Spitting Into The Wind…

I hate having RA! There are only a few people in my circle of acquaintances that have experience with it. Most people I know have said “Oh, (so and so) has arthritis and it gets bad right before it rains”. That’s not what I have. That is Osteoarthritis and yes, it’s painful and at times debilitating but Osteo and Rheumatoid, while having similarities, are not the same thing. This disease came at me out of nowhere – not years of gradual joint deterioration, but a rapid onset, intense attack against my own joints from my immune system. My immune system hates everything about the way I move and the way I think. There is a psychological component that chemically tests my sanity.

I joke about my morning “Zombie Walk” and roll with the “Frankenstein” days the best I can. Day in and day out it takes a toll because it’s so much more than the standard horror story. When I’m stiff my brain tells me not to move. Moving is the most important thing for me to do, but my brain says no, even knowing that I’m destroying myself. That battle inside me is making me a little crazy and angry! I was always on the go raising 4 amazing kids. I am NOT lazy, I want to get out in the world, I want to walk, I want to get together with people. This is not a character flaw that requires me to use mind over matter to combat, and I am furious with people that suggest it is. Live one day in my body and then tell me that bullshit. I believe that I am taking the necessary medications, within my financial ability, to deal with the RA itself and trust my rheumatologist in that area, but the other stuff that comes along with this awful disease is mostly ignored.

Here’s what makes my condition so much worse… My insurance doesn’t cover anything other than a few stingy co-pays for my prescriptions. Our expensive employer assisted plan has a $14,000 family deductible and $7000 of it is for me alone. I have to pay SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS before I can get the treatment I desperately need and every single year that amount gets higher! Even then, they only pay a percentage and frequently deny doctor recommended and entirely necessary medical, prescription and psychological care.  I forgo most treatments since they cost tens of thousands of dollars and since most of my care is not paid for up front, I don’t hit my deductible until November. We get a brief reprieve in December since that’s the only month that my appointments and my (approved but not ideal) medications are paid for. Now that this is the standard operating procedure for insurance companies, it’s almost impossible to get a December doctor’s appointment. Physicians are doing their best to juke the system in an attempt to give vital treatment to their patients but it’s a losing battle when up against these massive profiteering insurance and pharmaceutical corporations.

Adding insult to injury. I need a therapist to help me manage my chronic pain and increasing depression and the ONLY therapists within 40 miles of me call themselves “Christian Counselors”. The trauma that I have suffered at their hands is considerable and I will never go to one again. They should be outlawed in my mind because of the pain and misery they put out in our communities, but that’s another story. Trust me, my disdain is justified.

Why am I writing all of this?! Hell, I don’t know. I just want someone else in this world to know that the suffering in this country is significant and I wish more people cared. It seems our government officials enjoy fighting over ridiculousness that helps no one and makes our legislative floors look like a morbidly stupid “reality” TV show… while our people are wasting away. Any government that allows, let alone, supports corporations that make our people sicker and ultimately facilitates our early deaths is a failing government. I’m a middle-class woman; I can’t imagine how a person with no disposable income survives a bad, yet treatable diagnosis. Not surprisingly, the United States’ suicide rate has doubled since the turn of this century. Is it any wonder?

It’s Not Negotiable…

Yes, I’m mad! All this fear just makes me mad. I’m mad that our democracy appears to be dying and that so many people are suffering along with me. There is no discussion though. People are afraid. Afraid of opinions, afraid of disagreement, afraid to stand up to authority, afraid NOT to stand up to authority, afraid of homelessness, afraid of being shot, afraid of continued loss of rights, afraid of pregnancy, afraid of religious people, afraid of non-religious people, afraid of criminals, afraid of the police, afraid of protestors, afraid of immigrants, afraid of politicians & political parties, afraid that we’ll feel this helpless forever.

I hear so many threats of violence and civil war that I’m actually starting to question my “I’ll never own a gun” philosophy. As a lover of peace, that was unimaginable for me 6 years ago.

I’m a white, married, middle class, suburban, Christian, cishet mom that feels completely unsafe around that same demographic. I’m also ashamed of being part of this privileged class that benefits from the oppression of others.

We all draw the line of what is acceptable to us personally and yet we’re overly focused on what our neighbors are doing. Judging others has become a national pastime as we ignore our own misconceptions. I say we, because I am just as guilty as everyone else. I don’t want to be so judgmental, but the next item is so important to me that I can’t just ignore it.

