They say traveling broadens the mind. Well, it also broadens your experiences with your fellow human beings. This week I was on the plane, standing in the aisle waiting to disembark, and there was about .0003 millimeters of space between me and the woman behind me. Undeterred by physics, this lady decided to get her enormous “carry-on” bag down from the bin directly above me. In the process, the bag smacked me lightly on the shoulder. She apologized, like the decent person she was. But then, she decided to maneuver her second bag from under the seat to its desired post atop her roller bag. In the process, she smacked me on the ass.
At this point, she apologized again, saying “I’m sorry, I keep hitting you.”
“Yes, you do,” I responded somewhat snottily. (I had gotten up at 4:15 am, after all.)
“Well, I don’t know how I can avoid it. There’s not enough room,” she replied, also somewhat snottily. (I don’t care when she got up, I was the injured party here.)
It took every bit of restraint I possess not to say, “Well, how about waiting UNTIL THERE’S ROOM FOR YOUR F*CKING BAG!” Was that not a choice that would have a) cost her nothing but a few seconds and b) prevented the blows both to my body and my worn-out psyche?
I swear, this is sometimes what I think is wrong with this country and how we treat each other – especially how we treat our women.
It’s almost like we are so stuck in our old, OLD paradigms that we truly cannot see another choice. The woman on the plane, for example, was so focused on getting her bag down that the thought of waiting (a short delay that would cost her nothing) was not even an option. What has happened to us? We used to be an ingenious people. We used to come up with inventions that shook the world (the light bulb – literally now the symbol for a creative idea), and theories that changed how we thought of reality (“E=mc2″comes to mind). What are we doing now? We’re trying to come up with ways to deal with problems we don’t have, like the “Social Security Crisis” and the “millions of unborn babies killed every second by murdering abortionist wimminz,” but refuse to address the real ones that are out there. Hunger. Poverty. Lack of education. Gun violence. Lack of medical care. Overpopulation. Climate change. An unsustainable energy policy. An unsustainable military-industrial complex that drives us to constant war. We do NOTHING about these. All people seem to do is shrug their shoulders, pretend these problems are unsolvable, and at best, do half-assed nonsense like Obamacare. (At worst, they do harmful, horrible sh*t like Austerity.)
You all remember Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia don’t you? He’s the one who signed the ultrasound bill that was thought up by the Repubs in the VA legislature which called for women who decide to have an abortion to also have a transvaginal ultrasound . Furthermore, Virginia made sure that the woman would have to pay for the ultrasound. Yep, governor ultrasound says no way the state should have to pay for those tests. Yet somehow, governor ultrasound feels like it is perfectly “A-ok” for the citizens of Virginia to pick up the tab for him and Mrs. Governor, the gubernatorial offspring and even the pets! Yes, they billed the state for the $9.49 cost of vitamins for Ginger, the first dog.
It seems that among other items, the McDonnells have asked the good citizens of the state to reimburse them for are body wash, sunscreen, dog vitamins and a digestive system “detox cleanse”. And if you don’t have an idea of what a “digestive system detox cleanse” is, I’m not the one to tell you. That’s what der google and der Bing are for. And although they may have had their hands slapped over some items,
The records showed the McDonnells billed the state less than $600, including $300 they repaid, but continued to let taxpayers foot the bill for such items as vitamins, nasal spray and sleep aids…
Yep, you got it: Paying for ultrasounds? No way. However, a bottle of colon cleanse and some Afrin and SleepMd for me, you betcha. Further, the guv and family have felt it was perfectly okay to send a state employee (on state time) to fetch items for their adult children.
They have also used state employees to run personal errands for their adult children. In the middle of a workday, for example, a staffer retrieved Rachel McDonnell’s newly hemmed pants at a tailoring shop nine miles from the governor’s mansion. Another time, a state worker was dispatched to a dry cleaner 20 miles away to pick up a storage box for Cailin McDonnell’s wedding dress.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, The Washington Post sought records of personal expenses covered by the state over the couple’s 31 / 2 years in the mansion. The full cost of those items is unknown because the state released only 16 sales receipts, most of them from 2011. State records show that there were many more personal shopping trips — nine others in January 2011 alone, including two to Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up “college stuff” for the McDonnells’ children.
These things in and of themselves are really not biggies in the grand scheme of things but do seem to show that sense of “entitlement” these folks sure don’t like to see in the “lesser people” shall we say.
There is more to the story as the old saying goes and it covers gifts to the governor, the use of an expensive car belonging to a political donor, and even the governor’s daughter’s wedding at the mansion.
There are two investigations going on with the good governor, one by the state attorney general (and candidate for governor) and one by the Feds.
