Predictions for the New Year

December 21, 2013

Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s list time.

I don’t know what it is about the last two weeks in December that make journalists everywhere compile inane lists about various things that happened over the past year, but it’s true. I’m not really fond of lists or anything, but they’re easy to make and I have the perfect topic.

2014 is going to be a big year for several reasons, and here’s why.

Republicans are going to stay in control of the House, and Democrats will stay in control of the Senate

Here’s why. Gerrymandering is a real thing. It still exists and all the voters in the United States have been manipulated within an inch of their lives. So even though there are a few notable congressmen and women who are retiring (re: Michelle Bachmann), the general political makeup of the House will remain the same.

Besides, there aren’t many notable challengers for the 2014 general election. So nothing’s really likely to change.

Jennifer Lawrence is going to crash and burn

I don’t like the thought, believe me. I adore J.Law as much as the next woman, but it’s only a matter of time. She’s in early 20s, and she’s already hugely successful. She’s going to experience the inevitable quarter-life crisis that every twenty-something experiences, and since she’s a celebrity, she’s going to do it publicly.

It’s a shame that people have put her on such a pedestal, because everyone’s going to hurt when she falls.

CNN is going to get worse

I am not particularly fond of television news so I don’t have a high opinion of CNN to begin with, but I think everyone can safely agree that it sucked in 2013. Ergo, it’s only going to get worse.

I hope Anderson Cooper has the sense to get out before it’s too late.


So you think you’re informed?

November 23, 2013

I’m an information snob.

By that, I mean I hate it when my friends try to tell me they’re “informed.” Usually what they mean by that is they watch “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report” and listen to NPR every so often. They think that by being on Facebook and following @CNN on Twitter means they know what’s going on in the world.

This drives me fucking crazy.

Granted, I work in news, so my standard of “being informed” skews kind of high. I work with highly informed individuals on a daily basis, and a lot of my daily interaction comes from people who work in government. It’s my job to be as informed as humanly possible. I guess it’s why I’m a snob when it comes to “being informed.”

Case in point: before SCOTUS handed down its ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, a friend on Facebook had posted a status about how gay people should allowed to get married because love is love. Then he said he was in favor of Prop 8.

facepalm

In case you didn’t know, the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2008, but a ballot measure known as Proposition 8 passed that fall, which made gay marriage illegal again. So my friend was basically saying he was in favor of gay people getting married, BUT NOT REALLY.

And you know what I ESPECIALLY hate? I hate it when people try to one-up me when it comes to being informed. Old college friends try to do that a lot. They try to tell me, “Oh, I stay so well-informed. I know what’s going on in the world. I understand current events. I think the government shut down was total bullshit. I think the health care roll out is a disaster.”

Yeah, OK. Good for you. You took a cursory glance at CNN’s homepage. Have a cookie.

But here’s a little test I’ve devised to see how truly informed an individual is. When someone comes up to me bragging about how informed they are, you should ask them this series of questions in this exact order:

  1. Who’s the president of the United States?
  2. Who are the U.S. senators for your state?
  3. Who’s your U.S. representative?
  4. Who’s the governor of your state?
  5. Who’s your state senator?
  6. Who’s your state representative?
  7. Who’s your mayor?
  8. Who’s your city council person?

Chances are they’ll know the answer to Nos. 1, 2 and 4. The rest, they’ll be screwed.

Look, everyone and their mother can stay informed of national politics. In this day and age of information and technology, you’d literally have to be living under a rock not to know who the president is. But if you want to impress me by how informed you are, then keep up with LOCAL current events because that is where the majority of shit gets done. The ordinances and state laws that happen practically in your backyard is what affects your life the most. It isn’t Obamacare, it isn’t the government shut down. It’s the municipal government, the county government and yes, your state government.

So when you’re able to answer all of those questions, then I’ll be impressed. But until then, don’t try to one up me in informed-ness, because you’re going to lose every goddamn time.


What the state can gain from marriage equality

April 29, 2013

About a month ago, the Supreme Court decided to hear two separate cases related to marriage: a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a ballot measure that nullified the legalization of gay marriage in the state of California.

