Tuesday, February 28, 2012

President Obama Addresses UAW at Washington Convention

In case you missed it, or wish to see it and share it.  Here is President Obama's Speech at UAW Conference on 2/28/2012. 

The link below will take you to C-Span.


For those who missed it, here is our president singing Sweet Home Chicago:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Birth Control

We have talked volumes about the travesty perpetrated on women by the GOP governors, legislators and candidates. The reason we have talked so much is because most people feel entitled to choose if, and when, they reproduce.

No one likes to be told if they can engage in intimate relations with someone else, how to do so, or when to do so.

The focus of the assaults on Planned Parenthood and attempting to create laws that will prevent contraceptive use has largely been focused on women and their rights, but what about men? Has anyone given them a second thought?


How men feel about this has not been represented in the media and this is a huge disservice to society.  Men too, would like to have a choice in knowing when their life is going to be turned upside down.  Not everyone is prepared to start supporting a pregnant woman and the child or children she is carrying.

Medical insurance is costly.  One that covers pregnancy and delivery can be astronomical.  Diapers and formula can eat up the household budget in short time and babies need medical care on a regular basis.  Child support is very expensive.

There is also the emotional aspect of caring for a child that no one is discussing.  Idealistic maternal or paternal feelings aside, the ability to be a nurturing parent does not come easily without preparation. Ideally, children should be welcomed into the world by adults who are ready and willing to raise a human being into adulthood.  Men have a right to a vasectomy and condoms.

Being a parent is not for the faint of heart.  Eventually, the child becomes a teenager and they too, need to be prepared for birth control measures.

Parents and Teenagers

The idea of a teenager on birth control sends shivers up the parental collective spine. ( "My baby? having sex?" "No, Never, Not until they are 35 and out of the house.")

The notion of talking to parents about their needs for protection and open conversation may make teenagers want to set their hair on fire. ("Not my parents!" "They'll never understand" "They are too old" "this is awkward")

The fact is that teenagers are going to have sex without the intent of having a baby.  Sexuality is a normal aspect of healthy development and no amount of religious indoctrination is going to stop hormonal changes from taking place.  Furthermore, a teenager can, and will, fall in love.  Nothing ever devised by humans has been able to prevent this phenomenon. In other words, sex will happen. Period. How we deal with it, makes all the difference in the world.

Birth Control

It is part and parcel of responsible parenting - we need to give our teenagers the tools they need to make their own decisions.  They need to enter this stage of adult-like behavior fully armed with information and the right tools.

As parents, burying our heads in the sand only leads to grand parenting.  A choice we may want to put off a little bit longer.

A bit of advice?Let them know that when they are ready to get birth control, you will make sure they get that medical appointment.  By the time they know they are ready, they are fully aware of your values and mores.  It is time for them to adapt to their own level of comfort and have the tools they need to make personal decisions.

Male Teenager
  • They need to know what a condom is and how to use it.
  • They need to know that NO, means NO. Backing away quickly works.
  • They need to respect themselves and the young lady they are with.  
  • They DON'T have to prove ANYTHING to anyone.  If they are not ready for intimacy, they need the tools to walk away confidently from peer pressure.
  • They need to ensure the young lady takes her share of the responsibility seriously and she too uses birth control appropriately.
  • They need to know that some girl, whether she means it or not, will hurt his feelings and break his heart.  This hurts.
  • Talk to your parents. They are not the enemy.
Female Teenagers:
  • See all of the above.  This is not a secret and the two of you need to be on the same page.
  • Know which method of birth control is best, or more appropriate, in your particular situation.
  • Don't engage in a physical relationship without knowing what to expect from yourself and your partner.  
  • Don't break his heart.
  • Be prepared to have yours broken.  You may not know how to deal with all those feelings yet.
  • Talk to your parents. They are not the enemy. 

Gay and Lesbian Teenagers

It is hard to believe, but heterosexual parents give birth to gay and lesbian babies.  As teenagers, they have to deal with the same hormonal changes and emotional attachments as their heterosexual counterparts.  Gay and Lesbian teenagers may have little chance of getting themselves or someone else pregnant, but they are not immune to sexually transmitted diseases (STD).  They need to learn healthy sexual practices that involve condoms.  
  • See all of the above and review the resources provided at the end of this article.
As parents we want our children, gay or straight, to stay healthy and be happy.  

