Melissa Runs

Sometimes, Melissa runs her legs. Sometimes, she runs her mouth.

Category: politics (page 1 of 3)

Orlando

It’s happened again. A guy got an assault rifle, drove a bunch of miles, and killed a bunch of people This time it was over 50 people in a gay bar in Orlando. Another 50 or so people were injured.

I’m sorry for the victims. I can’t even imagine. I can’t imagine a bunch of gay people in their safe space, dancing and chilling out having their brief utopia ruined by the actions of an angry man. I can’t imagine having to tip toe through bodies to try to find your friend, only to discover that friend is now a bloody body on the floor. I really can’t imagine.

As much as I would like everybody to love each other, I know that is a big ask. But I think it isn’t too much to ask for each person to realize that no matter how much you hate somebody, you are not justified in killing them. Other people aren’t put on this earth to make you comfortable. They are put here to live their own lives. Their lives, for the most part, are really none of your business. You can choose to be friends or choose not.

I’m not sure what the answer is really. Right now, people on the terror watch list can buy guns. RIght now, certain research on gun violence is banned. This research might have the ability to answer some of these questions that keep getting asked every time something like this happens.

But I don’t know. I am just one person looking from a distance. People are messy. Society is messy. This is just a big mess and I’m sorry.

Martin Luther King Day: Why NOT you?

This is my favorite picture of Martin Luther King Jr. I like that it shows him having fun. I think it is helpful to remind myself that my heroes were also mere men and women, just like you and me. They may have been a little smarter or a little braver but ultimately, they are just like you and me. I use it as a reminder that a hero is the person who is willing to stand up for something and take action against what he or she finds intolerable. The hero is a person who is willing forgo some immediate gratification for the greater long range goals. I am reminded that if I want to change something, then I have to get off my butt and do something. Something about the humanity of watching a guy having fun and playing pool begs the question, “why not me?” or “why not you?” when it comes to public service and activism for a cause. Why not you?

WHY NOT YOU?

“It is true that behavior cannot be legislated, and legislation cannot make you love me, but legislation can restrain you from lynching me, and I think that is kind of important.”–MLK, at Oberlin College, 1964.

As you know, I am living in Arkansas. Arkansas is a very interesting and disappointing place in terms of race relations. Some of the most accepting nonjudgmental inclusive people you will ever meet in your entire life live in Arkansas. Some of the most hostile bigots you will ever meet also live in Arkansas. My twitter friend Greg has already wrote an amazing post on the disappointing facebook posts of our fellow Arkansans. There is also another completely embarrassing thread of comments regarding Robert E. Lee’s birthday on the Facebook page of another television network. It just reminded me why I am a card carrying NAACP member.

The first time I went to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis I was shown a thirty minute documentary called “The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306” It documents Martin Luther King Jr.’s last days in Memphis from the view of Reverend Samuel “Billy” Kyles, one of the ministers responsible for organizing the sanitation workers’ strike and was standing right beside Dr. King when he was shot. I highly recommend you take 30 minutes to watch it.

The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306 from Marc Altshuler – Human Music on Vimeo.

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day. As you know, I am in Arkansas but I went to a very liberal liberal arts college that celebrated Coming Out day with a dance every year I was there. In fact, the “joke slogan” of my college is “where the women are women and so are the men.”

I have seen the personal power that someone gains from being able to release some inner shame and tell the world exactly who they are. I have seen the shame associated with hiding. I have also seen the pain that comes from coming out and not being accepted by family and friends. In fact, I know someone who committed suicide in no small part due to his mother’s reaction.

It’s not feat coming out in these times. For every, it gets better campaign video, there are tens and hundreds of tales of bullying. Even people old enough to know better say hateful things like “gays should kill themselves” (hey Clint McCance). It’s not a small feat to come out in spite of these obstacles.

For each person who does so, I salute you. And there’s a lot of support out in the light once you get out here folks. There really is.

Martin Luther King, Robert E. Lee, and me

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. — Martin Luther King Jr. — from Letters from a Birmingham Jail

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Yes you can kill the dreamer. Absolutely you can kill the dreamer but you cannot, i must tell you, you cannot kill the dream. The dream is still alive– Reverend Billy Kyles”

The last time I went to Memphis, I went to the National Civil Rights Museum. It is a wonderful museum that gives the entire history of the civil rights museum from the day of slaves to the present. You can see Klan robes, notes from SNCC, pictures of the Freedom riders, pamphlets from the Black Panther party, and a whole host of other things. There is also a movie called “The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306” It is the story of Dr. King’s last day as told by the Reverend Samuel “Billy” Kyles. Dr. King’s “Mountain Top” speech. He was standing by Dr.King on the balcony when he was shot. He was the guy who tried to call the ambulance.

The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306 from Marc Altshuler – Human Music on Vimeo.

