Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Truly horrible behavior’ Category

Reverence for the Flag, and the Crisis in Puerto Rico

with 2 comments

Folks, I’m going to do my best, but this situation makes my blood boil. You have been warned.

In recent days, we’ve been told much about the need to revere the flag of the United States of America. The current President, Donald Trump, has taken on the NFL and its players, even calling them “SOBs” (spelling it out, rather than using the acronym as I just did) for some wishing to kneel during the national anthem. Even though the third verse of the Star-Spangled Banner has some offensive references (which is why we usually do not sing it, or even think about it)…and even though there are many ways to be reverent, and all does not stand or fall on whether someone stands and puts his/her hand over his/her heart while listening to the Star-Spangled Banner.

Well, I have news for you. We have several major crises going on, and one of them is in Puerto Rico. Due to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria, many people there are without food, water, hospital supplies, electricity, or any of the needs of living.

How is it reverent to ignore these people, American citizens all?

And why on Earth would anyone, especially the President of the US, decide he’d rather talk about the “need” to stand for the national anthem than the fact that people are dying in Puerto Rico (at least two have already died, in hospitals, and more will follow as supplies dwindle, most especially diesel fuel to run generators)?

Look. We were hit by a number of hurricanes in rapid succession. The US Virgin Islands were hit. Florida was hit. Texas was hit. And Puerto Rico was hit.

Only Puerto Rico, as far as I know, hasn’t gotten the help they need. Their port was devastated, which made immediate help hard to come by; the thing is, there are ways to help that don’t require a set of working docks. Helicopters, for example, could drop supplies on pallets. There’s also mobile “comfort ships” that can be sent; the US Navy has helpful ways to get supplies to people also, whether they can actually dock or not.

And most importantly of all, the devastated phone system can be brought back quickly by the US military. Which is desperately needed, as many of the people who were hurt by this storm are aged, and can’t even make their needs felt under these circumstances.

I want to know, honestly, why it is that we haven’t helped Puerto Rico yet?

How is it reverent to ignore three million-plus American citizens? How is it patriotic, either, to let people starve and run out of water and medical supplies and have unnecessary pain and anguish, all while the temperatures rise and there’s no electricity at all and no phone service, either?

And while we sit here debating what reverence is, and whether NFL stars should sit, stand, kneel, or turn purple while saluting (or not saluting) the flag, those people of Puerto Rico continue to suffer.

No matter what, we must help these folks; we cannot abandon our own citizens. It is wrong to watch night after night after more people in Puerto Rico suffer, with no help forthcoming and nothing said by the current President except a) platitudes and b) statements that more or less say Puerto Rico is on its own.

In addition, every time the current President talks about the crisis there in Puerto Rico, he talks about the “wonderful job” he, himself, is doing. Not FEMA, mind…himself. (He sometimes says “his team.” Not much better.)

This is utterly disgraceful.

How will history judge us, when we refuse to help our own?

So, to my mind, it is more reverent to help the people of Puerto Rico than it is to worry about the flag. Because the flag is going to take care of itself, while those people need our help now. (Besides, if we can’t help those people, what does our flag mean, anyway?)

If you want to help, here’s a good place to go to find charities that need assistance right now:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/help-puerto-rico-12-effective-160201263.html

Advertisements

Bridges, Walls, and Transgender Rights

with 8 comments

This past week was a very frustrating one in many senses, folks.

First, we had the “announcement” of a transgender ban from military service by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, via a Tweet. (Something the Joint Chiefs of Staff had no idea was coming, much less the ordinary rank and file.)

Next, we had utter chaos at the White House as one of the new staffers (a guy I won’t name) decided to go on a profane rant. And rather than be fired, as anyone else would’ve been from any job anywhere, this particular new staffer was more or less praised by the President. (Or at least excused by him.)

Look. I believe in building bridges, not walls. I think we need to learn more about each other, in order to become more compassionate, much less wiser, people. And trying to understand the other person’s point of view is essential, or you can’t get anything done in that regard.

But I don’t understand the President’s point of view at all, here.

Donald Trump, in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, talked about how he was for LGBTQ rights. And the T in that stands for “transgender.”

Granted, if you had to ask me to ask one person whether the sun was rising in the East and setting in the West, I would pick anyone instead of Donald Trump. (I might even pick my dog, Trouble. He’d not be able to answer me, but at least he’d look cute.)

Still. Since transgender soldiers were allowed to serve openly in the military, they’ve done a fine job. No one’s seemed to have any trouble with them. They’re soldiers, like anyone else. They do their jobs, like anyone else. And no one’s ever questioned the fact that the United States military contains some of the best trained fighters ever seen.

