Windup Trump

Now that the Trumpenstein monster has been set loose, and he’s not steadily walking in a straight line. Oh, no; he’s wobbling all around like the windup toy he is—bumping into walls, suddenly reversing course, coming dangerously close to the edge of the living room table before he turns on a dime and wanders off in the opposite direction. And we’re all getting dragged along with him. Our headlines. Our emotions. And our country and its policy as a whole.

One minute, we get a tweet about how the U.S. should “expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” Major policy involving the possible nuclear annihilation of entire nations laid out in 140 characters!

A few hours later, his aides scramble to catch Trumpenstein and put him right again before he topples over. They put out a statement to clarify—or to muddy the waters, rather—with a statement that’s EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT TRUMP TWEETED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Don’t worry, folks! He was actually talking about “the thread of nuclear proliferation and the need to prevent it” when he talked about expanding our nuclear capability. We know that’s not what he said, but…  Oh, shit. Where’s he going, now?!?

There’s no off button for Trumpenstein now that the GOP has wound him up. They can only hold their breath, following at a safe distance behind him and watching, horrified, as he spins around tweeting about Lockheed Martin, sending their stock price plummeting.

trump-windup

Pets and Cancer… A Tough Two Years.

We’ve lost two dogs to cancer in less than two years. And now we’re about to lose our cat to the same terrible disease.

It started in 2014 with our 9-year-old dachshund, Andy, who was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. By the time he started showing symptoms, the tumor on his spleen had swollen up a huge size and had begun to bleed. Our vet advised us to put him to sleep as soon as possible. We got a second opinion from an oncologist who advised us to remove his spleen—but that we were only buying a month or so, as the cancer had spread to his liver.

We did the surgery and bought two wonderful months with Andy. He’d have short bouts of pain (which we’d treat with heavy painkillers) and would bounce back after a few hours, vibrant, happy, and ready to eat, snuggle and play. When he finally passed, he went into one of his usual rounds of pain, we dosed him up on large amounts of medication, and he simply went into shock and left us.

Three weeks after Andy died, Gypsy—our beautiful 11-year-old Great Pyrenees, started limping. What we thought was a simple sprain ended up being a fracture caused by osteosarcoma. We opted for surgery—having the doctor put a brace and pins in the bone to keep it stable (as it was only a hairline fracture—and starting her on a regimen of pain medications to keep her happy.

And she was. She recovered from the surgery and was as good as new. We watched her carefully for any signs of pain or discomfort, continuing to keep her on a maintenance level of pain meds. We found a small, slow-growing cancer on her tongue, but it didn’t bother her or hinder her in any way. For nine glorious months, Gypsy was able to eat, play (gently, though, so as not to disturb the pinned bone!), get love, and be happy. When things did go downhill, they did it suddenly—with the growth on her tongue suddenly enlarging and bleeding and her limp returning all at once. She went from bright-eyed and happy to not feeling well within a matter of a couple of days and we knew it was time to let her go.

One year later…

I take our Beyonce cat in because she’s lost weight. I chalk it up to a recent food change (one of our other cats gets urinary crystals, so we had put all four of them on a urinary diet). I also notice a tiny nodule on her neck. Surely it can’t be cancer, I think; she’s a trim, happy, healthy 15-year-old kitty.

And it’s cancer.

Two days after her cytology, she had a brief seizure. It could have been a blood clot. It also could be cancer that has spread to her brain.

We can’t possibly know unless you take her and have more tests, the vet told us.

More tests.

Which brings me to the crux of this post.

We got Beyonce’s cancer diagnosis roughly three weeks ago. The vet X-rayed her lungs and saw what she thought was likely cancer that had spread (we found that out about a week and a half ago). Then we were given options, all of which involved specialists and dragging Beyonce to multiple appointments. We could have tests run to be sure the shadows in her lungs were cancer. We could have the neck tumor surgically removed. Have it radiated. Have it biopsied so we could try chemo. We could have her brain scanned to see if there was cancer there.

We opted to do none of the above.

Obviously, we’re not against trying lifesaving (or even life-extending) efforts on pets with cancer, as we’ve done it twice before. But there’s a difference between doing what you CAN do (just because you can do it) and knowing your pet…knowing in your heart what you SHOULD do.

Weight loss. A cancerous tumor on her throat. Shadows on her lung X-rays. A seizure that wasn’t consistent with a blood clot.

We didn’t need more tests to know that her cancer had spread.

We were heading out on an RV trip from Florida to Colorado and Beyonce was still feeling good. We took our two dogs and four cats and set out on what we knew would be a bucket list trip for Beyonce. (Our cats travel well in our RV and enjoy it.) One day from reaching Colorado (about ten days after the “you could do any of the above” discussion with the vet), Beyonce started going downhill. Breathing hard. Urinating outside of the litter box.

