Archive for the 'Government' Category

15
Jul
20

Dear “Mr. President”

Yes, it’s in scare quotes; not just because you are, truly, scary, but because I feel that calling someone “Mr. President” includes an implication of respect for the person, and the office.

You have none for the latter, so I have none for you.

That being said, it would seem that someone, somewhere, could at the very least call on your considerable vanity to point out that here is, in fact, the opportunity you have probably been waiting for all your life: the chance to become a legend, famous, for having changed the lives of millions if not billions of people. You are “taking advantage” of that opportunity by causing lasting and irreparable damage, not just on the actual public health of the people you are sworn to serve, but on our psyches, our futures, and our standing in the world.

So, rather, I encourage you to consider this.

There was a lot we didn’t know when all of this started, and there have been many changes and developments since then. This broadening of our knowledge would, should, alter the protocols we should follow, and gives us better and better ideas of what the future might hold given various actions and trajectories. But this is how science works — we operate based on what we know, and when what we know changes, so should we. There is no shame in this; this is how grownups deal with new information.

So here’s a chance for you to become the legend you’ve always wanted to be and save us all.

If you would:

  • protect the CDC, the WHO, and Dr. Fauci rather than undermining them,
  • wear a mask,
  • make it a federal law that everyone has to until cases fell below a certain percentage,
  • and pay people for 8 weeks if they promise to stay home except for absolute necessities like groceries and prescriptions,

we could actually be well through this by fall, or at the very least better prepared and closer to a vaccine.

And what’s the cost if we don’t? Is this really what you want your legacy to be? The unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people at your hand? This is where we’re headed, you know. And while I hate to say this*, you do have the power to change it.

It seems clear that no one has said this to you yet. At least not in a way to which you are willing to listen, so I am pleading to your vanity, your narcissism, your ego. Help us.

We need more testing, not less.

We need money invested in manufacturing more PPE to keep our health care workers safe.

We need contact tracing.

We need laws prohibiting large gatherings and going into public spaces without proper face coverings (including for not wearing them correctly), fining people who fail to comply with these laws, and firing people who refuse to enforce them.

We need leadership. We are literally struggling and dying under the lack of it right now.

As Americans we take great pride in our rights and liberties, but some of those rights and liberties come with responsibility: to take some pride in our role in and contribution to society. We wear shirts and shoes in stores, we go through the ordeal of the TSA–sometimes taking hours–to get on an airplane, we stop at stop lights and drive at least in close proximity  to the speed limit (or get ticketed and/or arrested if we don’t), and don’t smoke inside child care centers or yell “fire” in crowded movie theaters.

If we want the benefits of society: safe bridges and public roads, fire stations, hospitals, schools, grocery stores, UPS deliveries, public education; we have to be willing to pay the price. It’s a small one actually — think of people besides yourselves, and realize that what’s good for one is actually probably good for everyone.

At one time we were taught these things, the rules of civility and society, the pressure to conform to and recognize our potential impact on others and that we were all a part of something larger than ourselves. Your mantra is to “Make America Great Again” — what better way to do that than to demonstrate how we can actually step up, as a society, and beat something that is unprecedented, and, literally, bigger than the rest of us.

Time to step it up, grow a pair, and secure your place in history.

Well, that’s misleading. Your place in history is being secured. Just not sure it’s the “legend” you were hoping for.

 

*Only because you having any power at all is one of the most frightening things I’ve had to deal with in my life.

19
Nov
16

What he said

He’s right. We as a country are trying to do something that might go against our tribal natures. And I see so much evidence of people standing together and trying to do it better. Like the adage says — if you’re going through hell, keep going. Let’s do this, together, and come out that much better on the other end.

21
Oct
16

Human rights are human rights, not American ones

Can’t help but wonder how much credibility America might gain around the world if we extended what we consider basic human rights to everyone, not just Americans.

And held the people responsible for these atrocities accountable.

And while we’re at it, let’s end the self-aggrandizing habit of ending every political speech with “God bless America.” How about the Tiny Tim version: “God bless us every one.” Or, even better, let’s leave God out of it. Are we, or are we not, a secular society? Or maybe I should rephrase the question: Aren’t we supposed to be a secular society?

08
Mar
16

while we were “sleeping”

These things are happening:

First, we preach the moral high ground, but only apply our civil rights to ourselves. Isn’t part of the argument that civil rights are human rights, and should be applied to everyone?

And then we have a lot of people making a lot of money running our military “business” — and actually contributing to the people who are trying (and often succeeding) to kill our members of the military.

Meanwhile, politicians candidates the children representing the Republican party debate the relative sizes of their peni (?) while the world melts.

I could go on, but it’s too depressing.

Wake up!

06
Nov
15

More better feminism

Give us a twirl.

Duh.

Clearly you have issues.

 

22
Jan
15

Bill Moyers and the need for campaign finance reform.

Here.

Where do I sign?

And of course, it’s no surprise that there isn’t a SINGLE REPUBLICAN sponsor to any of these bills. That should speak volumes.

31
Aug
14

What the 1% don’t want the rest of us to know

And it’s not just that they make a wholehelluvalot more money than we do.

It’s not too early to start our own Progressive movement.

Firstly, we all need to stop protecting the rights of the 1% just in case that clever gadget we thought of and are going to get around to getting a patent for as soon as we have time ends up becoming the Thneed That Everyone Needs and earns us a bajillion dollars that we want to make sure we can hand down to Junior, even though by then he’ll be spoiled and entitled and lazy.

Secondly, we need to realize that there are worse things than a social safety net. Actually, we need to realize that the benefits of the social safety net make society better for everyone — whether we “need” it or not (we do), it helps us.

I wish people would talk more specifically about the literal costs to us caused by our relatively low tax rates — pay to “play” (sports, drama, music, chemistry class),  constantly deteriorating roads and the resulting depreciation of our vehicles; medical costs despite having what would be considered by many to be enviable health care ($1,100+ for each of Only Daughter’s 2 CAT scans this summer; $385 for Second Son’s cavities filled — and this is WITH dental insurance), college tuition — $7,605 per year, average public university in US in 2010; $4,524 in Canada; in France you can expect to pay an average of €452 per year — yeah, that’s right, €452 (that’s around $585) for MEDICAL SCHOOL.

(I actually love it when people compare us to France, making France sound like such an awful alternative. Yeah, there are all those vacation days and maternity leaves and universal health care; I TOTALLY see what the problem is. And that’s not even taking into account the wine and cheese.)

Anyway, these two will say it way better than I do.

 

05
Oct
13

humility is strength; arrogance is just arrogance

Frank Bruni, writing in the New York Times about the relief and hope that Pope Francis’ humble words and attitudes inspire in him.

Since I’m chronically busy, and am reading this section of NYTimes two weeks after it was written, this stood out:

FOR a textbook case of humility gone missing, consider right-wing Republicans’ efforts to derail Obamacare by whatever crude and disruptive means necessary. The health care law has its flaws, some of them profound, but it was legitimately passed, in accordance with the rules, and to stray outside them in order to make it go away is to believe that they don’t apply to you, that your viewpoint trumps the process itself. It’s the summit of arrogance.

This is part of what I can’t figure out.

This law has passed. The budget has been approved. The bills need to be paid.

How is it possible that democracy is constructed in such a way that a Congress can refuse to meet the financial obligations THEY HAVE ALREADY AGREED TO MEET by holding hostage a law that they ALREADY PASSED?

Maybe I really do need a polisci lesson.

20
Sep
13

I need a PoliSci lesson

How does me donating $25 to the dccc help fight this:

Dear voter:

This morning, Speaker Boehner and House Republicans PASSED a bill that would threaten a government shutdown in order to put insurance companies back in charge of your health care. It’s despicable.

But I’m actually writing to pass along some good news:

In the last 48 hours, over 25,000 of you have donated over $400,000 to take on the Republicans. Speaker Boehner surely wasn’t expecting this kind of grassroots response!

Will you help us hit the $500,000 mark before Congress leaves town tonight?

DEADLINE MIDNIGHT: Give $3 or more right now to fight back against Republican legislative arsonists >>

What happens over the next few days will determine if Boehner and the right-wing fringe succeed in their attempt to wreak havoc on President Obama’s second term. Let’s send a reverberating message to Speaker Boehner: the Affordable Care Act isn’t going anywhere.

http://dccc.org/Midnight-Deadline

Thanks,

Nancy

I’d like to contribute, but I just can’t see the connection.

13
Dec
12

Michigan “Right to Work” Measure Passes, Thousands Protest

Michigan “Right to Work” Measure Passes, Thousands Protest.