Final Word to Parents

There is nothing more uncomfortable that coming to grips with the fact that our children are sexual beings.  Treating them with respect and openness  can make a difficult situation a lot easier.

We need to understand that arming our children with information and birth control does not open the flood gates to promiscuity, pole dancing and prostitution.  However, it opens the lines of communication that allows our children to continue to put their faith and trust in us as our relationships mature and change.

In the final analysis, we are all someone's sons and daughters, but at some point, we stop being someone's child.

Your Resources:
Planned Parenthood: Types of Birth Control
Gay and Lesbian Center: STD Frequently Asked Questions
Centers for Disease Control: Gay and Bisexual Men's Health

Images:  Sign

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oh Ricky!

pics on Sodahead

Rick Santorum is excessively obsessed with other people's sexuality. Perhaps he is still trying to feel comfortable with his current choices and doubling- down on religious dogma to affirm the stance he wants to take - 

98 percent of Catholics use some form of Birth Control, but Rick Santorum never lets facts get in the way of his narrative.

Rick Santorum would ban condoms, the pill and ... the time-honor tradition of the rhythm method used by millions (insert ironic tone and laughter here) of Catholics.

The anti-fornication, anti-abortion, anti-birth control couple:
Good old Rick does not make allowances for an abortion, including those resulting from "an honest rape".  Unless of course, it is for his wife Karen. - Remember her? - Karen Lived in sin for several years, fornicating with the man who delivered her.  This man, old enough to be her father, also performed abortions.  She was, at the time, pro-choice.  Now she is only pro-choice only if it applies to her as a matter of last resort because she "has to consider her other children."

 *** Obviously no other woman in the United States could ever be in that position.... you see, those women are recreational abortionist ***

Rick Santorum only wants women spawning and raising young ones.  He has clearly stated that women are too emotional to serve in the military and do things that are "not in the best interest of the mission."  

- The problem may not be that women are emotional but that men in the army might be distracted by the sight of bodacious women  clad in army boots, fatigues and encased in the stench of several days or weeks of sweat and dirt - Santorum believes that male soldiers will fantasize and waste valuable time fighting temptation, instead of the enemy. (surely that's where the getting "down and dirty" comes from, right Santorum?) 

*** Can we see it now? Heterosexuals, gay and lesbian soldiers turned on by each other's presence in 120 degree heat.  Sexing up like animals in fox holes as grenades and bombs explode over head.  A macabre romantic rendezvous among their dead and dying comrades. What? - Too creepy? - Hey! Santorum seems to know a thing or two about fantasizing (man on dog?) ... who are we to judge? - ***

He also commented that male soldiers may try to save a woman's life out of chivalry.  Let's take a moment and consider the following: this is an insult to all soldiers.  Soldiers risk their lives in combat to ensure the safety of their fellow soldiers regardless of gender.  They are professionals, not grown men and women suffering from stunted growth living vicariously through internet porn.  

Crooks & Liars posted an article on Rick Santorum doubling-down on the nonsense that abortions cause breast cancer.  Liar, liar, Santorum's pants are on fire.

In the United States, women are under attack but thankfully, they are not fighting alone.  Rick Santorum was right about one thing: Men will defend women.  And that will be the downfall of the GOP and Tea Party dictators.

Let's hope women, when they choose to reproduce will continue to raise level-headed men that want what is best for society and the women they love.  It is a shame that someone would think that by virtue of gender, they know more, or better, than the people who are directly affected.

Viagra anyone? Condoms? Vasectomies? ... Child support? - Just saying!

PEACE ~ Olivia

Related Articles on This Blog:
Hating On Women 
Women and Politics 
Women Used as Guinea Pigs 
An Assault on Women's Rights 

External Articles:
Santorum: Our Abortion was Different 
The Daily Beast: Before Karen met Rick   (The 2nd page has photo of Karen Santorum posing sweetly with her abortionist lover)

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Power of Unions

Child Labor - Coal Mines
Today's article is personal.  We are insignificant average people.  We live in your neighborhood.  We shop at the same stores, and just like you, the only time we matter is during an election cycle.

We are sharing something personal in the hope more of us can relate to each other and put things into perspective.  When politicians forget about us, America's Unions, do not.

In 1975 my husband worked for a cannery during the summer that made cans for Hunt's foods.  The job was grueling, sweaty and dangerous.  Men lost limbs and not everyone would last longer than a season.  The minimum wage in 1975 was $2.10 an hour and my husband's beginning wages were $11.25 an hour. - This was a union job.  As a recent high school graduate, his wages were higher than his dad's.

My father in-law supported his family working as a custodian for the city and his salary was $10.50 hour.  On this salary they had managed to buy a house, raise four children and support ailing grandparents in a neighborhood where most people would not want to live then, or today.  The kids turned out alright.  

*** We lost great-grandma three years ago.  She was 105.  
Medicare was instrumental in meeting her medical needs and we can thank Unions and Democrats for this and the $300 a month she received through Social Security.  Granted the money was barely enough to cover some basic need, but there was dignity in her life.  She was able to contribute a little something and give $5.00 to a grandchild for her birthday or good grades.  She played Bingo twice a week with her own money.  Unions and quality of life go hand-in-hand.

In 1977 my husband went to work for a chemical company that used to compete with Dow Chemical.  Dow Chemical not only paid higher wages and provided greater benefits but a few years ago purchased the company he used to work for.  His starting salary was $16.50 and hour and he worked there for thirteen years.  

With the increases throughout the years, he ended with a paycheck of $22.00 an hour.  This was his base salary, it did not include massive overtime - most of it forced  - or bonuses.  He also received a pension plan and health care for his entire family.  

The job also came with a grueling shift schedule and dictatorial working conditions.  The workers were on-duty during their days off and if the replacement worker did not show up at the end of the shift, the man that had already worked 12 hours straight with only a 15 minute lunch break would have to stay for part of another shift.

It was not unusual for my husband to work 16 hours straight some days.  As a 24 hour a day operation, the plant did not shut down for the holidays and vacation time was reluctantly given.  The caveat: If they didn't use it, they'd lose it because they could not carry it over to the next year.

What You Need To Know

When they had a chemical spill, they shut down the factory and closed all the vents and doors to prevent any complains about air quality for miles, but mostly it was the hefty fines they were avoiding.  The workers inhaled that air 24 hours a day.  The chemicals arrived in rail cars and tankers, the "small stuff" came in 55 gallon drums piled high on pallets.  Most of the chemicals that arrived to the plant have been proven to be carcinogens at much lower exposure rates.  These men and women were exposed to massive quantities on a daily basis for decades.  Many of my husband's co-workers are very ill or have died.  They are/were in their mid-forties to mid-fifties.

The workers had no control on the quantities they handled or how much contact they had with the chemicals.  Back then, safety consisted of paper masks, respirators, fresh air masks and rubber gloves.  This was a non-union job.

Bad batches of mixed chemicals were trucked away.  From reliable sources, much of the slush was "treated" through another chemical treatment and filtered through sand to trap the majority of the slush.  The resulting clear liquid was dumped on the San Francisco Bay.   Clear did not mean it was not toxic, but much easier to flush down the drain.  This daily practice went on for decades.

The tankers that brought the chemicals to the factory needed clean tanks to pick up the next batch.  Typically, they would stop in a field or gas station with a hose and flush out the tankers.  The resulting slush was dumped in open fields on the ground. This was discussed on the movie Erin Brockovich.  Same people, same tankers, same chemicals.  

Perhaps finding a cure to cancer through the use of more chemicals is not such a great idea.  A better implementation of time and resources might be in eliminating the cause altogether.  For instance, agricultural chemicals banned in the United States were produced by this company and shipped to Mexico to use on their crops.  Those crops came back for sale to the United States - We thought you'd like to know. 


The reason the chemical plant paid such good wages is because Union shops in the area paid $1.00 more an hour to their workers.  Private companies had to compete with unionized factories in both salary and benefits.  But could easily overlook safety and there was no one there to have the worker's back.  They were on their own.  Every man for himself.

At this time my father in-law was still working at his union job for the city earning almost $19.00 an hour.  His son earned more but in those days, getting a city job meant stability, more paid holidays and a decent retirement after putting in over 20 of their most productive years. 

In the 1990's my husband worked for a power plant that has been written about in Jeff Sharlet's Book, The Family.  His salary was higher than what I mentioned earlier and more than enough to allow me to quit mine and raise our newborn.  Six months after quitting my job, there was a horrific accident that left my husband unable to walk, let alone work.  

The company was at fault, but by then, the powers that be, had managed to put in place laws that prevent employees from suing the company.  The power plant got away with it and business continued as usual.  This was a non-union company.  We were left to fend for ourselves.

If it weren't for social security disability and Medicare, this family would be living in a cardboard box in an alley.

Today, in our area, there was a snippet on the news for people who are looking for a job. The segment is called, "Job of the Day" and the job for today was Chemical Operator.  The same job my husband had in 1977 - The starting pay is $12.00 an hour.  This is a non-union job

Unions do more than collective bargaining, they insure safety in the work place, they ensure workers are not taken advantage of and most of all, they are what made middle class, home ownership and a comfortable retirement possible.  They also provide workers with legal representation, knowledge and information they normally don't have access to on their own.  These perks are out of sight most of the time, but when push comes to shove, it really makes a difference in the lives of ordinary people.

My father in-law is comfortably retired and his pension plan included most of his annual salary which is supplemented by his social security.  He still lives in the same house they bought in 1964 for $16,900. In 1964 he thought he could not afford the down payment on the old house.  He only had $3.00 in his pocket at the time, but the Realtor worked it out where the $3.00 was his down payment.  Great true story.

No one should have to fight to earn living wages.  A power plant or chemical plant worker should, by today's standards, be earning at least $56 an hour.  The work is dangerous, the hours are grueling and the toll on their bodies is incomprehensible to white collar workers, let alone the 1% who benefits in the trillions of dollars from their blood and sweat.  

Unions matter more than people realize and this is a good thing for the 1% because they are hell bent on destroying what is good in America.  The longer we remain unaware, the more time they have to make sure Unions don't recover and workers are left to fend against them on their own.  All for a god-damn profit.

There is a big difference between surviving and living. Unions make living possible.

PEACE - Olivia

Recommended Reading:

Working Life: The U.S. Labor Movement and Its Achievements
U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division
AFSCME: Labor's 10 Top Accomplishments

In This Blog:


Image: Child Labor - Coal By SGGH at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Evil of Organized Religion in Government

The benign forms of religion includes peace, spirituality and rituals meant to bring families and communities together.

Everyone, including atheists, can appreciate the benefits of having a place that is a refuge from life's hardships and a place that serves to bond people through community service.

We achieved this respite over a short period of time, but we are reverting to the worse aspect of religion quickly and there is no turning back unless we draw a very clear line in the sand and assess consequences for crossing that line.

Organized Religion

The Spanish Inquisition is below today's standards in terms of hatred and destruction.  We have better weapons now and it is frightening.  In Uganda, the crimes against gays and lesbians include 'corrective rape' and murder.  They can thank American Evangelical zealots straight from C street in Washington D.C. for this added misery to their collective lives.

Organized religion was used effectively in the Middle Ages to control and rule the population.  It was impossible to have a ruler that did not pledge allegiance to one religious sect or another.  Murders, genocide, rape and torture were all in a day's work and religious leaders were untouchable.

People escaped when they could and some even reached a new land called America. These refugees effectively destroyed the culture and societies of the indigenous people.  In seeking freedom for themselves, they enslaved and destroyed others.  All in the name of religious freedom - their own.

In modern times religion is a tool that savvy politicians are adept at using to demonize their opponents and bring out the worst in humanity.  They use religion to cloak their fault-riddled selves with a veneer of respectability that is wholly undeserved.

Throughout history, we have slaughtered indigenous people, subjugated minorities and placed human beings at risk of dying prematurely.  All this because someone's voice from the pulpit or political stage was loud enough to obliterate common sense.

There is no war on religion.

There is a push back for religion to know its place in society and if this is what war means to them, they need to review, not revise, their bloody history and adjust accordingly.

