Local Tea Party Movement Rumbles on the Faultline

Local Tea Party Movement Rumbles on the FaultlineAmerican history tell us that this is a country of patriotic folk heroes, pioneering entrepreneurs and political activists since the colonists first sent a loud and clear message about how they were being misgoverned. Today, constituents who get involved about their frustration with Washington politics in governance have earned an unlikely sobriquet of Tea Partiers, or the contemptuous name of Tea Baggers by their detractors. Whatever we take from the series of national Tea Party Movement events—it is making a difference, as hundreds of thousands attend national events, even though their ideas or ideals may either coincide or collide about the present overspending on social programs, drastic changes in national and international government policies, or the discourse of too rapid-racing laissez-faire and ever-shifting political trends. The “taxed enough already” Tea Party movement was born as an anti-tax and Bush TARP bailout bill protest in October of ’08 and the Obama ARRA Stimulus bill .

The Tea Party movement, rumbling on the national fault line, emerged to symbolize citizens’ outrage about out-of-control government spending, which could lead to the bankruptcy of the greatest country in the world, built on the raw guts and tenacious endeavor of dynamic people, and that good old standby that gets us through the untamed wilderness of risk-taking—individual freedom and capitalism. What can apolitical observers take from the movement, if not, a perspective that citizens have taken robust action to show their outrage and frustration that their voices of patriotic dissent are not heard?

As we navigate the political landscape, we see a trend that active Americans—“We the People” –have molded this nation leaving imprints on policy-making and leaving enduring legacies enriched by vigorous contributions. The results of recent mid-term elections have proven that Americans want better pro-taxpayer representation and politicians who understand the power of their constituents’ influence at the ballot box—and those fence-straddling lawmakers who ignore them may be thrown out of office in November. The historical baggage of out-of-control spending, earmarks, deficits, Federal government debt and unfunded liabilities (related to bankrupt entitlement programs) have driven a lack of confidence in government. Simply stated, Americans are tired of the empty promises and Washington double-talk and are terrified of the mounting debt (approximately $13 trillion) and unfunded liabilities (estimated in excess of $100 trillion).

We must never forget the primary theme running through the nation’s founding: freedom, which included inalienable individual rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, protections from unwarranted search and seizure, the right to bear arms, the right to a speedy trial and individual property rights. The framework of our government was intentionally limited for the benefit of every single individual versus the state. The Constitution outlined what the government could not do to individuals while providing checks and balances intended to ensure limited citizen government for the benefit of a nation of individuals—the likes of which had never been known. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are not living breathing documents designed for the State. They are blueprints intended to protect every single citizen from centralized government command and control.

America was built with the help of its natural resources and the resourcefulness of its citizens. The Tea Party Movement is a riveting story of grass roots non-partisan like-minded freedom-loving individuals exercising their rights to protest against failed government. Tea Partiers simple believe that representatives should represent citizens, the reason for voting for them in the first place— while fighting for individual freedom, limited government, limited regulation, limited taxes, limited spending, limited debt and defense of our borders.

I attended the Alameda County Fairground Pleasanton Tea Party in April to get a first-hand account of the phenomenon of people of all party affiliations coming together to voice their concerns for the over-spending and dismantling of the constitution by subtle modifications not intended by the constitution framers. The local Tea Party event, spearheaded by Dr Bridget Melson in 2009, states she is “a lobbyist for the people and that the TPM should maintain a level of integrity.” The event attracted over 10,000—estimated by the city of Pleasanton’s Police Department—the media under reporting attendance as 3,000 to 5,000, taking early morning set-up numbers, rather than the actual attendance.

