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. 

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

* Umm...Chris...you 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.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Nightowl Newswrap

  • You might be a badass -- but you will never be 91-year-old Jimmy Carter, battling cancer and building a house for the unfortunate badass.
  • Post-racial society my lily-white ass -- Supreme Court justices use unique rhetorical devices all the time, but no one has ever delivered a scathing condemnation like the one Sonia Sotomayor delivered about racism in the legal system of this country. She used her own relatives that are incarcerated to make her point.
  • Oh Thank God! -- I am so relieved that Jon Stewart has inked a deal with HBO. I don't think I could survive a presidential election without him.
  • Still smiling. And proud of the people in my city -- The Royals victory parade was today, and 800,000 people crowded into about 7 blocks of Downtown and the Crossroads. There were only three arrests and they weren't for anything related to the festivities.
  • Oh Yay! The left has it's own version of 'Unskewed Polls'! -- I understand the science of polling. This bullshit meets none of the criteria for credibility. On-line polls are crap because the same people can vote over-and-over, and it was conducted over months instead of days....so take it with a huge, boulder-sized grain of salt, people.
  • The irony is rich...these are the same asswipes who clutch their pearls and shriek about Sharia law, but they're all about hiding behind "biblical arbitration." Personally, I won't sign any contract that binds me to arbitration vs having my day in court if they fail to live up to their end of it.
  • Poor Jeb(!) -- he can't fix his campaign or his party. Turns out fixing elections is a LOT easier.
And now, a little Midnight music, this one for my boys in blue -- 

Grow the Hell Up

I've been seeing a lot of people on Facebook indignantly posting -- and heard them saying -- that if Bernie doesn't get the nomination, they will just sit out the election.

What a bunch of morons.

Never mind that there are a hell of a lot more races on the ballot, and every one of them will have the potential to impact their lives in far more dramatic ways than a President can. I've said it before, and I will say it again...the farther down the ballot someone's name appears, the more direct the impact that person is capable of having on your life. A sheriff with a grudge has the means and the power to fuck up your world in ways a President can't.

I especially find this kind of sentiment troubling in Missouri, where we will be selecting a new Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General. Currently, Democrats hold those positions and have been able to keep the wingnuts in the legislature -- where republicans have supermajorities -- from ruining our lives thoroughly.

The fact of the matter is, we live in a political duopoly, and if you withhold your vote from one party you are, in essence, affirmatively casting your vote for the other party. Not only that, but in any democracy, withholding your vote entirely allows everyone to write you and your interests off. You think when you write your state or federal representatives they don't check to see whether you vote or not? Trust me. They do. If you don't cast a vote that counts, you don't count. (Nor should you.)

Here is the bottom line: your tender sensibilities aside, a President will still be elected, even if the turnout is only 1% since there is no minimum required ballot count to win any national elective office... all you need is half-plus-one of the actual vote (or, in the case of the president, half-plus-one of the electoral college.)

Throwing a tantrum like a two-year-old and withholding your vote simply means you are hurting yourself. Which wouldn't bother me if you only brought hell down on your own head, but me and mine are standing next to you.

It was true when Ben Franklin said it, and it's true now: "Politics is the art of the possible." Nobody gets everything they want, and I can read polls, including the cross-tabs and the internals -- and this was not a poll. Polls have a much smaller sample size, are conducted over a shorter window of time, and people are only contacted one time. This was an online survey and people could vote more than once, from each device they have access to, over a three month period. I know people vote for things they believe in every day for as long as they can. (I myself voted 35 times for the Royals in the All-Star game to unlock the badge and put it on my Facebook page.) Bernie isn't going to get the nomination, and that's the tale of the real polls. But he is providing a vital service by dragging the Overton Window back to the left, thereby forcing Hillary to move left, and that's all beyond good -- it's wonderful.

But ultimately, Bernie is like another Jewish fellow I know, love and respect, and I'm quite fond of both of them. It's their ardent fans who scare me spitless.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Nightowl Newswrap

After ten and a half years of blogging, I'm back where I started...On Blogger and at a site titled "Blue Girl, Red State" -- although my children say I should change the name to "Mom's Fired Up Again!" Maybe I'll replace the Mark Twain quote in the header with that...

Nonetheless, my email inbox tells me that the Newswrap has been missed, and far be it from me to deny the public what they want, so here goes...

  • No fights, no arrests and no car-be-cues -- Kansas city has more than a championship baseball team. We have champion-caliber citizens all around. Last night we took the crown, and there was no civil unrest at all. When I brag about Kansas City, I'm not blowing smoke, I'm stating facts...this is the most awesome place I've ever lived.
  • Bill Gates on Climate Change: Capitalism Can't Save Us -- The world's richest man is telling an uncomfortable truth:  The private sector is too selfish to do what is right for the good of all and for the good of our home, Planet Earth. He is pledging two billion dollars towards making the US fossil-fuel free by 2050 and challenging other billionaires to put up, too.
  • Pope Francis brooks no foolishness -- In a signal that the ongoing scandal swirling around the Vatican Bank is not coming to an end any time soon, two officials, a Monsignor and a female civilian employee, were arrested for leaking information to the media about the scandal. The female employee cooperated and was released from custody; the Monsignor is cooling his heels in a Vatican jail cell.
  • This isn't his father's Oldsmobile Presidential Campaign -- Jeb! just seems lost...so much so that I would feel sorry for him if his last name wasn't "Bush," but since it is, he can suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and hopefully get humiliated along the way. The last time he ran a race for anything, the blogoshere was AOL chatrooms. Now, there's someone like me at every campaign stop, just itching to be the one that catches him with his metaphorical pants down.
  • And ponies! They forgot to ask for ponies! -- The GOP candidates were quite rattled after the last debate, when CNBC's moderating panel of trickle-down sycophants asked actual questions and pointed out their math lies, so now they have a whole new list of demands for future debates because if there is one thing a republican hates, it's answering questions, because so few of them are smart enough to have answers.
  • More bad news for Volkswagon -- As if cheating on emissions tests wasn't enough bad news, now we learn they covered up failed to report to US regulators data on deaths and injuries from MVAs involving their cars.
  • Read the 14th Amendment, morons -- Anyone born in the U.S. is automatically a citizen, and some wingnut state or county officials refusing to issue birth certificates won't change that fact of Constitutional Law.
  • Jeb! can fix it? -- Are we talking about his prowess and acumen at fixing the country, or the 2000 election? Of the former, I have my doubts, of the latter, I do not.
And now a little midnight music -- one of my favorite Indigo Girls tunes: