Riffs from My Father – A Daughter’s Tribute

I’m an Army brat, born overseas to military parents. The circumstances of my birth are not at all rare, but in 2001 after the World Trade Centers were attacked, my identity as an American suddenly became suspect. The birth papers that had always been sufficient were no longer good enough. My unnecessary naturalization (insisted upon by my mother, and a source of great mirth to the judge who administered a tiny me The Oath of Allegiance) was no longer good enough. For a tidy fee, I had to petition Condoleeza Rice’s State Department to recertify my American-ness (if I wanted to drive, or to fly, or to bank, or to vote, or… you know. Stuff.)

My personal experiences make me bristle at two political conversations we are having: Voter ID (for obvious reasons)… and absentee fathers.

My father served in Korea before I was born, and Vietnam after, but even when he wasn’t away at war, he was often away at schools, on duty or on maneuvers. Other Army brats will understand exactly what I’m talking about.

When I was very little and my dad was at war in Vietnam, my mom cast a magic spell to save him, and to protect our family from losing him. (As a child brought up in The Walt Disney Culture, that is how I perceived what she was doing.) She practiced The Sorcery of Silence with absolute discipline. No news reports, no TV shows, no radio broadcasts about the war were permitted to touch us. No conversations – casual or serious. An acquaintance could not ask her politely how my dad was doing in Vietnam. Her closest and best friends could not ask her. Other military wives could not ask her. She would shut them down before the question was even fully expressed. My mother patrolled the boundaries of her magic spell with fierce, zealous, unwavering vigilance.

It worked.

He made it.

My first memory of my father was his return from Vietnam in 1970. I knew his voice from speaking to him long distance around the holidays, but not the face he came home with, or the body. When he landed at the tiny Airport in Killeen, Texas, I didn’t recognize him. I was afraid of him. My mother had shown my sister and me pictures of him, but he didn’t look like the pictures. He was painfully thin, very tan, and his hair was different. To me, he looked just like Elvis Presley in the movies broadcast by the indie TV station out of Fort Worth that my mom finally relented, and let my sister and me watch (but just cartoons, re-runs and movies… no scary news).

dad_in_uniform_noname

So… Here was my dad, finally. Only my dad was Elvis in Love Me Tender. It was disorienting.

My dad was born at the back end of The Silent Generation, in 1941, and picked up the guitar for real, after he entered the Army on February 28, 1959. By 1960, he was in Korea. By 1962, he was already Second Chair Guitar in the ship’s orchestra on his return. Understand: I knew none of my father’s biography until I was an adult, and screwed up the courage to ask him. (My mother’s spell had rubbed off on me.)

After Vietnam, my dad became my dad in my actual home, a little trailer in Harker Heights, Texas. Having him with us was brand new to me.

puppies

I was very little, so my memories are scant. What I do remember most is his guitar. My dad would play Something, and sing it to my mom. He would play Looking Out My Backdoor  as a lullaby to my sister and me at bedtime. This was way before I was allowed to have a radio of my own, so I just assumed that my dad wrote both songs… and many of the other songs he would play. (FYI: My mom and dad were in love and in lust with each other. Even as a little child, I picked up on that. Something, coming from my dad, sounded completely genuine.)

So, my dad was home. A few years later, my family moved into a real house, and we seemed more like the families I saw on TV. No sooner had we done that, than he was stationed in Germany. My parents decided that he would go alone, and my sister and I would start school in The States. After two years in Germany, he was back for the Bicentennial.

Having a dad in the service, dipping into and out of your life, makes for some interesting discoveries. Thus it happened that in 1976, I learned something new and amazing about my very own dad.

I was old enough now that my mom allowed me an alarm clock radio of my very own in my bedroom, and it even had a built-in cassette recorder. I listened to KIXS 93.3 FM religiously. They counted down the local top hits every night. They broadcast from local live music dives. They had a late-night DJ right out of Almost Famous. They also made a very big deal out of debuting new songs. When they debuted More Than a Feeling  by Boston, I was taping.

Wow… WOW! GREAT SONG!!!

I couldn’t wait to play it for my dad when he got home. (He and I could often be found combing the racks at pawn shops for great music, and his collection of LP’s numbered in the thousands.)

When I heard his car pull into our driveway, I was ready for action. He barely made it through the door and put down his stuff before I pulled him into The Music Room (babbling like a maniac the whole time I’m sure). I popped the cassette I’d recorded in, and pressed play. He loved me, so of course he patiently listened. He reached for his guitar and noodled along distractedly as the song played. I thought to myself, “He doesn’t like it like I like it.”

I was a little crushed. Okay, a lot crushed.

At the end of the song, he plugged his guitar into his amp, looked up at me and said, “Play it again.” I rewound the cassette, and pressed play.

My dad, without missing a lick, played back the entire song flawlessly, his ’63 Sunburst Strat BLAZING AT FULL VOLUME! Every hair on my pre-pubescent body stood straight up. It was a moment. It was THE moment that I found out my dad was a Guitar God.