(And make no mistake about it: I fully expected this to be the case. A trans person is a person like anyone else. And trans soldiers want to serve their country like anyone else does, too; give them credit for that fact, Mr. President. Please?)

I would’ve rather seen a bridge built here, rather than the wall of Donald Trump’s Tweet. I’d rather Mr. Trump had spoken to the transgender soldier retired from Seal Team Six, who could’ve given Mr. Trump a very solid education on the entire subject. I’d rather Mr. Trump had spoken to any soldiers, including Senators Lindsay Graham and Joni Ernst, who would’ve told him that soldiers of any persuasion, creed, color, sexuality or gender preference are worthy of care and will do the professional, thorough job that soldiers of the U.S. military are known for.

I tried to say that myself on my little-used Twitter account, but I was immediately given short shrift by a few of Mr. Trump’s more rabid followers. They believe that Mr. Trump was right to do this, because supposedly being trans is a “mental disease.” Or that it really is too expensive to give trans soldiers the care they need, which is absurd considering the immense amount of the military’s budget. (Supposedly, the military spends more on Viagra for male soldiers’ impotence than they do on the care for their trans soldiers. I wouldn’t doubt that for a minute.)

I know, myself, that as a writer and as a human being, I want to know more about people who feel marginalized and misunderstood in order to give them hope that someday, they will feel completely accepted and fully understood. That’s why I wrote my book, CHANGING FACES, and it’s why I believe firmly that we need to build a bridge to the trans community, and learn more from them, rather than exclude them out of hand as if they don’t matter — or worse, pretend that they don’t exist.

The Deity must have a reason for people coming in all sorts, shapes, creeds, sexes, genders, and yes, even differing political philosophies like Mr. Trump’s. But I don’t understand why anyone needs to be obnoxious in spreading his or her own political philosophy, especially if he hasn’t studied the subject at all, as it appears Mr. Trump has not.

For someone who said he was for LGBTQ rights, Mr. Trump had a horrible week.

But the trans soldiers had a worse one. Because they realized, perhaps for the first time, that this President does not have their back. And that is a very sad, even shameful, thing.

Memo to Trump: Please Do Not Shame Sexual Assault Victims

with 12 comments

Folks, over the past week-plus, I’ve watched in horrified fascination as Donald Trump’s own words have come back to haunt him.

It’s appalling that someone as high-profile as Donald Trump, a nominee for the high office of President of the United States of America, would say things about trying to pick up a married woman, much less saying he could grab someone by her privates (by the use of another “p-word”) and no one would care, because he’s a celebrity. (This courtesy of the 2005 “hot mic” tape recorded during an Access Hollywood shoot years ago; the conversation was with AH’s then-anchor, Billy Bush.)

But it keeps getting worse. As woman after woman have come out to speak about how Donald Trump treated them years ago (all similar to what Trump’s words said, that Trump made moves without their consent and did not back off even when the women said, “Please stop” or worse), Mr. Trump’s response has basically been to shame the women who’ve made the accusations.

Before I go on, I will note that Donald Trump has not been convicted of any crimes. (Being an obnoxious boor is not a crime, after all.) However, I find it extremely disquieting that rather than saying, “I would not do that. I have daughters, and I’d never want anyone doing that to them,” Mr. Trump has made comments such as, “She’d not be my first choice” (during today’s speech in North Carolina, according to MSNBC), in order to try to discredit his most recent accuser.

Why?

Because comments like that make it sound like the only reason to sexually assault someone is because she is too attractive for the man to resist.

That’s absurd. So absurd, I am surprised I even have to comment on it, considering it’s 2016.

Mind, in case you’re wondering, this isn’t the only comment Mr. Trump has made along those lines by a mile. He’s talked about how thirty-five-year-old women are not worth his time; he’s called his own daughter, Ivanka, a “piece of ass;” and he’s bragged about cheating on his wives during marriages one and two.

Obviously, Mr. Trump sees women as commodities. Not as people. Or at least, in the past, he has…we can always hope he’s had a consciousness-raising since 2007 (the latest year any of the various women who say they’ve been victimized by Mr. Trump has reported).

Speaking about sexual assault in terms of women’s attractiveness alone is obnoxious. Rude. Disrespectful. Not to mention extremely inaccurate.

And saying that it shouldn’t take years for a woman to report what happened is also wrong.

The simple fact is, many women are disbelieved when they tell the Powers that Be about what’s happened to them.** They wait for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years or even decades, because they expect they won’t be believed.

And most of the time, unfortunately, their first instincts have been correct.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Trump did not do anything to any of these women. And that his “locker-room talk” (as he himself has characterized his extremely vulgar words during that 2005 tape) was just that: talk.

