Oh, Those Flood Gates…

Kids with the latest Super Soaker on their Christmas lists can breathe easy for awhile. Burlington, Iowa’s city council has voted 4-1 not in favor of a ban on toy guns, citing the potential bill as “too vague”.

We, at Hairball, would have been more blunt. How about “too stupid”?

If the ban had passed, parents would have been subject to a $500 fine and up to one month in prison should their children been caught in public areas with these highly dangerous weapons that may cause laughter, an increase of fresh air, physical playtime involving more than just the thumbs, soaking wet t-shirts and a slight stinging from a propelled jet of water or rocket-launched Nerf pellet.

Not immune from such heinous crimes would have been the children. A serious reprimand would have likely been imposed on any child attempting to conceal such dangerous weaponry underneath their shirts. Should a car be stopped by police and the child in the backseat been seen as packing serious heat loaded with tap water and adorned in neon colors of his posse, known as the Bibs and the Cribs, that would have also resulted in penalty.

This was the brainstorm of Burlington Police Chief Doug Beaird in attempts to eliminate common identification mistakes between the real thing and its plastic relatives from the local Toys R’ Us. He does cite BB guns as a possible hazard and, if you’ve ever watched “A Christmas Story”, even Santa said Ralphie would shoot his eye out so there might be some truth to that claim. If the police chief is worried about BB guns, then why doesn’t he limit his fight to BB guns? If his staff is unable to tell the difference between an actual automatic weapon and this…

Water Gun

… it might be time for a new staff.

We imagine that such a proposed bill stems from that ever-looming gateway that we all get to hear so much about. Gone are the days of innocent sessions of cops and robbers with cap guns. After all, if a child fails to see the potential danger in a water pistol, he may not be able to differentiate myth from reality when considering emptying a Thompson Sub-Machine gun into his family later in life.

The gateway is an ominous black hole, robbing us of logic and common sense. We are a nation that can put a man on the moon and turn a phone into a computer, but we are all vulnerable to print ads it seems. Our minds go blank and we stare blankly at Joe Camel, drooling uncontrollably and suddenly craving a pack of unfiltered Camels because his head is strangely phallic in shape.

So, if our kids play with toy guns, they will likely play with real guns later in life. Just like if a young adult sees someone using an e-cigarette, it will encourage him or her to try it which will lead to real cigarettes which will lead to marijuana use which will lead to a heroin habit which will lead to a reality TV series as the one-time innocent child struggles with his or her gateway-spawned addictions. Can we then alternate your “My Child is an Honor Student” bumper sticker to “My Child is an Honor Student with an Inability to Make Decisions on Her Own When in the Grasps of Marketing Campaigns”?

Oddly, the gateway theory did not apply when Pennsylvania recently decided to up certain highway speed limits to 70 miles per hour. Let’s face it – if the sign says 55 miles per hour, the average speed actually being driven lingers at 65. Being trapped in this gateway, we are all now going to see 70 miles per hour and immediately start driving 80. Don’t expect us to be responsible when behind the wheels of our vehicles. Not when in the vice-grip clutches of the gateway.

Likewise, places such as Atlantic City and Las Vegas have made massive efforts in becoming family friendly vacation spots. Surely, children won’t be affected by the ringing of Jackpot winners and the sights of Mom and Dad blowing away college savings in frustration that they, too, should be jackpot winners.  The smiling, chirping dolphins down the strip are the antidote for this looming gateway and, despite the cascade of cash flowing from ATMs everywhere to be thrown towards a dream (and longshot) of getting rich quick… yeah, there’s no real danger here, folks.

Sadly, as the liberal progressive agenda continues to hover over our heads and penetrate our personal lives, protecting us from the dangers of soda, cigarettes, coffee, cow flatulence and now squirt guns, they fail to point out the gateways that would actually have a positive impact on someone’s life. For example, consider the minimum wage job. This is never recognized as the gateway to bigger and better things, is it? This is where the gateway is portrayed as not only locked from the inside, but triple-bolted and under 24-hour guard by rich, white corporate executives. A person may desire to make the tremendous leap from an e-cigarette to heavy crystal meth use, but is apparently not capable of ever thinking “what’s next” while flipping burgers.

Parents, the next time you decide to arm your children with a double-barrelled Nerf gun and several magazines of spongy, suction-cupped ammo, we hope that you’ll stop and think twice. Your child is entering a strange world of gateways whenever they walk out your front door. These gateways do not hide a fabulous vacation or a dream kitchen. Instead they harbor a slew of hidden dangers and addictions for your child. Unfortunately, no job aspirations, though.

Do Yourselves a Favor, Stop Talking and Look

 

jackson-pollock-1943-mural-631

The above is titled “Mural” and it’s by Jackson Pollock, painted in 1949. And, in the length of a car ride to work this morning, I think I may have found meaning to it although what it actually is trying to say remains a mystery. Before this fateful morning, I would have looked at this painting and saw only an accident. As if someone spilled paint in the garage and sold the aftermath for millions of dollars. Mocked those who saw beauty and rage in the incoherence that covers this canvas and wondered aloud just what was the artist thinking in the midst of painting this and how could anyone even consider this art?

Then I had an epiphany where I saw the world today as a Jackson Pollock painting.

Just because I am looking for the obvious when I make my own determination as to what art actually is does not make this painting worth anything less. Others out there can see something in either this or his other works and go on about it for hours. Are they wrong?

The best quote regarding a Pollock painting came from the movie Mona Lisa Smile. “Do yourselves a favor, stop talking and look. You’re not required to write a paper. You’re not even required to like it. You are required to consider it.”

When freedom of religion expands to protecting the right to discriminate based on what the bible has taught you, it’s wrong. I can respect your right to not welcome non-traditional ways of life within your private home, but I will not respect a self-imposed right to take it to your place of work. Whereas the Hobby Lobby decision did not discriminate, did not take away the rights of the individual, but merely closed its own bank account to funding these types of decisions, the idea that anyone would use those same religious rights to refuse service to homosexuals is outrageous. It’s cruel and it does not seem, at least to this writer, what God would want you to do.

My favorite baseball player of all time is Billy Martin and I do recognize how unusual that is for someone to choose this path rather than jump aboard the bandwagon and select one from the usual suspects – Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, DiMaggio and so on. Martin’s average does not scream Hall of Fame and his legacy remains haunted by stories of alcoholism, bar fights and constant firings. If I were to look very quickly at this description, I would not see a man worth admiring. Fortunately, I considered him. When I considered him, I found a story about him that quickly became my favorite. One day, Martin came across a child that had become separated from his family while at Yankee Stadium. Martin gave the child $20.00, took him by the hand and walked him round and round the stadium until finally reuniting the boy with his parents. The family remained close friends with Martin for the remainder of his life.

Martin was an emotional man.  He was also not shy about shedding tears following the devastating sweep to the Reds in the 1976 World Series. He loved children and was always generous. Martin said, “I may not have been the greatest Yankee to put on the uniform, but I was the proudest.”

So, was I right to consider him or should I have glanced briefly at the surface and disregarded Billy Martin as trash?

The same applies when discussing politics and attempting to discern rights and freedoms, keeping steady with your moral and religious beliefs in a world that seems as disorganized as a Jackson Pollock painting. With a population becoming more open about whom they are personally whether it be sexual orientation or other circumstances, it may seem like your traditional beliefs are under attack or your marriage is at risk for losing its sanctity. Why I don’t feel the same way is because all of these things are ideas and, as stated in Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary “America” – America is an idea. We are all idealists, making a future that is unique to our personalities and, hopefully, our successes will be plentiful and yet strangely original to whom we are as people – white, black, homosexual, religious or atheist. If my success as a single woman with a taste for 90′s punk rock and a group of friends that includes gays and lesbians does not match your success as a married couple with two children and steady jobs over the last ten years, this does not mean that either of us are right or wrong. What it means is that, despite our differences in lifestyle choices, we still share the same idea of America – friendship, family, love and comfort. Harmony.

