Sunday, January 4, 2015

In defense of Palin (no really)

So it's no secret that I'm not a fan of Sarah Palin. I find her politics odious. She's divisive, spiteful, bitter, and a raging hypocrite of fairly epic proportions. Yes, I have addressed several WTF Palin moments on this blog. (There's just so many to choose from! She's like the gift that keeps on giving to a political blogger.)

That being said, even I have my limits of Palin-bashing.

For one, I don't condone the rampant, often disgusting levels of sexism hurled her way (or any female's way). I don't care what side of the political aisle you're on, some boundaries just don't get crossed.

And for two, I don't agree with bashing just for the sake of bashing. Palin gives us plenty of political fodder. There's no reason to go digging for any ol' thing to make an anti-Palin stink about. It's petty. It's low. And it ruins your best argument that that's what the other guys are doing.

Yes, I'm talking about dog-stepping-gate.

A few days ago, Sarah Palin posted a blurb on her Facebook page extolling the "blessing", if you will, that her readers' stumbling blocks be turned to stepping stones in 2015.

While it's easy to assume she didn't wish these blessings on everyone, just those with whom she is politically and religiously aligned, it was a nice message nonetheless. It seems like 2014 was a rough year for a lot of people, so the idea that those obstacles will become opportunities in the coming year is a nice thought.

Palin also included a few photos and an anecdote of her youngest son, Trig, turning his own stumbling blocks to stepping stones. He wanted to help with the dishes. He couldn't reach the sink. So he found his own solution, by way of using his service dog as a step-stool.

In all honesty, I found it sweet.

Trig has Downs Syndrome, which means he has been, and will continue to be, faced with countless challenges with which he will struggle. Challenges most kids don't even have to consider. The ability to figure some of them out on his own is heartwarming. He's a cute, innocent kid, regardless of who his mom is or what you think of her.

Of course, this seemingly benign Facebook post immediately resulted in the usual Palin backlash.

Most of the time, the backlash is pretty warranted (and in all honesty, I think Palin stokes those fires on purpose).

But in this case? Seriously overblown.

What little kid hasn't used their family dog as a pillow, step-stool, crash pad, or noble steed? It's practically a right of passage for kids, and it was always the mark of a good dog to be able to patiently take the "abuse" their little humans could throw their way.

But it's not actual animal abuse. It's not neglect.

Trig was not beating, starving, humiliating, or harming that dog. He's a little kid with special needs. He simply wanted to be involved in what was happening in the kitchen, and as a trained service dog, Jill let him.

Look at the pictures again. Her head is up, her ears are perked, and she's panting. All signs of a happy dog, not a hurt dog.

Sarah Palin may be many things, but even this uber-liberal hippie democrat can see that she's not abusing her pets.

So let it go, people. It's not worth it. Politically and personally, it's nothing more than a petty witch-hunt. If you care so much about abused and neglected animals, volunteer at your local animal shelter, donate to the ASPCA, or adopt a shelter pet.

But snarling over a non-issue simply because it's Palin-related? Well that's just immature partisan bullshit.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

#BlackLivesMatter

So I had planned on taking a few days to process before trying to discuss the outcome of the Missouri grand jury decision regarding the shooting death of Mike Brown. You know, when Darren Wilson, a white cop, got off scot free for fatally shooting an unarmed black teen.

Actually, check that, he didn't get off scot free.

He became a millionaire because of it, being paid $500,000 for each interview he gave. Then he quit his job.

So dude actually benefited from killing an unarmed civilian.

Words can't even describe the utter repugnance of that situation, so I wanted to take some time to gather my thoughts, in order to do justice in discussing the complexities of racial relations, police brutality, and the militarization of police in modern-day America.

But then the grand jury in New York announced their decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the strangulation death of Eric Garner.

And to be honest, this sort of injustice would seem like the perfect fodder for a political blogger such as myself. You could reasonably expect paragraph after paragraph of seething commentary for either of these cases, let alone for the two grand jury decisions coming back to back.

But I can't do that. I can't bring myself to write about it in that manner.

The decision regarding the Eric Garner case is arguably more awful, because there are none of the complexities of the Mike Brown case; there are no conflicting eyewitness statements or autopsy reports, and the entire situation was caught on tape. Eric Garner was not acting aggressively. He was not armed. He had not committed any crimes. And he begged to be let go, saying 11 times that he could not breathe. Yet Pantaleo refused to release his grip. The coroner ruled it a homicide. There was absolutely no grey area in the evidence whatsoever.

Yet, somehow, all of that is insufficient to indict?!?

What the hell is going on in this country?

I could sit here and discuss the realities of white privilege, that there are essentially two Americas- one for whites and one for anyone of color. I could expound on why we are still dealing with race issues in the 21st century. I could argue for change; for accountability, demilitarization, and de-escalation on behalf of police officers; for an honest discussion of the racial divide that is very real and experienced daily by countless people all over this country.

But I'm not going to.

Because it's all been said before, and will continue to be discussed by those far more knowledgable than myself for the foreseeable future.

I admit that I have never experienced the kind of harassment, fear, and hatred that others have. I'm white, and in this country, that equals a vastly different experience. I don't get followed and profiled while shopping. I don't get pulled over for no reason. And I don't have to be afraid of calling the police for help, only to have them turn on me instead. These are not experiences I can truly relate to, so I'm not going to wax poetic on it. It's not about me. It's not about this blog. It's about the innumerable instances of racial injustice and the inherent danger associated with them. It's about the fact that it's the 21st century, and we're still grappling with this crap. It's about the fact that my daughter and her best friend (who is black) will have very different experiences growing up, strictly because of the color of their skin.

And that truly breaks my heart. It sickens me. Because it's not right.

#AllLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter

#EnoughIsEnough

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Be full of thanks


May you have a wonderful Day of Thanks! And may there always be pie...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dear EOG, go frack yourselves...

While it would have been a prime blogging opportunity for me to address President Obama's immigration speech earlier this week (and a few readers have expressed surprise that I didn't), I had my own personal drams going on here. 

Awhile ago, I discussed how EOG (Enron Oil and Gas) had purchased the lot across from our property, and how we had attended a meeting put on by the Powder River Basin Resource Council to learn more about what that meant.

A lot of time has gone by since then, and nothing happened. Drilling rigs popped up several miles south and east of us, but the land directly across from us remained empty. This summer, real estate signs were put up on each of the lots (the one directly across from us and the one kitty corner to us), so we thought maybe EOG hadn't found oil deposits there and had moved on.

NEEEEWWWP!!!!!

Our HOA held a suspiciously low-key meeting earlier this week (a meeting which most residents didn't even know had happened until after the fact) during which EOG representatives laid out their plans for our neighborhood.

In short, they will be installing 18, yes 18, pump-jacks (you know those see-saw looking things?) in our complex.


Upon hearing this, Hubs immediately went to speak with our HOA president, who gave him a map of the proposed drilling/pump-jack sites.

And lo-and-behold, where do you think they're going?

Yep.

Directly across from us.

9 on one lot, 9 on the other.

Needless to say, we are... less than pleased. Actually, we're livid. 

Yes, I understand that drilling is a booming business here in Wyoming. I get that. And I get that the government has little-to-no protections in place for residents, because they're making so much money from Big Oil that they're willing to look the other way while we get screwed over.

That all pisses me off, but I get it. 

What really gets me riled up though? The fact that we blatantly asked, before buying this house, whether or not there would be drilling out here. And you know what we were told? That there would be no drilling here for at least 10-15 years.

Yes. Years.

Turns out, it was more like 10-15 months.

And I've gotten to the point where I'm willing to name and shame the women to lied to us, because she lied to every single resident in this complex.

Meet Bev Estes-Leavitt:


She is a Coldwell Banker agent who assured everyone who bought a home recently in this complex that we were safe from any nearby drilling or fracking.

But the real kicker? She's in bed with the oil companies. Yep. She has a side deal with Paul Ludlow, the owner of the mineral rights out here, in which not only does she make her commission as a real estate agent, but he pays her a kickback of the mineral lease royalties paid by the oil companies that Ludlow has ushered in. 

Chick is making bank coming and going. 

She knew waaaaaayyy in advance where the drilling was intended to be. But she lied to ensure she'd keep getting big fat paychecks. She's so slimy it makes my skin crawl.

Suffice it to say, Bev is not my most favorite person in the world. In fact, I saw her at the store a couple weeks ago (even before I learned about this latest EOG garbage) and I had the urge to "accidentally" ram my cart into hers. I didn't though, because I'm a lady. Now though? I'm not so sure that I wouldn't at least approach her and give her an earful.

I don't know how she sleeps at night, knowing she has screwed over so many people; knowing she has put the health and safety of countless families at risk, all to make a buck. She's despicable, unethical, and I despise her.

But despising her isn't going to rectify the situation we now find ourselves in. Drilling for the new pipelines is apparently set to begin around the first of the year, which means we have a little over a month to figure out what we can do (if anything).

We have a call in to a real estate agent that our neighbor recommended, and we will be meeting with her in the next few days to discuss the probability of selling our house in the next month or two for enough of a profit to put a down payment on something closer to town (where they can't drill). Besides that, our other two options are to sell the house for whatever we can and just rent a house for awhile (since we don't plan on sticking in Cheyenne long-term anyway), or just dealing with the situation.

I'm not a fan of the second option, but I vehemently dislike the last option. It takes four months to drill the line for each pump-jack, and they don't drill them simultaneously. That means we're facing a good two years of flood lights, traffic, and 24-hour activity a football field's length away from us. And then once that's done, we'll have 18 pump-jacks out of our living room window.

I'm not an expert, but I'd venture that selling our house during the drilling process would be near-impossible, and I'm not sure what the proximity to the pumps will do to our property value or appeal once the active drilling is complete.

I don't know what we're going to do. I don't know what our options are. I don't know if I'm freaking out for no reason, or if this really is the catastrophe it feels like. But I have had this sickening feeling in my stomach since Thursday.

Take it away for me boys:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Midterm fallout: No, the end is not nigh

I know, I know. Democrats lost control of the Senate last night. As predicted by... you know, everyone.

Some people are all gloaty about it, like the Sarah Palin crowd, because this means that Ted Cruz and his special band of Looney Toons Tea Partiers have control.

Others are predicting doom and gloom, again, because the Ted Cruz Traveling Crazy Circus are in power, and lord only knows what kind of insane crap they'll try to pull.

But here's the thing, Dems.

It's not worth getting our panties in a bunch over.

Why?

Because while it may be somewhat upsetting and disturbing that our fellow Americans elected to send a bag of crazy to D.C., this will actually work in our favor.

The only reason the GOP swept in is because we are in the sixth year of Obama's presidency, and it is completely and predictably normal for the electorate to turn on the incumbent administration. It happens all the time.

But guess what?

The next presidential election is two years away. That means in the next two years, we get to watch the GOP/TPers be the insane, greedy liars that they are. We get to watch them fail to fix all the things they blame Obama for (but is actually Bush II's legacy). We get to watch them break all the things that Obama actually fixed but that no one wants to give him credit for. We get to watch as our friends and neighbors who voted them in have that realization of "oh my god what did I do?". And we then get to watch as the Democratic nominee for president swoops in, a la Obama 2008, because the electorate will have wised up and realized that "Oh yeah, it's the GOP/TP agenda that failed us!"

Because people's collective political memories are short, and they forget who it was that screwed them over in the first place. They get caught up in the campaign brouhaha and the talking point rhetoric, and forget the actual facts.

So don't worry, my fellow libs. The Tide Of Crazy will be short-lived.

And no, I don't think they will repeal Obamacare (or arrest people for implementing it... ahem, Joni Ernst). And no, I don't think they'll impeach Obama. And no, I don't think they'll go through with a lot of the crazy ass things they said they would, because it is not politically sound.

And if they do? That's a win for us!

Friday, October 24, 2014

MPHS Shooting: Too close for comfort

There was another school shooting today.

And this time, it hit home.

No, literally.

The shooting was at my old high school.


You know, I've covered numerous shootings here on PolitiGirl. I've always been open with how much they've affected me; how much my heart breaks for the families affected by these tragedies; how angry I am that nothing has yet to be done regarding gun legislation.

But this time was different.

This time, when the news reports said the shooting started in the cafeteria, I knew exactly where that was. I could picture it perfectly. Hell, I could still smell the cafeteria food. I ate there almost every day for three years. I attended dances and DECA meetings there.

Mural in the quad, near site of shooting

Then, when the news reports updated to say that police were sweeping the campus, using tape to mark the doors of rooms they'd cleared, I knew exactly why they were doing that. Because MPHS is an outdoor campus. It's a series of separate buildings connected by breezeways. Every classroom opens outside. There are few interior hallways. So police would have to be circling numerous individual buildings as they searched.

Cafeteria- top left building just below service road

Complicating things further was the fact that my brother attends Marysville-Pilchuck. 

For ten minutes, I experienced the heart-seizing panic of waiting to hear from a loved one. For countless others, in this and every other shooting, that wait is significantly longer. And for too many, that wait only ends in utter despair.

When will we no longer have to fear sending our children to school? When will our political leaders stop kowtowing to the heartless special interests of the NRA and finally take the appropriate action?

Because when news headlines read "Another School Shooting", that's a grotesque sign that such violent tragedy has become all too common.

I'll admit, my time at MPHS wasn't great. It was overcrowded, underfunded, and an all-too-clearly understood fact that having that school on your transcript hurt, more than helped, your chances at a college admission. Having cops on campus wasn't unheard of, but it was usually for a drug bust, a fight, or the rumor of a knife on campus. It was the wake of Columbine, so nothing was taken lightly. This, of course, didn't help the school's reputation.

In the years since, the school board has taken drastic measures to turn things around; to address the bad academic reputation, the lack of resources, the political red tape that hindered quality education. Many wonder if it's enough.

Marysville itself has struggled over the past several years. The housing crash and subsequent economic collapse hit the area hard, but it was iffy even before that. It was well-understood by my graduating class that if you wanted to do anything with your life, you had to get out of M-Town and not look back. 

13 years later, I wonder if that hopelessness still prevails? In the wake of this tragedy, one has to question what would lead a 14-year-old Freshman Homecoming King, a kid who seemed to have it all going for him, to shoot his friends in the backs of their heads as they sat in the cafeteria?

Parents, hug your kids tonight. Talk to them. Be involved in their worlds. Let them know they are loved, cared for, and valuable.

And if you insist on having guns in your home, for god's sake, lock them up.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Let that rainbow flag fly, cowboy!


Yesterday, my current home state of Wyoming became the 32nd state to legalize gay marriage!

Whoohoo!!!

The 'Equality State' can finally go back to living up to its name. At least, more so.

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl ruled that Wyoming's ban against gay marriage was unconstitutional (duh) and therefore unenforceable. Skavdahl stayed his ruling for a week in order to give the state time to appeal, assuming it would follow Idaho's lead.

However, Governor Matt Mead announced he would not fight the judge's decision (and won a bit more of my respect in the process). Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael issued a statement acknowledging that further litigation would only delay, but not ultimately change, the legal precedent supporting gay marriage.

Finally! Common sense amongst Republicans!

Maybe I can get on board with Wyo after all.