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I'm a single Mormon Democrat, an NPR & BBC news junkie, a dog lover, opera buff, bookavore, migraineur, knows just enough about technology to be a danger to myself, fan of James Bond and Godzilla. 

Micah 6:8; D&C 11:20 

"do justly, walk humbly, judge righteously."

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ebola (or just a bunch of yipping dogs?)

When I walk my beautiful senior dog, many times we are confronted by small dogs - small yipping dogs that just don't shut up and drive you crazy.

Well, while on today's walk (and after listening to the Diane Rehm Show and On Point with Tom Ashbrook), I thought: "hmmm... they have a lot in common with conservatives". 

The only difference... you can put a dog down when it starts foaming at the mouth!

What got me on this philosophical bent? 

The so-called Ebola crisis? 

Let me explain. We have had some seriously stupid letters to the editor in my local paper. (It always surprises me that with amount of college graduates and philanthropy we have here, we have such seriously uncharitable, intolerant, and stupid people.)

One went as follows:

Having heard who Obama picked for the Ebola Czar further cements my opinion on his incompetence of his administration. He picked a man who is probably very descent, but has zero knowledge of the medical field. So what’s up with that? Does that mean I could qualify for that position? After all I was in management at the Hyatt in Waikiki for quite a number of years and I worked at Hanford. Heck, betcha I could do that job!

(Can you tell this one was written by a blood relative of Sarah Palin?)

I have some points I'd like make. 


Now, I'm no Obama apologist. He's done lots of things I disagree with. But this is just politics. If the conservatives actually could use critical thinking they should ask this question: "If George W Bush or Mitt Romney behaved exactly the same in response to Ebola, would you still be saying these things?"


Now why are people so scared of this disease? After all, one person (in the US) has died from it. I can only think of a few reasons. 

One, it comes from Africa where all the black people come from. And we know how afraid conservatives are of non-whites. After all, they don't want them to vote.

Two, we have a black President. 

Three, more people might sign up for the Affordable Care Act.


Let's bring the discussion back to real health care crises:

In a recent study by the CDC for the years 1976-2007, as few as 3,349 (1986-87) and as many as 48,641 (2003-04) die from season flu.

In 2012, 40,600  people took their own lives making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.

2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused each year as a result of domestic violence

On average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 140 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Open Letter to Candidate Newhouse

This morning, on The Diane Rehm Show, Diane interviewed former Cabinet officer, Leon Panetta, on his new book: Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace

One of the comments really struck me. He said that we should be voting to send our representatives to Washington to GOVERN, not to tear the place down.

It reminded me of the situation here in Benton County and this year's election for the 4th Congressional District. 

After the primary, where a pathetic 37% of the people voted in Benton County, we are left with two candidates: former director of Washington State's Department of Agriculture Dan Newhouse and Tea Party extremist and former Washington Redskin Clint Didier

Mr. Panetta's comment about governing really struck me. I felt I should reach out to Mr. Newhouse, who, I think, is actually committed to governing. Even though not in the direction I would choose. This is a result of those thoughts:

Mr. Newhouse, 

Leon Panetta says we need representatives who are committed to governing and not tearing things down. I feel that out of our two choices you are the best one for that job.

I am what many of my neighbors would probably call a "godless liberal" (though I am a Christian). I am pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro separation of church and state. I feel that the government (both state and federal) are too focused on protecting the economy and corporations and leave people by the wayside. I am tired of seeing the Republicans do nothing but obstruct and continually wage a war on women. (Though, I never saw Mr. Hastings participate in this. However, I was disappointed that he never spoke against the extremists.)

I know that we probably will not agree on many issues. However, I do believe you are the best choice. You, I think, will have a commitment to govern. Here are some things I hope we can agree on:

  • No more obstruction. You do not need to agree with President Obama and the Democrats. However, please do not just oppose and obstruct because of personal animosities.
  • Fight against extremism and contention in government. (People like Rep Cruz are especially dangerous in this respect.)
  • Represent ALL your constituents. Not just the red part. I am in the minority, but I would like to think I can turn to my representative. 
I guess what I am saying is just GOVERN. People are angry at Congress not because they are overburdening their lives, they're angry because Congress is doing too little. I am not a die-hard Obama fan. In many ways, he is very disappointing. But Republicans of late make me more and more angry.

