photo by Sheri Dixon

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Circle of Politics

So I've noticed something.

There's always been a huge segment of American society who consider themselves 'moderate'. Republican and Democrat, they are moderate. Everyday folks who get up, point the kids towards school, drive to work, put in their time for the paycheck to pay for shelter, transportation, food, utilities, clothing and maybe a modest vacation once or twice a year. They don't pay much attention to politics, but they do vote and they do expect a basic set of stuff from their governments.

Protection of society as a whole- Roads, bridges, schools, libraries, police departments, fire departments, parks, utilities- all the things that make a civil society and keep us relatively safe.

Protection of individuals- The rights of free speech, religious freedom, equality between human beings without fear of reprisal or discrimination.

Protection from those in power- oversight and regulations making sure corporations don't poison us, work us literally to death, blow us up or destroy the environment, and making sure bankers can't tie us to the railroad tracks if we are unable to pay our bills on time.

See that? ^^^ That shit up there is basically all most folks want from their governments. And as long as the roads are drivable, the police show up when you call them, you aren't personally seeing any overt and blaring discrimination and the water out of your own faucet can't be set on fire everything's cool.

If you're used to voting R you'll pull that lever and if you're used to voting D you'll pull that lever- always for the guy who's picture you've seen the most and whose name you recognize from the tee vee ads with the flag and the eagle screaming in the background. Yay, America!

There's always been some form of 'far Right' and 'far Left', but those were small and chuckled at, regardless of how fierce they tried to look.

Then along came the Tea Party. Oh, it started out innocent enough- people who wanted to follow the constitution, and who thought the current administration isn't doing that. That the former administration(s) hadn't done it either is immaterial. They just now noticed so it just now matters.

Then they got a HUGE boost in funding from the Koch Brothers- you know, for America.

And now the Tea Party is a big ol' Fundamental Christian, gun-worshipping anti-government machine that has pretty much crapped all in the cogs of how things are supposed to work in DC. Guess they figure if it's not going their way, they will just blow it up. Because compromise is a dirty word. And any American who doesn't agree with them isn't a REAL American anyway and should just move to Hawaii. Because that's apparently not part of the US. But Canada is- right Ted Cruz?

The Right has been pulled so far to the Right that it's fixin' to tip right off the edge of this here flat planet. And what a loss THAT would be.

What that did was pull the Left not just towards the middle, but into what used to be Right, JUST to keep up with (the perceived) call for a more conservative nation.

Moderates on the Right are shaking their heads and thinking, "What is THIS shit?" when they see the bibles being thumped and women's rights being trampled and voter suppression and fucking Ted Nugent on the campaign trail with a serious candidate.

Moderates on the Left are shaking their heads and thinking, "What is THIS shit?" when they see regulatory commissions being headed by the very people they are regulating and the Keystone Pipeline being green-lighted and not a god-damn thing being done to the folks who caused the crash of '08 and who keep getting even richer.

And here's what's happening.

The moderates ARE still here- they're just on the other side of the circle. They've trotted along behind the wave of their parties until they couldn't stand the direction anymore and they've broken off- letting the batshit crazy far-Right pull the former Left off the edge of the earth and they're coming together again.

I'm Left. Way far Left. Left of Liberal, ya'll. I generally can't see a Democrat in my rear-view. The times I am able to talk (without getting barraged by FAUX News and Yell Radio talking points) to someone who identifies as Far Right, we agree on way more shit than we disagree on.

So often I hear that we need a viable third party because the two we have are not serving the majority of the people anymore.

Here's the problem with that. We're so used to a two-party system that one of our current parties is going to have to implode, literally crash, burn and not exist anymore for the rise of another party to be feasible.

Luckily, the GOP is obliging.

The danger is now. It's cornered and not going down without taking as many with it as it can- hence the many many wars it's fighting- the wars that make Halliburton and Raytheon very wealthy of course, plus the wars on women's rights, gay rights, the environment, the middle class (JOB creators? Are you fucking kidding me?)and basically anyone who is carbon-based and not incorporated.

And if you're a moderate Republican, you see the flag and hear the eagle and the narrator saying what a good American and Constitutionalist (and here in the Bible Belt, CHRISTIAN) the candidate is, see the happy smiling family portrait at the end of it and don't look any farther.

Because once they DO look, both sides of moderate generally say, "They voted for WHAT???"

And on the other side of the circle, moderates and semi-radicals are gathering and agreeing on things like personal choice for personal decisions- family planning, marriage, food, housing. Access to good healthcare and higher education paid for by everyone's taxes for everyone to use without question or stipulation- like roads and schools and police departments are now. Tax the churches. Dismantle our standing armies. Things that really ARE in the Constitution...because there's more to it than fucking GUN RIGHTS.

