Stand or Fall: A Different Experience

I think a lot of the differences in political or ideological beliefs come down to one thing: acknowledging and accepting that people have different experiences from your own.

Growing up, I was told if I got into African-American culture and history that I ‘trying to be black’. I was not trying to claim history and culture that wasn’t mine as a white woman of European descent. I like African-American culture such as music and literature, and I like learning about history because I know when I learn history that isn’t a reflection of mine, I become a more empathetic and compassionate person.

History is not there to make you comfortable nor does it mean you’re guilty of past sins and atrocities. No one is saying people in the present are guilty of people’s actions in the past except idiots who are just being ignorant jerks and trying to deflect from having to learn that the past is written primarily in pain and blood.

Growing up, I was also told I was gay if I got into gay culture and history. I don’t identify as LGBTQ+ but that doesn’t mean I can’t accept my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters for who they are. There is NOTHING wrong with being LGBTQ+ and no, they’re not ‘groomers’ or ‘pedophiles’. The groomers and the pedophiles are those that abuse their positions of authority and privilege and use their hate and lack of conscience to hurt others.

Most people live in a bubble, so to speak. They do the same things and go to the same places for most of their lives. They live and work with people much like themselves and because of that, they don’t have the best understanding of the diversity of the world. Also, too many people buy into bullshit that people who are ‘different’ in some way from them are not worthy of the same respect and acceptance as they give their own little insular group.

It’s like saying that poverty is a moral failing, which is complete and utter fucking bullshit. Poverty is due to a lack of money, financial resources, and opportunities. It’s like telling someone without education and experience, or the financial means to acquire them to just get a better job. Poverty is when people don’t have generational wealth or privilege to build on or inherit. Yet rich people think their bullshit advice of just doing more will magically lift people out of poverty. How about stop being greedy blood-sucking bastards and pay people living wages and help them build wealth and get better educated?

And let’s talk about discrimination: hurts like hell doesn’t it when someone looks at you, or your name, or sees what gender you are and says ‘no’ to you without giving you a second thought or hearing you out. So to say that’s right or justified in some way is complete and utter fucking bullshit, especially if you say that because it hasn’t happened to you then it couldn’t have happened to someone else the way they described it, or worse, that they did something wrong when they didn’t. Discrimination and prejudice are baked into the human psyche by centuries of learned behavior and reinforcement by the shit-heads of this world. And if you can’t accept that, shut the fuck up and ask yourself why.

To me, the differences in our world are mostly because people are stupid, self-centered, and believe way too much bullshit. It’s because they’ve bought into the bullshit that because people are different, have different experiences, different cultures and histories that one group is better than another. Or worse, that one group wants to take over everyone else, especially poor people taking everything from rich people. Again, that is complete and utter fucking bullshit because poor people are just trying to survive and don’t have the luxury of thinking too far past that.

In the end, people need to shut up, listen, and accept people as they are. If someone is trying to set you up in an ‘us against them’ scenario, you need to call them out on their bullshit. And if you have a sense of entitlement, you need to get rid of that shit or people are going to keep calling you out on it. It’s not going to hurt you if you accept someone as they are, nor is it going to make you into something you’re not to begin with. Instead, it will broaden your knowledge, give you a greater sense of empathy and compassion, and make you a better person.

We’re all human beings, yes. But we’re all unique and different. If you want conformity, keep that fucking shit to yourself. But if you want to be a better human being and not live in shame, guilt, or fear from some bullshit authority-figure that honestly doesn’t care about you at all, open your mind and pull your head out of your ass. If more people do that, then shit will get done and things will get better.

Stand or Fall – Twenty-Eight and Silent

Yesterday I wrote about my twenty-eighth trip around the sun and how totally shitty that year was for me. Another shitty aspect of that year was how silent I was about what was going on in the world at the time. I wasn’t silent just because I was shell-shocked with grief, but because I was scared shitless to say anything that challenged the narrative being shoved down the throats of everyone in America courtesy of the Bush administration and their insane determination to invade Iraq under false pretenses. Every day they pushed for that invasion evidence came forth to show they were peddling lies. But those bastards had one big billy club in their weapons arsenal- the power of conservative media to rise up and cancel the shit out of anyone who spoke against their lies and bullshit. Yes, conservatives invented the ’cancel culture’ they scream so loudly about now.

The first public victims of cancel culture were the group now known as The Chicks (back then they were still called The Dixie Chicks). In April 2003, on tour in England lead singer Natalie Maines said she was ashamed to be from Texas, the same state President George Bush was from. Well, you would have thought she was calling for the White House to be nuked or something by the way the media firestorm exploded. Within weeks, The Chicks canceled the rest of their tour, they were banned from country-music radio, and vilified as demon witches from Hell. And all because they challenged the lies peddled by the Bush administration trying to start a war they had no business even thinking about in the first place. Back then, if you questioned anything the Bush administration did you were labeled ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘against America’ because after 9/11, the Bush administration and conservative media used 9/11 to silence criticism of their drive to go to war only to benefit government contractors and oil companies.

