Friday, January 8, 2016

We aren't the Mississippi of the Midwest...We're the Louisiana

Are you fucking kidding me? Nope...this is the KC Star not "The Onion." Can we get rid of these republican clowns, outstaters? Oh, that's right...Roy Temple and the Missouri Democratic Party don't bother putting up candidates n those races. So we get this...we're the fucking Louisiana of the Midwest.This is what I mean when I say it's hard to be from here sometimes
"Lobbyists who have sex with a Missouri lawmaker or a member of a lawmaker’s staff would have to disclose it to the Missouri Ethics Commission under a bill introduced Wednesday in the Missouri House.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bart Korman, a Montgomery County Republican, defines sex between lobbyists and legislators as a gift. As such, sexual relations would have to be included on monthly lobbyist gift disclosure forms."

Read more here:
Lobbyists who have sex with a Missouri lawmaker or a member of a lawmaker’s staff would have to disclose it to the Missouri Ethics Commission under a bill introduced Wednesday in the Missouri House.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bart Korman, a Montgomery County Republican, defines sex between lobbyists and legislators as a gift. As such, sexual relations would have to be included on monthly lobbyist gift disclosure forms.
Read more here:
“For purposes of subdivision (2) of this subsection, the term ‘gift’ shall include sexual relations between a registered lobbyist and a member of the general assembly or his or her staff. Relations between married persons or between persons who entered into a relationship prior to the registration of the lobbyist, the election of the member to the general assembly, or the employment of the staff person shall not be reportable under this subdivision. The reporting of sexual relations for purposes of this subdivision shall not require a dollar valuation.”
The 2016 legislative session began Wednesday with a focus on legislative ethics laws. That focus comes after a year that saw two Missouri lawmakers forced to resign over scandals involving interns.

Read more here:

I give thanks every day for the handful of Missouri House Dems who are willing to wade into that snake pit every January. When they were in charge important shit like keeping for-profit prisons out of the state got passed. Not prurient nonsense like this.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A dispatch from the other side of the looking glass

How quickly life can change.

The period between Thanksgiving and New Years is my favorite time of year and it always has been, but this year a huge dark cloud was cast over the celebrations because the day before the holiday we had to bury my husband's first cousin and my last real friend from childhood. She was a random victim of a spree killer who killed another woman and shot into a running city bus and an occupied residence before he killed her. She was in Jackson, Mississippi for a Job Corps convention. It is still fucking with my head that she died alone, hundreds of miles from home and the people who loved her.

The Wednesday after Thanksgiving we buried my father-in-law. The ceremony was a bit tense because my husband and his Backwoods Barbie sister have been estranged from one another for twenty years.

The day after the funeral, I returned to work, and while I was outside with the 4th and 5th graders at recess I got a text message from my attorney in Bethany had just called him and told him there was money in accounts at two different banks. We had no idea how much it was, or anything like that.

We made a trip up to Bethany to go to the bank, and you could have knocked me over with a feather. We don't have enough that we can do nothing, but we do have enough that we can do the things we want to do and not worry about paying the bills if we're smart about managing what was left after Tom bought me the house of my dreams in the historic Coleman Highlands neighborhood for a birthday present.

We sold our shirtwaist over ten years ago, because we were convinced it was too much house, and we lived for two years in a hobbit-hole apartment that was dark and quiet all the time -- the ideal apartment for a night-shifter like me who needed to sleep during the day. When I no longer worked nights and that apartment depressed the hell out of me, we moved to the apartment we lived in for almost eight years. Not only were we wrong to think the adult children would stay gone. Of the eight years we lived there, it was just the two of us for three months. We were thinking that clearly we had fucked up selling the shirtwaist. I never want my children to feel they don't have a place with me, so we made do, whether we had one extra person or four, in 1,032 square feet.

After we went to the bank, we went house hunting and put an offer in on the 100+ year old house of my dreams in a section of town I never thought I would be fortunate enough to live in.

