Saturday, December 28, 2013

You'd Be Depressed, Too

Did you hear the press?  The President seemed depressed when he left for vacation.  No kidding!  Do you wonder why?  What's that expression?  "They were on that like white on rice".  Isn't that a good description of reaction to every move he makes?  If the Republicans don't think of something to gloat about, the media makes up the words and puts them in their heads.  Ladies and gentlemen, he can't run again.  Wage your presidential race against another guy or gal.

It took a lot of courage to become the first black President.  Whoever did it was going to take a lot of flak just because he was the first black president.  What he and those of us who voted for him didn't realize is that he was going to be expected to be the first perfect president as well.  I'd be depressed, too.  So would you.

And look what happens to him when he takes a moment out of the horror to joke around with officials from other countries.  The press turns it into marital discord.  Whew!  There is nothing sacred to these roving commentators and cameramen, is there?

I hope you will all let him have a decent vacation so he can get some rest and prepare himself for the next onslaught from all of us.  Why don't you all take a rest from criticizing and gloating, too?

All you presidential hopefuls, think about the future moves you make.  They say that what goes around comes around.  Is this the kind of treatment you want?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

To Fence Or Not To Fence?

In an earlier article in this blog, I committed a kind of heresy by asking if we really need fences to keep out illegal immigrants.  It was more of a rhetorical than a real question.  Obviously in this era of terrorism, "no fences" would not be possible.  But, the rhetorical discussion is still important.  You see, we have a good number of American people who want to use illegals to do labor that many Americans see as distasteful.  Even during President George W. Bush's administration, he and some of his advisers wanted to offer opportunities for Hispanics to cross into our country on temporary work status, with the expectation they would return home once the work was through.  The latter is somewhat laughable unless the workers were treated like a chain gang or something similar.  And this came from a Republican administration -- you know, the Republicans who want to build stronger fences and hire more guards.  Why would they break with the traditions of their own party?  Probably because people from Texas and other Southwestern states know the value of having such people available to get the work done.

Then, on the other hand, we have some of us bleeding heart liberals who want to offer amnesty to them every few years.  "Oh, the poor people.  They've been here so long, we shouldn't make them go back."  Then there are the people who see it as too expensive to arrest and send them all back.

Not only are the various parties of differing opinions concerning these matters.  I believe that individual Americans are indecisive within themselves.  It may be time for all Americans to have a showdown with themselves.  Do the majority of Americans want Mexican, other Hispanics, Asians, Canadians, etc. to continue flocking to our country?

If the answer is no, then perhaps we should spend several times the current expenditure on firmer fences and many more guards.  But if that is the majority opinion, then otherwise conservative voters are going to have to quit hiring illegals and some U. S. citizens are going to have to work the less desirable jobs.  If the answer is yes, then we may need to lessen the security -- perhaps just check to see if the people entering may be terrorists.

There once was a method or reason for the madness of immigration laws.  People came by the boatload to Ellis Island where their papers were inspected.  They were quarantined until it became evident if they had any diseases that might threaten citizens, natural born or legal immigrants.  Some sort of controls were exercised.  Potential terrorists couldn't race over and race back.  Numbers could be controlled of people headed for various parts of the country.  Backgrounds could be checked before someone became a problem, not just after.

The old expression -- there ought to be a law -- may not be pertinent.  However, we ought to enforce our laws is very apropos.  Coming to this country without permission and not following legal procedure is breaking United States law.  Breaking our law is, duh, a crime.  People who break laws are criminals.  So, you expect us to turn our heads and let you break our laws?  How many more do you plan to disregard?  Will the others include robbery, violent crime, murder?  How can we tell that?  How can we trust you?

Perhaps it is time to force our hands.  How many United States citizens want illegal immigrants here?  How many don't?  How many actually know what they want?

Maybe you have a favorite immigrant in your neighborhood like I have.  This is my very favorite neighbor.  But is he/she here legally?  I don't know.  Perhaps the best neighbors in your apartment building are immigrants or children of immigrants.  Mine are.  Would you want to lose them in an all out deportation process? 

There are a lot of serious decisions we need to make.  Until we have made them, this country is going to continue handling immigration in this wishy-washy way.  And we need to compare the good immigrants with the bad.  An old neighborhood of mine now houses an Hispanic gang complete with several murders in the last few years.  How can we control this if we don't even know who lives in the neighborhood?

Perhaps before Congress spends any megabucks on locking people out and patrolling all borders to keep them out, they might ask the American public what they want.  Don't use polls that can be manipulated by where you ask your questions or how you ask them.  Congress, why don't you consider the legality of putting it to the test by putting questions on the next Presidential ballot?  Would it be legal to take an actual popular vote to determine the hearts and minds of the American public?  Then go with whatever a true majority of Americans want and quit this bickering back and forth.  It needs to be a Done Deal.  It needs to be done soon.  It should not be a political game meant to win elections.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Minimum Wage Debate

Back when McDonald's employees began demonstrating -- not recently, but some time back -- a very articulate lady at one site said that in order to support her family she needs fifteen dollars per hour.  Some months later, Robert Reich answered a question posed by a reporter with the response that if minimum wage had kept up with inflation, the current minimum would be fifteen dollars per hour.  Whoa, hold it, I thought.  That's exactly the figure that woman said she needed to meet her family needs.

It is said that one of the reasons Republicans in Congress are reluctant to raise the minimum at all is because it will cost jobs just when we need to be adding jobs.  They follow up that the increase in prices caused by having to pay higher wages will cause people to eat out less or buy less items.

This attitude is somewhat sophomoric to say the least.  Why?  Because the more money families make, the more money they spend and the more employees companies have to hire.

Not only that, but the argument that only two percent of the population works this low level job, is faulty because all wages paid by any employer use the minimum wage as the base wage.  Thus, all higher level wages depend on how high the minimum is.  Once again, the more people earn, the more they have to spend and the more employees are needed.

The minimum wage which affects high level wages also affects Social Security.  The more wage earners earn, the more Social Security taxes are paid and the safer Social Security becomes. 

Then there is the fact that if wages are kept this low, more people have to work two to three jobs to make ends meet.  That simply increases the shortage of jobs. 

