Tuesday, November 29, 2011

(Oh don't you know) that's the sound of the men working on the Cain Train…

What?

I can’t help it if my mind went there with that song.

Blink.

Jumping right on in…

A woman has come forward alleging…

Pause…consider…continue.

Damn if that phrase… “a woman has come forward alleging” … isn’t as tied to politics as honey is to biscuits.


The Cain campaign (say that ten times fast) is sorta kinda denying the accusation. 

I’ve got to give it to Cain, he is a living case study of whether or not people caught up in a shit-storm should engage and confront or dodge and redirect.

Mercy.

Cain's attorney, Lin Wood, provided WAGA (the station that broke the allegations…um, most recent allegations) with a statement saying blah blah… "appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults -- a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public."

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

Wood added...

"No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life."


Cough.

Um, Lin...jumping up into private citizen’s bedroom-based business is a plank in the GOP platform. 

Hell, the reason we’re witnessing a shit storm about who fucks who or how many times someone has been married or whether or not [insert candidate here] is [insert lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender]…the fucking source is the so-called social conservative values that long ago turned campaigns for public office into half-assed character tests that your average hard working American would fail and could give a shit about.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m the kind of voter who wants to know if a candidate for public office is a lying sack of shit or a sexual predator who prowls their workplace, but you know and I know that you know and I know that American sexual Puritanism has gone too far.

And so…Lin…here we are and there you have it.

I agree. 

I too am sick and tired of the constant questioning and government interventions into people’s private sexual lives.

I’m tired of regulations and laws and ballot initiatives that question a woman’s ability to make a motherfucking decision about her healthcare.

I’m tired of our society acting as if marriage is the norm and those of us who are not married are in crisis or pretending that same-sex marriage is a threat but sport fucking while married is benign.

I’m tired of total strangers screaming at women walking into healthcare centers because those strange ass strangers assume they know what women are going to do and they feel entitled to jump all up into that shit.

But most of all I’m tired of hypocritical bullshit spewing politicians preaching the gospel of jumping all up into private citizens’ sexual bitness and then whining and keening when the masses and/or the press jump all up in their sexual bitness.

So I’m going to borrow from some Cain logic. Mr. Cain made some statement that folks who are out of work and involved in the occupy movement shouldn’t blame Wall Street…rather, they should blame themselves.

Well, methinks the Cain Train should look at the hypocritical hot mess circus of one in the mirror and make that change.

Damn it to hell and back, this shit makes me long for the days of Demon Sheep and 3 am phone calls.

***logs off humming Sam Cooke’s Chain Gang ‘cause it is now stuck in my Afro***

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tis the season...

This bitch spent a fantabulous week at Brother Rob Thurman’s farm in Kentucky!

Lawd, I haven’t been this relaxed since…um…wince…clearly my ass needed a rest.

Anyhoo, it was beautiful and spending the holiday with friends on the farm was just what I needed.

I’m just now catching up with the news. Just as I suspected, the world is still taking a shit in the middle of the room.

Shall we?

The morning news shows are telling me that today is Cyber Monday and folks are supposed to get their online shopping on because…well, because because damnit!

I’ll confess that I do not understand folks diving in to a shopping experience like folks dive into the day after Thanksgiving or the Monday after the holiday weekend or [insert day near a holiday that advertising agencies have successfully created a legend around to convince folks to spend, baby spend lest the heavens fall and dinosaurs rise to roam the land again]. It just doesn’t look like fun to me…particularly when it comes complete with the very real threat of physical violence.

But it is what it is…and many an American will come to work today sporting bruises like a hockey player in the middle of the NHL playoffs.

Now is the time of year when morning television offers up a rather freakish menu of warm fuzzy Humans Are Nice And Giving stories with a selection of Holy Shit, Humans Are Greedy Violent Shopping Zombies side dishes…and a luscious desert of You’re Fat or You’re Going to Get Fat Off Of One Huge Meal And Then The Zombie Shoppers Will Eat You.