Zoe's dad has the 3rd floor, and on the 2nd floor, the grandsons (almost 3 and almost 4) have a room at Nana's house...or any kid that happens to be under my roof for any length of time will have a proper kids room, just as adult guests will have a proper guest room. We have the largest bedroom, and Zoe has the smallest, but she has a suite. She has two rooms, a bedroom and a sunroom/study.

Downstairs we have a wood-burning fireplace in the living room, a sitting room off to the side that Zoe and I have squared off over...she wants it for video games and I want it for yoga. There is a half-bath that is also the laundry room. We bought a front-loading washer and dryer that can be stacked later when we put a badass steam-shower cabinet where the washer is now.

Since I have a formal dining room, I bought a table that will seat eight comfortably when the leaves are attached, and the matching buffet/sideboard. The table we had is in the kitchen, and at the end of the kitchen, overlooking the back yard, the deck and the awesome houses in my neighborhood, I put a pub-height solid wood Bistro set. I was delighted to discover that a Cardinal is a frequent visitor to the tree in my back yard.

Charlie told me once when we were struggling that it wouldn't always be this hard, and he guaranteed it. I thought I knew what he meant when we moved to the apartment and changed a lot of the things in my life so I could write and be a pioneer where social media and journalism intersect. We had all the things we needed and most of what we wanted.

Then my brain tried to kill me. Twice. It wiped us out. I literally had to borrow money to get to his funeral.  A couple of days later, I knew what he really meant when he said he would guarantee it would be easier.

I had a great father in law who loved us all very much -- including his redheaded-bitch daughter-in-law -- and he was always there to catch us when we fell. He planned his exit carefully, and made sure that if we fall again, we have a soft place to land.

Postscript: It just hit me what I missed the most the years I lived in the Greystone...When you do laundry and when you run the dishwasher, your house smells wonderful. Forevermore, when I smell that smell, the smell of Cascade, Tide and Downy, I will know that Charlie is with us in this family compound.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Yesterday my Father-in-Law became a data point

He was 85 years old, and he was in failing health, so he went on his own terms.

He laid down on his bed, and shot himself in the chest with one of his hunting guns.

He had been saying that everyone he had ever enjoyed spending time with or cared about was gone, and he ought to be, too, so he went sideways one day before his wife's birthday. She passed away in 1994, and he had been alone for a long time.

He joined the Marines to get out of Cainsville, won a sharpshooter award, and promptly got sent to Korea as a 19-year-old kid.

The things that he saw there haunted him all his life and he was still waking up screaming as recently as 10-years ago.

He was the reason we all, as a family, resigned our lifetime memberships in the NRA. He had been to war. He had been to war, he didn't believe civilians had a reason to own machine guns. We were on leave and pulled up the driveway. He was in his pickup with a razor blade scraping the decal out of the back window. We joined President H.W. Bush in that act.

When the kids were little and one of them would get in trouble, he would say "You better get over here by Grandpa where it's safe."

When his grandson was a smart-mouthed adolescent, he gave me the truest bit of parenting advice I've ever gotten. It was cold, and drizzling, and we were up at his place for deer season. The kid made some smart-alec remark and I wanted to slap the braces off his teeth. I rolled my eyes and muttered that I couldn't wait until the raising-them part was over. He looked at his son who was about 20 feet away skinning a deer and said "It ain't ever done, it just gets different."

Since we had just moved into a house he had given us the down payment for, I had to agree.  Twenty-plus years later, I still agree, and in fact, quote it often.

Rest in Peace, Charlie. I will miss you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How dare they!

I think the most disturbing thing I have seen in several years popped up when I was searching for Kristy's obituary. I stumbled across a disturbing, disgusting white supremacist site that was racially politicizing the fact that her killer was black and the two victims he shot and killed were white women. (I'm not linking that xenophobic, race-baiting site.) 

His family says he is mentally ill, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. 