Truth is not negotiable. I have heard many people say recently that “truth is relative”. No, it’s not. The truth is the reality of any situation, not opinion or spin. Either something is true or it isn’t, whether it’s our reality or not. I judge people that state opinion as fact.

I started this blog to work out my own feelings about the extreme proliferation of unkindness. I believed at the time that U.S. politicians and the press were working us all into a lather over the definitions of freedom and justice, serving their own purposes. I thought that we would regain our senses and look for truth. That hasn’t happened because dogma is being accepted as truth.

As a person of faith, I understand that my faith system requires dogma that’s not based on proven fact. Religions have always manipulated doctrine regarding truth and justice as a way to instill societal conformity. While I find that contemptable, I don’t blame God. Humans are flawed beings who seem to default on blaming others for that fact. I feel more comfortable believing in a higher power while not requiring any other human in my life to do so. Every belief system has elements of truth that can be respected.

That said, I believe that democracy is dying in the United States because we have ignored and distorted a primary foundation of our government, the separation of church and state. Politicians have made my God hateful and intolerant. Judgmental and retaliatory. Angry and insulting. They’ve even made Jesus white and Mary a whore. Fear creates power, but it also topples governments. This power play is a dangerous game that only ends in suffering. I worship a loving God, but I’m having a really hard time seeing Him right now. Please don’t judge me for that. It’s the truth.

The Supreme Sham…

The Supreme Court has justified heresy in the name of religious liberty. The Washington coach that wants everyone to watch him pray after games has been given judicial permission to do so. What a disgraceful example of God’s love that man is. I am a person of faith and am disgusted by his performance, so I understand the revulsion non-believers feel.  I want to shout, “Christians are commanded not to turn people away from God by making a spectacle out of prayer!” Jesus said it best…

Matthew 6:1-2 Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people in order to be noticed by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow a trumpet before you like the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they will be praised by people. I tell all of you with certainty, they have their full reward!

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

I brought up this disgraceful decision first because I’m still in shock over the decision they made two days earlier criminalizing safe abortions and female body autonomy.

The current SCOTUS refuses to even try to understand the plight of women in the USA as we navigate this male-centric country. I will never understand forcing any woman to give birth to an unwanted or un-viable child. Forced to endanger her life, her health, her education, her housing and employment all because she had the audacity to have sex (consensually or otherwise). Men are equally responsible but seemingly have no consequences except for occasionally being liable for some meager child support that may or may not be paid. These justices have no true understanding of poverty or sexual inequity. A majority of them operate off of purposely mistranslated bible verses that suggest women are servants to men and must live a servant’s existence. That men are the only ones worthy of passion and that we should be grateful for the crumbs they throw us. I call Bullshit! No woman should be forced to have a child, and that is for the child’s sake as well as the woman’s. I have brought up the fact many times that abortion is only mentioned once in the bible and not in negative terms. I absolutely will not argue about this with people that have intentionally changed the bible to fit their politics. If they choose to believe the lies, it is their CHOICE. Forcing anyone else to believe it in order to subjugate women is pure evil and the antitheses of liberty. Understand this, a large, ever-growing, majority of women in the USA are registered democrats so republican suppression of our voices and bans on our bodies is imperative for their political existence. Don’t buy any of the shell game named religious liberty or election fraud. This is all about political survival. I’m seriously wondering if freedom’s beacon has been extinguished by these hacks we inappropriately call “Justices”.

Freedom’s Tool…

Religion is a very dangerous weapon when used to control civilization rather than inspire it.

True spirituality cannot be an ultimatum. It must be a choice in order to represent anything meaningful.

While religion has often dabbled in politics in the name of justice, it will never attain true power since control of this world has never been God’s aim. Theocracies falter because of corruption, brutality, greed and narcissism. Human frailties take over and the powerful create religion to fit their politics and line their pockets. God does not want that and neither should we.

We cannot decry our loss of freedom as long as we’re trying to take away another’s. It is an absolute necessity to have freedom without a slave class, scapegoat or whipping boy, otherwise it’s not freedom at all. How can the church justify such immortality? Politics!

Religious political donations are the worst kind of blood money, because once they buy power and influence, they lose sight of a loving God. The scales blind their eyes and they become anchored to worldly influence. They can no longer see how the world sees them and only their sphere of influence matters. That breeds intolerance.

Occasionally we see a politician with a sincere faith, but that’s knocked out of them rather quickly since political party compliance constantly trumps religious faith in governmental agencies.

Freedom should never be a perk for the rich and powerful, it should rightfully belong to every person.

People that hurt another physically or financially should pay the consequences but making up restrictive laws just to criminalize behaviors that some may find religiously offensive is beyond immoral. Key words…People that don’t hurt other people ALL deserve freedom. That’s it. In a fair criminal justice system, even criminals will likely see freedom because we are motivated by rehabilitation and reintegration. That’s what people with integrity do.

No one can be oppressed in a free society, otherwise it is not free. Women shouldn’t be forced to bear children. Conception or first breath arguments are aimed at subjugation, not life.

The extreme effort over the past century to re-translate the bible to demonizes Gay and Transgender people is an absolute affront to the loving God who created them to be exactly who they are. LGBTQ people should be able to fully live and love in society. Fact: The word homosexual didn’t even exist in the American bible until 1948. It was inserted based on decades and centuries of confusion, lies and manipulation. Those are seeds from very bad fruit.

Absolutely NO culture or skin color is better than another.

If you don’t like someone, don’t associate with them. If you find someone repulsive, don’t engage them. If you don’t like the products they sell, don’t buy them. What you don’t have the right to do is discriminate. Discrimination has no place in a free society. NO, we’re not discriminating against churches by denying them the right to discriminate. First, churches are not people. Second, discrimination is just a dick move.

Look for the biblical translations. The argument that the bible is “God Breathed” makes zero sense when you understand that the bible has been translated hundreds of times from languages that we no longer speak (at least in modern terms). I’m begging people of faith to do their own research. While many pastors are encouraging their congregations not to associate with people outside their homogenized churches, I’m begging you to do the opposite. Learn to love all your neighbors. Just because they don’t have your faith system, it doesn’t make them bad people. Just because they don’t look like you, doesn’t make them bad people. Just because they don’t love who you love, doesn’t make them bad people. Don’t hurt them, love them. Accept them. Learn from them.

Throughout my life the church has represented many good and bad things, but even at it’s worst I believed that a majority of churches stood for goodness, love and inclusion. I no longer believe that and that pill has been a tough swallow.

What happened to sheltering the homeless? What happened to feeding the underprivileged? What happened to praising God through service?

This is what I see coming out of religion now. Not as an atheist, but as a person of faith. Angry, yelling voices. Threats of banishment. Unattainable ideals. Ostracization (even their own children). Racist ideology. Misogyny. Gun worship.

Anger, Anger, ANGER. So many have been led to believe that “someone” is taking away their rights and threatening their churches. This is not true of course. Churchgoers have the same struggles as anyone else that they need to work through. WITHOUT TAKING AWAY THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS.

Until churches return to worshipping God and the love He provides, the real question… is religion a tool or A Tool?

You can outlaw all the “someones” until you’re the only person left. That seems to be the only way for some not to feel threatened, but just so you know, that is the end of humans on this planet. There is nobody in this world that will ever be perfect enough for you. Thankfully we’re all valuable to God.

Capitalism Is Dead…

… and the corpse is decomposing. We have replaced capitalism with corporate totalitarianism and have a government that is heading that way as well. Considering the current state of political affairs, many question whether the USA can hold on to its democracy. Our wealthy elite are increasingly controlling governmental systems, and have played their part in democracy’s decline, but the workforce is fighting back.

Workers are tired of celebrating a system that sees wages get lower and lower while the executive management makes 7-8 figure bonuses. Workers are tired of paying ever increasing taxes while the wealthiest pay zero. They are tired of women making less than men. They are tired of “salaries” that abuse overtime laws. They are tired of being coerced into becoming “independent contractors” so their employers don’t have to pay taxes or provide benefits. They are tired of being a health crisis away from bankruptcy. They are tired of getting guilt tripped about taking accumulated vacation and sick time. They are tired of HR departments that behave more like prison guards. They are tired of companies that rob the elderly of their retirement and prey on people with health conditions. They are tired of employers that verbally abuse teenage workers. They are tired of the constant barrage of unethical business practices and greed.

As consumers, when we give our money to corporations that exploit workers and drive out small business, we help our society’s decline. We are padding the pockets of people who are already disgustingly bloated with their excesses. They have created a system where we are dependent on them because they have eliminated the competition. They think they have us where they want us, so now they’re trying to strangle us with their inflated prices even while making record profits. We are dangerously close to becoming their slave class and the comforts of generations past, wiped out.