The movement evolved, supposedly from a concerned citizen’s blog that has mushroomed into a national phenomenon translating from the historical dissent of overtaxed colonists. As we remember from history; in 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act by retaining tax on tea in the American colonies and hand selecting the Loyalist tea consignees. Over one thousand people calling themselves “The Body of the People” gathered at a Faneuil Hall meeting to protest for their rights and question the integrity of the decision, already tax-stressed by the 1764 Sugar Tax Act and the Stamp Act forcing tax on newspapers and legal documents. When the tea ship ‘The Dartmouth’ sailed into Boston harbor, and off-loading the crates was forbidden until all taxes were paid. A decision was made to return the unloaded ship to England, however, Customs Agents declined clearance to leave harbor. About six thousand protesters gathered, leading to 342 chests of tea to be dumped into the harbor. The following year, George III punished protesters with the Boston Port Bill, closing all ocean traffic and placing the town under martial law. When British soldiers destroyed a Concord weapons’ depot, the Battle of Lexington resulted, entering the Boston Tea Party into the annals of American history—becoming a symbolic event of freedom from government manacles and peaceful protest.

The present Tea Party Movement retells the discourse between irresponsible government and the all-party constituents—gathering to protest peacefully the machinations of over-spending, over-taxing and over-reaching fiscal limits—thus taxing the future generations who are not even born yet.

News of the Tea Party protests, in nearly all the fifty states and Washington D.C. is sure to send a very loud and clear message to our chosen legislators to take a long hard look at what the people really want. “Read our lips; no more taxes, no more spending, no more government programs, smaller government”—and listen to the November voters—they are sending very loud messages to Washington.

Life With A Dog

Life with a DogIf you have a pet, especially if you are a dog owner, you can skip this article right now and move on to something else, because you get it already. What I am about to say is nothing new and not surprising, since you are already privy to what millions know.

But if you have somehow continued to this second paragraph, you will also know that as I realized what was happening to me, I knew that I had to tell someone. So I guess you are it.
Bonnie, is a semi-pure Border Collie. I say semi-pure because the rancher who we got her as a puppy from, pointed half-confidently to several dogs running about the open field, saying, “He’s the daddy, er… no…wait he’s the daddy, er… no, wait… maybe he’s the daddy…”

Experts will tell you that as your first dog, Border-Collies are a handful. I will however, tell you that the experts are dead wrong. Border-Collies are much, much more than handful! You will question your decision to own one, many times. As puppies, they tend to be the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, but as they grow into teenagers and test your fast-thinning patience, you will wish you had gotten an easier dog—a less, shall we say, “questioning your authority” dog.

At the low point in the training of a Border Collie puppy (and there will be many), you will suddenly realize and ask yourself this very profound question, “Exactly who, is training whom?”

What I have learned

Food is the by far the universal language of negotiation. It can be used to reward, thank, ask, demand, coax, punish, and promise. Food should actually be a part of every international foreign policy negotiation. I doubt that you could ever bomb someone, after you have just enjoyed a meal together.

Dogs are part of a sleeper “sofa cell conspiracy” by the furniture industry, because after you get a dog, you quickly realize that you need to plan on getting new furniture one day soon! You will find teeth imprints, evidence of gnawing in the finest wood tables, chairs and cabinetry, and rips and tears in your cherished upholstery, on an almost daily basis. Constant vigilance and training eventually gets this to stop, which is when you will decide to go shopping. Coincidence? Me thinks not.

Walking a dog is healthy! I lost 20 pounds in the first eight weeks after we got Bonnie, and have kept if off for almost seven months. I did not miss food, I simply was able to burn off the calories during the two walks per day that pretty much any dog needs. The strengthening of your back, arms, and legs from the walks pretty much takes away any aches and pains as well. And you will find that you sleep much better than before too. So, I will absolutely guarantee the 20 pounds in eight weeks to anyone.

Walking a dog is therapeutic! You might start the walk thinking of ways to kill certain people in your life, or begin it with any amount of negativity you might be carrying around. But by the end of the walk, you are euphorically serene, fully oxygenated, and have all but forgotten any negative thoughts.

