Monday, September 24, 2012

Vote Platypus!

We are less than 2 months from the 2012 US (I have an international audience. Shout out to Iceland and Greenland! I want to come visit) Presidential election. Every day, we are inundated with election news: ridiculous super PAC spending, candidates with foot in mouth disease, polls that check the American voter more often than an obsessed dieter weighs him/herself (which can be hourly. That’s when someone gently suggests a good therapist and a prescription). I listen to people around me complaining about all the flyers from parties and candidates stuffing their mailboxes, complaints about robo-calls that disrupt life. And the relentless political ads on TV and radio (and the negative ones seem to hire the same two or three voices every election cycle. I can picture the resumes of  the voice actors and actress. Yes, actress singular).
I listen to the complaints because, as a registered independent voter, I don’t get the robo-calls and mailbox crap. I’m under the radar. It’s peaceful there.

Remember Todd Akin? (A woman who is “legitimately” raped can just shut down conception? Right! THAT asshat. I hope his wife punches him in the junk while he sleeps.) Among the chorus of voices telling him to step aside, some of the Republicans said he should step aside “for the good of the Party.”

Tom DeLay, former House Majority Leader and more recent convict and failed “Dancing With The Stars” contestant (People of America? If they’re going to put Tom DeLay and Bristol Palin on, DON’T FUCKING WATCH THE SHOW. Have some discretion here!) worked with convicted lobbyist and influence buyer Jack Abramoff to build “a permanent Republican majority” in the House and Senate. This should have made any American who had stayed awake in high school civics class REALLY uncomfortable. See: one party systems are  totalitarian systems (Communists in China, Baath Party in Iraq, the Kim family in North Korea). That’s not democracy.

I am sure there are examples on the Democratic side as well, but these are the two that come to my addled mind, so we’ll work from there.

Any time a group of people form an entity (political party, union or corporation as examples) to achieve a goal, a shift takes place. At first, the entity works for the benefit of the members. Gradually, the entity takes on a life of its own and it’s slow enough that the rank and file members don’t see it happen, the members of the organization start to work for ITS benefit rather than the other way around. Usually, this shift comes about when there’s money involved. A lot of money and a few people at the top of the organization want to control it, so the agenda begins to be about benefitting the organization.

Our two main political parties have reached this evolutionary point: they have become bloated monsters that are served by their members for the benefit of a few at the top rather than the party serving the members. Think of a televangelist with a Rolex and a website that takes credit cards. Who’s serving whom?
I’d like to propose a bold two-part experiment in democracy.

Part 1: Campaign contributions are limited to $xxx (pick a number) from REGISTERED VOTERS in the if district the candidate wants to represent and that’s it. Someone running for city council can only accept donations from registered voters in that ward, statewide candidates only money from the state, etc.  If you the registered voter want to donate to Robbie Republican, Donna Democrat, Lonny the Libertararian and that New York guy with “The Rent Is Too Damned High” party (he was real),

 God bless, have at it and deduct away. You can only give x amount to each candidate, but you can give to as many people who want to represent you as you want.

This will eliminate the PACs and Super PACs, “soft money”, which was part of the problem in the Nixon White House (have we solved that problem? Hell, no).  Without  the conveyor belt pouring money into campaigns, the candidates will be forced to actually get to know their potential constituents, won’t be able to afford the negative ads, the flyers, the robo-calls, the bumper stickers and the ads, ads, ads. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but working within limits like these will surely spark creativity. And anyone whining about not being able to buy TV time? There’s this thing called the “Internet” and it’s FREE. With Facebook, Twitter, etc., the message gets out. Look at the Arab Spring? That was Twitter.

Lincoln didn’t use robo-calls. Nuff said.

The only exceptions to the $xxx from registered voters rule would be bake sales and car washes performed by the candidates themselves. I’d love to see Paul Ryan shirtless and Simonizing a Prius with an “I’m Pro Choice and I Vote” bumper sticker. And no selling brownies for $50,000 a pop, either (Karl Rove).

