It's Lady Gaga's world - I just live in it

Friday, December 15, 2017

On Tuesday evening, I went to see Lady Gaga live at the Pepsi Center with three of my nearest and dearest.

This was the best concert I've ever been to. And that's saying a lot, because the Pepsi Center is probably my least favorite music venue in the Denver metro area, the show started an hour and fifteen minutes late, which bugs the crap out of me, and it was very loud, in spite of removing my hearing aid for the duration.

So why was Lady Gaga's the best show evah?

Because she is a consummate show-woman.


Because she made six costume changes.


Because in spite of the altitude and her constant dancing, her breath control, musical phrasing and pitch were spot on. 


Because she's authentic in her creative expression.


Because she takes her craft seriously, and clearly works her ass off to ensure she has the stamina and physical strength to put on an amazing show, every time she takes the stage.

 

And because she appears to be a genuinely decent human being, who values kindness, individuality, equality, and self-determination.

Totally worth the money. Totally.

________

I also found out Doug Jones won the Alabama Senate seat at the show, so, you know - BONUS.

Lessons from Uncle Joe

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sistah Stacey, Brother JR, and me went to see Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday, December 2nd at the Paramount Theater here in Denver.

As most people know, VP Biden lost his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015. This is the second time tragedy had struck his family, as he lost his wife and one of his children in an automobile accident when they were a young family. So this is a man who knows what it's like to bury your child. Twice. This is also a man whose biggest scandal is that he doesn't know how to keep his mouth shut. Like, ever. And this is a man who's spent his entire adult life in service to our nation.

And his comments gave some things to think about.

1. Make sure you remember and stick to your "home base." He explained that this baseball analogy was something Beau used to say to him. In this case, "home base" is where you live, what you value, who you are. No matter what happens in your life, no matter where you find yourself, remember your home base, and you'll stay true.

Sometimes it's very easy - especially for people in power - to forget their moral center and the reasons they chose the path they did. Staying close to Home Base is good advice at any time.

2. Civil behavior and personal relationships go a long way in reaching compromise. He was speaking specifically about political compromise in this case, but the tenant could easily apply to all aspects of life. He spoke about how it's very difficult in today's political climate for legislators to come up with laws that have a chance of getting bi-partisan support because members of the House and Senate don't actually know each other anymore. They don't socialize, they don't share ideas, they know nothing about each other that wasn't fed to them via opposition research. And it's also tough to get others to see your concerns and point of view if you don't take the time to be civil.

I've been thinking a lot about this one in the last couple years, and I'm still struggling. The fact of the matter is whether I agree with Republicans or not, these people are still Americans. They still have an equal say in how our country should prioritize our spending, manage our foreign affairs, and which laws are appropriate and Constitutional. It's a logical fallacy to assume that ALL Republicans EVERYWHERE are nefarious Simon Legrees, determined to stick it to the poor, the LGBTQ community, and people of color for their own benefit.

And yet...much of the Republican platform is immoral, unconscionable, unfair, racist, sexist, homophobic. How do I reconcile the platform with the individual? I know and am quite fond of a number of conservatives/Republicans, and I know them to be kind and generous people. And yet they support politicians who execute what I consider to be an incredibly disgusting platform. Do they bear any culpability for the end result of their political activities? Or do I simply chalk it up to political differences?

I've been struggling with this since the campaign started for the 2016 election, and I still don't have a productive, defensible answer I can live with. What I do know is that making sweeping judgements and generalizations about a group of people and then labeling those assumptions with personal insults, pejoratives, and stereotyping does not help. I myself have been guilty of this (although I've never gone so far as to call Republicans/conservatives "Nazis," because there are real Nazis out there and someone with whom I disagree doesn't deserve to be lumped in with those miscreants), and I bear culpability from a liberal perspective. Since I'm extremely unlikely to give you or your argument/opinion any credence if you refer to me and mine as "Libtards," then I need to clean up my own act, as well.

3. Don't assign motives. This is the one that's been most on my mind since Uncle Joe's talk. His contention is that when you assign motives to another without knowing what's really going on, you miss an opportunity to find common ground and there's a pretty good chance you're going to be wrong in any case.

The example he gave was an incident where he heard Jessie Helms arguing with another Senator about the ADA. Mr. Helms, who already held a number of views on race that Senator Biden found deplorable, was contending that business owners and the state should not have to bear the burden of installing ramps, ensuring their spaces accommodated the disabled, and retrofitting other infrastructure. Joe thought that such a position was still more evidence that Helms didn't give a good goddamn about the least among us, had no redeeming social value, etc. He later came to find out that Helms and his wife had adopted a severely disabled young man from the local orphanage. This is typically not the act of someone who doesn't give a crap about the disabled.

It's easy, I think, to assume that those who disagree with us are motivated by ill-intent, especially in such a polarized climate. Taking an example from my own writing, I don't actually know why Senator Cory Gardner chose to vote for the GOP tax bill. I know that his net worth is not very high and so he needs donations to his campaign in order to get reelected. I know that his voting history places him squarely in the "rank and file" GOP establishment. I know he's using a disproved economic model to justify his "yes" vote. I know he's failed to address bipartisan findings on the long-term financial impact of the bill for lower income Coloradans and the national debt.

Does that give me enough data to speculate about his motivations? Yes. Yes, it does. Do I actually know why he voted yes? No. I don't. And if I assume that my speculation is fact, then the door is closed for him to convince me, as a constituent, that some of his other ideas might have value. If I assume he's the GOP's butt-monkey, then any effort he makes to preserve Colorado's natural resources (for example) will fall on deaf ears.

So it behooves me to try and keep an open mind. I may still end up voting against him in 2020 and donating money to his opponent in an effort to get him out of office, but at least I won't be engaging in sloppy thinking when deciding how to vote in the primaries, the general election, and how I want to donate my money.
________

Any reading or listening that I do that increases my ability to think critically and with nuance is of value as far as I'm concerned. Vice President Biden's talk did that, and it was money and time well-spent.

Also? He confirmed all those Biden/Obama memes are TRUE, which made me laugh and laugh and laugh.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Good Things Edition

Monday, December 11, 2017

The NASA Advent Calendar is up, and as usual, I am hard pressed to pick my favorite so far.
________

One of the Popehat authors, Marc Randazza, has been retained to represent a neo-nazi being sued by a Jewish woman for a variety reasons having to do with his tendency to harass, spew hate and racism, etc.

How is this a good thing? Well, even though I often find Randazza to be trollish, he's standing up for the principles inherent in our Constitution. Everyone - and I mean everyone - is entitled to the protections offered by the Constitution, including free speech and the right to be represented by an attorney. Even scumbag, racist, Nazi miscreants whose world view makes me want to hurl and then punch them in the eye. And the fact that Randazza is willing to do this work as a matter of principle despite his personal feelings on the matter is a good thing.
_________

Time magazine has named their person of the year, and the winners are "The Silence Breakers," those people who have come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Bravo, Time. Rewarding this kind of courage and commitment to the truth deserves recognition is always the right thing to do.
________

Hopeful images from 2017 from the Atlantic. My personal favorites are #4, #28, and #35.
________

One Hot Mess provides a new method of birth control for those silly suckers who think having kids is all love-love-love-they're-the-joy-of-my-life-smooch-smooch.
________

Video of the Week: Australian duo for King & Country with their rendition of The Little Drummer Boy, live from Phoenix:


A Strategy, Of Sorts

Friday, December 8, 2017

In 2016, Colorado passed Proposition 108*, which allows unaffiliated voters to vote in primary elections in our state.

I voted for this initiative, because in my opinion, the more crucial election in Federal races is the primary. With all the gerrymandering accomplished by the GOP over the years, having a say in who the major party candidates will be is the real choice in many districts.

My own district (Colorado District 4) is no different. We've had a Republican representative since 1971, with the exception of one term Democrat Betsy Markey in 2008. We're considered a "safe" district because of this history, so there's always a very good chance that the Republican candidate will win regardless of who the Democrats nominate.

So what's a token liberal to do? Well, nothing, until 2018, other than to vote my conscious and resign myself to being represented by a Libertarian leaning GOP purist.

But in 2018, I can participate in the Republican Primary without having to be a registered Republican, a state of affairs that would simply be intolerable. From where I sit, that means I can affect who the Republican candidate will be, albeit in a very minor way.

You know how the extremists on both the left and the right have pretty much taken over the Democratic and Republican parties with their outsize influence on who will run? Yeah. That shit is over here in Colorado, because the majority party here in Colorado is "unaffiliated." So now that unaffiliated voters have a say in who the opposing candidates will be, this marginalizes the extremists by including (presumably) moderates in the mix. And that influence is only likely to increase, as people choose to be unaffiliated rather than registering with a party only in order to caucus in the primaries (as I did).

So I, as an unaffiliated, liberal voter in District 4, may vote in the Republican primary and choose the least extreme candidate. If enough people do this (on both sides of the aisle), then eventually hyper-partisanship will slowly recede in our state. If the only way to get through the primaries is to move to the middle and not be such an extremist doucheweasel, then more politicians will embrace more moderate positions, something every corner of our nation could use.

Of course, I will continue to vote my conscious in the general election, and the most likely scenario is that I'll continue to be represented by a Republican. But by passing this measure, it's more likely that the Republican in question won't be so conservative, won't vote in such a fiscally irresponsible way, won't be so uninterested in the welfare of their constituents as opposed to donors and super rich people. At least, that's my hope.

It's a strategy of sorts. And I'll take all the hope I can get at this point.
________

*As I recall, the main argument against Prop 108 was something about how unaffiliated voters shouldn't get a say in the primaries because they weren't a member of the political "team" and it would cost more money to have primaries in this fashion. My response to that is fuck you. While it will cost more money to administer the primaries, in a two party system, any legislation that increases voter choice is for the good. No political party should get to choose who the binary candidates are in something so important as representative government. I hope ALL states pass this type of legislation, and SOON.

A Few Thoughts on Family

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

1. The social dynamics of "family" are a strange, strange thing.

2. We can't choose our family. For some people this is a blessing, for others a curse. I, like most of us, sit somewhere in the middle.

3. But I can choose my family of the heart. I adore my two Sistahs from another Mister, and they adore me (and each other). Sharing deep friendship with these two women is one of the great joys and blessings of my life.

4. Character and kindness matter, especially if you're family. These are relationships that can last our entire lives, but if you choose to be a manipulative, cruel, petty douche, they're not likely to do so.

5. Each of us has the right to determine where duty ends when it comes to family. Sometimes people are worthy of both our love and our duty. Sometimes people aren't worthy of our love, but we choose duty for our own reasons. Sometimes people aren't worthy of our love or our duty. Deciding where people belong in that spectrum is a very personal and difficult choice, and we all have the right to make it based on our own circumstances. But I don't believe that you can claim to have love but not duty. For me, duty is one of the expressions of love, and an automatic ride-along when you actually love someone.

6. Some of the very best aspects of my life are because of family. And some of the very worst aspects of my life are also because of family. Managing this dichotomy is hard for me.

7. When Moe died, I quickly confirmed acts, not words, are what define my family. Never in my life have I needed a support system more than the year after Moe died, and there were folks, blood family and family of my heart, who stepped up. I owe these people my sanity and any life I might make for myself following Moe's death, and I won't forget it.

8. I don't have to tolerate intolerable behavior just because someone's "family."

9. I very rarely discuss politics with family. No good ever came of it.

10. Sometimes members of the family are going to choose to partner with someone who is wildly inappropriate for a variety of reasons. There's not a lot to be done about this - people have agency whether I agree with their decisions, or not. But I keep thought #8 in mind, just the same.

What are your thoughts about family?

Link Me Up, Scotty - We're Baa-aack Edition

Monday, December 4, 2017

My favorite Christian Pastor, John Pavlovitz, takes on the tendency of centrists and liberals to give Trump supporters a "pass" when it comes to supporting someone who engages in such egregiously bad behavior. I've been saying it from the beginning - those who voted for this man-baby own this mess. I don't care why they did it. At this point it makes no difference - their poor choice foisted this miserable fuck onto the rest of us and now we all have to pay the price for their inability to think critically.
________

Facebook has decided to use AI technology to detect patterns of suicidal thoughts in its user base (where it's legal). I'm all for engaging in activism to prevent suicide, but Facebook does not have a good record of protecting its users' privacy. I'd like to think that no corporation, no matter how profit driven, would victimize people considering suicide for profit, but I'm not convinced that's true, especially when it comes to Facebook.
________

Dictionary.com has selected "complicit" as its word of the year, "citing the term's renewed relevance in U.S. culture and politics — and noting that a refusal to be complicit has also been 'a grounding force of 2017.'" Man. How fucked up do you have to be before the dictionary pwns you?
________

U.S. troops will now be carrying freeze-dried blood plasma for first aid in the field. I love living in the future.
________

In case you live under a rock, it appears Mike Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. I can only hope this cretin has made a deal where he trades "no jail time" for ratting out 45's insane clown posse.
________

A thoughtful essay by Brother Eric, attorney, fellow UCFer, and all around good egg on the topic of how the last year has shown us that our current political system is fundamentally flawed.
________

So the GOP is on track to pass "major" legislation. Is it just me, or are members of the GOP just lazy-ass sons-of-bitches these days? These bastards didn't even pretend to care about their constituents, they just kow-towed to their donors as fast as they could to ensure "the donations didn't dry up." My own Republican Senator, the Coward Cory Gardner, did his usual side-step, pretending to consider the ramifications of this POS bill before taking his orders from his masters - his donors and the GOP, as is his usual practice. Since he's their butt-monkey this is entirely predictable behavior. Fun fact: Cory's net worth is less than mine, so I can only assume he voted "yes" for ambition's sake, since he has no moral center and didn't do it for his or his children's sake, either.

My Representative, Ken "I have no redeeming social value" Buck, always votes the party line with no consideration of his constituents, so it was no surprise that he also voted to betray his constituents in favor of big business. I hate both these fucking politicians (as well as 45), and for the first time in my life, I've actually started a savings account so that I can donate money to their opposition when they're up for reelection.
________

McKinsey & Co. has released a report stating that approximately 1/3 of U.S. jobs will be eliminated due to automaton in the next 12 years. It's going to be a rough economic ride, kids.
________

Video of the Week: Charles Durning demonstrates the correct political communication style in today's America. Here's Sidestep, from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.



Fun Fact: Charles Durning was a WWII hero, earning the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. He was also a professional ballroom dancer.

Post-Hiatus News

Friday, December 1, 2017

Since I've been on hiatus for the last four weeks, here are the exciting events you missed in my wild and woolly life. Try to contain your excitement.

1. I finally planted my Fall bulbs. It was too warm to do so earlier, and even now I'm hoping they don't come up during our unusually warm not-caused-by-imaginary-climate-change winter.

2. You know all of those sexual misconduct allegations that have been in the news for over a month? Yeah. I believe the victims. Not just the ones who have accused people I detest, but all of them. Victim blaming gives me hypertension, and I will not make excuses for Al Franken, Louis C.K., et al just because they share aspects of my world-view. Bad behavior is bad behavior, and whataboutism is a poor and ethically indefensible argument.

3. Why are decent bras so damned expensive? Asking for a friend.

4. More than a dozen people have reached out to me about the American Heart Association's Little Hats, Big Hearts campaign to raise awareness of heart disease in February. I'm on it, y'all. I'll be mailing my contribution to the Denver AHA office at the end of December.

5. I'm working on some really interesting projects at work lately involving artificial intelligence. I won't give the details because I don't discuss my employer's bidness here, but NEATO TORPEDO, BATMAN.

6. We had a really nice Thanksgiving. 24 people around the table at my cousin's place, and I made the usual huge batch of stuffing, and the Smart Man made Auntie Kris' sweet potato casserole. Kris passed the torch to the Smart Man last year, knowing she wouldn't live to see another Thanksgiving. The Smart Man takes his sweet potato responsibilities pretty seriously, which I find both incredibly sad and incredibly hopeful.

7. If Robert Mueller wasn't 20 years older than me and married since 1966, I would totally stalk him like some sort of creepy, crazy, platonic fan-girl.

8. We finally finished Punisher and Stranger Things 2. I was a little skeptical when Netflix first announced they would be producing original content, but now I'm a believer. Jon Burnthal is an incredible Frank Castle, and I love those Stranger Things kids.

9. Video of the Day: For an Atheist, I'm really fond of Christmas music, so here's Pentatonix with Jennifer Hudson singing How Great Thou Art. 


10th Anniversary

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Today is the 10th Anniversary of Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men. Ten long years. This is the 2,955th blog post since I started, although I think about 80% of them are crap, 15% are readable, and about 5% can be described as good.

Ten years is a long time for a single individual endeavor that isn't motivated by fame, fortune, or sex, and I've noticed that I've been half-assing it for the last year or so. Lots of political bitching and links to other people's content, not much original writing. That's why I needed a hiatus, I think. To calm my mind, re-evaluate what I wanted from this space, determine the type of culture I want to foster here. In many ways, this space has been a snapshot of my psyche over the last decade, from my political opinions to my personal values, from the joys of my life to my greatest sorrows. I've met some outstanding friends through this (and other) on-line venues, including Sistah Stacey and Brother J.R.

All of that has been to the good, but I needed to take a step back, to determine what kind of space I need and want at this point in my life.

It's unlikely I'll stop blogging about the asshattery of politics, especially in our current political climate, but I want this space to be more than bitching about 45 and his insane clown posse. I want it to be about the human condition, and my place in the world. I want it to be about the good in our species, and how we demonstrate that good. I want it to be about the things that make our lives meaningful, and the value of those things.

In other words, less snarky and sarcastic, and more thoughtful and grateful.

But not without humor and whimsy. Because humor is one of the things that makes this life worth living, and being whimsical relieves the tedium of life maintenance.

So I'm back, like the mold that grows in your drywall and never goes away. Here's to another ten years of life and love, joy and sorrow, self-examination and sarcasm. The nature of HCDSM has changed, with reader commentary and interaction moving to other social media streams, but this is where my on-line journey started, and this will always be my on-line home.*

Let the conversation resume.  
________

*Suck it, Mark Zuckerberg.

On Hiatus

Saturday, November 4, 2017

I will going on hiatus for a while. I have some housekeeping chores to attend to, and I'm more than a little sick of hearing myself complain about 45 and his insane clown posse.

So it's break-time. I hope to see you again when Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men is back on line!

An Open Letter to Thoughtful, Serious, Reasonable Conservatives

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I feel so sorry for you guys. I really do. Here we are, in a two party system, and the only "conservative" choice available to you is moving farther and farther out into the weeds of megalomania, extremism, fear, fiscal irresponsibility, and bigotry. Your party leader is a world class douchebag; unserious, classless, unqualified, incurious, unthoughtful, and fit only for being the butt of jokes.

I miss the old Republican party. The one I belonged to when I believed in conservatism, and actually believed the GOP was the party of fiscal responsibility. These were serious people, and knew how to get things done.* Whether you agreed with it or not, they were effective in executing on their vision. They truly were the loyal opposition to the Democrats, and they deserved to participate in the marketplace of ideas. I miss them.

Because the current party isn't like that at all. Consider:
  • They would rather lie - demonstrably so - than admit they may not be the most popular group in politics, or that their proposed legislation is clearly hurtful to millions of Americans, or that they give a crap about the deficit, etc., etc., ad nauseum.
  • While riding on the coattails of populism, they simultaneously try to enact legislation the majority of Americans don't want - but that big business and the ultra-rich do.
  • They remain in power partly because they stoke the fears of the public, insinuating through speech and deed that we Americans are on the verge of losing our way, that our country's in the toilet. They've encouraged us to give in to fear and hate. 
  • They've used the Southern Strategy to enormous benefit. A strategy based on populism, fear, bigotry, and exceptionalism. 
  • They're completely incompetent. It's been nine months since they controlled every branch of the government, and what have they accomplished? Bupkis. They can't get their own ducks in a row long enough to address what color to paint the halls in the Capital Building, let alone actually display some governance. 
  • They have no fiduciary responsibility whatsoever. They go on and on and on about the national debt, but Republican administrations apparently can't balance their budget if their life depended on it. Reagan's record in this area is especially egregious, and when you do an honest comparison of National Debt in the last 50 years, the difference between the two parties is negligible, at best. The difference is that Republicans want to cut taxes (especially for the rich), thus reducing income while simultaneously cutting services to the poor, and the Democrats want to adopt more of a socialistic model, where services are increased, and taxes are increased accordingly to pay for the additional services. Quite frankly, the execution on both of these strategies has been piss poor, leaving the country with higher and higher national debt. So having the Republicans toot their own horn on how fiscally conservative they are is laughable. They're not (and neither are the Democrats).
  • Their hypocrisy when it comes to "small government" is beyond the pale. They may want fewer people on the payroll (doing the same amount of work), but when it comes to sticking their noses into other people's business, they are first in line.
Aren't you tired? Aren't you tired of the Republican Party relying on their strategy of catering to the lowest common denominator to get into power, assuming smart, reasonable, serious conservatives will do nothing as long as Republicans occupy the halls of power? Aren't you tired of having the Tea Party extremists claiming to represent you, while simultaneously trying to enact legislation that you totally disagree with?

I know I would be. I know I was, which is why I left the party.

But I understand why thoughtful, serious, reasonable, conservative citizens don't want to switch to the Democrats. They're as far away from your belief system as the extremists who have taken over your own party.

So if you can't bring the Republican party back on track from within, how about you form a new party? You could call it "The Reasonable Party," or "The Conservative Party," or "The Anyone but Trump Party."

The fact of the matter is that we really do need to "take our country back." We need to take it back from ultraconservative/fascist extremists who are warping the Republic to their own ends. And since the Republicans are currently in power, that means it's up to you, conservatives, to do what is necessary to fix it. Liberals cannot do so on our own - we don't speak the conservative language (and that's okay, it's really not our job to do so in this context). You're allowing this with your silence and lack of action. And that's not okay.


*Note that I'm aware they did so on the backs of the marginalized. There's a reason I'm no longer a Republican.

An Open Letter to my Congresspeople

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Dear Senators Bennet and Gardner, and Representative Buck,

I am writing today to once again encourage the members of Congress who represent me in Washington to work together on a bipartisan effort to stabilize the ACA’s insurance marketplaces. 

Senators Alexander and Murray are working together on this effort, and I strongly believe that this is what leadership looks like. Healthcare for our citizenry is far too important a matter to rush something through without following the normal hearing process, and these Senators are leading the way by taking a mature, thoughtful approach to the issue. 

Once the marketplaces are stable, it then falls on both Democrats and Republicans to build on this work to come up with a long-term solution that addresses the concerns of both parties. The ability to compromise and work through partisan politics on important legislation is a skill most Congresspeople appear to have lost, and it’s time to resurrect those skills for the good of the country. 

Country before self, and especially before Party. Let’s return to civility, bipartisanship, and compromise in politics. I expect my Congresspeople to be role models in this behavior, not the last ones on board. 

Let’s get something done.


Regards, 

Janiece

Link Me Up, Scotty - Doing the Right Thing Edition

Monday, September 25, 2017

A young girl was hit in the face by a line drive during a Yankees game on Wednesday the 20th. The injury was bad enough that the crews televising the game chose not to release footage of the accident due to its graphic nature. Thankfully, reports are that the youngster is doing okay, and I hope she makes a full recovery. Many players for both the Yankees and the Twins were in tears over the incident, which I totally understand. It's not Todd Frazier's fault, but you know he's torn up over it, and most certainly blaming himself.

Our own Colorado Rockies are working and planning to expand the nets at Coors Field for the 2018 season, and I'm grateful to them for making that decision.
________

45 once again stuck his oar in when he should have been letting the adults talk, this time surrounding the appropriateness of NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest racism and police brutality in this country. He's trying to throw the "respect for the flag" red herring into the argument, rather than appreciating the fact that these are American citizens, exercising their 1st Amendment rights. Thankfully, it appears that many owners are choosing to ignore 45's rhetoric and mind their business. I choose to stand and salute during the national anthem for my own reasons, but I don't think it's right to try and push my choices off on others. I'm glad so many owners are looking at this as a civil rights and activism issue rather than assuming they know their players' motivations for choosing to make a political statement. Naturally, all the games on Sunday featured protests by players, coaches, and even owners to 45's suggestion.

Also, LeBron James called 45 a "bum" over his rhetoric, and for some reason that just made me laugh and laugh and laugh.
________

Meanwhile, the island of Puerto Rico is in a total blackout due to hurricane damage, and they need our help. Please remember that these people are American citizens, and so are entitled to the same level of support and aid any American community would receive from the federal government (which they're not getting). A list of "on the ground" charities can be found here. A little pressure on 45 to do his job and help the citizens of this country rather than blathering on and on about football might be in order, as well.
________

And I'm still not eating at Chick-Fil-A. Yes, I've heard all the arguments about taking money from local franchisees, and how boycotting them is wrong because they themselves are not necessarily anti-LGBTQ. All of that is absolutely true. But it's also true that for every dollar spent in a Chick-Fil-A restaurant, some portion goes to the home office and is used to fund legislation that hurts a community I care about. So no. Just...no.
________

Dominionist Roy Moore, the cashiered Judge from Alabama who believes evolution isn't real and that being gay should be illegal, needs a better class of campaign staff.
________

There's a Facebook group out there called "White Nonsense Roundup," and it essentially exists to help people of color respond and educate white people about race issues when the POC don't have the emotional energy to do so themselves.  I don't know enough about this group to have an informed opinion, but I like the fact that responders only come into a conversation if invited by the POC dealing with the mess.

I've interacted with so many POC who are tired - really, really, tired - of having to explain concepts of systemic racism, privilege, intersectionality, etc. to white people. It's not that the education isn't important enough to spend time on it - far from it. It's just emotionally draining work, and sometimes they wish white people would step up and help.

I'm going to follow the group for a while and see what it's all about.
________

Fourteen women pose nude for photographer Carey Fruth to demonstrate that female beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Love.
________

Video of my Heart: Actual journalist and decent human being Anderson Cooper takes down liar, liar, pants on fire Sean Spicer in his Ridiculist.


An Open Letter to Senator Cory Gardner, 09/22/2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

I am writing today to express my extreme opposition to the Graham-Cassidy Bill.

Here are the factual reasons I oppose this bill. Please note that these are matters of fact, not opinion:

 • There is not enough time between now and September 30th to get an accurate CBO score that tells us how many people will loose coverage as well as what the bill will cost, and that is inexcusable.

• It ends individual and employer mandates, which will drive premiums up. It will also end federal subsidies for individual insurance. This is estimated to leave 32 million people uninsured.

• It takes the money going to the states that opted ‘in’ to Medicaid expansion and distributes it among all states, even those whose legislatures irresponsibly voted against expansion. In 2026, funding for Medicaid expansion would end entirely, and the shortfall would be left for the states to cover.

• It institutes a one year freeze on Medicaid reimbursements for Planned Parenthood (even though federal law already prohibits federal tax dollars being used to fund or finance abortion services)

• It allows individual states to define what constitutes an “essential benefit”, which will likely result in a slash of coverage for maternity services, cancer treatments and services, ER visits, prescription drugs, and many more benefits. This could also further prevent women’s clinics from charging Medicaid for things like cancer screenings and birth control.

• It allows insurers to double their surcharge for elderly patients. (The ACA allows insurers to charge older customers up to 3 times as much as younger ones. This bill increases that to up to 5 times as much.)

• It allows insurers to charge higher rates based on health status, and it repeals language in the ACA which prevents changing insurance rates after a patient is diagnosed with a condition.

I can't believe I have to even say this, but the provisions in this legislation are just INDECENT. It's just as bad as the last bill brought before the Senate. Denying people the care they need to live is IMMORAL. Continuing to be a rank-and-file Republican on this issue is WRONG. Allowing the Federal government to cut billions from Colorado, money that serves the least among us, is NOT serving your constituents. I don't know why we even have to have these conversations - the argument of decency versus cruelty should have a clear-cut winner, and yet here I am, trying to convince you that decency should WIN.

Please vote NO on this bill and work with the Democrats on a bi-partisan approach that addresses both party's concerns. It's what the American people need, regardless of the Vice President's paternalistic view to the contrary. It's what we want. It's what we've TOLD you we want, when the majority of Americans have said they do not want the ACA to be repealed. Do not assume that because you hold office that you can pat your constituency on the head and claim that Father knows best. You obviously DON'T know best, as evidenced by years of do-nothing Congressional sessions and a complete failure to pass meaningful, popular legislation when your party controls ALL THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT.

Do the right thing. Vote NO on this bill and help Coloradans retain the care they need.

An Open Letter to Senator Cory Gardner, 09/21/2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I am writing today to encourage you to vote NO on the Cassidy-Graham bill. 

While I understand that you are a rank and file Republican, I urge you to think independently on this issue. Most Americans don’t want the ACA to be repealed. Coloradans don’t want to lose billions in federal aid and have it repurposed to the Bible Belt, all of whom think federal health care is “Socialism.” Coloradans don’t want millions to lose their health care through Medicaid/Medicare. 

This really is a moral issue. Will you be the kind of Senator who pays attention to his constituents, or will you serve your masters at the GOP at the expense of Coloradans? Will you be the kind of Senator who votes to essentially kill your constituents so you can remain in your party’s good graces, or will you be a stand-up guy and do what is right, damn the consequences? Are you the kind of man who is guided by morality, values, and compassion, or will you be the man who puts party and self before country? 

Please - prove me wrong, and do the right thing, rather than the expedient thing. Vote NO on the bill, and then work with the Democrats to come to a bi-partisan solution. Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong about you and your priorities. Please, vote NO on this bill.

What's the Haps

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I realize I haven't been posting much lately. Between the latest political landscape and getting ready for our AFSP Out of the Darkness walk, I've become emotionally tired, and as Sister Stacey says, I've run out of spoons.

But I'm starting to get inquiries from my readers, so I thought an update might be in order. An update informed by today being "Talk Like a Pirate Day."

1. Miss Jackson Pi has been feeling poorly of late. She's always been a delicate flower when it comes to her digestion, but vomiting happens often enough that I spoke to her vet about it. She's now on a new (pricey) kibble and taking doggie probiotics. That dog lives a healthier life than most people I know. But she is getting her teeth cleaned on Friday, so she's just going to have a bad week. Poor Bubbie. (It's better than a peg-leg, Argh.)

2. I've been kind of blue lately. I think the upcoming AFSP walk is bringing everything that punched me in the heart about Moe's death to the front of my mind, and it's pretty draining, as well as making me touchy and weepy. (Cap'n needs a hug, Argh.)

3. Recently I've started yoga practice using an iPad app. Apparently I am currently the most inflexible person on the face of the earth. (Argh-ouch.)

4. We went to Santa Fe over Labor Day with Sister Stacey and Brother J.R. and it was FABULOUS. I love that city, and my "turn left at the adobe house" joke never stops being funny. (Argh.)

5. The end of fiscal year is fast approaching, which means I'll be getting my FY2018 work assignments in the next month or so. I'll probably pick up some more accounts, which is fine with me. If I don't stay busy, I live inside my head too much, and that place smells of psychological pharmaceuticals and orange soda. (Argh.)

6. I've been putting my costume together for the annual Douglas County Library Foundation Gala. The theme is Alice in Wonderland, and I shall be going as the Red Queen, because of course I am. Nothing too over the top - just a tiara, scepter, appropriate jewelry, a red dress and these. (Argh.)


Hubba, hubba

7. You want to know why I'm out of political spoons? This is why. I honestly do not understand how Republicans - Republicans I know and respect - can support the things and the people they support. I just don't get it. And every time I try to get it, I get more confused, because the argument for cruelty and against decency also makes no sense to me. This work makes me very, very tired, and I'm no closer to understanding now than I was when I wrote this or this. So I keep calling, writing, faxing, and e:mailing my Congressional Representative and my Senators, hoping my small voice will join with others to save us from ourselves. (Walk the Plank, Matey! No, really - walk the mother-fucking plank, you shameful piece of shit.)

8. Summer is winding down, and that means the growing season is almost over. I still have dozens of tomatoes and about eight zucchini out there, waiting to ripen, but it won't be long until the plants will be ready to be pulled up and mulch applied for next year. (Eat yer tomatoes or gets the scurvy, matey!)

An Open Letter to Senator Cory Gardner, 09/18/2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

I am writing to you today to ask you to vote "no" on the latest ACA repeal. I'm not really interested in having 1.3 million of my fellow Coloradans lose their Medicare coverage because the GOP needs a win to convince their constituents they're capable of governing. 

If you want to govern, then pass some domestic legislation that improves the lives of your Constituents by working WITH the Democrats to reach a compromise. 

Right now I consider your primary job as keeping an unfit, unpredictable, unqualified man child from destroying our Democracy. Snatching medical coverage away from 32 million people makes you an immoral failure, not a leader of men. 

If you want my vote, then work on bipartisan legislation that benefits us all, and lead your party away from extremism.

Suicide Prevention Week

Monday, September 11, 2017

The number for the suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There are people who care about you. You matter in this world. You won't always feel this way, and there is help available to lead you out of the darkness.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week here in the United States. As most of you know, this is a cause that is extremely personal for me. When we lost our daughter Moe to mental illness and suicide, it changed our world entirely, leaving deep wounds that will probably never heal.



So as we continue to live with our grief, we work to help fund programs that support people who are considering suicide and suicide survivors. The organization we've chosen is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

On September 23rd, the Maureen's Marchers team will hit the bricks in their annual "Out of the Darkness Walk," raising money for AFSP programing and grants, in honor of our baby girl, and the light that the world lost in her passing.

If you feel so inclined, the fund raiser may be accessed via the badge below, or the banner on the right sidebar. No family should have to go through what we did, and no parent should have to bury their child for a treatable disease. Thanks for any support you can offer.


The Seventh Annual Maureen "AJ" Ramey Memorial Summer Reading Program Winners

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Seventh Annual Maureen "AJ" Ramey Memorial Summer Reading Program, brought to you by Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men!

This year we had 300 entries into the contest, so the Douglas County Libraries Foundation will receive a $500.00 donation from me and the Smart Man to continue to secure the naming rights on the garden at the Parker Library.


On to the WINNERS!

I used a Random Number Generator to determine the winning numbers:

223: Kathy Hewett, who read The Viscount and the Witch, by Michael J. Sullivan

and

277: The Mechanicky Gal, who read Curtsies and Conspiracies, by Gail Carriger

Please contact me with the e:mail address you want me to use for your Amazon Gift Card.

Congratulations to the winners, and we'll see you again next year!

Fuck Nazis

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fuck Nazis. They have no place in our country, and their opinions are completely unworthy of consideration. Fuck them.

I am stating for the record - I am a white American of Northern European descent. And if I had my way, those vile, racist, morally reprehensible motherfuckers would be shipped to an island and dropped off, cast-away style. They can leverage their "White Culture" civilization building skills to build their White Aryan utopia, away from right-thinking folks.

These cockroaches have no place in my America. NO PLACE. They can either get their minds right or they can be prepared to have their ideas and themselves marginalized, outed, doxed, sneered at, disrespected, and made fun of. I can't believe I even have to say this, but there is no middle ground, no justification, no excuse, no quarter when it comes to Nazis. Because they're NAZIS. ACTUAL, FUCKING NAZIS. My family has served this country in uniform for every generation since the Civil War*, and did not do so this scum could crawl out of the swamp with impunity. I don't give a shit what that miserable fuck in the White House says. NAZIS.

NOT IN MY AMERICA.

________
*My great, great, great, grand-uncle was General William Tecumseh Sherman. Yes, that Sherman. So all you Nazi shits can just kiss my ass. We didn't serve to support the likes of you.

Taking the hit so you won't have to. Because I'm a giver like that.

Monday, August 7, 2017

I recently read (in full) the anti-diversity screed penned by a Google software engineer that has been making the rounds of late. You're welcome.

As most of you know, I am an engineer working in the tech field. I have worked in male-dominated organizations my entire adult life. I came of age in the Pre-Tailhook Navy. For the last ten years, I have been the only woman in my team. This guy's commentary speaks directly to my 34 years of professional experience.

And in all my time working in the middle of this sea change, never have I read a more pseudo-intellectual, MRA inspired poor me-pity party from a dude whose basic complaint is that he feels he shouldn't have to give up his unearned privilege in order to ensure a more egalitarian industry.

Consider his main points:
  • The company exhibits a left-leaning political position in terms of culture. He feels all political positions have equal merit. 
This is a dog whistle. "The Right" is code for "up with unearned privilege!" He's advocating a culture where it's perfectly fine to continue to marginalize under represented groups, because that's the way we've also done it.

With the caveat of freely admitting I don't personally know anything about Google's culture, I will say that with my tribe, we don't dislike or disrespect the conservative or liberal viewpoints per se. We dislike douchey, discriminatory behavior. If you're a conservative and you act like a douche, I'm not going to respect you. Just as I would not respect a liberal who was a douche. YMMV.
  • Women are underrepresented in tech and leadership basically because our Ladybrains are not well suited to these endeavors. I especially love how he slips in language about how women who really do the same quantity/quality of work as their male counterparts are paid equally. Wink, wink.
Bite me, you clueless Neanderthal. There's a reason girls are equally adept in STEM and leadership in a controlled environment. The change happens in Middle School, and the reason doesn't have much to do with testosterone.
  • Women have too many fee-fees to be as effective as men in a professional setting. 
The ridiculousness of this viewpoint is so extreme I can't even. Has this douche considered the idea that the ego driven nonsense most often attributed to men makes them less effective in the workplace? Bueller? Bueller?
  • Dudebro refers again and again to "illegal discrimination." 
Here's the thing, Mr. MRA - "illegal discrimination" can only occur if the person being "discriminated against" is in a protected class. Last time I checked, white dudes were not on that list. Also: "Reverse discrimination" is not a thing. It's an excuse MRAs use to cry about how not everything's about them.
  • Diversity is bad, even though he gives it lip service.
 This entire memo has flavors of "I love diversity, but..." and "I'm not sexist. Some of my best friends are women." Transparent much?
  •  We're all blind to his brilliant, transformative ideas because there's a liberal conspiracy...or something. 
Yeah. A liberal conspiracy. That's why 45 was elected to the highest office in the land, you know. Because liberals are secretly pulling the strings from behind the curtain.

The lack of logic, cherry picking, and self-serving whining about how tragic it is that not everything is about him now makes this laughable. And dudebro felt perfectly comfortable sharing this drivel with the company internally. Perfectly safe. Because apparently, this type of mindset is just A-OK in Google's culture.

And that's why Google is, in fact, evil. They give lip service to diversity and equal opportunity to the point where MRAs like this douchey author believe they're being "marginalized," while the company is simultaneously being investigated by the Federal government for egregious application of the gender wage gap. They can't find female or non-white employees to take jobs at Google, because regardless of their efforts, Google still has a reputation where women and non-white associates are paid less, marginalized more, and (obviously) make no impact on the culture.

Evil, indeed.

ETA: Turns out dudebro is one James Damore, and his particulars are so ironic I may sprain something. He's white. He's a Libertarian. He claims a Ph.D he did not earn (from Harvard, no less). And he's been job offered by no less than Julian Assange, ::sproing!::

An Open Letter to my Congresspeople

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Dear Senators Bennet and Gardner, and Representative Buck,

I am writing you today to strongly encourage you to support bi-partisan efforts to shore up our nation's healthcare troubles and find a solution that works. 

The items in included in the solution proposed by the Problem Solvers Coalition seem to me to be a good start in making this happen. Permanently funding Cost-Sharing Discounts and allowing states greater flexibility to manage their marketplaces are just two of their ideas, and each solves a particular problem that each party cares about. It's the nature of compromise, and it's something that is sorely lacking in our Republic. 

In my view, EVERY member of Congress should be a "problem solver." Every. Single. One. If an individual's  aim is to be obstructionist, petty, unwilling to compromise, then they are unfit to serve our nation. We elect Congresspeople to find solutions, not to engage in endless partisan bickering. It's past time for Republicans and Democrats to stop this nonsense, ignore the unserious man-baby currently occupying the Oval Office, and make a concerted effort to save the Republic. 

Please - just do your jobs. It's not too much to ask.


Signed, 

Janiece

Keeping love alive

Monday, July 31, 2017

Today is the fourth anniversary of the death of my baby girl, Maureen.

It's been a strange four years. My grief journey has ranged from being unbearable to being grateful for my tribe. It's gone from nearly catatonic with grief to maintaining a stable, healthy life. It's gone from raging against the reality of the world to accepting - albeit with sadness - the new normal that is life-without-Moe. I still cry at triggering events, and I suspect I always will. But my life is stable now, by the grace of my people and my grief work.

One of the things I've learned about this journey is that while I will never look at my daughter's death as anything but tragic, I still have the opportunity to use her loss as an impetus to make the world a better place. For me, that means doing work that supports the things she cared about. It means donating money to causes she was passionate about. It means mentoring other young women as they move into adulthood and helping them discover the person they want to be. This work helps me keep the love and gratitude alive on my bad days, when I miss her more than usual, or I find I want to share something with her and then realize I cannot.

And this year, for the first time, it means I will participate in activism to support Suicide Prevention.I haven't felt up to it until now, and there's still a possibility that I may fall apart during the event. But I want to try, so I'll be participating and fundraising for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Denver Metro Walk.

This will be the fifth year the Maureen's Marchers team is hitting the road in my baby girl's name on the annual Out of the Darkness Denver Metro Walk. The money raised in this event will go to fighting suicide and supporting AFSP's goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025.

I can't bring my Moe-Moe back, but I can do what I can to ensure other families never have to walk this grief journey, and experience the devastation that is losing a child to suicide.

If you're a local, please feel free to join our team and come walk with us on September 23rd at Coors Field in honor of our baby girl.

If you wish to donate to the cause, my fundraising page may be found by clicking the icon below. This icon is also pinned to the right sidebar.




Every year on this date I reflect on how very cursed I am to have lost a child, and how very blessed I am to have my people around me when I need them most. Thank you for your support and love on this journey, and for supporting the work of an organization whose mission is to save the lives of people like Moe.

An Open Letter to my Senators

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dear Senators Bennet and Gardner, 

I am writing today to express my disbelief and disgust with the current plan to revoke the individual and business mandate in the Affordable Care Act. While it isn't working as well as analysts had hoped, removing it will do nothing but increase the number of uninsured Americans, and increase premiums for everyone. 

The numbers from the CBO don't really lie - 16 million Americans will lose their healthcare, and healthcare premiums will increase by 20% for the individual market. How is this "better?" How does this constitute "more Americans being covered?" The completely immoral remarks concerning the free market by the President of the Senate notwithstanding, this plan is clearly bad for Americans. 

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record - how about country before party for a change? How about voting in accordance with your constituents' desires and best interests? How about more bi-partisan work on this issue? 

Please come up with a COMPREHENSIVE plan for health care in this country. I know it's hard, but it's YOUR JOB. Please do it for a change.


Signed, 

Janiece

Link Me Up, Scotty - Mortality is our lot edition

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

An essay surrounding the language we use when discussing cancer, people who have cancer, and the occasions when cancer is terminal. I'm still working through my feelings about the idea of death positivity, but I agree with this author's comments. Dying of a disease is not a failure. You don't lose if available medical treatment does not cure you. Everyone has to die of something, and choosing our own path to death is the key factor - not that we die of cancer, or an accident, or whatever.
________

Why the media should be more thoughtful in covering cases of suicide. I think this applies to all writers, and I have to admit that when I hear someone use the phrase "committed suicide" my reaction can go from apoplectic with rage to a desire to educate. My baby girl did not "commit" suicide, like her struggle with mental illness resulted in her engaging in a criminal act. She died of suicide, with a proximate cause of mental illness. Language matters, and changing the narrative around mental illness and its sometimes devastating results will help our communities help those most in need.
________

And speaking of "apoplectic with rage," my favorite Christian Pastor takes on those who believe victims of suicide are "selfish" or "weak." Short answer: They're not, and assuming they are is the worst form of privilege. Instead of being a smug, self-righteous douchebag, perhaps the people who think this way should show some fucking gratitude that they themselves are not stricken by mental illness and have never had to deal with the ramifications of such a disease. Next they'll be blaming cancer patients for their condition.
________

Our charming President just kicked trans people out of our Armed Forces. A couple of things to note: 1. 45 keeps talking about he and "his generals" discussing the matter, but the Pentagon only learned about the new directive through....you guessed it, Twitter. So where were the Pentagon Generals in these discussions? I suspect they were a figment of 45's imagination. 2. Have you read those tweets? There's no way 45 wrote them, as they're coherent and well-written (if awful). This has Pence's fingerprints ALL OVER IT, the fuckstick. 3. Does anyone actually believe this is anything other than a disgusting attempt to engage in cultural warfare in order to deflect people from 45's legal problems? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
________

From the "Liar, liar, pants on fire" files, here are 29 lies told in 26 hours by the Liar in Chief. Can't somebody put a muzzle on this guy? Seriously. 
________

Today's sources as rated by Media Bias/Fact Check:
  • Confessions of a Funeral Director: The personal blog of Caleb Wilde, professional funeral director and writer. 
  • LA Times: Commonly referred to as the Times or LA Times, is a paid daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country. Well sourced with a left-center editorial bias.
  • Stuff that Needs to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz.
  • The Washington Post: The Washington Post is an American daily newspaper. It is the most widely circulated newspaper published in Washington, D.C., and was founded on December 6, 1877.  The newspaper has won 47 Pulitzer Prizes. This includes six separate Pulitzers awarded in 2008, the second-highest number ever awarded to a single newspaper in one year.  Post journalists have also received 18 Nieman Fellowships and 368 White House News Photographers Association awards (Wikipedia). The Washington Post has a liberal bias in reporting choices, however they are typically well sourced to credible information.  Sometimes they rush stories to be the first to break them, which leads to poor sourcing. This has occurred on a few occasions in 2016.  When an error is made the Washington Post responsibly makes corrections.

An Open Letter to the Coward Cory Gardner


Yesterday you voted to open debate on your excretible bill on healthcare, in spite of rampant confusion about what it contains. You immediately followed that bit of Party-First hucksterism by voting "yea" on the actual bill in question. You know, the one that everyone is confused about, but surely will increase premiums, price people out of the market, and reduce funding for the least among us. 

I think the most obvious question here is WHY. Why would you vote for this bill, knowing that your constituents hate it? Why would you vote for this bill, knowing that your own approval ratings here in Colorado have dipped 30% as a direct result of your failure to listen to your constituents about what they want? Why would you vote for this bill knowing that your constituents will suffer (and yes, even die) due to your political actions? Why?

And I think I have the answers! I think it's because you're a hypocritical liar, liar, pants on fire. Let's consider the facts:

1. You voted to open debate on this mystery bill because (and I quote):
I voted to allow debate today because we can no longer subject Coloradans to a failing healthcare system without working toward solutions, and today’s vote will allow that debate to continue. We can now offer amendments in an open setting to fix our nation’s healthcare system and bring relief to the American people. 
Fair enough, if it was true. But - and here's the part where you're a big, fat, hypocrite - you immediately followed up by voting "yea" on a bill without the aforementioned amendments.

Hypocrite: 1. Credibility: 0.

2. You say that you want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, health care legislation that enjoys a 55% approval raring, because (and I quote):
Under Obamacare, Coloradans have had to pay for double digit premium increases year after year and the 27 percent average increase for premiums on the individual market next year is only more of the same. While 500,000 Coloradans have had their plans cancelled, 145,000 Coloradans were forced to pay a penalty under Obamacare instead of purchasing insurance because their options have become so limited and unaffordable. In every healthcare meeting with Coloradans, we discuss the problems of Obamacare and how the status quo is simply unacceptable. 
Simply unacceptable, huh? But it's perfectly okay to defund Medicaid (in the future, of course, when you'll presumably be safe from the consequences of your ill-conceived vote) when you promised you wouldn't and leave those who can least afford a cut in their healthcare to suffer and die. It's perfectly acceptable to remove the employer and individual mandate, thus driving premiums even higher. It's perfectly acceptable to increase premiums on seniors with fixed incomes so you can suck up to your rich buddies. Uh, huh.

Hypocrite: 2. Credibility: 0.

3. You've made quite a show of supposedly "considering" the ramifications of revised healthcare law, meeting with Seema Verma for "wink, wink, nod, nod" assurances that Medicaid patients would be taken are of, at least until you can safely deflect the blame for cutting their benefits. But the simple fact of the matter is that you wrote this crappy legislation. You were on McConnell's super-secret committee to bring this steaming pile of immorality to the Senate, and you're responsible for it. You can act concerned all you want, but this is your dumpster fire. Quit trying to fool your constituents into thinking the buck doesn't stop with you, because it does. And this is one issue that people are going to remember in 2020. You can bet on it.

Hypocrite: 3. Credibility: 0.

4. Speaking of you being McConnell's butt-monkey, how are those plans coming for your fundraiser at the home of Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz next month? I think it's just swell that McConnell will also be in attendance so that you can lick his boots in full view of the .01%.

Pandering Hypocrite: 4. Credibility: 0.

You are simply unbelievable, the way you try to make out like you're all thoughtful and deliberative, when everyone knows you're going to vote the Republican party line regardless of the consequences to your constituents and the communities you supposedly represent. You put party before country, every single time, and I have to say I look forward to campaigning for your opposition in 2020. I'd even settle for a new Republican, provided they had a moral compass and kept their oath of office, since you obviously can't be included in either of those cases.

Signed,

Janiece

An Open Letter to my Congresspeople, Twofer

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dear Senators Bennet and Gardner and Representative Buck,

I am writing today to express my continued desire for Congress to engage in a bi-partisan effort to improve America's healthcare system. 

With polls showing that Americans prefer the ACA to the Republican plan by a margin of 2 to 1, isn't it time for all of us to admit that the best plan of action is to work together to fix what's broken in the ACA instead of continuing to throw good money after bad in coming up with (or resurrecting) a new plan that everyone hates? 

THIS is what Americans want. Not the gridlock, not a Congress that is currently the least effective in history, not a self-sabotaging President who is forcing our current system to fail with his petulant power-plays. A REAL plan, researched and discussed, a REAL plan that represents the majority of the population's desires, a REAL plan that reflects compromise on both sides of the aisle. You know, a plan that reflects Congress actually doing their jobs. 

Needless to say, a straight repeal of the ACA is NOT a viable alternative. The grandstanding of the last 8 years aside, everyone knows such a act would hurt millions of people and throw the markets into chaos. 

We need a plan that will withstand the rest of time, including guarantees for funding of subsidies for states and individuals who need them, rather than leaving that decision up to a mentally disturbed man-child who understands nothing but his own ego. 

Since the best plan - single payer - seems like a pipe dream because of the pressures and campaigning of the insurance companies, will you please just do your damn job and come up with a compromise plan? Millions of Americans are depending on you. Stop letting them down.


Signed,

Janiece

An Open Letter to my Congresspeople


Dear Senators Bennet and Gardner, and Representative Buck,

I am writing today to say, "Are you kidding me?" 

You lost two additional Senators on Trumpcare and your response is to try to repeal the ACA with no viable plan to replace it? What is wrong with the Republicans? Is it really so hard to imagine a world where Republicans and Democrats actually work together in the spirit of public service to find a solution that works for everyone? Your predecessors did it all the time. Why can't you? 

Is it so very difficult to accede to the wishes of your constituents and provide a bi-partisan solution? It's what AMERICA wants. We need an adult in the chambers of Congress. Please resist the urge to make things worse and actually serve the public with some level of humility and respect.


Signed, 

Janiece

Somewhere, in a smoke-filled room...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Senator McConnell: Okay, okay, settle down. We need to discuss what we're going to do about the Health Care Bill.

Senator Gardner: My constituents are flooding my office with faxes, phone calls, and e:mails. NO ONE likes this bill.

Senator Merkowski: Mine too!

Senator McConnell: Shut up, Gardner. You helped craft this bill, and everyone knows you're my butt-monkey. Stop grand-standing. And Merkowski, you know what the definition of an honest politician is? Someone who stays bought. So you can shut up, too.

Senator Paul: Free markets! Free markets!

Senator McConnell. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You piss me off, Paul. Why can't you just GET ON BOARD.

Senator Paul: Free markets! Free markets!

Senator McConnell. Okay. Here's the deal. Gardner is right on one point. Everyone except us thinks this bill stinks to high heaven. I thought we'd reached a point in American history when the sheeple would just do what we told them was best for them. It's certainly worked up until now. But apparently they're not quite convinced that the GOP should be their Lords and Masters. I blame Elizabeth Warren.

Senator Cruz: It's always right to blame Elizabeth Warren. Just sayin'.

Senator McConnell: Word.

Senator Heller: We need to work something out. My state depends on Medicaid funding. I'll lose my seat if public opinion goes the wrong way.

Senator McConnell: Protecting our seats is always job #1. You're not special, Heller.

Senator Paul: Free markets! Free markets!

Senator McConnell: We need to find a way to tank the legislation without having to actually come right out and say that it's a piece of shit and no one wants it.

Senator Lee: Well, we've already made it so excretable that we can't really come out and say we think it sucks, too, without coming out with egg on our faces.

Senator Moran: I think that ship has sailed.

Senator McConnell: Does anyone have any HELPFUL suggestions?

Senator Strange: I think it's obvious that someone is going to have to fall on their sword.

Senator McConnell: Well, I'M not going to do it. I worked too hard to impose my personal vision of "Fuck you, I've got mine" on the American public to quit now.

Senator Gardner: It should be somebody whose seat is absolutely safe. Remember, job #1!

Senator McConnell: Or it could be someone whose standing will improve if they pretend like they care about their constituents.

Senator Paul: Free markets! Free markets!

Senator McConnell: WILL YOU shut the fuck up? How about we draw straws?

Senators Lee and Moran: Crap. Short end of the stick again.

Senator McConnell: Thanks for taking one for the team, y'all.

Senator Johnson: Won't the President be pissed?

Senator McConnell: Who gives a fuck? We'll just tell him it was the Democrats fault. He doesn't understand how legislation works, anyway. Now, Lee and Moran, make sure you coordinate your announcements so I can then look disappointed in front of the press, and reluctantly agree to try another tack. That tack will probably be a "repeal and don't replace" bill, but hey! What do we care? We must have a legislative WIN, and simultaneously fool the public into thinking we have an actual plan. Who's with me?

Senator Paul: Free markets! Free markets!

Senator Collins: KMN

An Open Letter to my Congresspeople

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dear Senators Bennet and Garner, and Representative Buck,

I am writing today to express my disgust with the Republican health care bill. 

I don't understand how Republicans can continue to push this bill when it's so very apparent that NO ONE WANTS IT. Your constituents, Medical Doctors, Insurance Companies - everyone thinks the provisions of the bill are a terrible idea. It breaks the insurance model, it pushes people off instance who currently have it, it defunds help for those who can't make it on their own, it makes health care unaffordable for seniors - the list goes on and on and on. 

So why are Republicans still pursuing it? 

I can speculate on a thousand reasons, but the conclusion I keep coming back to is that Republicans have lost their moral compass. As a party, their cultural norms have deteriorated to the point  where they simply don't care that no one wants what they're peddling. They consider themselves above their constituents, without humility, and they believe there will be no consequences for their hubris. They believe this because of gerrymandering, of course. 

But people are getting fed up. You folks are PUBLIC SERVANTS. Start serving and scrap this bill. Work together in a bi-partisan effort to come up with a plan we can all live with. THAT is what the country wants. Do your job and SERVE with some humility and respect.


Signed, 

Janiece