Category Archives: Bleeding-Heart Liberal

Sing the chorus, Papa Bear.

I’m sure most of you have already seen this, but it’s so good I had to post it.

The lyrics are available at YouTube. (Grownups – click on “Show More” under the video.)

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Filed under Bleeding-Heart Liberal, MeTube

The end of a terror

Twenty-four hours after I heard about Osama bin Laden’s death, there are only two things I’m sure of:

1. I don’t know how I feel.

2. However you feel is the right way for you to feel.

I’ve read and heard so much from people whose emotions range from elation and pride to frustration and sadness – those who are standing just a little bit taller today and those who are mortified by that type of response.  I can see everyone’s point.  I can’t come up with any reason for these people not to feel the way they feel, whatever it may be.  Really moving, strong, emotional moments like this can stir up lots of feelings and we can’t possibly assume they’ll be the same for any two people.

I do know it’s hard for me to celebrate the death of another human being at the hands of my government, although it’s not difficult to rationalize this man’s assassination.  I understand that, after what he had done, our leaders were left with a situation in which there was no simple “right” answer.  I am almost positive that if any number of factors in my life were different, I would have been celebrating in the streets last night instead of monitoring the internet for more information or a good one-liner that might help me describe my emotions.

I’m grateful that (from what I’ve read) no Americans or Pakistani civillians were killed in the firefight.  We’ve lost too many already.

It’s hard for me to understand the meaning of the word “justice” in this situation.  If you define “justice” as the death of the man who has led his followers to kill thousands, then yes.  It’s perfect.  If you define it as somehow making up for the previous deeds done, there is no way.  But if this brings something – closure, peace, a welcome moment of reflection – to those who have lost a loved one, I am glad.

I’m trying to use this as an opportunity to remember times when I’ve been particularly proud of my country, my government, or my fellow citizens.  How I felt in the weeks and months following 9/11, for instance, before I started scoffing at American flag bumper stickers and lapel pins.  Or when Obama was elected in 2008, when I was proud to be part of something historic and meaningful, before I became disillusioned once more.  Or what it was like before the TSA and Koran burnings and ground zero “mosques.”

I’m trying to ride the wave of excitement in an effort to reclaim those feelings and maybe unite with everyone for a moment in our emotions, whatever they are.  ‘Cause being proud to be an American feels so damn good.

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Filed under Bleeding-Heart Liberal, Deep Thoughts

The Real Meaning of Compassion

Dear Glenn Beck,

I am not a regular listener (or viewer) of yours, but a recording of one of your recent shows was brought to my attention this week. On Monday, you responded to a recent monologue by Lawrence O’Donnell and discussed your views on Planned Parenthood. The recording is available here.

Mr. Beck, I do not know you personally. I don’t know what it’s like to deal with the tragedy of losing your mother at a young age, not to mention alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce or spiritual awakening. I can’t imagine what it’s like to raise four children, one of whom suffers from a physical disability. I have never contemplated suicide, and I can’t imagine what depths of sadness and suffering you must have experienced to do so. Perhaps even more than once.

But even though I don’t know what you’ve been through, even though I may not see eye-to-eye with you on political issues, I try to have compassion. I try to pause before passing judgement, taking into account that you are in a different place than I am, making different decisions. And even if I disagree with your opinions, I understand that you must have your own reasons for forming them.

Compassion is part of what makes us human. When people forget how to empathize, good people get hurt. Their life savings is destroyed when the market collapses because people on Wall Street were only thinking of themselves. Their family is separated because their country’s leader believes that some of his people are worth less than others. They receive poor treatment at a hospital when their routine surgery goes awry, because the nurses and care providers are just punching the clock instead of caring for patients.

Considering how outspoken you were about the lack of compassion you encountered at the hospital a few years ago, I was appalled to hear your reaction to Lawrence O’Donnell’s reading of a letter from his friend who has taken advantage of the amazing services offered by Planned Parenthood. I understand that you are pro-life. I understand that you do not want the government to fund Planned Parenthood. I understand that you dislike Mr. O’Donnell. But I cannot understand your inability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for even one moment.

As Mr. O’Donnell’s friend mentions, women are strongly encouraged to get routine exams annually. These exams not only help care providers identify cancer (cervical, breast, and others) in its early stages – when it is more likely to be curable – they also help identify women who may be sick without knowing it. It is possible for a man or a woman who has only had one sexual partner in his or her whole life to be carrying something unknowingly. Having multiple partners during your lifetime is not unheard of, even among your friends, family and supporters. Even you, Mr. Beck, have had children with more than one woman.

So imagine that you are a woman in a long-term, monogamous relationship who needs annual exams, but you aren’t able to pay for them. Perhaps you are unemployed, like nearly 10% of Americans, and therefore do not have health insurance. Perhaps you are a college student, like myself, with a student insurance plan that does not cover annual exams. Perhaps you are lucky enough to be employed, but cannot afford to purchase health insurance because your rates are much higher due to a pre-existing condition, such as the Cerebral Palsy from which your daughter suffers, Mr. Beck. Imagine, for a moment, that you aren’t able to go to the same hospital the president of GE does, because you can’t afford it. And then imagine Planned Parenthood steps forward and tells you that your health and well-being are their priority, and they will treat you regardless of your ability to pay.

Imagine that you are a woman who suffers from ovarian cysts or migraines that are kept at bay by daily hormones known as “birth control pills.” You do not take the pills to prevent pregnancy, but you must pay $70 per month to fill your prescription. The cost of an annual exam pales in comparison with your monthly prescription refill costs.  And your doctor won’t renew your prescription unless you get an exam every year.