That day, my Facebook page lit up with people coming out in favor of gay marriage, which heartened me. They started changing their profile pictures to a red square with two, pink, parallel bars depicting an equal sign. It showed their support of marriage equality.

But while I appreciate my very progressive friends with whom I agree, I also, unfortunately, have a minority of friends who would every so often post the link to a poorly researched blog post arguing against gay marriage.

Reading them made me feel like this.

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I couldn’t reply or post to any of it without ruining my journalistic street cred, so I had to vent to patient best friends instead. Then I remembered I had a fairly anonymous blog.

One of my Facebook friends posted an article entitled “The secular case against gay marriage” in which the writer makes a case against gay marriage because it serves no quantifiable purpose to society.

When a state recognizes a marriage, it bestows upon the couple certain benefits which are costly to both the state and other individuals. Collecting a deceased spouse’s social security, claiming an extra tax exemption for a spouse, and having the right to be covered under a spouse’s health insurance policy are just a few examples of the costly benefits associated with marriage. In a sense, a married couple receives a subsidy. Why? Because a marriage between two unrelated heterosexuals is likely to result in a family with children, and propagation of society is a compelling state interest. For this reason, states have, in varying degrees, restricted from marriage couples unlikely to produce children.

Except for the fact that no one has restricted old people from getting married. But whatever.

He continues.

Homosexual relationships do nothing to serve the state interest of propagating society, so there is no reason for the state to grant them the costly benefits of marriage, unless they serve some other state interest. The burden of proof, therefore, is on the advocates of gay marriage to show what state interest these marriages serve. Thus far, this burden has not been met.

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Some background. In my last reporting job, I did a huge enterprise/feature project on foster care. In the reporting process, I learned some startling statistics. For example:

  • On any given day, there are approximately 400,000 children in foster care in the United States
  • This means the U.S. spends $5 billion every year to take care of these foster children (and it’s not nearly enough)
  • 11 percent (26,000 children) age out of the system every year, and most of them have no safety net in place upon aging out
  • Because there is no safety net, the majority of these children usually don’t graduate high school and end up in jail (or dead)

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Yeah. Exactly.

So here are some gay adoption statistics:

  • According to a 2011 story in the New York Times, 19 percent of gay couples raising children have adopted
  • But only 4 percent of adopted children in the country live in a household led by a gay couple

There are only two states in the country that forbid gay couples from adopting: Utah and Mississippi. So why are the numbers so small? Because adopting without a valid, state-recognized marriage is damn near impossible. And guess what? There are still too few states who recognize gay marriage.

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(No, Tom Hiddleston. I’m not joking.)

There aren’t any hard or fast numbers, and I don’t purport to be a clairvoyant, but I’m willing to bet if you legalized gay marriage it would possibly mean:

  • A larger pool of couples able to adopt children who need loving homes which would possibly mean less foster children
  • Which would also possibly mean the government would have to spend less (taxpayer) money on fostering programs
  • Which would also possibly mean less former foster children in prison
  • Which would also possibly mean the government would have to spend less on prisoners

So I think it’s safe to say the state has a lot to gain by legalizing gay marriage.

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They should replace the definition of incompetence with one word: Washington

March 1, 2013

Well, our trusty Washington lawmakers have done it again.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months, fiscal armageddon is fixing to strik in oohhh…about 12 hours. And guess who’s fault it is? That’s right, our lawmakers. And guess who’s doing something to stop it? That’s right, NOT our lawmakers.

Fiscal armageddon, also known as sequestration, is the $1.2 trillion in across the board spending cuts that came about as a result of the disastrous debt ceiling negotiations last year. It was supposed to be so horrible that it would FORCE our lawmakers to confront our deficit problems and come to a bipartisan solution. But since our lawmakers couldn’t negotiate an icy sidewalk without first blaming the other side, it surprisingly isn’t going to happen.

The more I think about sequestration the angrier I get. Literally, I’m so angry as I type this, it’s just ridiculous.

