Photo by Elizabeth Goolian

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What the GOP Has Confirmed in this Election

Rick Santorum. Paul Ryan. Todd Akin.  And now, today, Richard Mourdock.   Men who do not want to take us back to the 1950s, as many commentators have said, but who want a return to the Middle Ages when it comes to the most basic of women's rights.

The positions these guys have taken--against equal pay for women, against both abortion and contraception--a crazy and illogical stance if ever there was one, and supporting the insane ideas that a cell that has just been fertilized is a person, that there is such a thing as illegitimate rape, that women's bodies will reject a pregnancy if the rape is legitimate, and that if a woman does become pregnant via a rape it is God's plan--are hysterical, illogical, and profoundly misogynistic.

And what they prove is this:  No man has any right to take any action concerning women's reproductive rights.  Sure, they can have their stupid opinions, and they can shout them from the rooftops.  But they have no right whatsoever to act on their stupidity.  Because they have no understanding of women's bodies or women's lives.  And they are happy to politicize the very real lives of women with no regard for what rape, incest, or a simple mistake means in the life of a woman.  And even less concern.

What every woman in this country knows, whether she chooses to admit it or not, is that if men could become pregnant, there would be an abortion clinic on every street corner in every city, town, village, and burg in the United States.  They would be franchised, and they would be successful.  By now, the procedure itself would have advanced to the point that a pregnant man could dash into a nearby clinic (and they would ALL be nearby!) on his lunch hour and go right back to work.  If men could become pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.  If men could become pregnant, there would be no question as to whether health insurance would pay for contraception--just as there has never been a question about health insurance paying for boner pills.  Even when many insurers were not paying for Pap smears, men were getting their dick dysfunction prescriptions filled without paying a cent for them. And no one ever raised a question or took a moral stand againt it.

But men can't become pregnant.  And so they should have no say.  Period.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The 47%. Who are these people who aren't paying income tax?

As the almost pathetically awkward and incompetent GOP presidential nominee pointed out to his friends in Boca--at the private event that's now famous because it was filmed--about 47% of adult Americans do not pay income taxes.  Well,  Romney, who is almost allergic to saying anything that's absolutely true, said they don't pay "taxes," which is wrong.  They do pay payroll and property and sales taxes.  But they don't pay income taxes.

That was news to a lot of Americans, including me.  I knew there were people who didn't shell out on April 15 or thereabouts.  I knew that there were people who didn't earn enough money to have their income taxed--the families who are just scraping by, the people who lost their jobs in the Bush recession, the working poor, the just-plain poor, the elderly without enough savings to tax.  Who would insist that those people "pay their fair share?"  Aside from Mitt Romney and his bazillionaire friends, I mean.

But let's not overlook the fact that that 47% includes people other than those Romney said in the now-famous film he could not possibly redeem, could never make them "become responsible" enough to make a lot of money, pay income tax, and not vote Democratic. 

I happen to know one of those people.  And guess what.  He's rich.

He's always cared a lot about money and been very good with it.  He started off as solidly middle-class, with parents who also cared a lot about money and made sure their children would do well financially.  (His mother was an accountant.)  So when he moved to a major city after college, he didn't rent a low-rent apartment shared with roommates--his parents made a substantial down payment on a condo, which he was then able to pay off easily.  And sell for a big profit later.  When he wanted to start his own business, his parents fronted him the money.  Remember when Mitt answered a question about how a young person could become an entrepreneur by saying he should ask his parents to cough up the money to start a business?  Voila.

Over the years, the business did well, and this guy made it his business to learn about investments and finance.  Between investing his business profits wisely, and not being the kind of person to spend money ostentatiously (he drives a 10-year-old Honda)--he amassed quite a nice nest egg for his retirement.  By then he had bought a home in one of the city's best neighborhoods, lived in it for a dozen years, sold it for a big profit. 

So when he was getting ready to retire, he was looking at a very comfortable financial pad.  And good for him, right?

But that's not how he became rich.  He became rich when a bunch of relatives died and left him several million dollars--not to mention major jewelry and real estate.  With some of the money, he bought more real estate.  The rest he invested conservatively, in financial products that are paying him a hefty interest rate.

And last year, he did not pay one cent in income tax.  How is that possible?  Simple, he told me--he has a great accountant, who managed to work the interest income he earned through the tax loopholes and deductions so that the bottom line showed a four-figure income.  Well below the reach of the IRS.

