Anger Management

Do you ever just need a few moments to step back from a frustrating or angering situation to regain the composure and serenity you so desperately want – nay, need – to hold onto? I count to ten sometimes. Hell, sometimes I count until it sounds like I’m playing some kind of hyped-up extreme version of hide-n-seek…”50,000 mississippi, 50,001 mississippi…”

No, it’s not my work that’s doing it to me this time. The constant shaking of my head and whisperings of “what the f…” are not currently provoked by cruelty so much as stupidity. And it can all be traced back to Facebook and the “political argument.” The bane of society as we know it.

No matter how much I’m goaded, I swear to myself over and over that I will not be drawn into political arguments on Facebook, I will not be drawn into political arguments on Facebook, I will not be drawn into political arguments on Facebook, I will not be drawn into political arguments on Facebook…

Ugh. Move over wine, I think it’s time for the hard stuff.

Thanksgiving Preparations

There are certain staples for every Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey? Check. Cranberry sauce? Check. Pumpkin pie? Check. Arguments with family members over politics? Check and check. Let’s face it, even though we know it’s a bad idea politics and Thanksgiving go hand in hand. Inevitably after a couple few several glasses of wine, we have our disagreements on where our country is heading, we re-evaluate what we thought we knew about our close relatives, maybe we lose a little respect for some family members, then dinner ends and we get on with our lives. This year, though…oy.

The discussions about what’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue might get a little more heated than normal. To say that this past political season has been divisive is a bit of an understatement. Bring up the topic of gun control, abortion, or foreign policy and watch out. Your Robin turns into your Joker. Your Garfunkel morphs into your Axl Rose. Suddenly, the person you call family begins snarling, cursing your name, and sometimes just saying downright hateful things right in your face – viciously arguing their views. Don’t even get me started on the third-grade level name-calling. Ugh.

Thanksgiving is frustrating enough without politics, don’t you think? First off, the hours of intense cooking (often under harsh scrutiny by someone else at the table who thinks they’re mashed potato/stuffing/green bean casserole recipe is far better than yours) are for what? Ten minutes of actual eating? Or should I say inhaling? Then, there’s the cleanup. The mountains of dishes coated in congealed fat and butter take forever to clean. The “eating” part of the event is barely a blip compared to the pre-meal planning and post-meal de-cluttering. Which just doesn’t seem fair if you ask me. But then I love food more than I love just about anything. Yeah, I know. I need help.

This year I’m going to try to get a seat at the kid’s table where the conversation is sure to be light and I will no doubt learn a new joke about bodily functions for my ever-growing repertoire. Not to mention they don’t care if you’re a messy eater. Hell, they are too! AND they’re allowed to be picky about what they eat. Now that’s right up my alley. Plus, PLUS — they don’t know what wine is and won’t give you a side-eye when you keep guzzling the “happy juice.” Oh yeah. The kids’ table it is!

Upside Down World

I’m a little behind. Okay, way behind.  This article about the Senate voting on human involvement in climate change is from January but I just saw it a couple of days ago and have to say something about it. You know me.  Never one to keep my mouth shut on things like this. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind on the issue, but I have my viewpoints and one of them was so strongly challenged from a place I least expected it that it sort of took my breath away.

Per the article:

The Chairman of the Environment Committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the “biggest hoax” perpetrated against mankind.

“The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,” Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Man can’t change the climate.”

Please keep in mind people, this is the CHAIRMAN OF THE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE saying this. That’s like the Executive Director of General Motors saying that cars aren’t actually faster than walking. It’s all been a hoax. You’ve just been fooled this whole time into purchasing these wildly expensive newfangled contraptions that you never really needed.

I’m sorry but isn’t there a little something called scientific evidence that supports the fact that the climate has gone through a more radical change than Jekyll and Hyde over the past century or so.  Has Inhofe never heard of that somewhat monumental historical event known as the Industrial Revolution? Heck, the impact of that period sure enough changed the course of evolution, just ask the peppered moth.  I’m pretty sure pumping out loads and loads of contaminants into the atmosphere for decades on end has had the power to make some alterations to the weather patterns.

Only five Republicans joined the Dems in the belief that humans have contributed to climate change and that’s fine. Republicans have their beliefs and I do my best to respect them. I try not to ask for too much from my government (cause seriously, it’s the government after all), but it’d be really, really nice if the Head of the Environment Committee could actually believe in science or at the very least just listen to other people with scientific degrees who might perhaps know a bit more about the whole issue than he does…you know, those people with tons of letters after their names who work for little known firms like NASA and NOAA, among others.  Just saying.

With Deepest Apologies to Susan B. Anthony

Let’s play a game of Guess Who. Here are the clues:

This person recently suggested that young female voters should stay away from the voting booths because they’re not properly informed of the issues on the ballot. This person justified this claim by saying the reason they’re not informed is because “They’re like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world.” This mysterious figure tied this healthy dose of sexism by suggesting that not only should they not vote, but that these women should instead “go back on Tinder and Match.com.”

So, knowing all that, who do you think made these comments? Rush Limbaugh? No. Donald Trump? Nope, wrong again. Now, you’re starting to rack your brain a little. It’s not Rush and not Donald. What pig-headed man would possibly be so out of touch with the opposite sex, so deeply entrenched in his rampant misogyny, so disconnected with the reality of the youthful voting population that he could say things so grossly improper on national television as if it were good advice?

Answer: No man. It wasn’t a man who made these remarks at all (Ha! You gender biased people you!) but rather Fox News’ own Kimberly Guilfoyle. The full article on her sexist rant (sexist against her own gender, mind you) can be found HERE.

Well, I for one am glad Ms. Guilfoyle has her finger on the pulse of the nation’s youth. These women, nay, girls who think they should, like, maybe vote or something are nothing more than airheads and idiots addicted to their smart phones on their hunt for online love from a man who can tell them how to vote correctly. Don’t leave it up to the girls themselves. Which is fine. It’s not like they really matter. What’s that? Young women show up to the polls and vote in larger numbers than their male counterparts?  Really?  How interesting. Well, they can’t possibly be informed on the issues though unless they’re about fashion tips or lip gloss, so best for them to stay away. Wait, what? Young female voters are primarily interested in issues ranging from health care to pay inequality all the way to gender discrimination? Well, that’s like, a lot of important sectors.  Girls are really interested in those things? Wow. Go figure.

I don’t know where Ms. Guilfoyle is getting her information from, but how terribly off target she is about the mentality of young American women is waayyy past the point of offensive.

To assume that 1) girls across the board are skipping through life dreaming of cocktail dresses and who they’ll let buy their drinks at happy hour so much that 2) their brains are too packed with superficial information to try to learn about voting issues and 3) there’s a good chance they wouldn’t care about the issues even if they did find an extra crevice of grey matter not occupied by OKCupid messages is utterly absurd and she should be ashamed of herself.

Of course she issued a half-assed apology that sounds like it was written by an intern at Fox’s PR firm just to save the station a little face. It did little to redeem her in my eyes. Good luck with keeping her on the payroll, Fox. The fact she wasn’t fired immediately astounds me. But then that’s Fox News for you. The longer she stays at the desk, the more confident I am that this world is going to hell in a hand basket.

Trying to discourage women to vote, especially at this very crucial point when serious change can be made that will further the fight for equality for women across the country, is appalling and should the likes of Ms. Guilfoyle continue pushing for selective voting they’ll have only themselves to blame when they end up with no rights and no laws on their side.  Unfortunately they’re taking the rest of us women down with them.

 

Right Wingers

Somebody call the men with the white jackets to haul me off to the loony bin. I am certifiably insane. This is according to the rational, grounded, and downright pragmatic right-wingers who have taken to the saying “liberalism is a mental disorder.” Well, some of them anyway.

To be completely honest, if I must label myself, I guess I’d be classified as an “Independent with Liberal tendencies.” And like most of us probably do, I tend to surround myself with like-minded people. So my friends, for the most part, are left-leaning liberals or at the least “Independents.” Maybe it has to be that way…because some members of my family? Not so much.

I’ll admit, I personally find it very difficult these days to remain amicable with a certain someone who has drastically opposing political beliefs. I suppose I don’t have the patience I once had. Sure, people have always argued politics over a neighborly get together or family dinner. However it seems like in this age of social media people try to be as offensive and/or as argumentative about their political beliefs as possible. Oh, I know it’s not limited to one political party.

It’s as if these people are just begging to argue by putting up racist, sexist, homophobic or incendiary comments like the aforementioned “liberalism is a mental disorder.”  I think it’s fine for someone to have their anti-government sentiments and talk about it with other people who share their love of misogyny and assault rifles and their dream of a life in a doomsday survivalist commune somewhere deep  in the mountains of Wyoming. If someone wants to raise a Confederate flag and swear that the South will rise again that’s his or her own business. Just please don’t try to shove it in my face by forcing your views in such aggressive ways (i.e., stating that not thinking the same way is the side effect of a malfunctioning brain).

I can see doing that with strangers or people you don’t like to begin with. But family? Spouses? I mean, come on. Draw a line, people.

I have to say though; it does make me look at people differently.  I mean, I don’t care what political party you are or what issue you happen to side with – if you deliberately and very openly bait your closest friend or spouse or family member hoping to provoke a reaction solely for your own amusement or because you like to argue…there is just something wrong with you. At the very least you’re knowingly insulting them.  And that’s no better.

When is exposing a crime a crime?