And then imagine that, during your visit to Planned Parenthood for your exam, you learn that they will also provide your medication. All they ask is that you pay what you can. Your health and well-being is important to them.

Now imagine that you are online at work or school or the public library one day, and you find a link to a recorded radio show in which a man you’ve never met calls you a hooker. He says that the only people who depend on Planned Parenthood’s services are prostitutes. He tells you to stop spending money on birth control pills and just use condoms instead. He tells you to stop killing babies. He says that you have internet access, so you should be able to pay for your medical care.

And then imagine, Mr. Beck, that you do a quick internet search and find out that this man has spoken out against the new law passed that prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions.  That he’s against the public option for people who don’t have the coverage they need.  And then you find a video of that same man a few years ago, talking intimately to a camera about “The real meaning of compassion.”

Just for a moment, try putting aside all of your political messaging and imagine how that might feel.

Only then, Mr. Beck, will you know the real meaning of compassion.

Sincerely,
M

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Filed under Bleeding-Heart Liberal, Deep Thoughts

Jon Kyl, this is what 3% looks like

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) recently stood on the Senate floor and stated that abortions are “well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does.” In reality, abortions only make up about 3% of the health and reproductive services Planned Parenthood provides. When this glaring error was pointed out to Senator Kyl, he released a statement saying that the statistic he gave on the Senate floor was “not intended to be a factual statement.”

Inspired by Senator Kyl, I came up with some statements of my own…

Note: None of these were intended to be factual statements.

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What’s Great About Iowa

Although I’ve never been there, these two videos have really made me love the state of Iowa:

They are also a good reminder that one law doesn’t speak for everyone.

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Filed under Bleeding-Heart Liberal, MeTube

Hello December!

Wow. I’m not going to lie, National Blog Posting Month was way harder this year than ever before.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s hardest to maintain a blog when there’s something big going on in your life that you can’t write about for one reason or another. It’s tough, because my blog is basically just a collection of my thoughts and ideas, so when my thoughts are totally consumed with something I can’t discuss, writing is nearly impossible. Normally I just take a temporary hiatus until something bloggable comes along, but I felt driven to complete the post-every-day challenge this month, even though my mind was elsewhere. I can honestly say I’m not proud of the quality of some of my posts, but hell, I did it.

I should have some fun stuff to write about in the near future, so I’ll try my best not to disappear in December like I have in past years. (Although, I will need to take a bit of a break to study for finals).

Until then, I thought I’d leave you with a few quotes from the past couple days that I liked:

“I trust in Portlanders’ sense of fairness; that bad actions by one member of any group does not and should not be generalized or applied more widely to other members of that same group. Otherwise, as part of the biggest racial group in Portland, European-Americans, producing many crimes daily, would be in deep trouble.”

– Portland Mayor Sam Adams, in response to a question about Portland’s Somali community in the wake of the bomb attempt here last weekend.

“We need to learn not to profile one race of people. Because actually, most of the world hates us.”

– Kyle from South Park

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Filed under Bleeding-Heart Liberal, Keeping Portland Weird, Words to Live By

Liberty Scanners

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin

I don’t believe I have all the information about the new TSA body scanners, although I have read quite a few articles on the subject in the last few days.  I’m not usually the type of person to worry about things like BPA-free water bottles, high-tension power lines or anything else that might somehow make me sick without my knowledge…  I guess I just figure there are so many things to worry about in this world that we can’t all worry about everything.  (And apparently, I have chosen to worry about spiders and logging trucks).  However, of all government agencies, I think the TSA would be the least likely to be concerned with my personal well-being, especially when sacrificing it could in some way make them feel “safer” or look tougher.

Of the handful of articles and posts I’ve read, this one was the most interesting to me because, although the author notes that he does not specialize in radiation, he is a Ph.D. student who is clearly used to thinking scientifically and doing research the rest of us might not think to do (or even know how to do).  He itemizes every juncture at which the TSA has failed to conduct thorough safety trials or utilize critical thinking.  I highly recommend reading it, even though it’s long.

What this post showed me, assuming it’s all factual, is that there are enough unanswered questions to make me want to opt out of these scanners the next time I fly (if I’m even subjected to them).  Although having a TSA employee pat me down is not an exciting option either, I think there is less potential risk.

It is worth noting, however, that other people who may have been traumatized in some sexual way (which I have not) might find both of these options (the scanner and the pat down) horrifying for different reasons.  I can’t even imagine how difficult that experience would be for them.

In some ways, I also feel bad for the people employed by the TSA who have to perform these scans and searches.  Although I’m sure some of them are just grown-up hall monitors on a power trip, I’m sure lots of them are people who just desperately need a paycheck and wish they weren’t the face of the organization that’s implementing these rules.  These shirts and underwear are kind of funny, but they’re sending the message to the wrong people.  I bet lots of the TSA personnel are even less excited about these new regulations than the people buying those shirts.

The other thing is that you can’t out-think terrorists.  No matter what you do, they will work harder and try crazier things to bypass your systems, if they really want to.  People who want to endanger others MORE than they value their own life and safety are absolutely terrifying for that reason.  I’m not saying that there will be another successful terrorist attack or that there won’t… I’m just saying that this constant search for the terrorist-proof system is fruitless and only stirs up more anger and fear, which is exactly what we don’t need.

As you can see, I haven’t exactly organized my thoughts on the matter, nor am I ever sure I’m getting accurate information, but it’s frustrating to feel this new system has been implemented before proper testing and without concern for the peaceful, innocent individuals it affects.

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Filed under Bleeding-Heart Liberal, Deep Thoughts, Travel, Words to Live By