Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

Heather Ryan runs for US Rep KY-01; Whitfield clueless

You’ll recall my earlier diaries (story also carried at Bluegrassroots) of the Navy Vet mom who KY Senator Mitch McConnell had fired from her job on MLK day because she and her 12-year old daughter dared to ask McConnell a question about the Iraq War during a campaign fund raising stop in Paducah, KY…

That woman is Heather Ryan, our newest Netroots candidate, running for US Representative of KY-01.  Heather announced her candidacy today, and will need all the help she can get to make it happen.

Here’s Heather’s announcement:

Who is she up against?

Heather’s competition is Ed Whitfield, who has apparently missed so many votes during his time in office, the Kentucky GOP has not only forgotten how to spell his name, but they have also not provided a link to Whitfield’s re-election website.

If you want to help Heather win the KY-01 seat, please head over to Act Blue to show your support.  She’s not registered there yet, but they have a placeholder for the KY-01 democratic contender, and all dollars sent in will get to Heather.

Run, Heather, run!

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From the horse’s mouth- Heather Ryan and Heaven tell their story, and more

Over at BlueGrassRoots.org, they have posted video taken by Hillbilly from HillbillyReport.com of Heather Ryan and her 12-year old daughter Heaven, 4-month old daughter Ireland, and her husband Chris (also a Navy Vet).

Here’s the video- decide for yourself.  Are these people really so scary that McConnell had to ruin their livelihood?

The best part now: Heather, being freed up from her job by McConnell, has decided that she will run for US House Representative office in Kentucky’s first district if Greg Pruitt, Hickman County Judge Executive, doesn’t run first against Ed Whitfield (R-KY-01) by the January 29th filing date.  Heather needs $500 for the filing fee by next Tuesday, and likely more for the campaign.

If any readers out there can tell us how to gather such donations online, we can support another Netroots candidate in KY-01.

Don’t forget, the GOP smear is still going against Heather and her daughter.  Even local TV blogs are getting into the act- it’s a regular mini-Faux News down there!

Run, Heather, run!

Heather Ryan/ McConnell story on WPSD TV

Here’s the video of the story on local Paducah, KY news:

Odd, how McConnell’s people had “no involvement” in Heather’s termination.  Where have we heard that before?  Could it have been the Frost family of Baltimore during the SCHIP fiasco last fall?

McConnell has Navy Vet Mom Fired- UPDATE

More on the Mitch McConnell / Heather Ryan controversy.  Here’s the video of the actual incident:

The story has been picked up by local TV on WPSD.   The local paper, the Paducah Sun also ran an article (pay site, cross posted at this link) this morning.  The MSM is nearly a week behind on this story- let’s see if they can get caught up.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fires Navy Vet mom for protest participation

Heather Ryan, former member of the US Navy and mother of two, was fired from her job today as the Executive Director of the Maiden Alley Cinema.  McConnell encountered Ryan and her 12-year old daughter Heaven as members of a small protest held during a stop by McConnell and his crew in Paducah, KY.

McConnell was so enraged by Ryan and her pink-haired daughter asking questions about his support for the Iraq war, he immediately pulled tens of millions of federal dollars from programs to benefit Paducah.  But that wasn’t enough.  McConnell went after Ryan personally, tying the federal money to having Ryan terminated from her job. Ryan was fired today by the theater’s Board of Directors, who were apparently cowed into submission by the Paducah City Council and McConnellCo.

Ryan is the sole earner for her family of four, earning a scant $25K a year while supporting her husband through law school. She is now out of a job, thanks to Mitch McConnell’s small-minded need to maintain his fiefdom.  McConnell showed the typical immaturity and viciousness of the frat boys he supports in this absurd, hurtful stunt.  May this be the real beginning of the end for McConnell.

Like I always say, when someone shows you who they are, believe them.  McConnell should be ashamed of himself.  As should the city fathers of Paducah, KY and the Board of Directors of the Maiden Alley Theater.  Tell them all what stupidity they have brought upon themselves for punishing an act of exercising pure American civil rights- the right to free speech, in protest to those in power.