Sequestration is going to hit our armed forces the hardest, because half of the cuts are taken from defense spending. OK, so I get that we spend a lot of money on defense and at some point their budget needs to be reduced, but to do it all of a sudden? To just be like, “Yeah, we’re going to halve your budget and you’re just going to have to deal with it” is reprehensible. We should first WAIT until we’re NO LONGER AT WAR before we reduce the budget. That would be the sensible thing to do, right?

nope

Instead, our lawmakers are reducing the budget NOW and they’re making no moves to stop it. So you know what’s going to happen? Civilian employees are going on furlough. They’re going to have to take a 20 percent pay cut. Children at DoD schools are going to be forced to take days off because their teachers are going to be forced to take days off. Contract workers at military installations are going to be laid off, and we all know what it’s like trying to find another job in this economy.

It just kills me. I know that these people are civilians, but they’re serving their country, too. They’re doing their part to ensure the mission gets done, and how does their country thank them? By cutting their pay or laying them off. It’s just absolutely infuriating. I can’t even…GAH.

And you know, sequestration isn’t only going to affect military spending. It also affects education spending and health spending. In my state, about $11 million will be cut off from our schools, ensuring less teachers and bigger class sizes. Another significant amount of money that I can’t remember right now will be cut from the public health, leaving less money for early childhood vaccinations.

Our lawmakers seem to think this is one, huge, gigantic joke. They don’t seem to understand that they are screwing with people’s LIVELIHOODS. They don’t seem to get that ordinary people have jobs that don’t include messing around with huge amounts of money. And these assholes get elected over and over again.

The next time you see your lawmaker, do me a favor and tell him or her about this blogpost. I doubt it will sway anyone’s opinions, but maybe they’ll begin to understand how this is so not a joke.


I’m convinced Nancy Pelosi is secretly an alien

November 15, 2012

Elections are over. Life is back to normal.

Except not really.

Now that all the stupid posturing and empty rhetoric is over, the real grunt work is just beginning. And by that, I mean the negotiations on the FISCAL CLIFF.

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In addition to continued partisan bickering, both congressional chambers are going through their leadership elections this week. After trolling Politico after a long day at work (because I’m a glutton for punishment and a total nerd), I stumbled across this interesting story and it got my ears steaming.

Brace yourselves. It’s a two-part rant.

<rant>

Part I:

If you’re too lazy to go up there and click the link to read the story for yourself, Nancy Pelosi held a press conference Thursday announcing that she was…

…get ready…

…going to stay on as House Minority Leader.

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La-dee-freakin-dah.

Aside from the fact that this surprises absolutely no one, why the hell did she feel the need to announce it so fucking dramatically? Pelosi kept mum about her leadership plans for the 113th Congress in the days leading up to this announcement she termed “D-Day,” which drove everyone crazy with speculation. Her uncharacteristic silence and the dramatic build-up to the press conference Thursday morning led everyone to believe she was going to retire or step down from congressional leadership or announce that her planet had finally contacted her and she was going back home where she belongs.

Look, if she was getting ready to step down from congressional leadership, then I’d be surprised. Then I’d totally understand the need for a huge-ass press conference. Then I’d forgive her (kind of) for building up to the big announcement.

But since she decided to stay, her “D-Day” press conference was completely unwarranted. Why do you have to announce it? Whoop-de-doo, you get to run your party into the ground for another two years. It’s like throwing confetti when you walk into work Monday morning and shouting, “Surprise! I decided to show up after all!” and everyone’s just staring at you like, “Well no duh, asshole, we expected it.”

In short: Nancy Pelosi is a total drama queen.

Part II:

At this the unwarranted press conference, Luke Russert of NBC asked whether her decision to remain the House Minority Leader would prevent younger Democratic representatives from taking the reins this year and perhaps later on down the line.

Pelosi and her flunkies took this as a slight on her age and booed him for having the audacity to point out that the Minority Leader is about as old and weathered as the Sphinx.