Sadly, I am not readily finding harmony on either side of the political spectrum it seems. I have no doubt that it exists, but it seems that I must wage war to get there. Citing discrimination over a government bill that removes your right to discriminate based on religious beliefs is contradictory. And, as one so callously did in his comment, using a derogatory word that begins with the letter N to refer to our president (you know the one) is uncalled for and disgusting behavior. I don’t like President Obama. I think this blog has made that abundantly clear. I don’t care for his policies. I don’t like being told there’s a war against me and that we are victims is a rich, white man’s world. But, if he were to visit my place of employment today and walked down the aisle I work in, I would stand in his presence. I respect the office despite my feelings towards the man.

In the end, I am considering purchasing a print of the above Jackson Pollock painting or another if I can’t locate this one. I want to hang it in an area where I’m forced to look and consider it every day. Perhaps I am not meant to get it or maybe I’ll never see the garden bed of roses he may have been intending to create with this chaotic painting style. However, I do feel that, along with everything else in life that I don’t understand, I am required to consider it.

- the cat’s Mommy

The Masks of Comedy & Tragedy

The downed Malaysian jet “looks like it may be a terrible tragedy” says President Obama while making a visit to a bridge instead of a border.  But, would have been a bigger tragedy is if he missed an opportunity to slam Republicans and not arrive to his fundraisers on time.

I wonder if people would finally turn once and for all on our community organizer-in-chief if he had applied the same lackluster address towards the following:

“The kidnapping of 300 girls by Boko Haram is a Charles Lindbergh-like tragedy.”

“800,000 people had been slaughtered in Rwanda during 100 days of tragedy.”

“Ted Bundy committed 30 individual acts of tragedy.”

“John Wayne Gacy’s Pogo the Clown was not a clown of comedy, but one of immense tragedy.”

By the way, let’s spitball this one around for awhile when discussing our president’s level of compassion and where his focus is.  The President of the United States talked about the “tragedy” for a whole 40 seconds.  Want to know how long he talked about Trayvon Martin for his follow-up to his original remarks regarding the death of this young man?

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.  Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.  And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me.  There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.  That happens to me — at least before I was a senator.  There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.  That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.  And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.  The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.  And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.  It’s not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.  They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration.  And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.  So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys.  But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this?  How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?  I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent.  If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.  But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do. 

I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here.  Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code.  And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation we can’t do some things that I think would be productive.  So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists. 

When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things.  One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped.  But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing. 

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law.  And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive.  And I think a lot of them would be.  And let’s figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations. 

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the “stand your ground” laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.  On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see? 

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?  And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?  And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project — we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys.  And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about.  There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.  And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

I’m not naïve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program.  I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as President, I’ve got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front.  And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation.  And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that. 

And then, finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching.  There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race.  I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations.  They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.  On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?  Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character?  That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better.  Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.  It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society.  It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.  But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are — they’re better than we were — on these issues.  And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues.  And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.  But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

Thank you, guys.

Congratulations – you didn’t get bored and made it to the end.  We will admit that we didn’t watch the speech.  We actually copied and pasted it from whitehouse.gov.  Still, we think it’s safe to guess that it took longer than 40 seconds to deliver and this is the SECOND time President Obama brought up Trayvon Martin.  An airplane gets shot down?  It’s a tragedy.  Here are some prayers and now it’s back to talking about the prickly GOPers and how they won’t do what I want!

Still think he’s there for the little man?

 

 

 

Fumigation of Social Media

Recently, we have signed up to put our money where our mouths are, stepping out from behind the security of a somewhat anonymous blog and lending our voice to a politician’s cause through volunteering.  We’ve been itching to do this for sometime, not just to develop connections and gain a more dense audience to listen to what we have to say, but because President Obama has truly brought out the best and worst in all of us.  We have a choice to sit here and write about it or we can go out and do what we write about.  Needless to say, we are excited for a chance at the latter.

Our participation was welcomed warmly with an introduction on a coinciding Facebook page.  Sure, it may be seen as a chance to brainwash the newcomer with the naive approach.  Perhaps they are force feeding us candy bar after candy bar with the promise that one will hold that golden ticket for a tour of the chocolate factory, but we don’t think so.  We think they’re just happy to see that they are not alone in their thoughts and beliefs and that we come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Speaking of colors, after returning our gratitude for the welcome to our new friends, we scrolled down to see what the more familiar ones were up to.  Normally we wouldn’t react so strongly to a post from a friend on the other side as we’ve always respected other opinions.  Hell, if you’ve read other posts on this blog, you know that we welcome if not beg for opposition only because it would make things interesting and we’re always looking to learn something new.

We’ve held onto her friendship (Facebook and otherwise) until tonight because we wanted to reference what was on the most offending of posts for this blog, but then we’ve decided that we’re not going to glorify or justify anything that she wanted us to read.  But we’re at the point we’re tired of hatred from those who claim to be its biggest enemy.  If you disagree with us, let’s talk.  We may wind up agreeing to disagree, but if the debate is strong, respectful and intelligent we are confident that no matter how heated words may have become, we’re still interested in having a drink with you afterwards.

But we can’t do that with her latest post.  It’s just too much hatred to stomach and the path is going in circles.  Whereas our new friends don’t know a thing about me and managed a warm welcome, an old one passed an extreme level of judgment on us based on skin color and this is to prove a point about racism.  Can we only remain friends if we promise to shackle ourselves with guilt over being white?  That our own struggles don’t matter, such as losing almost everything following a layoff, the fact that we were recently turned down for a mortgage or that apartment complexes in New Jersey want nothing to do with us because we counter-filed against a ratbag, mold-infested garbage can of a rental unit almost two years ago, making us undesirable tenants?  Apparently, all we needed to do was flash our White Superfriends Membership Card and all would be okay.  Exceptions would be made for us and the sun will shine brightly upon our yellow brick road as we trot along with our equally as perfect dog.

Each and every time white privilege is mentioned, we think back to this post written earlier.  In fact, we’re going to do better than that.  In the Philadelphia area?  Please join us one night.  First, you’ll be treated to the dinner of your choice and then we’re going to go visit M and her husband.  Hopefully, M will be in good spirits and not vomiting violently into a nearby bucket from her treatments.  Hopefully, the fatigue and explosions of pain throughout her body will be at a minimum because we’d like her to be fully awake for your visit.  After introductions, we’re going to sit back and watch you discuss white privilege with M and her devoted husband.  You’re going to remind them how lucky they are to be white.  Then we’re going to count the seconds it takes for M’s husband’s fist to connect with your face.

Unfortunately, this means the end of a ‘somewhat’ friendship, but we’re not going to lose any sleep over it.  Instead, we’re going to dream of our future with new friends that, so far, seem to be thrilled at having us around.

Obama’s Own Outbreak

1995’s Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and Renee Russo was a cheesy attempt at creating hero army doctors and the insubordination they flaunted towards their superior officers (and get away with it). Of course, it’s all for the good of the people and, when a filovirus skips across the ocean to invade a small, California town, Hoffman’s character becomes the loose cannon hero amidst an assembly of bumbling COs. He takes it upon himself to save the day, save his wife and, eventually save himself from the virus by receiving a rapidly developed serum into his bloodstream. Credits roll and we cheer for the little guy escaping what should have been a guaranteed court martial.

Still, one can find all sorts of lessons for life within the worst script’s body and from Outbreak, we’d like to borrow one of Donald Sutherland’s lines as he begs the White House to allow him to annihilate the town of Cedar Creek: “Be compassionate, but be compassionate globally.”

Following this blog post, we’ll be drafting a letter to President Obama, suggesting that he turn to the movies to help him make the big decisions, but in the meantime here’s what made us think of this quote.