It seems they are only obstructing Obama because of personal reasons. We have real issues and they are not dealing with them. The Republicans in the Senate are blocking every nominee for no reason. So many Republicans want to tear apart the First Amendment and the Voting Rights Act, yet the Second Amendment is sacrosanct. Women and women's rights seem to be under act every time I turn on my computer.

I ask you to please look out for all of us. To understand and respect the Constitution, and not just say it's under attack. To respect the President and the Supreme Court. And, above all, to fight against extremism in government. It's about governing, in the end. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Don't Call Me A Christian

Yeah, I actually wrote that. I'll say it again, in uppercase letters for effect: DON'T CALL ME A CHRISTIAN. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not an atheist. I believe in a God and I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins (and everyone else's!). I believe in the message of Christ, but I also believe that most Christians (at least the vocal ones) aren't following that message. This is where I get off the train.

Many try to tell you that you have to believe a certain way or you won't get to Heaven. Well, isn't this just spiritual blackmail? Would God have to resort to extortion? And what makes those people right? Besides, those really aren't the people I'd want to spend eternity with. 

After all, it's our actions that are important. It's what we do while we're down here. Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, that's what it all comes down to. Either I've got one shot or, if reincarnation is real, I've got several. Still, it comes down to what you do. 

Do you spend your entire life trying to make life better for yourself, your family, for people that look like you, that think like you... or do you try to make it better for everyone? For all God's creations? 

The more I see the stands so-called Christians take, the words that come from their mouths, the actions they take, the more I say: I'M NO CHRISTIAN. And I'm sure that Christ cringes every time he sees what people do and say in His name. (Mohammed is probably pretty steamed too, come to that.)

I came to epiphany a couple of years ago. It's about why we're all so different down here. Gay and straight, black and white, Christian and Muslim, male and female, why would God do that if only the white, straight, married men were the chosen ones? BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT. Because it's a test. He wants to see if we can learn to love each other. After all, it's easy to love people just like you. I find it easy to like people that think like me. People that hate reality shows and rap music and are pro-choice, they're easy to like. It's people like the Glenn Becks and Michelle Bachmanns of the world, I need to work at. 

Food for thought. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

I was so angry I could spit!

Yesterday was just a terrible day. And today, I am still suffering the consequences. It started when I saw this article in my local paper: Kennewick city councilman wants to start meetings with prayer to Christian God

That was bad enough. The thought that someone I voted for (oh, the shame!), a former journalist, could do something like this. I had to put the paper aside. I was just too angry. 

Then it got worse. I ended up having arguments with an anti-vaccine zealot on Google Plus and pro-gun zealot on Facebook. I've even been having on ongoing discussion with a Mormon friend (I'm one, too) about whether or not the LDS Church should be getting involved with Supreme Court decisions (re: gay marriage laws).

Why is this bad? Because it's not healthy. I suffer from a seizure disorder and stress makes things worse. So, I put the paper aside and I tried to get myself away from it. I listened to classical music. I took my book and my dog outside and listened to jazz music. I watched the Mariners (they lost!). I watched AMERICAN HUSTLE and then later the new episode of THE STRAIN.

Still, today, I am suffering. So what should I do? Should I become more involved? Should I be less involved? Unfortunately, I am veering towards less. I feel like I should leave all social media and news behind. I pared back on who I follow on my social media sites, and I am debating whether or not I should stop reading my paper. (We have some serious right wing nut-jobs in my area.) 

I am already staying away from my church. I am tired of making excuses for them and trying to find excuses for staying. I am getting so bad that I don't want to expose myself or my brain to things I don't agree with. And that is wrong. That is why the right wing is the way they are because they refuse to expose themselves to things that don't agree with their worldview.

My problem is I need to find a way to deal with this. A way to not let it get to me. Thanks for letting me vent.

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2014/09/06/3140386_kennewick-city-councilman-wants.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2014/09/06/3140386_kennewick-city-councilman-wants.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Israel policy just makes me cranky!

This whole Israel-Palestine thing just makes me cranky! Not because war is wrong. (It is.) Not because I'm a Muslim or an Atheist. (I'm not.) No, it's because I'm disgusted with the justifications people give in support of the Israelis. It's because of the sheer hypocrisy of US government support of Israel.

Every day I read of more actions that I can't believe we support (or don't condemn) by the Israelis in the news. I read Letters to the Editor in my local paper by people outraged by even the slightest of defenses of the Palestinians. Hell, even someone expressing sympathy for those killed on the Palestinian side gets attacked.

Once upon a time (to my shame), I agreed with them. I thought since it was the land of David and Solomon and Christ, then it obviously belonged to the Jews. (After all the sufferings they've lived through - the Inquistion, the Holocaust - didn't they deserve their own homeland?) The Palestinians could move. The Arabs, the Muslims have so much land -- they could spare some. Right?

But that's wrong (and just plain shameful, on my part). The Palestinians - if they're descended from the Canaanites - it's their home. Moses sent Aaron in to oust the non-believers (if I remember my Bible correctly). If the Jews have a true origin place, it's in Iraq. (Abraham, the great Patriarch, was from Ur.)

But it goes so much farther than whose rightful place it is. After all, how many of us live in our ancestral homeland? I live in eastern Washington State, near the confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. 

If I lived in my ancestral homeland, I'd not be here. I'd be in Northern Europe, probably Holland.

No, it needs to go beyond ancestry and religion. It's about morality and the hypocrisy of how we treat Palestine and Israel. Ask yourself, it were any other two countries, if the crisis were not in the Holy Land, would we have the same policy? Would the US consistently walk out of discussions on Palestinian human rights at the UN? Would we continually support policies of (and sell equipment to) Israel knowing what is happening?

If it is unconstitutional to say a prayer in public schools, to place a cross on public land, and other conflations of religion into government, why is it acceptable (or even constitutional) to have an entire foreign policy based on religion?

I admit I have no solution to the Middle East. But I do think we need to have a proper discussion. And I do have some suggestions for the United States: We need to become a truly objective player. We need to stop giving aid (to either side) except for humanitarian. We need to base our foreign policy on democratic principles and human rights. We need to start judging Israel by the same standards as we do for any other global country. 

In short, we need to be faithful to the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Top Two Primary vs Voter Apathy

In today's Tri-City Herald, the FAST FOCUS question was: "What are your thoughts on our top two primary system?"

My personal view is there is nothing inherently wrong with the the system. The problems arise when we factor in voter apathy. If the majority of people actually voted in my district, I hazard a guess that the top two winners would not both be Republicans.

RL Guillen of Kennewick writes: "The top two primary system ... was reinstated by former Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) ...  to enable Republicans to successfully hijack everyone's right to vote for anyone other than Republicans in November! Republicans knew that few people show up to vote at primaries and that by reinstituting a top-two primary system would help them to force voters to vote only for Republicans!"

A true accounting of the system as it functions in eastern Washington State, I'm sure. However, does it need to be so? If the Republicans are actually the majority of the those motivated to participate in democracy - as it appears to be - why is that? Should the system be thrown out because Democrats and other non-Republicans can't be bothered?

Guillen continues: "It is shameful that voters have not learned the lesson that your right to vote is important, and that you need to actively exercise that right. Because lethargic voters did not show up at the primary election, today eligible voters are being forced to vote only for two Republicans who have no interest in the real needs of the people in the 4th Congressional district they will represent."

It is shameful and appalling. That the future of the 100,000 registered voters of Benton County will be decided by around 20,000 people - as I have written about previously - is shameful. But it is not the fault of the system, not does it make the system partial to Republicans.

The fault is in us - the voters. I had great hopes for this latest primary. The Republicans seem to be out to alienate and disenfranchise - and even demonize - so many of the American people - women, African Americans, Latinos, the poor and the middle class. All of these have been affected negatively by the words and deeds of today's Republicans. 

