue repeating it.

And yet the places where someone might want to shine a light – the history, and founders, of the Libertarian Party, the Koch brothers & their John Birch Society legacy, the NRA and their primary role as lobbyists for manufacturers, the fact that corporatization is actually a much closer relative to Fascism than the ACA (something that seems to confuse Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and their ilk). These things should be shouted from the mountaintops, and yet are scarcely mentioned anywhere.

The Tea Party and the Libertarian Party members seem to have allowed themselves to be convinced that all of their rights are being trampled (but that it’s ok to trample on a few in the interests of protecting those rights). That anyone who disagrees, or holds different beliefs is either an idiot, brainwashed, or worse – trampling on their rights by disagreeing.

Blogging 101 – New Day, New Format

As assigned, I bravely experimented with a couple of different themes today – managed four previews – and did decide to change from Truly Minimal to Skeptical. Skeptical was the first theme that I was attracted to when I first set up the blog, but wasn’t ready for some of the customizing – so I went with the very minimalist approach. Now I’ve broadened my horizons a bit (yeah, still very minimal, but that’s me) & hopefully you’ll like the new theme as well.

There are still one or 2 things I don’t like much – for example: I can’t update the ‘comments’ to ‘thoughts’ on this theme, but my intent hasn’t changed – still want you to feel free to share your thoughts on any post, or on the blog itself. Including on formatting.

Blogging 101 – Dream Reader

I’m very behind on my Blogging 101 assignments, so I’ve decided to use the weekend (& maybe this week’s scheduled post) to play catch-up.

I liked the sound of this assignment, and yet, I find myself a bit lost – do I want to try to write a brilliant post to reach out to my dream reader? Do I want to devote a post describing my dream reader? Do I even have a dream reader?

Well, no – I don’t have dream reader defined, and therein lies my lack of focus. So perhaps this post needs to be a description.

My dream reader, I assume, would need to ‘get’ me – my sense of humor is a bit dry & my daughter thinks I use too many asides. This is likely because one thought always leads to another – and it should. So, then, my dream reader is probably me – with my family a close second. Because they are used to me. But I’d like to think that I can engage others as well. I certainly hope that I can – it’s why I’m here.

My primary goal is to share my thoughts, and have others share theirs, on things that I feel the urge to write about. I’ve been told, more than once, that not everyone thinks the same way that I do – not what I think but how. That’s probably true for most of us – we are all different people, and are wired differently. But, then, is my dream reader someone who thinks the same way I do, even if their conclusions are different? Or is it anyone who is willing to take the time to think a topic through, and yes, research a bit if the topic warrants it, so that a dialogue can be opened? Or is it really everyone – because after all, we all have something to say about most subjects. And I genuinely do want to understand the whys & hows when we don’t agree.

My first ever blog post – not quite 3 weeks ago – may have inadvertently described my dream reader by laying the groundwork for my future posts. I have no interest in ‘political correctness’, but I also have no real tolerance for the hostility & hyperbole that seems to be so common in these devisive days – so I guess, then, that my dream reader is someone who enjoys the posts, even when they don’t agree with them, and is willing to return, because there will probably be things that we do agree on. And who is willing to share their own thoughts logically, without personal attacks, or overblown rhetoric.

And in that spirit, I share again ‘The 10 Commandments of Logic’


Blogging 101 – Why AM I here?

Ahh – such a really good question, and one that I only had a weak grasp of when I set out to write a blog. In the spirit of information sharing, and in order to complete a Blogging 101 assignment, I shall try to pin it down.

I love to write as a hobby, mostly fiction, but all writing is a joy. I see a blog as way to hone my writing skills, and to, hopefully expose, more people to my writing. More exposure means that I can receive feedback from more varied sources.

