Saturday, October 6, 2018

What will you do when our Constitutional Democracy falls?

...when public schools shut down
   -only the wealthy get an education 
   -in Uganda and Nepal, families must pay for their children's primary education

...when non-profit medicine and hospitals are gone
   -only the wealthy get medical care 
   -in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, for instance, life expectancy is 50 years

...when public transportation ends

   -only those with their own transportation have access to anything 
   -the Trump administration is actively withholding Congressional approved funding

...when privacy rights are abolished
   -Big Brother is here

...when Due Process no longer exists
   -murder rates are highest in countries without due process

...when forced military service is instated for you and your children
   -hope for no wars – but there are always wars

...when child labor laws are dismantled
   -pre-labor laws, children as young as young as 7 worked in factories

...when the freedom to practice your religion is gone and a new religion is forced upon you
   - Russia’s national church is the Russian Orthodox Church

...when you, your wife, or your daughter’s right to become a mother is determined by someone else
   - the United States has a history of forced sterilization as recent as the 1970s

...when The State determines whether you get to live or die
   -China enforces forced abortion for their limited child policy 
   -in North Korea people are forced to kill their disabled children at birth 
   -the US was still practicing eugenics up into the 1970s

I hope you are preparing. Because with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, the pillars will have started to crumble. Constitution be damned.

Kavanaugh's track record

On Public Education: "...Kavanaugh predicted in a TV appearance in 2000 that school vouchers would one day be upheld by the Supreme Court." Something that has been shown will discriminate against and potentially exclude low income students, students of color, those with disabilities, and those identifying as LGBTQ.

On Health Care: "...Among the things that distinguish him from the other finalists on Trump’s list is his expansive view of executive power — he argued that a president could decline to enforce a statute such as Obamacare even if a court upholds its constitutionality — and his dissent in a 2011 case in which others on his appellate court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act."

On Privacy: "...While the full D.C. Circuit declined to review the stay order, in his concurring opinion Kavanaugh went out of his way to assert that the metadata program was “entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment.” Even in the absence of full briefing, Kavanaugh concluded that the alleged “critical national security need” for the program “outweighs the impact on privacy.”

On Due Process: "...In Doe Tarlow v. District of Columbiaa 2007 D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals case, three people with intellectual disabilities living in an institutional setting in Washington, D.C., believed their due process rights were abridged when doctors would not consider their wishes in elective surgeries."

On forced abortion: "...Kavanaugh determined that disabled people who “lack mental capacity” do not have the right to weigh in on medical decisions. Because the case involved two women who were forced to have abortions, it is ringing alarm bells, and rightly so, for reproductive rights and justice advocates—but the decision goes beyond abortion alone. Rather, it suggests Kavanaugh might not rule favorably on cases surrounding bodily autonomy, from coerced sterilization to denial of transition care."

On The Constitution: "What’s at stake right now is that Brett Kavanaugh, the man our president has just nominated to the highest court in the land, isn’t a mid-range “conservative” in the tradition of Anthony Kennedy; rather he’s an originalist, of the Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia sort. And if the executive, in nominating and endorsing originalism, joins power with a newly configured Supreme Court of committed literalists—i.e., an insuperable majority of ultraorthodox—and if this new alignment really proceeds to take the Constitution back in time, it means that Congress is going to have to pass new laws to explicitly keep in place our civil rights and social reforms, particularly when it comes to race, gender, sexuality, labor, public accommodation, immigration, and equal protection. I simply do not see a Republican-dominated Congress prepared to step up to that plate." 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Good girls don’t

Good girls don’t 

  • wear bluejeans or dress like that
  • telephone boys
  • wear makeup
  • have pierced ears
  • go to parties
  • stay out past 10:00 pm
  • have male friends
  • go to teen-only nightclubs
  • sing in a rock-n-roll band
All of these things were said to me by my father. Strangely enough, or perhaps mostly thanks to my mother who was not of this mindset, I circumvented his belief system. Never once, did I believe any of it to actually be true and instead found his ridiculous rules as overbearing and unrealistic for the times. My mother often got the rules bent or thrown out for me by fighting tooth and nail (for which I am ever grateful). Others, I just nagged and until he broke. Some of the rules were strictly enforced, however, and so I got around them by “rule breaking.” Never the less, I was not viewed as a “good girl” by my father for all of it. And in return, he never gained my respect.

You might think I grew up in the 1950s by these standards. But my tween and teen years were firmly rooted in the 1980s. Many believe that by the 1980s, women in this country had achieved equal footing and rights. Virginia Slims cigarettes were quick to tell us what “...A Long Way, Baby” we had come in their ad campaigns emphasizing women’s rights. However, unbeknownst to many, the Equal Rights Amendment has never been ratified by the federal government – which means it is not in effect. It’s merely a suggested amendment that sits and rots. This doesn’t mean it hasn’t been proposed for ratification many, many times. Each time, it is shot down by our Congress. SHOT DOWN. Let that sink in. Thankfully, several states have individually ratified the ERA, though not all.