So, I had great hopes. I felt sure many of these people would rise up against people like Didier. Unfortunately, things are much worse off than I thought. Online - on social media - there is a big push to get people registered. I feel, though, that voter registration is not the issue. The real issue is the actual act of voting. If only 37% of the registered voters are actually voting, what good does registration do? 

In the end, the enemy of democracy is not the top two primary or even party politics, it is US.

I welcome your contributions to this conversation.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vote - A Duty, A Responsibility, A Privilege

I was originally going to write a letter to the editor of my local paper, the Tri-City Herald, complaining about the winners of the 4th Congressional District (Washington State) primary race. But I thought that sounded too much like "sour grapes". 

So I want to talk about something far more disturbing. Voter participation. It is appalling. Now, I have been voting in elections - ALL elections - since 1984 when I turned 18. When I say all, I mean all. I have voted in elections where the only thing on the ballot is a school bond issue. I have voted since the days where I had to go to a polling place (a local elementary school, usually) and wait in line. I have voted in presidential elections since the days when the networks - all 3 of them - declared the winner long before the polls in Washington State ever closed. 

So, I am suitably appalled at my fellow Benton County residents. According to bentonelections.com, out of the 99,283 ballots issued, 37,413 were returned. That means 37.5% of registered voters decided the future of Benton County. If this had been a school bond election, it wouldn't even be valid as 60% of the registered voters have to actually vote in those.

Our county has a population of 182,398 (as of 2012) - are you comfortable with the fact that 37,413 people have decided your future? In fact, it is probably not even an evenly distributed 37,413 that voted. Studies have shown (nationwide) that the majority of those voting in midterm elections are old and white. Do you think they will be voting in your best interests? 

Why don't you vote? I have heard over the years a few excuses:

#1 My vote doesn't count

Well, first of all, that's not the point. The point is to vote. Do the Afghanis worry about that? No - they risk their lives to cast their ballot and proudly show their inked finger to prove they have. Ar you proud to be an American? Do you celebrate Independence Day? If you say yes to those questions and don't vote - you've missed the point entirely.

Second of all, the one thing we learned from the Bush v Gore election is your vote DOES count.

#2 They're all the same

Really? Do you truly believe that? If they were all the same, why can't they agree on anything? One believes corporations are people, the other does not. One believes in separation of church and state, the other believes in the preservation of religious liberty. One believes in a social safety net, the other believes in protecting businesses.

These are just a few differences. What are the issues you care about? What makes your blood boil? Ask yourself, which candidate will protect and fight for your values?

#3 It's inconvenient

Oh, please. Washington State is 100% vote-by-mail. It is also one of the easiest states to register to vote in. Watching, listening, and reading the news, I am very grateful to live in this state. I don't live in a state that is establishing Voter ID legislation and restricting the right to vote. I don't have to live in a state where I continually have to re-register to vote. (I registered at my local library in 198 and have only had to make address changes since.)

#3 I only vote in presidential elections

I want to address this point. In my (humble) opinion, the President has very little impact in my life. (Except, perhaps, when he interrupts my favorite television program for an important message.) Think about it, which political or government figures have direct impact on your life?

Judges, sheriffs, city and county council members, these officials have a huge impact on your lives. Property taxes, use of public lands, law and justice, these are issues that are a daily influence in your life!

Also, since most functions of government are carried out by the state government  - and the US Supreme Court is frequently re-emphasizing this - the state elections are very important.

Even your Congressman has more impact on your life than the President. The President is answerable to all Americans as his (or her) constituency. Your Congressman (or woman) is answerable to his State's citizens (if a Senator) or his Congressional District (if a Representative). 

We need to vote. It is out duty, our responsibility, and our privilege. It is also in our best interest to vote. If only 30% of the registered voters actually vote, doesn't that make their votes worth three times as much as they would in an election where everyone voted?

A final thought... we always talk about how our fighting men and women are fighting for our way of life, that they are fighting for democracy. Does that mean that they are dying, they are being maimed, they are suffering from PTSD, so that you can NOT participate in the democracy they fought for?