Holy crap. How did I not know that?

The next year, he was sent away again, this time to Indiana for “school.” That summer, my mom packed me and my sister into the car, and made the long drive to be with him. That was the summer that I learned what it was like to live in a hotel, swim anytime I wanted, eat every meal (and play pinball!) at the same diner, and see a By-God-Hollywood-Summer-Blockbuster on a for-real massive big city movie screen. It was 1977, and the movie was Star Wars.

  pinball_cropped

By this time, I was at that age where straight girls start thinking about boys. (Not in a sexual way, in a Marcia-Brady-meets-Davy-Jones kind of way.) I knew my parents were nuts about each other, and I was curious about that. So, when we got back to Texas from Indiana, I started snooping. In my parents’ closet, I found a beautiful, diaphanous, orange negligee set. In their nightstand, I found The Joy of Sex. In their dresser I found girly magazines…

… And under the girly magazines, hinged boxes, like the ones you get when you buy real jewelry. One was normal-sized. The others were much bigger. The small one contained a pair of cufflinks, but not like any I’d ever seen. They looked military, and they looked old to me. Inside the larger boxes were medals. I didn’t know exactly what they meant, but I knew they were about war. My mom’s spell grabbed me by the throat. I put the boxes back. I put the girly magazines back on top of them. I got the hell out of there.

What I want to tell you about my dad:

He was gone a lot. There were years when he probably saw a lot less of us than a divorced dad living in the same city would. When politicians talk about “two-parent families” and “absentee fathers,” I hate it. When I was growing up, the most important thing to me was knowing that my parents were happy, that they were in love with each other, and that they loved me. Sure, I wished my dad was around more, but I had a good childhood.

My dad was a soldier, but he never brought his work – or his weapon – home.

My dad had one Army buddy that was invited to our home for football and food, and only one, Cosby. My parents were so perfect on the issue of race that I didn’t know there was such a thing until I started school.

How this all started:

This afternoon, someone tweeted me More Than A Feeling. “I closed my eyes and I slipped away,” right back to 1976.

Tonight, I called my dad. I asked him if I could ask him a question. He said, “yes.” I told him he could tell me no. He said, “okay.” I told him he could not answer me if he didn’t want to. He said, “okay.” I told him it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if he didn’t want to talk about it.

He told me to ask him.

I told him what I’ve told you about the girly magazines and the boxes.

The cufflinks were awarded to my father in the early 60’s when his band, The Stardusters, won the talent contest in Korea.

The medals were The Good Conduct Medal, The Campaign Medal, The Cross of Galantry, and The Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster. All of these medals were awarded to my father for his service to his country in Vietnam.

My father.

Guitar Hero.

War Hero.

My Hero.

Confessions of a Liberal

I’m ready to come a little further out of the closet, and admit to being a deviant.  Hi, I’m TheoloGOP… and I’m a liberal.

I don’t like to shop. I hate shopping. Look, I’ll scoop a dirty cat box, detail the car, even watch “Meet The Press” quicker than I’ll go to the store without a fight.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have shopped.  I’ll even do it on my own sometimes, around the holidays, but I don’t like it.  And what’s worse, I don’t understand the thrill others find in it.

I don’t want a Lexus, BMW, or Mercedes.  I drive a clunker.  I like my clunker.  If I had a gazillion dollars, I’d still like my clunker.  Wanna know what I think when I see a car that costs over $30,000?  I think, “Oh my god! That car costs over $30,000!!!”  I don’t think, “Gee, I’d sure like to have one of those!”  I think, “Man, I’m sure glad I don’t want one of those!”

I think boxing is nuts.  I don’t get it.  I can’t figure out how it can be legal, actually.  Basically, as I understand it, it’s illegal to beat someone up unless you are acting in self-defense.  It’s also illegal to beat someone up for money.  And yet… we have boxing.  Whenever I surf past a boxing match (for instance on HBO) it makes me queasy.  I feel sorry for the guys in the ring.  I can’t understand how a tape of two guys beating each other up for real isn’t obscene, but a tape of two people pretending to get jiggy is.

I have the Circadian rhythms of a raccoon.  I prefer to stay up all night and sleep during the day.  According to my mother, I have always been this way.  As she tells it, when I was a baby, I would play quietly with my toys in my crib at night, and go to sleep around sun-up.  As for me, I don’t remember ever being any other way.  I get my second wind at about 8 or 9 at night.  That’s when I feel the best, and I’m raring to go.  Noon to me probably feels the same way 3 a.m. feels to most other folks.  I’m nocturnal.  An owl.

I have a Samson complex, and not just about me.  I like long hair.  I like it on everyone, male or female.  To my eye, short hair looks funny — unnatural.  I hate getting my hair cut.  I don’t like anyone near my head with a pair of scissors.  When I do get my hair cut (or more often, cut my own hair), I feel weird for days.  I sort of have to work up to it, to cut it.

I don’t like any sports except for Baseball, and just The Red Sox.  I watched a ton of football with my dad growing up, and I loved spending that time doing that with him, but as soon as I left home for college, I stopped cold.  I went to Texas A&M, where football is a religion, but I only went to one game in four years, and only under duress.  I have also never understood, AT ALL, why sports coverage is part of every regular local newscast.  Personally, I’d like to see the “News-Weather-Sports” lineup become the “News-Weather-Furry Mammals” line-up.  I’d like to see all the sports reporters be replaced with Jack Hanna clones.  Come to think of it, you could throw out the weather part, too, and I wouldn’t mind in the least.  That’s what the internet’s for.

Now, here comes the serious part…

I don’t want to have children.  I don’t want to start a biological family.  I love other people’s kids, and I’m great with them (I have family and a long list of former neighbors who can back me up on this one), but I know I am happier without children of my own.  I’m also sure that the kind of life I now have would be gone for good if kids came into the picture.  That’s the way it is.  And honestly, that’s the way I WANT it to be.  I will admit to the occasional pang of baby-lust, but I’ve never had a case of baby-love.

God has never spoken to me.  Not once.  I grew up in a religious home.  I went to church, to Sunday School, to Vacation Bible School, to CYF summer sleep-away camp near Athens, Texas.  I prayed A LOT.  But I still vaguely remember, even when I was very young, going to church and peeking out from between my clasped hands when people were praying.  I remember watching them and thinking, “They’re playing make believe.  They’re not talking to God, they’re talking to each other…”  As I got older, I realized the heresy of such a thought, and I stomped it down DEEP.  I put all of my energy into getting right with Jesus.  (Those of you who have spent any time on twitter know that I have energy to spare NOW — just imagine what I was like THEN).  I made god my raison d’etre.  I did everything I was told — and everything I could think of on my own — to get him to talk to me.  He never did.  As much as I like to hear myself talk, I hung up about 25 years ago, and it has made all the difference for me.

So, there you have it.  I am a deviant — different from the norm in a multitude of ways.  So, why am I telling you this?  What’s the point?  Here’s the point:  Everything I have said is true, but so is this…

I don’t want to outlaw shopping or shut down the malls.
I don’t think people who like to shop are bad.

I don’t want to outlaw expensive cars like Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes.
I don’t think that people who own expensive cars are bad.

I don’t want to outlaw boxing, or lock up boxers or boxing spectators.
I don’t think liking boxing, or making boxing your career, is bad.

I don’t want to pass a law to make people adjust their clocks to suit me.
I don’t think being awake during the day and sleeping at night is bad.

I don’t want to outlaw barbers, or cosmetologists, or scissors, or baldness.
I don’t think having or liking short hair, or no hair, is bad.

I don’t want to outlaw sports, or sportscasts, or sports reporters.
I don’t think that liking sports, or making sports your career, is bad.
(Dave Zirin, I’d make out with you on principle. Also, ‘cuz you’re wicked hot.)

I don’t want to outlaw parenting.
I don’t think that being a parent is bad.

I don’t want to outlaw god, or prayer, or churches.
I don’t think that people who believe in god are bad.

That is what makes me a liberal.  As a liberal, I know I have my own personal opinions, my own personal preferences, and my own personal tastes, and I know that is ALL THEY ARE.  I know that other people can have different opinions, preferences and tastes, and they don’t threaten mine.  I know other people can make different choices, and they don’t diminish mine.  I don’t believe that there is only one right choice to make for everyone.  I respect and appreciate diversity.  I don’t want the government taking sides — even if the side they take is mine.  I don’t want to be told people who are different than me are wrong or bad.  I want the freedom to make up my own mind, and I want you to have that freedom, too.

Here is what I DON’T want to hear from my government ANYMORE:

If you’re not straight, you’re bad.

If you don’t believe in god(s), any god(s), or the most popular god(s), you’re bad.

If you weren’t raised in a two-parent family (whatever the hell that means when they say it) you had a bad childhood; your (grand/non-traditional/absent military) parent(s) is/was are/were bad.

If you don’t have children of your own, you’re bad.

If you don’t get married, whether or not we’ll let you, to a person of whom WE approve, you’re bad.

As a liberal, I don’t want society cleansed of people that are different than me, or that make different choices.  I don’t want a homogeneous society.  I don’t want everyone to be JUST LIKE ME.  I don’t want the government to make it easy to be me, and tough to be you; to say it’s right to be me, and wrong to be you.  As a liberal, I know the difference between an opinion and a fact, and I want the government to stick to facts.  I want the gray areas left alone.  I want to make up my own mind. I want to be free to be who I am, believe what I believe, like what I like, say what I say, love who I love, and live how I live.  I want the same thing for you.

And in case you’re wondering? Bullet holes in dead children are not a gray area.

I may not want kids, but I want kids to live.

“God Hates Fags” Answering The Taunts of The Religious Right

(Originally published January 11, 2001)

Biblical texts demand the execution of persons committing homosexual acts.  Some Christians today urge the same thing.  Though our laws do not follow scripture in this case, straight Americans kill gay Americans in shocking numbers every year.