If you’ve ever stuck a twig into an ant hill as a child, watching video coverage of the swarms of people come into this country illegally over our southern border must have a hauntingly familiarity to you. A few quick jabs with a stick and oodles of ants will come pouring out, many of them carrying eggs, and they scatter away from their now destroyed home in search of a safer environment away from the curious child.

No, we are not comparing the immigrants to ants.

However, watching the footage that the government allows us to see is nonetheless equally as chaotic as the imploding anthill. As we hear more and more about the horrid conditions these people have not only escaped from their homelands, but continued to endure during their journeys to our country, we begin the feel the compassion alarm sounding from within us. Although many of us have woken up from the American dream, we are still eager to share it with those who have only known violence and poverty. The problem is that, if the decision is made to keep these kids here, they will be subjected to a different form of poverty and violence and that compassion that once guided your feelings towards the fate of these people will surely disappear.

President Obama, at least to us, has always displayed all of the characteristics of an animal hoarder. Maybe his heart is in the right place, but for a man that doesn’t want the United States to be the world’s police force, he certainly has no problem turning us into the world’s foster care unit. Although animal lovers want to embrace every homeless animal struggling to find warmth on a winter’s night and give them food and shelter, they must accept that they can’t. After a certain amount of time, every animal cannot be put into a home. Life on the streets brings diseases that are lifelong, it costs money and requires space and, above all, an animal that is feral will most likely not be able to adapt to being in a home with humans. Logic dictates this and, far too often, logic is replaced with compassion.

No, we are not comparing these children to feral cats.

Compassion is Glenn Beck, sending soccer balls and stuffed animals to the children currently being held at these detention centers. Logic is accepting that they have to go back. Keep them comfortable, as healthy as possible and occupied while they’re here, but they can’t stay here. There are far too many children of our own that need the opportunities that some are so ready to shower upon these immigrant children. In our cities, kids are blown away, caught in the crossfire of the gang warfare that, unfortunately, has become part of their daily lives. Their only mistake was to be playing in the wrong playground at the wrong time. Those who survive may become so incredibly numb to violence and death that their own compassion dries up and becomes a distant emotion rarely exhibited when it needs to be.

The one silver lining if you can call it that? People are waking up. The communities of hard working families that supported Obama are finally beginning to realize that he’s not there for the little man. He never has been. Obama has always been there for your votes and, now that those were secured, he’s turning his full attention towards the latest herd of potential voters.

If Obama has compassion, it is severely disorganized and complicated with undiagnosed ADHD. Unable to make good on his promises to his own people, he’s moved onto the next project. Once these immigrants are dispersed, they’ll be forgotten, too.

Except, of course, for when it comes time to vote. Be compassionate globally? Obama isn’t even compassionate nationally. We’d say he’s compassionate for himself, but that actual term for that is selfish.

OMG – the Camera Just Loves Him!

Much like President Obama’s teleprompter, a picture says a thousand words. Take either away and we’ll see that there isn’t much to this president.

Not to down the president on this one. Where would the existence of any politician be without the convenience of a nearby photographer to capture the heartfelt hugs and cries of “hold my baby!”? But when the president outright refuses to visit the border due to his fear of photo ops during an inappropriate time, we’d like to remind him of his selfie during the memorial of Nelson Mandela.

In the meantime, let’s regurgitate how bad Bush 43 was for not landing at the Katrina site and please enjoy our collage of presidential photo ops that apparently never happened.

Photo ops

 

Thinking of Going AWOL

I joined a good friend of mine for dinner last night and, although we brushed the topic of politics and the recent Hobby Lobby decision, I got a feeling that my views made her a bit uncomfortable. Hey, that’s cool. We’re all entitled to our opinions. It impacts our friendship in the least and we can easily toast our glasses and change the subject because differences like that don’t matter.

This is what a true friendship is and I remind myself to be grateful of such a thing on a daily basis.

But I see that there is such a lack of trust among certain people and conservatives, especially those who see a war on women, a war on minorities and a war on impoverished citizens. When I think back to my own life and the many failures that have graced it over the years, I can’t come up with a single circumstance that my own lack of achievement was due to being a woman or that a conservative was nearby, ready with his net to keep me from achieving what could rightfully be mine. This is not to say that there aren’t women or minorities that have had roadblocks put up in front of them, but a war seems like a massive effort when the truth is much more likely to be the combined efforts of a number of morons that, unfortunately, speak louder than those that don’t practice such stupidity and prejudice.

What continues to disinterest me as these wars rage on is that, whereas a white man will be told that he is lucky to be white and in America – therefore reducing his own concerns to that of a dramatic crybaby – my own observations towards labeling those who find rights violations within a lack of funding towards the plan B pills and IUDs as crybabies are met with harsh criticisms and a slew of how dare you’s.

Well, why not? If a liberal can belittle a man’s troubles just because he is white, why can’t a conservative state the same for a rights violation that never existed? Women do have rights to make their own decisions and no one is taking that away from them. Of course, there will always be efforts to, but I feel confident enough that it won’t go to far. My proof – 20 years of Republicans in the White House and, yet, Roe v Wade remains as secure as it has been since 1973. By the way, having your company pay for an IUD is a privilege, not a right.

This is not to say that I have been humble and respective throughout my life. This is also not to say that I haven’t existed within my own imagined wars dreamed up simply because I was tired of trying and things weren’t going my way. My own war was declared the moment I realized how hard it was to write for a living without a college degree. I always never understood the need to put out money for a bachelor’s degree only to come back and do exactly what I’ve been doing without it all along. A writer needs polishing and training in the basic rules of journalism, but curriculum-required earth science, a history course and two years of college level math? I think not.

As the rejections piled higher, the war grew bigger inside of my head. It was unstoppable. It was a prejudice against those who didn’t attend college and a presumption that I was incapable of anything without a piece of paper to back me up. The war on non-college graduates expanded beyond my own writing goals, recruiting employers that also felt that a candidate without a college degree is not nearly as impressive as another who had one. I am stuck. I am fighting an uphill battle with very little ammo, trying to survive a downward hail of bullets from the college crowd.

The friend that I met for dinner last night is a full time, freelance writer and doing quite well with it. Inside of my battle-damaged brain, I am often consumed with thoughts of ‘well, why her’ and ‘I’m just as good’. Then I remembered that she has a college degree. Well, that’s all the answers I need. Again, its another blatant example of the war on non-college graduates and that we are all incompetent and not capable of much.

So, am I right to feel this way? Sure, there are some truths to the college graduate having preference over the non-graduate. As a matter of fact, it’s not something that can be denied. Just look at the postings on a job website. It’s college required, bachelor’s required and so on. However…

My friend did not wake up one morning and find 100 writing jobs waiting in her inbox for her. Her college degree did not do the work for her, she did the work with her college degree. She worked as a server for years and, no matter how exhausted she may have been after her long day, she still forced herself to log onto her computer and bid for writing opportunities. She did not write three articles and receive a welcome parade into the world of freelance journalism. She balanced this act for years, eventually (and responsibly) working both jobs until she knew she could leave her position as a server behind and concentrate 100% on being a full time writer.

I didn’t do that. Not even close. I have never shown her level of commitment, often putting more effort into the excuses I could come up with as to why I am not writing – long day at work, I have a headache, there is something I really want to watch on TV and cannot wait. Maybe I am fighting a war, but I am going into battle without a gun or training. Armed only with minimal effort and a plethora of excuses, I quickly become KIA.

Actor Morgan Freeman was asked if he felt there were less opportunities for African American men and his response was a quick, but confident “no”. He cited his own success and the success of the African American host that had posed the question to him. Another actor, Ashton Kutcher, described opportunities as resembling hard work.

I can’t say that I am better at writing than my friend or if she is better than me. Perhaps her college degree had something to do with it. I don’t have these answers. What I can say though is that she worked tirelessly towards her goal. I have not.