My Oldest Friend Visits

My friend Sharon, who I’ve been best buds with since I was 15 years old, came to visit today.  This is not a small thing- she had a baby last year, and lives in another state, so I hadn’t gotten to see her or the baby at all, except a few precious photos.

She and her mom flew in today with the baby.  I met up with them tonight after work at their hotel for dinner.  I couldn’t wait to see them.  When I walked into the room and saw Sharon’s son, I was awestruck.  He looks just like her.  Then, when she came out from the bedroom, I just hugged her and cried.  It was like going home again, to see people who have known you for so long and see how wonderfully their lives have changed.

Sharon and I have seen each other through so much in our lives.  It’s hard to look back at the last 25 (!) years and realize it’s been this long already.  We still call each other “Duuuude” when we answer the phone.  We still clink our forks together when sharing a meal.  We still remember the good/bad old days, and know how lucky we both are, and are genuinely happy for each other.  Neither of us attended the high school reunion last summer, but we really didn’t have a need to.

We visited in the room for a bit, marvelling at her son’s precociousness and charm.  He’s really a great kid for being only 14 months old.  If he rips a paper to shreds, she’ll ask him to clean it up and he actually collects all the bits and deposits them in the wastepaper basket.  I’ve never seen a child of this age follow directions like this before, much less to clean up a mess they made themselves.  I have two myself, now teens, so I am well aware of what havoc a toddler can wreak on a household.

The best part was getting to see Sharon as a mom.  When she was pregnant, she had so much anxiety about the baby, and being a mom for the first time with very little experience with little kids or babies.  Tonight dispelled all doubt.  She’s just an amazing mom.  She loves this child with every ounce of her being, it simply radiates from her like sunshine. I think she even amazes herself.

I was blown away.  I still am.

What a wonderful dinner we had with them, reminiscing, laughing at the baby’s antics, just enjoying the night.  Tomorrow a driving tour of local attractions, then dinner at home with the family.  I can’t wait!

Feng Shui for Real People

I took a class on Feng Shui today, since I was invited by a good friend. Ten women in the class (are there no men interested in this?), one young Caucasian woman with a handout explaining the basic principles of Feng Shui. I’ve got a couple of books on the subject, and really see this as a formula for good interior design and landscaping. There’s a lot about promoting good energy (chi), and preventing bad chi. The 3 new things I learned are:

1. It’s OK to position your bed under a window, as long as the window is covered with window treatments. I always thought that you couldn’t do this because your positive chi and good dreams would fly out the window.

2. Keep your toilet lids shut at all times when not in use (obviously!). This prevents the good chi in the house from draining out. Keep the doors to your bathrooms closed at night as well for the same reason.

3. Multiples of 9 are good. I always thought the lucky number was 8 in asian culture.

Good design is always appreciated by people, even when they don’t realize it’s the design elements making them comfortable in the space. We hope to put these concepts to work in our new office space.

Greed

One of the seven deadly sins, Greed is a symbol of the American Dream.  We uphold Greed like it is the currency on which our future is written- without it, or it’s brother Ambition, you will never achieve Greatness, at least in the material sense.

Everyone wants more money, believing that if they pay their bills, can buy the right things, provide for the right people, all their problems are solved.  I’m sure any lottery winner will tell you that is not the case.  Money may make the trip a lot nicer- I just love First Class- it won’t buy love, happiness or quiet those voices of self-doubt and cruel comments in our own heads.

I know money isn’t the answer to everything, yet I continue to pursue it.  I have completed a graduate degree with hopes of getting better jobs doing work I felt good about.  The better jobs came, and put me in a position to go independent.   I’m loving the work 90% of the time.  The other 10% I’m just glad I’m paid well enough with freedoms that would not encourage me to seek out a regular 9-5 job again, if I can help it.

I guess part of the problem is people who work in non-profit or in fields of social justice tend to feel guilty for making a decent (or more than decent) living.  I certainly do, from time to time.  I also know I worked hard to get where I am, and I’ve got the student loan bills and therapy visits to prove it.  Should I feel guilty about making decent money?  If I don’t, does that make me greedy?  Is greed always bad?