I love how everyone gets sorta-decent this time of year…’tis much like the save-the-date post-turkey shopping shit.

It’s as if folks glance at their calendar and note that they have an appointment with consumerism on Friday and they need to stop being a wretched shit for a month.

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

Maybe this year Cyber Monday will get into the swing of things with a full on digital brawl over 50% discounted blue-ray blah blah blah.

Blink.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving feastitude preparedness…

Hi all!

I’m on vacation from all things this week including the internets (mostly)…but I wanted to take a moment for my annual Thanksgiving Feastitutde Preparedness post.

Last year…on this very day…I was having surgery. Trust that I am very thankful for a fantabulous recovery and the help and love of family and friends.

This year I’m heading to Kentucky to visit my Blog Father, Brother Rob Thurman, at his farm (hooray)!

I’m not cooking the feast solo this time…just my Corn Casserole Yumminess…but I’ll also need my copy of Ordinary People (a Thanksgiving tradition and yes, I know that’s kind of creepy but fuck it I never claimed that my ass isn’t bent) and lots and lots of vodka followed by cran.

Happy, happy to all y’all!

Be safe…be outrageous…be well…

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pondering over-the-top exemptions and going-too-far denials of coverage...


I just read this editorial in the New York Times and I’m disgusted.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is roaming the halls of power in Washington, DC…and, unlike the rest of us average folk, it seems they can easily get whatever they want.

A few years ago, they were drafting amendments to attack access to reproductive healthcare and I’m betting they never left the Hill…just camped out and kept working their relationships until an opportunity to impose their ridged interpretation of healthcare on us all presented itself.

That opportunity came in the form of the new Head Party In Charge in the House. Yep, House Republicans and the Bishops are BFFs…and they are now pressuring the Obama administration to radically expand the refusal clause in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The expansion proposed by the Bishops and their Congressional minions would mean that millions of women would then be denied access to affordable birth control.

And no, the Bishops and those minions do not have a point when it comes to religious protections in ACA. It already contains a substantial refusal clause that exempts certain religious employers that have religious values as the purpose of the organization, primarily employ persons who share the religious tenets of the organization, serve primarily persons who share the religious tents of the organization, and are nonprofit organizations.

And the choir asked… “So what the hell else do these Bishops and minions want?!?”

And a bitch replied… “Glad you asked, choir! They want to be able to deny access to affordable birth control to folks who work at a religious affiliated hospital, school, charity or university. We’re talking about nurses, secretaries, teachers, and other workers.”

My people call that "wrong".

A few weeks ago I wrote about the impact of expanded exemptions just like the one being pushed hard in DC right now. A family in Missouri had insurance through the Catholic school they work at…they have a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome and autism…Missouri passed autism insurance reform…the family sought coverage for needed and necessary therapies…and they got flat out denied.

Yes, denied…REFUSED coverage…and the reason cited by the Catholic affiliated insurance company for refusing to adhere to our state’s new autism insurance reform mandate…

…wait for it!

They are exempt ‘cause they are a church.

Disgusted?

Good.

That’s what exemption feels like.

Disturbed.

Good.

That’s what over-the-top exemptions and going-too-far denials of coverage unfold like in the real world and in the lives of average folk.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' control over policy development in America must stop and it must stop now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You contact the police…

Ugh.

Last night I watched Bob Costas interview former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky did his interview over the phone with his lawyer present in the NBC studio.

It seems as if decades of not asking the hard questions during interviews with steroid enhanced cheaters in sport has toughened Costas up…he asked the hard questions, follow-up questions, and even confronted Sandusky once the man answered questions. Sad to say, but journalism has deteriorated to the point that those basic tasks are more the exception to the rule.

Sigh.

Sandusky denied all of the allegations made against him.

That’s not surprising. What is surprising is that he would do so, after such an extended silence, on national television…knowing that anything and everything he said would be chewed within an inch of its life and possibly even used in the case against him. 