I used to believe, in my younger, more naive days, that politicians believed that they were actually working FOR us (the people), as they had, in fact, been “hired” by us, for a two- or four-year term, to represent our interests.

I realize now that politicians work for whoever is going to write the next, biggest, campaign check, and if they represent anyone’s interests at all, it’s their own.

All I know for sure is that I am immediately, deeply, and profoundly suspicious of decisions such as these that are made quickly, without discussion, and despite the protests of tens of thousands of people.

And apparently, it’s not just me.

protesters

It’s a little like the vacuum salesman short on direct answers but eager with the “Andyouonlygetthisdealifyousignonthedottedlineinthenextthreeandahalfminutes.”

Interesting how the fireman and police are exempt from this legislation. Guess we don’t want to piss off the people with the guns.

Maybe this has something to do with it:

righttowork

So much for serving the people.

Is there a petition somewhere we can sign that disallows Congress from passing laws that include clauses prohibiting repeal? (One would think this was automatic, but apparently not.)

13
Nov
12

dumb as a . . . of . . . .?

Husband sent the link to this article to me today because we have been discussing over the past few days whether Petraeus should have resigned or not.

I say that the author might be kind of almost maybe sort of just by a hair missing the point.

I agree that there are some indications that the two “culprits,” Mr. Petraeus and his paramour, Ms. Broadwell, are not, shall we say, the sharpest knives in the drawer.

BUT, no security was breached, no CIA secrets stolen. Mr. P. sent his lascivious emails to Ms. Broadwell from a non-CIA account, and Ms. B. sent emails to Mr. P from an account shared by her husband. But HE had no reason to believe that his non-CIA account would be investigated, and, clearly, Ms. B. had no concerns that her husband would wile away empty hours scrolling through the “Sent” folder. Do any of you ever look in your Sent folder?

Here. Give me a sec.

Yup. Just as I thought. 8708 messages in the sent folder, the most distant from 2009, which is when I bought this laptop. Haven’t looked at 8703 of them since I sent them.

Ms. B’s husband wasn’t the person who caught on to the affair — the FBI was, because Ms. B was so caught up in the weird and untenable position she found herself in that she was jealous of another woman and thought it was a good idea to threaten her in a way that would be absolutely traceable and serve easily as evidence against her.

So yes, kind of stupid. Is it also ironic? Maybe not. First Son claims I attribute irony to coincidence too often, but I do believe that irony includes when one act, taken in the hope of a particular result, results in the opposite.

Anyway. The author points out that Clinton did the right thing by lying through his teeth, and that Patraeus should have followed suit.

I disagree.

Clinton shouldn’t have lied, Broadwell shouldn’t have exposed her own vulnerable position by sending threatening emails, and Patraeus shouldn’t have resigned over some over-developed Puritanical sense of guilt.

IMHO, of course.

 

03
May
12

“red” alert days

Just discovered that I can view my calendar by the year.

I discovered this because I was entering something into my calendar for MAY OF 2013.

I know, right?

Both depressing and impressive (who knew I was that organized?) at the same time!

In a not-actually-unrelated-although-it-might-seem-so-at-first story, remember the terror alerts? Yellow, orange, red. . . Did anyone actually know what they meant? I think W and his cronies just picked the color based on how low their popularity/effectiveness ratings were that day.

(and still, really, no, but thanks for asking)

High (as if!) approval ratings = pick yellow (notice there was never a blue or a green; we must always stay at some level of alert because fear is the new black).

Low approval ratings = pick red. Then, when nothing happens, everyone can be all impressed by all of those mysterious things we must have done to keep them safe and sound and our approval ratings will go up.

ANYway. (Husband thinks my epitaph should read “She never said no to bacon.” I think mine should read “Tangent? What tangent?” Or maybe that’s the same thing.)

This is what 2012 looks like so far:

Three guesses which is my favorite month.

And still no green or blue. One event = yellow, 10 = red. Maybe we need more gradations to accurately reflect the varying degrees of scheduling insanity which constitute my life.

Anyway. Here’s to June 18. The first “white” day since May 5, which was the first “white” day since March 31.

Sheesh.

15
Mar
12

Not a war?

Sez who? (Lots of people; mostly male Republicans, but whatever.)

Sigh.

Just when you think it can’t get more ridiculous.

Maybe this can be a sign of hope?

08
Mar
12

missing the point, again

A University of Rochester economics professor blogged in support of Rush Limbaugh’s comments regarding Sandra Fluke.

Quoting him directly:

While Ms. Fluke [the law student] herself deserves the same basic respect we owe to any human being, her position — which is what’s at issue here — deserves none whatseover [sic]. It deserves only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered. To treat it with respect would be a travesty. I expect there are respectable arguments for subsidizing contraception (though I am skeptical that there are arguments sufficiently respectable to win me over), but Ms. Fluke made no such argument. All she said, in effect, was that she and others want contraception and they don’t want to pay for it,” wrote Steven Landsburg, the professor, on his blog, The Big Questions.

To his credit, Rush stepped in to provide the requisite mockery. To his far greater credit, he did so with a spot-on analogy: If I can reasonably be required to pay for someone else’s sex life (absent any argument about externalities or other market failures), then I can reasonably demand to share in the benefits. His dense and humorless critics notwithstanding, I am 99% sure that Rush doesn’t actually advocate mandatory on-line sex videos. What he advocates is logical consistency and an appreciation for ethical symmetry. So do I. Color me jealous for not having thought of this analogy myself.

Upon being sanctioned by his President, he has posted a follow-up, some of which I quote below:

The commenters [to my previous blog posts regarding this issue] have offered many bright and lively arguments and observations, some of which have led me to modify some of my views. This is a wonderful thing. It’s also the very opposite of Sandra Fluke’s approach, which amounts to a contemptuous dismissal of the very possibility of engaging these issues through intellectual discourse. I’d have expected a distinguished academic to feel the same way.

But he’s still missing the point. Or should I say points.

I’m curious as to whether Dr. Landsburg saw her testimony. It seems not.

Ms. Fluke DOES deserve respect, and was herself ridiculed, mocked, and jeered, quite appallingly so. Rush did not mock her position, he mocked her. This much is quite clear. It causes me to wonder whether Dr. Landsburg even saw or heard these himself, or was just reacting to the fray.

The concern regarding denial of oral contraception for women taking it for medical, non-contraceptive reasons is a real one.

And while Professor Landsburg congratulates himself on both his mastery of effective argumentative tactics and his open-mindedness, he does so in comparison to Ms. Fluke’s “approach” rather than to Mr. Limbaugh’s. As far as I can tell Sandra has been anything but contemptuous. One can certainly not say the same regarding Rush.

The fact that this clip is followed up with comments like these leave me very little hope:

This is just a few of them. Too early in the day for me to wallow around in such a misogynistic quagmire.

And it’s interesting how all of the “clueless” comments seem to come from men. Am I the only one who thinks that men should just stay out of this argument altogether? When you have ovaries, a uterus, and risk becoming pregnant every time you have sex, then you can talk about this.

Just sayin’.

 

02
Mar
12

democracy inaction

People in Syria are being terrorized by their own government, with actions reportedly including houses being looted and people being set on fire.

The Egyptian military hangs on to power while the people wait for an opportunity to choose their own government.

Iran pursues its own religion-inspired agenda, while North Koreans are kept in the dark, both literally and figuratively.

Putin will win this election, whether he wins or not.

Meanwhile, we live in a country that at one point had the right idea about how this should be done.

Now, instead, we have things like Citizens United, and these clowns:

20120302-182643.jpg

We should be ashamed. We can, and should, do so much better.

28
Oct
11

today in politics

Today’s headlines re: the Republican candidates.

Just what this country needs; someone who can’t manage their own campaign.

But we all know what we really need, more jobs. Maybe Rick Perry has the answer. (If you click on each ad banner it will take you to the whole article.)

But then there’s this:

Meh. Details, details.

And then, last but not least, the stalwart long-suffering “front runner,” Romney.

Oops. That wasn’t the one I meant.

That’s funny, I didn’t even do that on purpose.

Here.

This all just makes me tired.

I actually got an email from People or the American Way a few days ago, with this in the subject line:

“Is it time you ran for office?”

I snorted and thought, as if! What sane person wants to run for office. And then it occurred to me.

Exactly!!!

In a related story, I re-posted this on facebook today, from a post that I can now attribute to Axis Mundi:

When Egypt’s people protested, we supported them. When Libya’s people protested, we supported them even more than we supported Egypt. When our people protest, we ignore them, shoot them, gas them, beat them, arrest them, and make fun of them on TV, the radio, and the internet.

As an American, how do you justify this?