Thank you, Mr. President, for asking for $10.10 per hour, which I concede it will be hard to get out of this big business loving Congress.  But, as I have stated in an earlier article in my Trickle Down Politics blog, even when the tight fists are loosened, the increases are always several years late and several dollars per hour short.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Concerning Immigration

Recently a group of individuals, including Mark Zuckerberg, appealed to Congress over immigration reform.  Zuckerberg's issue?  He and other internet and computer oriented companies need an influx of foreign born, tech savvy individuals to work in the United States.  First, are home-grown techies pure chump change?  Second, does he not understand there is a legal immigration system in place already?

Let's say a real estate agency has ten one-million-dollar homes for sale.  Saying you want second story men forgiven for their crimes so they can steal enough to buy those homes is indefensible, is it not?  Well, saying forgive undocumented workers for illegally immigrating to the United States when we have a legal immigration system in place is much the same principle -- or lack of principle.

Zuckerberg has some other alternatives available to him.  For instance, he can put some (or possibly some more) of his big bucks into scholarships for training home-grown citizens who show a gift for computer science.  We have many Americans who cannot afford college these days.  Some of them have interests and skills that our technical/computer/internet companies could mine instead of lobbying for illegals to be allowed to become documented.

If America truly has no capable candidates for the jobs, Zuckerberg can do an international search for suitable individuals and encourage them to follow a legal immigration path to citizenship.

It is not necessary to continually forgive individuals for breaking our laws -- not even because a handful of them might have skills which the United States is not developing to the fullest.  We already have too many workers to fill most available jobs.

Perhaps Zuckerberg's worry is for those President Obama has already addressed in his concern for children brought here at a young age.  If so, rather than complaining that they are undocumented, they can follow the steps outlined by the President's executive order and become lawful citizens through that path. 

It is simply time to stop forgiving illegal entry into this country.  We can welcome those who enter legally instead.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How To Achieve Good Results

In Behavioral Psychology, we talk about reinforcing successive approximations to a goal.  Overnight Saturday, world leaders reached a six-month agreement with Iran concerning their uranium enrichment/nuclear program.  As John Kerry emphasized, it was not the ultimate goal for which they had hoped.  It was, instead, a temporary baby step toward a nuclear free, bomb free Iran.

Every Sunday for some long time, I have watched Joel Osteen's sermon and then This Week.  Today I was struck by the difference in attitude of the two programs.  Joel's message of hope and favor is in large contrast to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and U. S. Republican negativity.

Joel Osteen quotes scripture of how those of us who believe and declare have God's favor.  Netanyahu follows up the news of a temporary deal with how it is an historical mistake and gives off a general attitude it won't work.  This comes from the mouth of the leader of God's self-declared chosen people. 

Joel Osteen quotes scripture saying God's people, Jews and Christians, have His favor.  He says if we are stuck instead of reaping the benefits of that favor, it is because we have not stayed in the faith.  We need to declare that favor, expect that favor and leave the house each day having told God thank you for the favor we are about to receive.  The Republican response to the announcement of the deal with Iran was they needed to forge ahead with more sanctions on Iran.

On the one hand, we get hope and faith brings an abundance of favor.  On the other hand, negativity.

Joel Osteen and Christians are not the only individuals who believe a positive attitude can make a difference in the abundance of good things the people of the world can expect if they positively believe and assume the best.  There are other movements that purport that if we expect good we will receive good and vice versa.

Benjamin Netanyahu, of course, has no clue that this column exists.  He would negate these thoughts from Joel Osteen, as repeated by this author, with a flick of his hand.  In fact, just as easily as he negated the small step toward the common goal of a nuclear free Iran.

The Republican Party as a whole, however, purports to be representative of religious and family values.  They hold themselves up as leaders of the country who propose to show us all the "right" way to live.  Then they follow up every bright, albeit small, achievement toward success we make with criticism and a bad attitude..

During President Clinton's campaign and presidency, it was common to hear the remark "get with the program".  Well, I would like to challenge both Netanyahu and the Republican Party to get with the program.  Perhaps you can put your supposed faith in God in gear.  Believe in the favor of God.  Express and declare your faith in Him.  Maintain the positive attitude that faith will achieve.  Accept with gratitude the small baby step this agreement brings.  Use it as a stepping stone toward the final desired goal and build from there.  What can it hurt to have faith this will work?

Shakti Gawain, in her book Creative Visualization, encourages the world to visualize positive results in order to achieve positive results.  Can we all do this and abandon this destructive negativity?  Perhaps it is time for America to crack out and dust off The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.  Oh, yes, and then read and reread it.  There is a better way to achieve results.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Proper Reporter

In The White House Diary of Jimmy Carter, the former President has an entry about a press conference.  His comment was that the journalists attending seemed much more interested in their questions than his answers. That goes ditto and possibly double for the recent press conference with President Barack Obama.

Back in the Dark Ages -- the fifties and sixties -- student journalists were taught and required to report the news as it happened.  In The Student Journalist by Edmund C. Arnold and Hillier Kreighbaum, they state "a reporter has no editorial policy."  I might suggest that a reporter is not supposed to have an editorial policy.  He is supposed to report the news in as unbiased a manner as possible.

Editorializing is for the editorial page not the front page.  Editorializing is for columnists such as George Will, Joe Klein, louhough, etc., not for the representatives of major news broadcasts who are assigned to cover press conferences.

We, of the American public, are mostly capable of formulating our own opinions as long as we get the facts as they happen, not some representation of the facts as warped by a reporter's own opinion.

In respect to the press conference where President Obama apologized for "fumbling the ball" with the health insurance startup, reporters were even wording the questions with their editorial colors flying high.

Watch it guys.  It is not enough to report just the facts.  We need you to leave your own biases at the doorstep when you enter press conferences.  Commit yourselves to getting the "5 w's and an h" without your own spin on it.

If you want to express your editorial opinion, become a columnist or a blogger.  We need you to be a proper reporter when you cover the news.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chained CPI Means More Medicaid/Food Stamps

There is a lot of focus recently on methods for saving Social Security.  This was covered in this blog just weeks ago.  (

Social Security is a topic of concern to almost every American whether Democrat/Republican, Conservative/Liberal and even non-voters.  Very few citizens are not taxed for and expecting to receive Social Security during their retirement.

