Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Posts Tagged "Politics and Rants"

The Day We’ve Waiting For

Posted on May 1, 2011 in Politics and Rants |

Wikipedia, by 8 p.m. PST May 1

The news broke on Twitter, and as of this post, we’re still waiting for the President to address the world with the news that Osama bin Laden is dead. Eight years to the day after Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner, 10 years after the world’s heart broke on September 11, thousands of childless mothers from war. People are singing at the gates of the White House, “God Bless America” and our national anthem. I wish there was a “God Bless the Whole World’ anthem.

The news brings surges of emotion — for 9-11, for the pain, the loss, the great financial burden, the sadness — and then, relief, joy, “die motha flippa” type exhilaration.

Osama bin Laden is dead.

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Pinkie Toes

Posted on Apr 13, 2011 in Featured, Rants |

Pinkie Toes

My son once wore nail polish. It was black, or maybe it was blue. I would only let his little 3-year-old tootsies be painted “boy” colors. And really, the only reason I let him get his toe nails painted was because his twin sister was getting hers painted, and, well, there you go. On another transgender moment in parenting, I once let him wear  fairy wings, a pink princess dress and pink Fancy Nancy high heels too, but he ditched them before he could get to the grocery store, claiming, “Girl stuff can’t go in my car seat,” (dang fairy wings).

I’m pretty hard core about boy stuff being boy stuff and girl stuff being girl stuff. I’m sure it comes from raising my son in a same-sex household by two women and a twin sister; I’m particularly sensitive to making sure my Thing 1 is alllll boy.

JCrew got nailed today when Jenna, the company’s president and focus of their email marketing campaign, was photographed with her son painting his toenails bright neon pink. Conservative media went completely postal saying insane freak-o-matic things on-air, accusing JCrew of ““blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.” Transgendered children? What the smack are you talking about? Fox News went on to claim that the little boy would need therapy some day for his neon pink tootsies. And then I got mad.

There is little to celebrate about the painful acknowledgement of a transgendered child. And what the hell is in that nail polish that could make someone transgendered? Whatever it is, Glen Beck has been using too much of it. Or maybe I used too much of it and it made me fall in love with a woman — or wait, maybe not enough bright neon nail polish. That’s it! My mom didn’t paint my nails pink enough! That’s how I must have ended up with La Gringa. Oh, it’s so clear now.

I know a child who is transgender. The pain for the parents is unsurpassed. The sheer love for the child is a force of nature — they protect their son so passionately, working with therapists and family members to try to ease the pain for the child and themselves.  The child, a boy, identifies as a girl. He always has. And let me tell you, it wasn’t damn nail polish that burdened this poor child’s soul. Being transgender is no joke. But neither is a mother’s love.

At some point, The Female Brain and The Male Brain should be compulsory reading for anyone that plans on representing themselves as media, conservative, liberal or trans-political. The chemistry of a human — from the love of lacy panties and pink nail polish to the soothing sound of crashing cars and jackhammers — is imbedded in who we are from long before our toes were painted. The sheer irresponsibility of the media to pounce on the sexual identification of a child, and in this case, a specific child named Beckett, is abhorrent. Shame on you.

I signed the petition in support of the ad. And, more importantly, I just bought the Tranny polish from Jcrew.com and will put it on every man and woman I know — to “celebrate” the beautiful, tortured transgender children among us.

Sign the petition.

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Every Child Left Behind

Posted on Apr 4, 2011 in Featured, School |

Every Child Left Behind

I want so badly to write a post about the No Child Left Behind Act that is tearing into schools and communities throughout California. I want to write about angry parents and saddened kids and politics of the whole thing. But in all honesty, it’s just too maddening a subject to write about. I don’t understand how we Americans could have allowed a bill into effect that could cause so much damage to all children.

No Child Left Behind seems to help no one. It doesn’t help the high performers, the midline performers or even the low performers it’s designed to aid. NCLB seems to attack the very notion of Darwinism. Who let this obscene form of standardized hell for children come into our schools?

I want to write what I’ve been hearing statewide for months: Why can’t there just be smart kids and dumb kids and kids in the middle? Why can’t we have support for all of our kids? Why do all of our needs have to go to the children who will never prove to excel academically no matter what kind of services we pour into them Why? Because there are smart kids and dumb kids and most kids who fall somewhere in the middle. It’s not pretty, but this is what’s being said on playgrounds from Sacramento to San Diego.

But I can’t write that.

