Category Archives: Politics

Shame of my hometown: Fullerton police acquitted of murdering #KellyThomas

Trigger warning: police violence, graphic picture. On a warm July evening in 2011, Kelly Thomas was hanging out at the Transportation Center near The Olde Spaghetti Factory in Fullerton. Someone called the police saying Thomas was looking in car windows and pulling on handles of locked cars. What happened next was caught on video: Fullerton police officers beat Kelly Thomas until he was bloodied and comatose. He later died of his injuries. [You can read the full timeline of events, here.]

Yesterday, the now former police officers, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, were acquitted of the murder and manslaughter charges. They were found not guilty.

What a miscarriage of justice. How in the name of mercy can we look at the beaten, bloodied face of Kelly Thomas and ACQUIT these police officers?

kellythomas1

Full disclosure: I am not unbiased. Fullerton is my hometown. I used to work at The Olde Spaghetti Factory which is right next to the bus stop where Kelly Thomas was murdered. I walked by that spot every day on my way into work. And yes, I believe he was murdered. I have watched this trial from the beginning. And today, I am HORRIFIED.

The Transportation Center is an understandable gathering spot for homeless folks. In addition to the bus stop, the Fullerton train station is nearby. There is shelter, vending machines and the commuters are often generous. As a teenage hostess working in the restaurant right next to the train station, I never felt threatened while walking by the homeless folks. Sometimes I gave them whatever spare change I had. Sometimes I brought a box of leftover spaghetti.

The point is, these people are not violent. They’re homeless. And last time I checked, being homeless was not a crime.

And not to place too fine a point on it but peering into car windows is ALSO not a crime. Sure, maybe the police needed to show up and give Kelly Thomas a verbal warning but BEATING him? Until he’s unconscious? NO.

I read that the defense used Kelly’s mental illness against him–as if THAT justified the use of excessive force?! The defense also claimed he had a diseased heart from drug abuse–as if heart failure–NOT being beaten until unconscious–caused his death! (FYI: the cardiologist testified that Thomas did NOT die of heart failure). And anyway, how does ANY of THAT justify being beaten in the face?! Since when did we acquit murderers because their victim was schizophrenic? Or had used drugs? Apparently, if you’re mentally ill, you’re not really human.

Thomas’ last words were utterly heartbreaking. He called for help. He begged for help. Over and over. “Dad help me. God help me. Help me. Help me. Help me.”

Well, even if the jury didn’t come to his help, we can. Please sign the petition for a federal investigation.

What do you think? Is it EVER justifiable for police to beat suspects?
What other methods should the police have used with Kelly Thomas?
Why do you think the jury acquitted the police officers?

Military strike against Syria? Dear God. Please no.

Dear God, not more war. I am so weary of war, war, war. I am weary of factions, sectarianism, tribalism, feuding and children being gassed in their schools. And chemical wars and and threats of war and the whole screwed-up mess that is the entire Middle East. I don’t understand what possible GOOD a military strike would do; what possible good it would do to engage ourselves in yet ANOTHER conflict on the other side of the world? I am weary, so weary of U.S. military interventions. Yes, my heart breaks for the children and innocents being slaughtered—and yes, we must do something–but more war? Haven’t we already been down this road in the Middle East? We already know how this story ends, don’t we? And what are the objectives? What solution can possibly come from lobbing a few cruise missiles at “military targets”?

I read a piece at the Washington Post about “Just War” and whether Christians should support a strike in Syria. Here’s an excerpt:

We live in a fallen world of injustices and conflicts without easy solutions. Clearly this does not mean we should do nothing, but we should have a sense of humility about the limits to our ability to perfect the world. The failure to recognize our limitations itself results from our sinfulness and leads to further injustice. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus in regards to the moral failures of communism in Eastern Europe, the desire for control without limitations results in the resort to violence without restraint. Violence itself becomes redemptive, the ultimate tactic for restoring order in a broken world.

The call for military intervention in Syria arises from the desire to “do something” when faced with evil, yet it is not clear what intervention will accomplish.

YES! This idea that violence itself is redemptive; that the ONLY option for restoring order and meting justice is through the “ultimate tactic” of warfare? I reject that! It’s so troubling to me that THIS is where we’ve arrived: at a place where shooting missiles is our de-facto approach to helping the helpless. I just…I can’t believe that anymore!!

In his address this morning, Pope Francis said something which I so appreciated:

Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence…I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people…. I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.

