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The Big Disney Vacation, Day Two

We woke to rain, but did that deter us a bit?  No, Dear Readers, it did not.  Water may have been falling from the sky, but it was near 80°, so we’re good.

Mr. Chili and I got up pretty early, had a smattering of breakfast in the apartment, then headed to the front of the resort to catch the rental car shuttle to pick up a car.  While we were waiting, Reggie introduced himself to us; he’s a new front-of-house manager and stopped by where we were sitting to ask us how we were and if we needed anything.  We ended up having a lovely conversation with this gentleman who, it turns out, started his career as an industrial engineer and has worked all over the world.  He got his Disney job because someone he worked with had a job at Disney and recommended him.  Mr. Chili commented that he’d love to be an Imagineer, but he’s heard that the only way to get in is to know someone, to which Reggie replied, “well, NOW you know someone!” and promised to get in touch with us before we leave.  I’m strangely excited by this.

We picked up our car then headed back to the apartment to pick up the girls who, by this point, had pried themselves out of bed and were ready to face the world.  As it was still raining, we figured we’d get some errands out of the way, so we found a Target (to get Bean a new swimsuit; she’d outgrown her suit from last year and a couple of things we forgot to pack), then found a AAA office to buy our tickets for Universal.

By the time we made it back to the apartment, it was lunchtime, so I popped a pizza in the oven while the family goofed around on Pottermore to find out which house they belong to.  I haven’t been able to get the thing to work properly (I was using my iPad; I’ll try again with my computer), but it’s no matter; we’re all really, really excited about tomorrow’s trip.

Once we’d finished lunch, the rain stopped, so we walked down to the boat dock to catch the water taxi to Downtown Disney and our afternoon at Disney Quest.

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I wasn’t sure I was really going to enjoy this afternoon.  I’m not much for arcades; I’m kind of lousy at video games and all the noise and flashing lights give me headaches (to say nothing of the screaming kids), so imagine my surprise when we emerged a number of hours later with plans to return after we’d found something upon which to nosh.

Our afternoon started with a trip to the Pirates of the Caribbean game, which, again, I thought I’d hate.  I’ve got a pretty study constitution, but motion odyssey rides heeb me out; I get mildly nauseated and disoriented and vaguely headachy and I don’t feel right for a while afterward, so I wasn’t really keen about doing this game, but I figured I’d give it a go and see what happened.  It turned out that I needn’t have worried; though it’s a 3D ride, the motion of the thing is entirely manageable (it has to be, as you stand for the entire experience) and the graphics weren’t jerky or flashy.  The point of the adventure is that you and your “crew” are out to plunder rival pirate ships and collect their gold then, at the end, to try to keep your gold when you’re attacked by the ghost pirate ship.

Punk steered the ship and Bean, Dad and I manned the cannon and we won!

From there, we kind of split up and did our own thing.  Mr. Chili and I found the “classic games” sections and consumed unknown quantities of time playing Pac Man, Frogger, Asteroids, Centipede, Qbert, and Galaga.  After a bit, I wandered off to watch the Buzz Lightyear bumper cars, then found a fun video bowling game at which I got pretty good before I realized that I was starting to get hungry.

We didn’t have a plan for lunch, but I knew that if I didn’t get something to eat, I’d start getting cranky.  I found the Punk and she and I agreed to split a monster chocolate peanut butter cupcake; and when I say “monster,” I mean it.  We ended up quartering the damned thing and making it a family snack.  It was delicious, but I shudder to think about how many calories are in one (or how many people think they’re single-serving).

Properly sugared, we headed back in to do a bit more exploring.  The girls and I did Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride (which was disappointing… and mildly nauseating) and then we found a four-person air hockey table (WIN!  We love air hockey!).  I played some Tetris while Mr. Chili wandered off to play Blazing Aces.  After that, we figured we’d head out into Downtown Disney for a bit, so we found the girls (playing Guitar Hero) and then perused the shops.  We moseyed through a couple of really interesting gift shops, a surprisingly small candy shop (really; it was tiny.  I expected much more) and then spent about 15 minutes in a hat store.  We determined that Mr. Chili is really a baseball cap kind of guy, that Punk looks good in only the expensive hats, that Bean looks good in damned near ANY hat, and that I have an enormous noggin, even leaving my humid hair out of the equation; there were exactly two hats that I tried that fit, and neither of them was particularly flattering.