I also have, sometimes strong, opinions on many different subjects, and it’s certainly more than Facebook, or ‘Letters to the Editior’ can, or should, contend with. I was also cursed with an analytic mind that looks at things from different viewpoints, and sometimes I need more input to fully form my opinion. It’s my hope that a blog will give me the ability to share those convictions, points of uncertainty, and other bits and pieces running around in my head, with others. And that they will feel comfortable sharing their own views with me. We can only grow by taking ourselves out of our bubbles and honestly listening to what others are saying. No, I won’t always change my mind when I look at things from another angle, but sometimes I do, if new information is available, or if the argument is compelling enough.

Some posts may be more journal-like, or may just be quotes or memes that appealed to me that day, that I felt were thought provoking, or otherwise worth sharing.

My goal is to interest you enough of the time that you’ll feel comfortable sharing your own thoughts on the posts, and that it will be engaging enough to keep you coming back to read more.

Courting controversy at the start…

A recent Facebook discussion led me to ponder both the evolution of the Pledge of Allegiance, and my unease with the entire notion of reciting it. My discussion-spurring comment was posted in response to an article about the often contentious ‘under God’ addition that was made in 1954, but it was that I did not recite the Pledge at all (& have not since I was a teenager). My concern lies not with the Cold War fueled need to separate ourselves from the ‘Godless Communists’, but rather with the entire notion of declaring fealty to the flag – and the nationalism that implies. 

First a very brief historical note – the Pledge was written in 1892, and was not formally adopted by Congress until 1942. It was revised in 1954 to add ‘under God’. So it has not really been a long-standing tradition, even though most of us grew up with it.

The constitution has always been a passion of mine, and I still sometimes regret the choice I made to not pursue a career in law. Partially because of that focus, I don’t always look at things in ‘expected’ ways. As an example – I debated for legalized abortion in a Catholic school a couple of years before Roe v Wade was decided – and I won the debate. I think the nuns doing the scoring were traumatized. 

Like all baby boomers, I grew up during the Cold War, surrounded by constant reminders of WWII, and of Japan’s long history of Nationalist Imperialism, along with images of Nazi Germany’s SS. And of the Hammer & Sickle and the Soviet expansion. My parents were both extremely conservative (conservative enough that my mother was given John Birch Society literature by a co-worker who thought that she would find it enlightening), but interestingly enough, neither of them were ‘flag wavers’. They merely thought that the flag burners were being incredibly disrespectful, and that maybe the First Amendment was carried too far sometimes. 

By the time I was in my mid-teens, I was trying to reconcile Catholicism, constitutional law, and the compacts that need to exist to keep us together as a stable society. I was also trying to understand the more extreme ‘my country – love it or leave it’ attitudes that so many of my friends’ parents, and the politicians that my parents supported, seemed to have. It was during this period that my unease about the Pledge took root.

The first concerns that I really paid attention to came from friends that were either Jehovah’s Witnesses or identified as Fundamentalist Christian. They felt that being compelled to recite the Pledge was a violation of their religious freedoms because it caused them to break the First Commandment by putting Country ahead of God.  But somewhere around that time, I also began to realize that compelling anyone to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, particularly schoolchildren, was not very far removed at all from the Nationalist fervor of the Nazis, or of the ‘Godless Communist’ indoctrination that we wanted so badly to separate ourselves from. I love my country, I don’t think anywhere else is a better place to be, and I support our active military & our veterans, but I don’t recite the Pledge when I am in a situation where it is recited. I do stand at attention out of respect for our country, and for my fellow citizens, though.

Rather than the anticipated knee-jerk ‘you are even more far gone than I thought’ responses, I’m hoping that I can spur some genuine reflection. And a serious discussion of what the Pledge really means to you. Because, admit it, as kids we gave it no thought, and as adults we are seldom in a situation where it’s recited & when it is, we recite the words from memory and sit back down, without giving it another thought. And if you display the flag – are you following the flag code in how to display it? It seems to me that in the post-9/11 world we inhabit, many people display the flag in inappropriate ways – and yet I’m sure that they would find my views on the Pledge to be highly disrespectful, if not treasonous. And, for my more religious family and friends,  if you do feel that pledging allegiance to the flag is meaningful & important, how does it fit in with your understanding of the First Commandment?