I know there are no easy answers, here. I’m just heartbroken at the thought of the United States entering yet ANOTHER military conflict in the Mid-East. Dear God, have mercy upon us. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

What are your thoughts? Is there such a thing as Just War? And does a strike against Syria count as a “just war”? Do we have clear objectives?

 

Where The Right Went Wrong (and how the GOP can become grand again)

I identify as a conservative Republican. I’ve always voted Republican. OK, stop. Right here is our first teachable moment. The Right went wrong by telling voters like me we’re not conservative enough just because we don’t swoon for The Tea Party.

Republicans like me prefer diplomacy and compromise. We look askance at sensational Glenn Beckism. To women like me, the Tea Party is a squally pack of overreacting toddlers. I should know, I’ve mothered five toddlers.

Mistake #2: Instead of ignoring these temper-tantrums, Republicans listened to these melodramatic toddlers wailing about impending-socialism-end-of-the-free-world-I-want-my-AK47-NOW!-yada-yada.

#3. And then? THEN Republicans gave into the caterwauling and ELECTED a bunch of these Tea Partying Toddlers!

Frankly, this is a damn embarrassment. And I’m convinced it lost us the election.

This is what happened to the GOP: it went all fundamentalist. It lost its ability to compromise. It favored perfect ideology over good enough practicality.

I keep myself calm by telling myself the GOP has been hijacked by a pack of drunk toddlers. We need to round up those staggering Tea Partiers, give them a hot bath, a few snuggles and then put them to bed. AND NOT ALLOW THEM TO GET BACK UP.

Not even for a cup of water.

Not even for just-one-more-bedtime-kiss.

Because here’s the truth: our world has changed. We Republicans can keep throwing fits or we can evolve. Oooooh, I said the “E” word! Ack! What’s next? Evolution?! RUN FOR THE HILLLLLLS!

Ahem. Pulling myself together, now. Here’s how the GOP can become grand again:

  1. Understand that reducing abortion means providing FREE healthcare for pregnant women and their children.
  2. Worry about the immediate perils of the current heterosexual divorce rate rather than the perils of same-sex marriage.
  3. Stop acting like gun ownership is a divine right conferred upon us by God Himself.
  4. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
  5. Stop bitching about “bad” science re: global warming.
  6. Read more books.
  7. Watch less cable TV.
  8. Eat dinner at home with our families.
  9. Talk with our kids.
  10. Listen to Mozart instead of Limbaugh.
  11. Call out mega-church pastors for their spiteful tweets about our President.
  12. Pray for President Obama.
  13. Refrain from leaving disagreeable comments on EE’s blog.
  14. Because she will delete you.
  15. Which is pretty much like being put to bed without a goodnight kiss.
  16. Not that EE would kiss you because
  17. She’s more of a hugger.
  18. She even hugs trees.
  19. No, really.
  20. Trees are nice.

EE, 2016!

How Mitt Romney is winning my heart

This is how I’m beginning to feel about Mitt Romney.

I’ve been a fairly depressed Republican. I lost faith in the aftermath of the 2008 election. I was totally discouraged by the way my political party allowed itself to be hijacked by a rogue fringe of extremist ideologues. Yeah, I’m talking about The Tea Party.

See, I’m not the kind of conservative who gets fired up by ideologues. I wasn’t inspired. I was frustrated. In fact, I was as frustrated by The Tea Party as I was by Prez. O. 

I was frustrated because ideologues aren’t servants of the people. Ideologues do not understand the word compromise. They do not understand the concept of working together. They shun cooperation.

Look, I’ve listened to preachers and ideologues my whole life. They do NOT impress me. I don’t care how damn eloquent they are. I don’t care how artfully they can turn a phrase. What I care about is this old-fashioned word called: cooperation.

Cooperation is not popular because it’s boring. It takes work. It takes humility. Cooperation takes a certain kind of humanity, gentleness and ability to compromise: traits that are egregiously lacking in Washington’s current political climate. And the truth is, President Obama did nothing to change that. How could he? He’s never run a successful business, never governed anything. President Obama didn’t even stay in the Senate long enough to build solid, working relationships.

Instead, he tried to ramrod cooperation by saying, “Hey, I won the election!” As if that gave him carte blanche to steamroll his ideology over everyone else. This was a novice mistake–the stark evidence of someone who has zero governance experience.

President Obama is an intellectual ideologue. He was elected on the basis of his high-flying rhetoric and bright, shining promises. President Obama was never a servant of the people. Sure, he gave inspiring speeches about hope. But as Romney recently noted in his foreign policy speech: “Hope is not a strategy.”