But voicing any criticism of the Bush administration and the drive to war in Iraq outside of a group of like-minded people would have people screaming for your head. For me back then, I was terrified if I spoke out like that it would be used against me to drive me away from my father. I was afraid people would try to turn him against me because although he wasn’t a true conservative, he did believe that the United States had the right to be the world’s policeman, something he later said to me was dead-nut wrong (and yes, I was shocked as hell by that statement because all my life I’d heard him go, ‘My country right or wrong.’). Whether or not anyone would have used my political beliefs to turn him against me and drive me out of his life didn’t matter because it was a risk I wasn’t willing to take.

Fifteen years later, things began to change for women in the spotlight as a clip of singer Taylor Swift has surfaced of her in 2018 sending out a tweet criticizing Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for her homophobic bullshit. In the clip, Taylor is damn near terrified by what she’s about to do because she’s old enough to remember what happened to The Chicks. But Taylor sent that tweet, and she wasn’t ‘canceled’ like The Chicks were (probably because the lead monster against The Chicks, radio broadcaster from Hell Rush Limbaugh, is dead and hopefully burning in Hell for all the hate he spewed). And The Chicks recovered their career and are on a sold-out world tour as is Taylor Swift.

Yes, a part of me looks back at myself and thinks how I would’ve love to have burned it all down and told a lot of people to fuck off in the process. But I don’t completely regret my silence back then because it was because of a decision I made, a promise I made to my mother as she was dying. I promised her I would take care of my father after she died and a promise to a dying person is a huge one, but one I made with all my heart and soul and with no regrets. But my mother has been dead for twenty years and my dad has been dead for eleven years. And if they do have a problem with what I’m saying or doing with my life, they know how to bridge the divide so to speak (and they’ve done it before, but that’s a story for another time and place).

I’m not a scared, grief-stricken, shell-shocked twenty-eight-year-old kid like I was back then. As I finish my forty-eighth trip around the sun, I know I’m a tired, hurting, pissed off, middle-aged bitch who is not afraid of saying ‘fuck off’ or even burning what’s left of my life to the ground. To be honest, I don’t have much left other than my voice here. I live very simply and very contently on my own, but I know I live with the courage of my convictions. To me, conservative ideology and those who believe in it don’t have that conviction because conservative ideology runs on fear: weaponized fear that is turned into anger and hatred against others, and fear to keep those who do see through the lies and bullshit in line.

The real villains in this world aren’t feminists, minorities, gays and lesbians, transgendered people, drag queens, or radical activists. The real villains are neo-Nazis, greedy bastards who will bleed this world dry just to line their pockets, and anyone who lives their life without conscience or empathy. Those are the people I will speak out against without any fear now.

Because like The Chicks sing, I’m not ready to make nice.

Conversations From the Road – Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down

Illegitimi non carborundum  

“Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down.” (or ‘grind’ depending on your translation from the Latin)

My dad had this saying on a piece of paper pinned to the corkboard above his workbench when I was a kid. It was something he told me often, especially when it seemed like the world had gone totally off the rails and was like a constant never-ending shit-show. My crusty old bear-dad was right and lately I’ve been hearing his voice a lot inside my head. That old bear is trying to teach me something from beyond the grave so it’s time to listen up, everyone.

In the years after my mother died, my dad dealt with a lot of grief and pain. He used to say out loud, “Why am I still here?” It hurt like hell every time he said that because I wasn’t ready to lose him, too though I knew he was on borrowed time. One day I found my voice and told him: “Because you still have things to teach me. And I’m listening.” After that, he never said that shit to me again. Instead, he tried to teach me as much as he could and tell me his stories as many times as he could before he departed this Earth.

And in those years before he died, he would tell me don’t let the bastards get you down whenever I talked to him about some shit I was going through with whatever job I was working at or feeling like I couldn’t forge some kind of a life of my own. He would say that to me with emphasis whenever he thought I was backing away from my writing. He always used to tell me he wouldn’t have backed my writing if he didn’t think I had real talent and drive. He said if he thought I didn’t have what it would take to make it as a writer, he would have just patted me on the ass and said ‘that’s nice’ then sent me on my way. Because no matter how bad things got, he never wanted me to give on myself.

Nine years ago this month, I told myself I wasn’t doing so bad with my life. I told myself I was doing pretty well and if I just stayed in my little lane things would work out for me. This put my mind in a place of safety and contentment that in turn, unlocked another thought close to a year later: “Everyone else is just as full of shit as I am sometimes, but I’m not a bad person.” These two thoughts cracked the silence I had encased my thoughts and feelings in, cracks that eventually broke my silence altogether. It’s been hard as hell to deal with that, but I don’t regret it at all. Because another thing it’s made me was my crusty old bear-dad was right all along: don’t the bastards get you down.

One the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with is realizing I didn’t do so many things I wanted to simply because I was afraid of dealing with people giving me shit for that. My father knew I’d done that and that’s why he would tell me not to let the bastards in this world get me down any further than they already had. This is why I tell people, especially young people to live their lives to the fullest and to not give in to the assholes in this world who will them not to do things, or say things, or worst of all, that they don’t know how to live their lives. To the assholes of my past and those in the present who feel like they have the right to try and dictate to other people what to do and think, or who have taken their own shit and turned it inside out and mean as my late father would say: “Fuck off.” And if anyone gets butt-hurt about being told to ‘fuck off’, I’d tell them what my late father would say in reply to that butt-hurt bullshit: “What part of ‘fuck off’ don’t you understand?”

I think so many of us get ground down, worn down, or tired out from dealing with bullshit from assholes past and present, and with all the shit that sells in the media and such to where we think we have no purpose in our lives. Like my father lamented all those years ago, “Why am I still here?” And my answer to that question is the same now as it was back then: because we still need to learn from each other and be there for each other.

This past week when tried to write, I couldn’t. Yet another silent period of not writing as I’ve gone through so many times before. Yet again, I asked myself why that was and today I got an answer that makes a lot of sense: I’ve approached writing as if I’m walking through a minefield stepping on mines and just letting them blow up in my face. But I told myself today: I can see where the mines are, and I don’t have to step on them and let them blow up in my face. I can diffuse them then take them apart and put them back together in a way that doesn’t blow up in my face. Why this has been so hard to hear has been because of one thing: what ‘people’ aka ‘assholes’ might think about me working through my shit instead of just wallowing in it and letting it grind me down. Because as my late father tried to me years ago: when you work through your shit you’re going to change, and some people won’t like that. And he would also say life isn’t a popularity contest.

I think we all need to feel like our lives have some meaning or purpose in what we do and how we live. As I said to my father all those years ago, I needed him to teach me what he could before he died. Because he and I knew back then he didn’t have that many years left on Earth. And what he was trying to teach me back then was my purpose was to share my gift of writing.

Because in addition to the non-fiction triumvirate from Hell as I sometimes call it (Breaking Radio Silence, Stand or Fall, Behind the Story), and the lovely romantic fiction I love to write, there is a third area of writing I want to pursue: travel writing, writing about people and places in order to inspire people to get out of their walled compounds and out into the world. I want to show people the world isn’t such a fucked-up place, that there is a lot of good, a lot of beauty, and yes, places of pain and loss that we need to remember, too. This is why I feel the call of the road so much because people can go as far as they want to or stay close to home and find beauty and goodness.

Your purpose in life doesn’t have to be like the way I want to live as a vagabond storyteller. It can be as simple as being a good parent, spouse, teacher, or just doing good in this world by living with kindness and generosity towards others. It can be as simple as voting for people who care about this world and who haven’t sold out to special interests that are trying to kill us (yes, I’m talking about Republican Party elected officials who are in thrall to NRA blood money). Most of all, it’s just believing in yourself and if you’re not causing harm, you’re doing good. And yes, there will be assholes who will try to turn that against you because they’ve taken their own fears and shit inside themselves and turned it inside out mean as my daddy would say. And as my dear old crusty bear- dad would say in reply to that: don’t let the bastards get you down.

Conversations From the Road – Weekly Wrap-Up

This past week I blogged about the following:

Stand or Fall – How I Kept My Father From Being Taken Hostage By Fox News

In 2006, my father moved into the last apartment he would live in and since I was starting to make decent money from my job at that time, I paid for cable tv for him. But I told him right away that if I caught him spouting Fox News bullshit I’d take his tv away and super-glue his radio to one radio station. Because I was NOT going to lose my Nixon-hating father to Fox News and right-wing Republican Nazis without one hell of a fight. It was one of the few times I put my foot down with him and he knew I was dead-nut serious in what I said.

He reassured me he would not watch Fox News because he liked the women on CNN better because they were much smarter and prettier than the Fox News bimbos. (and yes, he really did say this.) I said a silent ‘thank you’ to the women of CNN but also I knew my dad was firmly against Fox News and their bullshit-hosts because he would rage anytime he heard some Republican asshole-politician talk about abolishing Social Security and Medicare, his only source of income and health insurance. Every time he heard that shit he’d go, “What the fuck am I supposed to do? Die? I’m already doing that.”

My dad was my first teacher in history and politics. He was a huge consumer of news and history, and he shared it with me from a very early age. He told me stories of meeting people with numbers tattooed on their arms- Holocaust survivors. He told me stories about Abilene, Texas 1958 where he saw water fountains side-by-side with signs over each one saying, ‘Whites Only’ and ‘Colored Only’, an ugly picture of segregated America. He told me the story of the Berlin Wall going up and how Russian snipers shot people trying to escape from East Berlin to West Berlin, and about President Kennedy’s speech there in 1962.

My dad taught me about the 1960’s and Vietnam, then the 70’s and his deeply-avowed hatred of Richard Nixon (which he was totally right about). Then he told me how he fucked up in 1980 and voted for Regan and came to regret it pretty fast when Regan busted the unions, allowed massive off-shoring of manufacturing and all the other shit he did. He said he’d never make that mistake again and he never went Republican again. He was on the Clinton-Gore bandwagon in 1992 and loved it when James Carville, the Clinton-Gore campaign manager said, “It’s about the economy, stupid.”, and when Bill and Al would go, “It’s time for them to go.” And in 2008, he told me about watching a young senator from Illinois named Barack Obama and how he liked him, and said Mr. Obama was a good man, a family man.

In 2006, there was a potential skirmish between us when he said to me one day that maybe the data about climate change wasn’t that solid. I bit my tongue and the next time I saw him I gave him a DVD of the documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and told him to watch it. Then I told him when I saw him the following weekend we’d talk about it. The following weekend came and I asked him if he’d watched it and he said yes and apologized for ever doubting the real facts of climate change. I was loaded up and ready to go after him about denying climate change because he’s the one who taught me about DDT poisoning in the 60’s, how the Cuyahoga River burned in 1969 because it was so damned polluted, and how we both watched footage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1986. Instead, he told me we needed to work our asses off to try and save this little planet of ours, and how we may need to terraform our own planet first before we do it to other places like Mars (my dad was a hardcore sci-fi junkie, too).

My dad had the ability to surprise me sometimes like when he said the United States needed to stop trying to be the world’s policeman. This was after a few years in Afghanistan and Iraq and how bad things were being fucked up there. It surprised me because he always pretty gung-ho about our soldiers going in and doing the right thing but in those two places, it wasn’t about doing the right thing but about making a small number of people a shit-ton of money despite the body counts and wounded and dead soldiers (fuck Dick Cheney and Haliburton and all those contractor-bastards).

My dad died in 2011 and I miss him terribly after all this time. Yet a part of me is sort of glad he didn’t live to see what’s happened since 2011. I think I would have spent a lot of time talking him down out of a tree and I might have had to wage more battles to keep him away from the fascism of Fox News and all the right-wing bullshit artists out there. But I miss talking with him. I miss being able to ask him about things he’d lived through and his thoughts on then and now. As I work on this ‘Stand or Fall’ project, I have to work from memory when it comes to wanting his knowledge and experience.

At a very early age, my dad taught me the old Hebrew proverb, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” He used to wonder how many times we could fuck things up before we blew ourselves to Kingdom Come once and for all, or how many times could we pull it back from the edge. And every time he said that he would say he hoped we didn’t find out. He believed we could do better, but he also knew the human capacity for destruction.

From my father I learned that fascism, Nazism, or any other bullshit-right-wing conservative -ism just consumes everything in its’ path. It’s just consumes until there is nothing left. It is devoid of conscience, empathy, and compassion. It is about extreme conformity without any dissent or question at all.

To anyone reading this who has lost loved ones to the right-wing Fox News hatred-and-outrage machine, I’m so sorry you lost the battle I won in the past. But as my father would tell you, don’t ever lose hope and don’t give up on anyone. Because despite a deeply cynical and pessimistic nature at times, deep down my father believed in the good and the potential of humanity. He believed in a ‘Star Trek’ future and not a post-apocalyptic or dystopian-Orwellian one (a la ‘1984’).

In the end, my dad knew when I did put my foot down, I meant business. I didn’t do it at the nuclear-level like my mother did when she snapped and slammed her foot down, but my dad knew I had that potential. And I would have gone nuclear-level if I had to save him from becoming something he raised me not to be. Because despite being a class-A hard-ass at times, he truly cared, and that was most important thing he taught me.

Stand or Fall – Rage Against the Guns

I’ve hesitated to write this piece for a very long time simply because I didn’t want anyone to come at me and say I’m making something personal when I shouldn’t. Now I know if someone says that to me it’s because they don’t want to deal with what I’m about to tell them, specifically the fear that I live with along with many other people. If you read this and feel ‘discomfort’, that’s for you to deal with, not me. Because your discomfort doesn’t mean jack-shit in the face of someone’s pain and fear they live with every day.

In the last week, there have been two terrible incidents where innocent individuals were shot. The first was in Kansas City when a sixteen-year-old black teenager was shot when he came to the door of a house looking for his siblings. This young man was shot twice but survived and is now at home recovering. This past weekend, a group of young women driving at night got lost and drove up to a house in a rural part of New York state. As they were turning around, the homeowner fired two shots at their car, hitting one of young women, The young women had to drive several miles to get cellphone reception and call paramedics but one young woman in the car was hit by a bullet and died.

Where it gets personal is this: every time I see this happen I think, ‘That could be me.’ Because I have gone up to people’s doors hoping I’m at the right one when I was delivering food and packages. And as an Uber driver, I never go up into a driveway, especially out in the country where the driveways are long. I will not go up a driveway in the country unless my pickup has called or texted me to let me know I’m good to drive up. I know the level of fear, paranoia, and anger that has been stoked by right-wing news media such as Fox News, the NRA (National Rifle Association), and the Republican Party along with right-wing neo-Nazi groups like the Proud Boys or the sovereign citizens movement all backed by the gun lobby and gun manufacturers for one purpose: money. Yes, these bastards have stoked fear and paranoia in order to take as much money from people and flood our country and countries south of the border with guns.

This is going to piss off someone reading this but I’m going to say it now for the first time here:

The conservative right-wing Republican establishment and gun lobby don’t care about anyone but themselves. They don’t care whether or not you, me, or your children live or die. Because if you or your children are killed by gun violence, they’re just going to send thoughts and prayers then ask your surviving family members for more money or try to get them to buy more guns and bullets.