Some may interpret that as the act of an innocent person…

…but I was reminded of a television show I watched years ago that featured a young woman, whose abuse was horrifically well documented by medical and eye witness testimony, as she confronted the man who abused her as a child on hidden tape. The man denied everything…told her she imagined or was brainwashed or misinterpreted his actions. It was stunning to see…much like a rapist claiming that his victim asked for it or an abusive partner demanding an apology for being “forced” into beating another human being.

Either way, Sandusky will have his day in court.  His interview sheds light on what his defense will be…and it is that which should turn the stomach of everyone involved in not taking this case to the police immediately.

Sandusky will likely argue that the victims are mistaken…maybe even that they have been brainwashed…but most definitely that they misinterpreted his actions.  His lawyer or lawyers will likely make the case that the adult witnesses were uncomfortable with what he calls “horseplay” but that doesn’t make it a crime. Team Sandusky will take the court-based field and say that Jerry is guilty of making bad decisions and showering with young boys…nothing else. 

And all of that…every smidge of it…will have been enabled by the amount of time that has passed between grown people witnessing and grown people being forced to finally report allegations of child sex abuse to the police.

Because of that, Penn State will be dragged through this dung over and over again so that the prosecution can try to explain the delays, the lack of follow-up, the lack of outraged disgust and swift action that should come from adults having witnessed what folks said they witnessed.

That is nothing compared to the harsh reality that not taking swift action probably led to further abuse. Just look at the multiple cases of child abuse across decades within the Catholic Church. Or look toward the alarmingly similar scandal unfolding over at The Citadel…where officials knew about a predator and did not take action, where that predator then went on to abuse more children…

…and where those school officials are now left offering apologies.

One simple statement is running on a loop through my mind - you contact the police…you contact the police…you contact the police…you contact the damned police.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ah, graft…


Happy Monday, y’all!

Shall we?

Last night I caught the new edition of 60 Minutes…after an annoying as hell 30-minute delay to allow a football game with 5 minutes on the clock to wrap its ass up. Fuck it - it was worth the wait!  60 Minutes Steve Kroft went old school with an investigative report on graft in Congress. Specifically, Kroft’s report delved into the fact that members of Congress are buying and trading stocks based on inside information they have unique access to because they are members of Congress charged with drafting policy and so forth.

Graft!

Lawd, I haven’t heard that word in a month of Sundays.

The report is worth a god watch. My opinion of Congress is so poor that I wasn’t shocked, but we the people should take note when specific examples of shady behavior come to light.

I was particularly intrigued by the news that several members of Congress snatched up healthcare insurance company stock during the healthcare reform debate. It seems that the very people who were supposed to roll up their sleeves and get that shit done were more than a little preoccupied with their own ability to get paid off of whatever policy came about.

***pause…sip coffee…continue***

Money talks and bullshit walks.

So, what to do with this information….what to do, what to do, what to do?

Eureka!

This shit would be an ideal action for the occupy folks.

I’m serious. The problem with this specific case of graft is that the same people who should craft legislation to prohibit it are the people who benefit from the lack of reform and thus are not motivated to do a damn thing beyond weather harsh questions from Steve Kroft during a press conference.

This mess needs a grassroots movement demanding real reform…BIG TIME. And the occupy folks have singled out the 1 percent for critique and protest – twould be a logical progression for occupy to expand beyond the public square and take it to Congress.

Plus, its cold as hell outside…people could warm up in Speaker Boehner’s office.

Just saying.

Blink.

p.s. A fluff of the Afro to Steve Kroft and 60 Minutes for a solid report.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day…

On the eleventh day of the eleventh month we remember and honor our veterans.

To those in my family who serve and have served…to my friends who are veterans…to my readers who are online friends and are veterans…to all of their families…

…Thank You and Happy Veterans Day!

On the Penn State child sex abuse case...

Let’s jump right on in.

I’ve been out of the loop while working on the campaign to defeat “personhood” in Mississippi, but even I caught the news of the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State. Yesterday I spent the day in my couch-based area recovering…and watching news report after news report of the allegations against a Jerry Sandusky and those who either witness the abuse and/or failed to properly report the abuse to authorities and/or engaged in a cover up of the abuse.

