Monday, May 13, 2013

Spring Arrives With A Rainbow Flag

For those of you who have followed this blog for at least a few seasons, you probably know that the man in my life is John Deere. Yes, gentle readers, I have an ongoing relationship with my lawn tractor. I love the thing. And I am proud beyond belief to announce that I un-wintered my tractor all by myself on Sunday. I got the charger out and hooked up. I checked the oil and topped it off. I blew the gas line....literally....until I heard the bubbles in the gas tank. The air filters were cleaned and replaced, and after a couple of vroomm-vroommms, damn if the thing didn't start right up! I was in heaven. Earbuds, iPod, and noise cancelling headphones in place, off I went for a quick mow. 

©Handy Andler 12May2013

There is nothing on the planet as satisfying as the first mow of the season. Especially when just last week it snowing. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Minnesota's legislature has passed the Freedom To Marry . That it passed in our screwy House was a shock; no one thought that it would after just two years ago, they got the one-man/one-woman amendment to the state constitution on the ballot. There's a news story going around that Madame Representative Bachmann says she'll leave Minnesota if it passes. Although that sounds like a great idea, I cannot find a reputable news source confirming that rumor. 

The Wabasha Street bridge on Monday morning, May 13, 2013.
(MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)
On the other hand,  on Monday St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman proclaimed the Wabasha Street Freedom Bridge be renamed The Wabasha Street Freedom to Marry Bridge and it was decorated with rainbow flags. No city money may have been spent to make the change (it was funded by private donors) the statement of support was unmistakable. This isn't about sexual orientation; this is about civil rights. And this is a good day to admit to being Minnesotan....native or transplant.

But as long as we're talking about the civil rights thing, I wanna go on record yet again as saying gay people are not just GAY. They are people. PEOPLE, people. Stop labeling. Stop fixating on other people's sex lives. It's high time we moved passed passing judgement about sexual orientation. Really, folks. Can we all get over ourselves on this? We have much more important things to think about. 

Like what?  

Oh, how about the Benghazi debacle? You know what I wanna come the GOP wasn't this gnarled up over all the other embassy attacks, some of which happened under GOP presidents? And how come if the GOP is so worried about wasting money, they're protracting this whole experience? And if they want to go after something really worthwhile, why not go after the military on the sexual abuse of its women? Oh, wait, that would require them admitting rape is a crime. Forget I mentioned anything. 

These are hard times with serious questions. And instead of address the real issues, like stimulating the resurgence of manufacturing in this country, the Grand Obstructionist Party is wasting their allocation of hot air on bull-oney. Why can't they just concentrate on helping re-build America instead of rebuilding their own wallets. If the loss of a background check law hasn't curdled your guts, I suppose we are doomed to apathy and inaction.

We are our own worst enemy when we refuse to help ourselves. People who don't work don't pay taxes. Welfare roles swell. Infant mortality rises. People die. Education crumbles. And the GOP just keeps demanding slash and if it's working so well in Europe. 

Go figure.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Chag same'ach to those of you lucky enough to be celebrating Shavuot this week. 
If you're in the Mendota Heights area and 
want to spend seriously provocative night of study, 
join me at BJ's Tikkun Leil Shavuot...I'm teaching slot 3 at 11:45 PM on Tuesday night. There will be cheesecake. 


  1. Wow! You actually have green grass in the Twin Cities now? I thought your winter was going to last until the 4th of July.
    Lots of fun in your posting tonight, so let's take things one by one:
    1. Mowing: Whatever floats your boat.
    2. Civil Rights: Duh! Why is this such a big story? We treat people with respect and as PEOPLE rather than as some minority to be treated poorly because of warped views due to religion and personal insecurity. Get over it folks. Doing away with DADT didn't lead to insurrection in the military and gay marriage isn't going to change the likelihood of divorce for you or your officemate.
    3. Benghazi: Has anyone figured out what the Right's issue with this is? It seems like their idea is to throw all the spaghetti at the wall and hope something sticks. Unfortunately for them, no one finds wall pasta too appetizing. Look, this story is dead. If they aren't holding hearings on why we just had to leave Iraq, why we are still mired in Afghanistan, and why they won't let us leave GITMO, then any hearings they do hold come off as politicized grandstanding and witch hunts of the highest order. Did someone mess up in the response to Benghazi? Likely. Was it Obama? Nope. Was it Hillary? They wish. Was it some lifelong bureaucrat trying to keep things from spiralling out of control in an overly politicized election cycle? The odds say yes. So, Rep. Issa what the hell is the point of what you are doing? If you are trying to waste time and sell ad space on Faux News, good job. If you are trying to get to the bottom of something important, pick any of the three topics I mentioned earlier in this paragraph and have it. As for Benghazi, move along kind sir.