Somehow I’m encouraged and paid to write about Earth Day, skin care products and diet options. But I can’t write about what matters right now. Right now I can’t write about political decision that affected every child I know. The fallout for NCLB in California is like effects of a tsunami, barreling through our communities and leaving disaster everywhere. Families that can leave public school are leaving in droves for private education, home prices are so out of whack because of the schools that we find ourselves trapped, unable to leave and unable to stay in public schools. It would be unpopular to write about the clear racism that stems from NCLB, where the Hispanic kids in California are seen as the little rodents that our dragging our schools down because they were not raised speaking English and have a higher likelihood of being underprivileged.

I can’t write about how painful No Child Left Behind is for the middle-of-the-road kids, or, how kids with true potential are falling through the cracks right before our very eyes because all of the support services goes to the underperformers. I can’t write about how frustrating it is to see midline children in need of a little boost get no support at all. I can’t write about the high-level performers who also receive no support or learning services of any kind.

What are parents left to do? Fight? Fight whom? Fight for what? And which battle should we fight first?

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To Cairo, With Love

Posted on Jan 31, 2011 in Featured, Politics and Rants |

To Cairo, With Love

I’d been traveling about five months when I got to Cairo on a eerie late afternoon during Ramadan. Americans had been advised to avoid the mid-east region and I’d gotten out of a scary situation in Istambul just days after the USS Cole had been bombed in Yemen. I had chosen Cairo as a safe place to lay low until the high drama of the attack settled down. It also happened to be election time at home in the US and there was a lot of ridicule flinging around the media and streets. I’d heard that in Cairo, I’d be safe.

I landed in Cairo, and, as I walked through the airport, heard an American voice. As a rule traveling, I avoid Americans at all costs. It wasn’t until I walked by him that I realized the man was calling my name. I was, quite literally, shaking and just walked right past him. He stopped me, gave me his card and I kept walking. The card was white and crisp with dark blue writing. It was from the US Embassy in Cairo. They were waiting for me. I think. I’m sure they were there to help. I think. I’m sure they wanted to ensure my safety. I think. I’ll never know, because I bolted as fast as I could, making my way through a rough customs transition and into a parking lot where a man grabbed my backpack, offering a taxi and instead tried to ram his tongue down my throat. Even that didn’t convince me to turn back toward the American dude calling my name. Forget that. I was safer with the Egyptian French-kissing hoodlum.

I’d been sick for a few weeks with a parasite. It took me awhile to figure out that it was something I needed real medical care for and I chose to check in to the best hotel I could find. I loved traveling, but a girl’s got to get a bubble bath and a doctor every now and again. I found myself in the street during an insane rush hour in Cairo. In the middle of the street stood a tall, broad Egyptian man. To this day, I refer to him a “Abuud,” although I never knew his name. He took my backpack, wrapped himself protectively around me, screamed at cars between us, and walked me to the door of The Four Seasons hotel. Finally, I felt safe. Safe in Cairo.

Despite being the season of Ramadan, I was taken care of beautifully over the next several days. I went on a pre-arranged date with a very nice grad student, and despite the fact he took me to “TGI Fridays” on the Nile (no joke), I had a wonderful time. I received medical care from a serious doctor and her nurse. I walked the streets without fear, tried foods, bought goods and drank warm Coke. I laughed at the insanity of the cars bolting without order through the streets, and watched the  seemingly organized chaos between people in the stores and grand mall. I was not afraid of the military presence; I liked it. I wrapped myself in the beautiful sound of the call to Muslim prayer and the pure, unfaltering dedication to faith and fasting. I found Cario to be crazy, beautiful, western, eastern, unique.

southern egypt

Happy somewhere in southern Egypt

I traveled to the southernmost part of the country and up the Nile and was struck by the stench and dirtiness of the Nile. I asked about public service announcements that droned on and on — they were to warn Egyptians to not bathe or wash clothes in the Nile. The contamination was causing disease and death. The more remote, the sadder I became. I drove through rural desert,  often, with military stops ensuring my safety. This was not Cairo. Not so safe.  Area after area was filled with extraordinary history, mind-blowing artifacts and edifices,  combined with desolate poverty and signs for Internet cafes. It became confusing.

I had one moment in time where I became angry. I saw a man hitting his children after I’d given them pencils, candy and small Legos. I watched him beat two of them, throwing — literally throwing — one of his children into a makeshift house. The children had black in their mouths, ripped jeans, no shirts. They smelled. I made eye contact with a couple of kids and my adrenalin starting rushing. I saw a nearby white delivery van. I thought I’d steal the kids, throw them in the van, pay with my big American dollar bills, my jewelry, whatever and beg the driver to scram. I’d drive to the embassy and claim refugee status for the kids. I’d adopt them, bring them home and raise them with dental care, clothes and vows that in my home, there would be no beatings by a half-dressed uneducated man. But reality hit me as the van drove off –– it is not my place to force my reality onto those of anyone else.

It still isn’t.