MORE FACTS ABOUT SEX AND THE BIBLE:
1.  The punishment for engaging in sex during the menstrual period is “kareth“: the worst spiritual punishment in the Bible.
2.  The punishment for adultery is execution by stoning for both parties.  The Bible defines adultery by the marital status of the woman involved only.  A married man having sex with a single woman does not constitute adultery. Also, a man can never commit adultery against his own wife, only against another man, by having sex with that man’s wife (that is to say, infringing on his property).  
3.  A woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night is to be executed by stoning.  The virginity-until-marriage rule does not apply to men. 
4.  Nudity is shameful, and viewing it an accursed sin.  No exception is made for the private home or the marriage bed.
5.  Polygamy (marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time) and concubinage (cohabitation of persons not legally married) are not prohibited.
6.  A son-less woman who becomes widowed must have sex with each of her deceased husband’s brothers, in turn, until she gives birth to a male heir. Jesus mentions this custom (levirate marriage), and doesn’t criticize it
7.  Sex between heterosexual singles is not condemned, so long as the woman is not a virgin, and her property value is not being diminished.
8.  Semen and menstrual blood are unclean, as are those who come into contact with them.  Sexual uncleanness lasts until sundown.  Menstrual uncleanness lasts for seven days.  Childbirth renders a woman unclean.  She remains unclean twice as long after having a female child, as she does after having a male child.
9.  Prostitution is natural, and necessary as a safeguard of the virginity of the unmarried and the property rights of men, as regards their women.  A man visiting a prostitute is not sinning, but the prostitute is.  
10.  Endogamy (marrying within faith and race) is required, miscegenation (interracial marriage or cohabitation) is a sin.  
11.  Mosaic law allows for divorce.  Jesus strictly forbade it, though he never mentioned homosexuality at all.
12.  Celibacy is abnormal, and a sign of heresy, though not expressly a sin.  Jesus and Paul were both celibate.
14.  Slavery is normal, and not a sin.  Female virgins are the spoils of war.  It is not a sin to use female slaves for sexual or breeding purposes.

WARM AND FUZZY vs. COLD AND PRICKLY
Two extremes exist (as well as everything in between) when it comes to members of the Christian faith.  I will refer here to the extremes of that faith continuum as the “cold and prickly” and “warm and fuzzy” wings of Christianity.  The “warm and fuzzy” wing believes that the radical love of Jesus, and his death, replaced the biblical law that preceded it.  The “cold and prickly” wing took Jesus at his word: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

BUFFET FAITH
Christians of both “wings” have one practice in common, made unavoidable by all the contradictions in the Bible:  picking and choosing which parts of scripture are the “real” or “important” parts, and crediting the Bible for beliefs it does not espouse.  I include biblical literalists in this statement.  Many Biblical literalists rely on the Bible to support their conservative sexual taboos (such as opposition to homosexuality), yet withhold their fiery rhetoric on other practices Jesus condemned, such as divorcespeaking in angerprotecting assets in a lawsuit, and possessing personal wealth.

THE ECCLESIASTICAL TRAP
Many outdated laws (such as “sodomy” laws) are outgrowths of ecclesiastical laws that existed under the Church-State in Europe, and were duplicated by early American colonials.  The religious right uses this argument to falsely assert that our laws are based on scripture, and that we are a Judeo-Christian nation.  Not true.  Not only was the founding of our nation a repudiation of the Church-State, but the vast majority of these laws have been overturned or repealed because of their barbarity.  We are no more a Judeo-Christian nation than we are a British nation.

CONTROLLING MORAL AUTHORITY
The final argument many Christians make is that, without the Bible, we have no “controlling moral authority” to show us right from wrong.  This is a false argument.  The humanistic changes in our laws have increased social justice and social morality, not decreased it.  We have outlawed slavery, spousal battery, spousal rape, executing children, child marriages, and summary execution.  We do not force a woman to marry her rapist.  And all of this in direct contradiction of Biblical law.  These are not the acts of a Judeo-Christian nation, but a humanist one.  It is time to continue this proud tradition and enter an “Age of Reason” by overturning laws against homosexuality, and by including sexual orientation in the protected classes covered by hate crime legislation at both the federal and state level.

 

Letter to My Senators… Brevity is the soul of snark.

To:
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Date: July 8, 2014

Subject: Confirm Pamela Harris to the Fourth Circuit

Dear Senator:

I’m a Texan. Please do your best to control your impulse to act in an irrationally partisan manner, and support Pamela Harris for confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

I don’t have to tell you what an extraordinarily well-qualified nominee she is, because you already know that.

Just do your duty already.

Sincerely,
TheoloGOP
Austin, TX

Postscript: I put in “Ms.” in as my prefix, but John Cornyn’s website kept asking me for my title… So I put “Watership Down.”