As we watch the spectacle that is our Supreme Court nomination process, I cannot help notice the parallels to my father’s attitude about women. While many are focused on the he-said-she-said battle ensuing, what I hear is a much deeper and insidious argument ensuing; I hear that because the alleged victim may have been at a home with intoxicated boys, she was not a “good girl.”

We may tend to believe that we are beyond the idea that there are such things as “good girls” who deserve respect and “bad girls” who can be sexually assaulted because it was their comeuppance. But I will tell you that we are wrong to think this attitude is not firmly ingrained in society today. It was still ingrained in the 1980s. And in fact, I would venture to say it has become more pervasive since the 2016 election, today.

I believe there is a much larger argument happening in our Country right now. The real argument happening over the Kavanaugh nomination process is whether or not women are equally human and deserved of the same respect and dignity of a man. And this is what should concern us the most.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Open Letter to United States Senators on Kavanaugh Appointment

I originally sent this letter to my Senator in Pennsylvania. However, this is applicable to every member of the United States Senate so I am sharing as an open letter.

Angry White MenAs I sit and watch our democracy crumble, I cannot help but point fingers at those who have been helping it along - those who apparently don’t like the ideals that Abraham Lincoln set forth in his Gettysburg Address - those who don’t like the idea that their own immigrant grandparents weren’t any better than those reaching our borders for asylum today - and of course those who think they are somehow superior to others simply because they were born into wealth and privilege. 

And then there are those who have something to hide. There are those who are vehemently afraid of what might be found if our Country’s criminal justice system should continue investigations into the hacking of the US electoral system. Already, many on US soil have been indicted for participating in what should be considered conspiracy against our County. I imagine there are many, many more indictments to come as the stones continue to be overturned.

I am letting you know that your vote on the Kavanaugh appointment, will reflect what guilt or innocence you carry regarding the Russia investigation. It is no mystery to the American public that the Kavanaugh appointment is being pushed through in order to absolve guilty parties for crimes they have committed against our Country. We the People, are watching.

Monday, September 3, 2018

So Many Things, Part 1 - Essential Oils

I have so many things rolling around in my head that I need to get out - things that affect the disabled as well as the rest of the population. So today, I tackle Part 1, which I believe will become a running series of things I need to get out of my head. Today's topic: the rise of the Essential Oils fad. This trend disproportionately affects disabled children because families often buy into alternative medicine when they believe traditional medicine has failed them. It is terribly difficult to sort through the immense amount of information available on the Internet and make heads or tails of what is good information versus disinformation. It is my hope to educate, not berate.

Essential Oils

Medicine is medicine and everything comes from nature. Even the chemicals churning in a lab beaker were derived from something natural else we are talking about supernatural and that’s a topic for another day. So when I hear something being hocked as a “natural alternative” to medicine, I cringe. Essential Oils are today’s panacea. They often smell nice and are now being sold at MLM parties. But are they even safe? Let’s break this all down.

A medicine is generally defined as “a compound or preparation used for the treatment or prevention of disease, especially a drug or drugs taken by mouth” (Google, 2018). However, we all know drugs can be topical – that is, applied to the skin like creams and whatnot. If you have ever had a rash or poison ivy, you’ve probably thought about hydrocortisone cream or ointment to quell the itch. There are very few side effects with this drug if used topically and it can be used during pregnancy under the advice of a physician (WebMD, 2018). Well that’s not natural, you say? Think again.

Though the tubes you pick up at the pharmacy are generally lab created, hydrocortisone is a fancy term for the principal glucocorticoid produced by our adrenal cortex (glands that sit on your kidneys), typically referred to as cortisol (NIH, 2018). Cortisol is a natural hormone your body produces in times of stress. It regulates blood pressure, blood sugar, controls sleep cycles, manages how we use carbs, fats, and proteins, and it helps give us a boost of energy to keep us going. But the reason you use it for poison ivy is because of one its main properties – it reduces inflammation, which is why you are so bumpy and itchy (WebMD, 2018). So the smart pharmaceutical scientists found a way to recreate this natural hormone safely and effectively in the lab and put in a tube for you to use in small doses for these itchy emergencies. How cool is that?

Oh but you want something that isn’t a hormone? So you turn to the essential oils because they are 100% natural and safe, right? Wrong. Let’s just talk about ones commonly touted for poison ivy and other rashes.