We had steroids and painkillers with us from our other cats (who had historically been the unhealthy ones), so—being in the middle of nowhere—we started her on those. Hoped that when we got to Colorado, she might rest, the meds might help her a bit, things might…

Our first day here, I called and made an appointment to take her in and discuss palliative care and what additional medications we could give her to make her comfortable. That was yesterday. Today, it’s apparent that the appointment will be a different kind of appointment. She’s no longer eating. Doesn’t want to drink very much. Despite the pain meds, she’s sitting hunched up under a bed or on a towel in the bathroom floor.

It all happened so fast.

We’re glad that her last couple of weeks weren’t spent dragging her from appointment to appointment.

While I’m dreading today’s appointment, it can’t come fast enough. I can’t quite get my head around it. I know she’s in pain and I know that this is the best thing we can do for her, but it goes against human nature to take the life of someone we love. We’re wired to save lives. We discover new ways to fight illnesses. We overcome major obstacles in order to survive. In emergencies, we are capable of superhuman efforts in order to save ourselves or others.

So it’s counter to everything inside of us to take the life of a loved one. It feels wrong, even when we know it’s the right thing to do. It’s strange to look at the clock and thing, “These are her last five hours on earth…her last four hours on earth…her last three hours…”

All the while, keeping her very doped up. We’d take her in sooner, but there were no available appointments and we don’t want to keep her waiting there, hurting and afraid in her carrier. We’d rather her wait here where she can hide where she feels more safe.

I’ll be so glad when this day is over.

 

beyonce and phoebe
Beyonce (on top of cat house)

The Republican Party’s Instant Karma

The Republican Party is in a full-out, nuclear meltdown. If they let Trump get nominated, he (statistically) loses to either Democratic nominee. If they go over his head to nominate someone else, he runs on a third-party ticket and still costs them the election.

As I watch the Republican Party begin to fracture, I can’t help but walk around humming this song. I’d like to dedicate this to all of the politicians who have spent the last few decades kicking around women, racial and religious minorities, as well as GLBT people, in order to unite their base.

Where Have All the **** Gone?

I needed to quickly check on the lyrics to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” (don’t ask; it was for a comment to a post by the Bloggess involving tumbleweeds and horny toads—neither of which have anything to do with flowers or where they’ve gone—do you now see why I said don’t ask?)

Long story short (too late!), I did a quick Google search and the first link I clicked on (which took me to Metrolyrics) displayed this:

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 10.43.33 AM
(Some of the shocking lyrics in question)

Explicit language? Whaaaat?

Pete Seeger: shocking audiences long before Marilyn Manson and Eminem did their thing. 

The Trumpenstein Monster Lives

The Trumpenstein Monster Lives

 

The monster that the Republican Party has been building for decades—it’s alive and it’s gonna be yuuuuuuge, I tell ya. We won’t call it a Frankenstein monster; let’s call it Trumpenstein.

The Origins of Trumpenstein

Just like the original Frankenstein monster, Trumpenstein was cobbled together from putrid, rotten bits and pieces that the GOP gathered over time. The first piece was acquired back in the 60’s when the Republicans decided that a great way to attract the white, southern, conservative voting demographic away from the Democrats would be the “Southern Strategy,” a plan that invoked a pre-Civil War-era argument for states’ rights. (At the time, “states’ rights” was a not-so-veiled code word for states having the ability to legally discriminate against black Americans.) And thus, the first part of the Trumpenstein monster was placed on the lab table…where it began to fester and grow more powerful.

*Insert evil, foreboding laughter, as well as ominous organ music and a few claps of thunder and some lighting strikes*

Trumpenstein’s Bible

The next important piece was haphazardly stitched into place in the late 80’s, when George H. W. Bush realized that he could use far-right evangelical Christians in his bid for the White House. Having previously railed against people like Pat Robertson (Bush called them “snake handlers and swindlers”), H. W. suddenly recruited Doug Wead to advise him on how to best court the evangelical vote. Wead created a strategy that included a staunch pro-life position and the term “compassionate conservative.” (The first part of this strategy is still going strong, but the second part has been long-abandoned by many of today’s so-called “Christian” conservatives, whose stunning lack of compassion is anything but Christ-like.) 

At this point, the Republican Party was not only blindingly white, but it was proudly wielding a cross. And so the grand experiment continued.

(Ivana and then Marla and then) Melania and Trumpenstein; not Adam and Steve!

Code words are a fantastic way for Republican politicians to say exactly how they feel in an acceptable, “politically correct” sort of way. In the early days of the Bush Jr. presidency, the code word du jour was “activist judges.” Meaning, of course, judges who recognized that refusing legal marriage protection to gay and lesbian couples was unconstitutional. When a Massachusetts judge ruled that same-sex couples who lived in the state should be allowed to legally marry, “activist judges” became the next of many code words the Republican Party used to stir up fear among its voters and unite them against yet another common enemy—the gay!!!

*insert more ominous music—music that is ominous to anti-gay conservative Christians, because gays are icky and terrifying to them, as well as music that is ominous to the rest of us, because it’s scary that anti-gay conservative Christians actually think they should be able to make laws based on their opinion that gays are icky and terrifying. Ominous music for everyone!*

I have to hand it to them; they’ve gotten A LOT of mileage out of this one. Here we are, over ten years after the Massachusetts court decision, and Republicans have shifted through a variety of anti-gay code words; we’ve gone from “activist judges” to revisit one of their greatest hits—“states’ rights.” We’ve talked about “protecting traditional marriage” and are currently concerned with “protecting religious freedom.” I’d actually like to digress for a moment and provide a handy translation guide for those who might be from more progressive countries and are confused by this terminology; here’s what it really means:

A BRIEF DICTIONARY FOR THOSE WHO ARE FROM PLACES WHERE THE GOVERNMENT IS WORRIED ABOUT ISSUES MORE PRESSING THAN STAN AND JOHN GETTING MARRIED, OWNING A HOME TOGETHER, RAISING TWO KIDS, AS WELL AS BEING ABLE TO LEAVE ASSETS TO ONE ANOTHER WITHOUT THOSE ASSETS BEING TAXED

“Activist judge”— Any judge who rules in favor of allowing a gay person to secure legal protections for their family, such as the 1,130 federal rights and protections granted by a marriage license, the ability to be the legal parent/guardian of their children, or the right to not be refused service or be physically/verbally abused because of their sexual orientation. A judge that rules against any of these civil rights is simply “upholding the Constitution” or “protecting religious freedom” (a phrase that we’ll get to shortly). 

“Protecting Traditional Marriage”— Strangely, those who speak the loudest about the value of a strong, healthy marriage feel that their marriage may be threatened by other people’s marriages. (It makes no sense to me, either.) Also, despite marriage being a conservative, stabilizing force in our society, these folks would like to limit marriage and exclude same-sex couples from settling down and taking responsibility for one another. Basically, a “traditional marriage” can only be between a man and a woman (ignoring Biblical traditions such as one man and his concubines or one man who trades a herd of livestock for his wife). Any such arrangement between a same-sex couple isn’t a “real” marriage (which, let’s face it, smacks of a childish, spoiled, Veruca Salt-level temper tantrum.)

Veruca Salt Marriage Tantrum

“States’ Rights”— Dating back to the Civil War era, this is a phrase that has historically been used to mean that the majority of people in each state should be able to decide the civil rights of minorities in that state. In the Jim Crow era, it meant that white people in places like Alabama should be able to decide whether or not black people could send their kids to school with white people’s kids, sit anywhere they wanted to on a bus or be forced to drink from specially-marked water fountains (lest “the black” be contagious, I suppose). In recent years, it has come to mean that heterosexual people in each state get to vote on whether or not they would like to let gay people get married, or whether they think it’s ok for business owners to put up “STRAIGHTS ONLY” signs (because historically, behavior like this is generally looked upon with glowing approval, years later).

“Protecting Religious Freedom”— See the latter part of the definition for “activist judge.” In the 60’s, many white so-called Christians argued that it violated Biblical beliefs for black children to intermix with their children at school. Today, a number of so-called Christians argue that it violates their religious beliefs to provide various services to gay and lesbian customers. (Also see the part of the previous definition where we reflect on how this sort of behavior is viewed decades later.)

Ok. Digression complete. Back to the creation of Trumpenstein.

Putred Patchwork

There were bits and pieces of Trumpenstein shoved into place in between the events I’m listing here, of course. There was the raging anti-Muslim sentiment that started in this country after 9/11, causing Muslims who had lived in the U.S. for their entire lives to fear for their safety. Hated of Muslims gave way to hatred of Mexicans, which gave way to hatred of gays, and then more hatred of Mexicans, which finally evened out into a general hatred of all three groups. There was the pro-Second Amendment furor in which the NRA (and the politicians riding around in their pocket) completely abandoned responsible gun owners in an attempt to frighten voters into believing that they were under imminent threat and should be able to carry any sort of weapon into wherever they’d like to carry it—and who needs any background checks or training? We don’t need no stinking classes!