Because for the last twenty years, this conservative establishment from Hell has been dismantling every piece of gun control legislation in order to flood our streets with guns and blood and line their pockets with millions of dollars in addition to the dirty Russian-mafia backed money that has fueled their media outrage machine. They created the problem, and they have no incentive whatsoever to fix it.

In 1992, I voted in my first Presidential election and two pieces of legislation were one of many reasons I voted Democrat. Those two pieces of legislation were both passed in 1993 and they were the Assault Weapons Ban and the Brady Bill which instituted a seven-day waiting period and universal background check program for handgun purchases. In the ten years these two laws were in effect, gun violence was three-hundred percent lower than it is now. Once those two laws lapsed, gun violence increased to the bloodbath that it is now.

So, how can we fix this problem?

First, pass the Assault Weapons Ban. There is NO reason at all for any civilian to own a military-grade assault weapon. These are weapons of mass destruction and don’t belong in the hands of civilians.

Two, Universal Background Checks and mandatory waiting periods. Background checks could have prevented several mass shootings along with the waiting periods needed to do a full and complete background check to begin with.

Three, Red Flag Laws. These laws are to keep guns away from people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others by family members, mental health professionals, and law enforcement. Again, something that could have prevented several mass shootings.

Four, banning convicted felons, those convicted of assault-and-battery, and most of all, those convicted of domestic violence from ever owning a gun. These people have proven they are more than capable of violence, and they will use guns to kill those they’ve hurt before like domestic partners and sadly, their own children.

Five, laws requiring gun owners to be certified and trained in how to handle and store their guns properly. I know plenty of responsible gun owners and they know how to handle and store their guns safely. I have no problem whatsoever with a gun owner who goes target shooting or hunting as they are some of the most responsible people I know, and they are people who support common-sense gun control laws.

Six, repeal open-carry and concealed-carry laws. There is no need for a civilian to carry a gun openly in public or concealed. The few times civilians were able to stop a mass shooter were because those civilians had some kind of military or law enforcement training or experience, something the average civilian doesn’t have.

Seven, go after the gun lobby and gun manufacturers to try and keep them from flooding not just our country, but other countries around the world with guns. Go after their dirty-money and their media allies who push disinformation and propaganda campaigns of fear and paranoia and stoke anger and outrage. And go after the conspiracy theorists who peddle false information and harass survivors.

Now if you’re still pissed off with me after reading this and want to push back at me with the following, here are my responses to save you some time and effort:

“All these laws won’t stop all mass shootings and save every life.”

My response to that is to quote an old Hebrew proverb with my phrasing:

“He who saves one life it is as if he has saved the life of the entire world.”

This means that we can and have a responsibility to save one life at a time. These laws and measures will save hundreds, if not thousands of lives. And they may help ease the pain of survivors, and families who have lost loved ones to gun violence, people who work tirelessly every day to turn their pain into purpose to try and save other families from going through what they live with every day.

“Well, if someone breaks into my house I’ll just shoot them.”

No one knows what they’ll do until they’re faced with it, and if you do pull the trigger you’ll have to live with it for the rest of your life. It’s called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and there is NO cure for it. You just learn how to manage it, but you’ll always live with the nightmares and the pain. So don’t come at me or anyone else all big and bad-ass and shit because if you think you can pull a trigger and not suffer the consequences even if they’re justified, go fuck yourself.

Finally, the big one: have I ever owned a gun or handled one?

No. And I have my reasons as to why I’ve made that choice but that’s a story for another time. And if you want to come at me and call me a hypocritical bitch for not telling that story right here and now: fuck off. I will NOT tell anyone when, how, or if they should tell their story and I will NOT tolerate anyone doing the same to me. That is pure fucking deflection and instead of doing that stupid-ass shit, sit down and have a very serious conversation with yourself as to why you think and feel the way you do, and dig deep and dig hard. But I will give you a warning: you might not like the answers you find, and sooner or later you will have to deal with them.

To those of you reading this who agree with me on these gun control laws and policies we desperately need to pass, but who may have grown disillusioned or feel their hope for the future slipping, the fight is still here and has been all along. And to quote from one of my favorite movies, ‘Casablanca’: “Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.”

Finally, I want to end with MTV’s slogan for the 1992 Presidential Campaign:

Choose or Lose.

Stand or Fall: How I Stayed True to My Values

Over the last six years or so, I’ve asked myself repeatedly why I never, ever considered changing my values from liberal to conservative. How have I stayed true to liberal values of kindness, compassion, empathy, and conscience? Simple: because for the last forty years, conservatives have demonized those values and turned them into weaknesses when in reality, they are the greatest strengths a person can ever have. But how can anyone reject those values and justify hatred, cruelty, and malice? This last question has taken me quite a while to find an answer to, but one has come to me: if someone asks, ‘how does this benefit me?’ before making a decision to help anyone, or to debating whether or not to treat someone with kindness instead of shitting all over them, that’s why they can demonize the value of kindness and most of all, love.

The origin of my values goes back to when I was twenty-one years old and made the decision to become my mother’s caregiver as she battled cancer. At the time and in years since, I was told I was making a tremendous sacrifice and I was doing the right thing. Behind my back and to my face even, I was also told I was nothing but a self-serving martyr and a cold, emotionless bitch for keeping my thoughts and feelings to myself. But I don’t see that decision as a sacrifice now, and I didn’t back then either. Back then I saw it as a decision I made without any hesitation or any consideration of what it would do to me. And I sure as hell didn’t ask, ‘what’s in it for me?’.

(And I want to add here it wasn’t just because my mother would have done the same for me, because she would have. She wouldn’t have done it because she was my mom and out of some sense of duty or obligation or some bullshit like that. She would have done with NO expectation of anything in return. That’s how she lived her life, but she wasn’t one to talk about that like I am now, In the last twenty years since she’s been gone, I realize just how much she and I were alike though that’s a story for another time and place.)

Last week, in two different states, the values of kindness and hatred for children were clear to see. In Minnesota, the governor signed legislation into law giving every school child in the state free breakfast and lunch regardless of income level. In Arkansas, the governor there signed legislation loosening up restrictions on child labor that would permit children as young as twelve or thirteen to work in such dangerous places like slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants with no protections under law for health and safety. Arkansas’ governor is a conservative Republican and Minnesota’s governor is a Democrat. The values of both parties are clearly on display here and if you think children should work in dangerous jobs instead of being in school and eating, ask yourself why. Though as always, I will warn you if you ask yourself why you want people, and children to suffer, you might not like the answers you find. And sooner or later, you will have to deal with them.

Most of all, I believe conservative ideology is rooted in the belief that suffering is justified, and even glorious as my late maternal grandmother used to say. I have always rejected that simply because suffering will always be a part of the human existence, but people don’t suffer in glory and revel in it. Poverty, hunger, and pain are not glorious or justified in any way. Jesus Christ preached a gospel of alleviating suffering with love and compassion, and action. He sure as hell didn’t place terms and conditions on who he helped or told us to help. And he sure didn’t ask for anything in return for himself.

And I’ve heard people say they learned how to be compassionate and loving ONLY after suffering themselves. If that’s the way you are, that you have to suffer before you will believe in another person’s suffering and try to alleviate it, you are seriously fucked up and need to do some serious work on yourself. That to me is the epitome of self-centered personal entitlement and definitely someone who will always ask, “What’s in it for me?”

It wasn’t easy for me to learn the origins of my values and why I’ve held on to them as strongly as I have. But my answers are good ones and my decision to do my best to live by my liberal, progressive, democrat beliefs is one I will never abandon. Nothing in this world is perfect but I believe we have to try to do the best we can with what we have to work with. Personally, I don’t want to see this world die and I don’t want people to suffer. So, if my tiny bit of support here can make a difference, then I’ll do my best.

Stand or Fall – Don’t Give Up On Texas

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

The Texas Legislature is having its’ biannual meeting of idiots (aka it’s regular bi-annual legislative session) and yet another idiot has put forth a bill for Texas to secede from the United States of America.

First, none of these bills have ever gotten very far because the smart ones in the ‘Lege (as the late great writer Molly Ivins called it) point out the flaws in this and show the world these idiots don’t ever think anything through.

Second, this state is a lot more Democrat or Blue than anyone outside of the state realizes. The Republican Party gerrymandered the state to get control of the legislature but that hold is getting slippery because of all the bullshit they’re spewing and people are starting to fight back against.

I’m a native Texan, born and raised though first-generation. And like so many, I knew I was raised on a lot of tall tales as they were called when I was a kid, or a massive ton of bullshit and lies like I’ll call it now. The history of this state is varied, colorful, and yes, painful as hell to confront, too. But one thing I want everyone reading to know is this: we’re also a state full of people willing to fight for what’s right and true, and good.

Two of the biggest United States Supreme Court cases originated here in Texas:

Roe vs. Wade in 1973 which legalized abortion and Obergefell vs. Hodges in 2015 which legalized gay marriage. And now there are other cases winding their way through Texas courts that could end up at the Supreme Court and make history like those two cases did. There are some very sharp legal eagles here in this state who are not afraid to fight it out in court so when they say, “We’ll see you in court.”, look out.

In 2020, like in many major American cities, protests began over police brutality and oppression and one day during a major protest in downtown San Antonio, I was jammed in traffic by protestors, riot police, and right-wing gun-toting assholes. It was the gun-toting assholes that I feared the most and was pissed off as hell to see getting a police escort out of Alamo Plaza… until the next day when word came that Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar ran those bastards off (after arresting a few on outstanding warrants). Then he, along with Mayor Ron Nierenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolfe went out to the protestors and said, “Let’s take a walk. You talk and we’ll listen.” And Mayor Ron said, “This is your city. Tell us how to make it better.”

(And if anyone doesn’t like the fact I was scared and pissed off at right-wing neo-Nazi gun-toting motherfuckers in downtown San Antonio, fuck all the way off. Unless you there, you have no right to talk to me like that or anyone else who was there on those days when those gutless cowards were parading around like the dick-less shit-heads they are.)