But I remain extremely upset by all of this. And I know I’m not alone.

———-

**Note: I know I was, years ago. I was nineteen. No one wanted to believe it, especially during a high-profile summer internship. (Yes, I did report it within a couple of weeks…not that it did me any good whatsoever.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 14, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Milwaukee Burning

leave a comment »

Folks, I started this evening by watching a Brewers game on TV, and am ending this evening watching live footage of at least three small businesses in Milwaukee go up in flames. There’s currently looting, burning, and much vandalism, and firefighters have had trouble getting to areas to fight the fires because of the crowds on the street.

I am horrified.

All of this started because earlier on Saturday, an officer stopped two people in a car. One went left, the other went right. The policeman followed one of them; that person ended up getting shot, and then later died. All of this was caught on camera, as the policeman was wearing a body camera.

A young man, who says he’s a relative (a brother) of the young man who was killed, says the police have failed to protect the people of Milwaukee, and that’s why the rioting, looting, and burning is going on. He says the police must do a better job keeping the peace — this is my best paraphrase, as I just heard the young man speak on CBS 58’s live newscast at approximately 1:45 AM CDT — and certainly seemed extremely upset.

Basically, this area is a powderkeg.

I live about twenty-five miles from the area that’s going up in flames right now. But I have to admit that I am deeply frightened.

When people become mobs, and mobs become violent, that is an extremely scary situation.

There are legitimate, long-standing problems in this area with poverty, underemployment/unemployment, a lack of education, and a lack of positive opportunities. I understand all of that, and agree fully that all of these problems must be addressed.

We need opportunities. We need positive change. We need help, and support, and healing.

Looting, rioting, and burning does not help any of that.

Now, fewer people will have jobs than before. What good does that do?

Some people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time will probably end up injured, perhaps may even die; how does that highlight economic inequality?

And at best, innocent people who probably don’t have much in the way of financial resources will lose their vehicles to the fires, as some already have. Lose their livelihoods, as a few already have. Or may even lose their homes.

How is this right or just?

Tonight, at least four small businesses and a bank branch have been either torched or seriously vandalized (to the point there may be no point to ever reopening the store that was once in that location). There’s much more looting going on than that; there’s much more destruction going on than that. I have seen traffic lights vandalized and bus stations completely demolished.

As the anchorwoman on WTMJ (channel 4 in Milwaukee) just said, these people are destroying their own neighborhoods. And that’s what is the saddest part of all.

My hope now is that we will somehow be able to stop the violence, stop the destruction, rebuild the businesses and heal the injured…but it’s extremely awful to see all of this happening.

My heart hurts.

Pray for Milwaukee, folks. Because I don’t know anything else that might do any good right now. (And when will the national news figure out that Milwaukee is burning? So far, they’re not paying any attention whatsoever…damn them. We’re not just flyover country!)

A New Low: NC Law Legalizes Discrimination Against LGBT Individuals

with 12 comments

Folks, I am really steamed right now.

A few days ago (March 23, 2016, to be exact), the Governor of North Carolina, Republican Pat McCrory, signed into law a bill that’s so widespread in its ability to legally discriminate against LGBT people, it defies belief.

Why?

Here’s what this bill, called HB 2, allows for in North Carolina according to the Huffington Post:

North Carolina’s General Assembly voted Wednesday to block cities and counties from passing protections against LGBT discrimination in a wide-ranging bill that could have enormous implications for the state.

HB 2, which passed in a special session, would set a statewide anti-discrimination policy, banning employers and businesses from discriminating against employees or customers based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, age or “biological sex.” The bill offers no protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prevents local governments from passing any nondiscrimination policy that goes beyond the statewide standard.

The bill also pre-empts local employment ordinances governing wages, benefits, employee protections and leave policies. It would prevent schools from allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

OK. So, it’s now legal in North Carolina to discriminate against LGBT people.

Have they all lost their flippin’ minds?

“But Barb,” you say. “This happened over a week ago. Why are you only talking about it now?”

Well, remember my last post? About how I was dealing with an illness in the family, and the whole “temporary lapse of blogging” thing?

“Yeah, I do. So what? Why bring it up now?”

Aside from the fact that this law deeply offends me as a human being, news broke yesterday (March 30, 2016) that there is a sports league that could be potentially affected by this law — and that league is the National Basketball Association. Next year, Charlotte is supposed to host the NBA All-Star Game, and has been looking forward to doing so for quite some time.

But now, because of this terrible new law, the NBA might have to pull their All-Star Game out of Charlotte. That means much revenue could potentially be lost, and some people will probably lose their jobs — all because of the idiots in the NC Legislature who thought it was a good idea to pass the terribly offensive law, HB 2.

You see, the NBA has perhaps been the most proactive league in professional sports on behalf of LGBT rights. They are acutely aware of this for several reasons: Jason Collins came out as gay while still an active NBA player a few years ago (he’s since retired), a referee has recently come out as gay, several teams have made supportive videos on behalf of LGBT youth, and at least one team, the Boston Celtics, has already condemned the actions of the North Carolina Legislature (save for all the Democratic state Senators, who walked out, and most of the Democrats in the NC lower house, who voted against HB 2).

By all accounts, the NBA is taking a good, long, hard look at North Carolina right now, even though Charlotte — the city — had passed anti-discrimination laws that HB 2 wiped off the books. And even though Charlotte is steamed, and North Carolina’s own Attorney General says he’s going to refuse to enforce HB 2 (good for him!), the NBA is not at all happy with what Gov. McCrory has done by refusing to veto this bill.

Because that’s exactly what Gov. McCrory should’ve done — veto this piece of trash. There is no legitimate excuse for discrimination against anyone. Period.

At all. Ever.

And lest you think the Governor of North Carolina was only doing his job, think again: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, also a Republican, vetoed a similar law only two days ago.

And Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia, vetoed an anti-LGBT bill this week as well, calling it “nothing but an attempt to stigmatize” the LGBT community.

So, it is possible for a public servant — which is exactly what a duly-elected Governor of any state is supposed to be — to do the right thing, and stand against discrimination.

So, why didn’t Gov. McCrory do what Gov. Deal did, or Gov. McAuliffe? Simple. Gov. McCrory appears to be pandering to the hard-right. Either that, or he actually believes that allowing transgender women into ladies’ bathrooms is tantamount to allowing pedophilia. (No. Really. This was an argument I heard on CNBC the other day from the state’s Lieutenant Governor, a pipsqueak of a man whose name escapes me.)

Look. I’m a woman. I’ve been one all my life. I have no problems with allowing transgender women into the ladies’ room right along with me. I don’t think they’re going to do anything except use the facilities, touch up their hair, maybe their makeup (if they’re wearing any; maybe they’re like me and don’t care for it much), wash their hands and get out of there.

Or to put it another, more emphatic way: Whether you’re a straight woman, like me, a lesbian woman, or a transgender woman, when you’re in a bathroom, all you want to do is take care of your business and get the Hell out of there.

As I said in my title, this horrible bill, North Carolina’s HB 2, is a new low in American politics. Gov. McCrory should be ashamed of himself for signing this travesty of a bill.

Discrimination should not be tolerated. Ever. Period!

End rant.

——

Edited to add: There already is a lawsuit underway in North Carolina against this bill. I hope HB 2 gets struck down very quickly, and that Charlotte can re-institute its anti-discrimination bill ASAP.

Tragedy in VA as Disgruntled Newsman Kills Two Journalists — On Air

with one comment

Folks, words like “tragedy,” ” horrific,” “horrendous,” and even “heinous” are overused in today’s day and age. But they’re the only words that come to mind right now after viewing, and hearing, about the cowardly shooting of two journalists at WDBJ channel 7 in Virginia this morning while they were broadcasting on the air.

Both journalists — 24-year-old Alison Parker and 27-year-old Adam Ward — died at the scene. The person being interviewed at the time, Vicki Gardner, was shot in the back and is said to be in surgery.

The reason for this senseless killing remains a mystery. Only cryptic hints have emerged thus far, as the gunman, a disgruntled former employee of WDBJ who I refuse to name, decided to film these brutal executions and put them on Facebook.

Apparently, this individual was in a white-hot rage about something. So he took his anger and frustration out on Ms. Parker, who was interviewing Ms. Gardner at 6:45 a.m. local time, and on Mr. Ward, who was filming the interview.

Irony of ironies, Mr. Ward got one last shot of his killer before he died.

What’s even sadder than the fact these two young journalists died is this: They were in the middle of a “puff piece.” Something about tourism, and the local Chamber of Commerce.

No one should die for something like that.

In addition, anchor Carol Costello of CNN — visibly shaken — reported that Ms. Harper was on her final day at WDBJ.

For whatever it’s worth, the latest news from CNN is that the gunman has been captured after apparently shooting himself. He is currently alive, in police custody, and is supposedly being taken to a hospital, condition unknown.

It is unfathomable to me that this happened.

I probably don’t need to say this to anyone, but I’m going to anyway: If you are so angry that you want to kill a former co-worker (as Mr. Ward apparently worked with the shooter), you need to get yourself some psychiatric help. Fast.

