An Open Letter to Those Asking After the Election “How Did This Happen”?

Dear Friend,

We all knew this day would come.  The day after the 2016 US Presidential Elections.  We knew there would be one group of people greeting this day either in excited jubilation, or, at the very least, a sigh of relief.  We knew there would be another group of people who would face this day in disappointment or even dread.  There is a third group, those who couldn’t care less, but since they are indifferent, it is unlikely they would even read what I have to say.  This letter isn’t for them.  It’s not even for the celebratory group.  It’s for you who are scratching your heads in stunned disillusionment wondering how in the world America ever came to this.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see many of my FB friends from Europe and Oceania expressing their stunned disbelief at the election results.  Just yesterday, I was reading a Time magazine article that said, of the world’s nations, only Russia and China were supportive of the idea of a Trump presidency.  The article, a compilation of submissions from Time’s correspondents around the globe, was refreshingly candid about why different groups felt the way they did – and the reason was almost always cultural.  The Russians and Chinese, accustomed to authoritarian leadership, respected Trump’s “take charge” attitude.  Europeans, who lean toward socialist democracy, identified with Clinton’s left-leaning politics, although there were pockets of Trump supporters among the far right European groups:  the National Front in France, the Independence Party in the U.K., and the Dutch Party for Freedom.  The one region with a marked divide in support was, not surprisingly, the Middle East, although the divide was different than you might think.  While Jewish Israelis and Arabs throughout the region were strong on their support of Clinton, Israelis with dual American citizenship gave Trump a slight edge because of his open support of Israel and his endorsement of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Time, Nov. 8, 2016)

To be honest, I didn’t see Donald Trump having a snowball’s chance in perdition of victory, not even during the day yesterday.  As the numbers came in, I could not allow myself to indulge in more than cautious optimism.  But for weeks now, I haven’t been able to get 1980 out of my head.  There were just too many parallels.  We had an ineffective liberal president in the Oval Office who only paid lip service to his favored special interest groups and ignored the rest of America.  We had a long-shot non-politician as the Republican candidate being lambasted as a loose cannon who would start World War III the instant he got his finger on the nuclear button.  For the first time in ages, there was a vocal movement to vote third party.  And until just before the election, the polls were showing a significant projected margin of victory for the Democrat.  Even Iran’s feeble attempt to threaten American voters is a parallel – over the U.S. Embassy hostages in 1980, and over the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal in this election.  If you are too young or were too uninterested at the time to have followed the 1980 election, I highly recommend you read up on it.  You’ll be amazed at how similar it sounds to the last 18 months or so.

There is one other parallel to 1980 that I have only alluded to so far.  I did that on purpose because, dear reader, it answers your question.   You want to know how Donald Trump got elected?  It happened because, just like in 1980, the Democrats attempted to disenfranchise what one of the election night commentators (I forget which; I bounced around so many different news outlets last night) called “John and Mary Q. Public.”   These are people who usually either don’t vote at all, or don’t normally vote as a bloc.   Despite what the media has been trying to tell you (remember, on August 28 of this year, CNN’s Chris Cuomo openly admitted “We couldn’t help [Hillary Clinton] any more than we have.”) (Morefield, 2016), John and Mary Q. Public transcend race and socio-economic status.  They are the nameless, faceless Americans who just want to make it through the day and from paycheck to paycheck.  Under normal circumstances, they don’t care about politics or politicians and only want to be left alone to live out their lives as they see fit.  They are what Richard Nixon called “the silent majority,” and usually they are just that – silent.

Only one thing awakens this sleeping giant and gets them to the polls – anger.  And the usual source of that anger is the feeling (regardless of whether or not it’s justified) that they’re being denigrated by one party or the other.  This year, I have had the privilege of having frank discussions with voters of all races, tax brackets, ages, and education levels.  If there is one thing people particularly resent, it’s being told that “Because you’re an X, you must support Y.”  Even today, my stomach was churning at being told that “college-educated women supported Clinton.”  (Full disclosure: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and am currently working on my Master’s Degree in Public Administration.)  Uh, I didn’t support Clinton. Nor did many other college-educated women I know.  And among us, not a single one appreciated it being assumed that we did.  But I digress.