And a friend replied:

we cheered and supported them in their fight over tyranny, and for a chance at maybe democracy, although that remains to be seen. I think our protests are seen as something altogether different and can’t be compared as apples to apples. If we are to avoid bankruptcy, drastic measures must be taken, and unfortunately, that means tougher times.. And yes, we will always have the rich, as we will always have the poor. Some things won’t change..Sorry..I think that’s why so many look at our protesters as a bunch of sob asses
I fear he’s missing the point.
Maybe some of these protestors are “putting on airs” by comparing the plight of the American middle class with the plight of Arabian people oppressed by brutal dictators — this is unfortunate, and regrettable; but at the same time, I believe it was Goethe that said that none are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Our “democracy” is a fallacy, with our government being sold off to the highest bidder, and his statement that “we will always have the rich, as we will always have the poor” made me first wonder if he was actually quoting Jesus. (Knowing him as I do, I doubt it.) But when 1% of the population controls 40% of the wealth of the country, and the government is for sale, we’re all in trouble. A nation can only thrive with a thriving middle class. And while I count myself lucky that I’ve so far managed to keep my head above water, my children fed and housed and educated, I am exactly that. Lucky. The fact that I’ve earned a Doctorate and have 20 years of professional experience in my field, and the best I can hope for is piecework as an adjunct with no salary, no benefits, and no security is only one piece of the pie chart that shows the trouble this country is in.
Basta. It’s past my bedtime.
24
Oct
11

a plan that just might work

Got this from facebook today.

I think this is a brilliant plan. If they’re going to make laws, they should live by them.

If you agree, share it.

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

“I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there
is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.”

……
The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!  Why? Simple – the people demanded it. That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address
list and ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really
should be passed around.

_*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*_

1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressional pay will rise by CPI or 3%, whichever is lower.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 1/1/12.
The American people did not make these contracts with Congressmen/women; Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, it should not be a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work – our Presidents do.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. You may not agree entirely with all these points, but this is a start – don’t you think it’s time?

23
Oct
11

a sign of what we all should fear

Art Pope, who inherited from his father of a chain of discount shops known as Variety Wholesalers (basically a smaller but still incredibly profitable version of WalMart), is systematically purchasing legislative seats in North Carolina. (Click on the picture for a link to the whole article.)

He claims this is all done out of completely altruistic motives — rampant capitalism and the creation of wealth as the system that will save the world. His explanation of the existence of poverty and low incomes is that these are merely a factor of youth and poor education, but “usually, as people get older. . .they [will] save and retain wealth, and [eventually] work their way up.” He also claims that most poverty exists as a result of “self-destructive behavior.” Tell that to the nearly 33% of the minority children living in his state who are living in poverty. What were their self-destructive acts, one might ask? Being born to the wrong parents?

Meanwhile, he funds  battles (even more easily than he did before, thanks to helpful decisions like Citizens United) that put people who think like him into state government and on school boards and as trustees of major universities where budgets are cut and one of the best integration systems in the country is decimated, seeming completely to miss the point that he has made earlier — that a lack of education is one of the things that keep people from prospering.

And never mind the fact that he was born into wealth, status, and privilege, and that the “work ethic” that produced most of his wealth comes from the parents he was born to, the writing of the will that passed it on to him, and the people who work for his company at minimum wage.

He claims to be both a “traditional conservative” and a “classical liberal” (whatever that means), and that his philosophy is based in his belief in the “marketplace of ideas.” Meanwhile, he machinates the drastic cutting of university budgets, followed by a benevolent offer to donate millions of dollars to fund programs that would turn liberal-arts educations into “personal creation of wealth” trade schools.

So many voters have been beguiled by the (family foundation-run) Civitas-sponsored robo-calls and misleading-to-the-point-of-racist-sexist-and/or-libelous postcards deposited into their mailboxes that Republicans have gained a majority in the North Carolina legislature for the first time in a hundred years.

Pope reassures us, though, that there’s plenty we can do about it. If his opponents disagree, they’re welcome to “fund their own side.”

Because all those people working minimum-wage jobs and/or struggling to put their children through colleges that are getting more and more difficult to afford have the resources to do so.

We’re selling our country, and the running of it, to the highest bidder. When will we stop being sheep? When will we stop believing every ridiculous lie told to us by the people with money we all secretly wish we had? When will we hang up on the robo-calls and throw the postcards into the trash where they belong and actually bother to research the people for whom we are being asked to vote? And where are the true liberals — those who believe in both economic opportunity and social responsibility, those who recognize both the benefits of a free market and its perils, those who can frame our arguments in compelling and actionable terms, those who not only believe that we have a moral responsibility to make this world the best we possibly can for everyone but who can help us recognize that what is best for each of us is what is good for everyone?

I thought it would be Obama. I’m not sure anymore, especially because he seems to be so busy being conciliatory and careful he never really seems to stand up for what I’m sure he still believes in. But I am sure that it isn’t any of the current Republican candidates either, and I am constantly perplexed by the centrists who voted for Obama, are disappointed in what has or hasn’t happened since his election, and think that Rick Perry or Mitt Romney might be a viable alternative.

Meanwhile I’m too busy trying to scrape together a living from my three part-time jobs to participate in marches on any street, and am tiring of the flooding of my inbox by petitions that need to be signed and worthwhile causes that need donations. Where is all that wealth I’ve been educated for (doctoral degree) and work for and still can’t seem to accumulate while I pay down my $120,000 mortgage and try to put three kids through college?

Or maybe having three children without a multi-millionaire father and business to inherit qualifies as “self-destructive.”

13
Oct
11

What?

H.R.358, would allow hospitals to refuse to provide a woman lifesaving, emergency abortion care…even if she will die without it. And they call it the “protect life” act — is there no end to their cynical, self-serving, politicizing, marketing bullshit?

And this has passed the House? Seriously?

So they are saying, in all earnestness, that the life of the unborn is more valuable than hers?

Do you suppose they take into account the possibility that she is already alive, and “viable,” and may have a husband, or even, perchance other children who might need her? No. I didn’t think so.

Is it possible that I’m so out of touch that a majority of Americans actually support this sort of thing and I not only don’t know it but I can’t understand it?

And we’re not even addressing the complicated issues that abortion presents, including the possibility that it may be approached in a frivolous way by people who don’t consider the consequences of their not-all-that-well-thought-out actions. I personally think that abortion is tragic and regrettable, and would hopefully be avoided by myself and everyone I know or care about because of the psychological and emotional pain I imagine it would present. But we’re talking about old men making these decisions for women, and we’re talking about women whose lives may be at stake, and we’re prioritizing the potential life of an unborn fetus over the life of an actual person, and we’re using money, or, rather, the withholding of it, to make our arguments for us. This is pathetic, and reprehensible, and unforgivable.

As I tweeted recently (albeit that time about the fact that Canadians wanted former president George W. Bush arrested, and I didn’t even care why), yet another reason to move to Canada.

I just can’t live with these people. And I’m writing this from my iPhone because I still don’t have internet. And I’m so upset I’m not even sure I’m speaking in complete sentences anymore and I’m trying to read it on a 3 inch screen, so it’s just making me claustrophobic and even more pissed than I already was.

I’ll edit tomorrow.

09
Oct
11

“family values”

Republicans claim this as one of their main platforms, but let’s get something straight.

They’re “pro-life,” by which they mean:

protecting CEO’s salaries and millionaires’ rights not to pay taxes are more important than teacher salaries,

best of luck to you or your spouse procuring full-time work which includes health care benefits,

and oh, while we’re at it, (Romney’s latest), we’re going to cut federal support for Planned Parenthood, so not only are we not going to allow you to have an abortion, we’re going to make it more difficult for you to procure affordable contraception.

So while “we” can’t be bothered to make contraception or STD testing available or affordable, you can just keep having those babies !!! (the more the merrier, until the planet collapses under our collective weight?), and how you feed them, educate them, and keep them healthy is your own problem.

And never mind that offering these services to people in the first place saves money; we’re not that gifted in long-sightedness.

Just like the decision not to cover prostate cancer screening, or the fact that my HMO only covers $85/year in blood work, which is inadequate just to monitor my thyroid condition. Guess it would be better/cheaper if I took inadequate levels of medication and ended up with a thyroid tumor or in a coma?

Is it really that difficult to understand that spending a little bit on things like preventive screening and contraception saves a lot of money in the long run? Seems like something an 8-year-old would understand.

 

 

 

 

07
Oct
11

seriously?

1. Senator Brown posed nude for Cosmopolitan to help pay tuition for law school?

2. Senator Brown, when questioned about Elizabeth Warren’s statement that she kept her clothes on, and took out student loans to pay her bills, responded with “Thank God”?

3. Cosmopolitan carries pictures of naked men? Since when?

But seriously, Credoaction.com circulated a petition this morning asking Senator Brown to apologize. It went on for two pages.

I have just a couple of questions.

First: Are we so short on attention span or lacking in commitment to an idea we must have a link to click on every three column inches or we won’t be bothered? Is it too much work to scroll up in an email? The problem is, if you’re like me and don’t really like to be told what to do or what to think, by the third iteration you’re probably just feeling irritated and/or rebellious. (No. I don’t wanna. You can’t make me.)

And, while his comment on her supposed level of attractiveness may be what is making some people angry, isn’t what we really should be getting angry about the fact that he could pose nude and dismiss it with an offhand comment while any woman doing the same thing wouldn’t be elected township clerk?

It seems to me like this is all just a bunch of noise to distract us from some of the real issues at hand.

Why don’t we talk, instead, about what Ms. Warren said so eloquently, and which, as far as I can tell, remains unanswered?

 

My feelings about this, this pathological avoidance of actually talking about things that actually matter, are being fanned by the latest statistic:

So, while police posts are closed, and our roads and bridges crumble, and unemployed benefits are cut, and disadvantaged college students limp to class because they can’t afford health care for their chronic neurological problems, and art and music programs are removed from schools, and teacher’s pay is cut, CEOs who make four hundred and seventy five TIMES what the average worker makes shouldn’t be asked to pay more in taxes.

And this opinion is popular among the masses because ???

I DON’T GET IT!

Sorry, I’ve gone way off on a tangent.

Or maybe not. Tangents seem to be the method of choice by most politicos to deflect actual conversation, actual decisions, actual acts. Better just to talk about stuff, and say a lot of things that don’t matter, or don’t mean anything.

Mitt Romney, today: “If you want a president who wants the United States to be the most powerful nation in the world, I’m your man. If not, well, you have that President already.”

Oh, that.

The questions of a) what makes a country “powerful,” and b) why does the United States have to always be the MOST powerful (isn’t that what kind of pisses off everybody else about us?) remain to be answered.

Maybe tomorrow.

 

29
Sep
11

my day

1. What’s up with needing an invitation to Pinterest? Do they actually do some kind of research or something to make sure you’re not some kind of a rabble rouser or derelict? And how can they tell from my email address? I can just hear the conversation: “She uses comcast; probably a Communist.” Or are they going to evaluate my time-management skills to determine if I can enjoy the site without it destroying my ability to meet the obligations of my employment?

You’ll be relieved to know I’ve been accepted, although it calls to mind Mark Twain’s comment about being reluctant to be a member of a club which would have him as a member.

And this must be done on purpose, right? They aren’t actually that stupid?

Oh, just found out that I can’t join Pinterest without linking it to my facebook account. The Plot Thickens.

And no, thanks. Big Brother watches me enough, thank you. (And just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the world ISN’T out to get you.)

2. Drove an hour to pick up my mom at a meeting place after her last radiation treatment for a brain tumor. Was an hour early because Flaky Me transposed the hour of departure into the hour of arrival. Killed time at a book store that had more gifts than books, but I guess we all do what we have to to survive.

I did seriously consider buying a book of “Good Karma/Bad Karma” checks, but decided that, as entertaining as they were, I probably would never have the nerve to actually use one, although I would have liked to have had something to use on the the gum-chewing, rap-listening teeny-bopper ditz-brain who cut me off (from behind, which is difficult to do) at my last exit. A club might have come in hand. Apparently HER right blinker means she is going into the right lane, but MY right blinker doesn’t. Maybe I should award her a good karma check for her brazen tenacity in getting to that red light one car before me.

Anyway, I bought two promising novels off the remaindered table, for $5.99 apiece. It’s the end of the world as we know it; the fall of the Roman Empire. Combine that with the prospect of Rick Perry as president and I need to either kill myself or move to Canada.

He needs one of those Tshirts

Mom reports that doctor is encouraging re: her desire to donate her body to science, as her prognosis has exceeded the usual prognosis for this type of cancer by about 4 years. Her response is that prayer has made all the difference. Does that mean that the people who died within the first year of their diagnosis weren’t prayed for? Or God didn’t love them? Or the people didn’t pray hard enough? Or God had “some other message,” which, in His infinite wisdom Has Not Yet Been Revealed?

I was a good daughter, and only mentioned the possibility that other people may have been prayed for, too, and then changed the subject to, well, something, I don’t remember. Now I know that her faith gives her a lot of comfort and hope etc., etc., but I just can’t reconcile the whole idea of God healing some people because of prayer and not others. It just doesn’t seem fair to me, and if there is a God, it seems like he ought to be, at the very least, fair.

I then drove 2 hours to meet a friend of hers, who was picking her up to deliver her home. I felt like it was a relay, and she was the baton.

All went well, and only a little behind schedule, and then

3. Waiting for Only Daughter’s choir to finish rehearsing, and this huge storm blows in. Hail, and gale-force winds, and heavy rain and all of the kids are Ooooohing and Aaaaahing and the director is pointing out that there’s no lightning (flash, boom) and no tornado sirens (Weather.com: Severe Thunderstorm Warning) etc. etc. to try to calm everyone down. Six minutes later it’s over.

I get home, and the power’s off.

4. Ate antelope stew from the slow cooker (I know, right?) and then washed the dishes with water from the dehumidifier. Prairie women got nothin’ on me.

5. Listening to NPR on the way home from O.D.’s choir. How cynical are we, that we report, with great aplomb, that the United States Government has seen fit to fund its activities for the next four days.

Sheesh.

The power’s off until just now — 10 p.m.; 3 hours later.

This is typical for our neighborhood.

Only Daughter wonders if maybe we should move.

Now I need to go down and see if I can light the pilot on the water heater without setting my hair on fire. Like I did last time. And no, I wasn’t drunk at the time. They’re long, wussy, matches.

09
Jul
11

Blech

I want to rant about Michelle Bachman and her pandering pledge, or about the ridiculous position of the U.S. government and its inability to recognize that if your budget is in trouble you need to cut spending and raise income, just like the rest of us.

Or maybe about the sputtering economic recovery, the fact that despite our best efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan anti-American sentiment grows, (why? you like the Taliban? you don’t mind that your daughters aren’t allowed to go to school? what?) or that Rupert Murdoch has finally been revealed to be the sneaky, pseudo-journalist skank we always suspected him to be.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn maybe have raped the hotel maid, but she’s a liar and a cheat, so that will be the end of that. And Casey Anthony has been acquitted, despite the fact that her daughter was missing for weeks? months? (the whole thing makes me so nauseous I don’t even have the stomach to research it) and she failed to report it. I might understand not knowing where your toddler is for a minute or two, but beyond that, if you aren’t worried, you’re guilty.

And look at what else I just found. Don’t we live in a wonderful world? Not to mention the man in Grand Rapids who went on a bipolar/cocaine-induced rampage that resulted in him killing two ex-girlfriends, their two children (one of whom was his), one of the girlfriend’s parents, and taking two hostages before killing himself. I’ve already wondered, in a previous blog posting, how he managed to get a gun. My next question is, if you’re this angry/depressed/psychotic, if you must do this, why not turn the gun on yourself first and spare the innocent?

Look at this man, who has just found out that his daughter has been killed. Can you look at that without weeping?

But I’m tired of all this. I know I’ve said this before, and I hate to be Debbie Downer, but enough already?

The Old Testament claims that we were made “in God’s image,” and many of the world’s religious people believe that tragedy and sickness and moral struggles indicate the darkness of our deepest selves, the importance of prayer in controlling our Free Will, an opportunity to do service to the world through acts of redemption and humanitarianism and kindness.

Maybe they’re right, and we’re just not praying hard enough. Or maybe they’re wrong, and there are things we’re supposed to be doing besides feeding our families and putting gas in our cars and complaining about the pants in our closet that don’t fit or how our teenagers stare at screens all day and don’t clean up after themselves.

I think I’m going to go on a news fast. Not sure what I’ll have to blog about. I have teenagers, and pets, work that simultaneously enriches and frustrates me, a husband I love dearly and am grateful for every day. That might be enough.

05
Jul
11

whose rights?

Hundreds of mentally ill people successfully petition the court each year to have their gun rights restored, often after a hearing that lasts less than 5 minutes and which does not always include the judge asking to see written reports from psychiatrists stating that the person has recovered from their mental illness.

Even when it does, the reports might be written by a general practitioner, or a psychiatrist who has just met the petitioner, and has been duped. Often friends and family who can testify to the instability of the petitioner are not questioned. Or the petitioner shows up in court, wearing full camouflage and muttering gibberish to himself, and has his gun rights restored anyway.

Why aren’t these cases being looked at more carefully?

I think the source of some of the problem is that the right to bear arms is a national one, but the regulations relating to the purchase and possession of firearms fall to the states to create and enforce. And states don’t always talk to each other, or mental health facilities don’t share their information with the state or the FBI, or when information is requested from a state or the FBI privacy laws may prevent its disclosure.

Who came up with this system?

And why is it more important to preserve the rights of those with mental illness than is it to preserve the rights of the rest of us not to die a violent death at the hands of someone who may be unable to discern fantasy (i.e. the voices in his head) from reality?

Judge Lookabill “. . .would feel a lot more comfortable if there were more safeguards.” Ya’ think?

There are concerns that this constitutional right must be upheld, and that if people can demonstrate that they have recovered from their mental illness the rest of us don’t have the right to refuse them. But that’s ridiculous. First of all, most mental illnesses seem to be of the chronic sort, and any recovery is more like a remission, and completely dependent on a) the patient staying on their meds and b) no extraneous emotional stresses in the patient’s life. Is the judge going to monitor that somehow? Is the patient going to come back in a few months and say, “Ya’ know, I was feeling pretty good, so I stopped taking my meds, and now I’m unemployed again and my ex-wife won’t let me see my kids because I’m hearing voices of the people that live in the walls of my house, so I think that, given the circumstances, I probably shouldn’t have these weapons available to me right now”?  Somehow I doubt it.

Secondly, I understand that it’s an illness, a disease, so I’m trying to come up with a comparison like a diabetic’s right to eat candy bars or someone in the final stages of lung cancer and their right to continue smoking, but in those cases they are only going to hurt themselves. We’re talking about guns, here. Guns. Guns that they might not only turn on themselves, but guns that are often turned on others: bystanders and coworkers and fellow students and teachers and completely random strangers.

We should be being more careful about this.

The Second Amendment was written right after the revolution, when our ability to become an independent country and write our own constitution and govern ourselves had been challenged and fought for. Any revolutions we want to fight now are supposed to be fought at the ballot box. Is there concern that we might need to fight one again? Maybe the poor and downtrodden, you know, the 90% of the country that holds only 28.5% of the country’s wealth, (are YOU one of the top 10%? I know I’m not) will decide THEY need to take THEIR country back. But somehow I doubt this will happen.

Sigh.

Maybe we should give it back. They took better care of it than we do, and were here first.

Yeah, let’s give it to this guy, he’ll know what to do with it:

(In my quest for the pictures above I ran across this:

Seriously? That’s offensive, reprehensible, irresponsible. Maybe if you want to be taken seriously you should try not to be such a wingnut. Although comparing Obama to Hitler might not interfere with your right to get your gun rights back, the racist implications alone are disturbing, not to mention that Hitler had millions of people killed because of their religious beliefs. So much for that basic right the conservatives are always harping about. And it’s interesting that when I look up Leninism on Wikipedia I find the theory explained that a communist revolution will only occur under a pre-condition of an economically exhausted industrialized nation, so maybe we should keep those gun rights available just in case.)

Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent, not unrelated to what happens when I spend any time at all on youtube.

So. . .

. . .what is it about guns, anyway?  Can someone explain to me the fascination? If you’re not a hunter, or in law enforcement or the military (the last two of which, if no one had guns, we would maybe need less of), what’s the attraction? Can someone explain it to me? I know this is going to make it obvious that I’m a girl, as if you couldn’t tell that already, but I JUST DON’T GET IT.

16
May
11

America Held Hostage

Obama is being held hostage by the Republicans.

I wonder if it would “work” if he let them close the government down — stop paying Medicare, soldiers, interest on the debt — allowing the country to come to a shrieking halt, hopefully, briefly — just long enough for people to realize that the radical Republicans they believe in so firmly aren’t actually looking out for anyone but themselves and big business.

17
Apr
11

tax day

My husband is the “Taxpayer.”
I am the “Spouse.”
Does this mean I don’t have to pay taxes?
Or are we waiting for women to be paid the same amount for the same work, and then both categories will be “Taxpayer”?
Maybe I’m overthinking it.

Oh, and it took 40 minutes and two consultations of the directions online to fill out the 1040 “EZ” for my 17-year-old. I made 3 mistakes that I had to white out, and I’m a reasonably intelligent person. It shouldn’t be that difficult to fill out a form for someone who made $3,600 last year and can’t itemize lunches at Noodles & Co. or purchases from Game Stop.

Can any tax reform enacted include a rule that one shouldn’t need to hire a CPA and pay $20/form to complete even the simplest tax forms? Does anybody really know what terms such as “Amortization” or “Domestic Production Activities Deduction” actually mean?

Do I earn any karma points for being perfectly willing to pay my fair share even if GE doesn’t? And what about my paying my taxes for potholed roads and closing police departments and schools that “my” governor can take over with one of his non-elected Emergency Financial Managers? Guess this crosses over into questions about whether democracy is alive and well in the good ol’ U. S. of A., and maybe that’s a topic for another day.

Gotta go write that check and send it off to Uncle Sam. Or should I have my husband write it, since I’m just the Spouse?

15
Apr
11

If only we always did it my way

“Is it perfect? No. I’d be the first to admit it’s flawed. But welcome to divided government.”
JOHN A. BOEHNER, the speaker of the House, on a measure to finance the government through September.

Today’s “quote of the day” from the New York Times.

Is he actually saying that, if we were governed by a single party, or what the heck, while we’re at it, why not a single person, we could reach ideal solutions to our problems?

Hmmmm. . .how well has that worked out in the past?

What an idiot.

(And if you ask me, I’ll tell you what I really think.)

12
Apr
11

stating the obvious

I get a message much like this almost every day of the week:

Dear MoveOn member,

The fight over our budget is really heating up in X, and your state legislators need to hear from you today.

Governor X’s proposed budget would slash funding for public schools and universities—while cutting taxes for large corporations. But most shocking of all, Gov. X’s budget would push 14,000 children into poverty by repealing the Earned Income Tax Credit—raising taxes on the working poor.

Call your state legislators today. Tell them, “It’s immoral to raise taxes on low-income working families, who are struggling most in this recession. I urge you to vote to protect the Earned Income Tax Credit.”

Do I really have to tell my legislators this? Don’t they know it already? What am I missing here?

And I get so many of these, day in and day out. How many petitions can I click on to sign and still feel like I’m actually accomplishing anything? I thought I was tired because I work too hard, or don’t get enough sleep, or maybe have mono, but maybe I’m just tired of all this.

Posted this on facebook the other day, “borrowed” from someone else:

I’m tired of America being dumbed down. I’m tired of a country who thinks that The Arts should be the first to go. I’m tired of fighting wars instead of teaching our children how to avoid them. I’m tired of a shrinking middle class. I’m tired of corporations and lobbyists running our country. I’m tired of a budget where defense is more important than education. I’m tired of a Nation divided. I’m tired of people texting other when they are sitting next to a real person and not talking to them. Maybe I’m just tired. Period.

31
Mar
11

fasten your seat belts

This country is going to hell in a far-right Republican handbasket.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/opinion/31thu1.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha211

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/opinion/31thu3.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha211

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/opinion/31thu4.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha211

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/education/30professors.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/us/politics/29michigan.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha24

Can anyone explain this shift to the hard right?

Can anyone tell me how to start a revolution? No guns, please.

22
Mar
11

more of life’s persistent questions

Is it a source of concern that the ribbon of toothpaste in the bottom of the sink looks an awful lot like the ribbon of toothpaste probably looked on Only Daughter’s toothbrush?

Does anyone else wonder, after cleaning their bathroom, how it is that anyone still has any hair on their heads?

If First Cat repeatedly escapes, and spends more time with his Other Family than he does here, should we continue to let him back in and feed him?

Why is it that Governor Rick Snyder can overthrow elected officials and install hired “Emergency Managers” without a recall process, but we can’t do the same to him?

Who knew that nutella + banana = pure delicious-ness, and why wasn’t I informed of this sooner?

 

Do some things ever change?

18
Mar
11

Wake Up!

Republicans want to cut taxpayer funding of NPR. They argue that this is in the interests of fiscal responsibility, but the effects of this cut on the budget are negligible at best.

What they really want is to silence the voice of reason, one which presents all sides to the story, a “fair and balanced” view of the world and the events going on in it, rather than the FOX news version.

It’s so much easier to govern the ignorant.

I also worry that it’s yet another step in the efforts to privatize everything. (David Mitchell writes effectively about this in his beautifully-written book Cloud Atlas, although I wish the part about the journalist researching lax safety practices at a nuclear power plant had been “real” rather than “fiction.”) In Michigan, the governor is trying to overturn democracy, all in the name of handling our “financial emergency.” These steps include giving him the right to dis-incorporate towns and take over school districts and turn them over to “financial managers.” Of course, these would be privately-run companies, and there would be no guarantee, for example, that the person put in charge of your school actually has any experience at all in education.

THEY want to take THEIR country back? From who? And so they can give it to the corporations? Are this many of MFA really that stupid? How can these people, middle-class, hardworking people, believe that any representative of the current incarnation of the Republic party is looking out for them? Do we really need to protect the interests of the wealthiest just in case someday you win the lottery and don’t want to pay any taxes on it?

And don’t we all realize that if we prodigiously pollute our planet, and don’t educate our children, and don’t provide basic services for the ill and the poor, we all will pay? That we’re paying already?

I feel like we’re at the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire.

Fire Rick Snyder

16
Mar
11

Politics as usual

This just in.

First comment: 20%? Aww, poor babies. Welcome to the real world.

Second comment: What many are saying: What? You mean he’s going to cut taxes for businesses and pass the cost on to the middle class? You’re kidding! That’s outrageous!!! Let’s go protest and get arrested like we wish we had in the 70s but were too young or well-behaved. What the rest of us say: Well, duh? You’re surprised? You voted for him, what did you expect exactly? Then we shrug our shoulders and go about our insanely-overscheduled lives trying to keep our financial heads above water.

Is it actually possible that they didn’t see it coming?

I know, I know. Of course they didn’t. Alas, the average American just can’t pay attention long enough to make such predictions.

I’m so tired and disillusioned by this, and so many other things, I can think of nothing better to do than to go to bed and hide my head under my pillow.

Maybe by tomorrow it will all go away.

At least we’re not victims of a recent earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster.

That makes it seem so much better.

**************

p.s. What’s the difference between “As if?” and “Who knew?” I think I’ve inadvertently created a redundancy.

11
Jan
11

capitalism, foreclosures, and greed

A real-estate “agent for investors” was apparently a little disgruntled at a recent foreclosed-housing auction at the fact that prices are creeping up, making his clients’ buy-’em-cheap-and-sell-’em-for-more venture a little less profitable.

I think this is shameful.

Never mind the fact that he’s/they’re in the business of throwing people out of their homes; never mind that some banks would rather sell houses at fire-sale prices and lose more money than they would if they helped borrowers restructure their mortgages; never mind that regulations (a term we should all use loosely at this point) relaxed to the point that people who probably could barely pay their car payments were given mortgages for homes way beyond their means, and then allowed to refinance, repeatedly, based on the imaginary increased value of their already-overvalued homes; never mind that the tanking housing market brought the rest of the economy down with it, and one of the things that might turn this economy around once and for all is if people aren’t losing everything they have.

No, we’re supposed to feel sympathy that this man, and the people he represents, who make their living not really doing anything productive for society, just moving “money” around, aren’t able to make as quick or as easy or as big a buck as they did last month.

And what is this: “agent for investors” anyway? I hate to sound like dear-ol’-dad and hearken back to the “good ol’ days,” but weren’t mortgages created to help hard-working people own homes while they still had need for them? I’m reminded of Mr. Potter (the banker, not the wizard) in It’s a Wonderful Life grumbling about how people, (referring to a particular demographic, I believe he called them “garlic eaters”), shouldn’t be allowed to own a home unless they could pay cash for it. The idea that you could invest your money in your home, and have some value out of that investment at the end of your life was a good and noble one; a little appreciation couldn’t hurt either, and it sure beat throwing your your money down the proverbial drain paying rent. But maybe we’ve gone a little too far from the original intent of the home mortgage when people think it’s a good idea to package them up and trade them like baseball cards. It’s MY house, my appreciation, not yours, and I really hate the idea that the interest I’m paying isn’t actually reflecting the cost of the loan, but merely a means of lining other people’s pockets.

As I think about this further, I begin to wonder how many of the difficulties our country faces are, if not created, at least impacted by the fact that most people seem to confuse capitalism with democracy. Obama tries to make sure that we all have the right to one of the fundamental needs of our society, decent, affordable health care, and people hiss “Socialist,” which number one, it’s not, and number two, is it necessarily such a bad thing? Isn’t the Christian moral ethic (you know, the one that so many people seem to be shouting from the rooftops, ramming down people’s throats, and/or using as justification to villify anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with them), built around the idea that we take care of each other? The widow, the orphan, the poor, the disadvantaged. . .  And what about the statement on the statue of liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, I lift my lamp beside the golden door. We presume “she” doesn’t mean give them to me so I can ignore their basic needs and discriminate based on their income.

People also tend to confuse Socialism — a system of economics that acknowledges that all have a duty and responsibility to themselves, their families, and their society, to do their best, and that everyone’s contribution is not only important, but necessary, while at the same time providing basic needs like health care, education, and support for the disadvantaged or the needy; with Communism — a system of economics that believes that people are not capable of the above beliefs and behaviors and therefore such must be regimented and controlled by the government. (It’s ironic, in a way, that early organized religion probably came about for much the same reason. People won’t behave honorably if left to themselves, so let’s create a system of fear, judgment, retribution and reward to control encourage them. Too bad so many atrocious acts are committed in the name of religion, from the genocide of the Old Testament, to the Crusades, the killing of doctors who perform abortions, and the people who feel they have a right to picket funerals declaring that God is happy about their deaths as He punishes this country for its tolerance of homosexuality.)

Hmmmm. I seem to have gone off on a tangent. What was I saying?

Ah, yes, the role of capitalism in society.

Capitalism can be a wonderful thing, especially when it’s a part of society which respects the rights and needs of others and includes recognition that we ARE all family; that what we do, or don’t do, impacts everyone; that what’s best for everyone might not seem, at any particular moment, to be best for one particular person, but ultimately probably is. Until that’s the case (my own personal version of Utopia), regulations are important, as are prudence, fairness, justice, equality of opportunity, and the awareness that the tyranny, pursuit, ethic of the mighty dollar might not be the one on which we want to build humanity.

I’d like to propose that we find a way to get money out of politics, but that’s probably a topic for another day. . .

07
Dec
10

the same thing, over and over and over again

from “The Lacuna,” by Barbara Kingsolver

The, I assume, fictional, lead character is a young man, Harrison Shepherd, half Mexican, half Caucasian, who worked in the household of the artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo when Trotsky lived with them, in hiding from Stalin. Harrison writes, in 1946, from South Carolina, to Diego, reporting on the nature of politics in the U.S.:

“So that is the report you asked for, not entirely good. Our newsmen mostly reviled the ‘worker’s rebellion.’ Politics here now resemble a pillow fight. Lacking the unifying slogan (Win the War), our opposing parties sling absurd pronouncements back and forth, which everyone pretends carry real weight. How the feathers fly. The newsmen leap on anything, though it’s all on the order of, ‘Four out of five shoppers know this is the better dill pickle,’ assertions that can’t be proven but sway opinion. ‘Dance for the crowd’ is the new order, with newsmen leading the politicians like bears on the leash. Real convictions would be a hindrance. The radio is at the root of the evil, their rule is: No silence, ever. When anything happens, the commentator has to speak without a moment’s pause for gathering wisdom. Falsehood and inanity are preferable to silence. You can’t imagine the effect of this. The talkers are rising above the thinkers.”

Hmmm. . .sounds familiar. . .

03
Nov
10

sigh

I don’t even know where to begin.

I’m so disappointed.

I can’t help but wonder if it hasn’t occurred to MFA that if corporations are so interested in supporting the Republican party, maybe the Republican party isn’t all that interested in the needs and desires of the average American PERSON.

We’re “taking the country back.” From ?

How is it that our attention span is so insertexpletivehere short that we think the best solution to our problems is to vote DEMOCRATS out of office?

Bush Jr. and the Republicans got us into this mess —

Deregulation: which allowed many of MFA to be in mortgages they couldn’t afford, or refinance mortgages to buy stuff they couldn’t afford, which artificially drove up housing prices to the breaking point. Now many of MFA owe more on their house than it is worth.

Taxes are cut to the point that education budgets are cut. But what MFA don’t seem to realize is that WE STILL PAY. Either the schools don’t do what we need them to do, or we write checks for every activity our child participates in from a physics lab to a football team to Drama class and have to mortgage our, or their, future to pay for our children’s college educations.

The costs of health insurance rise and rise and rise; and in the interests of the “market” insurance companies are allowed to decide who and what they will and won’t pay for in the name of “Health Maintenance”.

Exhibit A:  I had a cyst at the base of my brain for 2 years, undiagnosed for 1, ignored for another, and was denied access to ANY other health care network until I had made my way through every neurologist and neurosurgeon in the practice and finally found one that deemed it suitable to actually OPERATE ON IT. (It solved the constant dizziness and buzzing in my head; thanks for asking.) Meanwhile my very young children were two years older, and I lost two years of my life as a contributing member of society.

Exhibit B: A very good friend of mine, who finally has insurance after years without it, has just received a hospital bill for $5,000 for a few hours of treatment in an emergency room for a kidney stone. Her insurance isn’t paying because she also had one a year or two ago so it’s a “preexisting condition.”  What’s to keep them from denying care on fibroid tumors, genetically-related breast cancer, heart disease? These are all, in some form, preexisting conditions.

Exhibit C: My husband has high cholesterol, but our insurance doesn’t pay for his blood work because they call it “screening.” So we pay out of pocket, or we hope the Crestor is doing its job.

The Republican health care plan: don’t get sick; if you do, die quickly.

If Americans are polled, they agree with each element of the new health-care plan. If asked what should be the most important thing for the new Congress to do, it’s to repeal the new health-care plan.

It’s insertexpletivehere hopeless. I give up.

It actually kind of makes sense: what intelligent, sane, reasonable person, would be interested in running the country in any capacity?

15
Oct
10

politics and the “media”

I am still kind of in shock that the Supreme Court has ruled that companies can give money freely to political candidates in the name of free speech. At least now I know that I am not the only one who thinks that the money polluting our political system is the biggest obstacle to true democracy. And any illusion of Fox News being “fair and balanced” has to be put to rest — unless they want to hire 4 of the top 5 Democratic candidates and give them equal air time. What are the chances of that do you suppose?  We’re being bought and sold, lied to and manipulated, all in the name of capitalism and (irony alert) free speech. That is, if you call millions of dollars in ads, salaries, consulting fees and donations “free.”

What are we going to do about it?

Op-Ed Columnist

Paul Krugman

Fear and Favor

A note to Tea Party activists: This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine that you’re starring in “The Birth of a Nation,” but you’re actually just extras in a remake of “Citizen Kane.”

 

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

True, there have been some changes in the plot. In the original, Kane tried to buy high political office for himself. In the new version, he just puts politicians on his payroll.

I mean that literally. As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn’t currently holding office and isn’t named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News. Now, media moguls have often promoted the careers and campaigns of politicians they believe will serve their interests. But directly cutting checks to political favorites takes it to a whole new level of blatancy.

Arguably, this shouldn’t be surprising. Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultrawealthy families.

And these organizations have long provided havens for conservative political figures not currently in office. Thus when Senator Rick Santorum was defeated in 2006, he got a new job as head of the America’s Enemies program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank that has received funding from the usual sources: the Koch brothers, the Coors family, and so on.

Now Mr. Santorum is one of those paid Fox contributors contemplating a presidential run. What’s the difference?

Well, for one thing, Fox News seems to have decided that it no longer needs to maintain even the pretense of being nonpartisan.

Nobody who was paying attention has ever doubted that Fox is, in reality, a part of the Republican political machine; but the network — with its Orwellian slogan, “fair and balanced” — has always denied the obvious. Officially, it still does. But by hiring those G.O.P. candidates, while at the same time making million-dollar contributions to the Republican Governors Association and the rabidly anti-Obama United States Chamber of Commerce, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox, is signaling that it no longer feels the need to make any effort to keep up appearances.

Something else has changed, too: increasingly, Fox News has gone from merely supporting Republican candidates to anointing them. Christine O’Donnell, the upset winner of the G.O.P. Senate primary in Delaware, is often described as the Tea Party candidate, but given the publicity the network gave her, she could equally well be described as the Fox News candidate. Anyway, there’s not much difference: the Tea Party movement owes much of its rise to enthusiastic Fox coverage.

As the Republican political analyst David Frum put it, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox” — literally, in the case of all those non-Mitt-Romney presidential hopefuls. It was days later, by the way, that Mr. Frum was fired by the American Enterprise Institute. Conservatives criticize Fox at their peril.

So the Ministry of Propaganda has, in effect, seized control of the Politburo. What are the implications?

Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that when billionaires put their might behind “grass roots” right-wing action, it’s not just about ideology: it’s also about business. What the Koch brothers have bought with their huge political outlays is, above all, freedom to pollute. What Mr. Murdoch is acquiring with his expanded political role is the kind of influence that lets his media empire make its own rules.

Thus in Britain, a reporter at one of Mr. Murdoch’s papers, News of the World, was caught hacking into the voice mail of prominent citizens, including members of the royal family. But Scotland Yard showed little interest in getting to the bottom of the story. Now the editor who ran the paper when the hacking was taking place is chief of communications for the Conservative government — and that government is talking about slashing the budget of the BBC, which competes with the News Corporation.

So think of those paychecks to Sarah Palin and others as smart investments. After all, if you’re a media mogul, it’s always good to have friends in high places. And the most reliable friends are the ones who know they owe it all to you.

05
Oct
10

Stem-Cell Research and Flawed Logic

Apparently the decision not to allow federal money to be spent on the destruction of embryonic stem cells has been upheld. While the author of the above quoted article is happy about this because it shows “proper judicial restraint,” I find the news troubling and disappointing.

Valuable research has been thwarted, research that could possibly lead to cures for many debilitating, if not fatal, diseases, all in the name of not spending federal money in the course of the destruction of embryos. If you want to throw them in the trash, that’s fine. Just don’t spend any federal money on them.

That makes sense.

Then there are the people who believe that the embryos can’t be destroyed because they are life.

If that’s the case, every single embryo that is created needs to be implanted into the mother and brought to term. It’s not going to happen. That means you need to ban in-vitro fertilization; which probably means you should ban birth control. I mean, isn’t every egg and sperm potentially life? What right do I have to prevent God’s work from being done in my life? Does this mean that God’s plan is for us to continue overpopulating this planet until we bleed it dry sooner rather than later?

I seem to hear a Monty Python clip playing in the background:

Or is it Cher singing “If I Could Turn Back Time?”

23
Sep
10

Time for the Truth

We can’t afford to roll our eyes in frustration and limit our rants to preaching to the choir. The truth must be out, and we must out it. The Tea Party and hard-core Republicans want to “take back America,” and are attempting to do so by exploiting the worst in MFA through lies and insinuation. And from whom? The people who are holding the financial and mortgage industries accountable? Or the people who want to make sure that you can’t be denied health insurance because you have a preexisting condition? (Hell, if you’re alive, chances are you have a preexisting condition. Maybe you just haven’t had to change jobs since it was discovered. Heaven help you if you do.)

We can’t afford to play nice and avoid having difficult conversations with people who can’t bother to be informed before running off at the mouth. And we have to stop protecting the rights of the privileged and the wealthy in the hopes that one day we might be one of them. If you’re middle class now, you’re probably going to be middle class until the day you die. The way the economy looks, you’re probably looking at the first generation where your children are NOT going to be better off than you were. What are you protecting exactly? Their right to avoid inheritances taxes on the $17,000 in cash and twice-mortgaged house you leave behind?

According to Wikipedia, “. . .in 2004, the wealthiest 25% of US households owned 87% . . .of the country’s wealth, while the bottom quartile held no net wealth at all. The middle 50% of the country held 13% . . . of the total household net wealth. . .

In addition to unequal wealth distribution, it is also difficult for individuals in the lower income distributions to gain economic mobility which inhibits their ability to accumulate wealth. . .The Panel Study of Income Dynamics shows how stratification is becoming worse and worse since 1984. The lowest percentile has become worse, and the highest percentile has become wealthier. The fifth percentile has dropped further into negative net worth, while the 90th percentile has gained over four hundred points within the last twenty one years.

Yeah, let’s protect them.

Meanwhile, let’s also forget the principles on which this country is founded: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness; freedom of expression, religion, opportunity.

They’ve got one thing right: I don’t think it says anything in there anywhere about the truth.

07
Sep
10

National ADD

Apparently the Democrats are fearing many potential lost seats in the upcoming midterm elections. The theory is that MFA are unhappy with the state of the union (so to speak), and hold Obama and his party responsible.

Is our attention span really this short? Criminy.

03
Sep
10

BP Says Limits on Drilling Imperil Oil Spill Payouts

Of course they do.

It’s very important that they a) find somebody else to blame and b) make sure that “somebody else” is the Democrats so they can help return people to office who don’t give a flying you-know-what what people do as long as they’re making huge profits and feeding MFA’s lust for oil.

Like they don’t have any money in the bank or something.

Haven’t the oil companies made record profits every year since the year we were paying $4 a gallon for gas? Maybe BP can take up a collection.

27
Aug
10

Politics, Religion and the Truth

Apparently the willful ignorance of MFA continues to spread. We could spend a lot of time talking about the failures of our educational systems — the results being a citizenry who for the most part lack both a sense of responsibility about being informed and an ability to differentiate between a reputable news source (New York Times, Washington Post) and a disreputable one (Fox News, [irony alert] random blogs on the internet, Rush Limbaugh). We are also surrounded by people who harbor a general philosophy which prioritizes emotion and faith belief over fact. Another discussion could ensue as to whether the demise of so many reputable news sources is a cause of this or an effect; I would venture to propose the latter.

Unfortunately for all of us, politicians have decided that they are better served exploiting these shortcomings than dealing with all of us honestly and informatively. The short attention spans encouraged by network news programs, papers like USA Today, and the proliferation of sound bytes over substance only make things worse.

Meanwhile, 46% of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim and that he is responsible for both the failings of the financial system and the TARP program designed to bail it out.

To the first belief, I ask, who cares? and to the second, how hard are “you” working to remain in the dark about the actual happenings of the country in which you live?

The fact that he must repeatedly emphasize that he is a Christian is disturbing in a country that was founded on the belief that religion and governance should have nothing to do with each other.

In a related story, many continue to protest the proposed building of a mosque in the phantom shadow of the World Trade Center. Again, was this country not founded on the very principle of free practice of any, or no, religion? The same people that make the argument that “guns don’t kill people, people do” can’t seem to translate that into the possibility that all of Islam might not be the villain here. We should blame all of Islam for 9/11 like we blame Christians for the Crusades or all Germans for the Holocaust?

Those freedoms that are villified among practicers of radical Islam are those which we as a country should value and treasure and protect most vehemently: to live where and how we choose within the confines of universal principles of right and wrong; to worship (or not) the God of our choosing; to elect our own leaders; for women to work and drive and vote and marry who they desire and live without fearing death by stoning or clitoral circumcision or being sold into slavery or forced into marriage at the age of 11; in addition to that we need to recognize a moral obligation to treat all citizens of the world with the dignity and fairness and respect which we accord each other.

We fail at this, miserably, over and over again. We should all be ashamed.

24
Jul
10

New Dollar Coin

Received this email:

dollar coin

in my inbox today; it has been forwarded several times (Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:) and the original sender is unknown to me, but the fact that it has been sent to me as part of a mass mailing to dozens by the sister of my sister-in-law signifies its possible virulence.

(I have preserved the original grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. I have reduced the size of the largest fonts, but suffice it to say, I felt several times as if I were being electronically shouted at.)

I would like to take a moment to deconstruct this person’s arguments:

1. I resent the implication that I am  a “True American” only if I share your religious beliefs.

2. What has begun exactly? (Paranoid, party of ???)

3. You don’t have to repeat yourself. Telling me to do something based on a specious argument and then repeating it two more times does not make it more convincing, unless maybe you’re talking to a moron.

4. No, I didn’t guess it. I had no idea what your point could possibly be.

5. Maybe you could explain to me what exactly trusting in God has to do with our method, and use, of currency?

6. Don’t instruct me to “send it on to everyone”; if I think something is worthy of passing on, I am perfectly capable of making that decision for myself. But oh, that’s right, you think you’re talking to a moron.

7. You are perfectly free to trust in God every day; does this mean that if you aren’t reminded by the miniscule writing on a coin you might forget?

8. Your writing sucks. You have poor grammar, make persistently poor use of punctuation, and don’t even bother to proof something that you obviously hope everyone in the country will read. If your ridiculous argument didn’t reduce your credibility to zero, this will certainly do the job.

Is the argument really that the only way we can be unified is by a consistent belief in the same version of an Almighty Deity? If that’s true, then we’re doomed, as community, country, species.

Our versions and visions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, fairness, decency, and community can only be based on the recognition that we ARE already community — that what’s good for everyone is ultimately what’s good for us, that if we don’t look out for and take care of each other we have no hope for our future, that our survival depends not only on our individual abilities and intelligence and opportunities but on our variety of strengths and experiences, on our interdependence as well as our awareness and appreciation of it. Can YOU feed yourself? clothe yourself? keep yourself warm in the winter and safe from the elements and disease without the help of many other people? Do you know the faith of the person who raised the chicken you ate for dinner last night? or who wove the cloth that made the shirt on your back? If your child’s teacher is smart and compassionate and kind does it matter if the church they go to is a synagogue or a mosque or the woods?

I have some dollar coins in the change drawer in my car. I don’t have one with me right now to look at to see if it actually says “In God We Trust” or not. What I really can’t see, no matter how hard I look, is how it can possibly matter.

28
Jun
10

What?

Can someone please explain to me what she’s talking about? And how is it that she can seem to be reading from a prepared speech and still be completely incoherent? I’ve heard better speeches from middle-schoolers running for “office.”

The best part is when she compares the tragic death of a woman protester on the streets of Tehran to students (oh wait, I’m speaking to students, crap, I mean) political operatives, “not students necessarily” (phew! good save! that was close!) “dumpster diving” to “prove that someone requested a bendy straw.”

What?

Oh, wait, she clears it all up in her next statements, when she asks whether these same students might make a better use of their time addressing their president in protest, rather than protesting her appearance at Conservative U. Oh! So political freedoms, rights of free speech, and personal obligation to the above are important ideals, but only if used in support of HER agenda. I get it. Thank you so much for clarifying.

I guess she’s proven one point: if a woman of her caliber can make it this far in the political realm of the good ol’ U S of A, anything is possible.

Sheesh.

24
May
10

Conflict of Interest? or Business as Usual?

Perhaps you’d like to sit down before you read this:  It has recently come to the attention of journalists at the NY Times that there may be conflicts of interest inherent in our political system.

I know this may come as a shock to anyone who has spent the past 100 years at the bottom of a mineshaft. But to the rest of us, well, Duh?

As long as our system of campaigning persists, where a massive amount of money is spent for political advertising over extended periods, what hope do we have? Politicians need to make money, lobbyists and powerful corporations want to have their voices heard, and nothing speaks louder than a check for a large sum. Rather than merely paying lip service to the idea of, and assuming we really want a government of, equal representation, (not just on a state level but on an individual one), this part of the process needs to change.

I propose we adopt a Canadian system, which limits the amount of money that can be spent, and which therefore encourages substance, frugality, and efficiency throughout.

16
May
10

Howard Zinn on World Issues and Elections

In our election-obsessed culture, everything else going on in the world–war, hunger, official brutality, sickness, the violence of everyday life for huge numbers of people–is swept out of the way while the media covers every volley of the candidates. Thus, the superficial crowds out the meaningful, and this is very useful for those who do not want citizens to look beyond the surface of the system. Hidden by the contest of the candidates are real issues of race, class, war, and peace, which the public is not supposed to think about.

from “Tennis on the Titanic”

Agree? or disagree?

Discuss.


30
Apr
10

Independent Parties

Gov. Charlie Crist announced Thursday that he is leaving the Republican party to run independently for the United States Senate.

I’d like to see more of this.

Our two-party political system just isn’t working for this country. As the article points out, the campaign strategy consists of two stages: move far to the right or left to secure your party base, and then to the center as you near election day to try to secure all those people in the middle. The result is hypocrites as our elected leaders, and an increasingly polarized electorate; extremism takes over, and nothing gets accomplished while people on dramatically opposite sides shout sound bites and wave their fists at each other.

English parliament has representatives from 12 parties; Italy 17; France 4; in Canada 4 are currently represented in the House of Commons, with 15 other parties registered with Elections Canada.

Do we really believe that what this country needs can be represented by one of two parties? That’s like saying there is the need for only two religions: Judaism and Catholicism. Everything else is just a subset, right?

(And yes, for those who wonder, I also think we need to revamp the electoral system. The current one was devised when only landed, white, educated men could vote. Patchwork amendments are just not doing it anymore. And while we’re at it, how about we look at the constitution as a mission statement and stop treating it like it’s the Holy Word?)

06
Apr
10

Toyota, in Trouble

The United States government has issued a $16.4 million fine on Toyota for failing to notify the United States consumers about sticking accelerator pedals as soon as it could/should have.

They are also seeking a fine for the failure of a warning light to come on to indicate a problem with the emissions system which may result in a car sending too much pollution into the atmosphere.

Anyway, we all hope that these are legitimate fines for legitimate reasons, and not the United States’ method of ensuring success for American car makers because they can’t compete otherwise. Because, we all know, American car makers have demonstrated repeatedly their commitment to making good, clean cars which meet our needs while preserving our natural resources, and deserve to be given a fair shake. 




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