McDonnell accepted more than $120,000 in donations and disclosed gifts from Mr. Jonnie R. Williams who is the chief executive of a Virginia company called Star Scientific. It seems that Mr. Williams paid the $15,000 catering bill for the daughter’s wedding which, as I said, was held at the mansion. It must be nice to have friends like that! The problem though is that the guv did not disclose this little bit of largesse and felt like he didn’t have to.
McDonnell did not disclose the gift. Virginia law requires elected officials to annually disclose all gifts worth more than $50, but the governor has said that the catering gift did not need to be disclosed because it was given not to him but to his daughter. The law does not require that gifts to immediate family members be disclosed. However, McDonnell signed the contract for the catering, assuming financial responsibility for the bill.
A recent poll declared that congress is “enjoying” a 10% approval rating. That figure seems pretty high to me considering that this body of lawmakers has pretty much done nothing over the last few years on behalf of the public they have been elected to serve.
These people have essentially sat on their collective butts, ignoring their own constituents in favor of party affiliation. As the public looks to congress for a measure of fairness, the congress has looked to their donor base to form their decisions.
As “Citizens United” becomes part and parcel of the elective process the smell of money has superceded the will of the electorate. One need look no further than the recent vote on gun control to validate this theory when it was shown that most of those who voted against had received donations from the gun lobby itself. While 70% of the nation approved the measures offered up in this bill, the Senate was unable to reach the 60% majority that would have made it possible to place restrictions that called for background checks.
Not sure who makes up the 10% that “approves” of the way democracy is played out in DC. But it does appear that these people are not paying attention.
Any business that suffers from an approval rating of 10% would be closing its doors. The same goes for an employee whose annual review was no higher. But we seem to continually re-elect the same candidates whose job approval ranks this low then whine when nothing ever seems to get done.
Commonsense dictates that we would fire the guy who mows our lawn if he merely mowed 10%. We would avoid the stores that only stocked 10% of their shelves. Or the dentist who only cleaned 10% of our teeth. But when it comes to our elected officials we seem to be unable to rid ourselves of those who not only refuse to do the job they were elected to do but find excuses to send them back for another round.
The congressional calendar suggests that for all intents and purposes, democracy itself is dying a slow death. We are at the mercy of special interests and a nasty political power play that has nothing to do with the will of the people but the wants and needs of those who can afford to “pay to play”.
The sad fact is that nobody gives a rat’s ass and the few that do are buried somewhere within the halls of that once proud institution that hardly exists.
It is up to the 90% who recognize that this form of leadership is getting us nowhere but I have my doubts that anything significant will change in the next 20 years.
All the money in the world cannot buy “approval” but it sure is a guarantee that you get what you pay for when the bill comes due.
Good Sunday, Widdershins.
There has been so much of an uproar this week about surveillance that the only reasonable topic for this post is spy movies. I grew up on them as the spy films were a staple of the Cold War era, and Bond movies reigned supreme during the Sixties and Seventies. Beyond Bond, there is an abundance of wonderful flicks filled with heart-stopping moments and underscored by plots and subplots galore. Some of the old black and whites are among my favorites. My initial list of favorites contained 28 films, and it was no easy task to eliminate all but five. They are listed below in no particular order Feel free to post yours, or anything else that you would like in this otherwise open thread.
(1) North by Northwest – 1959
(2) Three Days of the Condor, 1975
(3) The Falcon and the Snowman – 1985
(4) The Good Shepherd, 2006
(5) The Ipcress File, 1965
Good day Widdershins. I hope this turns out to be a great day for you. Yesterday was a delightful day relatively low humidity for a summer day and the night was actually coolish. Today should be more of the same with the temps just a tad higher. As long as that humidity stays down that’s okay with me.
A Gathering of Gals
I saw this on nola.com and wanted to mention it here.
The gathering would be for FestiGals a weekend gathering for women in Nola, June 20th – 23rd. The event bills itself as Entertaining and Enriching Women, New Orleans Style! There will be workshops for things like “Smarter, safer travels,“Living on Purpose” Pursuing Your Given Path”, Be On Your Best Business Behavior”, “Manufacturing a Dream” and other business related seminars and conferences. But of course, this happening in New Orleans, there’s also the “Bodacious Bras” Luncheon and auction, said auction for the benefit of breast cancer awareness, education, and early detection. You can even check out the bodacious bras here.
Now it’s not all seminars and conferences. You’ll get to participate in the Stiletto Strut down Bourbon Street. As local event planner Diane Lyons says:
“The Strut helps women find their inner diva,” Lyons said. “It’s a chance to own the street, to be someone else for the length of the parade. And the parade is a perfect fit with the purpose of FestiGals – to have a good time, but also to step outside our familiar roles as caregivers, spouses and busy professionals, and examine who we are from a fresh angle.”