I’ve been watching the destruction of Cairo and Alexandria for seven days — the images of places I’ve been, streets I walked, people that all look familiar. I watch the protests against their leader and against our own leader for not renouncing the Egyptian government and I can’t help but think of that day in Abu Simbel where I learned that my reality is not the reality of others. I know that everyone is awaiting what America will do for the Egyptian people, but the truth is the same today as it was for me in that small town: the Egyptian people must take care of their own reality and we must ensure we are doing our best to respect their quest without forcing our democratic style on them.

The good people, like my “Abuud,” will rise to the top. Those are not the looters, the burners of buildings. The true Egyptians are making human road blocks to protect their national treasures, their history, their culture and museums. The good people of Egypt are where I choose to focus my mind this week. As the city burns and the protests become uprisings and the government becomes uprooted, I am reminded how safe I felt in Egypt, how strong the people are, how full of faith and history the Egyptian youth are. I choose to remember my love of Egypt and how dearly I hold it in my heart today and hopefully, can show to my own children someday, in-tact, full of freedom and peace.

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Polar Opposites

Posted on Jan 12, 2011 in Featured, Politics and Rants |

Polar Opposites

I didn’t go to the rally to Restore Sanity, nor any Tea Party Express shindig. I don’t do politics outside my little world where I know I won’t get shot, yelled at or eyes rolled. I’m just not that much of a glutton for conflict.

I have more friends who are not Democrats than I do ones who are; and I like it that way. I have hard-core Republican friends (as in lawn signs and cocktail party fundraisers) for the likes of the most serious right-wing conservatives in our political circle today. I have several very close friends who are die-hard Libertarians. They are the gun-wielding, don’t tread on me type folks. I like my people. I like my world of scale and scope and perspective.

I like my world because we live in a mutually respectful environment of variety, opinion, banter and belief. I have a dear friend who met me on a street corner with a cup of coffee while I was holding a sign to protest Prop 8. He kept me company, chatted about our weekend with our respective twins and then left. He voted in favor of Prop 8. We had dinner the next weekend.

Another family — serious Palin fans — went to rally after rally in support of the first female vice-president. We had one thing in common: the advancement of women in politics. What we didn’t have in common was just whom should fill that tall order. When it didn’t pan out for them, I understood their disappointment. I was thrilled (dear goodness, don’t get me wrong), but respected their passion.

I have a Republican friend who voted for Obama in the past election (and contributed to his campaign). I watched him on election night as he cried in my livingroom watching history happen. Some things, I thought, are bigger than politics.

Polarizing politics are just that: polarizing. It takes a strong will, a stronger belief in the Good of people to really try our hand at civilized debate. Without polar opposites there is no middle ground — a sacred place where we can meet peacefully.

Take a clue, Washington. Most of us are out here living civilly, living together within the boundaries of passion, belief and over-riding respect.

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Don’t Blame the Palin Right

Posted on Jan 8, 2011 in Featured, Rants |

Don’t Blame the Palin Right

It’s not political craziness that makes someone kill; it’s craziness that makes crazies kill.

I’ve been watching the unfolding of the shooting spree in Arizona targeting Gabby Giffords, for hours on-end. I’ve listened as one expert after the next releases statements about the “wakeup call for America,” to conduct politics without violence. I’ve watched politician after politician speaking on-air about how the media needs to stop positioning polarizing politics. I even watched the Tea Party Express defend themselves as victims before blame had ever been cast. All of what they are saying about the scary state of politics and unbecoming banter is true, but it’s not what caused 19 people to be shot today.

Mental illness is to blame today. Mental distress is to blame today;  not politics, not guns, not even Sarah Palin’s stupid chart.

If it was cancer, Jared Lee Loughner would have gotten help. If he had blindess he’d have been offered help. If it was fear, he would have been helped. Somehow, this schizophrenic 22-year-old unstable man in deep mental distress wasn’t given help. Blame the lack of psychiatric intervention. Blame his inability to seek mental help. Hell, blame his family. But don’t blame politics and media for this man’s clear mental illness.

Strange rants on YouTube, odd postings to MySpace and, according to classmates, frequent nonsensical outbursts somehow went under reported and written-off as creepy or weird. This man —  this assassin — murdered from  a place of mental illness, not a place on the Palin altar.

The first report I heard today was that a Palin right-winged freak killed a Democratic Congresswoman point-blank in the face. Gifford’s father, when asked if his daughter had any enemies said, “Yes, the whole Tea Party.” Well sure, but that’s politics. This crazed man did not act on behalf of the Tea Party; he acted on behalf of a part of his mind that is non-functional.

Mental illness goes often undetected, pushed off as depression or weirdness or a loner.

Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be Mein Kampf freaks.

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