He's not alone, you know.  So let's not forget that the 47% include not only the elderly, the disabled, the poor and working poor, the unemployed and the underemployed.  It also includes rich people.  Rich people with clever accountants.  Romney conveniently overlooked those guys. 

And who is he voting for in November?  Well, he used to be a Democrat, but what he believes he needs now is more tax breaks.  So he can continue paying no income tax.  So he's voting for the GOP--Greedy Old People.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Need to be afraid of something? Be afraid of ALEC.

If you watch Fox News, the New Black Panther Party is probably on your list of groups that scare you to death. Fox never misses a chance to mention this group, especially if they can mention President Obama in the same breath. Fox News would have you believe that these people--who modeled their group on and took the name of an organization that wants nothing to do with them--represent a real threat to American freedom and to you, your families, your pets, and your future.

As always with Fox News, it would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetic. The NBPP says it has a few thousand members worldwide, although organizations that monitor hate groups say the number is much smaller. The actual Black Panther Party--the 1970s people who liked to have their pictures taken with them wearing sunglasses and black berets and holding machine guns, but whose major effect on American life was the free breakfasts they provided to poor black kids in American cities--has disavowed the NBPP and stated that "there is no 'new' Black Panther Party."

Basically, they're a bunch of disillusioned, angry people who think that hating people who aren't like them (white people, Jews) will somehow solve the problems of African-American people. Basically, they're just sad.

And--here's the payoff--the NBPP has no power. No power of any kind. Only Fox pays any attention to them, their numbers are small, they have no active programs other than showing up at various events and yelling stuff.

But there is an organization that should scare you to death. It's also a hate group and has only a few thousand members. But those members are among the most powerful people in the country. And if you're poor, struggling, or middle class and if you do not subscribe to their religion--pure greed--they are out to get you.

I'm talking, of course, about ALEC--the American Legislative Exchange Council, funded by the radical right-wing oil bazillionaires the Koch Brothers, who want even more power and more money, and who will run you over to get it.

Who belongs to this group? A whole lot of state and federal legislators, almost all of them Republican and all of them with their hands out for Koch Brothers money, and a whole lot of corporations, among them the following:
- Bayer (yes, the aspirin people)
- AT&T and Verizon
- Dell
- Just about every major US pharma company
- A whole lot of energy companies--Detroit Edison, Duke, Chesapeake, etc.
- Exxon, Amoco, ARCO
- Visa
- United Healthcare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, etc.

You can see the whole list at

And what do those corporations and legislators do? The corporations write legislative bills, which are introduced and supported by the legislator members. Naturally, these bills are written to benefit the corporations. But not just benefit--it's a simple case of oil companies writing legislation favoring oil companies, pharmaceutical companies writing legislation to reduce the power of the FDA to protect citizens against bad drugs, energy companies writing legislation to prevent the EPA from protecting the environment. They are so cavalier about their work that bills have actually been introduced printed on ALEC letterhead.

ALEC is probably the biggest enemy of democracy in the country right now, because they are undermining the absolute foundation on which the United States is built--the legislative process, directed by one person/one vote.

ALEC is responsible for the bills that have denied people--usually senior citizens, including a whole lot of US military veterans--the right to vote because they don't have a driver's license.

Wal-Mart is a member (of course). Wal-Mart is also the biggest seller of guns in the country. So all of those insane "shoot to kill" laws that have passed in 24 states--the laws that make it easier for a private person like, say, George Zimmerman to get away with killing someone he was "afraid of" than it is for a US soldier to shoot an enemy? Written by ALEC, introduced and passed by ALEC legislators.

If the truly evil and frightening organization that is ALEC has its way, Social Security and Medicare will be eliminated, there will be no government restrictions on practices like fracking (are you ready to have flames come out of your water taps?), and the BP oil spill will become a common occurrence with no consequences whatsoever. The legislative process will have been destroyed; it's in the process already. If ALEC has its way, the American way of life will cease to exist.