I believe if we are ALL vigilant and keep the death-throes of the GOP from dragging us all down with it, we'll come out the other side stronger, better and more of what we should be. Not even "what the Founding Fathers intended" because face it- the Founding Fathers were all rich landowners (and slave owners) and were forming a nation for other rich white guys- not women, not minorities, and definitely not poor people of any gender or color.

If we can survive this next bit of extreme political truly fucking dangerous bullshit, we can do what they never dreamed of.

Here on the other side of the circle.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Texas GOP Primaries- Hilarious if You Don't Live Here

Our TV has a habit of staying on all night.

I fall asleep watching House Hunters.

Ward wakes up multiple times at night and turns on various channels; Al Jazeera, Discovery, for a while I was having weird dreams about The World's Most Comforable Bra, the new Shark Vacuum and Buns of Steel which was very annoying.

So Ward took to having our 'local' channel on overnight. And I say 'local' because our stupid satellite provider's territories go by counties, not proximity to cities with TV stations. Therefore, our 'local' station is in Dallas- almost 100 miles away, and not Tyler- 20 miles away and where we go for all our big city shopping and where I know- LOCAL.

But I digress.

That worked pretty well for a while- a small buzzing of news and so-forth from the Dallas area; weather, overnight shootings at the stockyards, traffic congestion, overnight shootings in Oak Cliff...

...until this morning. Apparently, today starts the blitz of



Here in Texas we get to choose which GOP candidate will run against Wendy Davis.

Now, keep in mind our current Texas Miracle Governor is Slick Rick Perry, who is not running again because he has bigger fish (he thinks) to bludgeon, shoot and fry on a national level- and a more slimy, selfish, unlikable asshole you'd be hard-pressed to find. So the field is really heating up to prove that there are MORE people who are MORE batshit crazy intent on pillaging and raping our state and its people every which way to Sunday.

Because Sunday they spend at church.

We've got Greg Abbott, who went straight for CrazyTown when he announced that he's taking along Ted Nugent on the campaign trail. I guess like a mascot. An ill-tempered non-housebroken mascot.

We've also got Ken Paxton, who now has the dubious honor of having Ted Cruz's endorsement. Well, dubious unless you buy into Teddy's fake, syrupy, tear(or something)-jerking love of 'Merika. Note Teddy says, "Ken Paxton is a tireless servant. Ken Paxton stands and fights, whether it’s fighting against ObamaCare or fighting for Voter ID, or fighting to defend our Religious Liberty" which is all pretty horrifying if you're an actual thinking human American and understand that translates into "Ken Paxton will do everything he can to make sure Texans continue to have the highest percentage of uninsured people, the most obviously gerrymandered districts and ID laws that do nothing except keep people from voting, and keep this a CHRISTIAN Nation run on CHRISTIAN BIBLE LAW." Nope. Nothing Un-American THERE.

The real cake-taker is Dan Patrick, which is weird because he's not even running for governor. He's running for Lt. Governor, but that's OK. He makes up for lack of ambition with true genius insanity. Because in a state that has a huge Hispanic population, in a party that is 'officially' looking to be more inclusive of 'other people' (that means women, people of color, gay people...anyone not male, white and over 65), this guy is running on the following platforms-

-Stronger border security and Sanctuary City legislation. Because we need to legislate Sanctuary Cities. Those things that don't really exist.

-Opposing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants (the DREAM act- which allows students who QUALIFY with superior grades in high school to attend college at in-state rates. The majority of these kids' parents came here when they were tiny and they don't KNOW any other home)because...fuck. I can't think of one good reason not to encourage ANY young person to get higher education. Not one.

-Reform Education and provide more choice which means more privatization of public schools. What a fabulous idea. I'm sure it'll work every bit as well as our privately run health care industry.

-Pass campus carry and protect the Second Amendment because nothing is a better idea than encouraging a demographic that is by definition emotionally turbulent and prone to sleeplessness, stress and a shitload of booze consumption to be armed with loaded weapons. How could that possibly go wrong?

-Cutting property taxes, business taxes and wasteful government. Everyone wants less taxes, right? Why should *we* have to pay for schools, fire departments, police departments, roads, public water, etc...we don't use that stuff and neither do our businesses. The fact that Texas is number four in pollution, and has a less-than-mediocre report card for all infrastructure
? Totally irrelevant. LESS TAXES!

-Defend life and traditional marriage. No explanation needed there.

And finally-

-Defend Texas against Washington. Sounds pretty secessionist to me, Danny Boy. I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding, and that you mean it in a generic "big government is bad, m-kay?" sort of way. And it's certainly not meant to stir up the whole 'Obama is a Muslim Kenyan Literally Hitler' crowd, right?