Making more money has never been my #1 goal when changing jobs or looking at opportunities.  I must be doing work that I find meaningful & interesting, I must work in an ethical organization, and I must be able to make an impact that is relevant.   Money is definitely a factor for me, but as long as I can make a certain amount at which I can comfortably live, I’m happy with that when all the other ducks are in the row.

I guess sometimes greed isn’t always about money.  Sometimes it’s about time, people or resources.  That’s when having the ability to set limits is valuable.  If someone else is greedy with your time or resources, you should take control of that situation.  Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

Custody…

I hate to write about this, but I can’t help it.

Today was the day Britney Spears failed to show up in court to fight for custody of her kids.  I agree, it’s most likely better for them to stay with Dad at this point.  The problem is, I don’t understand her choice.

When I was going through my divorce, I was clear with my ex that I had no intention of keeping the kids from him.  I wanted them to have a relationship with him, whatever that would be.  Instead of making things simple, he tried to get full custody by painting me as an unfit mother.  Trouble is, they had no evidence of such failings on my part, and I won full custody while he had standard state-approved visitation rights.

The trial was so ugly.  His mistress/girlfriend (whom he later married) would take my kids into the doctor’s office during their visits to try to get the doctor to say there was something so terribly wrong with them, that I was not caring for them properly or attending to their health needs.  Needless to say, her interference in my kids’ healthcare and access to their records was a complete and total violation of HIPAA laws, and the doctor’s office was wrong to allow it to continue.  Of course, none of the doctors would show up at the trial, save for one lone secretary who said I was “mean” to her when I called to chew them out for allowing my kids to become a sideshow enabled by their lousy understanding of the law.

The point is, I would have done ANYTHING to fight for the custody of my kids.  Walked through fire over broken glass buck naked in the town square if I had to.  It was such a natural instinct to want to protect my babies- they were only 2 and 4 at the time- I figured it was hardwired into you when you give birth for the first time.

For those who make the age argument, saying Britney is so young, that’s her problem, I say that’s a false argument.   I had my first baby at 22, and knew plenty of other moms who had babies young.  Military wives tend to do that- marry and procreate young.  From Day One, those babies were mine, and I was going to fight to the death.  My mom did the same for me when I was a kid during her divorce.  It was a 10 year fight with my father, and eventually she won.  She was 23 at the time I was born.

How can a mother not make the effort to fight for her kids?  How can a mother not put aside her own selfish needs and wants to secure safety for her children?  How does Britney justify her choice to leave her kids behind?  As a mother, I’ll never understand it.

This is not to say that fathers are not sometimes the best place for kids to be.  Perhaps in Britney’s case, K-Fed can really care for the kids best.  Other dads can as well.  But dads who pursue custody simply to hurt their ex-wives are wrong on all counts.  When revenge is the primary motive, these fathers are the worst kind.  They’re really not interested in raising their kids, rather they just want the pleasure of knowing they’re “his” like a piece of property.  Children are not chattel.   They should not be treated as such.

I wonder what Britney will say to her boys when they grow up and ask, “Why didn’t you fight for me, Mom?  Why did you leave us behind?”

She’ll be hard pressed to answer…

High School English, 1985

I was a junior this year, no longer a underclassmen.  English was a class I actually enjoyed, and this year we had a new teacher at school who would teach both junior and freshman English.  It was my first class of the day, followed by French, with the indomidible Mrs. Carothers.  She was a force of nature.  Unfortunately for much of my junior year, English class put me and my fellow classmates in such a funk, it was hard to focus.

He was tall, at least to me, with a balding head and a potbelly to go with it.  His hair was combed back in greasy swaths, still showing the marks of his comb on a good day.  There weren’t many of those.  He wore a mustache that would come to remind me of Hitler.  His eyes were dark, hard and sometimes didn’t even seem to be alive.

We were supposed to be following the same curriculum as the other Junior English A-Level classes, but it seemed the teacher (seems I’ve blocked out his name) had other ideas.  We didn’t do an awful lot in that class, and while some kids would welcome that, we were the smart kids who knew we were missing out on important learning.  The teacher started out hostile from day one, yelling at kids to “sit down and shut up”, ‘cuz he was a-talkin’.  It got worse from there.

