Saturday, January 28, 2017

The End of America as We Know It: Part Two

This is a continuation of my last blog about unfortunate decisions made by our new POTUS.
I am expecting an impeachment in the next four years or living in a dystopian society. I'm really hoping for the former.
  • Trump has taken over the nuclear codes. Yes, this is a totally normal thing for the new president to do, but having his tiny hands in control of those codes is nonetheless unfortunate and terrifying.
  • Let's talk about that Mexican border wall a little more: I only mentioned in my last blog about how we, the taxpayer, are going to be paying for it. There is much more to it than that. Mexico's economy because of their coexistence with the United States. They have better jobs. People don't need to find their American Dream over here because they're attaining their Mexican Dreams at home. I just read a great article about our immigration problem that has nothing to do with Mexico. Read it here. Lots of good info. So what Trump is doing is ruining our relationship with our friends down south. They will more than likely tax the shit out of stuff that comes out of there, which is a whole hell of a lot. Do you like your avocados? Your Corona? Hot sauce? Tequila? These are the things you think about, but we import stuff like oil, rubber, medical instruments, cars...believe me, you will see a price hike on things you wouldn't expect would be affected.
  • The *Rump administration has drafted and executive order that would reduce American funding of  international organizations by 40%.  We're talking organizations like the United Nations. I mean, who needs to keep global peace and aid foreign refugees. Not America!
  • His choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, would like to block China's access to the disputed islands in the South China Sea. #LetsStartAWar
  • The Rump continued to bitch about the #altfact that 3-5 million illegal votes were cast costing him the popular vote. I mean, at this point who cares. #YouWonIdiot 
  • He continues to make the unfortunate decision of Tweeting. And now he has 2 platforms from which to do so. His +RealDonaldTrump and +POTUS ㅤ  His latest bitches involve the New York Times and Washington Post re #FakeNews. Also, how Mexico has taken advantage of us for far too long. #Really? And how Chicago better get its shit together. Oy.
And what about his conflicts of interest?
  • Hiring his son-in-law #nepotism. Anti-nepotism laws prohibit federal officials from hiring relatives to work for the agencies they lead, but Kushner’s lawyers have concluded that the White House is not an agency and the Justice Department has decided that's an okay theory. #WTF 
  • Not releasing his tax returns - still. He thinks we can learn nothing from them and the voters aren't interested. Um. *raises hand* Me! I'm interested!
  • Trump has signed an executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the US for 90 days. However, this ban does not include Muslim majority countries in which he has business holdings such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
  • Hosting a tech summit at Trump Towers to discuss economic growth, job creating and innovation with tech leaders. While this in itself is not a conflict, having his children Donald Jr. Ivanka (and spouse), and Eric at this meeting is questionable. They had no business being there.
  • More about Ivanka. She also sat in on a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and spoke with Argentine president Mauricio Macri.
  • Has not divested from his business ventures and family continues to pursue lucrative, global business deals. There is WAY more to this then my simple sentence. Way to much to write here. This article in Mother Jones or this one from Time may help to clarify some of this. 
  • I will talk about Mar-a-Lago though. This is his resort in Palm Beach. As of January 1st they raised their membership rate from $100,000 to $200,000. Hmmm, do you think they're trying to profit off of Trump's presidency? Curiouser and curiouser.
I'm sure there are more conflicts, but once again I am out of time. I wanted to go through Trumps unfortunate cabinet picks, but that is a blog for another day. 
 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The End of America as We Know It: Part One

Donald Trump is our president. I guess we all just have to accept that as a fact (wishing it was an alt fact, but oh well). In my personal and humble opinion this will be the worst four years in United States history, especially for anyone without porcelain skin or a penis. I'm so riled up I'm blogging again as you can see.

Trump and minions have made some big and unfortunate decisions since taking office. Let's take a gander at these, shall we?

  • He reinstated the Mexico City Policy, or, Global Gag Rule. This policy kills US aid funding for any health center that even mentions the word abortion. This will globally cut, not only abortions, but family planning counseling, US donated contraceptives, HIV services, maternal and child health, and even malaria services. This puts women's health at risk by cutting basic services, forcing women into unsafe abortions or unwanted pregnancies.
  • Abortions aren't only being cut globally by the new president. His Congress passed a bill expanding the Hyde Amendment which currently prohibits direct federal funding (for instance, medicaid) for abortions. Up until now, this amendment has been attached to Congress's annual appropriations bill. The expansion of this amendment will mean that it will become permanent. Of course medicaid isn't the only channel affected by this. This also applies to women on government provided health care plans like military personnel, federal employees and Native American women, and women who pay for their own insurance under the ACA. This will heavily affect low income women in marginalized areas who will have to pay for abortions out of pocket or go without. Which again, will lead to unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions.
  • The revival of the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access pipelines. These pipelines were blocked over environmental concerns, mostly the affect of fossil fuels on climate change. But since Trump questions the actual science behind climate change, what does he care. The Keystone XL would stretch from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico - 1200 miles, 6 states, moving 800,000 barrels of petroleum daily. Most of which is slated for overseas sales. The Dakota Access Pipeline would transport crude oil from North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois. The pipeline risks contaminating tribal water and the water supplies of 17 million Americans with disregard to Native American treaty rights. 
  • Lies, lies, lies. Oh wait, sorry. I mean #AltFacts.
  • Trump fired all foreign ambassadors. This in itself isn't uncommon, but he had no replacements lined up, which is, well, inane.
  • The Great Orange One placed a social media gag order on the EPA, USDA and Department of the Interior. I mean, who needs to know the truth about our environment and what we ingest? And let's just stop all those mean tweets from the National Parks, shall we?
  • Trump has placed a freeze on federal government workers outside of military, public safety and public health departments. Historically (through Reagan and Carter presidencies) we know that these freezes don't work. Many federal agency's efficiency was disrupted and it actually cost the government money. One way it may cost money is that these agencies, which may be understaffed, will be forced to hire private contractors, which will be much more costly than federal workers. Which agencies will feel this freeze the most? Those that deal with our most vulnerable citizens - The Veterans Administration and Social Security. Also agencies that are already understaffed such as the FDA, National Parks, and the Bureau of Land Management.
  • Taking action to repeal the ACA. Health care should be a right, not a privilege. I am one of the people this will affect. As the owner of a small business, and side work, I make too much money to qualify for medicaid. Repealing the ACA will take away my reasonably priced insurance no doubt and replace it with private, more expensive insurance - that I will not be able to afford to pay. I can barely afford my inexpensive insurance as it it. Without insurance I will not be able to afford the prescriptions I need, my necessary women's health care, my glasses or contacts, and more than likely, other basic health care needs. And I will not be the only one.
  • In a frightening turn of events, Trump removes the LGBT, Disability, Health Care, Civil Rights, and Climate Change sections from WhiteHouse.Gov. He also removed any Spanish translation from the website as well. He has alienated all minority groups, those requiring health care or special needs care, and of course, remains ignorant of the truth about climate change.
  • He gave the go ahead on building the wall on the Mexican border, which of course we, the tax payers, are funding.
  • Our new Oompa Loompa in charge has stripped federal grant money to sanctuary cities. These
    © David Lacasse
    cities include Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and most notably, New York and Washington DC. This is just to name a few. These are MAJOR cities! Many of these cities will defy this executive order to protect their citizens.$ 2.2 billion in federal funds are at risk. And what do these funds subsidize? Head Start, airport improvements, public housing, and community development. For me locally, Seattle would lose funding for supporting efforts to end internet crimes against children, aid the human trafficking task force, and assisting women after incarceration, and the biggee, a loss of funding for our ports, which affect American trade.
This blog has become longer than I intended and I have so much more to say and share. Therefore, I guess it has just become a series. More on this later.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pride, Muslims and the state of hate in America

I haven't been online much this weekend because of graduation stuff, but I want to comment on the shooting in Florida. Admittedly, I've not read much about it since I've not been online much. I skimmed a few stories this morning. What I understand is that this was an act of hate - an attack on the LGBT community, and I'm sure it's no coincidence Mateen planned to execute this violence during Pride Month.

To hate a group of people that much...is unconscionable to me. I have also seen many posts hating on Muslims during the last 24 hours. Keep a few things in mind. ISIS in not a religion. It is a terrorist group. We simply cannot stop letting people into our country based on religious beliefs. Blending together our differences is much of what makes the United States great. If we turn one away, we should turn all away. Islam is a religion, and yes, has some horrible people within it, but so does every other religion on the face of the planet. Look up Christian Mass Shooters on Google. Mormons, Catholics...have all participated in mass killings.

People are also bashing Obama for letting "these people" into our country. Mateen was born and raised right here in New York. His parents are not terrorists, radicals or extremists. They and his ex-wife said he was not overly religious and don't think religion played a part in this violent act. Sure, he was a Muslim, but more so, he was a terrorist and LGBT hater. When terrorists claim they have committed violence because of their religion, there is usually another motive, be it political, social, or personal (studies have been done to support this).

I will never waiver in support of our LGBT community. I'm supporting the Pride Foundation this month through my business. I know I have alienated and probably lost some of our customers because of it, but I am okay with that. I stand behind my ideologies, my convictions, and my values.

I am proud to be a person who does not judge, stereotype, or hate others based on their race, religion, culture or sexual preference. I judge people on their character. How they treat others and live their lives.

If you want to lay blame, let's look at the gun violence itself. I don't want your guns taken away from you if you are a responsible gun owner. But it is time to admit, and the facts prove it, that the United States has too many guns within it, and those gun are killing too many people. I don't know what the answer is. I don't know how to NOT get guns in the hands of mad(wo)men and terrorists. But is seems like a good place to start would to be to limit their options. No one should be able to kill 50 people and injure numerous others single-handedly within a matter of minutes. No one.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I resent your intolerance...

This month of June at my day job I am selling two limited edition wines with commemorative labels and donating part of the proceeds to the Pride Foundation. It is after all, Pride Month. I started selling them on the 4th and have mostly received praise. I've not had any opposition to this until yesterday.

I had one customer come in trying to find a bottle of white for his wife. He said she likes Pinot Grigio. Unfortunately, I am out of Pinot Grigio for another few weeks. I told him I had a Chardonnay, a dry Riesling, and something more to her taste, a Viognier/Pinot Gris blend. That blend happens to be my Pride White. He said he could not buy that wine. That he and his wife are conservative Christians and he wouldn't hear the end of it if he brought it home. "No worries," I said. I was polite, as was he. Of course I disagree with his ideology, but whatever. He bought the Riesling and went on his way. 

Later that day I sent out our monthly email newsletter that promotes all of our events and campaigns. Among cooking class, art night and ladies night, I also mentioned our Pride Red and White wines and how we would be donating part of sales back to Pride Foundation. Now, this is not the first time we've done this. We've done this for Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, Breast Cancer Awareness, Autism, many other non-profit organizations and numerous schools. In October we will be doing the same thing for Domestic Violence Action Month.

I received two emails asking me to take them off our mailing list. One was simply, take me off your email list PLEASE... After receiving the second one, I can only assume this is because of our support of the Pride Foundation.

The other stated, and I quote, "I resent your sending 15% to Pride foundations. They are an abomination. Take me off your mailing list."

I am not sure how to respond. I am the manager and will be buying this place soon, but for now, I am not the owner. If this had happened when I ran my own business I would have told that person to fuck off I don't need your business anyway.

But I'm not running my own business...yet.

The other day, I had a customer, who supports LGBT rights, ask me how I came to do the commemorative label and offer my support to that community when my name and heritage would suggest otherwise. (family name Aquino, heritage, Italian, grew up Catholic).

I told her that although I was brought up Catholic, most of my family were very liberal and have always been welcoming of others regardless of their race, religion, sexual preference, culture, etc. We believe that everyone is equal and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.  We are all human, we all laugh, cry, hurt, heal. We all bleed the same color. 

I cannot speak for the rest of my family, but I cannot and will not believe in a god that does not love all mankind. He is supposed to be all loving, all forgiving, merciful. Anyone who follows him and preaches his words and his works should emulate him and offer all human kind the same love, forgiveness and mercy. Yet far too much, bible verses are picked and chosen to fit in with agendas. How about these ones?:

John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them,  “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.


Romans 3:23 ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...
Matthew 7:1  Judge not, that you be not judged.
Don't get me wrong, the bible also talks about judging. Judging what is good. Using the right judgment. Test everything and abstain from evil. I know many that belong to the LGBT community. They are good. That is the right judgment. Are they all good? Of course not. But neither are all Christians, Mormons, whites, blacks, women, men, and so forth and so forth. There are bad apples in every bunch.
But they are not abominations or evil because of who they love. 
Many of them are even Christians! Whoa, I just blew your mind right there, right?
And let's keep in mind that these quotes, regardless if what agenda we're seeking them for, come from a book thousands of years old and translated millions of time. 
I defend my business decision to support LGBT rights and the Pride Foundation. If I lose customers over it, maybe they're not the type I want shopping in my store anyway. I will not back down from my convictions, ideologies, or values to make a few more bucks. 
And anyway, I've sold a lot more bottles than I've had complaints, so there's that.
Happy Saturday everyone. Come to the shop and see me sometime.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I think I might puke

Tonight my 2nd child, my baby, my youngest daughter graduates from high school. I am at an intersection of sickness and denial. My stomach is in knots, not only for this child but for both.

My older daughter moves to Montana to play soccer in August. My house will be void of the laughter, screaming and messes made by college students. At times, the idea of that comforts me. My house will be cleaner, my electricity bill will decrease, my groceries will last longer. However, this child and all of her friends who consider my home their second, some of them their first home, will be gone. My house will be silent, close to empty. I'm not sure how that will affect me.

My younger daughter will probably still live at home. She wants to go to school, but she has decided to work through the fall and then decide where to go. For her, I think this is a wise decision. Though she will be here, she will have a full time job. She is very independent and likes to go out with her friends. It would not surprise me if she moved out sooner rather than later.

At times I'm like, "When are you leaving already?" Because I think I'm ready and want my basement back, and my house clean, and to enjoy a pee or a shower without interruption (yes, this continues well into their young adulthood). My body wash, underwear, forks, coffee cups, and shoes won't disappear anymore.

But where will that leave me?

Alone. Old. A single person with adult children, shower items, pieces of silverware and clothing intact and accounted for.  I will have all the time in the world on my hands outside of work. Cleaning less, cooking less. No more nagging at them the way mothers do, to do their homework, clean their rooms and pick up after themselves. This is ideal, right?

Then why do I feel sick?

All I can do is wish for their happiness, health and safety. Pray that they don't get hurt. That they succeed at whatever it is they want. For me, I wish to find someone to fill some of that void. To spend some time with so I don't resort to 20 cats or talking to myself...too much (I already do that anyway, just a little, I swear).

So here I am writing this blog on the night of my last child's graduation. Sick, worried, sad, proud, happy, overjoyed really. And I know we have the summer, most of it anyway, but I can't stop thinking about the silence and emptiness of this house. My big yard. My life. My heart.

But every parent reaches this point, right? The time to let go. To allow our children to become the adults, the unique people they were meant to be. And for me to become something other than Mary and Rachel's mom. For me to find whatever it is that is out there beyond motherhood.

Congrats to all the graduates, both college and high school in this class of 2016. And to all you parents going through the same thing...I feel ya.

My Dad. He's awesome.

John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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