As covered in my blog article, possible solutions are to remove the cap that dictates how high a salary can be taxed for Social Security purposes; to lengthen the number of years one has to work; to raise taxes on all wage earners; as well as two ridiculous suggestions that would probably kill, rather than save the program -- opting out and privatization.  And then there is the chained CPI.

Nobody likes having approximately one quarter or more of their earnings deducted for income tax, Social Security, Medicare, and Health Insurance.  And yet, law abiding Americans have dutifully submitted to these withholdings for many years.  No matter how one feels about large government/small government, Republicans/Democrats, or being charitable to others, all citizens who have paid their Social Security and Medicare taxes have a stake in whether or not these programs survive.  Also, your parents, children, grandchildren and future generations of Americans are affected.

Some retirees, already collecting, take a laissez faire view about such issues.  Perhaps they number among individuals who collect at the maximum level of benefits, so losing a portion of their customary Social Security would just cut luxuries.  Perhaps they have couples benefits, so they have not experienced what it would be like to fall below the average benefit as well as have only one person's percentage.  They respond with a ho hum attitude not unlike Leona Helmsley's "them", not us.  Wrong.  It applies to all current and future seniors.

Chained CPI, rather simply explained, means you will not receive the full amount of inflationary increases added to your annual income.  The COLA based on CPI was meant to keep us at a constant standard of living.  Chained CPI will keep us going lower and lower each year there was a rise in the cost of living.  If inflation rises 4 per cent during 2014, you will not receive a full 4 per cent increase for 2015.  You will get only what Congress deems to be the cost of cheaper fruits, vegetables, etc.  You can't buy Porterhouse, or possibly even round steak.  You can't buy 93 % heart healthy lean ground beef, you have to buy the cheapest hamburger, complete with fat, gristle and pink slime.  Your bread won't be crusty Italian.  It will be day-old or stale store brands.  Do you get it?

But the worst part is, cutting Social Security to seniors will actually raise taxes on working Americans.  How?  Because every significant cut adds senior citizens to some level of Welfare.  Maybe they will be forced to use HUD housing.  Maybe they will have to have assistance with heating fuel.  Perhaps they will have to receive help paying their Medicare and supplemental health insurance premiums or go on Medicaid.  Maybe they will, OMG, have to be placed on Food Stamps.

Yes, more aid to retirees means more taxes on working Americans.  Whereas Social Security was meant to be self supporting, Welfare is paid by income taxes.  Welfare is a budget issue.  Social Security is not.

It is totally unacceptable that America's entrepreneurs and our legislators have forced hard-working Americans to suffer the humiliation of needing to be on Welfare rolls in retirement even though they supported themselves proudly during their working years.

We need all our citizens to participate in this issue, before it is too late.  If we just sit here and do nothing, we will probably get chained CPI as a permanent part of our American experience.  We need you to speak out for yourselves, your daughters and sons, your grandchildren, ASAP.  If you don't call, e-mail, speak with, write to or otherwise consult your area Congressmen -- or OMG you could even forward this article -- we are probably going to get the chained CPI option.  Life will just get harder.

You understand, the Tea Partiers, Conservatives, Liberals, Republicans, Democrats, all are considering this as the way to "save" Social Security.  It is not the worst way, but neither is it a good way.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Please Find Another Topic

The flagellation of the Democrats for having a worse than normal startup of a Federal program is apparently beginning to bore the press.  The President, after all, has now apologized that the insurance companies refused to improve insurance policies that were inferior to the new Affordable Care Act requirements.  Believe me, he regrets his promises.

Television and other media are casting around looking for something more interesting than beating a dead horse.  So, the next Presidential election is popping up as a big topic again.  Will it be Christie?  Will it be Hillary?  Really, guys, who cares at this point? Most of us are actually enjoying the break from hateful, spiteful advertising.  If you continue to insist on picking our next Presidential candidates for us, you run the risk of forcing them to declare way too soon.  The result of that is one or the other, if they do decide to run, could peak too early.  Then we would be back to square one.

Surely there is enough news in the world that you do not have to resort to politics this early in the cycle.

Please find another topic.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Is Your Point?

In the movie After the Harvest, a young teacher who had become pregnant out of wedlock, was coveted by several young men.  When her fiancé died before their wedding day, a local farmer asked her to marry him.  He promised, at least by implication, that he would rear her child as his own.  Yet, when the boy was born, he gave him away.

Almost a whole generation later, they are feeding their resentment into the family life as well as his interactions with his neighbors.  His whole being is focused on acquiring land and showing the community who is going to bring in the best harvest.  He works his children and wife to the bone.  He insults neighbors and newcomers alike.  He obsesses on his goals and on being the "gentleman" farmer, but with no conscience and no compassion for anyone.  In the end, he loses all of them.  To make matters worse, his crops -- harvest -- catch fire.  Alone he stands watching it burn as the real important ones in his life, his family members, walk away.  What a sad and lonely man.

We have a political party in our country that is starting to look as sad and lonely as that farmer.  The members are so busy wanting to always win -- the election, the issue, the quarrel -- that they are ruining their own party.  They have so far pissed away 29 per cent of their following just since the last presidential election.  That's right, they fell just below half of the popular vote for President and the winner fell just above.  Now the Republicans of Congress hold about a twenty per cent approval rating.

So, Republicans, what is your point?  You have so far succeeded in alienating each other, your constituents, and just about every American voter.  And why?  Because you have chosen to feed your bitterness and resentment that the Democrats won the Presidential election, held onto the Senate and passed the Affordable Health Care Act into every issue.  You have chosen to be obstructionists.  You have dragged your feet.  You have quarreled among yourselves.  You have made mountains out of non issues.  You have yelled shame on you at every step your enemies and even your colleagues have attempted to make.  To do what?  Nothing constructive, that's for sure.

And now you are engaging in avoidance.  You have three months, much of which includes celebrations of holidays, to negotiate budget matters.  These matters are stuck in committee and not due to reach vote until mid December.  You have four months to deal with the debt ceiling again.  But what do you choose to do?  You pick one more way to embarrass and torment Democrats, as if masses of citizens have not told everyone for years to stop the negative politics.  All of this is evidence that you are engaging in avoidance of the real needed work.  To what avail?

It is time to quit avoiding . . . stalling . . . obstructing . . . politicizing . . .harassing . . . and demonstrating the dysfunctional nature of your party and your intent.

