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2016 Election, Air Pollution, & My Mental Health

My Rosy Outlook is being disrupted by the 2016 Election.

women over 50

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Breathe, Peggy, just breathe…

I’m having a grouchy day today. To be more accurate, I should add that I’ve also had a grouchy week. And probably 15 months of grouchiness. How long can this damn 2016 Election last?

I have no personal reason to be grouchy. My life right now (and I emphasize right now because experience tells me that it could change tomorrow) is pretty great.

I live in a nice-enough apartment with a comfortable bed, food, water, and heat & cooling. I am well-clothed. I have good health; my cholesterol and glucose are well within the normal limits. My grandchildren live within easy visiting distance.

I am pursuing one of my life’s idealistic dreams of serving in Americorps/VISTA. I work with people I like and respect and I am proud to be a part of that enterprise that serves my country.

I exercise daily and take my anti-depressants and vitamins religiously. I meditate and pray and count my blessings. I laugh and smile A LOT. I tell jokes. I hug people…even the 20 second hug that is supposed to be life-changing and affirming.

And yet…I can’t shake this underlying vague anger and anxiety that’s bothered me now for a week or longer.

The only thing I can blame this grouchy demeanor on is this: election fatigue.

The 2016 Election has gone on way too long.

I know we’re all tired of hearing about this election and  all the ugliness that is hurled outwardly through the media by sparring campaigners.

  • The accusing rhetoric
  • The threats
  • The Rebel flags
  • The white hoods
  • The racism
  • The out and out lies
  • FBI, Russia, email hacks

I am having trouble breathing with all this BS floating around in the air.

All of it is toxic air pollution, as deadly as any smog, smoke, exhaust fumes, or burning coal could ever be. It makes it hard for me to breathe and I seriously need to breathe…in with the good…out with the bad. In with the happy…out with the grouchy.

It feels too late to ask people to talk about the issues. I’m pretty sure that all the real issues of this campaign have been forsaken to make the point that America is not great, that America is in the shitter, that America…Land That I Love…is doomed. Doomed, I say.

I am disappointed that all these ugly accusations have clouded the real issues of this campaign. I am incredibly disappointed that we have sunk so low that we resort to fear-mongering and name-calling. And I am immeasurably disappointed that so many people seem to have such little grasp of history.

I am so tired. I can’t wait until November 9…I plan to sleep late and I pray the pollution will have cleared when I awake.

I need to breathe again. And I’d really like to lose the grouchy attitude and anger and anxiety.

 

Trump’s American Vision vs. Peggy’s American Vision

Trump’s American Vision Sucks

by Peggy Browning

Trump's American Vision

Trump’s American Vision: Scorched Earth and Fear

Trump’s American Vision leaves me cold. And kind of pissed off.

Of course, everyone who knows me knows that I would never vote for Trump for a seat on the local school board or city council much less for President of the United States of America. Trump’s American Vision is in direct opposition of my own American Vision.

I get it…I know he was the star of a “reality” TV show. He also seems to be a legend in his own mind. He seems unhinged and out of touch with the real world. He is projecting his version of horror-filled scenarios on to the rest of us.

Trump’s American Vision is made of fear. It is based on exclusion, xenophobia, homophobia, economic disaster, racial unrest, terrorism, war, trade inequalities, and dwindling power of the white American male. Have I left out anything that he thinks we should be afraid of?

He’s trying to scare and manipulate the rest of us so we will see America through his fearful crazy-goggles.

I’m not afraid. I never have been. I don’t think I ever will be.

I don’t rely on National Enquirer for my information. And I have no respect for the opinion of someone who does. I have no respect for conspiracy theories and rumors. I don’t base my opinions on what someone else spouts off. I like to investigate and learn the truth on my own. I like to see for myself just what is happening.

Trump’s American Vision is to “make America great again.”

Donnie and I obviously don’t live in the same America. I like mine best. I think Trump should get out more…you know…see the real America.

My vision is that America is already great and that it will continue to be great if we do not give in to fear of change. America is in a period of change and growth right now. I believe we will come out of this period stronger and better than ever before.

My vision is based upon experience and knowledge from the past.  My confidence is based upon what I have observed this spring and summer.

Blue Skies

My American Vision: Blue Skies, Verdant Fields, and Confidence.

 

I’ve been watching the Oklahoma legislature during the second session of 2015-2016. The Oklahoma state budget was in a shambles (and still is). Deep cuts were made to essential services that improve the lives of Oklahoma citizens. Education, state parks, human services, medical care, disability payments…all these vital services were cut to the bone. The shortfall in money was not due to the falling oil prices or to lack of stewardship by the various agencies. It was due to the short-sighted partisanship of the governing body.

So what happened? Exactly what you would expect would happen in an America that is great. People said…No, this is not right and we will change this. Record numbers of new candidates filed for offices in the Oklahoma State House of Representatives and Senate. They spoke up about the unfair distribution of ad valorem taxes for school districts. They went to the State Capitol and talked to their congressmen and they successfully passed bills that had been on the books for years…like autism insurance reform. They stopped bills that discriminated against the LGBT community.

No riots or other hub-bub occurred. But change is coming to Oklahoma and it’s coming through the use of our consciences and our votes. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be done.

America is already great.

This summer I worked as an Americorps/VISTA volunteer for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. I had the privilege to travel all over western Oklahoma monitoring summer feeding programs for children ages infant – 18 years old.

And you know what I saw as I traveled from small town to small town? I saw dedicated, caring people who were concerned and DOING SOMETHING for their communities. They weren’t merely feeding children. They were feeding their spirits as well.

I saw people working together to make sure their children were provided for and that their futures were secure. I saw kindness and generosity everywhere I went.

I saw that the system…and the people…are working and keeping America great.

And yes, I saw blue spacious skies and golden fields of wheat. I saw the red Gloss Mountains and the Little Sahara sand dunes.  But mostly I saw that America is great…that America is working…that America is beautiful.

I believe that my American Vision…in direct contrast to Trump’s American Vision… is the correct one. I believe that our home of the free and the brave is still great and we have nothing to fear.

(Unless, of course, Trump is elected without my vote. If that happens, I will be afraid, very very afraid.)

 

Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies and Real Life Consequences

Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies and Real Life Consequences

 

By Peggy Browning

 

Transgender bathroom policies have real life consequences.

I need to pee. Where can I go? Not here, not there, not anywhere.
Public School Transgender bathroom policies have real life consequences.

Please allow me a few minutes of your time to tell you about the real life consequences of public school transgender bathroom policies.

I taught for 16 years in Texas public schools. The last two years were spent as home-bound education coordinator for a school system with an enrollment of 14,000+ students.  My job was to teach students who were unable to attend school due to health reasons including cancer, mononucleosis, surgery, broken bones, bone marrow transplants, mental health issues, and various other causes. A physician prescribed placement to home-bound instruction if the illness was determined to impede the student’s ability to attend school on campus.

In 2010, the Texas Education Agency allowed students up to four hours per week of home-bound instruction. A teacher goes to the student’s home or to an appointed meeting place and provides four hours of direct instruction. Usually that instruction time was divided in two 2-hour periods two times per week.

It is the home-bound teacher’s responsibility to gather all work from other teachers and the child’s campus and help the student do the assigned work. The teacher then acts as a liaison between the campus and the student and returns the work, etc. to the original teacher who then grades and records the result and assigns grades for the time period whether it is a semester, a six weeks period, nine weeks or whatever.

So…a student was assigned to me for home-bound services. A junior high student…with problems other than physical ailments. This student was transgender and was causing a kerfuffle about using the restroom.

The student, who I will call Charlie, had other issues, like an un-diagnosed learning disability, anxiety, and being a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Those issues alone were enough to create problems for the kid. Unfortunately, lots of kids have those same issues.

However, the one issue that set Charlie apart and adrift from the public school system was being transgender.

Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies

Public School Transgender bathroom policies

Charlie wore skirts, cute shoes, make-up and had a really cute hair-do. (Image purchased from canstockphoto.com)

 

Charlie was in 8th grade and wore skirts, cute shoes, and make-up and had a great hair-do. Charlie identified in every way as a female, except one: genitalia.  Charlie had a penis, so was expected to use the boys’ restroom.

And that, along with other things, caused a shit storm at the junior high.

Charlie was assigned to the special school for emotionally disturbed kids where students received counseling and attended small classes with specially trained teachers. But Charlie couldn’t stay there forever due to funding and insurance and budget cuts and all that stuff.

And Charlie couldn’t return to the junior high campus because the tide had already turned there and Charlie wasn’t really welcome any more. There were too many problems with bullying and bathrooms and dress code violations.

 

 

So, Charlie became my student and we had a great time twice a week trying to learn basic geometry and the fricking Pythagorean theorem. We didn’t get a lot of work done, but we talked a lot about life. And about being different. And about being OK with yourself. And about God loving you for who you are…because if you believe in God, you have to believe that God made you that way.

And if you believe only in DNA, then you have to believe your DNA made you that way. Either way, you have to accept yourself whether other people accept you or not.

But here is another major issue that Charlie and I faced…

You don’t get a lot of education in four hours per week… even with a fantastic teacher like me. 

 

The Consequences of Public School Transgender Bathroom Policies

The consequences of the public school transgender bathroom policies brouhaha at the school district resulted in Charlie basically being denied a FAPE … a Free Appropriate Public Education, which is the legal right of every student who is attending a public school in every single state in the United States.

That is the law. That is Title IX. That is the legal right of every public school student.

So, school districts across ‘Mureca…get your act together and decide how everyone on campus can use the bathroom in peace and harmony.

It is your legal obligation to provide the Free Appropriate Public Education that is due each and every child no matter whether they sit down or stand up to pee.

And while you’re looking at those requirements, you need to examine the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, too. No matter how you classify a student, everyone has the right to use the restroom at school.

And for my dear friend and lovely human being, Charlie…this one is just for you. I believe that United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch is looking out for your best interests.

Trump, Manipulation, and Situationism

Trump, Manipulation, and Situationism*.

by Peggy Browning

I find it hard to believe that I'm seeing live experiments on human behavior when I watch the news. stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

I find it hard to believe that I’m seeing live experiments on human behavior when I watch the news.
stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

Trump, manipulation, and situationism. Months ago I swore I would not watch anything associated with Donald Trump again. I would eschew all cable news and watch only PBS news with Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill. I would hear all the other things that were happening in the world besides an over-grown bully polluting the air with his 4th grade level taunts.
But…Friday evening I was at my news-watching, MSNBC loving friend’s house and she was watching the 6:00 p.m. edition of all things Trump. We ate pizza and watched as Chris Matthews narrated the debacle at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
My friend saw a “riot” created by D. Trump. I saw the beginning of the consequences of a long experiment in social psychology that could have been conducted by Stanley Milgram or Philip Zimbardo.
Trump could easily be using the transcripts from Milgram’s or Zimbardo’s experiments. He is using the techniques administered during their experiments.
I hope all the people who were used as guineas pigs in Trump’s mass manipulation of human response were properly debriefed after the big experiment was conducted on them. Milgram’s and Zimbardo’s participants were de-briefed, and even then they suffered some lingering effects from professionally monitored experiments.
Trump probably never intended to have a rally in Chicago. He was merely performing another experiment in how to make a Good American. He had lots of willing subjects. He used them stage his own little private coup d’etat.

Manipulation and Situationism*

Here’s how the manipulation works:

Make people afraid.
• the world is a terrible place,
• there has never been unemployment this high
• we are assaulted by terrorists on every side.

Make other people scapegoats. Belittle and demonize everyone and everything not attached to you.
• the Latinos are taking our jobs,
• the blacks are lazy,
• the Muslims hate us and will kill us,
• the gay people will kill marriage as we know it,
• the women will expect equal pay.
Create cognitive dissonance.
• I am a good person.
• I fear Latinos, blacks, Muslims, gays, and women.
• Therefore there must be something wrong with them or else I would not fear them.
• I’m OK; they’re NOT OK.
Put value on allegiance to the proposed program or person. Research shows that anything we give up something for, we place a higher value on.
• Call people, programs, political parties winners and losers.
• Claim to be a winner.
• Cultivate a culture where only the people who agree with you are winners.
• Issue more tickets to a rally than the venue holds; make people wait hours to get in; have them pledge support to the candidate to get in.
• When someone actually gets in to a rally, that makes them one of the “lucky ones, a winner”.

Put people in a situation where they gave up something to be there.
• Maybe they waited in line for hours, scored a seat in the over-crowded auditorium, traveled a long distance to attend.
• Pretend to have a problem in the highly controlled environment.
• Allow some people from the scapegoat category to come in.
• Create an atmosphere of “situationism.”

Make yourself appear even more valuable and wise so followers identify with you and

Dump Trump and Cable News

Image: ikpro/freedigitalphotos.net

build allegiance to you.
• Cancel the rally due to concerns of safety. Lie about your contact with city officials.
• Say “go in peace.”
• Accuse the demonstrators you allowed in of being paid agitators.
• Encourage people who want to be “winners” to go ahead and beat the shit out of anyone they think are “losers.”
• Say “I don’t know what happened. I like people. These people must be bad and they have something against me. I don’t know why they don’t like me, I am just a successful billionaire trying to make America great again.”
Apply technique and repeat.

Each time, more good people follow blindly along, believing they are right and others are wrong, denying their wrong-doing and wrong-thinking, and proving they are “winners.”
That’s how good Germans, good soldiers at Abu Ghraib, good Isis suicide bombers and “good Americans” are made.

*Situationism: Though the term didn’t exist at the time, Milgram was a proponent of what today’s social psychologists call situationism: the idea that people’s behavior is determined largely by what’s happening around them. “They’re not psychopaths, and they’re not hostile, and they’re not aggressive or deranged. They’re just people, like you and me,” Miller said. “If you put us in certain situations, we’re more likely to be racist or sexist, or we may lie, or we may cheat. There are studies that show this, thousands and thousands of studies that document the many unsavory aspects of most people.”
But continued to its logical extreme, situationism “has an exonerating effect,” he said. “In the minds of a lot of people, it tends to excuse the bad behavior … it’s not the person’s fault for doing the bad thing, it’s the situation they were put in.” Milgram’s studies were famous because their implications were also devastating: If the Nazis were just following orders, then he had proved that anyone at all could be a Nazi. If the guards at Abu Ghraib were just following orders, then anyone was capable of torture.
The latter, Reicher said, is part of why interest in Milgram’s work has seen a resurgence in recent years. “If you look at acts of human atrocity, they’ve hardly diminished over time,” he said, and news of the abuse at Abu Ghraib was surfacing around the same time that Yale’s archival material was digitized, a perfect storm of encouragement for scholars to turn their attention once again to the question of what causes evil.

https://erikbuys.wordpress.com/tag/stanley-milgram-obedience-study/
http://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html

http://www.jcouncil.org/site/DocServer/YHS_Program_POST_PROGRAM.pdf?docID=10421

https://www.ted.com/speakers/philip_zimbardo