The United States needs more privately owned small businesses, but only if they can pay a living wage. If that means consumers have to adjust their expectations of what and how much that business offers them in products and services, so be it. We want our neighbor to succeed in their efforts to build our community.

Workers want hard work to be rewarded. A living wage. Training. Family time. They want employers who respect them as human beings. They want to work hard and build up their companies because of mutual respect and advancement. They want to work with employers that value their input and compensate them accordingly. They want to like their boss. Employers don’t like jerks and neither does anyone else.

YES, WORKERS WANT… It is not selfish or narcissistic to believe employees should be compensated and respected for their efforts. A sense of self-worth and family preservation are not bad things. We are a nation of people that have become severely depressed because of our lack of kindness, compassion and fairness combined with constant financial burden. Guess what? The workforce has some power. The labor shortage is proof of that. They’ve picked themselves up, dusted off, and are ready for one hell of a fight. C’mon USA give us something to be proud of again. #LivingWage #EqualPay #UpwardMobilityForAll


When we explain why we are hurting, the next word should never be “but”

When employers don’t pay a living wage, they create homelessness

When we call people vicious names, we indict ourselves

When good people stay silent, evil prospers

When evil people yell, it’s important to state the truth softly so people lean in to listen

When we worship religion, we reject God

When we don’t tax the rich, the middle class disappears

When we create a system that prevents medical care, we become a sick society

When we commit violence, we guarantee its survival

When we proliferate war, we destroy our world

When people say they’re going to kill themselves, believe them

When people say they’re telling the truth, fact check

When we pollute, we doom our descendants

When we embrace discrimination, no one is safe

When we hate, we become a people unworthy of redemption

When we’re not prepared to sacrifice, we kill progress

When we refuse to compromise, little of value gets done

When the truth is subjective, it becomes worthless.

Losing My Religion…

I have studied Jesus of the bible throughout my life and his example of love, compassion and selflessness has made me a true believer in the Christ-centric way of life. I have been able to see my faith from outside and inside the church and after 55 years on this earth have come to the conclusion that American Christianity has little place in my Christ-centered life. I have watched religious influence drastically change its purpose. Projects to combat famine have morphed into America First diatribes. Programs that help women, children and refugees have mutated into national allegiance groups where children are stripped from their parents and put in separate prisons in order to inflict as much pain as possible among people that are already violated & oppressed. I have seen educational safety programs transformed into second amendment “save our guns” rallies. I have watched as women are repeatedly told that the sole purpose of their existence should revolve around God, husband & children and to reach further is arrogant & sinful. Women are supposed to hate sex until they’re married and then magically turn on their sex-drive on their wedding night. I have watched as women are forced to have baby after baby after baby because of manipulated bible verses that condemn family planning and birth control so that women can continue to remain part of the subservient class within the church. With horror, I watched as a small box was formed that all church members must fit into in order to be part of the club. Faith leaders are worshipped above Jesus as these “men of God” put forth a message of intolerance, bigotry and discrimination that members must adhere to. Where gun violence is considered part of church culture and protection of weaponry takes a pivotal role in keeping the undesirables out of not just churches, but community as a whole. Where money & power are king and everything, including human decency, takes a backseat.

This is the reality that has me most flummoxed. How can 70 million people, of which 80% call themselves Christians, vote for a man who is the total antithesis of who Jesus Christ was and who has exhibited a level of hatred, bigotry, misogyny and racism that this country hasn’t seen since our Civil War. A so-called “brilliant businessman” who has filed for bankruptcy six times and notoriously doesn’t pay his partners, vendors or employees after they have already done the work. A man that has a lifetime reputation as an adulterer and perpetrator of sexual assault. A man that recorded 30,573 verifiable lies during his term. A man who repeatedly spurred on an insurgency that left fear, death and destruction within our nation’s legislature. This was nothing short of sedition and a call to arms against our democracy and yet religious followers still back and lift up this traitor. WHY?!

I have come to the understanding that I will probably never understand. That my reality operates on a plane different than some of my fellow humans. Change, progress and inclusion are dirty words for those that want to live in a structured and well-defined existence, where people look, sound, worship and behave in uniformity that rarely deviates. A way of thinking that is so entrenched in white male domination that justice is more than an inconvenience, it is a threat to their existence. They equate equality as loss. Loss of law & order, loss of uniformity, loss of power, loss of economic superiority, loss of a servant class. Privilege is a word thrown around a lot but it is not strong enough to describe the oppression that has been heaped upon this world in the name of ______ (fill in the blank). The powers that be keep us in turmoil in order to control our freedoms and upward mobility. Some know this and make no apologies. Most are along for the ride because “this is just how it’s done”. There is comfort in the known.