For the longest time, my hometown of San Antonio tended to skew older. Young people grew up here but mostly left and didn’t come back until they were ready to either raise families of their own or retire. But now this city is skewing younger and younger every year and more diverse than ever before. And most of all, these young people are embracing the heritage of their elders who fought battles to make this city a better place long before they were born. This is a city that is getting more progressive every day with issues like economic disparity, educational opportunities, affordable housing, and discrimination being the top issues and not maintaining a bullshit-status quo that only benefited a few.

And it’s not just the major cities that are skewing young and liberal but a lot of small towns, too. People in those small towns are beginning to see through Republican lies and bullshit as their towns are starving economically and socially. They’re beginning to see it’s not drag queens that are the enemy, but so-called God-fearing Christians (who don’t seem to fear anything but getting caught for their crimes against humanity, especially children).

So, to anyone living outside of Texas, don’t give up on us. Because we’re sure as hell not giving up on ourselves. And I think before long, the rest of the country, and the world for that matter, are going to see just how many ass-kickers we have in this state. Carpet-bagging assholes like podcaster Joe Rogan and tech-bro asshole Elon Musk and all their little shit-sycophants are going to start looking for an island in the middle of nowhere (or possibly Russia) because it’s not just Texans that are pissed off at shit-heads like them coming in and shitting all over the floor. And I know we’ll be a light in the darkness for other ‘red’ states like Florida and show them how to take names and kick ass.

When we say ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’ we’re not just talking about not littering, but about how we’ll throw your shit in a garbage can and shit-can your politics and right-wing bullshit yet again.

Ukraine On My Mind – One Year Later

One year ago this week, Russia invaded Ukraine. The Russians thought it would be a walk in the park and that Ukraine would just fall to them in a week. But in one day, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky changed that plan forever with these words:

First, outside the Ukrainian parliament in a direct address to Russian dictator Putin:

“When you come for us, you will not see our backs as we run. You will see our faces as we stand and fight.”

Second, later that day to the President of the United States:

“I don’t need a ride. I need ammunition. The fight is here.”

You see, Russia was counting on the Ukrainian government to flee into exile and for the country to collapse without any leadership. It was the same thing Hitler was counting on in 1940 when he began to bomb the living shit out Great Britain. Instead, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: “We will fight them on the beaches, and we will fight them in the streets.” Basically, Churchill and Zelensky were saying you’re going to have kill every damn one of us to take our country, but we’ll be sure to take as many of you with us.

Putin hasn’t capitulated yet, or fallen out of a window (like his critics seem to die accidentally from). But eventually Hitler was defeated and old Vladdy will go down too though I’d love to see him hanging from a scaffold in Red Square in Moscow. In the meantime, the Free World isn’t making the same mistakes as they did since the end of World War Two. This time they’re arming the Ukrainians with the latest and greatest in high-tech weaponry and providing real-time intelligence. Ukrainian membership in NATO and the European Union is being fast-tracked after years of both organizations being assholes and dragging their feet on a country that NEEDS to be in both organizations.

What’s really firing me up after a year is all the Russian propaganda being spewed out here on right-wing media like Fox News and other outlets. Let me break down a few of those lies for anyone who watches that fucking garbage:

Ukraine is led by a secret Nazi: No, they’re led by a Jew whose grandfather fought Nazis and comes from a long line of warriors.

There is no real-time reporting from Ukraine and what is being shown is all staged: DON’T BELIEVE THIS FALSE-FLAG BULLSHIT LIKE YOU BELIEVE THAT ABOUT SCHOOL SHOOTINGS HERE! I put that in all-caps because that false-flag, fake-news shit is like murdering people all over again.

Ukraine wants to be a part of Russia: No, they’ve been resisting Russian and formerly Soviet occupation for over a century. They’ve been starved to death, massacred, and oppressed by Russians so trust me, Russia hasn’t done a damn thing to be good to the Ukrainian people.

Oh, and this bullshit about how Ukraine needs to negotiate with Russia, here’s how to end the war:

Russian immediately ceases all hostilities and withdraws all troops out of Ukraine.

Russian returns all Ukrainian citizens taken prisoner.

Russia cooperates with war crimes investigators and turns over perpetrators to the World Criminal Court in The Hague for prosecution.

Russian pays reparations for damages to Ukraine.

Russian publicly accepts Ukraine as a sovereign nation and does NOT interfere in Ukrainian affairs or decisions in any way, shape, or form.

Now, Ukraine owes Russia NOTHING for this war. This war is all Russia’s fault and they’re the ones who must withdraw and surrender.

What angers me the most right now about this is elected members of the United States Congress spout Russian propaganda on a daily basis. To me, these members of Congress, all of whom are in the Republican Party, are Russian assets and traitors to the United States of America and the rest of the free world. I think in years to come when we find out how badly the Republican Party has been compromised, even extremely-jaded and cynical people like me will be shocked.

Most of all, too many people are silent in the face of all this. They might be thinking about it or working through the cognitive dissonance (here’s a link to a definition of that if you don’t know what that means). To those of you reading this who are ‘thinking’ through those Russian propaganda talking points, to quote my late father in all his rude and crude glory: shit or get off the pot.