The site that turned my stomach, that presumed to speak for our family, and turn our grief into hate -- sneered at that, but Kristy would be the last person to sneer at that notion. My husband's mother, Kristy's favorite aunt and the most amazing mother-in-law to me and grandmother to my children, was a schizophrenic. When her psychiatrist took her off the medications she had been on long term to allay the symptoms of tardive diskenesia that she was starting to exhibit, it cost her her lucidity. For the rest of her life, about six years, her relationship with reality was tenuous, fragile and arbitrary. None of the new generation of medications worked for her, and when she was finally put back on her original prescriptions, the results were never as good as they had been before. She had good days, and bad ones. 

I spent hours on the phone with Kristy one weekend when she disappeared and walked to a truck stop over 30 miles from her home. Kristy was frantic the entire time Lois was missing -- and both of us were pretty worthless as part of the search party -- we both had young children and were over a hundred miles from where she went missing from. I finally convinced her that the best thing we could do was stay at home in case she showed up at one of our houses, and we kept one another talked down, so neither of us got so nervous and worried about this woman we loved and were fighting for, that we threw up. I was on the phone with her when the call waiting beeped. It was my father-in-law calling to tell me she was safe and he was on his way to pick her up. I clicked back over, told her that her Aunt Lois was safe, and she burst into tears. We cried together on the phone that night, and both of us called her psychiatrist on Monday morning and threatened to come in with all five of our kids and let them have run of the place until he talked to us unless he got her on a medication that would keep her from doing something so dangerous again...That's when he came on the phone with me, telling me that wouldn't be necessary, he was going to put her back on the original drug cocktail that had worked for 30 years, and would call the meds in to the pharmacy up home as soon as he was off the phone with me.

I think I know a bit more about our family dynamics than some white supremacist blogger who would love to see a race war. I have a pretty good idea what Kristy would want to know if she had survived her wounds. Once she learned of his diagnosis, she would have true compassion for him, and her anger, once she was strong enough to be angry, would be properly placed. It would be at the state of Mississippi for failing to implement the ACA and expand Medicaid and access to mental health care. She would also be angry that a mentally ill person was able to so readily obtain an assault weapon. And if she wasn't angry about the assault weapons ban sunsetting, she would be when I got through firing her up.

But she isn't here to fight this battle with me, so I have to fight it for her. 

I want to know if he was receiving regular treatment for his disease that included blood tests that would tell the care team if he was taking his meds, or if he was the social equivalent of a lit fuse, just waiting to go off. Something tells me he wasn't receiving care and monitoring. Mississippi hasn't participated in the ACA by setting up an exchange or expanding Medicaid so people who need mental healthcare can access it at least as easy as they can get their deranged hands on a TEC-9.

She would want to know about his support network, and who was there to help keep him on his meds and going to class. 

And she would be more than a little bit pissed that it was so easy for him to get his hands on a military-grade assault weapon.

She and I had the conversation many times before I left medicine. She worked with at-risk youth and I worked in an inner-city ER. I watched the effects of the assault weapons ban sunset in real time.  I started wearing Birkenstock gardening clogs to work because I could put them in the autoclave if they got bloody. I made that switch when I got home and picked grey matter out of my shoelaces three nights one week. When I quit my job and only worked per diem on the bench, and got off trauma teams, she was so relieved, because she was afraid I would either get shot while treating a victim of a gang shooting, or catch a stray bullet in the parking garage (three times in a five week period, I wasn't able to leave work because the parking garage was a crime scene). 

I resent the death of the most loving woman in the world being used to stoke hatred by someone who not only didn't know her, but wasn't raised by anyone who could get scouted for her league. If they had been raised by a person as loving and wonderful as Kristy, they sure as hell wouldn't be using the death of someone they don't even know to fuel racial hatred. They might be pissed that a mentally ill person got hold of an assault weapon so easily, and they might point out that Mississippi is what is known as a "donor state" where guns are concerned.  But they sure as hell would not presume to lecture her son on why his mother was "really" murdered.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I already miss you, Kristy

Kristy Bears Mitchell
June 5, 1966 - November 19, 2015

My cousin was murdered last week.

