About Me

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

Micah 6:8; D&C 11:20 

"do justly, walk humbly, judge righteously."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oh, Egypt, Sweetie - You Made Me Cry

I've been glued to Al Jazeera English all morning spellbound by the event in Egypt and Tahrir Square. (Kudos to Link TV and Free Speech TV for carrying the service!) It's so thrilling to see that people without violence or hatred can command respect and achieve what seemed the impossible.

Listening to interviews with people in the square I found myself tearing up and becoming emotional. I knew I was invested in what was happening there, but I didn't realize how invested until I heard an interview with an Egyptian professor talk about his feelings at the resignation of a autocrat/dictator. It was beautiful.

What's really beautiful is the breadth and diversity of the protesters in Tahrir Square. There are Muslims and Christians. There are educated and uneducated. The women are veiled and unveiled. There are whole families protesting together. A whole community has emerged in the 490,000 square feet of the Square. (See How many people are in Tahrir Square for some interesting info on the statistics.) What moved me is how people are keeping the entire area clean. Informal clinics have been set up. An art installation has been created using some of the stones that were thrown at them. A couple decided to get married in the midst of the protesters. Coptic Christians protected Muslims as they prayed.

What really moves me about all this is it is exactly the kind of actions that appeal to truly patriotic Americans. We love the story of the underdog rising up and overthrowing their chains. Look at the movies we like. Dirty Dancing (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition) & Red Dawn (Collector's Edition) for example. Both of these are at their base about an inferior force overcoming a person or force of oppression. We like sports movies where some regular guy or small town team beats overcoming odds. Look at Rocky, Miracle [Blu-ray], Seabiscuit (Widescreen Edition).

So, on the surface, the actions and events in Egypt should appeal to every American, red-blooded or not. This is why a lot of the punditry and opinions expressed in the press are appalling to me. Glenn Beck has talked about "a Muslim caliphate" and politicians such as John McCain are worried about the Muslim Brotherhood. These fear mongering statements supporting a dictator over a democracy are at their heart un-American. Others bring up Iran and what happened to the revolution there. But there is a bigger picture that I think  people are missing.

Our country - unfortunately and at our shame - has supported dictators several times over the popular choice. We have done this in the past because of different reasons. In Chile, we helped Pinochet not only overthrow the popularly elected - but unfortunately for our government leftist - President Allende (father of world famous author of  My Invented Country : A Memoir and other novels, Isabel Allende). President Allende was assassinated. We can place this crime on our own conscience.

We supported the autocratic Batista in Cuba. We alienated a possible friendly relationship with the popular Fidel Castro. He may have supported a democratic government in Cuba - who knows? And why were we so opposed? He didn't start out a fervent Communist. He didn't align himself with the Soviets until after he was brutally snubbed by our government. And why? We were worried about our sugar plants.

And, today, we our worried about oil. We are worried about fundamentalist Muslims attacking our country. But why do they do this? Muslims as a rule don't just want to attack anything that is different. (As a rule, Christians are better at this behavior historically than they are.) I believe we only have ourselves to blame. We express our ideals as one thing - but our behavior says something different. What is the saying? "Practice what you preach."

If we had not supported dictators worldwide, if we had not ignored human rights abuses, who knows where we would be? Who knows how different the world might look? Egypt may - MAY - become something that is not as democratic as we like. But that is no excuse for supporting someone like Mubarak.

I personally don't think this will happen. Unless of course there is some sort of military coup. Egypt is - and has been for centuries - a cosmopolitan country. A diverse country. A country where Muslims come out to protect their Christian Coptic neighbors after an attack on Christmas Eve. A country where Coptic Christians protect their fellow Muslim countrymen as they pray during protests. This is NOT a country of hatred and vitriol.

Now, speaking of hatred and vitriol and intolerance for that matter. Don't you think that we should look inside rather than outside when it comes to intolerance? Rather than complaining about the possibility of religious fundamentalists in the Arab and/or Muslim world taking over governments, maybe we should think about the religious fundamentalists taking over ours? What is the difference between Levitical law and Sharia law? Not much. If you think we have nothing to worry about, I suggest you watch Fox News or read Max Blumenthal's excellent book Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party. Watch this excellent episode of NOVA which documents Christian fundamentalists trying to infiltrate our school systems: Judgment Day - Intelligent Design on Trial.

Remember - those that live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Again, thank you Egypt for a wonderfully emotional and inspirational day. You inspire and validate my belief in the dignity and courage of the human spirit.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sometimes 140 Characters Just Isn't Enough

Hello, blogosphere! I hope that this will be a long and happy relationship.

I decided that 140 characters just isn't enough sometimes when I want to express my opinions. In future posts, I will be expressing those opinions in a clear and - hopefully - constructive manner. I invite all of you that read these to comment on the pros and cons of my opinions. I only ask that all comments leave hatred and profanity and vitriol behind.

First, let me introduce myself. I am a 45 year old woman living in eastern Washington State. I am a Caucasian American citizen whose family can be traced back to 1600s in America. I worked for over 10 years as a secretary for engineers working at a government contractor for the Department of Energy until I was laid off. I was unable to find work and eventually had to apply for disability, which is where I am now.

I now live in my parent's basement with my two dogs. I'll be up front about this -- I am an unabashed dog person. I prefer medium-sized to large dogs. Small dogs are very irritating. And don't get me started on cats. My dogs are sisters.

We have finally decided that they are Australian Shepherd/Catahoula mixes. They (and their whole litter) was found out near a big truck stop in a box on the side of the road. 

Another opinion I have about dogs. ADOPT! ADOPT! ADOPT! If you are planning on getting a dog - don't go to a pet store, don't go to a breeder - rescue a dog! If you are planning on showing a dog or something special, then I can understand getting a purebred. But if you want a pet - there is no reason for this. In fact - in some ways - it is irresponsible. There are so many rescue organizations and animal shelters where you can find great dogs. Most animals at animal shelters and other places are there not because they are bad, but because people are!

Whew! Glad to get that out.

More about me. I read an awful lot. I check out books from my local library. I listen to audiobooks while walking my dogs which I download from Overdrive or Audible. I even downloaded the Kindle app onto my Android smart phone. My favorite kind of books are mysteries, historical fiction, and true crime. Though, I probably will read anything (except maybe westerns). My favorite news magazine is The Economist. 

I guess I became a real news and politics junkie about a year after 9/11. And, then, after the big economic meltdown I really started actually following the business news. I get my news mainly from non-mainstream media. I listen to NPR and BBC radio - I love the On Point program from WBUR out of Boston. Other media sources I turn to are France24, Deutsche Welle, BBC, PBS, and - recently - Al Jazeera. For local news, I turn to the NBC and CBS affiliates. I sometimes turn on CNN or MSNBC but very, very rarely. 

I also love listening to podcasts from BBC and NPR. If you really want good analysis of political and economics, try the Planet Money and It's All Politics podcasts from NPR.

On to politics, I have decided that no party really represents my views. However, I have voted solely Democratic since 9/11. Why? At the time, I was very scared that President Bush and his neo-con friends were taking this country closer and closer to fascism. People today compare President Obama to Hitler. But at the time, I felt that Bush and his friends were very close. I was so, so grateful that Bush had the dignity and respect for our American ideals to step down. This, I think, is what separates us from other countries. No matter the vitriol and the hatred and the public anger - we always seem to handle power turnovers with dignity and respect. 

So, back to politics, I think I am a liberal-tarian. (I would  like to thank my friend Donna's son Aaron for this term.) Liberal-tarian means that you are a libertarian when it comes to social issues but a liberal when it comes to fiscal issues and other government issues. I think this is very close to my beliefs. For about 80% of politics, I am very much a centrist and very open to compromise, but I do have some red lines:
  1. Church and State. I am very hot and bothered when this topic comes up. We are NOT a Christian nation. Any one that reads Thomas Jefferson and others will see that separation of Church and State was a big red line for them too. Therefore, I am a dues paying member of Americans United and am very concerned whenever this comes up in the media. Basically it comes to this - the government needs to keep out of the churches and vice versa - the churches need to keep out of our government. Fair warning - this will probably come up again in future posts.
  2. Checks and Balances. Lately many people complain about "activist" judges. Well, duh! That is their judge. The judiciary is the third branch of the government. It is their job - and duty - to keep an eye and a check on the other two branches of government - which are the legislature and executive for those who don't remember their US Government classes. Unfortunately, however, the checks and balances have gotten kind of hazy. The signing statements that President Bush overused to negate legislative decisions. The House and Senate rubber stamping executive decisions rather than representing their constituents. 
  3. The Rule of Law. There were so many hacks and slashes to the rule of law in the last decade. I was so hopeful when Obama was elected. Now - I thought - the rule of law will be restored. The Constitution will be respected. Ah, well, it was a nice dream. We have to respect the legal ideals of our Constitution. No illegal search and seizures. Legal representation guaranteed. You are able to face your accuser. These are not just ideals reserved for the white man. Nor are they reserved just for US citizens. These ideals should be respected for all US courts - military and domestic!
These are issues I feel strongly about. Other political beliefs I have:

  • Health care. I believe that Obamacare is flawed. However, I also strongly believe that every human has the right to access to affordable and competent health care - and that includes dental and mental. 
  • Abortion . I am pro-choice as a public policy - but, personally, I think that it is wrong. But it is a choice. Government has no right to tell a woman how to handle her body.
  • Foreign Policy. I believe that our foreign policy should reflect our constitutional ideals. We should support countries that reflect our ideals and support the growth of those ideals in other countries. 
  • Fiscal Policy. We need regulation of our businesses. We have many examples in the past that left to their own devices, it leads to disaster. We need a complete restructuring of the tax code. People should get basic deductibles for the size of their family and then just pay a percentage of their income. The more you earn, the more you pay. When it comes to spending cuts - if we really need to cut our debt and deficit, which I'm not sure is as bad as people think it its - everyone should pay. Every department should take a cut - that means military and defense spending too!
These are political issues that will probably come up in future blogs. Fair warning!

I am single. I have never been married and have never had a child. (Not counting dogs.) I can even count my relationships on one hand. So, sometimes I have trouble relating to people that do. So, I rarely get out socially. I spend most of my time with the internet, books, music, and movies.

I love Godzilla and James Bond. I love movie musicals and monster and sci-fi movies from the 50's and 60's. I love Hammer Horror films. I loved Kolchak - the Night Stalker and The X-Files. I love great detectives from the great mystery authors: Hercule Poirot, Inspector Roderick Alleyn, Inspector Thomas Lynley, Commissario Guido Brunetti. I love true crime books and true crime television: Forensic Files, The First 48, 48 Hours Mystery. I also like shows like Criminal Minds, Law & Order (the UK version is terrific!), Detroit 1-8-7 -- detective shows are a lot of fun!

PET PEEVE ALERT! I can't stand the CSI shows. Let's face it. CSI employees/officers do NOT investigate. They do not interrogate the suspect. They do not carry guns. They do not arrest anyone. I respect all the science and investigation. But the shows should at least have had detectives and police doing the actual interrogation and prosecution of the suspect.

Well, that's enough about me. What about you? What kind of people read this post? I hope to have fun in future posts. I hope to do a little venting, a little cheerleading, and maybe a little weeping and laughing.