Calendula Oil

Calendula oil is derived from a marigold plant (and not the ones you grow out in your yard – those are ornamental marigolds). This plant is considered a drug but it’s marketed as a supplement. Yes, a drug. It is not safe for breastfeeding or pregnant mothers to use topically or ingest and could cause a miscarriage (WebMD, 2018). It can also be dangerous to use if you take antidepressants (WebMD, 2018). Those who are allergic to the ragweed family could have serious allergic reactions to this drug as well (WebMD, 2018). Not such a great alternative.

Chamomile Oil

This oil is also derived from a plant that is in the ragweed family and thus has the same allergy problems. It too is a drug marketed as an herbal supplement. An additional problem with this drug is that it contains coumarin which thins your blood and so you cannot use this product if you are taking blood thinners or are scheduled for any type of surgery (or have any health matters that affect the blood). It is also not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. And most ironic, skin creams with chamomile can cause allergic eczema and irritate the eyes – not exactly what you want for poison ivy (WebMD, 2018).

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil comes from the Peppermint leaf. It frequently causes allergic dermatitis (which is actually the same thing poison ivy causes) when used topically on the skin (NIH, 2010). I’ll just leave this here for you to ponder.

Lavender Oil

While its scent might help you relax, rubbing it on or ingesting lavender oil is considered unsafe for prepubescent boys because it interrupts hormones and could result in abnormal breast growth. Its effects on young girls are not even known. There is no information on the safety for pregnancy or nursing mothers so the advice is to steer clear of it if this applies. It is also possible this oil could interfere with anesthesia (WebMD, 2018). That’s quite enough for me to just say no to lavender oil.

The list of essential oils goes on and on as do the side effects and safety warnings. What’s more is that because these oils are marketed as a supplements, they are not held to the same standards as a drug in their manufacturing process and can even include ingredients not listed on the label (American Cancer Society, 2018).

Essential oils have become a pop culture phenomenon. Companies are cashing in on marketing essential oils as “safe alternatives” to traditional medicine but are not lawfully mandated to test these drugs for safety. They are not lawfully forced to list all the ingredients on the labels. They even are not lawfully required to put the actual drug they are selling in the bottle. In other words, you might have thought you bought peppermint oil, but instead bought snake oil.

Save the essential oils for your diffuser and instead use an FDA approved medicine for you and your family. Essential oils might smell nice, but is it really worth the risk?


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Broken Wings

Years ago horrible people did unspeakable things. We sent our beautiful baby butterfly into their care because that’s what we were supposed to do. But when they saw that our beautiful butterfly had wings that were decorated differently than the others, the horrible people began to pull at his wings. Little by little, each day, his wings were tattered and torn a sliver more. But the horrible people would lie to us and tell us he had torn his wings, himself. We tried very hard to find ways to encourage him not to hurt his wings. We tried to work with the horrible people to fix problems that might make our baby butterfly display this self-punishing behavior while he was in their care. Nothing seemed to help. And so over time, we watched our baby butterfly begin to lose his ability to fly. Finally, one day our baby butterfly came home wingless. Broken. He could barely walk. It was then we learned the truth. Our beautiful baby butterfly told us the horrible people had been the ones tearing off his wings all along. But it was too late. The tattered remnants of wings were all that were left of a faded memory of flying.

Wingless and flightless, our butterfly was welcomed no longer in other butterfly circles. So we took our beautiful butterfly to many specialists who had helped others make use of broken wings. But it seemed none had ever worked with a butterfly that was so different and had also lost its wings. The specialists would try many different techniques to restore flight. Some particularly bad specialists didn’t believe that the horrible people pulled them off and instead blamed our beautiful butterfly. They would conclude that he pulled his own wings off because his wings were different. They would lecture us that we needed to get our butterfly into more social butterfly activities and that would help him learn to fly again. But he had no wings. They wouldn’t listen to us. And without wings and without flight, our beautiful butterfly was still shunned by the other butterflies. Our beautiful butterfly began to lose the will to stand.

Finally years later a butterfly doctor recognized our beautiful butterfly’s problem – he could not fly because he had been abused by the horrible people. They had ripped off his wings because they feared his differences. And they had traumatized him and disabled flight. It was not our beautiful butterfly’s fault. He began to see new specialists who helped traumatized wingless butterflies cope with not having flight in hopes that someday they could learn to fly in new ways. But the specialists weren’t trained in helping differently decorated butterflies and so their techniques didn’t work.

One day, our butterfly could no longer stand without assistance. Our beautiful butterfly had developed new complications from his wing loss that were serious. We took him to several butterfly hospitals but no one knew what to do and so just sent him home without help. Our butterfly had developed a stinger like a wasp and at times would sting us like an angry hornet believing we were someone else. Other times, he would believe he was still that baby butterfly and the horrible people were in the room ripping at his wings. There were many other insect manifestations that would appear. Each time our beautiful butterfly would come out of these states scared, confused, and distressed. A new specialist was able to figure out that the trauma had caused him to develop Disassociative Insect Disorder which is known to affect butterflies who have been through serious abuse at a young age.