She was in Jackson, Mississippi on business for Job Corps, where she had worked for many years.

She was actually Tom's cousin, but I frequently joked that I married him so I could be related to her.

I was the only "big kid" that her dad, my husband's favorite uncle, would let her get in a car with when she was a young teenager.

When Jimmy Ray and I were inventing the concept of "friends with benefits" she was jealous because he was her crush. When I had to tell her he was dead, she was devastated. A couple of years after that, she had to call me to tell me that Tom's brother had died in his sleep the night before.

The summer between my Junior and Senior year, Jimmy Ray and I were parked at the water tower one night to do what kids in rural Missouri did when they were parked at water towers in the late seventies and early eighties...we were there to smoke dope and screw.

What we didn't know was that Kristy and her best running buddy, Richard, had climbed the water tower and were started down when we pulled in. I had shed my swimsuit cover-up and was rolling a joint, and I was already having a hard time because Jimmy Ray was pawing at me when I got the holy hell scared out of me...Kristy and Richard had proceeded down the water tower and snuck up on my car and slapped their hands against the windows on either side and started whooping and hollering. Weed went everywhere, Jimmy Ray looked like a frightened rabbit pulling up his swim trunks, and I screamed. I looked to my left, terrified, and saw Kristy, laughing her ass off, on the other side of my drivers side window.

I'm the only person left who was there that night; and all of the others died far too young and their deaths were senseless. Jimmy Ray died of an overdose in January of 2009. Richard died later that year -- just hours befor Kristy could get to the hospital -- of the same complex lung and bone cancer that has claimed or is claiming the lives of everyone who cooked meth around our home town in the 90s and early 2000s.

Kristy was murdered with an assault weapon, a military-grade rapid-fire gun.

Her son was deployed to war zones twice, and had his best friend die in his arms on his first deployment, but his mother was gunned down with a weapon of war in a steakhouse parking lot, in daylight, in an American state capitol.

Let that sink in.

Our son was born about a year before hers was, and she simply reversed the order of the names we had chosen, then when her first grandson was born, she switched them back, so our son has a ten-year-old namesake. When he was putting that Rockhurst University Philosophy and Theology education to work as an IBEW electrician, he found himself working in Excelsior Springs, where she lived, about 30 miles north of Kansas City. He stayed to work an hour of overtime, and discovered when he got in his truck to leave that his gas light was on, and his wallet was on my kitchen table. He had taken it out of his pocket when he brought the dog upstairs to leave me money to go buy dog food for our shared hound, and left the whole thing. He called me, wondering if I could call a gas station with my credit card number. I said "I have a better and simpler idea." I called Kristy, and she was there within 20 minutes, pulling her Ford truck up beside his, with a $20 bill that she didn't want him to repay, just give her a hug and tell his folks she loved us all.

And that is what I choose to remember, even though I can't forget how she died.

What I have gathered so far is that the weapon was a TEC-9 assault weapon, and she was shot on the left side of her abdomen. I have seen a lot of left-side-abdomen wounds that the victim recovered from if they were inflicted with a plain old 9 mm handgun, but in 22 years of medicine, I only saw two people who were shot with assault weapons anywhere in the thoracic cavity who survived.

This was already going to be a sucky holiday because my cousin Jeannette, who had me with her when her first child was born, and had me deliver her second child at home a little over 26 years ago, died suddenly last February. We named the baby girl together, after our great-grandfather Riley, who only I was old enough to remember...yesterday was her birthday.

I'm having a rough week. Bear with me.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Why is there no #WomensLivesMatter hashtag?

Don't tell me I'm being hysterical when I say there is a war on women, and women are losing.
If that weren't the truth, do you really think medical professionals would let a woman die before they would terminate a pregnancy when the fetus was doomed no matter what? Yet it happens. Not every day, but far too often.