Progressive Christianity is on the rise, but ultimately cannot keep up with what has become a mass Christian exodus. They offer a more loving faith, but are still fighting a battle for relevance every single week. People are tired of fighting. The American Evangelicals have muddied the waters so badly that many progressives can only see the hate and want no part of it. The progressive church gets pummeled in the process, even while presenting a more loving, inclusive God. They end up with a “we’re not one of those Christians” mantra that borders on religious pomposity and exclusion. We can’t decide what the role of the church is. I feel that love, peace and inclusion is the purpose, but know that there are some that require rules, control and power. Evangelicals call out perceived sin while progressives speak out against perceived injustice. It is a sad world that we live in when we cannot find a comfortable tension between love & sin. There will be no meeting of the minds when we can’t even be in the same sanctuary, so sitting in the pews, hoping to eventually, someday, see a glimpse of God sounds like an utter waste of a good Christ-centered life.

An Expendable Life

This year was destined to be a memorable one with all of our children experiencing major milestones. Two graduations, a wedding and the birth of our first grandchild. Ha-ha, sounds like a movie from last century. 2020 also started with me being sick. January 12th was the day that my life changed dramatically and for the rest of my life. Darn winter cold! Fever, congestion, cough and then the pain in my right jaw. Wow, what a weird symptom. Do I have an ear infection? Can’t eat or chew, and then the pain in my right shoulder started. Deep down in my shoulder radiating out from my neck and migrating to my chest and bicep. I couldn’t use it, and when I forgot and reached for something, the pain was immediate and severe, and yet that was nothing compared to day three. That’s when the pain started in my left hip. It started in the evening and by 2AM was so excruciating that I feared moving even one inch. I was lying there contemplating what I should do. My right arm and left leg didn’t work and if I lost any more limbs, getting me to medical help would be very difficult. My husband was out of town on business and my 18-year-old son was deep asleep. I tried to get out of bed to ask my son to take me to emergency and fell to the floor. My condition at the time would have terrified my son and I couldn’t bear to scare him like that, so I crawled back into bed to try and sleep off what I still thought was some weird flu. The pain in my inner hip got so intense that I pleaded with God to end it or end me. In hindsight, not a great plan, but I’m not immune to faulty thinking.

The next morning brought some relief. I hadn’t slept all night, so I finally got some deep sleep that morning. By the time my husband returned from his trip the pain was mostly diminished but the cold symptoms remained. Our grandchild was due at the end of January, so the family insisted that I go to the doctor to make sure the baby would not be exposed to whatever creeping crud I had. The first thing my doctor did was check for the flu–Negative. X-ray of my shoulder–Nothing. Doctor said I shouldn’t be a threat to my newborn grandchild and gave me some muscle relaxers. 2 weeks later our insurance company dropped our medical group and I was informed that I could no longer see my long-term doctor. At the same time our beautiful grandson was born. Holding him in my arms was absolutely glorious. We were being given very little information about COVID-19 at the time or I would have never gone near him. The intense pain continued to migrate throughout my body so I made an appointment with a new primary care physician who could see me as a new patient in 2+ months. I would endure many nights of crying and pleading with God until my April appointment. Thankfully in that time of upheaval, I was able to see my son married in a beautiful and inspirational ceremony to his soul-mate. At the beginning of the reception the migratory pain started in my right knee but I managed to get one dance in. Incredible pain, yet a truly joyous moment that will forever be a treasured memory. That reception would be the last public event that we would attend since our country started closing down the next day from the global pandemic that was ravaging our major cities.

I really liked my new doctor. She listened, ordered tests and made a commitment to find out what was happening to me. COVID-19 was discussed as a possibility, but there were no tests available at that time and none projected for the near future. We were dependent on blood tests, and two days later, thankfully, answers. Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was so happy to have a diagnosis that it took me a while to understand that this was not run of the mill arthritis and was instead a horrible and non-curable disease that I would have to manage until my death and if I’m lucky it won’t completely immobilize me. The Rheumatologist who usually books out 4 months was available in three weeks since appointments were down because of the pandemic. I liked this new doctor too. By the time I saw her I was having extraordinary pain that shifted locations every three days. Some days I could function and some days I was bedridden. She delivered some scary information, but was patient and explained things to me while still reminding me that this will be a learning process that can sometimes be hit and miss. We would start with the standard care for RA patients which included rising doses of methotrexate (a chemotherapy drug) and large doses of folic acid to treat the nausea and vomiting that comes with the use of methotrexate and to slow hair loss. I am not a vain or even a confident woman, but when the hair loss started and my usually silky hair became so brittle that it broke off and made me look like I stuck my finger in a light socket, it was devastating. I had learned to deal with daily pain and a stiffness that made me feel like I moved like Frankenstein’s bride, but the hair loss, swelling and skin changes added insult to injury. Add nausea and reduced caloric intake that still included medication induced weight gain to the scenario and it became harder to spin the “I’ll be fine” line that I so desperately wanted to believe. This would have been extremely difficult in a normal year, but 2020 has been anything but normal, complicating issues even more.

My two youngest children were not their happy selves. They were a high school and a college senior that both had their final semester of their educations and the celebration of their accomplishments unceremoniously cancelled. They were told they couldn’t be around friends and that all their future plans would be postponed. My own sadness mixed with theirs was quite debilitating. Coming to terms with empty nest syndrome that summer may have been worse, which could only be topped with the agony of not being able to hold my grandson for more than a few minutes. We watched as an international pandemic that was killing people in mass around the world was politicized in the United States and a dangerous national diatribe that said people who died of the pandemic actually died of their pre-existing conditions. That we shouldn’t fear death and instead should embrace it so that we didn’t take away the freedoms of people that didn’t want to wear masks or social distance. I had been informed that my newly diagnosed pre-existing condition could likely be a COVID-19 death sentence. My complete isolation was not a choice. It was foisted on me because of people that clearly didn’t care whether I lived or died. That was a hard pill to swallow. Watching friends, family & neighbors disregard the guidelines for pandemic safety and eradication felt like a spit in the face. Worse, it felt like they were purposely assigning me a death sentence for having a health issue. I know how irrational that sounds and that it is a purely emotional response, but how I feel is not irrelevant. My life should not be forfeit. To watch people that I thought cared for me willingly risk my life and the lives of others sent me into a spiral. The fact that so many of them called themselves followers of Jesus Christ turned my world upside down.

It has now been 6 months since my diagnosis and it’s hard to grapple with my reality. I fall regularly and my latest fall resulted in a dislocated shoulder. The new medication I need has not yet been approved because it costs $50,000 a year in the United States while it would cost $2,400 if I lived anywhere else in the world. The combination of medication, isolation, limited mobility and considerable pain makes me a little bit crazy. Some days, very crazy. I have watched as people lie to me about difficulties rather than add to my stress. I understand, but it’s further isolating. I have had to over-burden family members for help with everyday responsibilities and the guilt that follows makes me cry regularly. Going from rage to sadness to apathy, sometimes multiple times a day is a test for my loved ones and only adds to my guilt and helplessness. I have suffered from fits of depression my whole life, but this is different. I can recognize the hormonal and physiological effects of depression but that isn’t what I’m experiencing. This is a deep and profound sadness coming from constant pain and disappointment at my inability to convince people that my life is not expendable. I have been trying to turn off my own heart, but the hypocrisy of that effort keeps me ensconced in this broken world.

Patriots, Bears and Psychos…

Yes, I’m one of those psychos… I decorated my entire house with American Flags, along with a couple of “God bless this country” angels thrown in. My children’s friends enjoyed teasing them about our “Bearmerican” banner. I just laughed it off since in my mind the décor was fitting for a patriot (and bear lover). I believed in the USA. The land of the free and home of the brave, where everyone can pursue happiness. My country welcomed souls from perilous journeys and offered them liberty, opportunity and a safe place to lie their heads. U.S.A. was synonymous with Freedom in my mind. We were people that stood up for each other. The beautiful melting pot. Was I a victim of propaganda or was I an optimist trying to see the good around me? It was both. The country I believed so fervently in never actually existed.

Constitutions, laws, policies, declarations are meaningless without societal buy in. Powers that be ask their people to wear rose-colored glasses and defend their way of life. See the good, ignore the bad. Occasionally stand up for a cause (but don’t get too passionate).

It’s not a bad life, but it’s not real. Hate has become the name of the game in this great country and discrimination its calling card.