This man would frequently show up late, or not at all.  He would not call in to the school or the district office, so one of us would have to go tell them he didn’t arrive. Off to the library on those days- at least I could get some reading or homework done.  On the days he did show up, often late, he was rumpled and smelly- like he’d slept in his clothes after getting drunk off of cheap scotch.

He reeked of alcohol on so many occasions, and he was a mean drunk.  He’d sit up at the desk in front, and start berating the kids in class.  Anything could set him off.  He especially liked hurling racial epithets at us, regardless of our color or race.  It was so shocking, none of us had ever witnessed a teacher behave like this before.

We started meeting outside of class to strategize how to get rid of this guy.  It seemed no one was listening to us.  We’d go home and tell our parents (at least I would) about how nuts this guy was, but work commitments and a belief their “grown up kid” could take care of herself didn’t prompt much of a parental response.   We talked to our French teacher, who confirmed the other teachers didn’t associate with the man, since he kept himself away from the other adults.  Likely drinking, I had no doubt.  She encouraged us to fight this fight ourselves, in that independent French way of hers.  We talked about recording his rants, but it was hard to hide a tape recorder back then- usually a big thing that would fit in a backpack, not the tiny little shirt pocket size recorders we have today.  We knew it was up to us, the only junior class he taught, to fix this.  His freshmen classes wouldn’t have a clue about how to fight someone like this.

This man took to throwing kids out of his classroom if he felt like it.  We’d have to go down to the office and tell them he’d kicked us out.  We’d spend the rest of class sitting on the hard bench outside the counselor’s office with the rest of the school’s miscreants.  Only once in a blue moon did they take time to talk to us, and they didn’t seem to believe it was that bad.  We were just being dramatic teenagers, surely.

In the spring one day, this man had a particularly rough start.  He was drunk, as usual, and his car had made him late.  His hands bore the signs of engine grease, as did his pants.  He was in such a foul mood, we all sat in silence simply afraid to move.  He started in on one of the kids, launching into a racial tirade like I’ve never heard.  Many of the kids had enough of this by now.  They were standing up, yelling back “You can’t say that!” and “You can’t do this!”.  He only responded with a bellowing, eyebrow-singing blast of, “I can do anything I want in this classroom, and no one can stop me!”.   In an out of character move for me, I simply raised my hand as the others tried to fight on his terms.

I kept my hand raised through the course of the screaming, and finally he noticed me.  He ordered me to put my hand down.  I quietly said “I have a right to speak, and I have something to say.”  The other kids turned and looked at me, sitting down, quieting down too.  His was the only loud voice now.

“I said PUT YOUR HAND DOWN NOW!”  he thundered.  Surely the teachers in rooms around us could hear this, but no one was coming to our rescue.  “No, I will not,” I responded firmly but quietly.  “I will be acknowledged as having the right to speak respectfully in this class.”  “Like hell you will!  Get your shit and GET OUT!!!”  The class was so quiet, I could hear my heart pounding in my ears.  I wasn’t crying, thank god, but I was angry.  I gathered my things and went to the office.

At the office, I demanded to see the principal, who was in a meeting they would not interrupt.  I waited, missing my next class.  I waited long enough for my counselor to notice my waiting and ask what happened.  I told him the story, and then when the principal finally saw me, I told him too.  I don’t know how many other kids or parents had talked to him, since all of this seemed to be news to him.  I told him everything, especially how upset I was the school and district could allow this man to abuse us this way, wasting an entire year of education.  I said I would not return to that classroom under any circumstances, and they would have to make arrangements for a transfer for me and anyone else who wanted out, or I would go to the papers with the story.  Of course, I didn’t know anyone at the papers, but it sounded good at the time.

I didn’t go back to that class, and neither did anyone else.  No one would tell us what happened, not even Mrs. Carothers could find out for us.  He just disappeared.  And good riddance it was.

To this day, I am missing formative English literature knowledge.  I didn’t get to read the Grapes of Wrath, or the Red Badge of Courage that year.  I missed out on more English Lit that I don’t even know about.   But I did learn how to speak truth to power, and how to have the courage of my convictions behind me.  I wonder if that wasn’t a more valuable lesson after all.