When you show up at an emergency room in need of urgent medical care, you have a reasonable expectation that you’ll be given the treatment you need — that the staff will do everything they can to save your life and protect your health. In fact, ERs are required by law not to turn anyone away for any reason.
Unless you’re a Catholic-affiliated health system. At least, that’s what one Catholic hospital system would like you to think, even though they’re dead wrong.
In October, the ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of their members against Trinity Health Corporation, one of the largest Catholic health systems in the country, for its repeated and systematic failure to provide women experiencing pregnancy complications with appropriate emergency abortions as required by federal law.
In response to the lawsuit, the hospital submitted a brief arguing that state and federal law allow Trinity to “refuse to allow abortions to be performed on hospital premises,” in the context of emergency miscarriage treatment when the woman’s life or health is at risk.
Let that sink in: Even when a woman’s life or health is at risk, this Catholic health system doesn’t feel a responsibility — legal, ethical or otherwise — to help her. And they’re perfectly comfortable saying it in a public legal document.
They know that if the woman dies, the baby dies, right? That's kinda axiomatic. This is where the wall between church and state should be the tallest and the strongest. Of the three things that Americans are entitle to, per our founding documents, (Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness), they put Life first.
She is a human being and she may have other children who will be left motherless. This is the 21st century...not the third, and Jesus never said anything about Abortion anyway, thats dogma, not scripture. You do know the difference, right? They either have to treat the woman in front of them, or take every crucifix out of every Catholic hospital, because the last thing they get to call themselves is "Christians." What would Jesus do? Do you REALLY think the guy who supposedly spoke all those red words would let a woman die if the baby couldn't be saved?
This is one of the issues the church and I differ on. I believe in contraception, planned pregnancies and appropriate medical care if something goes wrong. Something only my next door neighbor, Lucy, and my immediate family knows is that I was pregnant in 1993, and when I realized I was having a miscarriage, even though I'm a Catholic, and my children were in class at the neighborhood Catholic school, I drove past a Catholic hospital where I had once worked on my way to Wesley Medical Center, because I knew that even though former coworkers would be treating me at St Joseph's, I would not be the priority. I also knew the fetus was doomed, so I made a medical professional's decision, and went to the hospital that would treat ME. But not every woman is a medical professional that can make a rational decision at such a time...and she shouldn't have to be.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Blogging and the Newswrap will resume tomorrow

It is my goal to get at least one post and a Newswrap up every weekday, and if something breaks on the weekend, I will try to get up my take.

Since I was last blogging regularly, I have gone back to work -- not in medicine, but as an elementary teacher. I'm strong and steady enough to be the second teacher in a combined 2-3 grades classroom with 24 kids roughly half-time. I am teaching religion class in the same Catholic school my granddaughter attends. They are getting the liberation theology bent, don't fret. It's a school that is about 65% Hispanic.  You better believe they know who Archbishop Romero was!

Anyway, some days I'm just wiped out when I get home, and those nights the Newswrap might be short, but I promise, regular blogging will resume tomorrow.

First came the kiddie-table debate...

* Oh, Little Ricky...You're funny, but you ain't Lucy & Desi funny. --BG

* Wow. So Huckabee doesn't believe in facts, reality, or Christian Charity. Good to know. --BG

* Oh, Chris. You poor victim, you.
Do you think your threats to the Chinese mean anything, and will he be ab oard Air Force One when it flies over those islands? --BG

* can't opt out of the Federal Exchange, you refused to set up a state exchange, forcing New Jersey residents onto the FEDERAL exchange. You just lied. --BG

* Told you he was funny...Little Ricky wants a 20% flat tax.
Chris, you dimbulb you, state and local taxes keep going up because of federal tax cuts for the rich (i.e. The Bush Tax Cuts). --BG

* Governor Huckabee wants a "fair tax" and Jindal wants everyone to have skin in the game. Poor people have a lot more skin in the game than rich people do, percentagewise.
Huckabee is just making my head hurt. --BG

* You know what I would like to see? A Democratic commercial that shows a family gathered around a new baby, just home from the hospital, and the doorbell rings...there stands an IRS man with a bill for over thirty grand, and he would congratulate the parents then put the bill in the basinet with the baby and say "Here is the bill for your birth tax." Because that middle-class kid (if the parents are lucky enough to remain middle class) will be paying off the Bush Tax Cuts all his or her working life. --BG