To do that, Lyons and her FestiGals colleagues draw on decades of experience in planning events for corporate groups and conventions.
As Diane Lyons the founder of Festigals says:
As a proud native New Orleanian and an established meeting and event planner for more than 25 years, I had often wondered how our city (known for its many festivals and over-the-top events) had never before hosted a celebration just for us girls. So in 2011, I put my heart, soul, time and talent into creating FestiGals, New Orleans’ first and only all-ladies festival.
During this one-of-a-kind series of events, CEOs, soccer moms, and retirees will unite to celebrate life, laughter and womanhood, and share ideas, talents, and passions with other like-minded ladies in a city where food, fun and fabulousness run rampant around every corner! For just one weekend, you’ll have the chance to get away from it all or soak it all in, to get revved up or to wind DOWN. Whatever it is you want to do, just do it – it’s a weekend that’s all about YOU!
It is my hope that by engaging in our excusive, authentic events – from lunching with Hoda Kotb at the Bodacious Bras for a Cause Luncheon to parading in our signature Stiletto Stroll—that FestiGals will build a network of amazing women from all walks of life who will make lifelong memories and look forward to rekindling connections in the years to come. It is also my hope that you’ll be as excited to attend as we are to host you year after year!
To wrap things up on Sunday there will be Hangover Hospital and then the Drag Queens Brunch at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, described as :
Saints and Sinners Morning, featuring a Drag Queen Brunch at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, 717 Orleans Street, in the heart of the French Quarter. Boys will be boys, or maybe girls, and we all know that girls just wanna have fun… Gaiety with flair in the beautiful Orleans Ballroom, dating from 1817 and once known as the famous Quadroon Ballroom. Naughty but nice, join some of our favorite local queens for a lavish breakfast buffet and entertaining experience from 10am until 12 noon. Enjoy bottomless Mimosas featuring Flip Flop Sparkling Moscato. The menu for the brunch looks awesome!
Most of the events this year will center around the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter which is a fantastic place. One of the places in the hotel to check out is the Carousel Bar and Lounge. I’ve been there a number of times and it’s a great place to unwind after having a great dinner in the Quarter, hitting some of the jazz clubs and heading back for that one, last civilized drink. Also, for those who may be “lebaneze”, the Montelone is also gay-friendly.
It might be too late to attend this year, but it’s an annual event and I’ve put the website in a link above, however if you need it again, here it is:
Here’s a restaurant making it easier on the diner
Sushi Yasuda a New York, upscale restaurant just started something that will endear it to its customers for a long time:
They have banned tipping in their restaurant. When a dinner guest there gets the bill this is printed on the bottom of it:
“Following the custom in Japan, Sushi Yasuda’s service staff are fully compensated by their salary. Therefore gratuities are not accepted.”
Isn’t that fantastic! Here’s what the piece says:
Sushi Yasuda’s staff, on the other hand, is paid a salary with a benefits package complete with vacation days, sick leave, and health insurance. Tips were accepted but went directly to the restaurant, not to the servers.
I find it amazing! The wait staff will have a regular salary, health insurance, vacation and sick days! I’m not gonna hold my breath to see if any other restaurants try to follow the lead because in the Think Progressive article it does say:
Sushi Yasuda’s benefit package is also a rarity in the industry. Nearly 90 percent of servers do not get health insurance through their employer, a dangerous status quo many restaurant chains have fought hard to maintain in the face of new Obamacare requirements.
Yeah, about what I thought. Gotta blame it on Obamacare, just like about everything else is blamed on Obama.
So how is your Saturday going Widdershins? Tell me in the comments below.
This is an open thread.
If overreaching analogies were a crime, I would be a lifer in the Strunk and White Prison. Recidivism for glittering generalities must be robustly encoded within my otherwise mottled DNA. If this post is yet another instance of my overreaching just overlook it as the ramblings of a dubiously pedigreed genetically inferior Appalachian.
This is a story that hasn’t gotten near enough play in the media. That is a shame. It is Christmas eve 2009 in San Antonio. As is often the case with young men around Christmas time, Mr. Ezekiel Gilbert, 30, went to Craigslist to secure the services of an hourly female companion.
Ms. Lenora Ivie Frago, 23, answered Mr. Gilbert’s call. When she arrived she took the proffered agreed upon sum of $150. According to Ezekiel, after Ms. Frago walked around his apartment for about 20 minutes, she announced she wanted to pay her driver who had dutifully delivered her on this house call. As yet, no canoodling had occurred.