The reason for this is, possibly, by being focused on your dog, and making sure you take them through the many behavior and trick training exercises, and that they walk next you properly, and so on, your brain is able to let go of one set of problems by your focusing on the dog. Kind of like Lamaze. Do not be surprised though, if, as your contemplation starts to show on your face, your dog catches you sometimes even crying a bit on the walk. And do not be surprised if they give you that, “What’s wrong dear?” look you will no doubt need at that moment.

A dog makes you a more cordial person. I am constantly surprised by how much more I smile and say, “Hello” to people I pass when walking Bonnie, and how nicely people react and say “Hi” and smile back. Often, we even stop and chat! Of course, it’s about the dog, but to engage with perfect strangers in a simple cordial manner like this is unheard of—even in the suburbs. Heck, especially in the suburbs! And don’t get me started on the conviviality of fellow dog owners. It’s a regular “high school reunion.”

So, a dog can literally and metaphorically save your life. Sure we’ve seen and heard all about the amazing rescue stories of dogs pulling children from house fires and so on, but the seemingly real emotional connection a dog provides you, borders on (dare I say it) the holy. Certainly it is profound. Who are these creatures that hang on your every look, step, or gesture? Do they know what you are thinking and are they sentient? Is it all really just about the food?

You will ask yourself these and many more universe shattering questions as you scratch behind your dog’s ears, pat them on the head and find yourself endlessly stroking them like some lost blanket. For this moment at least, you and your dog are at peace!

Dog (and owner) etiquette:

Never automatically assume that the other dog owner is comfortable with stopping and letting your dog say “Hi” and start sniffing and playing with their dog. Always ask if it is OK. Some dogs are a bit aggressive or shy and not as friendly, so always ask. Also, know your dog. She might not be interested as much as you think.

Clean up! There is nothing worse than trying to walk through a minefield left for you by an un-courteous dog owner. The process is really easy and not any more than you did for your child. So carry the bags with you and don’t be shy! It is far better to be seen picking up poop, rather than trying to pretend to get away with not doing it.

When taking your dog to a dog park, make sure that if your dog is being aggressive, dominating, bullying, growling, or hurting the other dogs, you check this behavior and put them back on leash immediately. Trust the rest of us, it isn’t “cute”, your dog isn’t being “just excitedly friendly”, and they aren’t “just playing”. Nips and bites can lead to infections and scarring, and no one wants to have to deal with that on top of an already full list of doggie duties.

Train your dog. We all have certain human behaviors that we were trained to do. It is no different for your dog. Sit, Stay, Come, Good, Bad/Stop/No, these are the basic commands you should make sure your dog can execute by your voice. Other tricks and behaviors are dependent on you and your dog’s intelligence, imagination, and will.

Things That Scare Me

Michael Copeland
With Halloween on the October calendar, it conjures up the image of cute little kids dressed as scary ghouls, ghosts and goblins. By and large, I’m not easily scared. I have, in fact, even been considered brave when it comes to killing big nasty spiders or climbing on the roof of my house to retrieve a Frisbee. So while no one has ever dared refer to me as a “fraidycat”, I am unnerved by a few things in our world that likely put a little fear in most everyone.

The Devil Scares Me

When I was young, I almost never wet my bed thinking the Boogeyman was in my room, yet when I saw The Exorcist I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I’m no more or less religious than the next guy, but the idea of the Devil existing amongst us mortals here on earth makes me quiver. In theology, the Devil is described as the personal supreme spirit of evil and unrighteousness. Whether referred to as Lucifer, Satan or Beelzebub, the Devil seems to have a stronger presence around Halloween than say, Groundhog’s Day. Preferring good over evil, I’m all for boycotting the Devil this spooky season as he undoubtedly has something to do with the bad economy.

Scary Movies Scare Me
Beginning with the afore-mentioned Exorcist, my history of weeping and shaking hysterically while curled up in the fetal position under my theatre seat is long and slightly embarrassing. Why did I subject myself to Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Carrie, The Omen, The Sixth Sense, Scream, The Blair Witch Project, The Ring, Halloween and The Devil Wears Prada? Only my therapist knows for sure. The movie studios have made hundreds of millions of dollars off people like me. More recently, the movie trailers for The Last Exorcism and Devil make my head spin 360 degrees and cause me to vomit something resembling Progresso’s split pea and ham soup all over the coach. I should really stick to movies made by Disney, Pixar and Adult Line Cinema.

