Progressive Patriot

 

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I am progressive and I am an American Patriot. In our beautiful country, too often patriotism is associated with guns and loud, judgmental Christianity that’s reactive and ready for war. No more. I am a patriot, and my patriotism is not our flag wrapped around my body with a gun in my hand, it is our American ideals sewn into my beliefs. Those of us who live more by the First Amendment than the second are no less loyal to our country. Those of us who are critical thinkers are proud descendents of our forefathers who argued their way through the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

So you think you are the number one opponents of terrorism because of your bloodlust and jingoism? I argue that my fellow progressives embody everything ISIS hates. We embrace the American values of justice, equality, the separation of church and state and welcoming those who are struggling.

Unlike ISIS, I honor our forefathers by believing religion has no place in the running of a country. ISIS kills anyone who does not practice the extreme version of their faith. I know, that state matters through religious filters can be lethal. Many presidents since have also recognized the importance of keeping our First Amendment intact.

“We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.” –Ronald Reagan

Unlike ISIS, who sacrifices their young men without regard, I value, worry about and believe we should handle the lives of our sons and daughters who serve in our military with care. I believe in diplomacy, measured response and not investing the young lives of our military in unwinnable conflicts. I know that sometimes a military response is necessary. And when all other options are exhausted and those brave souls deploy, I support taking care of our veterans in every possible way upon their return. Their sacrifice should not entail struggling for life.

ISIS responds with reaction and revenge. I believe in responding forcefully, but carefully. I do not support hotheaded declarations of force without thinking about the long-term impacts to our people. Two of our presidents who experienced war in a way I hope to never know, did not take its declaration lightly.

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.” –Dwight Eisenhower

“The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am. None who would do more to preserve it.” –Abraham Lincoln

Unlike Isis, I do not support a media that embraces propaganda and fear to control the masses and divide our nation. I approve of a diversified media that encourages us to think critically and thoughtfully. I believe in an educated populace that understands current events in the context of history and does not just react to the latest propaganda where there is a vacuum of knowledge. I support questioning crazy and fact checking before I pass on that crazy.

“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.” –Abraham Lincoln

Unlike Isis, I believe in equality for women. I believe women are equal in worth to men and should be paid the same amount for the same job. I believe as men have complete control over their bodies, women should have complete control over theirs.

ISIS judges and harms anyone who believes or lives differently from them. I believe in equality for the LGBT community. I know diversity is what makes our country interesting, innovative and embracing. Like the stars in our flag reflecting our infinite sky—our embrace of different people who contribute to our society should be as expansive.

 “We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We must condemn those who seek to divide us. In all quarters and at all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism, and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exist as unacceptable evils. We have no place for haters in America — none, whatsoever.”—Ronald Reagan 

“I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question, “Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generation?”

–Abraham Lincoln

ISIS believes in eradicating anyone who does not believe as they do. Though bitter enemies, both Syrian’s president Assad and ISIS have led to the greatest refugee crisis of our generation. We have always been a land founded by Native Americans and a country built by immigrants and refugees. In the wake of WWII, our great nation admitted more than 500,000 displaced Europeans. Since 1975 the US has resettled more than 3 million refugees.

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…” –George Washington

I believe my progressive ideals and my freedom to practice them, makes me a defender of American liberty. It makes me the opposite of ISIS.

 

Calling all my Friends and Family Who like to Eat Crappy Food

Calling all my friends who eat like shit. The more processed the better. I need your help. Over the next few weeks I need you to step up your game and eat your weight in Hamburger Helper, throw a Totino’s frozen pizza party for the office and squirt down huge quantities of Go-gurt like your training for a Yogurt Triathlon. If you have a cinnamon bun craving—for God’s sake man please make it the Pillsbury kind that explodes open when you tap it. (Kind of like a horror movie in a wrapper—you never know when it is going to burst open and scare the bejezus out of you.)

It’s Box Tops for Education time and my little girl needs to hand in more than four of those babies this year. That’s what we had last year—four of those pink little cardboard cutouts. That equals 40 cents for her school. It might have bought them an eraser.

This will be the third fundraiser for her school this year. First will be the Payback book that is appropriately named—since it seems to pay me back until the sales forms are due. You’ve probably seen similar coupon books for your area. Ninety-nine percent of the time I forget I have the book (which I have been dragging around like a brick in my purse for months) and the other one percent when I remember it—the local business I’m are visiting won’t have a coupon or I didn’t buy 50 dinners required to get my one lousy dinner 50 percent off.

By the time it expires—I will have used one or two of the 200 pages of stuff I don’t need. For now I have to ignore any misgivings I may have about the book o’coupons and hock them to friends and families. Please, I beg of you, spend $24 for coupons you’ll forget to use.

The second fundraiser involves my kid literally walking around in circles. It is a walk-a-thon around her school building since there isn’t a track. And we are supposed to get friends and family to give her money to do laps around her school. This is a harder sell to my friends and family, because they don’t even get a crappy coupon book. The school is too broke to come up with a better idea and passing a school levy in our county is as easy as brushing an alligator’s teeth wearing a meat dress.