We need you to roll up your sleeves and do some real work.  Talk more about the budget negotiations.  Help member of the committees to formulate good compromises.  Make good, cooperative, bipartisan decisions.

The current obsessive-compulsive disorder which is being exhibited is not winning any favor or anymore future votes.

Please get the jobs done that we sent you there to do and quit the constant yammering.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Saving Social Security

Some months ago, I wrote to the Congressman for my District concerning Social Security.  In his wisdom, he espouses a wish to save Social Security for future, as well as, current retirees.  He even asked for my opinion concerning which method I thought would be the best solution to the problem.  My knee jerk reaction is none of them.  Yet, all of us know that something has to be done or we will no longer have this fund.

Social Security is one of those programs that was implemented by majority vote, but which a vocal minority will probably be protesting until the end of life as we know it.  All Americans need to take note that our insurance program, meant to fund our retirement, is definitely in danger.  This is not a joke.  This is not politics.  It is fact.

The first danger is with funding.  With what we have in the fund to date, as well as withholding taxes at the current rate, we can continue as is until around 2033.  If we want to continue to collect beyond the next twenty years, some change has to occur or we will run out of money.

What are the alternatives being considered and why or why not choose them?

As stated earlier, some politicians are opposed to any programs such as Social Security.  They scream it is socialism even though all people who receive money from the program have to have held jobs and contributed a Social Security withholding tax from their paychecks.  Also, they collect their transfers based on the amount they contributed.  This is not taxing the rich to give to the poor.  A person doesn't work, said person doesn't collect.

The Congressmen who dislike Social Security are usually the same people that scream about Social Security Reform during every budget debate.  I see two alternatives for why they do this.  Either they are trying to delude us into thinking that Social Security is part of the basic budget and, therefore, needs to be cut; or they misunderstand how it is funded.  Horrible as the first possibility is, it is preferable to the thought that Americans would elect such uninformed people to represent them.  So, you need to evaluate on a personal basis.  Do you receive or hope to receive the Social Security you have sacrificed for after you retire?  If so, you need to inform your Congressmen as well as your President of your concern.

One point of view, especially prevalent during the last Bush Administration, is privatization of each individual's funds.  This means that whatever money we contribute will be held in a fund with our names and would be invested for (and possibly by) ourselves.  President George W. Bush said one time that he liked this idea because people want to leave something to their families.  People already have ways to do this.  They are called savings, investments, real estate and insurance.  The biggest flaw with privatization is that it takes more, not less, money from the Social security funds.  Therefore, it would cause us to run out of money faster.  There are other problems with this which I addressed in earlier blog articles at        

Some Congressmen favor letting people choose whether or not to participate.  It is referred to as "opting out".    How would that be considered fair?  Were you allowed to opt out?  I sure wasn't.  Probably this option would be chosen by wealthy people because they think they will never need it.  I wonder though, how many suicides would have been avoided over losses during the Great Depression if people had been able to count on Social Security.  Besides, this is another example of removing money from a system that is already in trouble because it has too little money.  People really are determined to end the program, aren't they?

There is also the suggestion from some economics professionals that we raise the ceiling on earnings that can be taxed for Social Security.  I read somewhere that currently it is capped just above $160,000.  Some economists assure us that getting rid of this cap, alone, would solve the funding problem.

The everlasting solution of raising the age for full retirement again has reared it's ugly head.  For people who love their own jobs, this probably has a lot of appeal.  But folks, most of us don't get to earn our livings doing what we love.  For us, retirement comes as a blessed relief, a time when we can engage in our passions.  Sometimes when we can do this, we make greater contributions than we did with our work.  For my children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and those adorable little great grands, I would not wish this option to prevail.

And now for the chained CPI most suggested in recent months.  Per my understanding they would reduce the cost of living adjustment downward based on substitutions.  For example, if bananas were expensive, but apples inexpensive, they would allow us enough to buy only apples.  Doesn't matter which fruit our particular bodies might need.  We don't already have to buy the cheaper fruits, vegetables, breads and meat cuts on our niggardly Social Security money?  We don't already have to shop the ads for the stores with the best sales, the ones that are offering what we need?  We don't already go without movies, cable, phones with aps, vacations, basic clothing?

Many Congressmen, as well as media experts, misinterpret the statistics for retirees.  They look at the mean, which can be skewed upward by the people who earn high dollar values.  They look at the median, which is simply the middle number.  They need to look at the mode -- the most frequent amount of Social Security transfers.  This is the figure that represents most of the people on Social Security.  I guarantee that the mode will not look as optimistic.

As you can see, there is no easy solution.  Whatever choice is made, some group is going to be hurting and probably bitter.

My recommendation would be to rule out privatization.  That will ruin a system we are supposedly trying to save.  Opting out should not be a choice either, for the same reason.

What might work would be a compromise between raising the payroll tax on all and the cap adjusted upwardly (though not eliminated entirely) and increasing the work years by one additional year.

You will note that I did not mention using a chained CPI.  As I said before, the Cost of Living Increment and/or the base to which it is added is already insufficient for most Americans to live the barest existence.  But the methods I've suggested at least keep funding within the Social Security System.

Congress must remember that for every way they devise a cut to retirees, they increase the need for Medicare and Supplemental assistance, Medicaid, heat assistance and Food Stamps.  Retirees on Food Stamps already represent over eight per cent of the age group.  Though Social Security itself is not a drain on the Federal budget, Food stamps and Medicaid concerns are.  How would that cut the budget?

People have to be able to eat, pay rent and have medical treatment.  (Or would the more stingy of you prefer to shuffle all retirees out to the pasture to starve in the cold)?  There have been primitive cultures who handled us this way.  If you do it to us, though, it will also happen to your parents, your children and other loved ones.  Or are you planning to support all of them yourselves?  What happens to them if you precede them in death?  Are you planning to split your estate among everyone you care about?  The individual amounts wouldn't amount to much, would they?

Another Near Miss

Thank you all who set aside personal agendas and passed, however temporarily, the debt ceiling increase and budget issues.  No matter how queasy it makes me that you gave us a temporary fix, at least this was just another near miss instead of a disaster.

In psychology, in one layman's version, called Transactional Analysis, there is reference to impediments to problem resolution.  One such impediment causes the participants to "throw in everything but the kitchen sink".  They involve past quarrels, as well as side issues when discussing the current problem.  This makes it harder to reach resolution in the present situation.