The second part of the bold experiment is much simpler, more personal and requires a small leap of faith:

Re-register as an independent voter. No official party affiliation. Don’t get me wrong: you are free to vote a straight party ticket if you want, write in Bullwinkle J. Moose for Attorney General, you can vote any way you want. However, your name isn’t on a mailing list, so you aren’t buried in campaign flyers every time you open the mailbox. You don’t get robo-calls (and if you’re on the Do Not Call list, you can report those mothers).

What would the American political process look like if no voters declared a party preference?

1. For starters, our reps in Washington would become damned nervous. To them, this would be a rebellion, essentially being told to take their partisan politics and stick ‘em where the sun don’t shine.
2. We’d see an end to the abstract art form that is Congressional redistricting. Every 10 years, whatever party is in power in the state legislature tries to redraw the lines to favor itself (people working for the benefit of parties, not the other way around. Evolution: it’s a platypus. Maybe that should be the symbol for the independent voters). Take a look at a Congressional district map sometime.
It’s insane.

Constituents not registered to a political party? We’re talking a grid system.

3. Between the limited contributions and the lack of party affiliation, candidates would actually have to get to know their constituents.  (By the way, the third part of the plan will be to severely limit their expense accounts, cut their pay and pensions. We have to get through 1 and 2 first). You know those photos and TV ads you see of national candidates sitting with someone on a porch looking concerned? That should become the reality. Instead of big corporate donors getting the ear of your Congressman, he’s going to have to answer to you: what is the biggest priority we have now? Do you have ideas to achieve a particular goal? Does this area have a pressing need?

The Preamble to the Constitution starts with “We the People of the United States,” not “We the Bundlers of Big Donations.”  Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, spoke of government “Of the people, by the people, for the people.”  We’re getting ass-raped on that deal (Fuck you, Todd Akin).  We the people, the actual voters, are pretty much ignored until the Powers That Want to Be want our votes. We the people should stop enabling  this playground level partisan brawling that has rendered our Federal legislature (That’s the US House of Representatives and Senate) vapor-locked, frozen like they’d seen Medusa (Greek mythology reference) and about as useful as a screen door in a submarine.  Let’s take away their money and their smug sense of security. Let’s make them work FOR US, not for the parties.

Vote Platypus!

Monday, September 10, 2012


All right, Gang, get your pens and paper to take notes. There WILL be a quiz the first Tuesday in November, November 6, 2012.

For starters, if you are (or will be) 18 at the time of the election and there is no legal impediment (lack of citizenship, for instance or having a felony record. Robert Downey, Jr. cannot vote), there is no good, valid or acceptable reason for you to not participate at this most basic level of democracy. Here’s the hard news, Kids: if we don’t get off our asses and vote, we lose this here democracy.  Those who DO exert themselves will have unchallenged authority to shape this country to suit themselves, whether you like it or not. If you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to bitch. I repeat myself from a Facebook status: there are people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and various other parts of the world who have to walk for days to cast a vote (and they do it), who are threatened with mutilation or death for exercising this right and they still go cast their ballots. We Americans, who talk big about democracy and freedom cannot be bothered to say who we want for the Leader of the Free World if it’s raining or the poodle has impacted anal glands again or we think that since the neighbor’s view are the opposite of ours, the votes will cancel each other out so why bother (this is the dumbest fucking piece of faux logic. If you actually believe this, maybe you shouldn’t have the right). The ONLY wasted votes are the ones not cast. Remember 2000? Do you think maybe, just maybe, if more franchised Americans had gone to the polls, the Supreme Court wouldn’t have had the opportunity to choose our President for us? Just a thought and yes, the Supreme Court decided the election. Frankly, I don’t think we should let it happen again.  It’s September. If you think you’re going to have trouble getting to the polls on November 6, GET AN ABSENTEE BALLOT. SIGN UP NOW. NOW, NOW, NOW.

You need to do some homework. Judging by the popularity of shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Honey You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me Child”,  our brains are on hold so often, you’d think the entire nation was calling Customer Service at the cable company at all hours. Here are some simple rules:

1) What a politician looks like doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, is a hardline conservative Republican who stopped work on a tunnel that would have connected New York City and New Jersey because he believed it was a boondoggle (look it up, People. If you were my 7th graders at Shelburne Middle School, you’d be reaching for the dictionary by now or asking if we could include it next time we played Spelling Baseball). Yet, the first thing and only thing you hear is about him being fat. Mitt Romney’s looks have nothing to do with his ability to govern effectively. Neither do Barack Obama’s. These men have records as politicians. THAT’S what matters.  By the way, William Howard Taft, the fattest President, was also the first to throw out the first baseball at a game. And after his Presidency, he was appointed to the Supreme Court.

2) Figure out what YOU believe. Seriously.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
-Alexander Hamilton

That guy.

What do you think about taxes? The healthcare reform? Would the economy benefit from taxes being cut or money being spent? How important is the question of marriage equality? On abortion, do you believe that a woman should be free to determine what happens with her body or is abortion something to be outlawed? You need to know where YOU stand on these issues so that you can accurately hear what the candidates are saying.

3) California is big on ballot propositions: everything from legalizing growing marijuana for personal use to same sex marriage to cigarette taxes. When you see the TV ads telling you to vote this way or that, you MUST MUST MUST MUST read the fine print at the end that tells you who paid for it. Like Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein (Watergate. 40 years ago. How old are you?) to “follow the money.” Yeah. A couple of years ago, there was a ballot initiative to raise the cigarette tax to fund cancer research.  The airwaves were plastered with ads telling people to vote no. Want to take a wild guess who the biggest sponsors of those ads were? RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris aka BIG TOBACCO. The phrase we learned in law school is “Whose ox is gored?” In this case, had the initiative passed (it didn’t), it was likely that tobacco sales in Cali would have taken a big hit. Oh and eating Oreos puts money into RJ Reynolds’ pocket (they own Nabisco. And Kraft. So that blue box of mac n cheese? Same as buying a pack of Camels. RJR isn’t big on health).

4) Anybody who promises you ANYTHING during a campaign should be prepared to provide details and plans to back it up WITHOUT being asked. Promises without details and how-to? Fuck ‘em: that’s an empty suit talking. Oh, and if someone claims to be running on his record, familiarize yourself with it. Make sure it’s something worth bragging about.

I have never voted a straight ticket in my life. In Vermont, for a while, we had a Republican Governor in Dick Snelling (voted for him) and Democratic Lt. Governor in Madeline Kunin (voted for her). People from outside the state would be flabbergasted and ask, “How does that work?” Quite well. We were more concerned with the individuals who would hold the office rather than party affiliation (my theories on party evolution are a whole other windy blog post). I have also voted third party, written in candidates and exercised my right to vote as I see fit. But I exercised my right.

By the way, I earned Mitt Romney’s irritation way back in 1994 when I refused to let him and his campaign workers put a bumper sticker on my car. True story. That space is reserved  for the Red Sox and an “I’m Straight But Not Narrow” bumper sticker when I can find one. And AAA. No politicians.

Okay. That’s enough homework for now. We’re into the “official” Presidential campaign now, so you have a deadline. Let’s review: 1) Vote (register if necessary), 2) Figure out what’s important to you, 3) Research the candidates and 4) proceed accordingly.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why Don't I Feel Pretty?

No, I haven’t been on the scale.

No, I haven’t been to the gym. Lingering cough that makes people move away from me or threaten to haul me to a doctor. And I’ve been working my butt off (I wish literally, but hey).

I have blonde hair, blue eyes and great legs (I speak the truth. Not a brag. The rest of me can look like a sack of fertilizer with potatoes in it, but the legs are always good).

I’ve been taking supplements (maca root, biotin and prenatal vitamins) to thicken my hair and strengthen my nails. I use Revitalash to lengthen and thicken my eyelashes and it’s working. I’m using Aveda Invati shampoo, conditioner and scalp serum for my hair. It’s working (my hair stylist told me so and she IS truthful. And highly skilled).

 I got the hair cut and colored yesterday (and I pay top dollar for it. Worth every cent). The nails are manicured (the feet pedicured) and I have new clothes, including my very first ever LITTLE BLACK DRESS.

Okay, it’s not so little (XL) and I’ll need torso Spanx, but you get the point.

I am told that I have good skin (it’s called “No sun, no smokes, plenty of water, limit alcohol and eat your veggies”).

This may make me sound high maintenance, but I’m the one who pays for it and gets it done, so I’m not a burden.  I earn a good living and don’t expect someone to support me.

I’m educated, stay up on current events (and satirize them at and on its Facebook page. I write some of the one-liners they post) and can carry on a conversation about a lot of stuff. What I don’t know, I generally want to learn about (unless it’s how Jee-zusss is going to come back to Earth to punish us for supporting gays and Jews and Muslims and gay Jews and Muslims who don’t give a crap about gay Jews) or how I should really have a universal life insurance policy (I used to have a life insurance/annuity license. If you can get universal insurance, do it. It’s a good investment vehicle).

So why don’t I feel like an attractive, vibrant woman, which according to all of the above, I am?
The guys my age (which is 51. Why lie? There is a birth certificate out there. I  am 2 months and 3 days older than the President) want the 25 year old arm candy. I DID once date a guy who had voted for Roosevelt (Teddy). He would have preferred the chippy in her twenties, too.

When my hair color (they call it a “weave” out here in Cali.  As I have African American friends, this caused me some confusion. Regionalisms) was complete yesterday, I loved the color, but saw a tired, middle-aged, worn face beneath it. And fat. I think I could be 98 lbs. and still see myself as fat.

I work hard at it, but I do not feel beautiful and do not really believe anyone who tells me I am (and it’s always women). Those who do are generally the lovely, generous souls who see all people as beautiful.
I have only been asked out on two dates: one guy turned out to be a perv and the other, I never heard from again. Not exactly the kind of thing that boosts one’s self-esteem or confidence.

It’s like the sum of the parts don’t equal the whole. I pay attention to my grooming, dressing, health. Doesn’t matter: no man (not a member of the Sapphic Sisterhood) has liked it well enough to put a ring on it. Or even ask it on a date.

Monday, September 3, 2012


(Yeah, I’ve been silent for a while. And sick. And out of the gym. BUT I’VE STUCK TO EATING MY VEGETABLES AND IGNORING GRAINS, SUGAR AND PROCESSED FOODS).
You are about to listen in on an internal pep talk.

“Hey, Blondie, you need to get that ass of yours back to the gym.”
“No foolin’.”
“Why haven’t you gone?”
“Sickness, working overtime, working a LOT of overtime.”
“Well, Soldier, we need to realign our priorities a bit. You’re getting soft again and you NEED to be in tip top shape when it hits.”
“When what hits?”
“Zombie apocalypse.”

“That’s bullshit. Zombies? Really?”
“All those earthquakes out of Yorba Linda? It’s Nixon trying to break out. ”

“Oh, please, really?”
“Just go with it.”
“Fine. Zombie apocalypse. What do I need to do?”
“Resistance training. Get those upper body muscles REALLY strong.”
“Because you’re going to be swinging a shovel or a baseball bat to knock the block off of those ugly undead brain munchers. You’re going to be making like Mark McGwire or…”

“Could you please reference someone who WASN’T on steroids?”

“Ted Williams. And you’re going to need to get those legs good and strong, wonky right knee or not.”

“And that’s for…?”

“Climbing up on top of stuff. Zombies can’t climb. Their arms and legs fall off.”

“I’m in no position to argue. Stonger legs for climbing. Check. How come we’re not focusing on preventing it or curing them?”

“Because that won’t get your ass to the gym. You’re going back on 6 days a week of cardio. You’ll need endurance. You’re going to be on the move. Ever seen ‘Walking Dead?’” 

“No, and I don’t intend to. I’ll have nightmares. Zombie Girl Scouts and all – one even showed up at a Halloween party.”

“See? Ass. Gym. Tomorrow.”
“What about vampires?”
“What about them? Ever see ‘Buffy, the Vampire Slayer’?”

“No. I’m not up on pop culture, I admit it. I’m not part of the Whedon-verse. I am a dweeb. But ask me about baseball, jazz, history or Star Wars.”

“Well, Buffy kicked vampire ass. Literally. You can’t do it with tapioca tush or Christmas hams where your upper arms are supposed to be. Now, get going.”