And if you have any room in your heart, please remember the friends, family, and coworkers of Ms. Harper and Mr. Ward. Pray that they find peace, if you can. Because many of them saw Ms. Harper and Mr. Ward in their final moments, during the middle of that puff piece, just another ordinary day in broadcasting.

Until it wasn’t.

And no one — but no one — should ever have to see anything remotely like that on the air.

——-

Here’s a quote from Mr. Ward’s alma mate Virginia Tech (via CNN) that sums up my feelings completely:

 “It is shocking and deeply saddening for this community to be again struck by gun violence. We deplore this senseless violence, now seemingly commonplace in our society.”

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 26, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Memorial Day for Sale: NFL Teams Take Money to ‘Honor’ the Military

with one comment

Is Memorial Day truly for sale?

It sure seems that way, after finding out that 14 NFL teams have actually taken money to “honor” military veterans — including my own favorite team, the Green Bay Packers.

I found out about this last Friday (May 22, 2015) by watching Keith Olbermann’s ESPN2 show. As quoted from the website PoliticsUSA.com:

In a lengthy monologue on Friday’s broadcast of ESPN2′s Olbermann, host Keith Olbermann took NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to school over the recent revelation that the National Football League has taken millions of dollars from the US military to promote the armed forces of this country. Over the past few years, it has been estimated that the NFL has received $5.4 million since 2011 to ‘honor’ members of the military at games and other events. As Olbermann pointed out, the main issue isn’t that the league took money, but that it pretended that it was honoring the soldiers out of true patriotism rather than love of money.

This disturbs me for more than one reason.

First, veterans of the armed forces deserve to be treated well without teams being paid to do so.

Second, that teams have been pretending they’re doing this out of the goodness of their nonexistent hearts rather than some sort of business-oriented motivation is incredibly hypocritical.

It is especially upsetting because fans are expected to be both patriotic and uncritical of the teams they follow. So when we see teams giving what surely look to be deserving shout-outs to serving military members (or honorable veterans), we think it’s genuine.

We don’t expect these “Hometown Heroes” shout-outs to be merely a matter of public relations.

But they are. And that’s wrong.

Olbermann isn’t the only high-profile person angered by this behavior. Arizona’s two United States Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are also appalled. In an article from the Washington Post, McCain was quoted as saying:

“I think it’s really disgraceful that NFL teams whose profits are at an all-time high had to be paid to honor our veterans,” he said Tuesday (via ESPN)..

Agreed. (To the Nth power.)

Taking money in order to salute these real hometown heroes is wrong. Just ask U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, as quoted in the Washington Post article:

“You go to a game and you see a team honoring ‘Hometown Heroes,’ and you think it’s some sort of public service announcement, that the team is doing it out of the goodness of their heart,” Flake told ESPN on Monday. “Then you find out it’s paid for? That seems a little unseemly.”

This, right here, encapsulates why I’m so steamed.

Look. According to Olbermann (see his YouTube rant here), the Green Bay Packers took $600,000 from the Department of Defense for this practice.

But even if the Packers hadn’t taken any money, I’d still be upset.

As a fan, I’ve always seen military members get shout-outs. They are feted, get tickets to games, often are highlighted on the scoreboard, and the impression is that the teams are doing this because it’s the right thing to do.

Sure, it’s all public relations. We know this, deep down inside.

But we don’t expect that teams would actually be crass enough to require payment.

That these 14 NFL teams have done so is truly shameful. A recent editorial at Jacksonville.com said:

…the Department of Defense and 14 NFL teams deserve boos over revelations that the federal agency paid the clubs $5.4 million over a three-year period to feature military members during games. According to the Defense Department and the 14 teams, the payments were merely part of mutually agreed “sponsorship deals” designed to promote the military in a flattering, high-profile manner. But in truth, the deals were simply “crass” and “disgraceful,” as Sen. John McCain — a military hero who bravely survived captivity during the Vietnam War — so aptly put it.

(Preach it, brothers and sisters.)

Why the Packers ever thought it a good idea to take money to salute the military makes no sense.

NFL teams make money hand-over-fist. They do not need to take money from the Department of Defense or anyone else to salute the hard-working men and women who comprise the United States military.

That they did was absolutely reprehensible.

******
P.S. Because it’s come out that 14 NFL teams have taken money to salute soldiers, it makes me wonder…are teams in Major League Baseball also taking money for this practice?

Have the Milwaukee Brewers actually taken money over the years to salute these “Hometown Heroes” in order to put them on the big scoreboard in centerfield?

I sincerely hope the Brewers haven’t.