It may be one of the reasons that progress cannot be made on budget issues.  So, how are we dealing with every sore spot but the kitchen sink?  Let's think about that for a moment. 

Why are participants throwing Social Security and Medicare into budget discussions and debt ceiling quarrels?  What do they have to do with these discussions?  Both have their separate funding.  The payroll deductions we pay for those are supposed to be in separate funds which should be safely invested so they will earn interest for future usage.  They are not budget items.  They do not come out of our income taxes.  Saving Social Security and Medicare should, therefore, be separate issues and discussions.  If they were left out of the extortion plots of Congressional members, it would be easier to fix the budget.  Fixing the budget might even lead to less raises of the debt ceiling.  Then, voila, perhaps we would have less gridlock in Congress.

Next, we have the Affordable Care Act, a. k. a, Obama Care, which also has a separate fund that was being tapped even as the rest of the non-essential government agencies had no funding.  Yet, our more naïve members of Congress were stalling the budget and debt ceiling negotiations to "stop Obama Care." 

As stated in previous blog articles, the Affordable Care Act is now a law.  This law has been upheld by the Supreme Court.  And, the majority of American voters apparently are willing to abide by this law as demonstrated by the reelection of the President whose name is part of the nickname for the insurance plan.

Now, granted, there are a lot of vocal people who don't like having to buy insurance even though they can afford it.  But a lot of insured people don't like paying higher insurance rates because deadbeats can, but don't, insure themselves.

Special interest groups, especially insurance companies, don't care much for it either.  Why?  If they could take our money for a hundred years and never have to pay our medical expenses, that they would like.  Payouts are anathema to them which is why they haven't wanted to insure people who are already sick or handicapped and why they drop people who get sick.  These special interest groups keep the opponents stirred up with negative advertising and even lies.  You should see the garbage that circulates on the internet.  Oh, yes, you probably have.

So, let the law alone.  It's bugs will show themselves as the launch persists and the kinks can be worked out in the future.  It's too late for big government, small government arguments pertaining to this issue.  Let this done deal alone so we can move on to unsolved deals. 

As to large government, small government issues, I look at it this way.  The less government institutions we have making laws and people telling us what to do, the better.  Most Americans have Federal, State, County and Local governments taxing them and pushing them around.  For me, less government would be one governing body, not four.  If you don't believe me, try living in a coop for a while and add another bunch of bullies telling everybody what to do and wasting your fees on things you don't care a fig about.

It is obvious Congress cannot move on so complex a set of issues.  So, separate the issues.  Surely members of Congress know how to do goal setting.  Set long-range goals.  From these, design short-term goals.  Break these down into smaller goals.  Prioritize these smaller steps.

When it is time to increase the debt ceiling, that is your priority goal.  Between debt ceiling crises, reduce the budget -- eliminate wasteful and unnecessary spending.  Stop pork barrel finance like Mitch McConnell's vote sold in return for Kentucky infrastructure improvements.  After all, most states need work on infrastructure.  Duh!  Won't Kentucky infrastructure improvements require taxes, that conservative Republican no-no?  Conservative Republicans don't like taxes?  Who are they kidding?  They just don't like to be taxed for someone else's needs.

Think of Congress as caught with too much to do. Because of it, they can't do anything, like a deer caught in the headlights.  To recap, they need to break their tasks down, prioritize and make small steps toward each goal.  Now, please just do it.  It will cut down on your stress level as much as ours.  And do it soon, not the day before the next debt ceiling deadline.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Ground On The Cliff Is Cracking

Picture a train track going round and round a mountain.  The train, about to leave the station at the highest elevation, suddenly begins spiraling down the track.  The engineer is not in control and disaster is barely averted.

Maintenance teams talk a lot about locating and fixing the problem with the vehicle or the track.  They spend so much time talking and laying blame on each other that they don't get the work done.  Repairs are delayed.

Day after day and issue after issue, the train spirals down the mountainside.  The ground on the cliff is cracking from the wear and tear.  The team hired to keep the vehicles and track working stalls. The riders keep pleading.  The administration keeps chiding.  The workers keep quarreling and debating the best methods.

The structure gets worse as weeks roll by but the people hired to do the work don't care.  This is their fifteen minutes of fame and power.  They are flexing their puny muscles.  Winning arguments and displacing blame are more important to them than taking care of business and shoring up the infrastructure.  They seem to get an adrenaline rush as they barrel along the tracks over the cracking cliff.

The "shareholders" would hire a new maintenance team, but the rules don't allow it without a fight and there isn't time anyway.  So, everybody has to keep waiting for the engineer to take control and the maintenance team to decide how to fix the rip.  The team threatens each other and the riders.  They disrespect the engineer and the administration.  They somehow think the strife is cute or charming or that it endears them to the riders who seem to support their side of the quarrel.

It is regrettable, but the out of control train is the only way down the mountainside.  The riders feel stressed.  They feel helpless.  This breeds anger and lack of confidence.  As soon as they can, they will fire the maintenance group unless the team learns to cooperate, negotiate, reconcile and facilitate.

Will the team get the work done before the track falls over the cliff and the train carrying all the riders plummets to disaster?

Your call maintenance team.  Please get it done and done right this time.  The ride near the cliff is too bumpy for sure.  Do it now, not six weeks from now.  Your jobs and our patience will not weather much more of this unnecessary drama and failure.

And save the issues that have no relevance to the present situation for a later day.  Keep the cracks from becoming canyons.  And remember that plans that include unacceptable issues are no plans at all.  They are just more excuses for finger pointing.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Chasm That Will Not Be Bridged

The Good Lord really knew what He was doing when He created the two lead characters in the current political mess.  On the one hand, we have Mr. Bluster, John Boehner, king of the Basset hound look and the crocodile tears.  On the other, we have a white man inside a black man's skin who is quite used to strife.

Both men are promising they won't negotiate. Both are "stuck between a rock and a hard place".  And as a result, the citizens of this country cannot seem to win.

When you understand that many long-time Republicans in Congress believe that the crisis after crisis stalemate should not go on, it is hard to explain how the Speaker of the House keeps getting himself into his binds.