Today I was reminded that Arkansas celebrates Robert E. Lee day and Martin Luther King Jr. day on the same day. For some reason, I was shocked. You would think I wouldn’t be. And there were people who were disgusted and there were people who thought it was perfectly fine and thought Robert E. Lee was a great man.

People thought he was great because he didn’t believe in slavery. He was offered a leadership position with the Union army but instead fought for the Confederacy out of a loyalty to the state of Virginia when it seceded from the Union. Some people think that loyalty is honorable. I think he sold out black people and his own views for that loyalty. I don’t think that is honorable. I think it’s a little bit cowardly. Mr. Lee did promote his antislavery views afterwards. Also, Arlington National Cemetery is located on property owned by his wife. General Lee went on to be President of Washington and Lee.

I think Martin Luther King’s view on Mr. Lee’s predicament would have been that he should have resigned and fought for neither side if he couldn’t fight for the Union Army if he was against slavery. (see the Letter from Birmingham jail). With that conclusion, I find it very odd that a day celebrates both of their lives since their views on certain subjects are diametrically opposed.

okay that is the short version. Heck. MLK day is over.

The 2010 highlights and lowlights

Yeah this is my round up of the best and worst of the year 2010. This is not an objective list. This is entirely my opinion and consists of the things I personally experienced which means there are movies that I have not seen and books that I have not read that probably would affect this list if I had seen or read them. Also, this means that some of these things were created in other years.

Favorite song of 2010

Fuck You by CEE LO GREEN

Come on. You know me. YOU KNOW ME. Left to my own devices, I’m a potty mouth and a half. It’s only respect for my elders and the desire to be professional that keeps me from cursing like a sailor all the damn time. So of course, this catchy doo woppy old school sounding song with the F-bomb in the title was DESTINED to be my favorite song. Add on top of that it’s dedicated to an ex who did the singer wrong and I’m on that song like white on rice.


Favorite book

I found the Swedish “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy all kinds of riveting. I read the first two in the span of three days. For favorite of the year, I am going to have to go with True Grit by Charles Portis. It’s written by an Arkansan and takes place in Arkansas. Besides that, it is written in a voice that is both smart and sassy. Mattie Ross is a 14 year old girl who goes to Fort Smith to avenge the murder of her father. She solicits the aide of the mean, drunk Rooster Cogburn. Hilarity ensues. There’s a certain witty repartee combined with religion that is so quintessentially Arkansas I had to chuckle in recognition.

People who don’t like Arkansas can go to the devil! — Mattie Ross

Indeed.

Favorite cultural trend

Using the internet for good. Earlier this year, there was a rash of suicides by gay teens who were bullied. This, of course, was very bad. Then some people got together and created the “It Gets Better” project. People from all walks of life made videos telling people to hold on and that no matter how shitty things seem right now, it does get better. Many of these videos had the person telling of a time where they felt down and depressed. Some relayed stories of the time they were so down they tried to kill themselves. It was touching.

My favorite though is the snarky calling out of Clint McCance, the Arkansan who wrote that he hoped gay kids kill themselves on his facebook page, by George Takei: “You are a douchebag”

A close second was the seven year old Katie, the girl who with the Star Wars water bottle, and the solidarity of girl geeks everywhere to tell her not to let those pesky boys bully her into putting down her bottle and that Star Wars does indeed rule.

Worst personal moment

This would be my friend Angela going into a coma and dying out of the blue last May. I didn’t even know she was that sick. She had MS but was more or less fine. Then BAM. The aftermath involving the crazy child custody brouhaha and whatnot was completely horrible and still hasn’t ended. Being a lawyer, I got put in the very uncomfortable position of explaining to folks that “no I can’t do anything about it. I’m a witness. The rules of professional responsibility means i can’t do lawyering on this case. I’m a witness.” Lord have mercy.

Of course, watching a trainwreck from a distance and knowing there is nothing you can do is always a lesson.

I still miss my friend. Sometimes I will see something on television or read about some local brouhaha in the newspaper and want to call her to discuss it.

Best Moment

Conan playing that guitar

The Conan O’Brien tour. Oh yes. This came about two weeks after my friend died so it was even more awesome.

Favorite movie

I didn’t see as many movies as I would have liked this year. Partially because most of the movies I want to see never make it to the local theater. I saw some pretty gosh darn good films. I’m going to pick The Social Network.

The Aaron Sorkin/David Fincher chatfest about the creation of Facebook managed to make computer programming and lawsuits interesting. Go figure. True Grit is a close second and I have not seen Black Swan yet.

Best Comeback

BETTY WHITE!

Holidailies 2010 Badge

Mr. McCance, You are a douchebag

Man when Mr.Sulu calls you a douchebag. You know you’ve hit a low.

The President's school speech

So here is the speech to the schools that Barack Obama is supposed to give tomorrow.

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community.

Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

So this is the socialist propaganda that has people about to pee all over themselves? really?

Thoughts of the day at the end of the day.

This was in Conway today. Conway is town where my alma mater is located. On more than one occasion, I remember sitting in the hallway of the first floor in the dorm waiting for a tornado watch/warning to let up. It’s an awesome video. The conversation between the two people who are watching this while one is filming is pretty classic.

I took one of those cheesy “which Greek Goddess are you?” quizzes and got Hecate. I’ve never heard of her. Obviously, my education on the Greek Gods and Goddess is sorely lacking. Fascinating though.

For all your personal injury attorneys, the ambulance chaser t-shirt.

This is the video of Arkansas Lottery Director Ernie Passailaigue after his speech to the Arkansas Political Animals Club. He gave a lot of football metaphors and called the Hogs. I love the attempt to ingratiate himself with the locals by calling the Hogs. I can understand the theory on why you pay the lottery people so much; (It’s a specialized set of information and to set up one from scratch requires a level of expertise that should be compensated) BUT WHY!!!! is the security detail (a former Arkansas sheriff) getting paid six figures? Is he supposed to follow the director around 24/7?

The best part about Tolbert’s video is the female reporter making faces. She obviously forgot that people could see her. OH MY!

Sarah Palin has left the building

I heard about Sarah Palin resigning from her post as governor of Alaska in the same way that many people did: Twitter

I tried calling my friend Ang and got a voice mail so I texted her. “Palin’s out. Thoughts?”

She calls me later.

“WHAT HAPPENED?”
“I don’t know. She resigned.”
“Wow!”
“Yeah I know.”
“Somebody must have some dirt on her.”
“Did she say why?”
“She gave a statement but even the pundits are saying they still have no idea what she was saying.”

So I ended up going to Ang’s house and we found the video on the internet.

LORD! I do believe that Sarah Palin has lost her mind! The woman sounds like she’s about to cry or hyperventilate with all that gasping for air. Somehow she’s talking about Kosovo, her son Trig, and energy in the same speech.

I then found out about the Vanity Fair article. and found her written version of the speech on her website.

Now a hint on why she quit was this paragraph

Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice. Over the past nine months I’ve been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations – such as holding a fish in a photograph, wearing a jacket with a logo on it, and answering reporters’ questions.

Every one – all 15 of the ethics complaints have been dismissed. We’ve won! But it hasn’t been cheap – the State has wasted thousands of hours of your time and shelled out some two million of your dollars to respond to “opposition research” – that’s money not going to fund teachers or troopers – or safer roads. And this political absurdity, the “politics of personal destruction” … Todd and I are looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn’t cost them a dime so they’re not going to stop draining public resources – spending other peoples’ money in their game.

Honey, if you had really read “ALL” the newspapers, you would have been able to predict that something like this would happen based on the Clinton years. Remember the Clinton years. Since the 90s, the Clintons have been accused of all sorts of ethics violations and other wrongdoings like “White Water,” “Travel Gate” “Mena Airport” “Paula Jones sexual harassment trial,” “Murdering Vince Foster” … and oh yeah… “doing dirty deeds with Monica Lewinsky and lying about it”

So how many of them turned out to be true? Only the last one.

So how can she or anybody else be surprised at how Ms. Palin was treated? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The whole vetting process that keeps being mentioned in the news is done for the sole reason that everybody and their mama knows that the minute someone hits the national stage, some investigative journalists will descend on the hometown like a swarm of locusts looking in every dog house, hen house, state house, out house, and governor’s mansion to find dirt or even something dark brown that can resemble dirt if held up to the light just right.

So honey, if you were surprised at how you were treated, the only person you have to blame is yourself.

So for Ms. Palin to get all up on her podium and talk about politics as usual and blood sports after accusing Barack Obama of being friends with terrorists and given tacit approval through her silence when people in the audience shouted “kill him” and going on and on about how he isn’t a real American. Bloodsport. “kill terrorist”

Oh honey. This is the part where you wink at the camera again like you’re shitting me, isn’t it? Am I being PUNK’d? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

So she’s gone and I’ll wonder but not too much. I figure someone else will find out something or they won’t.

Sunday Mishmash

A special thanks to Blake’s Think Tank for this hilarious rap from some Dartmouth conservatives. Oh yeah they have their own website . Oh, they’re not TRYING to be funny which only makes it more funny.

Athletes at the U of A cheating? hrmmm. Via Arkansas Times

All the drama and stress surrounding sick and dying kittens wore me out. I did, however, get some running in this weekend as well as a substantial amount of sleep. So for me, I guess the weekend was a good one. I signed up for National Blog Month (or whatever its called) so dammit. You folks get daily post for the month of June. OH ROCK!

Would You Slap Your Father? If So, You’re a Liberal WOW. Just WOW! I’m not sure what to say about that. (thanks to Blonde Justice)

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