Category Archives: Politics

Opinions and feelings about politics today and my own take on the subject.

(Wo)Man In The Mirror

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Why is our nation in such a mess?

Look in the mirror. Did you vote in the last election; the one that didn’t have a president running? Or did you shrug and say “it’s all rigged” and stay home? You are the reason our nation is falling apart. You allowed others to take away what should be the most cherished freedom of our country – the right to vote.

Our Congress is controlled by people voted in who have promised, and succeeded, in shutting down the government because a small percentage of people don’t like our mixed nation or progressive agendas. They are fearful and they vote in fear. These people vote against their own self-interests (disability, Social Security, Medicare, and other safety net programs) because they have been fed a steady diet of propaganda in the form of Fox News. These mostly white, older, under-educated Americans brought in the Tea Party candidates in 2010 and our country has suffered greatly. In 2014 it became even worse when they swept the Senate. They were all but invited because the majority of Americans couldn’t be bothered to vote in a non-presidential election.

So the blame lies directly on those of you who didn’t vote. YOU are the reason we are in this mess.

Now that we are back in a presidential race, voters who have been staying away are now supporting a candidate who speaks to them. That’s great, but why didn’t you do this during the non-presidential years? Why didn’t you support House and Senate candidates from your state who also spoke to you? Why didn’t you work to find candidates that supported issues you care about? It takes more than a President to make changes in this country, we have 3 branches of government and they all have checks and balances. When you have a sitting President trying to move forward (jobs legislation, help for veterans, banking reforms) but a Congress that is determined to stop him (as they have stated more than once), of course there is going to be gridlock. And you, the American voter, is the one who caused this. Because when you don’t vote, you let someone else vote for you.

Republicans win because Republicans vote. Democrats win in presidential years because that’s when Democrats and Independents get off their asses and actually make it to a voting booth. You want change? Then start getting involved. Learn the name of your local representatives in Congress and research their voting records. Don’t agree with their votes? Vote them out. Find candidates you support. Will they lose? Certainly, not everyone wins; that’s part of the process. You find the candidates who support your issues and then you work to help spread the word about them. If they connect, like Bernie Saunders did, then they will get the attention they deserve.

Does it suck that Bernie may not win the nomination? Yes, but that’s when you put on your big kid pants and support the nominee because they are still closer to your viewpoint that the opposing candidate.

Does it stink to vote for the lesser of two evils? Yes, but you hold your nose and do it. During the 1980s when Saint Ronnie Regan was destroying the country, I voted Democrat in every election knowing that it would be a battle. I never turned away from my responsibility to vote and I supported my candidates even when they didn’t win.

Taking your ball and going home because your candidate didn’t get chosen is childish and hurtful, both to you and to the issues you care about. Opting for a third party is hurtful to the nation; look what happened when Ralph Nader split the left-leaning vote in 2000 and we were stuck with W for 8 years. To all who voted for Nader in 2000, shame on you; you are partly responsible for the mess we are in today. Splitting the vote hurts everyone; we are a two-party nation because those two parties select and elect candidates. The other parties are more than welcome to organize, ask for federal funds, and create their own movement but don’t bash the other parties for being better organized and publicized.

And please don’t whine about the system being unfair. Don’t complain about a process that has been effect for 60+ years; you can work to change it after the election, not during it. Think about someone other than yourself. Which candidate is better for our entire nation? Who would you trust with our nuclear launch codes?

If you are serious about changing this country then start by understanding how our government works. Our vote DOES matter, we just have to get out there and pull the lever, fill in the bubble, mark the box. When you willingly give up the right to vote – a right that our military personnel fight and die for – then YOU are to blame for this country failing.

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The Song Remains The Same (Not)

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Continuing to watch the live-action train wreck that is the American Primary season, I have come to this inescapable conclusion:
The next person who tells me that “both parties are the same” is going to get punched.

Because that’s how you make America great again, by inciting violence in politics.

Donald Trump is the crop that the Republican party has been nurturing for the past 30+ years. Unfortunately for them they thought they planted carrots but what showed up – once unearthed – was a big potato. A really ugly potato. A lumpy, smelly, hard to swallow potato; discolored on the outside but oh-so-white on the inside.

When I used to post politics on Facebook, I tried not to argue with friends who, in their uninformed opinion, stated both parties were equally guilty. I tried to challenge them to find the truth on their own by suggesting they look up Congressional voting records. The voting record is fact, not opinion; when your duly elected politician repeatedly votes down bills that would ultimately help the American people but supports corporate welfare and big oil subsidies, then you are a huge part of the problem of why this country is off track. You are willfully ignorant and prefer snappy comebacks to real data.

And real data is another factor of why we have such diverse politics. Those who support Trump could care less about statistics, videos of violence at Trump rallies, the hateful speeches that he gives. They don’t care. Donald Trump is correct that he could shoot someone in broad daylight with thousands of witnesses and it would not hurt his popularity at all. In the eyes of his supporters, he can do no wrong. People see him as their leader and they will ignore anything that disproves them. You will never convince them how bad a choice this man is for President of the United States. And this is why I stopped posting politics on Facebook; you will never convince people who are passionate to change their minds. Logic and reason do not work.

I do give Trump credit for making some statements that are true. The American people are angry; they’ve lost their jobs, their homes, their retirement, things are not as good (financially) as they used to be, the world is changing. He correctly blames Wall Street and bloated corporations for creating income inequality. However, Trump also blames the poor, immigrants, Muslims, and basically anyone who isn’t white. He stokes up this anger to fuel hatred towards those who have had nothing to do with the fall of America. He soaks up the applause and praise from his followers as if it is ambrosia, and then he doubles-down on the hate rhetoric to continue the flow.

For as much as the media has been vilified by Trump, they continue to follow him and give him air time. Not so much for the other candidates. Equal Time, an archaic practice that early television gave to Presidential candidates, has disappeared from our “fair and balanced” news reporting. Even the head of CBS thinks Trump is great due to all the advertising dollars the company reaps whenever they report on the candidate. The other candidates are ghosts as far as the media is concerned; The Donald is opening the floodgates of money to those who should be watchdogs.

And we all know that guard dogs fail when someone gives them a steak as a distraction.

Now for the good part of all this.

This unprecedented hatred in American politics has energized those who are being marginalized. Those groups that Trump bashes are now joining forces and working peacefully to stop the message of hate. The shutdown of Trump’s Chicago rally showed that by working together, good can overcome evil. We are all getting a history lesson on how Nazi Germany came to be in the 1930s, and many are doing their utmost to make sure that it never happens again. Young people are energized, people who have chosen not to vote in past elections (and helped to bring about a candidate like Donald Trump because doing nothing helps evil flourish), and groups with different agendas have found a common enemy.

So as comedian Bill Engvall so eloquently put it, “here’s your sign” that both parties are nowhere near the same.

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Rainy Days and Mondays

Actually I like rainy days, but definitely not Mondays.

I was thinking about where I am in my life, especially as my 53rd birthday draws near. I was born in the 60s when our futures seemed so bright. A man walked on the moon, vaccines promised greater health for common – yet deadly – diseases, and there were these things called “computers” that were used to make everything run better and faster.

I grew up with the assumption that I would finish school, go to college, get a job, and be financially secure. I never aspired to wealth or success, I just wanted to make a decent living. Now, in 2015, that dream has been shattered. In the 1990s I was working at a very large corporation in San Diego and read about off-shoring jobs during that time. It made me wonder what would happen when all the jobs went away.

Unfortunately I found out since the current state of employment reflects just that.

Prior to when I started working in the 80s, businesses used to be proud of their employees. Having many employees meant the business was successful, employees added to the value of the company, and if the company was in manufacturing then the employees could also be the customer. Henry Ford understood that concept when he made sure pricing for this automobiles fit what his workers could afford.

Not so much these days.

The 80s ushered in the Gordon Gecko “greed is good” mantra and the business model shifted from “share the growth” to “I’ve got mine, screw everyone else”. Employees suddenly became a drain on profits and shareholders were now the ones in charge. Merger-mania was abundant and the larger companies were gobbling up the smaller ones not only to obtain their assets but to get rid of the competition. Many jobs were lost due to duplicate positions after the merger.