This is the organization to be afraid of. Very afraid. But not so afraid that you won't do something about it--like not buying from these corporations, as much as possible, and writing to tell them why. Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, and McDonald's have all recently bowed to public pressure and quit ALEC. We can see to it that many more do. And if one of your legislators is an ALEC member, kick that person to the curb in the next election. Legislators are supposed to write laws that benefit their constituents, their communities, and their country--not whoever gives them the most money.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Susan G. Komen Foundation & Planned Parenthood: EPIC FAIL

I am one of the millions of American women who have received breast examination and birth control services from Planned Parenthood over the years. When I started freelancing, back in the 1970s, I was without the health insurance that my previous employers had provided. Planned Parenthood was a lifesaver for me, because they provided quality reproductive system care at an affordable price. Wherever I was--Philadelphia, New York, Michigan, Chicago--they were there too, and as a breast cancer survivor, I am extremely grateful to them for the work they have been doing for almost 100 years. (For an excellent history of the organization, read the article in the November 14, 2011 issue of the New Yorker.)

For many women--those who don't have access to good health care because they are poor--Planned Parenthood is literally a lifesaver. In the past five years, Planned Parenthood has performed more than four million breast exams, the vast majority of those for women who do not have regular doctors. Of those, some 170,000 were funded by support from the biggest breast cancer charity in the country, the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Today, the Washington Post reported that Komen has withdrawn its financial support--used mainly for breast exams-- from Planned Parenthood. The reason? Right-wing politics, now supported by Komen. Planned Parenthood also provides therapeutic abortions; they account for about THREE PERCENT of all the healthcare services Planned Parenthood offers. The right wing doesn't like that, and they made it clear to the Komen people. And Komen caved.

This is a disgusting and almost unbelievable turn of events. A charitable foundation that bills itself as one of the biggest supporters of women's health in the country turns on the oldest women's health organization in the country and pulls its support because right wingers disapprove of the abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood.

Of course, the Pink People, the Komen group, have become one of those giant charities that exist more or less to continue their own existence. That pink crap is everywhere--you can even buy a Kitchen Aid stand mixer in Komen pink! So maybe it's not so surprising that providing breast cancer screening to poor women isn't so high on their list of priorities.

In any event, for all of you big-hearted people who want to contribute money to breast cancer research, please do NOT do so through Komen any more. If you've signed up for one of their walks, unsign. An excellent alternative is the Army of Women, sponsored by one of the leading breast cancer researchers in the world, Dr. Susan Love. You can donate to her foundation at And while you're roaming around the Internet, let the Komen people know what you think of their unholy alliance with the right wing here:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rescued dog with big medical bills: Can you help?

This nice young dog was saved from euthanasia at the eleventh hour. He was so mistreated that he had heartworms and other parasites, and he desperately needs surgery on his knees so that he can have a long and happy life. Click above for more information and to make a donation--however small. It all adds up!

UPDATE: As always, even in times as tough as these, people who love animals have come through in a big way, exceeding the funding request in less than 24 hours.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A belated introduction

After reserving this blog two years ago and then letting it sit, I started using it in the anti-puppy mill cause this summer. And then I realized that I was posting without letting anyone know who I am or why I'm blogging. Just some crazy old lady (hint: name of the blog) ranting and raving about stuff that matters to her.

And actually, that's pretty much true. As of this date, I'm 63 years old, female, self-employed. And cranky. And getting crankier by the day.

Stephanie Miller, who starts my days off with a bang with her radio show that combines morning zoo humor with politics, talked a lot about cranky old people when John McCain was running for President. Whenever his name was first mentioned, Steph's mooks would play a recording of McCain making a querulous old man sound, and they'd follow that with a mook mimic of McCain yelling at kids, "Get off my lawn!" Which typifies some old folks, no doubt. But there's more to it than that.

Old people (I've stopped referring to myself and my peers as "middle-aged" or "older;" we are old now) become cranky for lots of reasons. Sometimes it's as simple as this: They don't feel well. They have chronic pain, or illnesses. They don't sleep well. And sometimes it's as simple as this: They're worried--maybe about their kids or their friends, but often about money. As in "There isn't enough." They watch their friends die, and they worry about dying themselves.

And there's something else. They see their pasts--things they have loved, that have been important to them--swept away by new technologies and just by the inexorable march of time. Here's an example: When was the last time you mailed your grandmother or grandfather a thank-you note, or just a note, period? We miss things like that. The doctor tells you you have to give up coffee, or butter, or wine. Or all three. You have videotapes and LPs that you love, but you don't have the technology to play them any more. You don't want to be seen in a bathing suit, even though you love the beach. In so many ways, the sweetness of life diminishes a little with every passing year.

But now there's more. Now there's something much bigger that makes us not cranky, but angry. Yesterday, the Government Accounting Office released a report, Income Security: Older Adults and the 2007-2009 Recession, that laid out, in stark terms, what those of us over 60 have known for some time: Life is becoming extremely difficult for us. And we feel cheated.

I'm not unusual among people of my generation in the fact that I started working summers when I was 15, and I never stopped. I worked part-time every year I was in college except for my freshman year. I went to work full-time as soon as I graduated. When my husband and I moved to London, England, in 1971, I got a job and worked the whole time we were there. We came back to the U.S. and I went to work. I quit my full-time job to go to graduate school, but I worked part-time until I got my degree, after which I went back to work full-time. In my 30s, I started putting money away for retirement, and I made faithful IRA contributions. My grandparents and parents were also hard-working people--that's where I learned my work ethic--and they all had comfortable retirements. Not luxurious, but comfortable. No one was eating cat food. When they needed a new car, my parents were able to buy one. I was on the same path.

But now, like so many people in my age group, the idea of a comfortable retirement seems dubious. The GAO, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress, reported that unemployment rates doubled and remained higher than before the recession for workers aged 55 and older. Household incomes fell by six percent for those 55 to 64 years old. For those 65 and older, Social Security and other benefits did little more than help keep them out of poverty. The several stock market crashes we have endured have reduced the amount of money we so diligently put aside--and there isn't time for us to recoup those losses. So household net worth fell for all older adults during the recession, and poverty rates increased for those between 55 and 64. Older people who lost their jobs are finding it much more difficult to find work. They are left with no option other than raiding their retirement savings--if they have retirement savings.

And now, the lunatic right that has taken over the Republican party wants to reduce Social Security benefits--or eliminate the program altogether--despite the fact that Social Security will be solvent and able to pay benefits on schedule for at least 20 more years. Why? Pure greed. Enrich the already rich corporations and let old people fend for themselves. Despite the fact that Social Security is not a government giveaway; those of us who have been working for 50 years have paid into the program via deductions from our paychecks for all that time.

So, yes. I'm pissed. Off. Not cranky. Furious. Many of our elected representatives--the greedy right and the spineless left, all of whom, by the way, suck off the government teat until they die, with extremely generous healthcare and retirement programs--are ready to hang us out to dry so they can line their own pockets with cash from their corporate buddies.

Really? Really? Is that what you think? Because, you know, it's us--the old people--who vote. We vote in school board elections. We're old enough to have had parents and uncles and neighbors who fought in World War II to save the world from tyranny and preserve democracy. We take voting seriously.

And this angry old broad is here to tell you: You fuck with Social Security, and we will kick your asses. Believe it.

So that's who I am.

Just to expand the record, I've earned my living for decades as a writer and editor. I was a dog rescuer for 14 years. And when I'm not pissed off, I love reading, music, movies, decorating, cooking, gardening, fashion, design, antiques, fall, fireplaces, and Christmas. We'll leave the things I don't love for another time. There are plenty of those too.

A very belated welcome to my blog!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What do those Wall Street protesters want?

Oh, Fox News! How hilarious you are! When the Tea Party demonstrations were at their peak, you referred to them as "patriots." Even when demonstrators showed up with guns strapped ostentatiously to their hips. Even when they waved signs showing Obama with a Hitler moustache. Or a watermelon. But the Occupy demonstrators show up without guns or Hitler references, and what do you call them? Terrorists.

You would be so damn funny if you weren't so damn dangerous.

But this post isn't about Murdoch's evil empire. It's about those demonstrations. Because we're Americans, we like simple answers, so pundits and just regular people want to know what, exactly, the Occupy demonstrators are all about. Stated simply and directly, please, with no annoying grey shades to obscure the black-and-white.

OK. Here you go.

In a Letter to the Editor of the Chicago Tribune, Linda Finley Belan sums it up in a way that anyone other than the blindly loyal followers of Drug-addled Gasbag Rush Limbaugh* can understand.

Read it here:,0,1281188.story

In her cogent analysis of why big business is the target of these demonstrations, she says this--my favorite paragraph in her excellent essay: "Executives lament that they can't accomplish both goals [maintaining stock value and being profitable] by blaming their problems on external issues. They waste millions in buying off politicians to fix attention-diverting problems, like regulations and taxes. If they kept the millions they're throwing at the politicians and invested in their companies, they could jump start the economy right now."

Simple enough? It makes perfect sense.

*I believe that Stephanie Miller may have trademarked this description. If she didn't, she should have.