 

 

Senator Ted Cruz: My Constituent Letter, His Hilarious Reply

I wrote my Senator, Ted Cruz, regarding guns:

March 29, 2014

Senator Ted Cruz
B40B Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Cruz:

Please indulge a bit of background. I am a single, childless 40-something lady, and so is my best friend, Joy, who has been my rock since college (Texas A&M… Gig ‘em, Aggies!). Since she is also childless, her only niece, Lily, is our pride and joy, and all but an adopted daughter for both of us. When she was a high school sophomore, Lily fell in love. I know what you are thinking… 15 and in love? Please… Still, Lily is a firm believer in THE ONE.

So, she did fall in love, and FOR REAL. About 18 months later, her boyfriend, Christian, found out that his little sister was using methamphetamine, and drove in a fit of brotherly rage to extract her from a home where she had gone to acquire her drug of choice. When he arrived, Christian confronted the drug dealer who was there with his sister, and was shot in his lower back (among other places). It is my understanding that the assault rifle was illegal, in that the drug dealer/shooter was a convicted felon at the time of purchase. Honestly, no one has ever been able to tell me with any certainty how this happened exactly – Web seller? Gun show? Straw purchaser? I don’t know for certain to this day, and it is not as though I haven’t asked.

Christian was paralyzed by his injury, and unequivocally rejected Lily after he was diagnosed. She hung in there, but he was unmoved by her loyalty OR her persistence. About 18 months later, she left for college. Boyfriendless.

Lily recently celebrated her 23rd birthday on Saint Patrick’s Day, and I called her (as I always do) to wish her a Happy Birthday. We exchanged the normal pleasantries, and eventually I asked her if she was seeing anyone. She told me she was, and his name was Michael. He was the best kisser she had ever known, and the best friend she had ever had. To me, this seemed like a recipe for TRUE LOVE (honestly, I would pay good money for a guy like that… top dollar!). I asked her if she thought she might be able to fall in love with Michael. She calmly explained to me that she is in love with Christian, and always will be, and since he will not let her be with him anymore, she will always be alone.

Senator Cruz, when you are considering the arms control proposals that are coming before you, I BEG YOU to consider the lives of ordinary, unexceptional, forgotten constituents like my best friend’s niece, Lily. No one dies in her story, but futures were changed and lives were ruined nonetheless. Guns are a part of American history and culture, and I appreciate that as a Texan. But there is no rational excuse for not enacting legislation that, at a MINIMUM, would:

  • Keep criminals and those adjudicated dangerously mentally impaired from acquiring arms – COMPREHENSIVE BACKGROUND CHECKS and STRONG FEDERAL GUN TRAFFICKING LAWS
  • Keep the body count for any single act of violence as low as you possibly can. Institute a ban on military weapons and their knock-off cousins, as well as high-capacity magazines and drums – ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN and AMMUNITION CAPACITY LIMITS
  • Empower academia, government agencies and law enforcement to gather and analyze data on gun crimes, to shut down bad actors, and to require product improvements that protect gun owners and child safety.

Sir, you will soon have the opportunity to cast a vote that will literally save lives and bodies and futures. That chance doesn’t come along every day. Please find the personal courage to do the right thing.

Sincerely,
TheoloGOP

Here is his reply. I think he got all confused, poor thing. (Maybe Laura Bush can help him out.)

Can’t quite figure out why I’m so upset right now. I thought I was a cynic. Maybe not.

#ThrowbackThursday: An Open Letter to Charlton Heston (2001)

THURSDAY, MARCH 8, 2001: AN OPEN LETTER TO CHARLTON HESTON
“WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION DON’T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE”

Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Charlton Heston, President, National Rifle Association
What civil right could possibly be more fundamental than the right to protect your life, your family and your freedom from whoever would take it away?  The right to keep and bear arms may be our Second Amendment as Americans, but you can bet on this: It’s our first freedom as humans…  Today, let our message be just as simple and just as strong: “All people have an unalienable right to defend their lives and their liberty from whomever would harm them, and with whatever means necessary.”

TO:
Charlton Heston, President
National Rifle Association
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
877-375-4202, 800-392-8683

March 8, 2001

RE:  My Second Amendment Rights

Dear Mr. Heston:

I am writing to demand that you resign your post as President of the National Rifle Association.  Like most actors, you talk a good game, but like many politicians, you refuse to follow through.  You are not doing your job.

You have asserted that I have a right to self-defense, that I have this right whoever the aggressor against me is, and that I have the right to use “any means necessary.”  How lovely of you.  I am pleased to hear you admit it. 

If that is the way you feel, then why, Mr. Heston, aren’t you working to secure my Second Amendment rights?  As you well know, Amendment II says nothing about “guns” or “rifles”, but rather, about “arms”.  Guns are ridiculously obsolete in our modern world.  With religious fundamentalists seizing power in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States — Afghanistan is rumored to have access to nuclear bomb components, and the United States and Pakistan certainly do — how am I to protect myself and my family with a pitiful little Barrett .50 caliber M82A1?  It may fire armor-piercing and incendiary ammunition, Sir, but it is no deterrent against an adversary with nukes, and certainly offers me no real protection.

I am also outraged that you are not working, right now, to see that the overly restrictive treaties America has signed with other nations — which prevent me from legally possessing chemical and biological weapons  — are overturned.  This is a personal sovereignty issue.  I never waived my right to keep any of these Arms.

And please, do not insult my intelligence with talk that my government has these weapons, and can deter or retaliate against aggressors on my behalf.  What claptrap!  That is no different than saying my First Amendment freedoms are protected when my government speaks for me. 

As you have so wisely pointed out, Mr. Heston, my right to armed self-protection is supreme, and of more urgent importance than my right to freedom of speech or of religion.  If I won’t trust the government to do my talking or worshipping for me, what makes you think I would trust them to stand guard for me?  I wouldn’t!  It has often been said, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”  Well, I want this thing done right!

So, I issue an ultimatum to you today.  Either put up, or shut up.  Either get busy securing my right to bear Arms – all arms – or step down from your post, and allow that hallowed seat to be filled by someone who won’t cave to the liberals.  Either do your duty, or resign and let a leader who loves Amendment II as much as I do assume the Office of President of the NRA.

Sincerely,
The Diva

 

Confessions of A Liberal

I am ready to come a little further out of the closet, and admit to being a deviant. Hi, I’m TheoloGOP… and I’m a liberal.

I don’t like to shop. I hate shopping. Look, I’ll scoop a dirty cat box, detail the car, even watch “Meet The Press” quicker than I’ll go to the store without a fight. Don’t get me wrong. I have shopped. I’ll even do it on my own, sometimes, around the holidays, but I don’t like it. And what’s worse, I don’t understand the thrill others find in it.

I don’t want a Lexus, BMW, or Mercedes. I drive a clunker. I like my clunker. If I had a gazillion dollars, I’d still like my clunker. Wanna know what I think when I see a car that costs over $30,000? I think, “Oh my god! That car costs over $30,000!!!” I don’t think, “Gee, I’d sure like to have one of those!” I think, “Man, I’m sure glad I don’t want one of those!”

I think boxing is nuts. I don’t get it. I can’t figure out how it can be legal, actually. Basically, as I understand it, it’s illegal to beat someone up unless you are acting in self-defense. It’s also illegal to beat someone up for money. And yet… we have boxing. Whenever I surf past a boxing match (for instance on HBO) it makes me queasy. I feel sorry for the guys in the ring. I can’t understand how a tape of two guys beating each other up for real isn’t obscene, but a tape of two people pretending to get jiggy is.

I have the Circadian rhythms of a raccoon. I prefer to stay up all night and sleep during the day. According to my mother, I have always been this way. As she tells it, when I was a baby, I would play quietly with my toys in my crib at night, and go to sleep around sun-up. As for me, I don’t remember ever being any other way. I get my second wind at about 8 or 9 at night, and that’s when I feel the best, and I’m raring to go. Noon to me probably feels the same way 3 a.m. feels to most other folks. I’m nocturnal. An owl.

I have a Samson complex, and not just about me. I like long hair. I like it on everyone, male or female. To my eye, short hair looks funny — unnatural. I hate getting my hair cut. I don’t like anyone near my head with a pair of scissors. When I do get my hair cut (or more often, cut my own hair), I feel weird for days. I sort of have to work up to it, to cut it.

I don’t like any sports except for Baseball, and just The Red Sox. I watched a ton of football with my dad growing up, and I loved spending that time doing that with him, but as soon as I left home for college, I stopped cold. I went to Texas A&M, where football is a religion, but I only went to one game in four years, and only under duress. I have also never understood, AT ALL, why sports coverage is part of every regular local newscast. Personally, I’d like to see the “News-Weather-Sports” lineup become the “News-Weather-Furry Mammals” line-up. I’d like to see all the sports reporters be replaced with Jack Hanna clones. Come to think of it, you could throw out the weather part, too, and I wouldn’t mind in the least. That’s what the internet’s for.

Now, here comes the serious part…

I don’t want to have children. I don’t want to start a biological family. I love other people’s kids, and I’m great with them (I have family and a long list of former neighbors who can back me up on this one), but I know I am happier without children of my own. I’m also sure that the kind of life I now have would be gone for good if kids came into the picture. That’s the way it is. And honestly, that’s the way I WANT it to be. I will admit to the occasional pang of baby-lust, but I’ve never had a case of baby-love.

God has never spoken to me. Not once. I grew up in a religious home. I went to church, to Sunday School, to Vacation Bible School, to CYF summer sleep-away camp near Athens, Texas. I prayed A LOT. But I still vaguely remember, even when I was very young, going to church and peeking out from between my clasped hands when people were praying. I remember watching them and thinking, “They’re playing make believe. They’re not talking to god, they’re talking to each other…” As I got older, I realized the heresy of such a thought, and I stomped it down DEEP. I put all of my energy into getting right with Jesus. (Those of you who have spent any time on twitter know that I have energy to spare NOW — just imagine what I was like THEN). I made god my raison d’etre. I did everything I was told — and everything I could think of on my own — to get him to talk to me. He never did. As much as I like to hear myself talk, I hung up about 25 years ago, and it has made all the difference for me.