With the Tech Boom in the 90s, I watched in horror as venture capitalists literally threw money at young people who knew anything about this Internet contraption. However the money never really went towards building a business, it went to buying expensive cars and luxury homes; if the start up managed to grow an actual, thriving company they turned around and sold to the highest bidder. Once again people lost their jobs and the guy at the top got all the money. Screw you, peasants.

I didn’t work much during the early 2000s due to my younger son being diagnosed as autistic. This is where I earned that dreaded disease called “a gap in employment”. The Gap in Employment stigma is worse than a pirate’s black spot, it leaves hiring managers in terror. After too many online application questions asking me to explain employment gaps, I wrote the following:

Gaps in employment are not contagious and will not spread to other employees, if hired. The affected applicant can lead a normal and healthy life with gaps in their employment. Gaps in employment are easily treatable but may affect the applicant for an extended period of time.

(Side Rant: Why bother asking me to upload my resume when you’re just going to make me type it all into the job application? )

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The great crash of 2008 and my subsequent divorce have left me with nothing. No job, no retirement, no savings, no home ownership (I rent), and no car ownership (I lease). I lost everything. Add in the fact that age discrimination is alive and well, I doubt I will ever have a decent paying job ever again. I have too much experience, I know more than the hiring manager (they hate hiring people who are smarter than they are), and I understand California Labor Laws. They can’t take advantage of me so they wont’ hire me. I can’t even get a job at Walmart, that’s how pathetic I am.

I have done plenty of temp jobs, but many of them end before I am eligible for Unemployment benefits so I used up all my retirement and savings to keep myself afloat in between jobs. I have been advised to move away where there are more jobs, but the child custody arrangement for my younger son doesn’t allow me to leave.

I was told if I followed the rules that I would have a secure and successful life. Unfortunately the rules changed.

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Hey, Look. What’s That Sound?

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Enough is enough.

Newest Headline: 13 Killed At Oregon College Campus

Average Americans, by nature, are really nice people willing to overlook behaviors that make them uncomfortable. This is especially true when it comes to the Constitution – at least the document that was actually written and is currently used for governance, not the made-up one that the lunatic fringe is always using as an example.

As of today, October 1, 2015, there have been more mass shootings than days this year. According to the Shooting Tracker, a crowd-sourced project by the Guns Are Cool subreddit (for those who don’t have a sense of humor, the title is sarcasm), there have been 295 mass shootings in 2015. A mass shooting is defined as four or more people shot in one incident.

Shot, as in they got a bullet in their body somewhere.

This has happened 295 times already.

October 1 is the 274th day of the year.

Just think about it. Every single day of this year there was a mass shooting. Every single day. It boggles the mind. Of course the news isn’t reporting this, it’s becoming so common no one is paying attention anymore. Something that happens every day is no longer newsworthy.

While the majority of Americans would like to see some form of gun control, the fact that more than 20 elementary school children were killed and we still don’t have any regulation shows that nothing will stop the gun lobby. Dead children would not convince them. They are heartless.

But all is not lost.

There are two words that we can use in the Second Amendment to try and bring some sanity back to our nation.

Well regulated.

The very first words of the Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  • Irresponsible and/or mentally disable people with a closet full of guns are not well regulated.
  • Unstable people with open carry permits are not well regulated.
  • People who give small children guns with NO training are not well regulated.

This nation requires citizens to be a minimum age, take a test, and carry a license to drive a car. Cars are perfectly capable of killing people. Auto accidents kill people all the time. There are laws governing responsible driving and if someone is found incapable of being responsible then they lose their license.

Driving is well regulated. Gun ownership is not.

In the interest of full disclosure I grew up around guns. My father and extended family were hunters, venison is still one of my favorite meats, and my uncle kept trained Labrador dogs for duck hunting. From an extremely young age I was taught 2 very important rules:

  1. ALWAYS assume the gun is loaded.
  2. DO NOT point a gun at anyone or anything you don’t intend to shoot.

Those rules were drilled into me constantly. Back in those days (60s-70s) the National Rifle Association (NRA) supported gun laws and training for those who wanted to learn. Even today state Fish and Game departments offer classes on safe gun handling.

Today’s NRA is vastly different from the one in my younger years. And they are the biggest problem. They are using their platform to prey on the fearful and paranoid and the gun companies are making billions of dollars in sales. The NRA is still one of the biggest lobbyists on Capital Hill. The NRA controls the ability to create laws that would infringe on gun ownership. Any time they or their members feel threatened they scream “Second Amendment.” But their Second Amendment is only half of the actual Amendment.

The term “well regulated” is ignored, but it is the very first clause of the Amendment. Even our Forefathers knew that too many crazy people with guns would be a problem for this developing nation. Well regulated means that we should have background checks, that we should be licensing people to own guns, and that we should be more intelligent than we have been.

Everyone is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness according to the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment does not overrule that statement. Children that are safe in their schools and people who are safe in their homes are more important than an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment already states that the government can control who does and does not have the right to keep guns.

It’s time for all of us to wise up and fulfill the first clause of the Second Amendment.

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Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News

There is a much larger problem in this nation that Roe vs. Wade and the Hobby Lobby ruling.

There are people who are not doctors that want to dictate what a patient (exclusively female) can and cannot due for their medical health. Citing deeply held religious beliefs, certain employers want to control which medications their employees can take and right-wing legislators are backing them up.  In addition, people who claim to be “Pro-Life” want to get rid of clinics that offer health services to woman who desperately need medical exams to maintain their health and to screen for cancer. Without these health services, women die. How can that possibly be Pro-Life?

We need a new Amendment to the Constitution that states:

The Federal government shall make no law that abridges access to health care. Medical care is determined by an individual and their chosen health care provider.

No one, except the patient and doctor, should be making medical decisions. No religious group or politician should even consider telling someone which health services they are entitled to. We need to go back to minding our own damn business and get our noses out of others. Those that only care about babies when they are in the womb but turn around and vilify single mothers are NOT Pro-Life. They are most definitely NOT Christian, despite their belief they are.

Let’s push for a single-payer healthcare system. Taking away employer-sponsored health insurance will make the Hobby Lobby ruling null and void. Healthcare professionals are the ones who need to take back the power from legislators. In what universe does it make any sense to have politicians who are against science make decisions about healthcare – which is a science.

Health insurance is the biggest scam in America. Hospitals and medical offices have to charge more to cover the cost administrating claims to multiple health insurance companies. If we had national healthcare then it would be only the government that medical offices would deal with. The costs of a medical practice would go down and the cost of providing services would also go down. A single-payer system would save BILLIONS. Doesn’t that represent fiscal responsibility?

The bottom line is, the sooner we take healthcare back from the private sector the better it will be for everyone.

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Send In The Clowns. There Ought To Be Clowns.

Behold the too-early-to-do-anything Presidential race of 2016. The polls are polling. The percentages are percentaging. And Right-wing candidates and voters are frothing at the mouth in anticipation of the Republican National Convention nomination which is still 11 months away. Isn’t politics exciting?

I know that it’s hard for people to remember what it was like at this time four years ago. It’s just all so confusing. They probably don’t recall that the candidates polling the highest this early in the game were long gone by the time the convention rolled around. We still have sound clips from Jimmy “The rent is too damn high” McMillan, the months where pizza chain owner Herman Cain was polling higher than the other candidates because he was funny, and vocal supporters of Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich gave them their high poll numbers well into the months before the convention. Then there was the Libertarian favorite, Ron Paul.

Paul was such a pain in the GOP establishment asses the convention organizers made sure his delegates were seated far from the stage. They refused to let him speak unless he endorsed Mitt Romney, the appointed “heir” to the nomination as declared by the billionaire donors who bought him fair and square. Like hell they were going to let some independent-thinking outsider get THEIR nomination. The same thing is happening now.

The Koch Brothers are betting their 9 million dollars on their pet, Scott Walker. Walker is a good little Koch-soldier, does everything they tell him to do, and pushes all their favorite welfare-for-the-rich buttons. I mean really, who wants to put money into universities for those stupid middle class and poor people when you can have a brand new basketball stadium where the rich people can watch their teams in complete comfort.  What are you, some kind of communist?

Of course Donald Trump has really been the monkey-wrench in the works. He already has tons of money so he doesn’t need backers like the Kochs. The man can say whatever he wants because he’s rich and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. In fact, the worse his sound bites the higher is poll numbers. It’s Karma in all it’s glory – the shining Republican candidate who accurately reflects the face of the modern Republican Party is an anathema to the “establishment” Republicans.

I think I know why Jon Stewart left The Daily Show before the elections. The absolute idiocy by the Right not only makes it too easy to create satire, but it also flies in the face of common sense and reason. Those of us who can think for ourselves are both amused and appalled at the amount of stupid on display. Just when you think they can’t go any lower, someone in politics (or Fox News) takes it as a personal challenge and lowers the bar even more.

It will be an interesting campaign for the Republican candidates. All of them. But I know for sure the “establishment” Republicans will chase off Trump. But that’s okay because he says he’ll come back as an Independent. I really, really hope he does because if Jeb Bush wins the nomination it will be 1992 all over again: a Bush, a Clinton, and an Independent. A bleeding-heart liberal can only hope.

Maybe Clint Eastwood will be at the convention again like he was in 2012. Or even better, maybe the empty chair.

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Some Observations on ObamaCare and HealthCare.gov, Part 2

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So here’s an analogy I have about the current state of our healthcare situation.

You are still paying the auto loan on an older model SUV that guzzles gas. It costs you about $100/week just to fuel this behemoth and that’s just to do normal errands and work travel. You can’t take any unnecessary trips because you can’t afford the cost.

Recently, an auto dealership has offered you a chance to turn in your old SUV and get a new, great mileage hybrid for a LOWER MONTHLY PAYMENT. On top of that, they’ll even subsidize part of your payment depending on your income.

Who wouldn’t love this deal?

Well, plenty of people according to editorials, blogs, and comments in the newspapers and online. Armchair pundits who know little about health care in American, or they do know but still don’t care that millions are without it. Even people who stand to benefit from the changes are against it. A friend of mine with chronic pain is against the ACA even though it allows her to see a doctor and benefit from pain management and treatment.

Additionally, mental health coverage is mandated from insurers which will go a long way in getting people the help they need but our society wants to sweep under the rug. As the mother of an autistic child, this is welcome relief. So many therapies that my son could benefit from were not covered by his father’s insurance policy. Getting treatment was and is expensive and trying to enroll him in the state-run program a exercise in futility and hoop-jumping.

Pundits are more upset that the President “lied” while glossing over the fact that the information promoted by certain “news” agencies has been nothing but lies since the ACA was adopted. The sheer amount of mis-information spread about the ACA is mind-boggling. We’re living in an Orwellian society where the lies are the truth and the truth is lies. Where all people are equal, but some are more equal than others. (For those that aren’t familiar with author George Orwell, these are themes from his books 1984 and Animal Farm.)

The Head of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, has been grilled mercilessly by a Congressional panel for the stumbling launch of the HealthCare.gov web site. Because we all know that technology always works first time out of the box. She’s been “chastised” for not signing up for healthcare through the site, even though it is against the law for her to do so because she is already covered by the gold-plated insurance coverage given to our lawmakers.That gold-plated insurance that we average Americans could never hope to have – except now we can through the ACA.

Yes, everyone has to pay. That is how insurance works; a pool of money is collected from people with different needs knowing that some will use more than others. That is how the system is supposed to run, except that insurance companies decided they wanted to pocket all that money coming in and not pay out as they were supposed to. As the pool of people buying insurance got smaller, premiums began to rise – some every year. Doesn’t anyone remember those days when our employers were shifting more of our health insurance premium payments out of our own paychecks? When our choices for health plans during open enrollment changed every year because our employers were trying to find ones that wouldn’t bankrupt the company?

The original proposal for the ACA was to have a single-payer option like Medicare, but the Republicans balked and began their campaign against reform with talks of “death panels” and “rationed healthcare”. But think how a single payer option would be an advantage to businesses; they wouldn’t have to carry health insurance as a benefit and could actually hire more people which in turn would have more people making a living wage and paying taxes. And more working people with living wages means less people needing safety net programs like SNAP, and that would mean our deficit would go down even faster because people are able to afford to take care of themselves and their families.

Wow, what a concept.

Speaking of concepts, here is a great video that explains how the ACA works:
http://www.upworthy.com/the-simplest-explanation-of-obamacare-ever

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