When is a crime not a crime? When you don’t get caught? Sort of like if a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around. Does it make a sound? Maybe, maybe not. If someone commits a crime but there are no witnesses, is it still a crime? Maybe, maybe not. At least that’s what the owners and operators of slaughterhouses, factory farms, and feedlots across the nation are hoping. You see, all too often animal advocacy investigators come meddling into “Big Ag’s” affairs and have the audacity to videotape the cruel, abusive, and illegal behavior they witness and then share it with the public. I know, awful, right!?  “Big Ag” would have you believe, and indeed have gotten legislators to believe, that exposing a crime should be a crime.

These agricultural business owners (or “Big Ag” as they are sometimes called) make their money by exploiting animals for profit.  Too often efficiency and bottom line turn into atrocious cruelty and inhumane treatment.  And it turns out that when people see video of dead baby pigs being ground up and fed back to their own mothers and cows with festering sores wrapped up in gestation crates it hurts profits. So, obviously, these owners can’t have that news getting out. I mean, if the American people were to see the sinister torture these businesses are inflicting on their livestock they might not get that big contract from that major fast food joint that should be coming through just about any day now.

So how does one stop the slippery activities of these devious animal advocates? Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the Ag-Gag Law!  I won’t get into the technicalities, but the long and short of it is that this law would make photographing or videotaping cruelty or abuse to livestock illegal. That way, instead of having to stop the criminal behavior of the abusers, the documentation of the crimes would itself be a crime. Now that’s what I call getting ahead of the storm. To stop the abuse and follow the laws would throw the whole “Big Ag” system out of whack and take a super long time to implement.  The genius Ag-Gag law does away with the pesky need for reform and instead punishes those who are trying to shine a light on rampant animal atrocities.

The latest state pushing this bill through into law is Idaho. Even though the great people of Idaho are against the legislation, “Big Ag” proponents crammed it down their throats like legislative foie gras. So now the animals of Idaho have no voice but, lo and behold, the “Big Ag” businesses have found a way to keep their wallets fat. Of course if you ask the owners of these businesses they’ll say they’re not breaking the law to begin with. My question is simple:  if they’re not breaking the law why would they care if someone comes in to document what they’re doing? Shouldn’t that negate the need for the Ag-Gag Law?

Lock up the advocates and let the abusers go free. Is that the America we live in? Doesn’t it sound like some sort of Bizarro universe? I mean, don’t you want to know what’s in your food? Or how that food made it to your grocery store or better yet, to your table?  If you don’t, I highly suggest you Google “cruelty with animals raised for food.” Read a couple of those stories and you might just change your wonderful ignorance-is-bliss tune.

How the Ag-Gag Law works

Of Human Rights and Red Flags

I’m not a wild horse (in case you were wondering), but I advocate strongly for the humane treatment and protection of these beautiful animals. Does that make me part horse? No? I’m also against deforestation and want legislation passed that protects endangered forests from industrial logging. Does that make me an evergreen tree? No? Well, why is it when I advocate for gay marriage (or simply “marriage” as I like to call it) some people seem to think this makes me part gay or at the very least have some latent, confused, closeted identity issues lurking under my stance?

I may not be gay, people. BUT I am a huge fan of human rights and equality, one of the many being the right for someone to be able to marry whoever the hell they want to. This is a human right that, I feel, should include every human on the planet. It is not a heterosexual right that applies only to a specific pie slice of the population.

Just as strongly as I feel about human rights, I am also invested in spreading the idea of humane rights. Human rights are the legal liberties afforded to members of our society. Humane rights are the rights to express humanity, compassion, and empathy for others unclouded by varying backgrounds.

On the human rights side I want it to be possible for anyone to be able to get a legal certificate that binds them to any other person they choose (that is of age, duh).

On the humane rights side I want someone to have the ability to express their compassion, love and empathy for another without restriction. It seems like a simple concept, right? Love is love no matter who you are, but so many (TOO many) have a problem and are hell-bent on putting restrictions on what defines love — which is sooo contradictory to the definition of the word that I don’t even know how to wrap my head around that.

The funny part is that sometimes when the subject of equal rights comes up and I speak my piece, people assume I have an ulterior motive. What, do you think I’ve been pretending to be straight all these years, safely flying under the radar until my chance appears to be out and proud without any legal ramifications? If that’s true then whenever I advocate for wild horse protection that means that some part of me wishes I were a wild horse too? Or perhaps I’ve been hiding my beastly side all these years?  See how silly that sounds?   

Advocating for animal rights doesn’t bring up any imaginary red flags, but for some reason when you advocate for human rights, all of a sudden something weird is going on. How narrow of a point of view!

Let me be clear here and now: I just want people, all people, to be happy and have the same rights no matter who they are. Shouldn’t everyone want that?