I am a person of faith who understands that historically religion and religious people have caused the greatest death and misery that this world has ever known. Religious insanity pokes up its nasty head every century along with the beliefs; my god is better than your god, my body is better than your body, my family is better than your family, my sex is better than your sex, my skin color is better than your skin color, my gender is better than your gender, my views are better than your views and my life is more valuable than your life. Granted, not every judgmental person is religious, but a majority of U.S. Christian fundamentalists have embraced bigotry on a new level and worked to dissolve our first amendment directive to separate church and state. This has brought hatred to our cities and brutality to our streets that has the ability to destroy this nation. God hasn’t forsaken us, but I have a hard time believing that he isn’t saddened and disgusted by us.

I was a fly on the wall in a conversation that defended a slave class. I watched a political convention that applauded decreased rights for women and minorities. I watched a church service that encouraged murder. I have watched us assault our Earth to a point that scientists aren’t sure that we can sustain life into the next century. Innocent until proven guilty has been replaced with street justice and heavily armed local militias are teaming with militarized police forces to quash the idea that all people are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights.

This nation was born out of slavery and subjugation and that seed comes from a tree that cannot bear fruit, so until we create justice for all then there will be peace for none. Not because anyone wants unrest but because freedom is not sustainable in its current state. Yes, I was naïve, but The American Experiment doesn’t have to be over. We have to be willing to fight for it.

Presidential talking points…

Under my administration alternative facts will be eliminated in favor of FACTS.

We will not be at war with the press and we will invite scrutiny. We will strengthen laws protecting our residents against libelous and inaccurate reporting while still preserving our freedom of speech. Entertainment and political commentary are not the news. Verifiable facts should be the goal of newsworthy journalism not spin or loyalist affiliations. I will work to restore public trust in the presidency by being forthright with the people of this country and welcoming the press. We will trust news agencies to disseminate accurate information about our policies and will encourage our citizens to do their own investigative research into those policies to keep us and the press accountable. The idea of news as entertainment must end and criteria for disseminating accurate reporting needs to be strengthened within legitimate news agencies. Again, opinions are newsworthy but are not the news.

I plan to unite specific cabinet heads so that joint efforts are strengthened and duplicate missions are cut. I envision our Attorney General and Secretary of State working together to ensure justice for all United States citizens here and abroad while showing leadership abroad that is worthy of trust and provides a beacon for democracy. Our Defense and Homeland Security will also provide seamless protection from internal and external threats and will work with Veteran Affairs to honor our armed services personnel and veterans with increased services and care benefits. We will have increased focus on infrastructure. There is no excuse for crumbling infrastructure, unemployment and lackluster trade within this prosperous nation so there must be a meeting of minds within Transportation, Energy, Urban Development, Agriculture, Commerce and Labor. It is long past time that we get our country’s interior in shape and rather than fighting for operational funds, these departments need to work toward common goals that increase building and road safety and that keep our people housed, employed and fed. We can and will streamline efforts.

Plain and simple… Foreign Policy is much more than a photo op. Allies are a valued and necessary part of a thriving nation. The importance of our association with countries that have similar values and commitments to democracy cannot be overstated. We will build on those relationships. They will not be disrespected, ignored or coerced any longer. We will negotiate trade and security commitments fairly and equitably without resorting to threats. As friends we can work out our disagreements respectfully. We need to do a better job of nurturing our relationship with longtime friends and allies. It makes us all stronger.

We will take an honest, multi-faceted look at immigration and asylum practices and create a system that welcomes hard working, diverse and law-abiding prospective citizens and also provides protection and safe repatriation for asylum seekers. We will identify and coordinate with cities and towns so that we can place new residents in areas where there are employment opportunities. I am not interested in opening our borders to all applicants, but I do want to put a fair system in place that values our country of immigrants yet limits municipal liability. Our new system will restructure how we hold undocumented people and provide expedited court decisions. The cost of increased and expedited judicial hearings will be offset by the elimination of long-term holding cells and the cost of care and maintenance for these facilities.

This fact is possibly the most important… Our country dies without an educated populace. We have neglected our schools for too long and it’s time to not only make college affordable but to increase the availability of a trade school education. Our skilled workforce is in decline and there are people that are currently unemployed that are only a few classes away from an internship. We have a plan to increase construction, manufacturing and automotive programs and put people in contact with employers who are willing to train and educate in their respective fields. We will work with businesses and universities to prioritize fields of study so that incoming college freshman know what areas of employment are thriving and opportunities can be identified through employers looking for a specialized workforce. While I don’t foresee fully paid college educations for our citizens, I do plan on expanding programs and financial aid in academic areas that are national and economic priorities. Increased financial aid and grant programs are an investment that has major dividends through higher employment and new business growth.