* Bored. Now.
None of these chumps are going to get the nomination. I will return after these guys are done and the really scary guys come out. --BG

* How can Huckabee oppose healthcare for all, and use a root canal as the ruination of a family economically?
I told you he made my head hurt. --BG

* Now Little Ricky is talking about the VA and saying we don't need it as it exists today, and he is asserting that the 37th best healthcare system as "the best in the world."
Is he clueless, or is he lying? --BG

* Do you know what a college graduate calls "American Exceptionalism"? "Jingoistic ethnocentrism." --BG

* What enemy has Little Ricky Sweatervest ever confronted?

* I like the fact that when my doctor writes a prescription, I get the medication that my doctor ordered from the pharmacist.
I like that everyone agrees that red lights mean "stop."
I like that when I put gas in my car, it is the formula that it says it is on the pump.
I like that I live in a state that regulates electricity so we can afford cooling in the summer.
I like turning the tap and getting potable water.
I like having air that is breathable and rivers that don't catch fire.
I like roads that don't swallow my car in potholes and bridges that don't collapse.
Yeah, government sucks. We should get it out of our lives.

* Sir Charles of Krauthammer is praising Fox Business for the softballs that were lobbed "this was a real debate, without ad hominem."
Excuse me? Have substantive questions been redefined as "ad hominem attacks" now?

* I lost count of the things that were just wrong, but I have seven hashmarks by "outright lies." I was too busy live-blogging this mess to write them down.

Liveblogging the debates

...Just not here. I'm doing that as part of my job with Washington Monthly at the Washington Monthly Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Nightowl Newswrap


How free your speech is depends on the amount of melanin in your skin -- The more you have, the less you are likely to get your First Amendment rights.

You can call me a mean-spirited asshole if you want -- but I'm glad Barbara and George 41 are alive to see Jeb! flame out in a spectacular, humiliating way,

You can't make this stuff up -- Conservatives are up in arms about what they perceive as "the creeping gay agenda" at...wait for it...Chik-Fil-A.

Ben Carson is one serious whack-a-doodle -- He asserted -- totally without evidence -- that the pyramids were built to store grain rather than as tombs. Seriously.

I wouldn't be bragging about it; I would be arranging for a crash course -- Ben Carson admitted today that he doesn't know much about US-Cuba policy.

A slap-in-the-face to "Big Cannabis" -- Ohio put a flawed, giveaway-to-big-ag marijuana legalization on the ballot today and the good people of Ohio saw through it and turned it down.

Enough already. The Feds need to take over all of St. Louis County -- "Driving While Black" is so last-century. The city of Pagedale, near Ferguson in St. Louis County has implemented a new scam...Owning a home while black.

A stabbing attack at the University of California - Merced -- Five people were stabbed and the suspect was shot dead on Wednesday morning. All of the victims survived, but the identity of the attacker, any motive he may have had, and past or present connection to the school has been released.

He has our backs -- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has announced a settlement with two drug companies on Thursday after his office audited the state Medicaid program and found a pattern of overcharging the state for their products.

They made their bed -- Since the people of Kentucky were stupid enough to elect Matt Bevin as Governor, they deserve the illness and death that will come their way as he does away with KYNect, the highly successful "Obamacare" plan that the state implemented under Governor Beshear. They're just about to find out that they are "those people" to the rich fucks who gulled them.

A little good news -- The conservative Colorado Board of Education members who held seats on the state's second-largest schoolboard who wanted a white-supremacist, alternative history taught to the students were booted off the school board yesterday. If they want to screw up kids, they can have their own and homeschool them. Everyone else's kids are off limits.

Well, it is where they belong -- A bill introduced by Jeff Merkley of Oregon would ban oil and gas exploration and drilling on public lands. It's a start....maybe the pendulum is swinging back the other way.