*fires pistols into the air, Yosemite Sam-style*

Let There Be Palin

I’d like to think, however, that the last piece of the Trumpenstein monster was put into place when the Republican Party embraced Sarah Palin. Yes—the former Alaska governor with her word salad rantings against the particular class of people who try to co-opt our country within and without the dangerous world in which we now exist but through which we can thank God for all of the Americas for which we have been given and also therefore for which we should shy away from those who would take our money and our hearts and build more walls, God bless America!

The Palin era of presidential campaigning brought out a frightening celebration of anti-intellectualism. Palin herself was definitely not a cerebral type, unable to blurt out anything except, “Uh, all of ‘em” when asked by Katie Couric what newspapers she reads. Palin then went on the attack against “gotcha journalism” (journalism in which the reporter asks real questions about issues that voters would like to know about).

She also openly ridiculed “intellectual elites.” What does that mean, exactly? People who read books with, you know, words? Perhaps this refers to people who use facts to develop their beliefs, rather than just shouting something out and then crossing one’s arms and standing firm with a “Well, I have a right to my opinion!”

In the post-Palin era, this has become the conservative, Tea Party Republican refrain: “I have a right to my opinion”—no matter how false, ludicrous, hostile, or vile that “opinion” is. (For those who are interested in reading more about this phenomenon, I’ll point you to this excellent Houston Press article.)

It’s ALIIIVE!

With this final piece in place, Trumpenstein was complete. Its piggish eyes opened and its loud, boorish voice was ready to shout down the entire world with its “opinions.” It staggered around, reciting all the conservative talking points (“Keep out the Mexicans Protect Christians Overturn the marriage ruling Overturn Obamacare”).

But much to the horror of the Republican establishment (and amidst the cheers of the Tea Party base the GOP had so recently courted), Trumpenstein had a few tricks up its sleeve: it also spouted sexist things about women, said that it would block all Muslims from entering the country and register the ones who already live here, and Trumpenstein seemed rather wishy-washy in its feelings about white supremacist groups.

Now, the question is this: will the GOP protect or discard their monstrous creation?

Trumpenstein Its Alive

 

Let’s Talk Persecution…

“You should watch the Republican debates and town halls,” my wife told me yesterday. “I know you don’t like the candidates, but you should know your enemy.”

I DO know my enemy. I’ve been following gay and lesbian politics and activism since I was 17 years old. I knew who people like Ben Carson and Ted Cruz were long before they broke onto the national stage—and I knew them because of the malicious, cruel things they were saying and doing to hurt me, my family, and my friends.

But still, I watched bits of the GOP town hall last night. Ben Carson talked quietly, as usual. As he’s not doing well in the polls, I didn’t pay much attention and spent that time finishing up some work.

Ted Cruz Official
By United States Senate – Office of Senator Ted Cruz, Public Domain

I did watch Ted Cruz, however, and he absolutely terrified me. The feeling of dread and anxiety he left me with is exactly why I don’t watch Republican debates. It was like listening to a “call-and-donate-and-I’ll-heal-ya” televangelist. He was obsequious and slimy.

He was absolutely adamant in his promise to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage—the one that brought so much joy (as well as much-needed family protection) to so many people last summer. He spoke of Christians who are being persecuted (by not being allowed to practice their anti-gay beliefs at their jobs was the subtext)…all this while throughout the country, my transgender friends are facing jail time simply for using the correct restroom, gay people can be fired from their jobs if their bosses find out they have a same-sex spouse, and thousands of gay couples and families are watching this presidential race in absolute horror, knowing that their status as a family unit hangs in the balance based on the outcome of this election.

Don’t tell ME about persecution. When I came out, the religion in which I was raised labeled me as one of the worst kinds of sinners and I was told that I’d be destroyed as soon as the ever-looming End of the World arrived (thank you, Jehovah’s Witnesses). I was deemed a “biological error” by a beloved conservative talk show host when I was seventeen (thank you, Dr. Laura). As the years went on and gay people got tired of being beaten up, fired from their jobs, treated like strangers from the person with which they chose to spend their lives, and denied guardianship of their children, I watched conservative groups and politicians rally in order to make us into a threat to (of all things) family and marriage. We were the threat to these things while all we wanted to do was be safe, go to work, take care of our families and be able to take responsibility for our spouses. They painted us as the outcasts; the enemies to conservatism and the all-American way of life. 

I’m so very weary. It’s frustrating having to filter your life on a social level and its downright anxiety-inducing to not be able to count on normal, everyday protections and respect on a legal level. I’m tired of feeling this worry; tired of gearing up for this fight over and over again. But don’t tell me about persecution, please. Experiencing these sorts of things make it easy for you to pick out the real persecutors very quickly.