  2. 4. Military Sexual Assault: Cheap shot WP - I think you're baiting me! I would say the response/anger regarding military sexual assault has been pretty bipartisan. Perhaps is not yet been embraced by both sexes, but for the most part Republic women have expressed outrage. Okay, so there are very few Republican women, but still it's something. I'm not going to get into what needs to happen to stop military sexual assault. I don't have the time tonight and I'm not sure you have the bandwidth I'd want to take. Suffice it to say that the military is taking a beating for something American society as a whole is trying to ignore. Sexual assaults don't just happen in the military. The military is just an easy place to focus anger and angst. Yes, military members should be held to a higher standard, but not by pretending the rest of America is a rape-free zone. When I hear Sen. McCaskill say that the problems the military is having with sexual assault prosecutions are the same problems civilian prosecutors had 20-30 years ago, I laugh. The only reason that those civilian prosecutors may no longer have the problems is that THEY AREN'T TAKING THE CASES THE MILITARY IS. Military prosecutors are going after charges that your local DA would sweep off her desk into the trash. Yes, the conviction rate is low in the military, that's because they try hard cases. And yes, not a lot of cases go to court-martial, but has anyone asked why that is? Maybe the victim doesn't want to participate. Maybe the prosecutor cannot ethically charge a crime that he doesn't think he has the evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes, maybe some high ranking officer who is fully aware of the political and media attitude toward military sexual assault wants to look out for a subordinate that he met on two brief occasions. Maybe he wants to risk his reputation, his career, and everything he's worked the past 35 years to get. Then again, maybe these cases are just hard and maybe this problem just sucks and maybe all Americans need to look at themselves and get into a nationwide discussion about this issue. It's not just in the military. It's in our schools, our colleges, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods. Sexual assault is real and it won't go away until we are willing to talk about it. If that means the military has to get flogged for awhile, so be it. The military has led on race and other issues in the past and can do it again.

  3. 5. GOP Inaction: The Speaker has already ceded the right to introduce legislation to the higher chamber. Unless the Senate passes a bill, the House will just sit on its hands and yell about conspiracies. With trepidation, I will note that Rep. Boehner has been willing to disregard the Hastert non-Rule and actually allow votes on legislation the Senate sends over. If he continues to be willing to play ball in this way, maybe a few things will get passed. But then again, with Sens. Paul, Cruz, and their whack-nut cronies, meaningful legislation may not get passed the filibuster (not amending those rules in January looks like great idea now doesn't Mr. Majority Leader!?!).
    6. Background Checks: Can we please institute universal background checks to hold office. I think there are few out there who would get through the mental health screening. As for guns, they really believe DHS is trying to buy up all the ammo to prevent a rebellion. It couldn't be that DHS has several HUGE law enforcement agencies that need bullets for, I don't know, target practice, protecting the border, stopping drugs from entering out country, standing up to right-wing idiots with a lot of guns and not much else.
    7. Austerity: Look, the study they cited has been shown to be inaccurate at best, purely false at worst. How can the GOP respond? Benghazi! Syria! Look over there! There is no sense to this theory that cutting everything will make us rich. If I don't teach my son to read, he's not going to get a good job. If our country doesn't invest in education, infrastructure, basic services, then our people won't prosper. It seems so simple...maybe that's the problem. You can't politic simple. But if you add a few wrinkles, sprinkle some half-truths, and rely on false bang boom you are ready to fundraise. It appears Washington is run by a group of self-interested shmucks who worry more about campaign dollars and the opinions of their small, hardline election base, than about the country as a whole. I'm not sure how we make the change. I'm just one man. I can only change so many things, but change those things I will.
    Ponder all this during your next mow!

  4. I am so very proud of Minnesota...and so very scared that, should Bachmann leave...that she'll go the only place that she feels would have her, and come to my screwed up state (Arizona).

    *sigh* So happy for civil rights, and so pleased with the how one by one...legislation against equality is falling. :)

  5. Oh, I'm so excited to find a fellow tractor fan. My favorite part of the spring is mowing the grass and since I grew up on a farm, the John Deere just happens to be my favorite tractor of all time.