Back to John and Mary Q. Public.  Over the past 8 years, they’ve seem their lives become more difficult.  One, or perhaps both of them, either lost their job between 2008 and 2010, or had their hours/pay reduced.  Then came the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.  Where they once had adequate health care partially subsidized by their employer, the ACA took that away because to continue to offer health care coverage to their employees would bankrupt the company.  Or perhaps they had private insurance coverage that, again, while not ideal, was manageable.  Or they decided that, for whatever reason, they couldn’t or wouldn’t purchase health care coverage and take the risk that they wouldn’t need it.  It was their freedom to choose, and the ACA took it away.  To add insult to injury, the ACA put the universally-despised Internal Revenue Service in charge of verifying that all Americans have health care coverage, lest they pay penalties when they submit their required annual tax returns.  When it became clear that Americans were opting to pay the fines because it was more affordable than the premiums on the Obamacare plans, the government increased the fines.  On October 24, less than three weeks before yesterday’s election, it was announced that premiums for ACA healthcare plans would soar another 22% on average, compared to an average 7% increase the year before.  Let me say that again:  a 22% increase on average.  In Arizona (a state whose election results are still unconfirmed as of this writing), the average premium for next year will increase by a whopping 116%.  (Luhbi, 2016) And so many underwriters of Obamacare plans have opted out of the program rather than go bankrupt that many Americans only have one choice of healthcare plan.  Where’s the freedom in that?  Where’s the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”?  When people can’t support their families because they’re forced at legislative gunpoint to feed a bloated governmental Jabba the Hutt, they’re going to take action, especially if the party in power adds fuel to the fire by providing free health care to favored special interest groups but not to them.  This isn’t a race thing or an immigration thing or an anything “thing.”  It’s simple human nature to want to provide basic needs for your family.  When your government tells you that others can get special treatment but you can’t just because you don’t have a coalition or a lobby or a non-governmental agency presenting you as a victim, you’re going to be upset and justifiably so.

Please understand that I’m not talking about the truly needy:  the destitute, those who cannot provide for themselves because of physical or mental impairment or the very young and very old without families who can provide support.  John and Mary Q Public understand that.  Despite what you may have read during this election cycle, they’re not stupid.  But they are fed up.  They’re fed up with members of special interest groups being provided food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare all for free while veterans and those receiving Social Security get shafted.  They’re tired of being told that they can’t display the American flag in their own country because it “might offend someone.”  They look back to a time (that many remember, or at least heard about first-hand) when 18- and 19-year-olds took up arms, fought and sometimes died for the sake of freedom in places like Normandy, Sicily, North Africa, Italy, Germany, seas and islands throughout the South Pacific, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.   Then they see 18- and 19-year-olds at home clamoring for “safe spaces” because someone scrawled a candidate’s name in chalk on a college sidewalk. (Seriously, is this current generation of young adults so collectively sheltered and spoiled that none of them realized all you needed to make that scrawl go away forever was the contents of their ever-present water bottle?)

I’ve left out several things on purpose:  the allegations of racism, of misogyny, of inappropriate language caught on a hot mike, of lawbreaking (or, at least, egregiously bending) and of sexual scandal.  Despite what many would have you believe, there’s enough to go around on both sides.  Neither candidate was squeaky-clean.  Not everything said about either candidate was true, nor was everything said about either candidate false.  And dang it, if there’s one thing I’m sick of, it’s the inevitable litany of accusers who are silent as the grave on some wealthy public figure for decades until lo and behold, this figure is leading in the polls and gaining momentum among the undecided public.  Then, as soon as support dries up and goes away, so do the accusers.  This has happened for at least the last three elections (probably for longer) and enough is enough.  I don’t believe in coincidences and this pattern has happened far too consistently for me to give the benefit of the doubt.  I’ve also decided not to mention single-issue voters – those who choose a candidate solely based on their stance on religious freedom, abortion, immigration, foreign policy, the Supreme Court, what they look like, etc.  These are people whose vote was decided long ago and are not germane to this discussion.

Finally, what John and Mary Q. Public were thinking was this.  On one side, we have four more years of what’s been going on the last eight.  President Obama said that a vote for Clinton was an endorsement and continuation of Obama’s legacy.  Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and all the other candidates offered themselves as alternatives.  Even though Bernie Sanders gave Clinton and Ted Cruz gave Trump their endorsements, many of their supporters could not stomach voting for the person whom they saw as denying their candidate a “fair chance” at the nomination.  Like John Anderson did in 1980, the third party vote wound up tilting the Electoral College vote for the Republicans.  In the last Presidential Debate of the 1980 cycle, Ronald Reagan famously advised voters to ask themselves “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”  In 1992, Bill Clinton’s campaign team famously paraphrased Reagan’s question into a statement:  “It’s the economy, stupid.”  How ironic that in 2016, Hillary Clinton’s anticipated coronation was halted by the same sentiment.  John and Mary Q. Public decided that no, they are not better off now than they were eight years ago (whether it was because of the economy or any other reason that mattered to them).