Really school these days is more about teaching multi-level marketing sales skills to our children than anything else. There are the awkward sales pitches to family and friends. Rejection. Selling a shoddy product that is overpriced. Let’s just be honest and have our shoddy, underfunded schools sign up for Amway. They can spend the time that otherwise would have been dedicated to art, PE and music (if they had the funding) on teaching kids:

  • Sales pitches: No means maybe!
  • How to host an Amway House Party while serving Totino’s Pizza and cutting boxtops.
  • Friends=potential distributors!
  • Deny it’s a pyramid scheme even though we are trying to get more sales people under us and more people under them, etc.

It will be a great solution to the problem of the school lacking a playground. Kids can spend their recess walking… door to door with their pyramid visual aids and product catalogues. It will be great practice and really help the community to be a safer place. With our little door-to-door sales team, everyone will be locking their doors and parking their cars in the garage so we won’t know they are home.

In my day, which makes it sounds like I’m at least 102-years-old, we only did fundraisers for extra-curricular activities. In girl scouts we sold cookies—which was easy—because though they are overpriced, they are delicious. They sell themselves. I could have loaded the cookies on a wagon rolled it down the hill in my neighborhood. By the time I made it down the hill, it would be filled with cash and crumbs and me (because who wouldn’t pay for a wagon ride and unlimited cookies?). I’m not exactly sure what that wad o’ cash we scouts earned was spent on—but it wasn’t used for the basic running of my school. Our schoolrooms weren’t busting with kids, frazzled teachers and few opportunities for activity and enrichment.

So community here’s the bloody deal: it’s either you cough up some cojones and dough and pass levies to fund our schools, or I’m taking this Amway show on the road. We will be pyramiding and pirouetting our way up and down Main Street and right to your door. It will be just like Halloween; except instead of candy, pumpkins, cute costumes and the smell of cinnamon in the air, you’ll be greeted by little salespeople reeking of sweat and desperation who won’t take no for an answer.

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Comments Section Turns Lord of the Flies Quickly

Have you read “Lord of the Flies?” Maybe you have but it’s been a really long time. Or maybe you’re like me, and have tried to block a lot of it out, because it gives you BPTSD (Book Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Briefly: A group of boys have their plane shot down durimagesing World War II and are stranded without adult supervision. They quickly descend into barbarism paralleling the war that is going on in the grown-up world. Before the conclusion, wild pigs and other little boys are gravely harmed by other little boys (read: tortured/killed). Only one moral conscious (Ralph) remains.

Perhaps author William Golding was onto something. Maybe without supervision—we can’t be counted on to supervise ourselves.

When reading an article online or a post on a public Facebook page, do you ever read the comments below? As you scroll down the page it is like entering a new level of hell. Polite comments soon descend into armchair bullying where everyone slurps down the bait, and comes out tearing and ripping in one giant typed-out dogfight.

Normally civil people turn brutal. Maybe it’s because there are volumes of comments—who cares if I rant something judgmental and mean about the article itself or another commenter? It’s lost in the noise. We are virtually anonymous online—we can invent our own identity or hide it from others while commenting. When no one knows who I am, I can pretty much say anything I want—things I would never have the guts to utter to someone’s face. There is no adult supervision. We can’t see the other person’s face when we type our words out. We probably think more about what munchies we want to shove in our mouths than how we just verbally punched someone in the gut.

We worry about bullying and pull our hair out about the online behavior of teenagers picking on each other, but many adults are participating in the same exact behavior. I’ve done it myself—gotten riled up by another person’s comments and responded equally toxically. There are trolls—people who make outrageous comments just to get negative attention like a pasty, prepubescent boy on steroids looking for a reaction. Sadly, I think even well intentioned, otherwise conscientious people will type very differently than they would speak to another person.

Our technology has changed so rapidly, our ethics and etiquette have not caught up. Is it alright to write differently than we speak to strangers? When do we cross a line on how we speak to one another? Is it all freedom of speech and therefore anything goes? Or should sites be more monitored? When the sole intention of a comment is to tear someone else down—is that freedom of speech or hate speech?

Eight Tips to Survive Spin Class

I love to ride my bike. It is exhilarating and it is great exercise. But I’m picky. I like biking on roads that have a shoulder larger than two inches, without a lot of traffic, and where people don’t purposefully chuck water bottles at my head (i.e. not where I live). However between 20 months a year of rain in the Northwest, roads without shoulders, and water bottle chuckers, I often have to ride inside on a spin bike.

So I spin…inside…on a pretend bike with a big heavy wheel. Do you feel like life is passing you by? Are your kids growing up so fast that those birthdays feel like they come around every other week? Take a spin class at your local gym. It will slow down time so Each. Second. Feels. Like. An. Hour.            Tick.                         Tock.                         Tick.

In one class, you will feel like you have lived at least a month…in Hades. You will have laughed, sweat, cried, sweat and wished life would hurry the hell up so you could die already, followed by more sweat. By the end of your infinitely long spin class, all your sweat, tears and dignity will be a disgusting pool at your feet and a swamp in your pants. Your hair will be pasted to your face, and your shirt will be…well let’s just say you’ll need rubber gloves and a scalpel to peel it off. And your odor! You will smell like a teenager’s sneakers, inside a used clothing store, within a prison, on a summer day in Cambodia. But you will come back to spin again.

Why? Because by the time you are done you will either be dead or feel like Lance Armstrong on performance enhancing drugs (which I guess is redundant). You know those people who feel like they have to wear something that looks like a bra and underwear to every damn class to make sure you know just how fit and hot they are? You will feel like that. Just don’t look in a mirror. You don’t look like that.

So here are some tips to keep you feeling like Lance Armstrong in ladies underwear:

  1. Only take classes from teachers who are extroverted and have ADHD. Unless they are teaching yoga for potheads, exercise teachers should show up to class with a pocket full of Adderall. They should not be able to carry on a conversation with any one person for more than 20 seconds before they get distracted by: their own reflection in the mirror, eyebrows, something shiny, or the color white (which isn’t a real color in the first place—just a place holder or fill in the blank or an imposter really).

Have you ever tried taking an intense exercise class with a monotone, introverted, low-key instructor? It is as though a fifty-pound wet blanket of blah has been draped on your shoulders. Your ride through Hades just got a flat tire.

  1. Avoid instructors with music you hate. I had a great instructor who loved heavy metal from the 80s AND SHOUTING OVER THE TOP OF THAT NOISE. By the end of the class in addition to swamp ass, I felt like I was hung-over at a frat party with my head lodged under the 40lb flywheel of the spin bike.
  1. You cannot bring enough water to class. After the first five minutes one of those little 20 oz numbers will feel like a shot glass. In ten minutes you’ll wish you had a camelback, a swimming pool and an IV drip. Either sit next to the water fountain with a hose hooked up to your mouth, or bring your own gallons.
  1. If your gym is like mine and too cheap to provide a towel—bring your own. Just know it’s going to get personal. Somewhere halfway in the class you will feel like you are taking a public sponge bath to avoid slipping off that bike.
  1. Don’t smile; act like you are suffering—which won’t be acting, because you will be. For some reason, the instructors eat smiles for lunch (zero calories). If you are smiling they will feed off that shit and make you go faster until you are catapulted over the front of the handlebars or they will have you twist that knob of torture until you need two knee replacements and a new heart valve. If you dare to smile and other sufferers see that business everyone in the class is going to hate you. Watch your back in the locker room. They will cut you.
  1. You are never going to like it. There will be days you will have to duct tape yourself in the car just to get yourself to class. You will show that wimpy ass toddler of yours how to really throw a tantrum.
  1. You will hate your instructor. They lie. They tell you one more set. Don’t believe them. They can’t count. One means five to them. Remember spin instructors think their underwear is gym attire—they are cute, not smart. Basic time-telling is also difficult for them. “Ten more seconds” really means ten more minutes of agony. You will fantasize about eating their eyeballs for hors d’oeuvres. Don’t worry these thoughts will pass when you are in your Lance Armstrong euphoria phase.
  1. Your instructor will tell you to pretend you are riding the beautiful open road. Don’t fall for it! The air is stagnant, the florescent lights are trying to get information out of you, and there is a sea of suffering around you. Likewise they will tell you that you are in a race and passing people. At this stage—with you two breaths away from a 911 call—this bit of motivational speaking is demoralizing. You know in this imaginary race everyone has already packed up, had their celebratory beer and gone home and you are walking your pretend bike up that last hill by yourself wailing like a baby.

Remember: Just try to survive the Cambodian prison and try not to eat anyone’s eyeballs. See you at the gym.

Passwords

I hate passwords for so many reasons. First–do they really do anything? The hackers are far smarter than I am and can easily figure out my password–so what is the point? We have to include numbers, uppercase, lowercase and soon will be required to choose a latin word after each character and put an emoticon before each number. Still the hackers do their dirty work and soon every friend and foe in my email contacts gets some shady email from me about penis enlargements. Second, I have to make passwords so complicated that I won’t remember them and even if I write them down somewhere, I won’t remember where.  Each site requiring a password has different rules thus a million different passwords. Third, even the little hints you are supposed to give when you forget are so obscure I don’t remember my answers.

Finally they make you paranoid.

So when it comes to password time, I write mine for the hackers. Little endearing messages to them, such as: fuhackers or gotohe11hackers.

I wish hackers would harness their nerd power to help people instead of waste our time. Or cover their magnificent nerd brains with a hat and walk outside, leaving all electronic devices in their caves and get some sun on their pasty white faces. Maybe if they got a little outdoor time and actually talked to people face to face they wouldn’t be so inclined to give innocent people grief.