Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My parents, birthdays and love

Last week on Thanksgiving Day was my Stepdad's birthday. He turned 74. Today is my Mom's 77th birthday. Happy birthday to then both.

And my Stepmom turns 71 on December 13. My two Moms are the most beautiful, giving women I know. Both are fiercely maternal and each would do anything for their children. Mom has six kids, my Stepmom has four. I have fantastic childhood memories of them both.

My Dad passed away when I was 27. He was 47. He would have been 79 on November 8th. 

I cannot imagine life without these four people. I love you all.

White House government slum housing


So the Donald is making noise, whining about being forced to live in that shack we all know as the White House.

Too low brow, I assume?

Oh. Wait, right. It is government housing, don't ya know? A black man lived in it after all.

So he wants to spend as much time as possible in Trump Tower. This, of course, means the Secret Service whose job it is to protect the new resident and his family will have to rent apartments in Trump Tower so they can be as close to them as possible.

I don't know how many of you have been in the White House. I have. It is beautiful, as it should be. The president's quarters are every bit as extravagant in which we would like for our President to reside. But evidently not good enough for the Donald.

Now, think about this for a minute. The man who has not paid a dime in income taxes for the past 20 years is going to charge the government for the right to protect him because it is too inconvenient, too low brow for him to live in the people's home, the one that has been good enough for every President since 1801. 

It has been estimated it will cost more than a million dollars a day to host Secret Service agents in the Trump Tower. So much for a smaller, more efficient, less costly government.

Way to go, voters. Ever classy. If only the Electoral College had enough of a conscience and courage to refuse to confirm the election results.

Come January I will still be saying "not my President." It sure is going to be a long four years.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I got mine

Funny thing, a good deal of the Americans who elected the Donald did so with the thought and the hopes that as an outsider, he will bring about a new attitude in Washington. You were promised change. Be that it as it may, you can bet your salary that that is not what we are going to get.

You wanted an outsider? Yet the House of Representatives and the Senate was anything but a change. The changes we are in for are far from what the middle class wanted nor deserve. What we will see when the new Congress convenes is more of the same.

With the Republicans seemingly holding the cards in the White House, the House and the Senate, Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP are salivating, giddy even, over the prospects of destroying Social Security, the only safety net that millions of Americans have. The GOP now will have the ability to severely impair Medicare and Medicaid... and of course, the Affordable Care Act. 

The question is, why? Why do this? Only someone who is blind cannot see that GOP plays slave to corporations, to the banks, to big oil and to we the people, we are remembered only as an afterthought come election season.

So the millions of Americans who previously had no access to adequate health care and then received it with the birth of the ACA, can now expect to be tossed out on their asses. The GOP made it plain from day one, and after 50 some attempts to destroy the program, that insuring millions of Americans was never their concern.

No one denies that the ACA is flawed. During the campaign season, Mrs. Clinton said the same, so did Senator Sanders. They had a plan to implement a fix. The GOP, on the other hand, have no plan... other than screw us all.

The party of small government never quite succeed at that. So many of them forget their roots.

Does anyone even remember that Paul Ryan's education was paid by his father's social security survivor benefits? Can you say "I got mine?"

Hypocrisy much?

Environmental law? The GOP has never met a coal power plant that they didn't like. During the eight years that President Obama has been in office there has been a concerted effort to develop new energy sources. Clean energy. Solar, wind, harness the ocean's waves and currents to generate electricity.

What does the GOP have to say about wind turbines? "They kill birds." Might I ask exactly what does coal dust spread far and wid by the winds do to the environment? And on a much larger scale? Let's not forget that coal dust also affects the health of millions of Americans... animals too.

The GOP has already made it plain that environmental protection laws will no longer fly. They plan to dramatically curtail the power of the EPA. In other words, the GOP is going to open the doors wide open to the oil, gas, natural gas, and coal lobbyists, "They're ba--ack!"

Yeah, Trump promised he was "going to drain the swamp." I guess lobbyists weren't part of that crowd. Special interests are going to rule once again.

You want clean water? Shall we forget that it was Republican Governor Rick Snyder that poisoned thousands of Flint, Michigan residents? And like all good Republicans, he has not faced a single charge... he probably will not either.

Each day we are hearing news of who is being considered for cabinet appointments in the Trump White House and the news gets worse with every passing day.

In the opening years of the President Obama administration, he often reluctantly mentioned the mess he inherited from Dubya's eight years. Ask and Republican and they would admonish the president to stop whining, stop laying the blame at President Bush's feet. 

Never mind that the party of no made up their mind on the day after Obama's election that they would drag their feet on every single thing President Obama suggested. Their plan? To make President Obama a one-term president.

Thankfully, President Obama did not play their game.

Now eight years later, come January, President Obama will be handing over the keys to the White House to a pretender, a con man and a cheat. Trump will inherit an America in dramatically better shape than the one President Obama assumed.

If Americans feel that things have not happened quickly enough, one should remind them that Rome was not rebuilt in a day.

Consider this: 15 million more Americans are now working than at the lows of the great recession our country has known in more than 80 years. 14 million Americans now have health care insurance who did not before. Detroit's auto industry still exists. Have people forgotten in the opening days of Obama's presidency the auto industry was on the verge of collapse.

Countless other wonderful things have happened in the past eight years, yet somehow the GOP masterfully painted a picture of gloom and doom, repeatedly painting a picture of gloom. Remembering that a lie told often must be the truth. 

It boggles the mind... and the heart.

So as we approach the January inauguration, President Obama is going to present the White House to a man undeserving, unprepared and most of all, unfit for highest office of the land.

President Obama is going to hand over a better America with the knowledge the GOP is going to do everything they can to destroy his legacy.

I'd like to think the American people are smarter than this, but then look who they elected two weeks ago and at the time of this writing, resident-elect Trump lost the popular vote by more than 1.3 million Americans. Try as he may to convince us otherwise, Trump received no mandate and the GOP has no right to destroy the good work President Obama accomplished these past eight years. 

So what can we expect from a Trump residency? Tax cuts proportionately larger for the rich. Less environmental regulation. Less regulatory oversight in business affairs. The GOP will try to pass legislation that will allow religious concerns to trump over personal rights and we should expect little help to the average middle class or poor American. Laws benefiting corporate interests with little regard to worker's right.

Remember how the Bush tax cuts to the rich would result in more jobs? Me either? In the waning days of Dubya's second term, malaise had set in the signs were on the wall. Unemployment was beginning to increase. The housing and banking debacle was a dam waiting to burst, and the promise of good jobs never materialized. 

And now the GOP wants us to forget those days. They want to revisit those failed policies. Believe me, change is coming, but not to the middle class--at least not change we can live with.

Get used to it, folks. The new trickle down economics is going to back soon enough and it's not going to be pretty. Mark my words, come mid-term elections in 2018, the American people will realize they have been duped. Hopefully, the GOP will not have destroyed the hard work of the masses.

But then, the GOP believes, if one closely scrutinized their actions, "I got mine (fuck you, now get out!)."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Quacks like a duck

A recent internet article took we readers to task for relying on faux news sites. Problem is, some of these sites are so expert, so convincing, that it is difficult to discern the real from the fake.

Sites such as Occupy Democrats, Addicting Info, USUncut, Newslo, Blue Nation Review, and then the same type from the far right. 

They all have an agenda; they all have an audience, and they all want you to share their point of view. And they want you.

I have become concerned that too many of us are relying on false news sites in favor of the more traditional newsrags. I have been addressing this exact same article on my Facebook page over the course of the past few days. 

I used to frequent a number of the sites I listed above. I have backed off on trusting them big time. Why? Because after realizing I was being expertly duped and no one likes feeling that way, I decided to give these sites less credence.

As a former Navy journalist for 21 years, I should have known better. 

I have always prided myself for permitting differing point of views on my Facebook page and encourage intelligent discourse. Offer your side, but do so with tact and intelligence.

In recent times, I have gotten burned a number of times using articles from "news sites" that turned out to be false. One has to wonder if too many of us fell prey to this and became complacent in regards to the recent presidential election.

Bad on me for not verifying their stories, but ya know, if it is on the internet, you know, it must be true. I am fond of using the adage "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck."

On the internet, this adage can be further from the truth. What looks like the news, can all too often not be factual, but it is way too easy to write something, use quotes and give the appearance of "just the facts, ma'am."

These days, if you insist on using such sites, you can either: take your chances that every word they say is true, or use their sites selectively but verify the stories first. Sadly, this is becoming increasingly difficult.

We all look for news sites out there that share our point of view. And some of the sites on the list in the article are right down my alley, and I know for certain there are plenty out there for those of an opposing frame of mind.

My advice these days? Do your research. Sure, it's not as fast, in this day and age, it's so easy to "share" with the click of a button. I know, who wants to take the time? Who wants to spend the extra effort? Unless you want to wipe egg off your face, the answer should be "you do."

If extra effort takes time, so what? Slow down. If a news story is really the news, it will still be there after you've looked for some alternate reputable sources to verify. The old phrase "go ahead. I'll wait" nicely applies here.

I wholeheartedly endorse using the old tried and true news sources, ones that didn't appear overnight with the advent of internet news. I'm talking Newsweek, Time Magazine, the BBC, Aljazeera, the Guardian, the New York Times, NPR, PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and even USA Today.

What about that damned liberal media? Hate to say it but for the most part, aside from MSNBC and Fox News, there really is no such thing.

News organizations are in the business of making money. Let's face it, Americans are not all that liberal (sadly). If all news organizations were a part of that liberal left wing agenda, and they presented all of their articles with that slant, they'd lose money after alienating the masses, their customers.

Sure, some of the news sites publish articles with a leftist slant, but for every left-ish article, I'd bet my meager salary that there are 8 more that have a conservative... or even *shudder* a middle of the road approach.

One of my brothers recently told me I should get my nose out of relying on CNN. I had to laugh as I do not have cable. I've been disgusted with CNN for quite some time. I find them nearly as objectionable as Fox News.

Are they slanted? I suppose so (most definitely MSNBC and Fox). Every site has an agenda, but the old-school news organizations didn't get where they are without some foundation in pursuing the truth (which seems to be increasingly harder to discern). 

Remember, these faux news sites' mission is to inflame the reader. Coerce. Influence. 

Another of my brothers is fond of saying, "look at the facts." Funny thing is, some facts are not facts; my facts are not your facts; etc. Any fact can be twisted to the way you want. 

All facts are just laying around waiting for a good spin doctor. Tell me you have not seen an event covered by both the Democrats and the Republicans. You can bet your life the stories they tell will not remotely resemble one another.

And if you want to go it alone and present your own opinion, I'd suggest you read. Read a lot... and then read some more... and not just everything that agrees with your point of view. If you want to come across intelligently, read things that challenge your point of view.

I work in a rather well known bookstore chain. Whenever I see someone buying an anti-full-in-the-blank book, I want to tell them I will not sell them that book unless they agree to buy one that posits the opposite (of course, that would get me fired). The funny thing is, if I were to follow my own advice, I guess that would mean I need to read some books from Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck, a proposition that even I find hard to stomach.

So my advice? Use the old school journalists. Verify, verify, verify. Don't assume. The old brick and mortar news sites have a duty to present the news responsibly. Let's face it, we know where they live. Can you say that about internet news?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

An Uncivil War?

So I get a text message tonight from one of my brothers (I have seven brothers so I'll let him remain nameless) that "my ass beat your bitch. ha ha."

Seriously? Can we be any more mature?

I just do not think my family understands how betrayed I feel by their vote for Trump. They act like this is all one big laugh. One big joke.

Yeah, funny. Why am I not laughing?

We now have a new resident-elect of the United States who told America he is going to appoint judges that will overturn gay marriage equality. He has a vice resident-elect who thinks it is okay to apply shock treatment to gay teens (maybe adults too) to "turn them straight." His VR-elect tried to pass laws here in Indiana that made it legal for businesses to discriminate against gay citizens.

Is it any stretch of the imagination to think that if marriage equality will be under attack, is job security also in further endangered?

AND my family thinks I should be happy, understanding even, for this man who is one of the least (if not the least) qualified presidents EVER... and to get there, he tapped into the anger, the intolerance, the bigotry, even misogyny of millions of Americans who ganged up together to vote for this horrible man.

Does this make me feel like my family cares one little bit about this family member? Even after a few comments to the contrary. Not really.

I'm sorry. But I am supremely disappointed in my family.

We have heard talk from politicians this week that we, as Americans, must work together to heal our differences. But how do we heal families torn apart by this man?