This Week interviewed Speaker Boehner Sunday morning.  They showed a clip filmed after the recent Presidential election where Boehner is admitting that the election results left no doubt that the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) was now law.  Yet, here he is in October, 2013, still fighting the Affordable Care Act.  You recall that this is the Affordable Care Act that is now in effect.  You remember it -- the law that was passed and signed into law several years back.  The very one that despite righteous indignation of a vocal minority of Americans was upheld by the Supreme Court.  The law we are discussing was apparently accepted, if not welcomed warmly, by a majority of Americans who reelected the President who signed it into law and whose name is often used in a nickname for the law.

At least one critic of this law defended her position in an unusual way.  She was reminded during the last election that her candidate was opposed to the insurance law even though it was modeled after the act he had signed into law while he was governor of his state.  Her response was, but the people of his state got to vote for that law.  They had a say in whether it was passed.

Well, voting on every law Congress designs probably isn't feasible.  It certainly wasn't at the time our country was being formed.  Our forefathers designed and structured our governing system in a manner that excluded the need for a popular vote on every issue.  The way that Americans have a say in what laws we have is by whom we elect to run our government.  During the last election, we sent out a quite schizophrenic message.  We elected a liberal Democrat as President, by a reasonably respectable majority.  We elected a Democratic Senate, though not with such resounding enthusiasm.  And we elected a Republican/Libertarian/Tea Party majority in The House of Representatives.

All this, of course, is not new information.  But it is the cause of the great divide and our inability to get around our stalemate.  Chaos and confusion are so high in our own ranks that those whom we elected don't know what to do.  So, we are left with a bunch of zealots who won't budge an inch on principle.  We are stuck with a Speaker of the House too stuborn to even let the current budget crisis go to vote.  And we have a President with personal family experience of being victimized by money greedy insurance companies.  He also represents a party that tried for over six decades to protect the American public by enacting just such a law.  And who is right?  Well, certainly not the American public that is screaming out against being protected.  Certainly not the special interest groups that have circulated lies and rumors about the law.  And certainly not the hard-core politicians that will flush the whole country down the drain in order to get their own way.

Boehner, who has been refusing actual negotiation himself, sounded like a broken record last Sunday.  He kept saying that the President and the Democrats would have to agree to sit down for a discussion or his party would not move.  Let me define Boehner's apparent definition of discussion for you here.  The Democrats have to agree to blink . . . then he will hold talks . . . then the Democrats will cave again    . . .  then he will hold a vote.  Really Mr. Speaker, we hired you all to work out the kinks.  We did not hire you to refuse to even take a vote to see if anybody wants the law.  You won't know for sure how your own party feels about the situation until you permit the majority of the House to demonstrate it's wishes.  Then if the budget that does not include an axe of the ACA fails, you go back to the drawing board.  If it does not fail, we restore government services to all Americans.  And you and the Tea Party representatives might get to come back for another term.

But if you cannot build a bridge over that chasm and the two parties cannot work out the kinks, then you have all failed at the job we hired you to do.  Remember, sir, that you work for us, you do not work for you.  And we, the American people, expect you to see that you do not destroy the country you were hired to protect.  Quite frankly, war might be easier than the current divide, and you already know how we feel about war.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

More Finger Pointing

"More finger pointing," was the comment of a local news anchor as they cut away from the President's words concerning our partial government shutdown.  Hard to determine which party does it the most.  Each side of every issue wants the other side to take the blame, especially at election time.

Since the era of Watergate, at least, the Republicans have spent so much time trying to win the next elections, that they don't have time to accomplish anything worthwhile.  But that doesn't leave the Democrats free of responsibility for the gridlock.  Currently neither party, as well as Libertarians and Tea Partiers, has the vaguest idea how to work together to get things done.  They have no team ethic.  Everyone acts like the player who wants to hog the ball so that he can become the best known team member.  At the risk of being redundant, they all act like preschoolers who still need to learn socialization skills.  At the risk of being redundant twice, I would suggest that both parties concentrate on putting more Americans back to work instead of obstructing each other's efforts. 

Let us think about what job growth would accomplish besides the obvious desired effect.  Take Social Security, for instance.  If there were plenty of jobs for everyone who needed work, there would be much more revenue for Social Security.  With this abundance of jobs would be more individuals buying their own insurance.  More people could afford to buy their own food.

Thus, as you can surmise, working Americans would mean less individuals on Medicaid.  Also there would be less people qualifying for food stamps.  There would be more people off the streets into work rooms, thus ending with less crime.  Less crime would mean less tax payer expense for jails and prisons.  On top of this, the Stock Market would be less volatile. 

But, after the first few efforts to save the banks and car companies, as well as create a handful of specialized jobs, how much effort has Congress made to put America back to work?  Mostly they have quibbled about not taxing the rich and corporations so they will create jobs that they seem reluctant to create anyway.  Some of the business owners say the behavior of Congress makes them fear the risk.

Well, Tea Partiers, you've now upset the other Republicans in Congress.  You've put more Americans out of work at least temporarily.  You've cut income to Social Security -- again.  You've cut incoming taxes, not only from government employees, but also from the businesses where said money could be spent.  Depending on how long you continue this ill-advised strategy, you could cause more foreclosures and individual bankruptcies.  And for what?  To rebel against a law that has passed Congress, been signed by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court.

No matter how long and hard you continue to writhe on the floor, kicking and screaming like preschoolers throwing tantrums, the law is in effect.

True, the law is seen as somewhat unpopular.  But if it were as unpopular as you say it is, the President would not have been reelected and Democrats would not hold the majority in the Senate.

You say your constituents don't like the law.  How many of them?  Actually figure out the percentage of your voters who showed up at your town meetings to protest.  Then remember that it is the disgruntled element of any issue that goes to meetings.  Did a majority of your constituents actually attend?  Be honest with yourselves about these issues.

You've certainly made names for yourselves with your efforts.  Trouble is, we won't know until the next elections if these names are good or bad.  What you mostly have done is tick off all members of all parties with both sides laying blame at each other's doors and accomplishing absolutely nothing worthwhile.

Majority rule brought about legislation that many Americans have wanted since around 1945.  If you do not accept it, it is a sign you do not believe in the American system of government.  It is the law and it has been enacted now.  Change scares people, but the law may turn out to be at least acceptable if not a blessing.  We already know it is a blessing for people who have been unable to get insurance because the insurance companies wanted to protect their profit margins (wanted to rake in the bucks, without having to spend any of them).