Full disclosure - I am a fan…not of Penn State football, but of my beloved St. Louis Blues. My friends and family will tell you that I bleed blue 24/7…and I’m writing this post as someone who understands fan loyalty.

Nothing…not one thing, organization, team, or institution…NOTHING is more important than the safety of a fellow human being.

There is no sport victory that comes at the expense of that…

…and there can be no pride in rallying for a sports program, however revered it may be for its winning record, that failed to demand justice for the victims of systematic sexual abuse.

And you can be damned sure that fan loyalty doesn’t ask that we disregard a culture of enabling child sex abuse and keep on cheering.

When a child alleges sex abuse our reaction should be to encourage and support that child in whatever manner we can. Getting pissed off at the child because their sex abuse is going to get in the way of a body's college fucking football fan experience is downright macabre.

This case is still developing, but the sworn statements of many Penn State athletic program employees are disgusting, alarming, and should have people taking to the streets to protest them.

We have actually arrived at a point where people are telling their friends, family, and/or children that if they witness a child being abused they should call 911.

And, although it sickens me to think that anyone would have to be told that, the scene of students rioting in support of a coach and/or sports program rather than the children and their families...well, clearly people need to be told that if they witness a child being assaulted they should try to save the child and they should definitely contact the police.

Not the administration.

Not the diocese.

Not the boss, BFF, or fellow co-worker or student.

Fuck it if that gets your ass fired. That would be a firing worth it's weight in gold.

Lord, have mercy.

We the people need to look hard at Penn State’s reaction to this horrific case…both the disgusting display during the riot and the emerging effort by current students and alumni to return the focus to and stand in support of the children.

Sadly, the shock of many in the press is shocking in itself.  We don’t have to "wonder how this abuse was able to go on for so long"…we don’t need to question what kind of culture opts to cover up abuse rather than protect victims.

Penn State football just proved that enabling abuse is not a condition exclusive to the Catholic Church…

…and that the most dangerous place for a child is in an environment that values [insert any fucking thing here] over the welfare of that child.

Please join Penn State alumni who have begun an online campaign through RAINN to raise awareness and funds to continue the fight against child sex abuse and assist survivors.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Getting my activism on…


 
Hi y’all!

I’m in the field getting my reproductive justice activism on, so posting will be sporadic for the next day or two.

Buckle up, people…

...this ride is going to be bumpy as hell!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Digital strange fruit hanging from cyber trees?


Let’s jump right on in.

Now that it appears the Herman Cain sexual harassment scandal may have legs, supporters of his campaign are gathering up strength and taking to the internets to blast the press and Cain’s accusers.

No surprise there.

But one group of Cain supporters have created a new ad that accuses those investigating Cain, reporting on the investigation of Cain, and discussing the reporting of the investigation of Cain of participating in…wait for it…a high tech lynching.

Sound familiar?

It should!

That phrase, “high tech lynching”, was made infamous by a certain Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he was accused of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearing.

Thomas was eventually confirmed and has gone pretty much mute while on the bench.

And ‘tis his eventual confirmation that always made my Afro hurt when pondering his use of the phrase “high tech lynching”.

Nothing screams that a person or organization lacks a proper knowledge of a thing like an inaccurate analogy.

If you are able to protest your treatment during a confirmation hearing…and later in a book…then you were not the victim of a lynching, high tech or real world.

If you are fundraising up a storm in the midst of accusations that you sexually harassed more than one woman…then you are not in the midst of a high tech lynching.

If your website is still “living”…if your campaign has not been wiped clean from and effectively killed off online…then you have not been subject to a high tech lynching.

Unless…unless these Cain supporters feel that the Cain campaign is in the final throes of political death and that it’s demise if certain…only then would the phrase “high tech lynching” apply.

Lynchings are murders…endings, for the love of history...they brought about and indeed still bring about the end of life.