Except your actual campaign catch phrase is
"Secure the border. Fight Obama".

Yep. Nothing personal there.

I'm a Texan- not born here but been here over 20 years now. I love this state. I absolutely abhor what the GOP has done to its people, its industry, its environment and its morale...just in these last 20 years. I voted for Ann Richards. Texas has NOT ALWAYS BEEN A RED STATE, no matter what the fucking talking heads on FAUX News and Yell Radio say and for damn sure no matter what this new crop of GOP douchenozzles tries to sell us.

Rick Perry's Texas Miracle is that any of us have survived it.

I do not believe we can take another round of governmental domestic abuse. "Vote for me, darlin'. I know we've screwed you over for 20 years but THIS TIME will be different. I know what's best for you. No one loves you like I do. Trust me."

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."- Sinclair Lewis

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Time Flies

Happiest of birthdays to my baby...14 tomorrow.

You have your dad's compassion and intelligence
And my sunny disposition and questionable sense of humor

I cherish every single day I've had with you

You were a precious baby
A precocious and goofy toddler
A curious and bright and funny boy and now
You are a remarkable and amazing young man

And we are so very proud of you.

We love you, son- Happy Birthday.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oh, Look! It's the Tea Party Comrades...

I love the far right emails that litter inboxes like dandruff and get (cackled at/hollered at/righteously indignated at) brushed off and forwarded with the speed of light- most of the time without being read any farther than the subject line, and almost assuredly without
a) Fact checking

b) Evaluating their own reactions

c) Actually thinking about what the hell they're agreeing with.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has allegedly said that "negotiating with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, craps on the board, then struts around like it won the game."

a) He never said that. I've heard it for years attributed to all different people, but as Snopes points out the first recorded place was talking about creationists. Nice. And fitting.

b) The people who forward this LOVE it- anything that makes the President look like a pompous fool is always welcome in their camp, whether or not it makes any damn sense at all considering Putin is proudly pompous and notoriously non-negotiating of nature, oh and by the way

c) he's sort of a Communist...using the definition ya'll give Communism, which is WRONG but it's the one you've always used so we'll go with that. You're agreeing with a Communist. You hate Obama with a red-hot hatred because he's "turning 'Merika into a Socialist Muslim Communist country" and you're agreeing with the leader of the biggest freaking Communist country ever known to mankind. Here's where you scream and chortle and say, "HAH! There's where you're WRONG! Putin is NOT Communist- he's a member of the United Russia party which is NATIONALIST, not COMMUNIST!" If you can call Obama a Socialist Muslim Kenyan, I can call Putin a Communist. At the very least he's a URINO...and I love the sound of that. And I love that I just made that up. Before coffee.


"Unless the Muslims knock off fucking with Russia and the area around the Olympics in particular, Putin will nuke Mecca"

a) This one is hard to verify. Go ahead, google it. There was one article in Time that stated that there would be 'stern retribution' and then page after page of rightwing echo chamber blogs and shit that use the 'nuke Mecca' line...followed by unanimous cheering and "HELL! I'll go with 'em!" sort of posturing. Almost pigeon-like. Coo coo cachew.

b) I actually love the image of the Tea Party and other right-wingers marching side by side with the Ruskies. Joe McCarthy would be so proud of ya'll. Really.

c) Of course you must realize that if anyone were to actually nuke Mecca it would not eliminate the 'Islamic Threat', because Islam is the second largest religion in the world and very few Muslims live in Mecca. You want the actual, for realsies end of the world? Shit. Never mind. Of course ya'll do. You have all those guns and MRE's and Survival Seeds to use up.

So lets recap.

You LOVE Putin because he's an arrogant, well-educated politician who is pushy and brash but who does what (he thinks) needs to be done no matter how unpopular it is to his actual people who live in his actual country. He also looks completely badass shirtless riding a prancing steed, which proves he's a real man's man who does what he wants, when he wants and fuck everyone else.

You HATE Obama because he's an arrogant, well-educated politician who (you feel) is pushy and is doing what (he thinks) needs to be done no matter how unpopular it is to you- who even I admit are actual people who live in this actual country. He also looks completely badass shirtless at the beach, which proves he spends time with his family and absolutely no time at the office and is a total leach on the taxpayers.

Putin spent sixteen years as an officer in the KGB so that proves he's savvy and ruthless and (maybe just a little Communist).

Obama was a COMMUNITY ORGANIZER for three years acting as director for a small Catholic (less than 20 employees) foundation with a budget of under $500,000 and that focused on tenant rights, job training and college prep. The horror.

But we all know what being a COMMUNITY ORGANIZER leads to.

Just ask humanity's most successful Community Organizer...Jesus.

