The Saddest State In The Union: How Bruce Rauner Is Destroying Illinois


‘Earlier this month, Democratic lawmakers in the state approved a gap funding measure to help address the dire circumstances faced by education and social services. But naturally Governor Rauner is expected to veto it. And in a move almost universally applauded by state residents, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger announced last week that Illinois Officeholders Will Go Without Pay until State Passes Budget. But Rauner didn’t run for the paycheck. The billionaire is holding out for “’structural reforms’ such as changes in collective bargaining.” In other words, he’ll bring every one of us to our knees as a union-busting exercise. He is Scott Walker on a more dangerous iteration of public sector-savaging steroids.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories


Are new ride sharing entrepreneurs from Massachusetts guilty of sexism? Is the POTUS about to sign an executive order WITHOUT being pilloried from the right? And we wish we could interview Inky the Octopus, but he’s gone to sea. Here’s what you may have missed this week….

Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have faced all sorts of controversy since launching earlier this decade. Whether its taxi unions fighting them, price surge outrage, reports of violence from driver to passenger or even from passenger to driver, there is no shortage of headlines dedicated to this business model. In spite of all that, ride share companies are incredibly popular with consumers, and entrepreneurs are looking for ways to capitalize further. Cue women-only car services and a new debate. A Massachusetts couple plans to launch Chariot for Women this summer as a response to the safety issues some have experienced with existing ride share services. While the company’s intentions are admirable, questions of legality and potential discrimination have arisen and can’t be ignored in a nation continuing to strive for inclusion and equality. Click the hyperlink to learn more.

It’s no secret that President Obama exercises his right to use executive orders to get things done. What other choice does he have? Our do-nothing Congress has rendered these orders a necessity of governance. The POTUS has signed executive orders more times than many are probably aware of during his two terms in office. Most have been free from controversy, while others create a firestorm of trumped-up GOP wrath. But Obama is getting ready to sign a new executive order that (gasp!) might just possess inter-party appeal. Think you pay too much for your cable TV service? At upwards of $225 a month, I sure as hell do. If you’re tired of the usury and think something ought to be done, you’ll want to read the hyperlinked article.

The team has found great value and comfort in locating feel-good stories amongst the rubble of global chaos. We particularly love stories about animals because they make their own rules. This week it was reported that an octopus (“Inky”) broke out of the National Aquarium of New Zealand. The hyperlinked article likens the episode to The Shawshank Redemption, but our team can’t help but think of Finding Nemo. The Pixar film was set in Australia (very close to New Zealand for the geographically challenged – like me) and featured the protagonist breaking free from the isolation of a dental office aquarium to reunite with his father. As someone who struggles heavily with the idea of animals in captivation, and likes a bit of determined chutzpah, Inky the octopus is an inspiration.

Mainstream Media, Voters And Money Unite In Presidential Election Fatigue


“Almost needless to say, the 2016 election cycle is an unusual exercise in taxing the limits of our collective attention span and patience with crazy behavior. It’s no surprise that certain members of the media are ready to move on with the general public. But when the money gets disenchanted? Well that’s newsworthy.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories


Will the US finally follow the rest of the world in adopting humane paid leave policies? Can Southern states please stop bullying gay people in the name of religious freedom? And could Lucca the dog come over and play with us? So many questions this week….

Take a look at the world map below. It highlights countries that offer paid maternity/paternity leave. The color key indicates the level of support. See the U.S.A in red, along with only two other counties that you probably don’t recognize? Red indicates “No paid leave.”  Zip. Zero. zilch. paid leave

In this country, we make our hardworking families choose between bonding with newborn or adopted children and putting food on the table. Several states have realized this simply isn’t right and are starting to do something about it. On Monday, New York State passed a paid family leave policy that should serve as an example to the rest of the country. California already had practices worth cheering, but on Tuesday, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to require businesses to provide fully-paid leave. Right on.