To hide behind the theory of wars on women and minorities doesn’t explain the success that has been found by many of both the sex and races of these in debate as Morgan Freeman said. To call them lucky is insulting. What do you know about the sacrifices they have made to get where they are?

I have two choices in life. I can give up and just accept the fact that I’m never going to get anywhere in life because I don’t have a college degree. After all, I can find ten job openings within a minute that specifically state college degree required so I must be right to recognize this war. Or, I can brush off the rejections and trudge on. Maybe even try every now and then.

Women can complain that there is a war raged against them because a craft supply chain won’t pay for certain types of birth control. African Americans can feel that they have been rejected by the country and thrown into impoverish, crime-ridden communities to die. Or, the women who don’t agree with the Supreme Court decision can look elsewhere for employment, perhaps with a company that matches their belief system. A minority can look around his environment as a young man and make a promise to get himself and his family out of there.

Which one do you think is going to have better results? Calling war and playing victim or defying the odds and making sacrifices? Looking at my friend today, I see that she is the victor and I am the self-made victim. That is why she is where she is today and I am sitting at this blog complaining about it.

I, for one, am tired of these wars and request an honorable discharge.

Leave it to a Conservative to Say Something Stupid

As President Obama’s ratings fall further and further away from what his narcissistic, fevered little brain can neither admit nor handle, conservatives should be embracing such a moment by working to regain the trust of the low-information, single-issue voters that cast their ballots for this president on the premise that he is cool and – oh yeah – he’s for gay marriage as long as it gets your attention.

Where as we love giggling over the idiocy that flows from the mouths of liberals like water from a hydrant on a 100 degree day (yet not nearly as refreshing), it seems no more worthy than of an eye-rolling as it is typical, means very little and is formatted to reinforce the mass hysteria that the world is against you unless you vote for us.

However, when a conservative messes up and says something stupid, it is massive, often very cold-hearted, lacking research and can often prove a liberal right. Cases in point: the claim that polar bears use blocks of ice as transportation devices so their melting environment is fine and Ann Coulter’s recent, two-part spanking of soccer and its apparent swath of girly-men fans.

Coulter does not find glory in soccer because, at least in her eyes, it lacks a sense of individual achievement. It’s foreign, you can’t use your hands and, above all, it’s hard to respect a sport where the women’s league can earn as much popularity as the men’s.

Wow, well that’s like years of hard work by other conservatives to appeal to youth, homosexuals, women and immigrants immediately being swept away by two articles of ignorance (because one clearly wasn’t enough) and puts us all back at the starting line. Good work, Ann Coulter! With a careless cascade of thoughtless observations and words, you have set conservatives back miles. Your views on soccer and its fans are not only uncalled for, but a complete waste of time for anyone who may have logged onto your site for inspiration and guidance. Nothing you have said shows steps towards unity, but rather a complete lack of respect for other nations and cultures. Insert your “USA! USA!” chant here.

We don’t watch soccer, but we also don’t watch America’s adopted, forced-down-our-throats, pseudo-national pastime of football. However, we have seen enough of both to feel confident enough to ask the question, “what the hell is she talking about?”.

Apparently Coulter, during her endless search for sports where there is an ‘I’ in team, has determined that a sport requiring group effort is not a real sport. In that logic, there is also nothing spectacular about a 4-6-3 double play in baseball. If the player cannot achieve what former Phillie Eric Brunlett did with his unassisted triple play, then please don’t waste Coulter’s time. The excitement is gone, the moment is lost and there is not enough “me, me, me” to celebrate. By the way, can she point us to a YouTube video that demonstrates how a receiver both throws and catches his own pass before running it into the endzone?

Coulter would definitely disagree with us in that football is shoved down our throats, but we can only assume that she is not listening to sports radio in July where football is still all the fuss in the middle of baseball season. Perhaps she is not aware of the 3-day spectacle that is the NFL draft. Football is so fantastic that it doesn’t need to have fantasy leagues and gallons of beer in order to make it more enjoyable. The Superbowl itself is such a classic event that can easily stand on its own without breakthrough commercials and a celebrity-lined halftime event.