The Senate and the President have called your bluff.  This represents a further loss for those of you who prefer minority rule in cases where you disagree with the majority.  In pure slang language, it's a done deal now.  It's the law.  Get over it.  Get on to something constructive.  Put obstructionism behind you and put Americans back to work.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Another View From Main Street

Jobs are more plentiful, but growth slowed recently.  Many are still out of work.  Businesses are still cutting back their employees.  Full time work hours are being cut because business owners would have to provide health insurance for full-time employees. 

With the Affordable Health Care Act being implemented, uninsured people are fearful what it means to them.  One man interviewed on CBS was amazed his premiums were less than he feared.  Parents with children born with chronic or life threatening illnesses are grateful insurance companies are now required to insure these children.  Parents of college students are relieved that they do not have to pay for a separate policy for the child.  Amoral political groups continue to manufacture and circulate lies about the Health Care policies as if we do not have enough genuine concerns to address.

Bigots, racists and prejudiced individuals continue to undercut the efforts of the first black president.  It makes a difficult presidency harder.  Sadly, some of the racists disguise their sentiments as politics, contaminating the efforts of financial recovery as well as political party policies.

Banks we helped to financial stability continue to gouge customers with high fees and interest rates.  They continue to grow.

We are grateful that American automobile companies are doing better.

World problems periodically erupt like hot spots in a forest fire.  The people in these hot spots expect the world, especially America, to bail them out of their problems, even those that are self inflicted.  Then when we act, they hate us even more.

Preschoolers and Kindergarteners are coming home and discussing political and international problems with more understanding than some of us adults.  They don't understand why we can't fix it.

Local elected officials who espouse a belief in small, rather than large Federal government, cut taxes on the home front while insisting on cutting them at the Federal level.  Are they so shortsighted they do not know more responsibility at the local, county and state levels will require their constituents to pay for things locally?

People of all parties continue to experience nausea over attack ads and finger pointing.

Federal elected officials, suffering from inadequate training in socialization skills, continue to threaten, bully, attack, bluster, obstruct.  Why was it we sent them to Washington?  Are we going to have to fine all members of Congress for every law they fail to negotiate through the entire process.  Maybe we could subtract $1,000 for every time they obstruct a vote.

Newt Gingrich continues to act like the rear end of a donkey.  Will we never see his retirement?

Immigrants continue to bypass legal entry.  They can't understand why they are not embraced with warmth.  They feed the environment with hate for natural-born Americans.  They despise the weather.  They dislike that they are expected to learn this language.  They demonstrate for policy changes.  They send home for friends and family to join them -- illegally as well -- and flood the land.  The conservative response to such problems is to spend more money building stronger borders and for more guards.  The liberal response is to allow amnesty or forgiveness every few years.  There is stress on all sides.

People continue to go berserk and try to make a name for themselves by shooting up schools and malls.  It's a favorite new attention-getting device.  It's effective.  The media continue to feed the problem by giving them coast to coast attention until everyone is sick of hearing about it.

Politicians hold up their fingers around their constituents to determine wind direction.  This is so they'll know whether to beat drums for gun control or to support the NRA.  It isn't as if the gun control already in  place actually works.  Or for that matter, that most criminals even attempt to buy their guns legally.  Security measures are ineffective.  People, even though struck with a 2 x 4 of information, don't bother to take notice that someone needs help.  Even when it is noticed, there frequently isn't help available. 

We continue to be war weary.  We continue to be a broke country because of wars.  The world continues to expect us to borrow money so we can defend them and help support them while our politicians don't want to support our own poor and hungry.  I still suggest a short-term (perhaps five year)  moratorium on supplying weapons and dollars to other countries.  That might help us see some relief from the threat of bankruptcy.

And then there is the frequent battle in Congress with people threatening not to pay the national debt or at least the interest on it.  Fine, upstanding, law-abiding citizens pay their debts.  The threats not to pay them -- that's trash talk.  That's insanity.  That's unacceptable.

Congress doesn't even believe in Congress or the Constitution any more.  They are so uninformed and arrogant that they think they are exempt from abiding by the laws enacted by Congress.  They even disregard the rule of the Supreme Court.  They also disregard the signature and office of the Presidency.  They should be recalled.

The rich continue to get richer and the poor get poorer.  And the ill-informed members of the poorer populations continue to think that is okay.  They keep reelecting the same individuals that protect those who exploit the hardworking wealth producers of this land -- the lowly employee.

And the most exasperating thing of all is that people who expect education, roads, bridges, parks, senior citizen centers, etc., etc., etc., apparently think these things can be achieved without taxes.  How?  If there is a way, write up the proposals.  Submit them to your congressmen.  Write them up on-line.  Tweet them out one line at a time.  Do something before your little hot rod falls into a sink hole or another bridge collapses with your own kids on it.  Tell us how to educate our children before they grow up even more ill-informed than our tax cutting politicians. They are the future of our country.  They will have the responsibility for young and old alike some day.  They need to learn all they can learn.

In summary, the view from Main Street is almost as bleak as it was.  The stress level is ever growing.  Our minds and nerves are on high red alert.  We are begging for mature and lucid decisions from our leaders.  It's time to tackle the gridlock and win this game for all of us.

If it doesn't get done, that may make a young friend of mine correct.  She said that life sucks and then you die.  Let's show her some more of the good years, please.  I remember good years from the past, don't you?  Wouldn't you like some more?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Same Ol', Same Ol'

Here we are again, another crisis with the debt ceiling looming . . . war on the horizon. . . Iran a potential threat . . . Israel and Palestine quibbling . . . Republicans and Democrats pointing fingers at each other . . .  news media in a hurry to begin Presidential election insanity.  There's not enough going on that they need that back?  Just a regular year, month, week, in paradise.  There's even another shooting to make the craziness complete.

And here we, the people, are sitting in the same ol' situation -- stressed further by the one per cent getting 95 per cent of the monetary plenty.  Uncertain how the new medical insurance will affect budgets and families, couples face 2014 with trepidation.  And the Tea Partiers are extorting the President as well as the members of Congress who passed Obamacare.  Isn't this against the law?  Oh, only when regular people do it.  The Congress is exempt from normal laws.