Environmental concerns will no longer be ignored. This is not a for or against topic. We need to encourage programs that educate us in leaving a minimized global footprint and increases environmental protections. There can be a meeting of the minds in regard to conservancy and development. Energy Projects don’t have to be an environmental nightmare or a money pit. We need real life solutions regarding climate change not gloom and doom predictions. This administration will encourage scientific research and solutions to environmental concerns while still protecting business and a growing economy. The two are not enemies of one another and together can boost economic growth through increased knowledge and joint ventures.

Our healthcare industry is not living up to its name. Our people are increasingly unhealthy and uncared for because of our broken system. When a majority of people are an illness away from bankruptcy, it’s time to restructure the entire system. Prescription trials cost money but outrageous executive payouts are preventing necessary trials. Insurance companies are dictating who gets treated and for what. Hospitals are overcharging for basic items in order to make up for losses from insurance and pharmaceutical contracting practices. Healthcare that promotes profit over human life is not healthcare at all and our countrymen deserve better. We will restructure the system in a way that actually ensures our people can see a doctor and get treatment without losing everything. We need a pricing system that makes sense and where medications, procedures and preventative aids are priced evenly across every community. In my mind, this is the most basic of rights and affects every aspect of a thriving community.

We are a nation of gun enthusiasts who value their 2nd amendment rights. While there will always be differing views about what those rights entail, the reality is that gun ownership is protected by our constitution. That said, no responsible gun owner wants to see gun violence in our schools, malls and movie theaters. They take ownership responsibilities seriously and want violent offenders off the streets. I will strengthen gun laws WITHOUT affecting law abiding owners. In an effort to get gun violence under control some states have adopted laws that are aimed at eliminating guns and penalizing individual owners. Unfair and seemingly retaliatory gun regulations will be addressed and eliminated in favor of common-sense gun laws that reduce threats while protecting owner rights.

We’re being divided. There are issues that are presented to us as black and white yet they require complex thought, historical knowledge and compromise. Progress and tradition both have value and we can find common ground. When we look at issues with a win at all cost mindset, we all lose. With that said, I plan to address these controversial issues and hopefully make inroads in securing fundamental rights for women, minorities, religious organizations and LGBTQ people. Freedom is synonymous with the USA and we can secure freedoms for all of our citizens while still keeping true to our beliefs and traditions. Compromise and compassion are not bad words and I aim to prove that.

Paying down our national debt will be a priority, not an unfulfilled political promise. Paying down our national debt allows us to commit funds in areas that improves our GDP, expands employment opportunities and keeps businesses open. It is irresponsible to ignore this part of our economy.

Taxes! Always a debate topic that creates interest in the people that are looking at a reduction and fury from people looking at an increase. We have created a system that average citizens don’t fully understand. Even economists can struggle explaining the regulatory quagmire. We need simplicity. Fair taxation for ALL citizens. We can offer business incentives that promote successful business expansion but the days of wealthy businessmen paying zero taxes is over. This country should incentivize companies willing to reward employees when their business is thriving and successful. My taxation plan can actually ensure that trickle-down works for everyone and is not a money grab for the wealthy alone. I believe our nation prospers when people can acquire wealth, but the current wealth gap is not sustainable. The growing gap between the haves and have nots has created a system where having one full time job is not enough to be self-reliant, let alone raise a family. Hard work and ingenuity is wonderful and should be rewarded but not on the backs of those implementing and maintaining the business. I want to encourage a symbiotic relationship between employer and employee that sees both succeed and prosper. A commitment to each other that seems more familial. I truly believe that by restructuring the tax system we can achieve a more balanced relationship not just in our country but internationally as well.

My administration will value faith and religion and I aim to protect both by honoring the protections of our founding fathers. The separation of church and state was put in place because our forefathers knew that politics in religion is catastrophic for the faithful. Politics creates false idols and earthly promises. Separation does not protect government and it does not protect religion; it protects the faithful from the schemes of those with a worldly agenda.

This administration will not be about me or for me. I surround myself with the best and brightest in their respective fields and my cabinet will work to strengthen every department within their purview while being ever mindful that taxpayer dollars should never be squandered. I look forward to serving this country that I love and earning your respect.