So to my friends both here in America and overseas who are disappointed and dismayed at the outcome of the election, believe me when I say that I’ve been in your place.  I was there in 1992, in 1996, in 2008, and again in 2012.  The last election was the worst for me; I honestly didn’t believe that America would survive another four years of Barack Obama’s policies.  I was wrong.  For those of you who think that America cannot survive four years of a Donald Trump administration, I have every confidence that history will prove you wrong, too.  Don’t despair.  Get involved.  Start caring about your government, not just the White House, but your Congressional delegation, too.  Your Governor, your state senators and representatives, and your local governments.  Attend city council and county commission meetings.  Our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people.  And guess what – you ARE the people.  But if you don’t do something, someone else will.  Remember that.  Don’t let discouragement turn into disinterest – let it be your motivation to do better next time.

And for all those who can’t understand how America can be Germany in 1933 all over again, it’s because we aren’t.  We’re America in 1980.  God bless us all, and God help us all.

With Love,

Ginny  >^..^<

References:

Luhbi, Tami (October 25, 2016).  Obamacare Premiums to soar 22%.  CNN Money.  Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/24/news/economy/obamacare-premiums/

Morefield, Scott (August 12, 2016).  CNN’s Cuomo comes right out and admits it: ‘We couldn’t help Hillary any more than we have’.  Bizpac Review.  Retrieved from http://www.bizpacreview.com/2016/08/12/cnns-cuomo-comes-right-admits-couldnt-help-hillary-377744

Time Magazine (November 8, 2016).  What the World Thinks About the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.  Retrieved from http://time.com/4560936/election-2016-europe-china-russia-middle-east/

A Day to Celebrate

Hello, Sports Fans.

Looking at the date of my last posting, I am shocked and embarrassed to learn that I have let this blog lie fallow for 9 whole months.  Lately, a couple of things have happened to drive me to dust this baby off and reboot it, albeit with a new attitude.

Shortly after I realized that Our Lord was calling me into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, I joined a forum sponsored by Catholic convert and apologist Stephen Ray.  I went there as a place to discuss my journey with fellow travelers, and I have learned much.  The forum is made up of all types–converts, cradle Catholics, lapsed Catholics, and non-Catholics.  We even have a self-avowed atheist who posts on occasion.  Sometimes the members engage in witty banter, other discussions are cerebral, and yes, some even get contentious.

Today, I entered a discussion in which a Baptist asserted that he had personally observed something that is a common fallacy among non-Catholics–worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I felt compelled to respond — after all, it IS Mother’s Day, and he was talking about the mother of God.  I’m amazed at how easily the words flowed; it’s as if she was guiding me all along.  I’ve decided to share, albeit edited to make the post more suited for a general audience.  In other words, I took out the pseudonym of the original poster.

One other thing:  I limited my compare/contrast to the Baptist church only because that was the point of view of the person to whom my comments were addressed.  I’m not trying to single out the Baptist church.  He’s Baptist, and I used my past experience and knowledge to keep the conversation limited to terms and concepts we had in common.  Meeting on common ground, as you will see in my closing.

Happy Feast of the Ascension, and Happy Mother’s Day!

 

As a former Baptist, I know what you THINK you have seen and do not dispute it and would not brook to argue with you on it. But as someone who also had to have the divine hint to embrace Holy Mother Church applied with a sledgehammer, I ask you to consider the possibility that what you observed was not what was actually going on.

Remember that our Catholic faith is over 2000 years old. There was no Internet. No cell phones. No telegraph or telex. Even the written word was a luxury appointed only for the wealthy, the powerful, and the occasional slave whose job it was to write or teach it. How then, to get the masses to understand the Mass? Imagery. Remember, paper was a luxury, but clay was literally at your feet. Hence, statues of the saints. They were comparatively inexpensive, easy to produce, and effective in their purpose: to teach the people the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice and how to live a life honoring Christ.

In the book “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma”, we read that a saint is “…a member of the Church [who] has been assumed into eternal bliss and may be the object of general veneration.” Notice the definition uses the word “veneration,” NOT “adoration.” Adoration is solely reserved for the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. “Veneration” means that a person is worthy of respect and emulation. The saints are people from whose example we learn how to live a life pleasing to God. Catholic apologist Gus Lloyd compares statues of the saints to a family photo album–images to remind us of those we love, respect, and desire to honor.

When I kneel before Our Lady (or the statue of some other saint) and pray the Rosary or some other prayer, I am not praying TO her, but WITH her. To an unknowing eye, it may APPEAR that I’m “praying to Mary,” but I’m not. Her image is there to help me focus. In this too-hectic, multitasking world, I need all the help I can get to stop for 20 minutes a day to contemplate the life, death, and resurrection of our risen Lord. Mary herself, at the wedding at Cana, told the servants “Do whatever He [Jesus] tells you.” Always, always, ALWAYS her attention was on her beloved Son.

You may also have difficulty understanding the Catholic’s reliance on the intercession of the saints. In truth, it is a very Baptist concept as well; it’s just that the concept is not carried through to completion. In the Baptist church, the congregation prays for others all the time–every altar call, every prayer group, every Sunday School Bible study is highlighted by the prayer request. Baptists, like Catholics, believe that although the body dies, the soul lives forever–either in heaven or in hell. Those who are in heaven spend their days in worship and adoration of God. How? By praying without ceasing! The only difference between Baptists and Catholics here is that we Catholics don’t stop asking our loved ones to pray for us and for others just because their physical bodies have died. On the contrary, those whom we know to be in heaven–the saints–are like a signal boost for our prayers. 

Please don’t take what I just said to imply that I meant that our prayers aren’t necessarily as effective as a saint’s. That’s not what I meant at all. What I mean is that at some point in our day, we have to stop praying. We have to work, to eat, to sleep, to meet other obligations. The saints, however, are free from all earthly impediments to worship, and so can pray for us without ceasing. Remember that Scripture also tells us that in order to receive, we must ask. So we ask the saints to join with us in bringing our supplications before the Throne of God.

And that is what makes the transition from Baptist to Catholic so natural–the realization that we aren’t so different after all.

SEC101

It’s that time, Sports Fans! It’s almost football season. As a Public Service, I am posting my SEC101 that I wrote in order to bring my Smurf City beau up to speed on REAL football. Thought I’d share it with you. I make no apologies for any bias in my writing. It is, after all, about the greatest football Conference in human history, warts and all.

SEC101 (in Alphabetical order):

The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (AKA Aladamnbama or Bama) The Crimson Tide (but somehow they got represented by an elephant in graphics). Fans known as “Bammers” by the rest of the Conference. Proof that, like maggots, it’s possible to live off a dead Bear for 30 years. Colors are crimson and white. Houndstooth patterns, made popular by Bear Bryant’s signature hat, are also common. Rival is Auburn University. Home is Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821).

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas. (AKA “Arky”). Officially the Razorbacks, but also known as the Hogs, sometimes spelled Hawgs. Defected from the Southwestern Conference in 1991. Still waiting for its first SEC Conference Championship Game (SECCCG) win. Colors are Red and White. Rival is LSU. Most home games are played in Fayetteville’s Razorback Stadium (78,000), but games against LSU and Mississippi State are played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (54,000).

Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama (AKA “The Barn”) The Tigers or the Plainsmen (but represented by a golden eagle, who provides their rallying cry of “War Eagle”). Proof that you CAN be schizophrenic and still kick ass in football. Colors are blue and orange. Rival is Bama. Home is Jordan (pronounced JER-dan)-Hare Stadium (87,451).

The University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. The Gators. Highest concentration of jorts in the Western Hemisphere. Colors are blue and orange. The “chomp” is simply a two-handed version of non-Conference rival Florida State University’s tomahawk chop. Loved by its fans, hated by everyone else. Home is officially Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548), but is much better known as “The Swamp.”

The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs, but spelled “Bulldawgs” or “Dawgs” by the faithful. The oldest state university in the US, founded in 1785. Coach Mark Richt (affectionately abbreviated to CMR) is considered not only a outstanding coach, but an all-around good guy. Colors are red and black. When greeted with a loud “How ’bout them Dawgs?” the correct response is an equally loud “Them Dawgs is hell, ain’t they?” New mascot UGA IX makes his debut this season. Home is Sanford Stadium (92,746)

The University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. The Wildcats, or Cats. Deafeningly silent during football season, but more than makes up for it with cries of “Fear the Cat” once basketball season starts. Infamously fired Bear Bryant after basketball coach Adolf Rupp complained about the inordinate amount of attention being shown the football team–just because they were actually winning games. Colors are blue and white. Home is Commonwealth Stadium (67,606).

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tigers. Abbreviation is LSU, but is known by other teams as “LSWho” or “Loser State.” Perfect season in 2012 shattered by Bama in the National Championship game despite beating Bama during regular season conference play. Rallying cry is “Who Dat,” for reasons unknown. Tiger Stadium (92,542) deemed most unfriendly locale for visiting teams in the country, especially if it’s a night game. Signs reading “Geaux Tigers” are legion. Colors are purple and gold. Despite the mutual season spoilage with Bama, rivals are actually Arky and Florida.

University of Mississippi, Oxford Mississippi. The Rebels. More commonly known as “Ole Miss.” Area known as “The Grove” on campus is not only considered the best tailgating in the Conference by its fans, but by many visiting teams’ fans as well. Most unjustly maligned team in the SEC. Not because of football–they aspire to mediocrity in that department–but because of their adherence to storied tradition by the diverse local and college community in the face of busybodies who’ve never set foot in Oxford. Most noted casualty was “Colonel Reb,” beloved mascot, in 2003. A campaign to choose a new mascot in 2009 went viral on the Internet and became the subject of a 5-minute feature on ESPN when a student organized an effort to make Star Wars’ Rebel leader Admiral Akbar the new mascot. The bid died when Steven Spielberg refused to allow licensing to the University, and a unanimously-hated black bear was forced on the fans by UM admins, who have since been driven from the University. Speed limit on campus is 17 mph, in honor of favorite son Archie Manning’s number. Colors are red and blue. Rival is Mississippi State. Sometimes called “Ole Piss” when disparaging is considered to be worth the effort. Home is Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580).

Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi. You can’t get there from here (or from anywhere else). The OTHER Bulldogs. Known as “Moo U” by fans of rival Ole Miss, but no one else really bothers. Colors are maroon and white. Home is Davis Wade Stadium (55,082).

University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. The Tigers (again?) AKA “Mizzou,” but “Mizz-ery” is also used by non-fans. Joins the Conference in 2012 for reasons the rest of the Conference is still trying to figure out. Even more head-scratching was their placement in the East Division. Colors are black and gold. Rivalry to be determined. Home is Faurot Field (71,004)

University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks, or Cocks. Women’s teams known as the “Lady Cocks.” Considered to be chicken by the rest of the Conference. The Original “USC,” having claimed that monogram in 1801, when California was still a Spanish backwater. The last meeting between the two USC’s resulted in an epic student-created sign in the stadium: “No Trojans can hold our Cocks.” Joined the SEC in 1991 as an independent school. Despite having being led by the likes of Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier, has yet to win a SECCCG. Main rival is non-Conference Clemson University, but consider Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida to be rivalries as well. Colors are garnet and black. Home is Williams-Bryce Stadium (80,250).

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee. Home town known as ObKnoxville by non-fans. The Volunteers, or “Vols” for short. Band only knows one song, “Rocky Top,” and will play it at the drop of a hat. They will even play it if the hat DOESN’T drop. Also known for outlandish orange-and-white checkerboards in their end zones, and still can’t get past the shadow of former coach Phillip Fulmer’s beer gut, although current coach Derek Dooley’s devotion to orange pants is also the stuff of nightmares. A movement to convince alum Peyton Manning to leave the NFL and take a coaching position gains momentum with every Vol loss. Fans still cry “Go Big Orange” (abbreviated to “GBO”), however. Biggest rival is Florida, but games against cross-state conference team Vanderbilt are becoming less and less lopsided. Colors are orange and white, in case they haven’t already made that abundantly clear. Home is Neyland Stadium (102,455)

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. The Aggies, or Ags. Mascot is Reville, a collie (I’ve met her). She is the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets, and is assigned to a Cadet Corporal (being chosen is one of the highest honors available), who is her constant companion, including attending his classes. If “Miss Rev” barks during class, the class is immediately dismissed. If she jumps on a bed, the student who has that bed sleeps on the floor until she chooses to get off. Joining the Conference in 2012. Steeped in tradition and should be a good fit, despite the stretch in geography. Expected to renew the dormant SWC rivalry with Arkansas and to intensify the long-standing rivalry with LSU, although not expected to be a Conference power unless the alumni (known as “Former Students”) release their death-grip on the Athletic Department. Not likely to happen, since they didn’t for Bear Bryant when he coached there. They have “yell leaders,” not cheerleaders, and they are all men. It is considered heresy by fans to sit during a game, as all consider themselves to be the team’s “12th Man,” ready to suit up and take the field if needed. Colors are maroon and white. Home is Kyle Field (82,589), which is considered sacred ground. A member of the Corps of Cadets once rushed (with saber drawn) a Southern Methodist cheerleader who had unknowingly stepped onto the turf.

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. AKA “Vandy.” The only private college in the Conference. Called the “Commodores,” or “Dores” in honor of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who founded the school. Known as the “Commodes” by those who think trash talk is worth the effort. Although a member of the SEC since its founding in 1932, has never won a Conference Championship in football. Main foe is cross-state rival Tennessee. Colors are gold and black. Home is Dudley Field (39,790).

Since the 1991 Conference expansion, there have been two divisions. East Division teams are Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. West Division teams are Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss. St, and TAMU. The winner of each division (determined by regular season W-L record) plays in the SECCCG, played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta since 1994 (the first 2 games were played at Birmingham’s Legion Field). Winners of the SECCCG have been Florida (7 wins in 10 appearances), Bama (3 wins in 7 appearances), LSU (4 wins in 5 appearances), Tennessee (2 wins in 5 appearances), Auburn and Georgia (each with 2 wins in 4 appearances). Arkansas has appeared 3 times, and Mississippi State and S. Carolina have each appeared once, but have never won.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos, Chairman and CEO of Amazon.com

Dear Mr. Bezos,

The irony of writing this letter to you on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day is noted, but is not intentional.  I learned two days ago of your donation of $2.5 million to support same-sex marriage initiatives in Washington state.  I considered the idea of ending my affiliation with Amazon in response, but in truth, I like your service, just like I like Starbucks even though I disagree with many of their policies as well.  However, today you committed a fatal error.  You assumed you had your Cloud Drive hook set when you yanked the line.  You are wrong.

I found this email in my inbox today:

Your Account Is Changing

Cloud Player and Cloud Drive are now separate services. Music you previously imported intoCloud Drive will remain in Cloud Drive at its original audio quality, and won’t count toward your Cloud Drive storage limit. Music you import to Cloud Drive in the future will no longer be available in Cloud Player.

You’ve been enjoying a free promotional subscription to Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. After it ends, you will be limited to 250 imported songs in Cloud Player.

Customers who are over that limit and close to expiration receive 30 days to test out our new features. Once you log in, you have 30 days to enjoy your music, everywhere. If you’d like to keep using Cloud Player for free, remove songs from your ‘Imported’ playlist until your library is below the 250 song limit before the 30 days are up. At the end of the 30-day free upgrade, if you have more than 250 imported songs in Cloud Player, you will not be able to play your previously imported music in Cloud Player – but you can start fresh and re-import up to 250 songs. Music you imported before July 24th will remain stored in Cloud Drive.

When you upgrade to Cloud Player Premium for $25 per year, you can import up to 250,000 songs. Upgrade before your promotional subscription ends and get 50 GB of Cloud Drive storage at no additional cost. Learn more.

Mr. Bezos, with all due respect, forget you.  I don’t mind paying money for my Sirius/XM subscription.  But then again, I actually USE my Satellite Radio subscription on a daily basis.  In fact, I don’t know what I’d do on my commute to/from work without FirstWave, Siriusly Sinatra, SEC Play-by-Play, and The Catholic Channel.  I saved my music on the Amazon Cloud Drive so that I could listen to it at work. (My employer’s firewall blocks Sirius/XM, along with almost every other music access website.)  Then when Amazon no longer supported my employer’s dinosaur of a browser that they insist on not upgrading (we can’t download anything, either), I couldn’t even listen to that anymore.  My computer at home is mute due to a driver problem that no one can diagnose, much less fix.  So why the hell would I pay money for a service I can almost never use?

I activated my 30-day free trial, though, just so I can download everything from my Cloud Drive onto my phone (I just installed a 32-gig memory card).  Once that’s done, consider my Cloud Drive account closed.  This doesn’t mean I am cutting Amazon off entirely, however.  I’ll maintain my Amazon account to support my Kindle, but upgrading to a Kindle Fire is no longer the set decision it once was.  In fact, I am going to do some serious research into the Nook Color, for which Barnes and Noble has made several VERY generous discount offers in the past.   Still, that is a decision that requires disposable income, a necessity that the Communist-in-Chief has made an impossibility for wage slaves like me.  But that is a different argument, and not germane to this discussion save for the fact that your demand that I pony up $25 a year to maintain a cloud drive that I almost never use is something to which I am not going to accede.

Meanwhile, I hope you sleep well with the votes you made with your pocketbook.  I know I won’t lose sleep with the votes I have made with mine.  In fact, although my body is weak today, my spirit is soaring.

Sincerely,

>^..^<

But Will They Respect MY Choice???

America is in the midst of the fight of her life right now.  The Obama Administration has drawn a line in the sand in the name of “reproductive rights.”  Yesterday at the Texas state capitol, protesters on both sides of the issue clashed.  Backers of Planned Parenthood clashed with supporters of the Texas Legislature’s decision to end state funding of the Women’s Health Program rather than be forced by the Federal government to deal with Planned Parenthood.

The supporters of the symbolic face of abortion in America have the audacity to call themselves “Pro-Choice.”  Well, I’ve made my choice.  I double-dog dare you to show half the respect for my choice that you demand I show you for yours lest I be branded “oppressive,” “outdated,” or that ever-reliable liberal epithet hurled when one can’t construct a coherent thought, “bigoted”.

I’m a woman who came of age in the 70’s:  the time of the ERA, Marlo Thomas’ Free to Be You and Me, and bra-burning.  No, my sex and birthdate were not choices of mine; I merely include them to provide context.  I didn’t learn about feminism and “women’s rights” from a history book.  I lived it.

These, however ARE the choices I’ve made, based on objective and comprehensive study of all sides of an argument, tempered with my own life experiences.  It’s how I was taught to report on an issue in those ancient days when journalism was based on the model of Edward R. Murrow.  ERM, not TMZ.  It’s how I mediate disputes in my daily work.  It’s how I make my own decisions on issues.

  1. I choose to be Catholic.  I wasn’t born that way, and it took me over a quarter of a century of waiting and desiring to get where I am now.  I’m just under a month away from the culmination of 8 months of preparation and study–the Easter Vigil, when I will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and will receive the Eucharist for the first time.  I’m as excited as a kid at Christmas about it!
  2. I choose to be Pro-Life. Why is killing a baby whale, a baby seal, or any other baby animal so horrific, yet killing a baby human is merely a “choice”???  Why is your choice an “enlightened right,” but my choice an “oppressive enslavement”?  For those who argue that abortion is necessary to prevent the birth of unwanted children, I will counter-argue that there is an alternative that is safer, more effective, and a helluva lot cheaper than abortion. It’s called “the word ‘no.'”  You’re a woman; you have the power.  You just need to use it. Be prepared to back it up with your feet–either walk out the door or plant one in his groin AND THEN walk out the door, depending on how insistent he is.
  3. I choose to hold fast to the belief that the end does not justify the means.  If you want stem cells, arrange to obtain unclaimed placental or umbilical blood.  Don’t create a person (which is, after all, what an embryo is) just to harvest his cells.  People will sell anything else (Don’t believe me?  You haven’t been on ebay or craigslist lately, have you?); there’ll be a market for “clean” stem cells.
  4. I choose to hold fast to the belief that the Founding Fathers knew what they were talking about when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is timeless. 
  5. I choose to take a stand and boldly and unashamedly proclaim that Timothy Cardinal Dolan has a better understanding of the First Amendment than Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, who seem to conveniently overlook that government may not “prohibit the free exercise” of religion.  I was privileged to have studied First Amendment Law taught by Dr. Henry Lee, one of the foremost authorities on the First Amendment in the country.  It was one of my favorite classes in college.
  6. I choose to express my beliefs at the polls.  I will vote my conscience.  I expect nothing less from any American, even those who don’t agree with me.  If you don’t vote, don’t bitch.  You abrogated your right when you chose not to vote.
  7. I choose to make my opinion public.  I’m not saying anyone else has to, nor am I saying that anyone has to agree with me.  That’s the beauty of living in a country that is still, at least for now, free.  If you DO choose to disagree with me, however, please demonstrate that you can construct a valid argument consisting of a modicum of brain synapses.  If all you can spew are obscenities and bad grammar, don’t waste pixels here.  Try huffpo.

When God Closes a Door….

On my last post, I’d declared that I knew what I wanted…and whom.  Two days after I posted that, though, the “whom” declared that he didn’t know whom he wanted…but he didn’t see it being me.  One thing I’d most appreciated about him was the fact that he could be honest without being brutal.  I won’ t say I wasn’t hurt or disappointed, but I was grateful for the fact that he didn’t string me on or take advantage of my generosity.  In the end, we parted as friends.

Although this guy was the basis in my renewed faith and determination to begin RCIA, ending the relationship with him has not in the least affected my relationship with Christ, or the Church.  I went to the first preliminary class this past week, and it was such a blessing.  My office mate Amy has agreed to be my Sponsor.  She was the first and only one I really considered for the task.  Asking her turned out to be such a blessing.  She had come into the office in a bad mood the day before and had mistaken some information I had put on her desk (I knew she’d want to see it first thing) for me tasking her.  She still felt guilty about her reaction to seeing the info; I had blown it off and forgotten it almost immediately.

The most amazing thing, though, since my last post is on a more personal level.  I certainly didn’t expect to start dating again right away, but the moment I met Bill, we clicked.  He travels all through central and south Texas during the week (oh, yes, I’m jealous–I’d give my eye teeth to have a job that allowed me to travel frequently), and likes to spend his weekends playing his saxophone wherever he can.  Yes, despite my obvious bias, he is that good!  We have so much in common, it’s almost freaky.  Our kids are very close in age (he has 4 to my 3), we both love just about all kinds of music (he just never let his playing  lapse, is all), we enjoy similar activities (allowing for differences in upbringing–his was a blue-collar life in New England; mine is strictly white-collar, Southern suburbia), and both long to travel–the difference is, he gets to.  That might change, though.  We’re talking about taking a trip together in the fall.  We shall see.  I’d love the chance to go, I just know better than to count my chickens before they hatch.  It’s a lot of time between now and the fall, and a lot could change.

Meanwhile, I am going to enjoy the daylights out of this relationship.   Never in my life have I felt freer, more appreciated, or more adored.  I, on the other hand, am giddily overwhelmed by the attention, which I freely admit to eating up.  I just hope he doesn’t think I’m saying I like these things just to impress him.  I’m not, I really do enjoy them!

Stay tuned, Sports Fans.  I’ll keep you updated–both of you.

The Pause that Refreshes

If you remember that ad slogan, too, we are too damn old!

Yesterday was the 1st anniversary of the finalization of my divorce.  Since then, “Independence Day” has taken on a whole new and wonderful meaning for me.  It apparently is becoming a personal tradition to celebrate in a big way by doing a big adventure.  Last year, I spent July 4 weekend in the Oklahoma City area, indulging with some shooty goodness with my good friends Michael and Jenni.  This year, I took off on the 2nd with my friend from work Leslie, her husband Robert, their friend Kim, my boys and two friends of my youngest to go tubing down the Guadalupe river in Gruene, (pronounced “Green”) Texas.  We were later joined by two of Robert’s coworkers, and off we went.

I learned quite a lot on this trip.

1.  Six hours floating on a tube, no matter how pleasant, is Too.  Damn.  Long.

2.  Plan ahead with the car keys.  The tubing rental keeps your keys as collateral.  One, it makes sure they get their tube back.  Two, it makes sure you don’t lose your keys in the river or get them wet (which, in the modern era of automobiling, makes them useless).  If I had realized it, I’d have given my valet key (which can get wet) to my son, and turned in my high-tech set to the attendant.  This would have lessened the impact of #3.

3.  Make sure EVERYONE is clear on the game plan.  We’d all agreed on the 6-hour float.  My youngest and his friends got off at the 3-hour point, which left them stranded at the car (the agreed-upon meeting place) for 4 hours (the 2nd half of the river was so slow that at a couple of times, I was actually going BACKWARDS!) without food, water, or a t-shirt to cover up.

4.  I don’t care if you never burn.  Use sunscreen.  If only I would listen to my own advice.

5.  If you don’t heed #4, vinegar does help to alleviate the pain.  Thanks, Butch and Dorie!  Just remember to keep the vinegar away from the rubber rash.  OUCH!

6.  When you think you have enough beer in your cooler, add more.  You don’t.

7.  If you are a female and tubing alone (I’d gotten separated from the rest of the group shortly after the 3-hour point), you will not suffer for company, especially if you have a floating cooler that looks like a giant fishing bobber.  I got a couple of nibbles along the way, and could’ve snagged a big, loud, drunk Aggie if I’d wanted to.  Yesterday was strictly catch-and-release, though.

I have to admit, though, that my brief encounter with that big, loud, drunk Aggie was what got me to thinking along the remainder of my tubing expedition.  In the conversation, he’d mentioned the last time he was on the Guad, exactly two years earlier.  It got me to thinking of how different my activity was exactly one year earlier, when I was on very dry land, bruising the daylights out of my arm with my .303 Lee Enfield.

It also got me to thinking about how far I’ve come in my life since the divorce.  I’ve bought a house for my parents and me to live in, right on the other side of the Interstate from my son’s school.  He walks there sometimes (via the underpass).  My daughter and granddaughter moved in briefly, then moved back with my son-in-law and seem very happy now.  I’m glad for them, and glad I was in a position to help when times got uncertain.

My eldest is with me now.  He is still adrift, and it pains me greatly to see him without direction.  In a perfect world, I would send him to stay with a good mutual friend a couple of states away whom I think could set him on a solid path.  My friend and his wife just had a baby, though, and I couldn’t make that imposition on them.  Not now.

Most of all, though, the encounter with the drunk Aggie got me to thinking about relationships.  As I said before, I could’ve snagged him if I’d really wanted to.  I’d have had to be stone deaf not to hear and blind not to see the come-on.  The thing was, I didn’t want to.  Y’see, I have a good man in my life now.  A wonderful, giving man.  One I haven’t seen much of the last couple of weeks because he is so giving.  It was beginning to allow room for the demons of self-doubt to creep in and do their undoing.   How many of my readers (both of them) have heard the whispers in your psyche before:  “You can’t keep him.  You’re not good enough.  It won’t last; why do you hang on?”

Then I got to thinking.  He IS a good man.  He is generous to a fault and sweet.  He tells me how much he appreciates what I do.  When I met him, he mentioned that the two major relationships in his life–his marriage and a long-term relationship–were both ended by the other party.  My response then was “I don’t understand how any woman (much less two) could leave you.  Four months later, I still don’t.  In fact, I understand that aspect even less.  I flat-out refuse to go down that path.  It’s not up to me to say what the future holds, but this much I know.  If it does end, it won’t be because of me.  For that, I will be grateful to the loud, drunk Aggie for making me realize what I want in my life…and whom.


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