And in the end, maybe somebody will push the big red button and blow us all to Kingdom Come. But my generation, (Generation X) has been living in the shadow of the mushroom cloud as the band Queen called nuclear destruction in their song, ‘Hammer to Fall’ like my parents’ generation did. But since 1945, cooler heads have prevailed and so many have saved the world whose names we’ll never know. So don’t talk about that nuclear-war bullshit to someone like me if you’re still trying to weasel out over going to the Russian side and thinking you can get away with lying about it.

Finally, in the worlds of the Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island to the Russian warship that told them to surrender:

“Russian warship, go fuck yourself!”


Stand or Fall – It Starts With the Books


When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, one of the first things they did was start banning and burning books.

Ninety years later, the state of Florida is banning and removing books from classrooms and school libraries until they can be vetted by state-sponsored censors.

In other parts of the United States, there are laws being proposed in state legislatures like Florida’s and movements by right-wing Nazis here in this country all of whom vote Republican and all the legislation is sponsored by the Republican party. Therefore to me, the Republican Party is the American Nazi Party.

When I was a kid going to school in the 70’s/80’s/90’s the biggest things books were targeted for:

Bad language: I think this was the ultimate irony that reading curse words would corrupt us when we knew all the bad words by the time we started kindergarten thanks to parents who swore like crazy and the R-rated movies we watched.

Sex: Holy shit! If there was any hint of sexual relations and we read it we were all going to die!!!

Homosexuality: Any hint of that and we would all turn gay. Yes, this was the argument back then and there was no discussion of transgender issues (the word ‘transgender’ wasn’t in the lexicon back then).

Back then, if you were a white kid (like me) and you read books on Black history or the history and culture of other races and ethnicities, you were told that you were trying to be black (or insert other race/ethnicity here).

I look back at those days and think, how quaint. Because back then we just cranked up our headphones and listened to heavy metal, gangster rap, and read whatever the hell we wanted to. We knew the adults in power really didn’t give a shit about us past a certain point and courtesy of Rage Against the Machine, we knew the police were the bulls on parade and would do nothing to protect us.

Today books are banned for the following reasons:

Homosexuality and Transgender experiences: the bullshit-argument is that kids reading books with these topics are being ‘groomed’ by pedophiles. No, the pedophiles are the Christian ministers and police officers being arrested daily for being the pedophiles and groomers they rail against.

Black History and Other History and Stories that Aren’t White-Nazism: The bullshit-argument is that white kids will feel enormous shame and guilt reading about slavery and other oppression. I’ve actually had this told to my face and to that I say this: BULLSHIT! If you are a white person and reading about oppression and the true history of races and ethnicities other than yours makes you feel shame and guilt, you need to sit down, shut the fuck up, and ask yourself why.

I’ve read that many young people today (those being under 25) feel like the powers-that-be don’t really give a shit about them. They feel like these motherfuckers will ban their ban their books but flood the streets with guns and ammunition through mass production and permit-less gun ownership. They know law enforcement will stand outside their schools and let them be shot to death like they did in Uvalde and Parkland, Florida (Florida just passed a permit-less gun law this week). And they’re right about the American Nazi Party, aka the Republican Party. So yes, they vote Democrat and organize against the American Nazi Party and that’s really freaking these Nazis out which is why they’re banning books and putting more guns on the street.

At this point, if you’re reading this and have voted Republican and are probably really pissed off at me for calling Republicans Nazis, ask yourself why you can justify guns over books. Ask yourself you have to live in a state of perpetual anger and fear while these motherfuckers get richer every day and you get poorer every day? Because in the end, it’s all about the grift as lefties like me say. And these grifters will use any ideological-bullshit argument to maintain their power and wealth and they will destroy everyone and everything if they have to before they let that go.

At this point, if you think I’m being way too over-the-top here, let’s go back ninety years to Nazi Germany. Their book banning-burning led to mass murder that created a new word for the world: genocide. And if the Nazis had developed the nuclear bomb, they would have bombed the world into oblivion as they had the means to deliver those deadly payloads courtesy of the V1-V2 rockets and long-range bomber they have developed. Today, the threat of nuclear war is still around courtesy of Russian President Vladimir Putin (a really big donor to the Republican Party) but the real threat is the embrace of Nazi ideals of racial purity and hatred for anything other than white, heterosexual, and Christian beliefs here in this country.

I’m going to close out with an excerpt from an article that is definitely worth a read as it contains this quote which sums up the American Nazi Party intentions without the profanity I’m fond of:

But there’s an even deeper reason that book bans are such a mainstay of authoritarian politics, even as the ideas being suppressed shift from regime to regime. Authoritarians hate reading for the same reason they hate sex, or any private behavior that allows people to experience thoughts and feelings outside of the authoritarian’s control. Learning to sit quietly and read by yourself is, for most people, the first step towards being able to sit with your own thoughts. It’s crucial for learning to think for yourself. There’s a reason most teachers like to have a wide array of books on hand, giving kids the freedom to read on their own. It’s how kids develop other skills, like critical thinking and creativity. (link here for the complete article)

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