Big Snakes Scare Me
While I’m fascinated by the Animal Planet’s specials on Anacondas, Boa Constrictors and Pythons, the thought of wrestling one of those constricting slithering reptiles is enough to make me lose my breath. Remember how Kaa the snake tried to manipulate Mowgli for Shere Khan in the Disney animated adaptation of The Jungle Book? Note to self, strike Disney movies. It’s really no surprise that snakes also have a connection to the Devil. Raise your hand if you knew the serpent in the Garden of Eden became a willing conspirator with Satan in deceiving Eve? Need I say more? I didn’t think so.

Biker Gangs Scare Me
I’m totally into the FX series, Sons of Anarchy, about a fictitious biker gang based in a fictitious Northern California town. The biker characters are tough and mean and do things that could be perceived as slightly illegal (gun running, extortion and arson) however, the father and step-son running “SAMCRO”, appear to have heart, compassion and a moral compass, albeit slightly off course. Real bikers might not be as remorseful after then pummel a potential witness with a tire iron or drag a rival down a gravel path tied to the back of their hog. Biker gangs are especially scary if they have evil names such as Devil Dogs or Satan’s Warriors. However, if I was in prison or facing off against some other angry social networking group from the streets, I’m relatively certain I would be grateful to have the assistance of a biker gang. But, for now, I’m just going to keep my distance from the Danville chapter of the Hell’s Angels.

Sixteen Year Old Kids Driving Scares Me

Sure I couldn’t wait to get my license at the age of sixteen, but if 50 is the new 40 then 16 is the new 6 and no six year old should be operating a moving vehicle. I think I was at the DMV at 12:01 am on July 29th in 1978, but the thought of my daughters maneuvering a 3,000 pound SUV through the city streets of the Tri Valley terrifies me. Sixteen seems far too darn young for that type of joyriding responsibility. I question whether or not teenagers should be allowed to operate Vespa scooters, motorized Razors or riding lawnmowers. A visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles has been described as a trip to hell which is reason enough to suggest they delay the legal license age to eighteen.

The Economy Scares Me
When are we going to see local and national companies see a pick up in business and begin hiring again? I have several out of work friends that are educated, motivated and right now aggravated. If you didn’t believe in former President Reagan’s trickle down theory before I bet you do now. Corporate revenues are so low that companies aren’t hiring or have asked employees to take pay cuts. If your disposable income has been reduced you aren’t going out to lunch or dinner as often. Restaurants are forced to reduce staff or close on slow days. Sadly, waitresses end up doing their own manicures and waxing. Conversely, spa employees are now forced to cut out their leisure and entertainment expenditures, such as tickets to the Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath concert at Sleep Train Pavilion. Poor ticket sales forced The Blizzard of Oz to cancel his entire North American tour. Wait one “Prince of Darkness” minute, wasn’t Mr. Osbourne, accused of Devil worship in the 1970’s? All of a sudden, everything is becoming very clear to me.

If you add Raider fans, middle school boy/girl dances and a call to my computer company help desk as other things that scare me it would appear that the Devil has his fingers in a cornucopia of activities. It obviously doesn’t help matters much that we live at the base of Mt. Diablo (Devil Mountain). While it might be difficult to prohibit kids from dressing up as a New Jersey Devils hockey player or discourage local area cougars from adorning a naughty demon outfit at Menar’s annual Exotic/Erotic Ball, lets all pledge to admonish the Temptor, the Evil One or Apollyon from future neighborhood activities. Truth be told, the Devil is what scares me the most.

What Drives the Monkey on Your Back?

Tina Swerdlow

Okay, so you’re ready to head home after one of the following nerve-racking experiences: a job interview, an important sales presentation, or a first date. As soon as you close the car door, start the ignition, and drive away—the internal tirade begins. That’s when the voice inside your head gives a play-by-play account (often in slow motion) of every small, medium, and large blunder that you made.

Then, after the initial litany of insults begins to wind down, the voice in your head declares that, “You’re too old, stupid, incompetent, or fat—to get the job, sale, guy, or gal.” Finally, this second phase successfully makes mincemeat of your ego, and that’s when the ruminating shifts to criticizing your conversational content. For instance, you’ll hear a rant like, “I can’t believe you said…blah, blah, blah!”

Our self-criticisms often go up one side and down the other without ever pausing for a breath. Sound familiar? If so, meet “the monkey on your back,” also known as…your Inner Critic.

An Inner Critic is the part of ourselves that negatively monitors what we say, what we do, and how we look. Unfortunately, as shown in my example, this list can go on and on if an Inner Critic is overdeveloped. Like a muscle that gets enlarged from repeated flexing, an Inner Critic that is exercised too much may also become ENORMOUS.

Meanwhile, most Inner Critics have no respect for the passage of time and don’t accept the fact that we can learn from our mistakes. Accordingly, Inner Critics love to dwell on past blunders and overlook all the GREAT things that we’ve accomplished. Let’s face it, overgrown Inner Critics can suck the joy right out of our lives and…wreak havoc on our self-esteem!

In my private practice, I work with many clients who struggle with low self-esteem. These clients often see me because they want to increase their confidence and re-invent themselves in this ever-changing, fast-paced world. They may be looking for a new career, a new partner, or may simply want to hold on to their current job or significant other.

When low self-esteem is a client’s challenge, we often explore the Inner Critic. I explain how, as adults, many of us have Inner Critics who have been “monkeys on our backs” for decades. Untamed Inner Critics use all the smoke and mirrors they can muster in trying to intimidate us. However, if we get past their facades, we’ll see how small and vulnerable they actually are at their cores. And, here lies the answer to this article’s initial question: “What Drives the Monkey on Your Back?” The answer is most likely…FEAR.

Surprised? Yep, I was too, many years ago when I first faced the hostile monkey on my own back. I worked with a therapist during this time, and the growth process was amazing. I learned that my Inner Critic had unexpressed feelings that needed to be understood so I could downsize my self-destructive energies. Clearing out the anger gave me access to the fear underneath.

Ironically, when we venture past the bullying behaviors, we’ll find that most Inner Critics have our best interests at heart. So keep in mind, when Inner Critics attack, they’re often trying to protect us. Yet, this ineffective “method of protection” can damage our self-esteem and ultimately leave us feeling hopeless.

Learning how to compassionately dialogue with the Inner Critic can be life changing. For this reason, I teach many of my clients how to tame their Inner Critics. And, in case you’re interested, I will talk about the Inner Critic during my October 21st workshop at John Muir Women’s Health Center. In fact, I’ll show “before” and “after” posters (that I illustrated) of the Inner Critic. First, I’ll show when it appears as a judgmental monkey—perched tauntingly on our backs. Then, I’ll show the monkey tamed, off of our backs, onto its own back (belly up). From this new vulnerable position, we can hear what’s really going on with our previously unconscious and critical monkey.

Finally, when the Inner Critic no longer acts out of fear and anger, it can serve as a healthy protector of our best interests. For instance, a “reformed” Inner Critic can help us set appropriate boundaries in our lives. And, when the Inner Critic isn’t allowed to zap our innate positive energy and enthusiasm, we’ll feel safe enough to playfully express ourselves…and learn to relax into “our own skins.”

Trina’s Upcoming Workshop: Managing Emotional and Compulsive Eating for Women at John Muir Women’s Health Center: 1656 N. California Blvd., Suite 100, Walnut Creek, Thursday, Oct 21, 6:30-8:30 pm. Seats are limited—register today: (925) 941-7900 option 3.
For more info, go to www.TrinaSwerdlow.com & click on “Private Sessions & Workshops”
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