Today our butterfly is all grown up but he still cannot fly. He has tried to go out into the butterfly social world but has not been successful. Even when the other butterflies know of his flight difficulties, he is shunned when he cannot fly just like them. Today, he no longer trusts other butterflies and has vowed to become a solitary insect.

Years ago horrible people did this to him. Today, others continue to do their bidding.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

It's Over.

A tattered US Flag blows in the wind
Hope for democracy has crumbled. Our republic has been seized by white supremacist oligarchs who wish to make this nation one of an authoritarian oligarchic society. It is no mystery that our Congress and Senate have not been part of a check or balance for quite some time. And now with Justice Kennedy’s retirement from the US Supreme Court, the court system will now become another extension of the corrupt administration. This is a very bleak moment in US history.

The irony here is that most of the US citizens do not want this. The majority are against the policies that have been creeping into place over the past couple years.
“American voters oppose 66 - 27 percent the policy of separating children and parents when families illegally cross the border into America, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll...” (Quinnipiac University, 2018).
“American voters also support 79 - 15 percent allowing immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, so-called "Dreamers," to remain and ultimately to apply for citizenship” (Quinnipiac University, 2018). 
“American voters oppose 58 - 39 percent building a wall along the border with Mexico” (Quinnipiac University, 2018). 
“Most American Voters Disagree With Trump On Key Issues, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Keep Climate Protections, Obamacare, But No Wall” (Quinnipiac University, 2017).
So then it seems the foxes have infiltrated the hen house and are systematically eating all the hens. This is what is called a coup d'etat; a faction took over our Democratic Republic all while we watched in disbelief. It reminds me of how we all felt when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center back in 2001 – this just couldn’t possibly happen on US soil, right? Wrong. It could and it did.

For the past year and a half, we’ve all sat here trying to muddle through the chaos hoping for that golden moment.

We kept hoping the FBI would come forward with formal treason charges against Trump and his minions for having allowed Russia to infiltrate our electoral system and possibly more. 

We kept hoping that someone within the Republican party was going to finally stand up to this faction and get them out. 

I think some had even hoped Barack would suit up in a Superman costume and save the day. 

Well, none of this has happened and here we are. Regardless of what Agent Robert Mueller and the FBI reveals, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and now soon the Judicial Branch will all have been compromised. This is how our Democracy died.

The question is, what are we going to do about it? 

National (US) Poll Home - National. (2017). Quinnipiac University.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mean ̶g̶i̶r̶l̶s̶ Adults

This movie is one of my all time favorites. It’s funny and completely over the top and yet it manages to be realistic by bringing to light passive aggressive behavior among adolescent girls. In reality, this behavior isn’t restricted to one gender. And there are some mean teens who never outgrow this adolescent state and become mean adults.

Passive aggressiveness is still aggression. Ofttimes, it gets ignored because the aggressor isn’t inflicting physical abuse. But make no mistake – abuse is abuse is abuse. So when we see it happening, we should not remain silent. And this is what this post is about – passive aggressive abuse and calling it out.

When a mature, mindful adult poses a question on their social media profile inviting opinions, they are prepared for a wealth of responses that may not jive with their own belief system. In fact, if this person invites such a dialog, they are likely looking for others input so that they can critically analyze and have an informed debate or discussion. An interesting thing happens when these Mean Adults (M.A.s) come to play, however. They don’t try to engage in discussion; they just get nasty.

I don’t mean to confuse M.A.s with trolls; trolls generally aren’t people you know. M.A.s are people you do know who simply cannot have their belief systems questioned – not even when you aren’t speaking to them directly. Questions as simple as “Why do people who like X support Y?” will be responded with personal attacks like “You hate Y because you are naive!” when no one ever said anything about hating Y in the first place. When the M.A. is softly corrected by way of explanation, they get meaner with gems like “Oh of course you hate Y because your family uses subsidized Z.” 

Pretty soon, full out battles ensue as the M.A. enlists reinforcement to attack everyone and anyone who attempts to support the person who posed the original question. No amount of decency or logic will deter the M.A.s from their goal of diverting the topic away from the original topic because to them, anything that questions their belief system is an all-out assault and worthy of warfare. They will chomp with venom using euphemisms and bestow armchair psychological diagnoses on those who would defend their friend. They will use common abuse tactics such as playing the victim, vilifying the victim, and projecting blame.

Make no mistake: You cannot win a battle with an M.A., but you can call them out for their behavior. I am a firm believer that we should always do so. Calling people names, labeling them as psychotic is abusive (and stigmatizing to those with real psychological disorders) and shouldn’t be tolerated. Until we start to hold others accountable for their behavior, the Mean Adults will continue to lash out and hurt others. And sometimes, that can end very badly for their victims. I, for one, am not going to be silent anymore.