Maybe we are just blind to how exciting football is, but perhaps we could appreciate it more if we were able to watch more than 50 continuous seconds without having to go to commercial break.

Coulter feels that a sport is not a sport without serious, bone-breaking injuries that lead to players being carted off the field in stretchers and the chance of losing a player to severe heat stroke as he had ignored the warning signs while proving himself to be a man and not a sissy that runs up and down a soccer field and takes heat rests. Know what’s manly to us? Really overweight, out-of-shape men that play for ten minutes and then have to cling to an oxygen tank for dear life. Players that receive concussion after concussion, suffering irreversible brain damage, to the point that they kill their families and themselves all in the name of taking one (or 10) for the team. Yay, America’s sport!

Coulter notes the celebration of Alergian fans following a tie game leading to riots in the streets. She may or may not be aware as we’re sure incidents like this rarely take place in wealthy, gated communities, but many sporting events wins in the United States are celebrated with drunken riots, mailboxes being thrown through office building windows and fires being set to show how thrilled we are over the final score. Algerians are no different.

Coulter asks “why must soccer fans get in such a snit about people who hate soccer?” Hairball asks why must Ann Coulter get in such a snit about people who like soccer? What were the points behind her two, highly arrogant and ignorant articles and what purpose did it serve other than to insult other nations, back her own hidden point that women’s athletics have no place amongst real sports fans and that, if she doesn’t understand how a sport is played, it’s stupid and un-American?

Maybe she should stick to politics and stop worrying so much about soccer fans enjoying the World Cup.

The Administration Added 288,000 Jobs in the Month of June

… and celebrated as the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1%. As usual, these numbers resulted in the typical nah-nah-pooh-pooh name calling at the Republican Congress who, as seen by the zealous Democrats, do nothing except try to stamp out all potential for anyone trying to survive out in the jungle also known as Bush 43′s failed economy.

Brushing the confetti aside, one does not need to turn to Fox News to verify whether or not this number is accurate. It is. If you do not consider the following:

1) “In June, the civilian labor force participation rate was 62.8 percent for the third consecutive month. The employment-population ratio, at 59.0 percent, showed little change over the month but is up by 0.3 percentage point over the year.” – That sounds to us like 41% of the country is out of work.

2) Also keep in mind that 7.5 million Americans are working part-time on an involuntary basis due to being unable to find full time work or having their hours cut due to economic reasons. This number has increased by 275,000 in the month of June. That number nearly cancels out the 288,000 jobs added.

3) There are 2 million people not being included in the unemployment numbers and this is simply because in the four weeks leading up to the survey, they haven’t applied for any jobs. These people, referred to as “marginally attached to the labor force” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, have been disregarded in only a matter of weeks. Interestingly enough, they have actually experienced a drop in their numbers of 554,000 over the past year. One would think that this could be another fact that President Obama should gloat about, but we’re guessing he doesn’t as he would have to admit that there are 2 million people not being included in the 6.1% unemployment rate. It would mean that the actual number would be 11.5 million people out of work, not 9.5 million. Such a trend might encourage people to start wondering, ‘hmmm… what else is being left out’.

Yes, we are just so cynical on this end. We just hate Obama so much that we can’t be happy over one thing his administration is responsible for. Even if that were true (which of course it isn’t), does it change the fact that we have a total of 19 million people in this country who are either underemployed or not employed at all? Can’t we, for once, just praise the man and his administration over the 288,000 jobs added in the month of June?

Try this comparison: In the first hour, John started with and lost $275 playing a video slot at a casino. During the second hour, he got his credits back up to $288. Now, has he actually won $288 or did he actually only win $13? Most go to Atlantic City with the idea of at least doubling their money or hitting a jackpot. Not many will ever celebrate a $13 win. And yet, here we are, celebrating 13,000 new jobs as a 288,000 win.

Bravo Obama.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf