Mourning the loss of America as I knew her

I won’t lie. Today has been very difficult for me. I cannot quite find the words to describe how I feel: disappointed, disheartened, stunned, sickened, scared. I am even more shocked at how this is affecting me emotionally. It is almost like the bits of hope and promise to which I was clinging simply dissolved. I have never ever felt this way after an election. Normally, I would just shrug my shoulders and move on with life. This time it is different, and it hurts.

 

I am not interested in trying to dissect the exit polls, demographic data, campaign strategies, and voter turnout. I am not interested in hearing conspiracy theories, stories of illegal voting and “missing” ballots, and what-ifs. I do not want to hear rallying cries or victory speeches from either side. I do not care about who controls what house and who did or didn’t do what. I just do not want to hear any more politics, propaganda, or lies. I have had enough.

 

While I can understand, respect, and even appreciate the celebrations of those who support President Obama and voted for him, I cannot stomach the blatantly racist tweets and comments pouring forth from the ignorant and illiterate. They are probably the same ones who threatened riots and violence if Obama lost or posted hateful comments about voting white or black. They are the ones tweeting, posting, and shouting,” ‘obamas president!’ ‘yeah fuck white people!’ hahaha” -Danni@SugarGummy. (Don’t believe me? Look it up on Google. “Fuck White People” actually trended.) I know that type of people have always been out there, but thanks to social media, I get to see it up close and personal. I will never find it cute, funny, or in the slightest way acceptable to talk, write, sing, or act in that way. For me it shows the erosion of polite and intelligent society.

 

For some, yesterday was unimportant. Some argued that things would not change with either candidate, so they did not vote. Or if they did, they did so without any real thought and scrutiny. There are those who voted solely based on color. There are those who fell prey to negative campaign ads.  There are those who so strongly believe in the party line that they gave up all independent thought. What most don’t understand is that this was not about winning or losing, republican or democrat, white or black, rich or poor. If things had been that clear, it would be much easier for me to reconcile. This election was not about uteruses, gay marriage, or immigration. This election was not even really about the economy. This election was about a fundamental way of life, a guiding philosophy for our country. It was about choosing a path for the future of the country- choosing an ideology. Anyone who has been paying attention closely understands that. Now, it is clear that Americans have chosen one.

 

Unfortunately, for me, the president that the voters chose is not the one that I support. I am not upset for the reasons some would argue. It is not because he is black or a democrat or liberal. It’s because the direction in which he wants to lead this country is so opposite of what I believe. I won’t belabor the talking points and arguments. They have already been made, and we heard them all. I will even admit I did not agree with Romney on several things. However, I don’t believe that Obama ever cared one percent about me and my family or our values and quality of life. I do believe that Romney was America’s best chance to move forward in a way that is true to what our founding fathers and the Constitution intended. I do believe that Romney could have gotten the job done, helped heal the economy, worked in a bipartisan fashion. I believed in America, that was until last night.

 

Now that is all gone. If anyone thinks that Obama and his supporters care about the 100%, they are sadly mistaken. It only took 50% to win, and the rest of us are irrelevant. Yes, they intend to move the country forward but on a path that is very different from what many think. A path where self-reliance is seen as selfishness and weakness. One where those who work hard will be forced to compromise their own values and hard-earned livelihoods in ways that they may not support or agree; they will have no choice.  One where exceptionalism is not embraced, encouraged, or even tolerated; only celebrities and athletes receive a free pass. One where responsibility and accountability no longer exist; instead, excuses, lower standards, and entitlement dominate.  One where lying, bullying others who believe differently, and division rules; racism, intolerance, and violent threats prosper. This is the vision I have for Obama’s America.

 

So, now I have to come to terms with the results of the election. Obama will be president for another four years, at least. How much or how little damage there will be to what I thought was my country I do not know. How much will change I do not know. Nevertheless, I do know this: I accept the fact that the American people voted for Obama. I accept the fact that he will remain president. I accept that my values and beliefs are now part of the minority. However, I do not have to hide or control the revulsion I feel inside whenever I hear either of the Obamas or Biden speak, especially when it is about compromise or American spirit. I do not have to pretend to “respect the office.” I do not have to play the good little American and feign support for a president for which I did not vote.  As long as there is free speech, I do not have to keep my opinions to myself.  I do not have to agree, smile, or accede nor do I have to argue, fight, or blame. I do not have to change or sacrifice my principles. I do not have to change who I am.

 

My sense of charity, my sense of national pride, and my belief in real hope and change have all vanished for now. I will mourn the loss of America’s greatest qualities and move on. I will continue to teach my children about personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and true freedom. I will continue to be a good person, but on my terms for what I believe is right, not what someone else tells me I am supposed to believe.  I will focus only on those who are closest to me and hold on dearly to who I am. I will find a way for my family to survive the ensuing mess. Moreover, for those who voted for and support Obama, I pray that you are right and I am wrong. It is done, and now we all will reap whatever consequences YOUR choice has brought. 

Tired of the bigotry on both sides of the political spectrum

Bigotry is the state of mind of a bigot, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”. Bigotry may be based on real or perceived characteristics, including age, disability, dissension from popular opinions, economic status, ethnicity, gender identity,language, nationality, political alignment, race, region, religious or spiritual belief, sex, or sexual orientation. Bigotry is sometimes developed into an ideology or world view.

So as I sit here, skimming Twitter and the news (thereby avoiding the task of writing a research paper), I sigh and sigh. As the presidential election creeps closer, it seems the attacks grow more vicious, the rhetoric more misleading and childish, the desperation for campaign contributions more feverish. The heated vitriol among the most loyal supporters has always been there, but now it spreads through everything like a virus, infecting even those who had been more moderate and tolerant in their opinions and commentary.

I know this seems like a pretty harsh observation, but understand that I am not singling out one campaign or another, one group or another. I am pointing to both. Those of us who are in between become swept up and overwashed by the tide of vicious attacks and false accusations. Some who do not wish to receive figurative black eyes from the fervent remain silent. Some dare to express their thoughts but do so in fear of being misjudged or misunderstood. Some just do not care, seeing the entire process as futile as in their eyes nothing will ever change. Those who attempt to educate themselves about issues become exhausted after sifting through a barrage of bias. One side calls Romney a liar saying that he flip-flops, will present whatever works to get elected, and only cares about the rich. The other side says that Obama is the liar, distorting and cherry-picking facts that only support him, placing the blame on others, and keeping his real agenda hidden. If one votes for Romney, he or she must be a racist, an elitist who doesn’t care about those less-fortunate. If one votes for Obama, he or she must be a radical feminist/environmentalist, poor and uneducated, or a socialist (socialism is NOT communism by the way). No matter how a person feels, no matter which issues are important to that person, no matter what beliefs are best supported, the other campaign and its lackeys seek to break that person down (or lift them up) to earn another vote for their candidate.

So here is how it is for me…An American citizen with very real concerns and beliefs that are shaped by my personal experiences…a person who has worked hard to educate myself about my opinions and the issues that are important to me so that I can reach an informed decision: I have spent many hours researching and reading articles, blogs, documents, and information. Some of it is biased, although I try to find both sides. Some of it is boring, tedious, “want to shoot myself in the head” rhetoric in the form of laws, bills, and statistics. The point is that I have not allowed ANYONE else to do my thinking for me. I have questioned everything, and I have made up my mind. I know who I will be voting for come the time. I know why I am making the choice- why I believe and feel what I do. My choice is popular with some and unpopular with others (about 50% either way according to polls).

Now, even though I have made up my mind and am not afraid to express myself, I do not wish to persuade anyone else to feel the same way. I will argue proudly for my own beliefs, but I will not dismiss someone else’s simply because they are different. I do not view someone else’s  opinion as inferior to my own. I might wonder to myself what motivates them, but that is because I recognize and understand that we are all very different individuals with different situations, experiences, and needs. I want to understand not change them. We are all at different places in life. Even if I might disagree with another person’s choices, I do not question the integrity or ability of others to make their own decisions. I fully embrace the right that each individual has to choose to vote or not. I embrace the right that each has to choose a candidate.  AND I am sick and tired of listening to those who put down, attack, and vilify others because they think differently. I am sick of hearing about “libtards” and “republictards”, “Socialists” and “Facists.” I am sick of the finger-pointing, name-calling, and nastiness that oozes from political  commentators, media outlets, and Americans. This is not high school. We are supposed to be rational, educated adults. So the likes of Rush Limbaugh resorting to calling Sandra Fluke a slut and Lawrence O’donnell challenging Mitt Romney’s son to a fistfight are infantile and unacceptable. Sadly enough, I could go on and on about this, but my entire point is that the behavior turns my stomach and serves nobody well.

In turn, I wish to be respected for my choices. I would like to be able to say something in a conversation without someone calling me “Darwinian” or “provincial.” I would like to be able to read and listen to civil, rational conversations. I would like to be able to read something that isn’t so heavily biased it makes my head spin. I would like people to quit implying that because I feel the way I do or believe what I believe there is something wrong with me.

When the election is over and done, when a president is sworn into office, life will continue regardless of who it is. My life will go on as it always has, and I will adapt accordingly as I always have. Some things will be harder; some things will be easier. I will do whatever I must to protect myself, my family, and my beliefs with integrity because in the end that is what really matters to me. Whether we have to change our lives completely will depend on how the tide flows. As always, I will find a way; my family will find a way; we will survive a President Obama or a President Romney.

This is sad and funny at the same time.

An email from Beyonce!! And a celebrity POTUS

To date I have received 72 emails from the Obama campaign and 44 from the Romney campaign. Basically, they all want the same thing and are the same nonsense rhetoric. I haven’t even had time to read the last dozen or so. Anyways, the one I received today is absolutely the most ridiculous of them all. The pure absurdity of it, along with the hypocrisy, may very well be one of the things that help me to make a decision- and not in Obama’s favor. Sadly enough, I believe that celebrity support does have an impact on so many Americans who think it is cool to have a celebrity president…

 
 
Read for yourself as I have copied the text directly. The sender comes as “BEYONCE KNOWLES” and the subject line reads:  “I DON’T USUALLY EMAIL YOU
 
Friend —

I usually don’t email you — but I have an amazing invitation I have to share.

Jay and I will be meeting up with President Obama for an evening in NYC sometime soon. And we want you to be there!

Until midnight tonight, if you pitch in $25 or whatever you can, you’ll be automatically entered to be flown out to join us.

I’ve had the honor of meeting President Obama and the First Lady a few times — and believe me — it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Don’t worry about the airfare and hotel, it’s taken care of. And you can bring a guest.

But the countdown is on — this opportunity ends at midnight:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Meet-Me-in-New-York

Can’t wait to meet you!

Love,

Beyoncé  

Being a non-traditional student

My first college experience was over twenty years ago. I was 15 and had just finished my sophomore year of high school. Even though I had not yet graduated, I was fortunate enough to be part of a program for high school students who had been recommended by their English teachers. The class was a fiction writing course of approximately twenty students. We stayed in the dorms and attended class during the week, returning to the safety of our homes and parents on the weekend. We did have a list of policies to follow but outside of class very little supervision. The only exception was a midnight curfew in the dorm, which my roommate and I managed to violate one time within the first two weeks which resulted in almost being kicked out of the program in the first two weeks after a verbal lashing by our professor. Nevertheless, he cut us a break, and we behaved better. I finished the course earning a B and three credit hours. This was probably the closest I ever came to having a “typical” college experience.

My next venture into college life was the summer after I graduated. I had not been a stellar high school student, so part of the condition for my acceptance was taking a summer course to prove that I could handle it. This time I took a philosophy course and once again managed to pass the class with a B. However, I realized that my focus really wasn’t on academics and that it would be a struggle to prioritize. Whether it was selfishness or maturity that motivated me, I had a long discussion with my parents and decided to delay pursuing a college education until I was ready.

By the time I returned, I was no longer a traditional student. It had been nearly three years since I graduated high school, and in that time I had managed to get married and give birth to a son. It was his birth, the ups and down of a rocky marriage, and a dim future that led me to the conclusion that I would need to go back in order to be able to give him or myself any sort of meaningful life. I jumped in full time taking 5 courses. I still had not decided on a major, but I knew that it was the right time. Despite no support from my husband, I was able to take care of my 1-year-old son and be a successful student, earning A’s and B’s. For the first term, my mother would watch my son while I was in class. About halfway through the term, he had to have a major orthopedic surgery, and I completed much of my studying by his bedside while he recovered. The second term I had to put him in daycare three days a week. I spent many late nights typing out papers on an old typewriter. I wasn’t able to engage in any social activities or empathize with my fellow students. I felt very alone as I navigated the academic rigors of college, but I never thought about just how different I was. 

I had planned on returning the next semester, but my parents had moved over a thousand miles away. My marriage continued to disintegrate, and when my husband was laid off, I felt that it would be nearly impossible for us to survive or for me to continue my classes unless I had more support. We moved to Florida, and I waited for over a year to return to school. Nevertheless, I was more determined than ever to succeed, so when I did return, I jumped in full time. Now, not only was I married and a mother, but also a good 5-6 years older than my fellow students. My life experiences had forced me to mature quickly, and I didn’t have the same distractions as those who shared the classroom with me. My second full year of college was filled with 5-6 classes per term, a full time job at McDonald’s, and the emotional turmoil of a broken marriage and subsequent separation. I moved back in with my parents for help. I kept my job for two reasons: first because I had no financial support from my estranged husband and two because I wanted a real reminder of why college was so important. Every day as I would look at my 4-year-old or work the drive-thru, I was reminded that I did not want the rest of our lives to be a struggle. That was perhaps my best year in terms of grades. I earned nearly a perfect 4.0, with the exception of one horrible physical science class where I earned a B.

After completing enough coursework to earn and A. A., I transferred to a university. At that point I had decided that I wanted to become an English teacher. The transition between majors and schools created a  slight problems as I had not completed some of the coursework I would need. This required me to continue my enrollment of 5 classes per term in addition to some summer classes. Before it all began, I had taken leave from work to spend the summer with my son; I decided not to return knowing that the demands were too much. Nevertheless, with persistence and determination, and the support of my mother who cared for my son while I was in class, I was able to complete the rest of my degree in two years. During that time I sat by my son’s bedside after more surgeries and divorced my husband. Although there were a few students in the program like me, I was very much alone. I spent little time on the bustling campus and never had the time or ability to participate in any of the activities. I did not share the dating woes and gossip of many of my peers nor attended the parties. It wasn’t that I was not invited, I just had other commitments at home. Many of my peers could not understand that or step into my mindset. Although it was lonely at times, it was also good that I did not have the distractions that other college students face. I had a much more tangible goal than many of them- to be able to graduate and support myself and my son. That is probably one of the many reasons I was so successful as a college student. I earned all A’s and B’s (with the exception of one C). I completed my degree in 4 years total, and I knew what I was doing after graduation.

So here I am again, 13 years after earning a bachelor’s degree, returning to the same university in order to earn a second. It won’t take much time as I only need 8 classes, and technology has advanced so much that I will be able to complete most of the coursework online. I am a different person now. Not only do I have ambition, but I also have the real-life experience of teaching for nearly a decade. I am re-married, and my son is almost 20, pursuing his own college degree. One thing that is similar is that I have a 3-year-old at home, a little girl. My perspective has changed in so many ways from being a parent and a professional, and I will be 40 in less 17 days. I am a non-traditional student once again, but this time so are many of the students in my online classes. There are people who work jobs and raise children. One is a single mom of three kids with a 9-7 job. Another is a married father with two young children who lives hours away. The online courses are filled with non-traditional students who each have different stories. Most are trying to balance a life of family and work with the demands of school in the hope that when they finish they will be in a better place.

I don’t mind being a non-traditional student. Sometimes it can be lonely, and it is difficult to empathize with the needs and concerns of the more traditional- this makes group work a special challenge. Honestly, it is all I have known really. And I attribute a large part of my success to my circumstances in life that made me non-traditional.

Not to be left out (Romney emails #8-14)

Although they have quite a bit of catching up to do, the Romney campaign seems to be making a valiant effort in the email deluge. Here are the last 6 emails I received over 8 days.

 

August 12 #8

 K,
I am deeply honored to join Mitt Romney as his running mate — and I am thrilled to be a part of America’s Comeback Team.

 I’m looking forward to what lies ahead — especially meeting supporters like you. One lucky supporter still can win the chance to meet Mitt and me before things really heat up with the Convention.

 Enter now until Wednesday: http://www.mittromney.com/donate

America is on the wrong track — but Mitt and I will take the right steps, in the right time, to get us back on the right track! And together, we will unite America and get this done.

 Thanks for your support and your excitement — we are looking forward to meeting and celebrating with supporters like you soon.

 

Thanks,

 Paul Ryan

 

August 12 #9

 K,
Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions, and choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is a truly inspired choice. I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot.

Paul Ryan is a courageous reformer who understands our nation’s challenges, has proposed bold policy solutions to solve them, and has shown the courage to stand up to President Obama and other Washington politicians trying to tear him down.

The Romney-Ryan ticket is going to win in November because it offers the American people visionary leadership to recapture the free enterprise spirit that has empowered countless Americans to build businesses from scratch and live the American dream.

I’m excited about the visionary change a Romney-Ryan team will bring to Washington, and I look forward to campaigning with them this fall.

Donate today and send a message to President Obama and his liberal allies that we can’t afford four more years of reckless, runaway spending. 

Thank you,

Marco Rubio

 

 

August 16 #10

 K,
It’s hard to believe the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL is just 11 days away. The convention is our moment to stand united as a party, and to throw our collective support behind the Romney-Ryan ticket and the entire Republican team.

As we ramp up for Tampa, we hope you’ll ramp up your support, too — because we’re counting on you to help Mitt, Paul, and the entire Republican team win in November.

Show your support by donating $15 or more today.

Ours has been a campaign to unite every American who knows in his or her heart that we can do better. And with your help we’ll take back America.

Thanks,

Katie Packer Gage
Deputy Campaign Manager
Romney for President, Inc.

 

 

August 16 #11

 K,
Four years ago, President Obama ran on a campaign of “hope and change,” promising to be a different kind of politician. Today, however, we bear witness to a campaign based on frustration and division.

With no record to run on, President Obama and the liberal Democrats continue to practice Chicago-style politics, making false accusations that disgrace the Office of the President. President Obama and his allies have gone from implying that Governor Romney is a felon and murderer to saying that Republicans want to put Americans in chains.

Watch this recent video to see how the Obama campaign and the liberal Democrats have gone too far.
  

{{{video}}}

 It’s time for President Obama and the liberal Democrats to take responsibility for the tone and rhetoric coming from their reelection machine.

Please donate $10 or more today to bring civility back to Washington. 

Thanks,

Reince Priebus
Chairman, Republican National Committee

 

 

August 17 #12

 

K,

 It’s been a long road to the convention, and supporters like you have gotten me this far.

  That’s why I’m excited to invite you to join us in Tampa.

 

{{{PICTURE}}}

 

 Donate $3 today to be automatically entered for your chance to go behind the scenes in Tampa and to be there when I accept the nomination.

 

 It’s time to put an end to President Obama’s campaign of frustration and division by coming together as a unified party. The convention is sure to be a pivotal moment and an unforgettable experience for anyone who shares my belief that it’s time to get America back on track.

 

 I hope you’ll be there to celebrate with us.

 

 Thanks,

  Mitt Romney

  

August 18 #13

 K,

No one from the government was there when we were sweating it, when we were building this business. I’m proud of the business I’ve built, so I appreciate Mitt Romney for standing up for people like me. He knows the kind of hard work and dedication it takes to make a business successful. 

{{{PICTURE}}}

We need a president who understands business. Who understands what it means to make payroll. Who understands what it means to grow an enterprise and to be successful. I think Mitt is the candidate for the job.

 
Show pride in your accomplishments — and help Mitt and the Republican team win in November.
 
Get your built by us shirt here!

Shop the entire Built By Us Collection now!

 
Thanks,
 
Ross Murty
Co-owner, Village Corner Deli
Davenport, IA

 

 August 19 #14

  K,

The convention is just days away — and we are excited to watch Mitt accept the nomination in front of the entire party.

Would you like to be there with us for that historic moment — when the confetti and balloons drop?

{{{PICTURE}}}

Two lucky supporters will win the chance to join us at the Republican National Convention in Tampa and actually be there when Mitt becomes our party’s nominee. And we’ll even take care of the airfare and hotel.

Donate $3 today to be automatically entered for your chance to join the Republican team in Tampa. 

Don’t miss out on your chance at a front row seat to history!

Thanks,

Jeff Larson
Chief of Staff
Republican National Committee

Deluge of campaign emails (Obama #20-28)

Shame on me for neglecting my inbox. In just 7 days I have received 9 emails from the Obama campaign, most directed at fundraising. It’s the usual crap, but I am sharing them anyways.

Read More…

Wanna Fight?

I am tired of people who wish to argue or debate but cannot make the effort to support their viewpoints with unbiased evidence. They simply regurgitate information that they hear on radio and television or read on the internet and in newspapers without looking for bias and bothering to educate themselves or understand the issues further. The irony is that as we grow up, we make every effort to provide strong, well-substantiated arguments to our parents and others as to why we should be able to do certain things like drive the car. We struggle against their viewpoints so that we may develop our own. But as adults, many of us are simply willing to adopt someone else’s argument as our own rather than expend the energy- either because we don’t have it or we choose not to use it.

If you want to present a valid argument, you should be able to do two things:

1. Prove that you understand the issue AND
2. Be able to use or apply supporting points/ evidence in ways that go beyond what you read or hear.

Politicians and campaigns are very good at suppressing and manipulating information to serve their purposes. That is where the individual must be responsible for sorting through evidence to come to a fair and objective conclusion. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming and tiring to do so. Sometimes it is downright confusing. Nevertheless, the individual who does not truly understand the issues (beyond reciting information from the media) easily falls victim to logical fallacies and misdirection- a tactic widely used in campaigns. To complicate matters, individuals have a tendency to identify with a person or “team” (ie. democrat, republican), and they then take cues on their positions from someone influential in that team. Some become extremely loyal and refuse to entertain anything outside of that circle. This leads the individual to accept arguments and evidence consistent with the position without being critical and to reject opposing arguments and evidence without understanding them. Even the wisest individuals are susceptible to this.

The key is to THINK for yourself. Resist the urge to side with the “team.” Be aware of tricks. Understand and consider the evidence. Come to your own conclusion. In order to do all of this, educate yourself about the claims that anyone makes, no matter what side of the issue. Ask yourself: How much of it is biased? Is there any missing or misdirected information? Question everything and learn as much as possible before coming to a conclusion.

Image

Image from Haley’s Comic by Haley Wolfe
http://www.haleyscomic.com/2012/01/race.html

I don’t care which side of the issue you take as long as you can have an educated and passionate discussion that is devoid of insults and epithets. Be reasonable and civil. Prove to me that you can think beyond what others say. Show me that you care enough to understand and know the issues, making the argument your own rather than a recitation of someone else’s talking points. If you can do those things, you may very well bring something new to light that I hadn’t known. You may even succeed in convincing me to consider more or think differently.

War on Women, or political viewpoints, or whatever is convenient to garner the vote…

Focus on the GOP's War on Women- jobs & the economy can waitI am an American woman, and there is a war being waged against me, at least according to many liberals, feminists, and democrats. According to them I should be outraged that the GOP, and any republican or conservative for that matter, is trying to revoke my rights. So I am left wondering whether or not I should be worried. I mean, after all, are we talking about women in America being subjected to many of the horrors of women in the Middle East such as Sharia Law? Are we in danger of becoming indentured servants to our fathers and husbands, being required to have four male witnesses for rape, or being stoned to death? Now that would be a true war on women, one that I would fight wholeheartedly.

As usual, I have sought to find a more clear and accurate definition that goes beyond the slogan. According to Karen Teegarden women should, “Watch TV news coverage. Read news stories in your morning paper. The War on Women is a war on reproductive rights. The evidence is clear” (1).  Dave Helfert defines it as, “… what Democrats call an onslaught of legislation in state capitals across the country and in Congress aimed at limiting women’s health and family planning services, curtailing women’s access to contraceptives and legal abortions, even restricting women’s ability to fight employment discrimination” (2). After reading these articles as well as many others, the main conclusion that I can draw is that the “War on Women” is supposedly a war being waged by republicans in controlling women through legislation- the majority of which focuses on contraception and abortion. There are also allegations that republicans are trying to dismantle equal pay laws and stand in the way of violence against women legislation. All of these anti-women measures are surely an attempt to strip American women of their rights and freedoms- rights to access birth control, receive equal pay, and escape from domestic violence.

Wait a minute….can they do that? Is this really what is happening?  

No.

You see, part of the problem in our society, and part of the reason that these types of attacks are so successful, is that many people cannot or do not read between the lines. They hear something and latch on rather than understanding the details and issues. Nothing is ever black and white, but many like to present it as such.

More appropriate would be a title such as the War on Abortionbut you will never hear that because it changes the gameNot all women support all types of abortion.  We are not talking about going back to an age where it is illegal to use birth control or an attack on women’s health services. Is it a stripping away of women’s access to health services if republicans argue that Planned Parenthood, who does provide abortion, should not receive taxpayer dollars to fund those services? It is a grey area. One side argues that the majority of Planned Parenthood’s services are for non-abortion things such as well-woman exams and counseling, and PP does not use federal funds for abortions. The other side argues that cutting off funding from America’s largest abortion provider would stop its ability to perform abortions. In my opinion, if Planned Parenthood is such a huge advocate for women’s health services, then it could easily find a way to separate tax-payer funded services from abortion- even breaking into two different groups. Maybe they could call it Planned Parenthood and Prevented Parenthood. That would quickly resolve the issue.

ImageAnd what about contraception? I mean, it is clear that republicans and conservatives want American women to be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen, right? After all, if there is not mandated contraceptive coverage- free contraception that is– then women will not be able to avoid getting pregnant. According to Sandra Fluke, “…[women] have suffered financially and emotionally and medically because of this lack of coverage…contraception can cost a woman over $3,000…Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception….” (3). She said all of this and more in her testimony before Congress. Granted, she was specifically talking about women attending law school at Georgetown University. Yet, she never mentions the availability of free or low-cost options such as Planned Parenthood clinics and Walmart, who offers birth control prescriptions for as low as $9 per month. Maybe those options aren’t good enough for the Georgetown crowd or maybe they just don’t have access to Walmart. Even so, in the early 90’s when I was working for around $5.00 an hour as a fast food manager at McDonalds, I could afford my monthly prescriptions of birth control pills without insurance coverage or government intervention. The argument continues that it is not just about birth control but also about women who need the pills to help with medical problems such as PCOS and endometriosis. However, if you read the PPACA closely, free contraceptive coverage includes ALL US FDA approved methods and sterilization procedures: Male Condom, Female condom, Diaphragm with Spermicide, Sponge with Spermicide, Cervical Cap with Spermicide, Spermicide Alone, Oral Contraceptives (progestin-only) “The Minipill”, Combined Oral Contraceptives (Extended/Continuous Use)(estrogen and progestin) “The Pill”, Patch (estrogen and progestin), Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (estrogen and progestin), DMPA Shot/Injection (progestin), Emergency Contraceptives “The Morning After Pill”, Copper IUD, IUD with Progestin, Implantable Rod (progestin). The majority of these methods have nothing to do with medical necessity, and some are much more expensive than others. But anyone who pays taxes and insurance premiums will be footing the bill for women to have access to contraception because $9 per month is just too much of a burden to bear to avoid becoming pregnant. It is obvious that republicans, conservatives, and religious organizations are determined to strip all women of control over their reproductive rights by not supporting this legislation- isn’t it?

So the war on women’s health care access is really a war about the funding of Planned Parenthood and abortion. The war on reproductive rights is really a war on mandated coverage, or free, birth control.

What about equal pay for women?  The White House and democrats tout statistics that state women earn 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns.  However, many of the articles I have read point out that these numbers are not necessarily accurate as they are based on a broad range of data. There are indications that there is still a gap in pay, but it may not be as large as some purport. Personally, I have never encountered discriminatory pay. I admit that I often feel like I am living on a different planet because my experiences must not be typical considering the issues at hand. Nonetheless, when I was a public high school teacher, my salary was set by the county and published for all to see. My salary was based on my level of education and years of experience. It was the same for my male counterparts, and the only way we received a pay increase was through step (year of teaching), cost of living, or contract negotiation with the union. I find this ironic as some of the articles I read claimed that female teachers earned less than their male counterparts, which leads me to believe that some of the data is definitely misleading or faulty. Or maybe they were just referencing teachers in private institutions. Even though The Equal Pay Act, which clearly prohibits pay discrimination, was enacted in 1963, many claim that it is not enough to fight wage disparity between men and women. A new law has been proposed, the Paycheck Fairness Act, that will supposedly give the original act more strength. The law has not passed the Senate because of those nasty, women-hating republicans. Unfortunately, there are many hidden facets in the PFA that make it excessive and burdensome to business. For example, The EPA already prohibits discrimination, but there are some elements that could be used as loopholes in lawsuits. Supposedly, the PFA remedies this. However, it also would make it extremely difficult for businesses and HR departments to use their professional judgments to make salary offers and pay decisions. It also would make it easier for lawsuits (including class action) against employers with no limit on punitive damages (except for the federal government) and would require businesses to disclose detailed salary information to the government. As with anything, there are obvious pros and cons to the act. Nevertheless, I do not believe that it is a war on women because some republicans and conservatives do not support it. Rather than trying to find a compromise and rewrite the act so that it truly helps women and businesses, it has become a rallying cry for democrats and liberals.

So the war on women’s equality in pay is really a war about playing politics for women’s votes.

What about the Violence Against Women Act? Are republicans holding it hostage as another attack on women? The act originated in 1994 and provides assistance to victims of domestic violence. It has been renewed twice before and is up for renewal again. This should be a no-brainer, right? So why is that republicans are holding out? It is not as simple as republicans refusing to support the law. In reality, the original law has had strong support from both sides of the aisle. The real debate involves two different versions, a republican bill that the house passed and an expanded version passed by the senate. The battle is not over the basics in the original law but rather the expanded provisions in the senate version. The new items in the senate version are as follows: “One would subject non-Indian suspects of domestic violence to prosecution before tribal courts for crimes allegedly committed on reservations. Another would expand the number of temporary visas for illegal immigrant victims of domestic violence [from 10,000 to 15,000]. The last would expand Violence Against Women Act protections to gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse” (4). There are plenty of arguments for and against the new additions, which I would expect on any piece of legislation. The problem here is not that those nasty, evil, women-hating republicans want to eliminate assistance for victims of domestic violence. It is that they do not all agree with the new provisions that democrats are pushing. So, once again, instead of Congress working together to find compromises in a bill that all can agree upon, they are turning it into a bitter debate. To make matters worse, democrats are using it as another example of the republican war on women.

So the war on stopping violence against women is really a war between political parties over the fine print.

I am deeply offended by the gross rhetoric being spewed forth. The War on Women is nothing more than political propaganda geared at gaining women’s support by using misleading phrases. Women such as Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Nancy Pelosi, Sandra Fluke, Andrea Mitchell, Rachel Maddow, and others in the group of liberal women and leftist media infuriate me. They believe they can speak for ALL women. They have no idea what I want or think. Me, the suburban mom who is literate, educated, professional, and American. I don’t give two flips about free birth control, funding for Planned Parenthood, more legislation to allow the government to regulate business and encourage litigation, or adding provisions to the VAWA. What I care about is the future of this country- economically. I care about my husband and I having jobs, paying the bills, my children’s futures. I care about being able to afford the gasoline that we need to get to our jobs and school while still keeping the lights on and buying groceries. I care about the housing market and how we are so upside down in our mortgage that there is no way we will be able to sell and move for years, even though the jobs we now have require longer commutes, and more gas.  I care about personal freedom being protected and personal responsibility being endorsed. Those are the issues that are important to me, and none of them exist in the supposed War on Women.

My extensive reading list…(yes, I read all of these) 

(1) The War on Women: Why We’re Fighting
(2) From the Frontlines of the War on Women
(3) Transcript of testimony by Sandra Fluke
(4) Senate Votes to Reauthorize Domestic Violence Act

Bloomberg’s War on Women

No bottlesHe’s done it again. New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has made the headlines for his extreme measures to control the behavior and limit the choices of his constituents through nanny-state policies and programs. While some could argue that the salt and trans fats bans have a direct impact on consumer health and there are many potential benefits, the latest measures reek of pure idiocy. I wrote previously on how ridiculous I felt the soda ban was. Another absurd ban is the donation of foods to homeless shelters because the Department of Homeless Services cannot measure the nutritional content of donated food- or in other words, it may contain too much salt. Now it seems that the brazen Bloomberg is reaching even further into the private lives of individuals. It is a true war on women (unlike the war fabricated by proponents of the PPACA that included free birth control).

The program to “encourage” new mothers to breastfeed is set to begin in September and affects New York hospitals.   It begins with “ ‘the city keep[ing] tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use’ ” (3). Then it outlines that new mothers who want formula for their babies must wait for a nurse sign out the formula like a medication. Not only must mom ask and wait, but she must then sit through a lecture about how breastfeeding is the better option each time she receives a bottle. I am sure this “mandated talk” will be generic and scripted by someone beforehand.  Most likely, it will be the same information that she has encountered throughout her maternity care and in advertising. But it does not stop there. To make this measure even more sinister, the hospital staff must document a medical reason for providing the formula. Granted,  “The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene…is strongly encouraging — though not yet requiring —” this new program (3). My question is how long it will be before it becomes mandatory, and what if any provisions are set for those who have exetenuating circumstances.

There are several reasons I question Bloomberg’s motivation and reasoning. First of all, breastfeeding statistics for New York City mothers would indicate that the majority do breastfeed initially. According to an article by Lauren Swanson from a Kansas news station,”Ninety percent of new moms in New York breast feed exclusively at first, but only 31 percent keep it up past the first 2 months” (7). Therefore, one has to wonder if 90% of new moms breastfeed, then why is there such a push to restrict formula in the hospitals. Another question to consider is why the percentage drops so significantly after 2 months. Is there any evidence that clearly demonstrates how this initiative addresses the second statistic? It would seem an illogical conclusion to assert that restricting access to formula in hospitals during the first days of life will greatly affect the outcome of the number of mothers who breastfeed 2 months later. (It is recommended that mothers breastfeed for at least the first 6 months of life.)

Besides the outward appearance of an effort to promote and encourage breastfeeding, I also believe there is a hidden motivation. According to Micheal Tennant from The New American, “A near ban on infant formula is, it seems, the ultimate objective of the United Nations. Its World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a program called the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in 1991 with the express purpose of getting governments the world over to promote heavily, if not mandate, ‘exclusive breastfeeding from birth for 6 months, and continued breastfeeding with timely and appropriate complementary feeding for two years or longer’ ” (3). I skimmed through the BFHI (4) and found that the initiative by Bloomberg does indeed fall into some of the guidelines set forth in this document. I can only concur with Tennant’s statement that “Bloomberg’s program — which, according to the Huffington Post, is “sponsored by” the WHO — represents just the tip of the iceberg” (3).

Proponents of the program argue that it will foster breastfeeding. According to Lisa Paladino of Staten Island University Hospital: “The key to getting more moms to breastfeed is making the formula less accessible. This way, the RN has to sign out the formula like any other medication. The nurse’s aide can’t just go grab another bottle” (1). The National Alliance for Breast-feeding Advocacy also claims that it is a good program because,”… keeping baby formula under lock and key, like medicines are kept, helps prevent hospital staffers from reaching for a bottle first, instead of encouraging new mothers to nurse their babies”(5). Both statements imply that there is laziness on the part of medical staff, perhaps even some measure to discourage breastfeeding. In May, when he introduced Latch On NYC, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said, “Human breast milk is best for babies and mothers…With this initiative the New York City health community is joining together to support mothers who choose to breastfeed” (2). His statement would indicate that there is not currently a support system for mothers. On the other hand, a commentator in a CNN video states that, “Just want to make it a little more difficult and put an extra step…you want to have the mom think about the choice” (8). This statement would imply that new mothers are not aware of their options and have not thoroughly considered their choice. All of these statements imply that hospital staffers and mothers lack the proper knowledge to make a decision about whether or not to breastfeed; they lack the support of the community; and they are simply too lazy to commit to breastfeeding. That is an oversimplification at its worst and highly insulting to all of the mothers who make conscious, educated decisions and the professionals who provide supportive, compassionate care. As Tennant states,  “A mother’s choice not to breastfeed, on the other hand, will not be supported” (3).

Being a mother of two, I can draw from personal experience to see how invasive this initiative is. I know what it is like to feel pressured and judged. I know the overwhelming guilt and worry a mother faces when she has to make decisions that may not be the popular choice. Not only have I experienced these things, but I have experienced them at two very different periods in my life in two very different sets of circumstances.

I was only 20 when I had my son. Although I was young, I was excited and fully embraced the responsibilities of motherhood. Throughout my pregnancy I read voraciously on the topics of pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care. I asked my doctors plenty of questions, referred to advice from loved ones, and gathered books and pamphlets educating myself as much as possible. This was in 1993, so I did not have the Internet for reference, but there was a wealth of information available to me regardless. At the time, breastfeeding was strongly encouraged, and I fully intended to start that way. Unfortunately, other factors came into play, and I was only able to nurse my son for 3 weeks before I switched solely to formula. Now many would argue that I faced tremendous circumstances, and that this initiative is not geared for women in that position.  I hesitate to relate my experience knowing that. Nevertheless, they are so many factors that I think too many people do not understand, any one of which is important and not taken into consideration by a majority of those who advocate blindly for such policies.

First of all, my son was breech; therefore, I had to undergo a c-section. That in and of itself is no easy task as any mother who has had one will testify. It is painful and can have many lasting effects, some of which may make breastfeeding uncomfortable and difficult. To add to it, my son was born with myelomeningocele, a form of spina bifida. The nerves on his lower spine were completely exposed, which required surgery within a few hours of birth. Therefore, not only was I not able to hold him, I did not even get to see him except for a brief moment to touch his foot. With, and because of, the support of hospital staff, I did use a pump while I waited for word on the outcome of the surgery. When I was finally able to breastfeed him, it was in the NICU. Once again, I had the full encouragement and support of the nurses and staff. Unfortunately, my son had difficulty latching on and was not gaining enough weight. I had to supplement with formula for my son’s survival and well-being. It was especially crucial because he then developed hydrocephalus and had to undergo another surgery when he was 1 week old. It was crucial that he weigh enough to survive the surgery. The entire two weeks that my son was in the NICU the staff provided me with plenty of support, privacy, and encouragement in breastfeeding and caring for my son. What made it even easier for me to be independent and bond with him was that I had the ability to feed him on my own. Yes, I was able to nurse him, but I was also able to access formula myself so that I could make his supplemental bottles. It was one of the few things that gave me comfort during that difficult period. I did not have to listen to speeches about how I should try harder or focus on breastfeeding. I did not have to rely on a nurse to bring me formula. I did not have to feel embarrassed or pressured. Despite a rough start and often having to rely on a pump, I did continue to breastfeed my son when I brought him home. Nevertheless, it was extremely difficult and stressful as we could not ease into a feeding schedule, and he teetered between maintaining and losing weight. The third week of his young was filled with hours spent traveling and waiting because every day we had to visit different doctors: a pediatrician, the neurologist, the orthopedic specialist, etc. At the end of that week, knowing that many more months would continue in the same way, I decided to stop breastfeeding. I knew all of the benefits of continuing, but I had to weigh my own personal feelings and the stresses we were to endure. I felt an immense amount of guilt and pressure to continue, but I was mentally and physically exhausted. I just could not do it.

I will grant the fact that the majority of women do not experience what I did with my son. One might argue that there were extenuating circumstances well beyond my control, which is true. But that does not diminish the immense pressure I felt to breastfeed him, or the immense guilt I grappled with when I quit. That is part of the reason why when I became pregnant with my daughter 15 years later I was determined to breastfeed her for as long as I could. Fortunately, everything progressed “normally,” and I was able to deliver her naturally. She was a healthy baby, and I was able to see and hold her immediately.  Once again, the hospital staff were very supportive of my choice to breastfeed. My husband and I attended a class for new parents, and we read literature and followed advice. It took her a couple days to latch on fully, but we did not despair and continued trying. The first month she was not gaining weight as she should, and the pediatrician recommended that we consider supplementing. I thought about this for quite a while, but when I admitted that she was still hungry after nursing I conceded that we needed to do the right and best thing for her. So we began to supplement her feedings with formula. I always breastfed her first and then allowed her to feed from the bottle afterwards. She took to both and began thriving. It was when she was around three months old that I noticed she needed more and more formula. Once again, I felt an overwhelming amount of worry and guilt. Had I made the wrong decision to supplement? In doing so, had I made her more reliant on formula? Was she beginning to reject breastfeeding for the bottle? In a relatively short time I had my answer. The reason had nothing to do with any of those factors. It had to do with me. I had become hypothyroid, and quite simply, my body stopped producing breast milk. By the time I was diagnosed and began taking medication, it was too late.

The sad part about all of this is that it puts an extreme amount of unnecessary and unfair pressure on women who have educated themselves about the options and made a clear choice.  Many people arguing in favor of the initiative cite reasons why breastfeeding is the best choice (clearly not what should be the focus here) and throw out false and ridiculous generalizations about mothers who choose not to breastfeed such as they are not educated enough, formula manufacturers sway them with swag and advertising, or that they are being coerced into using formula. Also the assertions that nurses are too lazy to support breastfeeding mothers and circumvent the process by offering babies bottles instead is pure fabrication.

It astonishes and baffles me how many stood up and claimed it was a war on a woman’s right to choose when anyone objected to provisions for free birth control and the mandate on Catholic institutions to provide it set forth in the PPACA , yet they do not argue that this is an infringement on a woman’s choice. It seems that it is acceptable when Bloomberg and other organizations attempt to coerce individuals by limiting access and adding undue pressure. It also leads to judgment against mothers who choose to bottle-feed their babies at a time when all mothers should be encouraged and empowered to decide for themselves what works best for them. (If you don’t believe that there is judgment and pressure out there against mothers who choose not to breastfeed, read Stephanie Wilder-Taylor’s blog entry In Defense of Formula. Be sure to read all of the comments at the end as well.)

On a final note, I think every American should be concerned with this new trend by Bloomberg and the nanny-state. How many other officials will follow (or at least attempt to) in Bloomberg’s footsteps? Will it stop with this initiative or is this just the beginning? Will mothers in the future who are unable or choose not to breastfeed be required to use surrogate breast milk? Will they be required to hire a wet nurse? After all, why should one stop short of restricting access to formula? Why not just outlaw it altogether? Maybe I exaggerate, but who can predict the limits of tyranny?

References

(1) Bloomy’s bottle boner: An Rx for distraught moms
(2) Bloomberg’s Breastfeeding Program, ‘Latch On NYC,’ Wants Hospitals To Change Baby Formula Protocol
(3) After Soda, Bloomberg Sets His Sights on Baby Formula
(4) BABY-FRIENDLY HOSPITAL INITIATIVE: Revised, Updated and Expanded  for Integrated Care
(UNICEF / WHO publication)
(5) Mayor Bloomberg’s infant formula plan aimed at promoting breast-feeding in NYC hospitals
(6) Mayor Bloomberg’s breast-feeding initiative urges hospitals to lock up baby formula
(7) Bloomberg promotes breastfeeding, targets formula
(8) NYC mayor pushes baby formula crackdown
NYC Hospitals’ Baby Formula Plan Rankles Mommy Bloggers
A Woman’s Right to Choose (Not to Breastfeed)
In Defense of Formula.
Mayor Bloomberg: Breastfeed or Else

travtrav33

ENC4262 Blog

Diarmuid's Blog

Likes explosions and dinosaurs... in that order

Careers, Politics, Sports, Hobbies, and the Psychology of My Life

A blog that is mostly about me figuring out what I want to do in this life

digiphile

We're already living in the future. It's just not evenly distrbuted yet.

NewsFeed

Breaking news and updates from Time.com. News pictures, video, Twitter trends.

Live, Nerd, Repeat

Making life better through the perfect application of humor and nerdery