Women in Politics

If you’re not familiar with Wendy Davis, she’s a state representative in Texas and a prominent attorney whose recent claim to fame was conducting a whopping eleven hour-long filibuster that helped block Senate Bill 5 which included increased restrictions in abortion regulations throughout the state. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Sounds familiar? Remember last year seeing pictures of that woman in Congress wearing hot pink gym shoes? Yeah, that’s her and that’s part of the problem. I believe that if you poll most people in the country they would know what she wore to the filibuster more than the issue she was actually fighting for.

Recently State Sen. Davis has come under fire for her parenting acumen because she chose to pursue an education and oh yeah, a career as well. Heaven forbid, a woman wanting to make something of herself professionally while trying to juggle having kids. The audacity, right? What a bunch of BS. If she were a man (Wendell? Davis) it would just be assumed that even though he has a kid or two he’d branch out and do other things such as getting higher education degrees and whatnot. No one would expect Wendell to stay at home and take care of the rugrats. Wendell would be free to pursue his educational and professional goals, no questions asked. Wendy isn’t so lucky. Her decisions have put her in the hot seat which I feel is a mindset that is best left behind in the 1950s. Not only are we supposed to be living in an age of increasing gender equality, but there are more than enough examples of other women who have already taken the same path with shining success. Women achieving in politics should not be a shock anymore, yet sadly, it still draws the wrong sort of attention more often than it should.

No matter their track record of career and familial achievement, women who foray into politics aren’t exempt from traditional, antiquated sexism from the pundits and media. No one ever comments on the suit Bill Clinton wore to last night’s humanitarian gala. President Obama doesn’t have to worry about being ruthlessly cut down for a new haircut. Yet with female politicians this happens all the time. They’re put under just as much scrutiny as A-list actresses walking the red carpet. The big difference is that these actresses make their money being the object of attention. Our women politicians, on the other hand, they’re not in it for style points. They just want to be a part of government — a leader and a part of change for this great country of ours — not have their choice of earrings or hairstyle criticized on the cover of US Weekly. Until society can become blind to gender bias and stop putting every woman in the public eye on a platform that ranks them based on aesthetics, how are our young women going to know what’s more important?

women politics

Political Dinners – Not for the Weak

Aaaah, a wonderful family dinner is at hand. Everyone is there, gathered around the table, raising their glasses, and basking in the warmth that can come from mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents coming together to break bread. These are special occasions where wine flows and hot food is kindly passed between generations. It’s a wonderful—wait, what did Uncle Bob just say about abortion—oh well, I’ll let it pass. Huh? Did Undergrad Nephew Drew just say what I think he did about gun control? Nevermind. Focus on the family. Focus on these rare moments when everyone I love is in—oh hell no Grandma did not just say that about Michelle Obama. I have to say something.

Does this situation sound familiar to you? It’s absolutely mind-boggling how politics can turn blushing brides and adoring grooms into Roman gladiators. Political stances have a way of worming their way into relationships and corroding them like no other. One simple statement that falls on the ears of someone who doesn’t agree and that person you look to for unconditional love in times of war and peace turns into an arch-enemy.

Worse yet is when some of these same loved ones try to bait you into arguing. They intentionally dangle that carrot in front of you, knowing exactly what buttons to push to make your internal pressure gauge slip into the red.

when politics collide

What is this affliction? I almost think it should be included in the DSM. Political Insanity Disorder or Righteous Stance Disease. Politics can turn people into Neanderthals. Or better yet, Neanderthal bulls crashing through the china shop of love. All to defend their perspectives and rarely understanding that it’s okay if not everyone agrees with them.

The most terrible part is that all this chest puffing and soap boxing is to stand up for someone they don’t even know! It’s as if their governor is closer to them than the person they supposedly love. The sad truth is that politicians…they don’t give a shit. Come on, I mean the only thing politicians care about is that you put their name on the ballot when you step into the booth. The rest of the time, they couldn’t care less about us, our situation, our family, or our well-being. For 99% of the time, we pretty much don’t exist to them…except to be used as pawns in their grappling contests for political power.

Politicians care about one person and one person only. I’ll give you three guesses as to who that might be. They certainly wouldn’t defend you to their family with the same vehemence, so why should you? Sadly, many people are willing to damage their relationships or at the least cause some seriously hard feelings with people they love…all because of the need to defend a person or group who really don’t give a damn.

So next time the steam starts to shoot out of your ears or you perhaps feel the need to instigate a politically driven frenzy within someone close to you, just try to remember that the person in front of you, the one you love, is the person who holds a special place in your life…they are the one who deserves your loyalty and care. Not some politician who doesn’t even know you exist and wouldn’t care even if they did.

I Have Political Views

artwork by Haley Wolfe — click on graphic to visit her site