The fact is that many of us would welcome the useful and peaceful teachings of religion if they just stuck to social good and stayed away from intruding in people's personal lives.  Furthermore, let's give some consideration that the reason religion is becoming society's pariah is because the political company they keep is unpalatable to most mainstream Americans.

Religion-Free Zones

Religion does not belong inside our bedrooms without our consent.  It does not belong as an unwelcome intrusion between a woman and her doctor.  It does not belong anywhere except in those magnificent buildings designed to humble mere humans on a Sunday morning.

Religion does not belong in public schools.  For many decades public and religious private school co-existed peaceful.  Not anymore, religious zealots want to either take over our public schools or destroy them, and they have found powerful political allies in state governors to do so.

How Religion Could Have Made a Better Impression

Mind you that we may have a better conversation if those who oppose birth control in any form would come up with a viable plan to support and maintain the millions of children who are going hungry every day, are bounced around between foster homes and are abused sexually and emotionally by some of the same people who have made religion such an evil entity.

Religion would have found a comfortable nest if they had treated women with equality instead of property to be used and abused.

Religion would have found a powerful ally in women if they not tried to squash our dreams, hopes and aspirations.  Yes, we are a loyal bunch and have a great deal of patience.  Unfortunately, just a like an abusive marriage, we have been pushed too hard for too long.  We are done - Good-Bye.

Women Stories

Many women have chosen to forgo their childhood religious training and raise their children free of dogma and ridiculous expectations.  Some of us have distanced ourselves without fully cutting the cord, but no longer tow the line because we can't view the world through the narrow optics of religious dogma.

Women don't like being treated like second class citizens or like mentally defective individuals incapable of making decisions for themselves and their families.  For many, the attempts to change the dynamics have reached the end and the betrayal has been deeply felt.  From Catholic priests raping our children, to women not allowed to be leaders of traditional churches or temples.  God may love us, but organized religion hates us.

The Men

More and more people are  turned off by the screaming banshees thumping a particular book and are leaving the establishments in droves.  Born again Christians disgusted by the likes of pastor Ted Haggard and others like him are connecting with each other online or hold small groups of Bible studies in their own homes.  Religion has turned them off, but they still need that sense of community and blessed spiritual peace.  Most of these are older, middle age men and some women.

The youth is leaving Evangelical churches in droves.

One of the reasons younger members leave is not because they are anti-God or anti-Jesus, but anti-control.  They don't want to be judge for living their lives as they see fit.  Their morals and values are very similar to those of generations past, but they are more 'liberal' when it comes to sexuality and charting their own course in life.

This is why organized religion is evil. In the hands of those who seek to control others - it has destroyed the goodness of public works and have effectively created a rift among people who together could have moved mountains of prosperity and equality for all.  Unfortunately, religion has become a weapon of destruction and intimidation.  Women, Gays and Lesbians, Blacks and Hispanics are shunned for being different from the majority of the congregation.

Health Care

Organized religion wants women to have the health care they dictate, not the kind the women want or truly need.  Planned Parenthood has been on the news for a few months because they have been under attack by governors across the country.

The final blow was yesterday, when Susan G. Komen pulled their funding.  The biggest issue is abortion, but the fact remains that this issue is a woman's personal issue.  Women resent the unabashed intrusion and lack of privacy reserved exclusively for them.

The Politics of Organized Religion

Politics and religion make for very dangerous bed fellows.  It is best to have separation of church and state as our Founding Fathers intended.  They had seen first hand what powerful religious zealots could do to a society and its ability to govern itself.

While we are at it, we may want to finally classify religious institutions as a business and tax them appropriately.  They no longer serve as a spiritual retreat but as a machine of perpetual hatred and intolerance.

It is a shame that organized religion has become as evil as the evil they claim to be against.

PEACE to you and yours.

Related Links on this blog:

Separation of Church and State
Hating On Women
Women and Politics
Women Used as Guinea Pigs
About Bob
An Assault on Women's Rights

External Links:

The Christian Century: Women Show Deep Drop in Church Attendance
Barna Group: 20 Years of Surveys Show Key Differences In the Faith of America's Men and Women
Ex-Mormon.org: Why We left
CNN: Why Young Evangelicals Are Leaving the Church

spirituality by  Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net