I don’t care how much a body adores Herman Cain and I don’t give a shit how upset they are about his treatment in the press, this inaccurate analogy corrupts a history that has never truly been acknowledged.

Herman Cain clearly weathered the storm of more than one accusation of sexual harassment several years ago…his employer settled rather than fire him…he then went on to run for the GOP nomination for President, where he faces questions about those accusations. For the most part, the firestorm has resulted from his campaigns fucked up from the floor up handling of those questions. Either way, Herman Cain will be here once the dust settles. Odds are he’ll even be online in some form or another. He may even be the GOP nominee. 

This shit is in no way, shape, or form the equivalent of a lynching.

A witch-hunt perhaps…depends on how you view the situation.

But I sure as shit don’t see any digital strange fruit hanging from cyber trees…

…anymore than I see that shit when I ponder the fact that the original “victim” of a high tech lynching is still enjoying life as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Blink.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

On confidentiality agreements and a front-runner who didn’t learn a damn thing from history – Follow the Smell of Bullshit…

Shall we?


No…they aren’t being harsh or overzealous.

Journalists are sharks…and Herman Cain poured a bucket of blood in the water when he was first confronted about this shit.

When first confronted, Cain didn’t answer questions about whether he’d ever been accused of sexual harassment.

And that was the last thing the man did right.

Catch thy knee – I’m gonna wait until the facts about the harassment claims come out before I add that all of this shit could be avoided if people cease sexually harassing co-workers in the first damn place.

Cough.

Clearly there are confidentiality agreements. After the initial confrontation, Cain had a solid 24 hours to come up with a crisis management plan...and the top bullet point to that shit should have been Hide Your Black Ass Behind the Motherfucking Confidentiality Agreement.

But no…Herman Cain had to be Herman Cain. So we the people who are such political junkies that we follow this shit months before the first GOP primary have been treated to a master class in mismanagement and fucked up from the floor up messaging.

Not because Herman Cain is black…this shit is happening because Herman Cain is was the front-runner and failed to plan for being the front-runner because he’s a pompous ass who thinks he can talk himself out of anything – a belief which was probably bolstered by his ability to spin himself more than one settlement complete with confidentiality agreements when claims of sexual harassment were made against him.

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

The Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the world have rushed to play with this fresh clay…eagerly seeking attention with claims like “our blacks are better than their blacks” or rants about how all of this is happening because Herman Cain is black and conservative.

But GOP voters need to take a big sniff and note the unusually large quantity of flies.

Back in the day this kind of fumbling confusion in response to a scandal would be understandable.

But this is the post-Clinton, post-Edwards era…and the press has learned from watching two high profile men who were or could have been President of the United States attempt to bob and weave their way through sex-based accusations that were later proven to be beyond true.

Not uncovering this shit would be damn near criminal.

Which begs the question…is Politico just that good or is the herd just that fearful of doing their damn job?

Either way, the water is still pink.

Trust a bitch…this frenzy won’t end until shark teeth sink into flesh.

Pause…sip more coffee…continue.

As for Cain’s claims that the Perry campaign is behind this shit, I have to suspend my initial dismissal of that.

The Perry campaign is like any other political campaign and thus capable of digging up dirt.

Just because they couldn’t find their ass with both hands when Perry’s hunting lodge came back to bite him doesn’t mean they can’t drop a morsel of scandal-based kibble into a famished reporter’s mouth.

Add to that the fact that Chris Wilson, a GOP pollster and Perry supporter, seems to know an awful lot about sexual harassment claims against Herman Cain and…well, let’s just say the right side of the political waiting room is ripe with the smell of shit from a bull.

Did the entire GOP class flunk Campaigning 101?

Perry now claims that no one in his campaign knew anything about this and they all found out when the rest of the world that actually gives a shit did.

If that’s true…and they have a pollster in their midst who seems to have intimate details about Herman Cain and sexual harassment…then Team Perry is even more fucked up than I initially thought.

***rubs hands together***

This political theater better last until Downton Abbey comes back on the television.

Blink.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

When what is covered demonstrates flawed values…


I just read this piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and it has me all fired up on a Tuesday, y’all!

Let’s jump right on in, shall we?

Longtime readers know that my sister and I are co-guardians of our older brother. Our brother is autistic and aphasic. He does not speak in sentences…has a vocabulary of less than 100 words…but can communicate better through sign language.

I grew up in a house with too much going on for our parents to bother shielding us from reality.

I knew that my brother’s behavior and speech therapy cost a lot of money. My brother is 41 now and when he was a child the options were far more limited than they are now, but my parents worked tirelessly to provide him access to whatever was available. 

And I knew it…felt it…saw in on my father’s face when he sat down to do the bills or went to work at a job that he found little fulfillment in just because it paid him a high salary.

Our entire family worked as a team when it came to speech therapy and behavior therapy. And we shared in my brother’s triumphs and setbacks.

My brother worked his ass off. He went to school year ‘round and then came home to a never-ending series of exercises. Every event, every meal, every interaction was laced with training or skill building or corrections. Trust that I doubt I could have been as strong as he was or half as successful.

We all enjoy the benefits of my brother’s efforts. He is a fantabulous man who is eager to communicate and share his opinions. We’ve found a system and honor his use of sign language rather than push for more verbal communication.

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

When autism insurance reform gained momentum in Missouri, I supported the hell out of it even though it would not apply to my brother. 

I know, better than most, just how expensive education and therapy can be…and just how amazing the outcomes can be when families have access.

Autism insurance reform was needed because insurance companies refused to cover needed treatments and families who had paid premiums for years were getting hustled on the back end when they needed services.

When autism insurance reform passed I cheered…for the families and children it will benefit and in honor of my parents who would have been all over that fight.

Now it looks like some institutions that like to talk the talk of caring for children with developmental disabilities and/or communication challenges are being outed for not walking the walk when it comes to providing coverage for the services that actually demonstrate caring for children with developmental disabilities and/or communication disorders.

Insurance by Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, which comes from Christian Brothers Services (a nonprofit Catholic organization), does not offer coverage for autism treatment services.

And they don’t have to.

Because they are…wait for it…a church plan.

Yep…they are a church-based whatever that is a non-profit and thus exempt.

As detailed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch piece, when a local St. Louis family tried to get autism treatment services covered they were denied. The child in question has Downs Syndrome and is autistic. The mother was directed to read her insurance certificate, which read…

"The Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust is a 'church plan' as designated by the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor. It is not a group insurance contract within the meaning of state group insurance laws. Therefore, the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust is not subject to the mandated benefit requirements imposed by state group insurance laws."

Pause…allow that bullshit to marinate…continue.

Now you know and I know that you know that I know that clause is one hell of a get out of providing all manner of services shit.

Usually, Catholic services make the news for not providing reproductive health care like emergency contraception to rape survivors or tubal ligation or abortion care to save a woman’s life or…well, you get the picture.

With this latest public display of callous disregard, they are showing their cards a bit.

And the smell of hypocrisy is ripe as hell.

Despite the rhetoric from the right that claims otherwise, one of the reasons many families fear having a child with developmental disabilities is because they don’t think they will be able to afford the care that child would need. Nothing can be more gut wrenching than knowing a child needs something…and, damn it, we are talking about “need” here not want…knowing there is a need that you simply cannot meet.

I’ve seen that look…felt that fear…known that something was going to have to give so something needed could get done.  And my family was blessed to be in a position to even consider most of the services my brother had.

But far be it for Missourians to expect a religious institution that benefits from non-profit status under the guise of providing care to the community to actually provide care to the community.

That’d be too much like right.

Sigh.

In this as in so many things, the wrong is never limited to reproductive healthcare…it may start there or get media attention there, but the theme of public rhetoric and private rancidity never ends there.

Mayhap the family featured in the article will find relief in the federal healthcare insurance reform they probably opposed for fear that it would provide coverage for abortion services that it can’t because of Hyde?

Blink.