First of all, this is a perfectly legitimate question. The problem with politics and politicians in general is this incestuous culture and emphasis on seniority within the system. This system usually results in 72-year-old hags staying in Congress for decades, clutching onto power with their gnarled, dragon-lady fingernails until they croak. While there’s definitely something to be said about age and its relationship to wisdom, there’s an equally important and often ignored argument about younger elected officials and fresher perspectives. Change is imperative, and if the Democratic party wants to keep up, they’re eventually going to have to start training some of these young’uns to take over.

But it seems that Pelosi is either going to: A) live forever or B) stick it out until her home planet calls her back home.

And here’s another thing: Pelosi and her flunkies actually booed Russert for asking his legitimate question.

Look, I get it. Government officials don’t like the media. To you we’re that dog that hangs out underneath the dinner table, begging for the crappy scraps you’re willing to toss us. We’re a necessary evil to get your bullshit messages of “bipartisanship” and “patriotism” out to the poor, unsuspecting public. You think we’re nothing but glorified rumor-mongers with mass distribution capabilities and Internet access.

But believe it or not, our job description does not include being your megaphone. We don’t ask you the questions you want to be asked because that would be doing a disservice to our audience. We ask you the questions that make you cringe and boo because they make you uncomfortable. When our audience of taxpayers are the ones signing your fat checks and funding your private jets, you are obligated to answer to them, and we are obligated to ask the questions they want answers to. You don’t get to scoff at us, belittle our questions and swat us away like we’re annoying gnats.

It’s politicians like you, Nancy Pelosi, that continue to erode the faith of the American people and scare good, decent reporters from asking questions that need answers. If you continue to criticize the smart, tenacious reporters with good questions, it will eventually scare away any semblance of critical thinking in our media. And that is just unacceptable.

So fuck you, Pelosi. And next time answer the damn question.

</rant>


Your political social media posts make me want to break shit with my face (or election rant No. 3)

October 18, 2012

I know I haven’t blogged in a while, folks, and I’m sorry about that. So to make up for it, I’m updating twice in one go. Because I love you.

Anyway: Brace yourselves for election rant No. 3 (No. 2 is right below this one).

<rant>

Social media is both blessing and curse. Blessing because now everyone can keep up with long-lost friends, stay informed of people’s lives, share photos and information with the drop of a hat and express themselves.

BUT. Pay attention to that last blessing, because it doubles as a curse.

Has anyone else noticed (in the 2012 election season especially) that their Facebook news feeds and Twitter timelines and Tumblr dashboards and whatever-the-hell-else-you-use-to-avoid-talking-to-people-in-real-life have devolved into this clusterfuck of awful? Because I certainly have.

And when I say awful, I mean AWFUL. Friend against friend, sibling against sibling, husband against wife. This shit is pervading my social media landscape with biting comments, angry retorts and other passive-aggressive fuckery. It’s turned social media into a damn war zone and I’m OVER THIS BULLSHIT.

Case in point: My friend, with whom I served on the Catholic Students Association executive board in college, recently shared a photo from the Obama campaign on his Facebook page. The simple act of sharing on Facebook, I think, is kind of innocuous. Basically, the Obama campaign has a Facebook page of its own and it posted a photo. My friend, who follows the Obama campaign on Facebook, saw the photo and clicked a little link called “share,” which allowed him to post the photo on his own timeline. Keep in mind, my friend added no commentary of his own to the photo. He just shared it.

Within SECONDS some other guy who was a part of the CSA with us (and someone I never particularly cared for) commented on the photo. In the comment he made a long list of legitimate reasons not to support Obama. Which was fine.

BUT THEN he ended it with this sparkly turd of a comment:

“So [friend], why do you support Obama again? Remember, he will fully fund and defend Planned Parenthood to the end. And he is at war with the Church and religion you claim to follow.”

OK, well ignoring the part about Planned Parenthood that makes no sense, THIS KID COULDN’T BE A BIGGER DOUCHEBAG IF HE TRIED. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s Catholics condmening and criticizing other Catholics.

And I could turn this into a separate post if I wanted to (and probably will at some point), but it’s just so damn WRONG. If we claim to be a faith that accepts one another, if we claim to be a faith of love and charity, this kind of criticism and condemnation is just plain wrong.

