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Archive for July, 2009

The Butt Nazi

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

My friend, Emily, and I were driving back to work after a lunchtime visit to my house.  Em was at the wheel and I decided to have a cigarette before we made it back to the office.  We always smoke in Emily's car and, though both of us are trying to quit, the middle of the work week is the worst time to even attempt to enforce our heretofore feeble attempts.

I would like to preface this little tale this by stating that a couple of years ago I ordered a free gift from Camel (my preferred brand of smokes) in the form of a little pocket ashtray.  Essentially, it's a little oblong metal container with a flip-top head.  Flipping it up reveals an ashtray-type attachment where you can stub out your cigarette.  After the stubbing, you simply drop the butt down into the body of the tin.  Unfortunately, it is small and  fills up fairly quickly, but I consider that a small price to pay for the convenience of an always-ready ashtray.   I carry it in my purse and take it out when I get in my car, which I am loathe to admit I do occasionally smoke in, so that it is always available; whether I am driving or out somewhere in public and need somewhere to dispose of my cigarette butt.

I say this because the entire story I am about to relate is yet another example of the absurd irony that is my life (as any longtime reader of this blog can certainly attest!).  Irony follows me around as a constant companion, and, today, it was riding shotgun.

Knowing fate's predilection for irony in my life, I have often quipped that one day I will be without my trusty, portable ashtray, and on that day I will have need to dispose of my butt in the fashion I most despise:  throwing it on the ground.  What is so ironic about that, you ask?  Well, as I see it, millions of people every single day throw their cigarette butts on the ground.  Passer-by either pay no heed or 'tsk' disapproval silently to themselves.  Perhaps 10% of the time - likely even less - some busybody will stop what they are doing so as to approach the smoker and voice their objection to the method of disposal and overall displeasure with said smoker.  After all, as the bumper stickers say, "the world is not your ashtray."  Touche.  Since I agree with that statement, and I, nine times out of ten, have an acceptable method of ridding myself of my cast-off butts, it would be decidedly ironic that the one day I choose to litter (not without self-recrimination, I assure you), someone would take it upon themselves to say something to me about it.

Today was that day.

Em and I were at the light on Essen Lane, waiting to turn onto Jefferson Blvd. when we noticed an old man in the lane to our right (what would be the center lane) trying to get our attention.  Thinking he needed help, Emily hit the button for the power window and rolled down my side (me, I wouldn't have even rolled down the window - I pointedly ignore other drivers while stopped).  He stuttered at first, and then - with a Middle Eastern accent - proceeded to ask me, "Why do you throw your cigarette onto the ground instead of putting it in ashtray in your car?"

A million things ran through my head that ran the gamut of "there is no ashtray in the car" to "fuck off and mind your own business, you old busybody".

The greatest thing was that the light, at this point, had turned green and everyone in front of us, and him, had gone on through.  Traffic was heavy; it was lunchtime in Baton Rouge and we were at one of its busiest intersections.  People were either trying to get to lunch and make it back to work on time, or were returning from lunch and trying to make it back to work on time.

I opened my mouth to ask him why he felt the need to block traffic at noon to ask such a stupid question, but Emily was already laughing and muttering, "oh hell no", and rolling up my window.  Instead, I put on a look of complete flabbergast, shrugged, and said, innocently,  "I don't know" as if I didn't even understand the question.  Whatever his response might have been, I'll not know because Em was already speeding past to catch up to the light (and allow the pour souls behind us to get a move on).

By time we had turned on to Jefferson, we were both in a fit of giggles hard enough to make our stomachs hurt.  While the entire episode was laughable, what got us was the hand gesture he kept using as he was attempting to convince Em to roll down the window.  For whatever reason, to indicate he wanted to ask us about a cigarette, he had made a cutting-scissors motion with his hand.

We have decided that this is now our secret hand gesture for wanting a cigarette from each other and the man's actions have garnered him the moniker "The Butt Nazi".

So, what was the point of the Butt Nazi's assault?

Yes, technically, he was right; I should not have thrown my butt out of the window.  Normally I do not because it is wrong and I do not feel right doing so.  Yet, was my faux pas really worth holding traffic up for?  Did the Butt Nazi have nothing better to do with his time; no where important that he had to be?  Did he not give thought to all of the poor people behind him who actually might have somewhere important to be?  Being inconsiderate is being inconsiderate, no matter which way the cut goes, and we were both guilty of that.  I may have littered the "beautiful" city of Baton Rouge (hahaha), but at least I was minding my own damn business while doing so.

I have to wonder as well, what did he hope to accomplish by pointing out that I had thrown my butt out of the window?  Did he expect me to open my car door, get out and find it, and then proceed to hold it in my hand until I found a proper waste receptacle?  Was he offering to let me put my butt in his vehicle?

The actual question - the query he posed - gives nearly as much pause as the actions he performed to ask it.

"Why?" he asked.

Well, why does anyone throw a cigarette butt out of a car?  Perhaps because I was done with said cigarette.  I realize that's a giant leap of next-action thought there, but I find it to be in the realm of, oh let's say, certainty.  My intention in tossing the butt was not to end world hunger or to plant a cigarette butt seed that would sprout, in the middle of the road, a giant cigarette tree.  Yes, that does sound ridiculous, but so does asking someone "why" they would throw a cigarette butt out of a window.

Now, had the Butt Nazi said, "You should not throw your cigarettes out of the window," I would have readily agreed with him.

"Yes, sir, you are correct," I would have said,  "I should not."

But I did.  So what, then,  did he plan to do about it?  If the Butt Nazi was so terribly bothered by the butt being on the ground,  he was more than welcome to continue to hold up traffic,  get out of his vehicle, and find and retrieve said abandoned butt.  That is his right as an American.  Far be it from me to impinge on anyone's rights!

Frankly, the idea of his exiting his car, flagging to the mounting traffic stuck behind him to go around (with another obscure and incorrect hand gesture, of course), and searching the wet road until he found the offending butt (thereby saving Baton Rouge from any further landscape-destroying damage) would have only added to the belly-aching guffaws Emily and I shared the entire ride back to the office.  For that, at least, I am thankful for his meddling imprudence.

Jon Gosselin’s New Girlfriend or Publicity Stunt to Push New Clothes Line?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I, for reasons unknown to me but which I am sure go way, far down into my psyche, am fascinated lately with all things Gosselin.

Before my affliction fascination began, I had never even watched Jon & Kate Plus 8, as I am not much into reality TV and even less into reality TV that involves an inordinate amount of screaming kids.  Those are the kinds of things that make me want to reach in and rip my uterus out.

Yet, around the time the Gosselin's marriage began to crumble, I - like a large number of Americans - suddenly gained interest.  Again, I was not alone in this phenomenon as evidenced by the fact that, as the Gosselin's marriage grew weaker, their ratings grew stronger.

I wanted to believe this was due to a shared understanding of the human condition; that others could simply relate to the Gosselin's pain. Yet, despite my highest hopes, I knew it had more to do with the usual draw of "reality" TV - hoping to see someone fight, cry, puke, or die, than with any sort  of actual compassion.

So it is - always with great shame - that I find myself reading just about any article I come across that has anything about Jon, Kate, or their 8 (see how I just did that?)

I was doing some of that guilty reading earlier this evening when I came across an article that seemed utterly ridiculous; even for the media-whores that are the Gosselins.

The article itself was simply another in the vast deluge of stories that have spewed forth since this past weekend when Jon Gosselin was spotted out with a "girlfriend" on a tropical vacation.

The story grew, with each successive piece, into a more sordid tale:  The "girlfriend" was Kate's tummy-tuck doctor's daughter.  The "vacation" was an exclusive, 3-day trip to St. Tropez that was funded by Christian Audigier, the designer of Jon's favorite clothing line - Ed Hardy.  Jon and his girlfriend were staying on Audigier's private yacht; Jon and Audigier, it is revealed, are in talks to work together on a new clothing line for kids.  That the Gosselin kids are going to model.  Of course.

However, the gig was up before it even started.  The media wasn't so stupid as to be blindsided by the hand-holding "couple" and  Jon's suddenly sponsored "holiday" by a benefactor who was just happy Jon wore his clothes a lot:

One source says it's no coincidence that Jon brought Hailey along on his trip.

Jon coming on his own or Christian meeting him at an office in L.A. is not going to get them that much coverage," an insider says. "Jon walking around St.-Tropez in an Ed Hardy T-shirt with a new girlfriend on his arm is going to get them extra press inches, which is what they want."

Mission accomplished, apparently.

Apparently. It seems Jon and Audigier even went so far as to start an "engagement' rumor by summoning a celeb-favored jeweler for a "private showing" on Audigier's yacht; all under the premise that Jon and Hailey were looking at rings and hinting at a possible engagement.  Later, Hailey was reported sporting the rock on her finger at a nightclub, further churning the rampant rumor mill.

See Jon Gosselin Purchaes Ring, Secretly Engaged,

The whole stunt is so over-the-top and glaringly apparent even the press - painfully aware of the ridiculous plot - is disgusted:

Alright, that is enough, Source. We can't take anymore. This is the longest Ed Hardy commercial ever. Or longest Jon & Kate Plus 8 promo ever. Either way, if we have to mention Christian Audigier one more time, something bad will happen."


The truth of the matter is, though:  They can have Jon prance around a tropical isle in Ed Hardy clothes with a young bimbo strapped to his arm whom he promises his undying love to, all while expressing a desire to get married before the ink has even been affixed to his divorce papers, *all you want* - the fact is, this clothing line will only ever be as popular as any flash-in-the-pan celebrity's ever was (i.e. it will eventually flop and die a slow, painfully righteous death).

Prayers for Ashtyn

Monday, July 13th, 2009

These are the types of posts I hate to write.

In mid-June, my dear friend, Kalyn, came to me with heartbreaking news.  An almost golf-sized bump had appeared - and was causing pain - on her 8 year-old niece's left leg.  It was a Saturday, so - wasting no time - they brought her to the emergency room.

Hopeful, but not optimistic, the doctors informed them all that they did not like what they saw.  Further tests were ordered and before any of them knew it, Ashtyn, her father, Bennett, and her paternal grandmother were making a late night trip up to St. Jude Children's Hospital for an early morning check-in on June 24th.

However, it was not until July 1st, after more tests, scans, and eventually a biopsy, that the doctor's confirmed everyone's worst fears.  Ashtyn had a bone cancer known as osteosarcoma; a, sadly, common cancer in children.

Thought I had met her a few times before, the first time I actually got to spend some time with Ashtyn was for a couple of hours at my old job.  Kalyn, who was on maternity leave at the time, had stopped by the office so that everyone could see her new baby, Ryder.  Ashtyn was tagging along with her favorite aunt that day and only moments after meeting me, already I was her friend.  This must have been so, as she soon gifted me with the very serious charge of watching her "baby" - a little, infant doll that appeared to be about the same age as Ryder and that she told me she was "babysitting" for a friend - while she "took care of some things".

"I'll be right back," she informed me.  "I have already fed her but if you need to feed her again, just don't forget to burp her."

I promised her I would guard the little "baby" with my life, as she hurried off to run her "errands"; which consisted, mainly, of visiting a couple of nearby and empty cubicles - which magically became stores - and visiting with Mrs. Edna, a co-worker who was the "mother hen" of all of us young women that worked back in that area.  After taking care of her to-do list, Ashtyn returned and I handed her "baby" back to her.  She queried me as to if the infant has behaved and whether or not I had had to feed her.  Business now taken care of, she sat down to visit with me as if we were two women chatting over tea; all the while she held on to the doll who was - she told me - sleeping.

Besides that absolutely beautiful and wonderous imagination, I learned in short order that Ms. Ashtyn was not only whip-smart, but sweet, playful, charming, and strong-willed.  There was no hint of shyness or timidity in the young girl who marched right up to me - a veritable stranger though she knew me as her aunt's friend - and asked me to watch her baby doll for her.  There was certainly no un-surety or lack of self-confidence in this chipper child who I sat and had a conversation with as if she were much older than her years.  I remember smiling inwardly, too, at the edge of no-nonsense practicality and ability to lead that I saw in her and that all eldest children possess; myself included.  No doubt she was a fierce protector of her younger brother, Ethan; as much as his ally as she was his boss when she felt the need to set him straight.

She absolutely charmed me; only spending a couple of hours with this child will show you not only how warm-hearted and intelligent she is, but how very strong.  No doubt born with a headstrong will already coursing through her veins (I've met her aunt and can attest it is there in spades), this little girl has also had to learn how to be strong in the face of adversity; the kind no child should ever have to experience and all at the hands of a mother that is, the only kind way I can put it, unmentionable.

Yet perhaps the hardships that woman has put her children through; the pain that Ashtyn has, for a few years now, been old enough to experience and be truly affected by, was a somewhat twisted blessing in disguise.  For it is that very strength she has garnered from her broken, little heart - combined with the iron will and take-no-crap fighting spirit she was born with - that will see her through this nightmare she has found herself in.

Ashtyn is a born fighter; I believe this with all of my heart.  She has - if anyone does - the spirit, the tenacity, the wits, and courage to see herself through this dark time in her life; a life - I fully and wholeheartedly believe - will be long and rich.  This cancer is a bump in the road - maybe even a large pothole - and it is one she will have to go over or through to get past as it cannot be walked around; it is not, however, the end of the road for her.  Not by any means.

I know this little girl can win this fight; I know she can survive this battle with cancer and be all the stronger for her victory over it.  That does not mean she does not need your thoughts and your prayers, though.  As able a fighter as she is, no one should go into battle alone or without armor and weapons at the ready.  We can help pad her armor and sharpen her weapons with our prayers; our constant thoughts of her assure that she is not alone and we can ask for powerful angels to fight at her side.  I ask that you add Ashtyn to your nightly prayers and daily meditations, that you include her name on your church or religious community's prayer lists and ask others to do the same.  I pray that you, along with me, send your Love and Strength and Hope to this beautiful, sweet, young girl - send her Light to illuminate her way on the dark journey her soul is now traveling and and Peace to comfort her throughout the epic battle her body is now waging with itself.

Stay strong, sweet Ashtyn.  You are not alone and we know you will persevere!

Check back here periodically for updates on Ashtyn, filed under the category "Ashtyn's Fight".

Cops Live!

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Cops was witnessed live by a stunned and rapt audience.

When Emily stopped by for a visit this evening, she - nor we - were expecting a live Cops! show right in our backyard.

We are dog sitting our friend, Ken's, German Shepherd, Samantha, for the weekend.  Baret had stepped outside with Sam to let her potty, when he comes running back in excitedly calling to Emily and me.

"There's crazy shit going on outside - hurry!  The cops are chasing some guy around the neighborhood!"

The three of us run back outside and as we step outside the gate of our patio, we see a police officer off to the left standing and looking around.  Then he takes off behind some of the townhomes.  As he's gone, Baret begins to explain what he had seen to us.

"I was walking Sam at the homes the next set over and I saw the cops talking to a young woman who was crying; I think it's a domestic dispute thing.  Suddenly, a guy came running out of the house and as he ran past them the cops took off after him."

As he is telling us the story, we see a young man come through some bushes on the right side of the townhomes (opposite from where the cop had been standing and had taken off from).  He was wearing a white, sleeveless shirt that was stained all the down from with a red liquid and knee-length red shorts (like something you might work out in) and had on red and white shoes.

"That's him!" Baret exclaimed.

The townhomes we live in are set up so that behind each is a covered parking area; across a semi-circle driveway-of-sorts are the covered parking areas of the homes directly across from us.  Each parking area leads to a fenced, private patio connected to the back of each home.  We watched as the perp darted into a patio of one of our neighbors who wasn't home at the time.  He shut the gate door quietly behind him.

Naturally, Baret ran and alerted the officer to where the guy had hidden.  We could not see in the patio, but we could see the top of the officers head as he approached the guy - who was apparently crouched in the corner of the patio.  Suddenly, the cop's head went to the left and right, as if he was trying to block the suspect from running again - all to no avail.  The guy ran around him and back out into the communal parking area.

He ran over a grassy spot that connecting two of the parking garages and stumbled as one of his unlaced shoes started to come off.   As he did so, the cop ran up and - swinging out a long leg - kicked him.  Baret thought he caught his chest, I thought for sure he'd clipped his chin, and Emily insisted he had kicked him in the lower part of his face.

Regardless, the guy fell and his other shoe went flying.  The cop kicked him once more as he tried to scramble up.  The cop scuffled with him a little but got him handcuffed, then turned him over and maced his face to prevent him from trying to get up and run again.

The guy rolled around on the ground moaning and mumbling, "Why'd you do that, man?" as the police officer radioed for back-up.

There must have been other officers already in the area looking for this guy as about three cop cars suddenly pulled up and officers were mulling about the area almost immediately.

My friend and neighbor, Amanda, pulled up as this was going on and gave me a look through her driver-side window that said, "WTF is going on?!"  She parked and came over as we caught her up to speed on our neighborhood drama.

Another neighbor walked up and as we were re-telling the story to him, we noticed the perp sitting on the ground - his eyes now less blurry from the mace - looking over at us and saying something to the cops.  No telling what and hopefully he'll be too messed in the head to remember or realize that we gave his hiding spot  away!

They put his shoes in a plastic bag and picked up a small, black object next to them that Emily said was a knife.

One of the officers that came up right after the first had the guy on the ground had an icebag he kept holding to his face.  We weren't sure what had happened to him, but there may be more to the story as when Emily left about 10 minutes later, she called to say there were still a bunch of cop cars in the area at the entrance to our subdivision - perhaps there is another guy they're still looking for?

It was all pretty wild and it happened so fast!  Honestly, we - normally - live in a nice, quiet, and fairly safe neighborhood (as safe as anything in Baton Rouge is right now, anyway).  Hopefully that is all the excitement we'll witness here in our neighborhood for awhile!

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Christopher Walken prank call


Welcome to Louisiana: Werewolves Not Allowed

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Signed into law on June 19, 2009, and going into effect August 15, 2009, in the state of Louisiana, a very important bill known as SB 115.  So groundbreaking and important is this bill, filed by Senator Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, on behalf of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops at the behest of New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes, that Louisiana is the first and only state in the nation to have even touched on the issue in any fashion.

That is correct, the ban on human-animal hybrids is unprecedented in lawmaking and has been set in motion as a "pre-emptive strike" for an impending future where "mad scientists" (to use Sen. Martiny's own words) will be mixing up cells in petri dishes willy-nilly.

Lord only knows what abominable, ungodly creatures might be born of these unchecked experiments, so the Bishops, spearheaded by Archbishop Hughes, were in need of finding an ignorant, god-fearingly-addled-enough senator to file this bill for them.  Lo and behold!, they found Sen. Martiny.

Contrary to what one might think, the bill did not muster a lot of opposition from our host of similarly ignorant, god-fearingly-addled governing officials; despite sound arguments like this one from Dr. Jeffrey Gimble, a stem cell researcher from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge:

"There are no mad scientists at our state institutions.   Anything that's going to criminalize scientific activity could potentially restrict our ability to recruit young scientists to our state."

In fact, even after hearing from experts such as Dr. Gimble, (a mere suggestion, no one testified against the actual bill) all of the Senators voted to pass SB 115  All. Of. Them.

Danny Loar, lobbyist for the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops - who used the "pre-emptive strike" term - explains that the bill is to thwart those scientists who might want to mix "human and animal cells in a Petri dish for scientific research purposes. . . . It is becoming more of an issue globally."

Is it now?  If this is such an issue, one wonders why the other states are not taking such "pre-emptive strikes".  Perhaps, Louisiana being the scientific mecca that it is - and as far ahead as we are, education-wise, as compared to the rest of the country - it stands to reason that we should be the first to tackle this (not yet but soon to be) important issue.

"We're trying to punish, for lack of a better term, mad scientists."
- Sen. Danny Martiny

Those "mad scientists" - if convicted - will be punished by being subjected to a prison term of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.  Actually profiting from the dastardly deeds will garner the crazy men with test tubes and petri dishes civil fines of $1 million or double the gain from the research, whichever is greater.

July 27th Update:

Louisiana Sentaor Mary Landrieu, and others, are now trying to have a similar ban passed through Congress and made applicable to all of the United States.  See this HuffPo article for more.

Sarah Palin Sues…Everyone?

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Not much surprises me in the way of headlines wherein Sarah Palin is concerned.  Nearly as soon as I am convinced she can do not a thing more to proudly tout her ignorance or further prove her seeming insanity, she shows up on the scene to, yet again, raise the bar.

The latest - following her oddly timed and highly speculative announcement that she was abandoning her position as governor of Alaska - is more of what we have all come to expect from Sarah:  another self-mutilating nail in the coffin of her oft-tortured political career; a career that might have remained viable had the plucky, small town-minded former beauty queen held rank with her moose-eating peers rather than aspiring to a national platform that she was wholly incapable of maintaining.

Indeed, Sarah's latest reality-television-like tantrum is either another ruse in the litany of inane hogwash that she dreams up in some deranged, public relations disaster to keep her in the public eye, or - as is to be always feared - she is actually serious.  Both prospects are equally disturbing.

In summation, Sarah Palin intends to have her lawyers sue any and all media outlets (and a few Alaskan bloggers) for "defamatory" content that was printed about her after declaring she was quitting as Alaska's governor.

Sarah should have expected that the media, and bloggers, were going to question her sudden, seemingly rash and imprudent resignation.  It is simply a natural reaction, not a strategic and diabolical coup against her personally.

I say this because it appears Sarah is convinced that all of this is a personal attack rather than mere media speculation, and she is not alone in her paranoid delusions; apparently her lawyers and sycophant pals, such as Greta Van Susteren, believe the same as that is what they are blathering all over the internet.  (Personally, I would take anything Greta "believes" with a whopping gallop of salt as she also "believes" in thetans and e-meters; she and her husband are devout Scientologists.)

Public figures must anticipate negative reviews and harsh opinions; elected, government officials even moreso.  It is part of the career they have chosen to follow.  Our founding fathers knew our governing officials should be made accountable and held up to scrutiny.   They may not have always been fans of the media, but they realized it was a necessary evil.  Thomas Jefferson was once quoted as saying:

"No government ought to be without censors, and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defense."
- Thomas Jefferson

When an elected official up and quits such a prestigious position so very suddenly, naturally the media (and the entire country) is going to speculate.  This speculation will, no doubt, lead to some investigative reporting and speculative commentary which - whether true or not - falls under the category of "free speech".

Sarah Palin, Greta Van Susteren, and their gaggle of over-zealous lawyers need to cool their heels.  What is happening is a natural reaction to the very public choice that Palin has made and the way she went about presenting it.  That is all.  The very idea of suing any and everyone who has ever said a bad word about her is bordering on narcissistic lunacy.

It is simply another very bad decision from the Palin camp - a troupe run by a woman that has proven herself to be an egotistical, culturally ignorant, soccer mom who really needs to crawl back to her icy kingdom and out of the national arena.  If McCain's vetters had had half a brain cell, they would have left this woman the hell alone and to her good 'ole boy politics where she could do much less damage.  The idea that this woman was once an old man's heartbeat away from being the leader of this country still gives me chills, and the very idea that Republicans might consider her as their candidate for a 2012 election run is nothing short of terrifying.

It would appear that Republicans venerate some fairly terrifying characters these days.  Speaking of which, perhaps Sarah should ring Bill O'Reilly, who often finds himself in the same delusional boat.  Disagreeing with Bill, or even being so bold as to be critical of him in any fashion, means, unequivocally, that you are out to get him:

"[T]hey are going to do anything and everything to destroy me, or try to. And it’s a war. It is a war."
- Bill O'Reilly

Bill and Sarah could discuss tactics and battle plans for dealing with the hostile media, who are - obviously - attempting to take them down by speculating on their actions,  being critical of their judgments, and not agreeing with everything they say.  In fact, Bill already has a plan; Sarah just needs to jump on board:

"[T]here is a huge problem in this country and I’m going to attack that problem. I’m going to attack it. These people aren’t getting away with this. I’m going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down [...] if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed…I would."
- Bill O'Reilly

It's comforting to know that, unlike Sarah, Bill has not yet decided to attack bloggers.  For the time being, I am safe.  However, as I have now blogged my thoughts on Sarah Palin and her decidedly strange actions in the last week, I anxiously await contact from Sarah Palin's lawyers wanting to sue me for having a voice and opinon and being audacious enough to use it.