Unfortunately, the GOP made a huge mistake by reacting to Obama. The Tea Party rushed in and elected a bunch of hard-line, no-compromise conservatives who vowed to “clean up Washington.” SPOILER ALERT: that didn’t happen.

Here’s why: because the only thing that happens when you stick a bunch of ideologues is one room is….GRIDLOCK.

But then Mitt Romney showed up to the Presidential debate.

I was taken my surprise. Here I was tweeting all these sarcastic tweets and still feeling all disillusioned with the GOP. But somewhere in the middle of the debate I suddenly realized that Mitt Romney was killing it.

He was strong. He was informed. He was damn Presidential.

Mitt Romney made me feel safe. He made me feel like there was a clear road out of this miry economy. And frankly, that’s sort of all I care about right now.

After the debate, I heard my liberal friends bemoan the fact that President Obama “didn’t show up.” Really? I actually thought the Obama we saw during the Presidential debate was the REAL Obama. The only difference was that the debate pulled aside the curtain and exposed the great Wizard of Oz for what he really was: a bumbling pushover who couldn’t even look his opponent in the eye.

By contrast, Mitt Romney made me believe that better days were ahead. OMG, YES WE CAN.

Why “disappearing” into motherhood is NOT a betrayal of feminism

My youngest babies are almost 5. I’m coming out of the Little Years. A season of life is changing and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life. I can already sense the changing seasons. All my children are in school I have more time to focus on my writing. I just finished my first book and I’m ready to start on my second. But may I just say? THANK GOD I WASN’T TRYING TO WRITE A BOOK WHILE MY BABIES WERE LITTLE.

I’m going to say something “controversial” here but I really think it needs to be addressed, especially in light of this recent article which claimed mothers were “disappearing” because….wait for it..they (gasp!) used pictures of their children instead of themselves on their FB profile picture.

This is precisely where some feminists get it wrong (and I say this as a feminist).

84% of women WANT to stay home with their children. Most women WANT to raise their own children. Most women do NOT see it as a “sacrifice” of female identity to throw themselves wholeheartedly into raising their babies.

Instead of berating mothers for talking about strollers at dinner parties, why not understand that when a woman is raising her babies–THAT IS WHAT SHE TALKS ABOUT. Just because I didn’t feel compelled to Keep Up With the Men while I was raising little ones doesn’t make me a “disappearing mother.” What I talk about at dinner parties doesn’t define my feminism any more than the pictures I post on FB.

I am so incredibly SICK of feminists demanding that women Be All Things To All People At All Times. How is this any different than the oppressive patriarchy we all despise? So, I give birth to a human being and suddenly, I’m supposed to follow the feminist rule book about NOT talk about what I pack in my kids’ lunch? Because that’s NOT what the MEN talk about?! Give me a break!

Come on. This is sexist tripe. This is reverse sexism! Feminism shouldn’t require women to act like men, talk like men or be like men. Feminism should CELEBRATE femininity and let women BE.

Yes, I wrote a book. And yes, I am well-read. And YES, I am educated.

But do you know what the truth is? MY CHILDREN MEAN MORE TO ME THAN ALL OF THAT.

There is not ONE book, there is not ONE thesis, there is not ONE damn dinner party that is more important to me than my kids. Real feminism does NOT force me to choose between my career and my children. My children will win every time.

And if I post pictures of my children on FB it’s because my children are IMPORTANT to me. Hell no, I won’t apologize for that.

Also, womanhood has seasons. During the season of young motherhood, I was so BUSY that I couldn’t even hardly catch a breath of air. Now? My children are getting older and yeah, I can write that second book. I can keep a social calendar. I can attend dinner parties. So, what? I’m more feminist now that I’m a “working” mom? Ridiculous.

I will never, ever, EVER regret the ELEVEN years I spent as a stay-at-home mom. Those years are just as much a part of my feminism as my newly emerging writing career will be. I will NEVER regret all the firsts I witnessed. I will NEVER regret “sacrificing” my “identity” for my children during those years. To be honest, it was a pure gift to be able to stay with them. The most precious gift of my entire LIFE was that I was able to give myself wholly to my children during their early years.

And if it meant that all I could talk about for eleven years were strollers, lunchpails, diaper rashes and preschool–THEN SO BE IT. My feminism encompasses the WHOLE of my female experience.

Yeah, it’s nice that I have a writing career now. I’m super happy about it. But I am so thankful that I was able to embrace those early, little years of my children’s lives without feeling pressured by ridiculous, strident feminists to ALSO keep up with everyone else.

I “disappeared” into motherhood and I’m damn proud of it.