Taking the $150 to “pay” the driver did not sit well with Mr. Gilbert whereupon he promptly took a gun and shot Lenora in the neck instantly paralyzing her. She languished in the hospital for seven months before she died.
Last week, Mr. Gilbert was found not guilty by a jury of his Lone Star peers due to a Texas law permitting deadly lethal force to be used to “retrieve stolen property at night” or to prevent “criminal mischief in the nighttime.”
Mr. Gilbert’s acquittal was despite the fact he had said nothing about feeling “robbed” during the police interrogation videotaped on Christmas Day 2009. His acquittal was despite the prosecutors explaining that coercing prostitution or rape at gunpoint was certainly not the legislative intent behind the statute. His acquittal is most likely due to very favorably drawn jury instructions where the jurors were left with no discretion.
Nevertheless, Mr. Gilbert was found not guilty, but he is not without remorse. To illustrate his burden, he complains about having to change channels when he sees a gun in a television show.
My penchant for overreaching analogies might be brought on by the numbing rage I feel at reading something this senselessly grotesque. It might be brought on by knowing Lenora’s death was empowered by a myopic pandering legislature, but whatever the reason here comes the unfurling of my librul flag in full freak overreach.
“Having, then, once introduced an element of inconsistency into his system, he was far too consistent not to be inconsistent consistently, and he lapsed ere long into an amiable indifferentism which to outward appearance differed but little from the indifferentism … Samuel Butler
Good Thursday, Widdershins. Do you find yourself utterly confused by the above-referenced quote from Butler? Me, too – but it’s absolutely appropriate considering this week’s uproar regarding privacy.
We discussed the issue of spying on the general public the other day when commenting on Pat’s most excellent post, and generally concluded that we found the entire process loathsome. I would wager that we were all upset about the Patriot Act as well, which greased the process along the road, and were all pretty outspoken about it at the time. The latest discoveries have brought about some pretty strange political bedfellows.
At the time that the Patriot Act passed the Senate, Russ, Feingold was the only “nay” vote. He warned us that we were on top of a pretty slippery slope. VP Richard Cheyney told all comers that no citizen who was going lawfully about their business would have to concern themselves with this. President Bush said that we should all go shopping. Those of us who expressed reservations about the Feds snooping around our emails and library cards were dubbed “unpatriotic”. The general mood was that we needed to be safe above all else – basically we were demoted to the lowest possible rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Enter Congress. Rand Paul is quite upset, but I expected that. He is, if nothing else, consistently libertarian in his outlook. That said, I just have to wonder if he ever considered that he might be aligned with Michael Moore and Bernie Sanders. I also wonder if Diane Feinstein and Lindsay Graham ever thought that they would stand shoulder-to-shoulder in defense of the principle. Actually, Sen. Feinstein was not as much defending the program as she was pointing out that this whole thing really didn’t get started up last Tuesday. Peter King wants to prosecute both the whistle-blower and Glenn Greenwald for his article, apparently oblivious to the fact that there really is no law that says that he cannot write and publish whatever he wishes. Heck, some may even think that the whole thing is covered by the First Amendment, or something like that. You know, one of the amendments cited by the Tea Party whenever they say something.
Joe Scarborough was most upset on his morning show. Here’s the money quote:
Scarborough continued, “It’s just like the AP story and the Fox story. This administration has been so much more aggressive, so much more indiscriminate and the net they have thrown out has been so much more widespread than what we have ever seen before that I think this goes well beyond the scope of what people envisioned when they passed the Patriot Act.
Seriously, Joe? Quite a few of us were indeed envisioning just that. If I remember correctly, just about every telecomm company had thrown their clients under the bus and actually broken federal law with their complicity. I also seemed to recall that Congress obligingly gave them broad retroactive immunity to shield them from suit by torqued-off customers. Further, if it was such a huge secret, how did you know exactly what the scope might be? I honestly cannot recall Scarborough questioning the authority of the Bush administration to “keep us safe”, usually without so much as a wave at the FISA court. Seems to me that the Bushies practiced totally warrantless wiretaps, and I just can’t for the life of me recall your full-throated indignation at that time.
Now for the punch line: isn’t is rich that Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Mike Enzi and Jeff Flake approve of snooping into all of your communications, but are horrified that anyone would even consider a (gasp!) background check for gun owners. Most of them are also deeply concerned that the Consumer Protection Agency might actually compile records about your credit and other such terribly private matters. See, they are concerned about our privacy, donchaknow? Never fear, gentle Senators – the ACLU has filed suit.
Is anyone else confused? This is an open thread.