Not to mention, this is the kind of bullshit non-Catholics (hell, NON-CHRISTIANS) see that give us a pretty shitty name. When a brother or sister in Christ comes up to us and sees us condemning one another based on political views, it shows a lack of unity and a complete lack of Christian love.

AND ANOTHER THING: Both candidates have demonstrated opinions and advocated policies that go against Church teachings. Obama is the most infamous because he’s pro-choice. But Romney’s immigration policies chafe with the Catholic belief of demonstrating charity and compassion toward immigrants. As a Republican, Romney supports capital punishment, which JPII has condemned over and over again.

And tell me again, where in the bible did it ever say that amassing large amounts of wealth was a surefire way of getting into heaven? Remind me where Jesus advocated people going out, getting rich and not sharing. Demonstrate to me HOW the pursuit of wealth can ever be considered holy. I can’t remember where it said the wealthy should not pay taxes because they earned their money while the poor earned their poverty because they clearly haven’t worked hard enough. Because I must have missed that part of the bible when I read it. I’m still having a hard time trying to find it.

Anyway, after this jerkface posted his unbelievably mean-spirited comment, others followed. My favorites included:

[Jerkface], you need to respect people’s differing opinions. [Friend] can support Obama if he wants to, regardless of who you support. And you are free to support whoever you like, regardless of who agrees with you or not. But it is not at all acceptable for you to attack his faith, especially based on his political views.

Also:

Regardless of my own political views, i think it’s awesome that you are public with yours. Politics and faith unfortunately get tangled. They are not mutually inclusive or mutually exclusive.

But of course, this guy couldn’t leave it at that and had to comment with yet another glistening turd bomb.

I do respect other people’s views. And when I think they are in serious error, I will attempt to show otherwise. Especially when it involves intrinsic moral issues that affect 1 million unborn lives a year in the USA.

It is quite acceptable for me to call out other Catholics who mistakenly believe it is okay to publicly support a candidate who supports intrinsic evils, and who poses a real, and dangerous threat to religious freedom. It would be uncharitable, wrong, to let a fellow Catholic stray and commit public scandal by not challenging their position as they become an accomplice to the person they support.

By publicly endorsing someone such as Obama, one becomes an advocate of the policies and positions of that candidate. Since Obama is a huge abortion promoter and defender, it is impossible to disentangle the abortion issue from him. An endorsement of him, is an endorsement of the 1 million abortions provided per year in this country. The Church teaches this is an intrinsic evil that can never be justified. Interestingly enough, Hitler killed just over 1 million Jews a year. The US has far outdone what Hitler did since 1973.

These are kids I went to college with and served on a RELIGIOUSLY AFFILIATED STUDENT GROUP WITH. Since we all share a common faith, I thought I could sort of defuse the situation with some light-hearted truth.

I do not support Catholics criticizing other Catholics over political views. Unity, people! There’s enough division in the political world. We don’t need it in the Church.

Sigh. Silly me. I should have known that, in throwing my two cents in, I was opening myself up for attack.

There is no unity when grave sin is overlooked. Then it is false unity (a lie). There is unity in the Church on abortion…it is that it is an intrinsic evil and can never be tolerated. To dissent from that is to separate oneself from the Church.

My reaction went a little something like this:

Here’s the D: I’m all for freedom of speech, religion, the press and expression. I love the First Amendment. If I could marry it, I would. As an American citizen, I will always, always, ALWAYS support your right to free speech.

But as a Catholic, I can NEVER support you using your beliefs to condemn someone else. It’s like having a penis: It’s great if you have one, but you can’t go waving it around and you can’t go shoving it down kids’ throats.

And for the love of GOD, please keep this shit off social media! If you disagree with someone else’s opinions, grow a pair and confront them about it IN PERSON. Jerkface only wrote all of that crap because he was hiding behind a pretty awful picture and a keyboard. I guarantee you if he saw my friend in public, there was no way he would have said any of that judgmental shit to his face.

The truth of the matter is, we’re going to look back on all of this nonsense when we’re really fucking old and shake our heads at our own stupidity. Because that’s what this is: stupidity.

</rant>


Fuck your lawn signs (AKA election rant No. 2)

October 18, 2012

Election day is less than a month away.

HOLY SHIT, GUYZ I’M FREAKING OUT.

No but seriously. It occurred to me (read: an individual who shall remained unnamed notified me) that I haven’t rant-blogged about elections in a while, and since I promised more election rants: Here’s the latest.

<rant>

As a journalist, I’m not allowed the luxury of political opinions. Or more specifically, I’m not allowed the luxury of expressing my political opinions. It’s a time-honored tradition of my profession and my forebears to maintain a level of unbiased objectivity, blah blah blah…

I find it kind of ironic my profession is dedicated to fighting for first amendment rights while simultaneously preventing its practitioners from expressing those same rights. But that’s what this rant is about today. This rant is about how non-journalists choose to express themselves, namely in the form of what I consider election season’s greatest evil: lawn signs.

I hate lawn signs. I hate them with a fiery passion typically reserved for cable news networks. They’re awful, and these are the reasons why:

  1. They’re expensive to produce.
  2. They’re unnecessary.
  3. They do not fulfill their purpose.
  4. They’re a hazard to everyone.

Reason No. 1 is fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t expand any further. As for No. 2, lawn signs are a superfluous show of support. Let’s face it: Most people who have lawn signs already have a plethora of other items that declare which candidates hold their political favor. For example, say you’re strolling down the street in your suburban, middle-income-earning neighborhood and you see a resident with a Obama/Biden sign planted right in front of his rose bush. Then you look over at the car parked in the driveway and you notice the bumper is plastered over with bumper stickers saying, “I think, therefore I am a Democrat,” and “May the fetus you save be gay.” If it were me, I might think to myself, “Wow, that car has an awful lot of bumper stickers. Why in the world would this person need a lawn sign?”

And in such neighborhoods, people with lawn signs and bumper stickers are not at all reserved when it comes to their political opinions. When I brought up my scenario, I bet all of my readers had a specific neighbor in mind. You know that neighbor, and chances are you’ve probably discussed politics with said neighbor. You’ve also probably been treated (read: tortured) to hours upon hours of political rhetoric from this individual. And let’s face it: You probably think this neighbor is a stuck-up asshole. So it comes as no surprise to you how this person chooses to vote, but it kind of pisses you off because he’s an asshole.

Which leads me into reason No. 3: THEY HAVE NO PURPOSE. Sure, lawn signs are supposed to declare your support, but aren’t they also supposed to encourage undecided voters to support the candidates emblazoned on the lawn sign? No where, on any of the lawn signs I’ve seen around town, do they list the candidate’s platform. It only lists the candidate’s name and the seat he/she is running for. NOTHING that would convince an undecided voter to vote for you. So what is the fucking point?! THERE IS NONE.

The last reason is the one that spawned this blog post. They are a public hazard.

Case in point: I live off a fairly busy intersection that sees a lot of traffic. For some unknown, God-forsaken reason this intersection does not have a traffic light. Instead there is one right-of-way street and a set of two-way stop signs. I live on the side of the stop signs, so every time I leave to go to work and come home, I have to stop and look both ways on the right-of-way street to make sure I don’t crash into anybody.

Well since that right-of-way street also happens to be one of the more traversed ones in town, these STUPID FUCKING POLITICIANS decided it would be a fantastic idea to line the side of the road with lawn signs, effectively blocking my vision.

SERIOUSLY. ON ONE OF THE BUSIEST STREETS IN THE FUCKING TOWN YOU ASSHATS HAD TO GO AND PUT YOUR FUCKING LAWN SIGNS WHERE VISIBILITY IS ALREADY ZERO BECAUSE IT’S AT THE TOP OF A FUCKING HILL. YOU MOTHERFUCKING LAZY STUPID SONS OF BITCHES.

Sorry. My capslock and backspace keys broke simultaneously.

Anyway. I equate lawn signs to alcohol: It’s a hazard to other drivers, so use in moderation.

</rant>