***Note- I am NOT comparing Obama with Jesus, so simmer down. All ya'll Christians can put down those Bibles you were fixin' to thump me with and all ya'll Tea Partiers can put away that cross you just built with alacrity.

***Additional Note for the Tea Partiers- alacrity is not a brand of glue or a type of lumber. Look it up.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weren't Nuthin' Civil About It

So Ward and I went to the Pearce Civil War Museum today. It's in Corsicana on the campus of Navarro College, and I must say I was dumbfounded that such a thing sits quietly smack dab in the center of East Texas.

Oh, not surprised that there's a Civil War museum in East Texas; it's the content and presentation that makes this one unique. The Pearce family collected letters. Soldier's letters home from the battlegrounds of the Civil War- both Yankee and Rebel.

Over 6,000 letters from every battlefield and spanning the entire war.

It's accompanied by photographs, but not the grainy and marginally uncomfortable ones we're used to seeing. These show the dead in varying degrees of dead-ness, soldiers and horses, skulls and tattered garments, parts missing and scattered. Life sized and awful with silent timeless horror.

It takes a few hours to work your way through it- from the first few months of rugged adventurers so sure they'd be home in a few weeks, to the stark reality of what a war really means, to being hungry and ill-equipped and clothed, exhausted and shell-shocked as the war dragged on year after year and the young men fell like wheat to the harvester by the thousands.

The Union soldiers were worn out, but the Confederates were starving and started to desert- surrendering just to get something to eat. Those who were caught deserting were hung or shot by their own troops.

One wrote, "I'm going home. Jeff Davis can come fight his own war."

It's somber and sobering and not for little kids. And as we made our way through it, we couldn't help but feel our hearts grow cold with the familiarity of it all, and it seems to us that we haven't learned anything at all as a nation.

In the beginning, both sides were so very sure of the rightness of their cause, and almost eager to wipe out "the damn Yankees" or the "rebel Secesh's" like they weren't even the same species, much less citizens of the same nation. How one side thought was completely foreign to the other side and there was no attempt made at compromise and HOLY SHIT that sounds so familiar!

Down around about the second year of that war that was supposed to last a few weeks, the common threads that ran through all the letters from either side were

-I want to go home

-What are we even fighting for?

-I'm sick of killing other young men who are just like me

-What the hell are we doing? We're all Americans

And it finally ended, and the general feeling was that it had been so horrible and so closely terminal for this nation that we would never ever 'go' there again.

And yet...

...the narrator in the little 'self-tour wand' stated matter-of-factly at the very end that there were those in the South who were not anywhere near OK with how the war ended and who wanted to continue fighting...till the death if necessary.

And apparently down through the generations from the number of Confederate flags still being waved around these parts.

The scary thing is that we're not divided North/South anymore, it's more of a Coasts/Heartland or Urban/Rural divide, but divided we are and divided we'll fall very soon unless we put a stop to it now. Only we can do that- person to person from the bottom up.

I know. The issues.

I know. They're important. And they are. We all have those issues that are dear to our hearts, whether it's gun rights, or women's rights or health care or the environment or campaign reform. If we're lucky, we juggle more than one issue tenderly and with passion, because then we are aware that things are interconnected...we are interconnected.

We are all of us interconnected no matter how foreign we seem to each other.

We're all Americans.

I fervently hope we realize that before it's too late.

That somehow we will be able to look at each other across our ideological divides and say

-What are we even fighting for?

-I'm sick of being enemies with other people who are also just trying to do the best they can, just like I am

-What the hell are we doing? We're all Americans.

Our nation is in trouble and we're fighting each other when we should be fixing it.

In order to fix it we'll need to all realize we're fighting with the wrong people.

The right people to fight against are the ones who've bought our government and our legal system, moved all the jobs overseas along with their money and then demanded tax breaks because they're 'job creators'. They loophole around fair employment practices, responsible stewardship of the earth, paying their fair share and then they point fingers in an attempt to deflect blame from themselves.

It's the anti-guns, the pro-guns, anti-choice, pro-choice, heteros, gays, blacks, whites, men, women, atheists, Christians, and we've bought into it lock stock and barrel.

Do we need an armed insurrection? Nope, although some of us would think that that's awesome.

We've been taught that They are strong and We are weak, but in truth We are many and They be few.

If we back away- refuse to play their game- they cannot exist. They cannot exist without workers or customers. Cannot.

If we stop buying what they are selling, be it products or ideas, they are finished.

I'm afraid it's too late. Not to pull down those who need it, but too late to pull together as we need to.

We're so divided, so polarized, so quick to hate each other, really hate and despise each other when we don't really know each other at all.

What are we doing? We're all Americans.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

Benito Mussolini