From there, we walked around a bit more and decided that we were getting genuinely hungry (the cupcake having been yummy but not especially nutritious), so we made our way toward the Earl of Sandwich for a bit of a snack.  When we got there, though, Mr. Chili had second thoughts; we have some sandwich fixings in the apartment and he was stressing about buying sandwiches out when we could just make them at home.  We decided against walking back to Disney Quest and headed for the water taxi to take us back to the West End of Downtown Disney while Mr. Chili reconsidered how he wanted to negotiate the dinner question.

In the end, he decided against going back to the apartment; we were hungry AND we wanted to go back to do more Disney Quest, and going back would have eaten up more time than he wanted to spend.  We stopped at the Smokehouse next to the House of Blues and got ourselves a basket of barbecue chicken nachos which we split among the four of us (Mr. Chili noting that, as with the cupcake earlier in the day, the nachos were likely intended to be a single person’s fare).  They were yummy, though I would have liked a bit more bbq sauce.

From there, Mr. Chili and Bean wanted to go back to Disney Quest and Punk wanted to go to Basin to get some pretty stinky bath stuff.  I agreed to walk back with her (forgetting just how long a walk it was), so she and I headed off.  It turned out to be a lovely bit of time with my elder daughter, though; we chatted as we threaded our way through the crowds, then spent a fair bit of time (not to mention a fair bit of money) getting the aforementioned pretty stinkies; Punk got a tube of bath bombs (we have a giant jacuzzi in the apartment that she wants to make use of) and a couple of jars of salt scrub (one, believe it or not, for Mr. Chili who tried a scrub when he was here a few weeks ago for his rocket launch and decided he really liked it.  He brought us back last night after Ghirardelli’s to use it again, and I paid attention to which one he liked).

On our way back to Disney Quest to reunite with our family, we stopped to listen to some of the street performers, and this one caught my attention.  His name is Nicholas Marks, and I knew that I wanted to stop and listen even before we rounded the corner to his spot.

He’s quite the performer, but more than that, I LOVE the music.  I bought one of his CDs right then and there and would have stayed for the rest of the show except that I knew that Mr. Chili and Bean would be wondering where we were, so we continued on and made our way back to the arcade.

In the whole afternoon, I’d never quite made it to the top floor, so that’s where we headed upon arrival.  I texted Mr. Chili to let him know where we were and then spent (again, unknown amounts of) time playing pinball (gods, but I love pinball!) and skee-ball and more Pac Man.  After a bit, Mr. Chili and Bean found us, we goofed around upstairs for a bit more, then we decided we wanted to do the Pirate game again, so we took the elevator to the first floor and found that there was almost no line.  We got right in, we were put in a different program (same story, different ships and, I think, different port) and we won again!  We make a good crew.

The grown ups were done at this point, but the girls still wanted to play for a bit, so we left them and made our way out through the gift shop, through the Cirque de Soleil gift shop across the street, then found our way back to the water taxi to the resort.  It was a lovely, quiet ride back.  When we got to port, I noticed that the poolside movie was Lilo and Stitch – and I LOVE Lilo and Stitch – so Mr. Chili suggested that we stay and watch the rest of it.

As we were walking home, we saw the girls’ water taxi float by, so we waved and blew kisses and enjoyed some cookies while we waited for them to walk back to the apartment, which brings me to now.  I’m off to bed; we’ve got Universal lined up for tomorrow and it’s going to be a big day.

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The “Big Disney Vacation,” Day One

So, it’s a big year at Chez Chili.

Bean turned sixteen this year.  SIXTEEN!  I know!  I can’t believe it, either!

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Punk turns eighteen (EIGHTEEN!) and graduates high school in June.

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Because of these special milestones, we decided that we were going to have a big vacation year to celebrate.  For the April break, we gave the girls a choice of a bunch of things to do – a cruise, a trip to Bermuda, a trip to the Keys, or a Disney vacation.

Without skipping a beat and all at the same time, they both said, “DISNEY!”

My husband, as I’ve noted before, has supernatural vacation planning abilities.  I mean it; this guy puts together a trip so that things happen seamlessly; he finds beautiful apartments for us to stay at, he researches when the best time to go to attractions is (“they have crowd calendars,” he tells me.  Who knew that was a thing?  He does, apparently).  He took it upon himself to put together this trip for us; all we did was tell him which parks we wanted to go to and he did the rest.

We got on a plane this morning and flew non-stop to Orlando.  The flight was a bit bumpy (I’m a nervous flier, so anything but perfectly smooth is “a bit bumpy” to me).  Regardless, we landed safely and made our way to the shuttle buses that take Disney guests to their resorts.

Mr. Chili passed out our “Magic Bands” which, apparently, do everything; they checked us in to the shuttle, they unlocked the door to our suite, they’ll get us into the parks (and purchase anything at any Disney-owned store or restaurant.

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(mine is the blue one; the black band is my fitbit; in addition to starting up my blogging habit, I’m committed to getting some exercise this week, too.  Plus, I’m curious to see how much walking gets done in Disney parks).  After a lovely trip on a comfortable bus, we arrived at the Old Key West resort.

This place is GORGEOUS.  We have a two bedroom suite with a kitchen, full size washer and drier, and a gigantic hot tub in the master suite (thank you, Mr. Chili!)!  As I write this, I’m sitting on our porch overlooking the river.  Seriously; this is my view:

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We weren’t here five minutes before a knock on the door heralded the arrival of our groceries.  My husband ordered groceries and arranged to have them delivered to our suite when we arrived.  He got “the things we get on our first vacation grocery run;” that means a loaf of bread, some mayo and tuna, cereal, milk, double stuff Oreos and, of course, Chips Ahoy and Nutella (GODS, but I love this man!).

As I write this, we’re waiting for our bags to be delivered from the airport (that was part of the service).  The girls have already been to the pool, and we have reservations for Portobello’s at 6:00.  We’re going to dress up a bit and take the water taxi (the one that goes right by our porch on that river there) and have a lovely supper, then we’re headed to Ghirardelli’s for dessert.

We have a busy week planned, but I’m hopeful to be able to see a couple of friends while I’m here; one of my college friends (and a bridesmaid at my wedding) lives in Orlando and suggested meeting for lunch when she saw my travel update on facebook, and I’m desperately hoping to be able to see TwoBlueDay while we’re here (though that might be tricky and, as such, may not happen, but I hold out hope).  I’m really looking forward to spending time with my nearly-adult children.  I’m delighted to be where it’s warm.  This is going to be great.

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Back on the Wagon

For a very, very long time, I wrote here literally every day.  Sometimes I’d write about things that mattered to me and sometimes I’d write about fluff and nonsense, but I wrote every day.

Then, I started to get self conscious about this habit.  Was I doing it because I WANTED to, or was I doing it because it was just something I did?  When I looked back on all I’d written, would I be proud or nostalgic about what I’d committed here, or would it be a catalog of the aforementioned fluff and nonsense?

It was that reflection that led me to let go my daily writing habit for a while.  I spent time on facebook, I spent time with my friends and family, I read books and took classes and did stuff.  Every once in a while, I’d stop by to drop a bit of thinking or to save something important that I’d want to look back on (Kes and the kittens, most notably), but I never really came back with any kind of focus or commitment.

I have decided that I don’t like not writing, though.  I feel as though I’m a bit adrift.  I mean, sure; I have a ton of stuff on my facebook wall, but the brevity of facebook posts and statuses and comments do not lend themselves well to any kind of critical or sustained thought (and facebook is a bitch to search) so I’m using our April vacation as an excuse to get back into the habit of regularly getting my thoughts and experiences down.  One of the things I truly treasure about the time I spent blogging regularly is that I can look back on important events in my life – from vacations to my mother’s illness and death to the making of new friends – and have not only the time and dates that these things happened, but also my thinking and feeling about them as they were happening.

So, friends and comrades, I’m back on the writing wagon.  I’ve missed you.

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The Way We Talk About Things That Matter

I’m engaged in several concurrent discussions about two very different topics – feminism and racism – but I’m finding that I’m making the same argument in both of them.  Since Facebook doesn’t really lend itself well to lengthy reflection, I’m coming here.

My first conversation is with a former student.  He’s a bright boy, though he is sometimes resistant, as we all can sometimes be, to ideas that are contrary to his experience or to the way he views his world.  I fondly recall a number of lively (and sometimes, for both of us, frustrating) conversations about controversial topics in which we both ended up exhausted; I because of the work it took to present him with compelling evidence in a way he’d be amenable to accept and he because he expended an inordinate amount of energy refusing to accept that evidence.

The other day, he posted something on his Facebook wall that was akin to “why can’t we call ‘feminism’ ‘humanism’?  If feminism is really about equal rights, then it should be about men’s rights too.”

Well, yes… and no.

I’ve been thinking an awful lot over the last decade or so about how incredibly polarized we as a society have become.  At what point did it become a bad thing to be able to inhabit the space between extremes?  When did admitting that the opposition had a valid point become a sign of intellectual (or worse, moral) failing?  Why can we not concede that a thing might be grey, rather than insist that everything be categorized neatly into black or white columns?

What ensued was a long – and frustrating – conversation about why, in fact, we need a particular branch of thinking that is specifically and unapologetically feminist.  Do feminists care about men’s rights?  Of COURSE they do; at the heart of feminism is a need to see complete gender equality, and we can’t have that unless and until both genders share equally in the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of society.  The point, however, is that, at this particular point in time, we don’t NEED a specialized movement in order to protect men’s rights (or white rights…).

I talked about the idea of weather versus climate; that an individual’s experience does not necessarily represent the experience of the larger group.  A particular woman may enjoy a bigger salary than her male coworker.  A particular woman may be the abuser in her relationship.  A particular woman may experience no discrimination or harassment in her workplace.  That an individual’s experience is such does not mean, however, that all women experience these conditions.  In fact, the opposite is generally true, and unless and until that changes – unless and until the general experience of women is free from gender-based encumbrances and discrimination and threats of physical intimidation and control – then we need a line of thought that is specifically, enthusiastically, and unapologetically feminist.

I think part of what made my former student choke is the fact that his personal, lived experience doesn’t bear out a “need” for feminism.  He has very often felt disadvantaged and marginalized and, as a consequence, resents the idea that women should be afforded “special consideration” in society when he, himself, feels like his gender doesn’t afford him any particular advantages.  He was arguing the same point that poor men – or black men, or gay men – tend to argue without realizing that the concept of intersectionality – that just because one is privileged in one aspect of their lives doesn’t mean that they are privileged in all aspects of their lives – is an actual thing.  Again, I had to fight against the ‘all or nothing’ paradigm that seems to be the hallmark of our modern discourse; you either are something or you aren’t, and the in between is either too confusing, too difficult, or too uncomfortable to navigate.  Yes, my student may have been poorly treated.  Yes, my student may have been verbally harassed by women on the street.  That doesn’t change the fact that he is LESS likely to be so specifically BECAUSE he is a man.  There are a thousand things that he doesn’t have to worry about BECAUSE he is a man.  There are a number of invisible privileges and advantages that he enjoys BECAUSE he is a man.  Whether or not he understands or appreciates these facts doesn’t make them any less true.

I think one of the things that frustrates me most about these kinds of conversations is the idea that we somehow have to include everyone equally in the conversation.  The central tenet of political correctness – that to marginalize anyone or to silence any voices is to commit the same kinds of crimes we’re fighting against – is, I think, one that stifles rather than encourages conversation.  I reject the effort of people like my student – or the #alllivesmatter people, or the “not all cops are bad cops” people – to try to be all-inclusive specifically because I think that to broaden the conversation to include everyone does further violence to the people whose rights are being denied.

I’m insulted by the implication that my support of feminism means that I reject men’s rights, or that I want women to have advantages over men.  I hate that my support of #blacklivesmatter means to some that I don’t think that ALL lives matter.  I’m deeply insulted by the thought that my outrage at the behavior of bad police officers automatically means that I believe all police officers are bad.  These arguments are simplistic, reductive, and disingenuous.  They are insulting to thinking people, and they serve only to keep the status quo in place.

Of COURSE men matter, but we’re not TALKING about men; we’re talking about WOMEN and the ways in which their gender disadvantages them in our society

Of COURSE all lives matter, but we’re not TALKING about ALL lives; we’re talking about BLACK lives and they ways in which they are undervalued in our society.

Of COURSE not all police officers are abusive, but we’re not TALKING about the good ones; we’re talking about the officers who use their power and their access to deadly force to abuse the public (and, specifically, the black public).

When we try to inject the entirety of the population into a conversation about a particular segment, we water down that conversation.  I, as a white, middle class woman, have very little of value to add to the conversation about poor black people beyond offering my unconditional support for the ending of the policies and practices that keep them poor.  MY experience is completely meaningless in that conversation, and it is both arrogant and counterproductive for me to try to force my experiences in; doing so takes away from the very real problems that people face and, not for nothing, makes me look like an ass.

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Searching for Balance

This graphic always makes me feel conflicted.

PromoteWhatYouLoveI spend an awful lot of time railing against the shit that I hate, mostly because there’s just so much out there and, lately, it seems to be getting more and more enthusiastic.  Alabama is trying to pass a law that allows minors to possess firearms.  Indiana just passed a blatantly discriminatory “religious freedom” bill (do you even need a link for that?).  All over the place, legislation is either being considered or passed that limits women’s rights, disrespects workers, and attacks teachers.

In the face of all of this, I feel it’s important to stand up and point out the vile and ugly.  It’s also important to point out the people who are doing good in the world – the people who are arguing in court against the laws, the people who are holding politicians’ feet to the proverbial fire and insisting that they answer straightforward questions, the businesses (and, admittedly, religious groups) that are standing up and saying “no” to the ugly and hateful, and I do admit that these things are happening….

business serves everyone…but I feel that I am much more a stand-up-and-point-out kind of activist than I am a behind-the-scenes-supporter kind of activist.  The way that I love the world – and the way I support those who are doing good – is by doing good myself.  The way I love the world is by standing up and making noise, by using my voice and my education and my privilege to advocate for those who may not have them, and by bringing light and attention to the things that will do others harm.  I get that a lot of people see my activism as bashing what I hate, but I need to spend my energy bringing awareness to the very real harm being done in our world.

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And Away We Go!

I live in New Hampshire.  That means a lot of things, but for the purposes of this post, this means that I get subjected very early in the cycle to a seemingly endless parade of Presidential wannabees who think that winning over the voters of New Hampshire is the way to get elected.

The most recent clown to get spat out of the car is, apparently, John Bolton.  This morning, two of my friends contacted me, separately from each other, to tell me that they’d been informed – one via a newsletter from Bolton’s PAC and another through the local news station’s app – that the former ambassador and right wing darling has a speaking gig in Manchester.

The friend who got the newsletter is apparently a glutton for punishment and has a very high tolerance for bullshit; he’s signed up to all the wingnuts’ newsletters – Michelle Bachman, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum among them – and tells me with a big grin that he gets these regular doses of crazy so he can “know what the enemy is thinking.”  Bully for him; I don’t know if I could handle opening my inbox to see mail from these people, but I do appreciate that he occasionally forwards the newsletters to me so I can see with my own eyes what the whackadoodles are saying to their base.  Observe:

It’s because of my love of country that I am sending you this message from Manchester, New Hampshire, where voters will soon decide who follows Barack Obama as president.

** Okay, let’s start with the preamble to the letter.  Notice how the sentence is structured to give the impression that little New Hampshire is going to be deciding the President’s successor all by its own little self?  I have no idea why New Hampshire is so important in the electoral process; we’re ranked 42nd in population and our voter turnout rates aren’t anything to write home about.  The hysteria with which the “first in the nation” status gets talked about by politicians kind of disgusts me, but I guess it’s a good idea to make your audience feel important and special, so there you go.

Friend,

Like you, I have a deep love of country and a profound concern for our future security and prosperity.