So, there you have it. I am a deviant — different from the norm in a multitude of ways. So, why am I telling you this? What’s the point? Here’s the point: Everything I have said is true, but so is this…

I don’t want to outlaw shopping or shut down the malls.
I don’t think people who like to shop are bad.

I don’t want to outlaw expensive cars like Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes.
I don’t think that people who own expensive cars are bad.

I don’t want to outlaw boxing, or lock up boxers or boxing spectators.
I don’t think liking boxing, or making boxing your career, is bad.

I don’t want to pass a law to make people adjust their clocks to suit me.
I don’t think being awake during the day and sleeping at night is bad.

I don’t want to outlaw barbers, or cosmetologists, or scissors, or baldness.
I don’t think having or liking short hair, or no hair, is bad.

I don’t want to outlaw sports, or sportscasts, or sports reporters.
I don’t think that liking sports, or making sports your career, is bad.
(Dave Zirin, I’d make out with you on principle. Also, ‘cuz you’re wicked hot.)

I don’t want to outlaw parenting.
I don’t think that being a parent is bad.

I don’t want to outlaw god, or prayer, or churches.
I don’t think that people who believe in god are bad.

That is what makes me a liberal. As a liberal, I know I have my own personal opinions, my own personal preferences, and my own personal tastes, and I know that is ALL THEY ARE. I know that other people can have different opinions, preferences and tastes, and they don’t threaten mine. I know other people can make different choices, and they don’t diminish mine. I don’t believe that there is only one right choice to make for everyone. I respect and appreciate diversity. I don’t want the government taking sides — even if the side they take is mine. I don’t want to be told people who are different than me are wrong or bad. I want the freedom to make up my own mind, and I want you to have that freedom, too.

Here is what I DON’T want to hear from my government ANYMORE:

If you’re not straight, you’re bad.

If you don’t believe in god(s), any god(s), or the most popular god(s), you’re bad.

If you weren’t raised in a two-parent family (whatever the hell that means when they say it) you had a bad childhood; your (grand/non-traditional/absent military) parent(s) is/was are/were bad.

If you don’t have children of your own, you’re bad.

If you don’t get married, whether or not we’ll let you, to a person of whom WE approve, you’re bad.

As a liberal, I don’t want society cleansed of people that are different than me, or that make different choices. I don’t want a homogeneous society. I don’t want everyone to be JUST LIKE ME. I don’t want the government to make it easy to be me, and tough to be you; to say it’s right to be me, and wrong to be you. As a liberal, I know the difference between an opinion and a fact, and I want the government to stick to facts. I want the gray areas left alone. I want to make up my own mind. I want to be free to be who I am, believe what I believe, like what I like, say what I say, love who I love, and live how I live. I want the same thing for you.

And in case you’re wondering? Bullet holes in dead children are not a gray area.

I may not want kids, but I want kids to live.

RX: A Thought Experiment and Gut-Check Opinion Poll

In the interest of better understanding my creation (particularly Capitalist American humans), I humbly offer the following Thought Experiment…

As in any experiment, we must necessarily begin with a few basics…

THE ‘GIVENS’

  1. You are fabulously wealthy (i.e. you and your family possess more inter-generational wealth than the most profligate and spendthrift of your offspring and theirs — out to ten generations — could possibly dispose of in their lifetimes).
  2. You are the Chief Executive Officer of a publicly-traded pharmaceutical company. You have complete discretion over which individuals are appointed to your Board of Directors, and complete control of how they vote. Your shareholders always follow the recommendations of The Board.
  3. You alone have total knowledge and control of all operating aspects of your pharmaceutical company, and a fiduciary responsibility to your shareholders.

THE SITUATION:

You fund several research groups pursuing independent lines of inquiry into Alzheimer’s Disease, each of which reports directly to you, none of which communicates with the others, and all of which have executed airtight confidentiality, non-disclosure and non-compete agreements with your pharmaceutical company. You hold exclusive patents to their research, findings and work product.

One of the research groups discovers and tests an incredibly effective treatment for the symptoms Alzheimer’s Disease which requires a twice-daily dosage at a cost of $1800 per month per patient. With minimal side effects, subjects who follow the regimen experience a 95% reduction in symptoms for the duration of their treatment. Upon discontinuing treatment, symptoms return within a period of (on average) a few days to a few weeks.

Another of the research groups discovers and tests an effective vaccine for the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, which requires a single injection at a cost of $1800 per patient, and has the added benefit of completely masking symptoms in those already diagnosed (i.e.appears to act as a cure for the disease as well). Regardless of risk profile, with minimal side effects, subjects who receive the injection experience a 100% reduction in the future diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, and a 100% reduction in the experience of its symptoms. These results appear to hold out to a 50-year window after initial injection.

THE NUMBERS:

The vaccine is a mildly profitable product at $1800 per patient, assuming almost universal distribution.

The treatment is a wildly profitable product at $1800 per month per patient, but with a more limited distribution (mostly those with comprehensive health insurance coverage). Assuming a patient begins prophylactic treatment at age 40, and continues it until death around age 76, and discounting any inflationary effects or generic competitors you lack the resources to buy off, the cost over the lifetime of the average patient would be about three-quarters of a million dollars ($777,600). This treatment represents a predictable and lucrative revenue stream for your pharmaceutical company.

THE MONKEY WRENCH

Based on their bumper stickers and fashion decisions, some of the researchers in the vaccine group appear to be bleeding-heart, buy-the-world-a-Coke, “watch-it-or-I’ll-go-Edward-Snowden-on-your-ass” liberal hippies, and you have concerns that they may not comply with their confidentiality, non-disclosure and non-compete agreements with your pharmaceutical company.

YOUR DECISION:

Do you:

  1. Take the financial hit, move the vaccine to market, and initiate an aggressive advertising campaign to exult your company as the savior of humanity – and the vanquisher of dementia and senility – even if it may lead to a shareholder suit against you?
  2. Make major bank by moving the treatment to market, then initiate an aggressive advertising campaign to terrify middle-aged and older people that their failure to take your drug for the rest of their lives may leave them vulnerable to dementia and senility?
  3. Forego your company’s patent rights (see Jonas Salk), and make the vaccine available as a non-profit public health good for “The People?”

MY THUMB:

I’m not saying where exactly on the scale My Thumb is, but I’m thinking you can guess. I’m famous for my temper. (Matthew 21:12-13)

THROWBACK, Y’ALL!

THROWBACK in response to All In With Chris Hayes

“THE DIVA” FORMALLY SWITCHES RACE – Article Published Sunday, January 7, 2001
LONG BEACH (gorewon2000.net) — WebMistress of The BUSH BROTHERS BANANA REPUBLIC formally switches race, based on new information.

“The Diva,” WebMistress of The BBBR (gorewon2000.net), after careful consideration and review of new information, has decided today to renounce her whiteness, and join the black race.

“Well, I always just assumed I was white. I never really looked into it carefully, though,” she remarked today. “I guess, since I have red hair, green eyes, freckles, and the complexion of Elvira, I took it for granted that I was white.” She went on to say, “However, since I have investigated the matter more fully, I realize now I cannot possibly be.”

After a thorough review of media reports, The Diva came to the obvious conclusion that she must be black. “The media has been very clear that concern and outrage over Coup2K is a ‘black thing,’ so I now realize I must be black. I mean, I’m furious, right?” When asked to elaborate, Tammy explained, “Well, I look at it this way. The only people, according to the media, that feel the way I clearly do — that are certain that criminal acts are on the verge of putting an illegitimate leader in the White House — are black Americans. You don’t find evidence much less ambiguous than that, do you?”

The WebMistress, until today’s stunning announcement, had always personally identified as ‘white’. “You know, you get asked that a lot, on all kinds of forms you have to fill out, and I have always checked ‘white’ or ‘Caucasian’ when asked. I have to admit, I was basing my answer on the way I look — nothing more,” she said. “I realize now how faulty my reasoning has been.” She continued, “I was always vaguely aware that race statutes have traditionally defined any person with any black ancestry as ‘black’ under the law, and I also know that all humans share a common ancestry.” She went on to say, “I’m convinced now, after careful review of the facts, that I must have many black ancestors in my lineage that I am simply unaware of. How else can I possibly explain my visceral and powerful reaction to Coup2K?”

To further document her sudden change in racial identification, The Diva discussed her response to yesterday’s certification of the presidential election. “I was watching it, and it just became so clear to me. One by one, members of the Congressional Black Caucus stood to challenge the electors,” she explained, “and I felt a kinship with them that I can only describe as absolute.” Continuing, she asked, “Why didn’t I feel that same sense of community and affection when I looked out over the sea of white faces looking on? The fighting spirit that lives in me more clearly mirrors that of an Alcee Hastings or a Maxine Waters, than almost any of those people.”

She also discussed her pride in, and fondness for, Vice President Gore’s handling of the event, and the white members who followed the Congressional Black Caucus out of the chamber in protest. “I have a feeling they might just be black like me,” she mused.

When asked if she had any concerns that black Americans might not accept her into their ranks, The Diva paused a moment in reflection, and shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. I think they will see this in substantially the same way that I do, and be glad to have another fighter in their corner.” She also noted that, “Black Americans, when presented with the evidence that I have discussed, will likely welcome me into their community. I feel that they are unlikely to reject me, although they might think of me as a ‘light-skinned’ black.”

“But, what if they don’t?” this reporter asked. “That changes nothing,” The Diva quickly responded. “That wouldn’t make me any more white. I am who I am, and I am proud of who I am.” She also went on to say, “If other people — who have always, as I did, identified themselves as ‘white’ — would consider the same evidence I have, I think we would be likely to have a black majority in America.”

“Regardless,” she concluded, “I think the national popular vote for President, and the recent polls on the election aftermath both indicate that, regardless of personal racial identification, we already do.”