The fight for equality within the context of state assaults on LGBT rights has unfortunately become a three-part “Missing in Action” series. Last week we covered the hypocrisy of conservative groups throwing a temper tantrum after Georgia’s Governor refused to sign a “Religious Liberty Bill” into law. That blurb referenced an item from the week before, detailing said bill’s outrageous “progress.” Fast forward to this week. Mississippi is now in the discrimination hot seat. The state passed a “Religious Freedom Bill” that Governor Phil Bryant had the balls to say is designed to “protect individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action” in the name of religious freedom. Just to recap, discriminatory behavior against LGBT Americans is an exercise in liberty, but deterring bigotry is unjust practice that shall not be tolerated! Makes perfect sense.

To break up a news cycle full of negativity/hatred/crazy Republicans/wars/death/destruction, we thought a feel-good story was in order. While this narrative is a byproduct of the devastating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s sure to warm your heart. Lucca, a bomb sniffing, bad-ass Marine Corps dog lost one of her legs in a 2012 IED attack. She survived and has received a prestigious medal from Great Britain for her combat bravery. Lucca brings new depth to the tired misogynist phrase “Fight Like a Girl.” We want to give her a congratulatory cuddle.

Perfectly Dysfunctional

Pefectly Dysfunctional

Bob and I have been in a committed relationship for more than a year. Our first date occurred on February 28, 2015, and this watershed evening portended more than lasting love. It was followed by respective winning streaks that continued straight through New Year’s Eve.

My partner enjoyed a string of personal records and new achievements in his marathon career, lost some extra weight and celebrated another year free of Crohn’s disease suffering. My own list bordered on embarrassing. So many riches: eczema remission, a loving new home with doggie siblings for Dino, a more satisfying and remunerative day job, a warm welcome into Bob’s family, travel and a teaching offer. I couldn’t lose. And for a writer (already predisposed to darkness) with a stupendously maladjusted biography, the change in fortunes was most welcome.

As 2016 commenced, I felt optimistic but understood that the year was likely to be less fantastically eventful. Settled into the 9-5 position, relaxed into an easy domestic rhythm with Bob and the fur babies, I looked ahead to the new challenges offered by teaching and several trips we’d planned together. For a very long 2015 moment, I was aware that I had everything I’ve ever wanted and worked toward. It was exhilarating and frightening. So much of my life has been conducted on the operating principle that I have nothing to lose. Go for broke became enjoy and protect last year.

Yet the deep, haunted part of me that has experienced sudden, frequent catastrophe remained alert. Things can and do fall apart. I refuse any longer to let dread prevent enjoyment, but there’s very little benefit to Pollyanna-ism either. Hot streaks can’t continue forever.

So it seems only logical that a lengthy dash of “winner, winner, chicken dinner” (as my friend Meg characterized 2015) collided with reality early and often in the first quarter of this year. I welcomed January with viral pneumonia. Within a three-week February span, Dino and Meko died, breaking our hearts and leaving Jude a confused only child. With Meko’s passing, differences between Bob and I were exposed vis a vis end of life philosophy. There was a painful argument and for a brief spell, we turned our pain on each other.

Also in February, my partner’s clan received shocking news about a heretofore unknown family member. This led to complicated reflections on truth and the past. My beloved aunt broke three ribs and punctured a lung. My baby sister contracted shingles. Close friends lost jobs, buried loved ones and battled illnesses. And on Easter weekend, I experienced the first migraine of the year, causing several days of bedridden vomiting, alopecia and a vow to rid myself of my menstrual cycle once and for all.

But it’s April 6, a new month and quarter. With the benefit of limited hindsight I’m grateful for this early wave of challenges. Yes, I’m filled with gratitude. Because honestly? I think Bob and I were just a little too perfect, too untested to know how strong our bond actually was. In the back of my mind lay a lingering taunt that went something like this: “Sure everything’s just ducky now. But what happens when the rubber meets the road? What do we look like when confronted with life outside our love bubble?”

The answer? We’re a little bruised and one of us (Bob) even limped for a few days. The shine is off. We’ve seen ugliness. And it’s beautiful. Lovely even. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes for which we have to apologize. We’re capable of hurting each other. But we’re also absolutely certain there are two of us in this boat, doing our best to row in tandem against life’s tsunamis.