**What does this mean, exactly?  This sounds like a whole load of nationalistic bullshit to me.  “Love of country” and “security and prosperity” are triggering buzzwords that don’t really mean anything, but you can’t tell that to conservatives, so I guess you go with what works.

It’s because of my love of country that I am sending you this message from Manchester, New Hampshire, where voters will soon decide who follows Barack Obama as president.

**There’s that “love of country” and “New Hampshire will pick the next President” bit again.  Is the intended audience for this letter so distracted – or stupid – that they can’t remember what they read two lines ago?

For the past six years, we’ve waited for President Obama to lead and defend our country, and he has consistently failed.

**HOW, exactly, has President Obama “failed to lead and defend” the country?  Give examples with citations, please.

Two more years of danger remain until 2016, and his former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is no more up to the job than he was.

**Danger, huh?  Again, I’d like an example of the clear and present DANGER that faces our country; just one valid example will do.  Also, I’d be interested to hear why the writers believe that Secretary Clinton isn’t “up for the job,” though, of course, they’d have to articulate exactly what “the job” is in this context; I mean, I understand they’re talking about the qualifications for President, but I’ve seen nothing but vague, alarmist buzzword so far, so I’m not sure what they think they’re talking about.  Also, and not for nothing, Secretary Clinton has not declared her intention to run for President yet; I love how all the Republicans are already sinking their teeth into her.

We are – without question – less secure than we were just six short years ago.

**WITHOUT QUESTION, huh?  The letter keeps positing this idea, but offers nothing of substance to back it up.  I’m calling bullshit.

Our country needs a dependable leader who will take responsibility for America’s future. We need someone with a clear plan that can restore order to the chaos caused by President Obama’s absent, incoherent national security policy.

**This sentence is a doozy, isn’t it?  It’s clear from its being in bold that this is an important point, so pay attention, Kiddos!  From the sounds of this letter, we’re in a state of absolute, terrifying chaos; CHAOS, I tell you! 

Again, I want examples; clear, verifiable examples of all this madness the authors see all around them.

Americans instinctively understand that ignoring international dangers makes those dangers neither easier to resolve nor makes them go away.

**”International dangers” seems to be the focus of this statement, and implicit in it is the idea that the Administration has been *ignoring* them.  Americans are clearly smarter than the Administration, and we KNOW better than to IGNORE INTERNATIONAL DANGERS, by golly!  This Obama guy is an ostrich with his head stuck in the sand, huh?

We simply cannot suffer through more of Obama and Clinton’s misbegotten views of America, their inexperience, and their incompetence. When we elect leaders that don’t care about national security or view it as a political game, you get someone like Barack Obamas who is unqualified, inattentive, and downright dangerous.

**Leaving the grammar errors aside (seriously, People; proofreading matters), the tone of this sentence cracks me up.  The pearl-clutching here is a thing of beauty, isn’t it?  How sad it must be to live in these people’s heads; they are so frightened all the time.

We must be realistic about threats to America.

**”…because this Administration clearly hasn’t been.”  EVIDENCE, Motherfuckers; do you HAVE ANY?!

In fact, adversaries all around the world are calibrating their own policies to take advantage of the remaining two years of the Obama administration. Iran, Russia, China, and radical Islamic terrorists understand that they have a precious opportunity against a weak and ineffective President to advance their agenda, before a stronger, more competent President takes office.

**Oh, I LIKE this section.  “Weak and ineffective” is clearly intended to mean Democrats and  “strong and competent” is, obvs, Republican.  Like how they did that? 

It seems pretty irresponsible to make the claim that foreign interests are plotting against the United States and that they’re going to do some vague but horrible thing to us before the end of President Obama’s term without anything to back the claim up.  I’d like to see the evidence they’re basing this claim on, but I’m not going to hold my breath.  You shouldn’t, either.

And that’s why I am delivering this sobering message at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

**What message is that, exactly?  The one you’ve been promoting in this poorly formatted, conjecture-filled missive?  What could you possibly have to add here?

I’m committed to restoring America’s strength, and I hope that you are with me.

**If you aren’t smart enough to understand the thrust of this letter (because we understand our base and assume that you’re not), we’re going to go ahead and put the message in bold print.  RESTORE STRENGTH!  GUNS!  GOD!  HOO-AH!

Yeah, right.  Okay.

For America,

**More nationalistic bullshit right there.  Don’t you love this?  “For America,” because, ‘Murica!

John Bolton
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

**I think it would be really interesting to look into Bolton’s CV.  As I understand it (and I’ll admit that I’m not exactly a Bolton scholar), he was pretty heavily involved in Reagan’s stellar foreign policies and worked on a number of really distasteful initiatives, such as opposing reparations to Japanese Americans held in camps during WWII and trying to tie immigration policy to the drug war, and let’s not forget that he was a key figure in getting Antonin Scalia nominated to SCOTUS.  Honestly?  That alone is enough for me to oppose him.

P.S. I’m going to need your help. **Oh, OF COURSE you are!**  If we work together, I’m confident we can replace President Obama’s failed agenda of drift, decline and defeatism, **Evidence, Motherfuckers; GIVE ME SOME**  with a strong Reaganite foreign policy.  **BUZZWORD!  Invoke the name of Saint Ronnie and you get all the low-information voters lining up!  Shall we talk about Iran Contra, or supporting interests accused of genocidal practices or Apartheid in Africa, or Reagan’s support for Suharto in Indonesia, or about the Nicaraguan rebels?  Seriously; if you want to talk about Reagan’s foreign policy initiatives, let’s talk about Reagan’s foreign policy initiatives** Click here to join me in fighting for a safe and strong America. **Click here to give me money**

I have half a mind to send this letter back to the PAC and ask them for more information; I really want to know on what they are basing their claims.  If nothing more, I’ll send this back to my friend, though; I think he’ll get a kick out of my response to it.

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An Unacceptable Precedent

“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body.”

-Margaret Sanger

There is a young woman in Connecticut who is being literally detained and forced to undergo chemotherapy treatments against her wishes and without the consent of her mother.  17-year old Cassandra C. is being held at a Connecticut hospital with a guard at her door to ensure that she does not run away.  She was strapped down and sedated so doctors could install a port into her body to administer the chemotherapy she has eloquently and repeatedly stated she does not want.  She has no rights to determine what happens to her body, and seemingly no recourse to challenge the Connecticut Supreme Court ruling that has essentially turned her into a medical prisoner of the state.

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There is nothing about this that I find even a little acceptable.

To begin, this is the logical end-result of our society’s hubris in thinking that we have the right to tell people – particularly women – what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  If we do not have ownership over our own bodies, if someone else gets to decide what happens to our physical being without our consent, we are literally slaves; we do not belong to ourselves, but to someone who has the power to control us.

Yes, Cassandra is 17 and, as such, is technically a minor.  Minors do not have legal autonomy over their bodies per se;  parents or legal guardians are expected to be stewards of young people and to ensure that they are safe, well cared-for, and adequately nourished.  In this particular case, Cassandra and her mother are in agreement.  This case didn’t come about as the result of a scared, ignorant, or belligerent teenager refusing treatment out of spite or fear or, seemingly, out of a religious or anti-science fundamentalism; Cassandra has very clearly stated that it is the quality, not the quantity of her life that matters to her, and she has decided – with a clear head, if the news reports about the case are accurate – that she would rather enjoy the life she has left without the side-effects and possible complications of chemotherapy.

This young woman reaches the age of majority in 9 months.  Her forced chemotherapy is expected to end in 5.  The moment she reaches 18, she will be allowed to deny any and all medical treatment and to disentangle herself from the interference, however well-intentioned it may be, of the Division of Child and Family Services.  What I want to know is this; what magically changes on her 18th birthday that would render her any more capable of making this important decision than she is right now, and who’s going to compensate her for the five months or more that she has spent as a literal prisoner in the hospital (being tortured, it could be argued; I’ve seen firsthand what chemotherapy can do to a person, and it can qualify as torture)?

I HATE that this is happening.  I understand that the State has an interest in protecting young peoples’ interests and ensuring their safety, but literally imprisoning a lucid, articulate young person and forcing them into treatment she does not wish is a precedent that we cannot allow.

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