Then, of course, there is the other part of the war between Tea Partiers and the rest of the country.  They continue to think roads and bridges repair themselves for free.  I guess they also believe kids learn to read by themselves.  Well, possibly their kids do, for as we all know, their ilk are superheroes.

Please hear this plea, oh Lord.  Please see there are no games about the debt ceiling.  Please let the bulimic rich share with their employees now instead of waiting to regurgitate it back in philanthropies later when 95 per cent of the country needs charity.  Whatever you do, don't excuse them their sins of greed just because they had to find somebody to give it to since they couldn't take it with them.  We probably shouldn't even mention the ego trip they are on because they have something to share with the people they exploited.

Help us to solve our issues with Syria without going to war.  Please bring Israel and Palestine to the table for genuine talks and real resolve.  Help Iran to feel more a part of the world community without adding to the nuclear problem.

Get all political parties in the mood to negotiate and help them use reason and intelligence.  Stop their constant bickering if you will. 

And best of all, help us get better mental health treatment for all Americans.  Perhaps trained psychologists should hold group therapy with all children from Kindergarten on through graduation.  Certainly, all people likely to have PTSD should be automatically sent to therapy.

The bickering might be slowed in future congresses if there were age requirements.  I read the other day that although women achieve adulthood in their early thirties, men don't mature until around 43.  So, how about age requirements of around 45-65?  This should include term limits, as well.

Whatever you can do will be appreciated.  I'm sure even the people directly involved would like your help with this.

These things I ask in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Has The President Relinquished His Power?

The Russian suggestion that we might want to back off our strike plans if Syria will turn their chemical weapons over to the world community may well have rendered this article moot.  However, it is being published here anyway, because what is written is important if Syria doesn't follow procedures to give up the weapons.

There is a lot of speculation as to whether the President will go ahead with the plans to strike Syria even if Congress votes no on the issue. Apparently some Presidents act anyway, even after a negative vote.  Though some Congressmen wish the President had not had such a right, they are probably wrong.  But, even if he did have such power, I believe he relinquished it when he asked Congress for a vote of confidence on the issue.

There was already a lot of talk these days about impeachment.  Much of it is pure hot air -- more conservative propaganda meant to win the next Presidential election.  But, should the President receive a no vote from Congress and then strike anyway, that might just lend cause to proceed with the threat.

Members of Congress have to listen to their constituents.  They forget often enough that they were elected to represent our wishes not their own agendas.  A lot of U. S. citizens do not want to meddle in Syria.  Should they not be heard?

Much as the President would like for everyone to forget his speaking about line drawing, he did say there would be consequences for the use of chemical weapons, and we do remember.  So, almost a century ago the world set a fuzzy red line about the use of chemical weapons.  For some time, the world has done nothing about their use.  Remember Sadam Hussein and mustard gas?   Now our President believes the United States is responsible to punish one country which used them.  And where is the rest of the world?  Mostly holdouts who are planning to be dropouts on this issue.  If this is a world's fuzzy red line, then the world should take action, not one major power along with a handful of little ones.  This might be a good time to develop some rules and procedures that would be used by the entire world community every time someone used them.  Then there would not be a situation like this for any country objecting to their use.

The President might want to sit back and review a few facts while congress debates a potential vote.  Not many individual people in the Middle East are our friends.  They have no problem coming to our country to study in our universities and some of them stay and earn a stack of dollars.  But, on the whole, they resent our power and our strength.  Some of them even hold clandestine meetings plotting the demise of Americans.

One news program showed a Syrian saying that if we bomb Assad's part of Syria, we will be starting World War III.  Can you assure us he is not right?  Can you promise that Assad figuratively flipping the middle finger at the President was not meant to start just such warfare?  Alone, they may not have the might, but they seem to have the support of Iran, Russia and Iraq (letting Iran fly supplies over to Syria).  Now the latter is a case in point.  After all the money and deaths over their country, where do they get off letting Iran use their air to help Syria?

We are war weary and broke.  We see no good coming from another war, especially when there seems no immediate threat to our country.  I liked the days when we didn't fight unless we were attacked first.  What happened to them?

I hate to sound unsympathetic, but I am feeling crass right now.  Were these really innocent civilians that died, or were they American haters?  Were any of them already our enemies?  Muslim Brotherhood?  Future jihadists?

Is our intel correct this time?  Or is the intelligence community setting up conditions for another unfavorable and unnecessary war?  No matter how desirable it might be to have a democracy in Syria, that should be their choice and their war, not ours.  Is it possible the rebels orchestrated the use of the chemical weapons to provoke us to action -- similar to the lies told to us by a member of Hussein's administration and his former mistress?  And why were we chomping at the bit to act before the report from the team that entered Syria to check if they were used? 

Horrible though I know you will find this, Mr. President, Syrian children may not be so sweet and innocent as American children, especially yours.  Think carefully before defying Congress if they eventually hold a vote and the answer is no.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Oh Sigh, Syria

We, the people of the United States, were taught that we are, or at least soar, like eagles.  After that lesson, most of us have the good sense not to want to be a preying hawk or a passive dove.  We would prefer to fly above the fray.

Syria, both the rebels and the controlling officers, are watching our country to see which figurative bird will prevail.  They don't think we are eagles.  They are laughing at us.  I've already said to the rebels of the Middle East, or anywhere else, that it is not America's job to police the world.  So, if you decide to rebel against your governments, you need to prepare a structured plan which will give you at least a half chance to win.  It is not okay for Syria, Egypt, Yemen or wherever to make an impulsive jump into war and expect the world community to rescue -- bail them out.  You knew your leaders had chemical weapons and that they had no scruples against using them.  You should have thought of that and planned a coping strategy before acting.

President Assad, I believe it would behoove you to quit bragging.  Our president here in the United States has been dealing for several years with an obstructionist House of Representatives.  The majority of that House in Congress is Republican.  They never cease, even despite much American disapproval, to try to get back the presidency for their party.  So, they act like dissonant members and obstructionists with the hope the public will think the President is at fault.  Right now those dissonant Congressmen are engaging in their usual bluster about whether the president is right or wrong and whether he is planning to authorize too much or too little.  But if you continue to say that our government blinked because we were afraid of your military, you are probably going to cause the United States Congress to coalesce, at least on this one issue.  Remember the remark of the Japanese leader at the start of World War II.  He said he was afraid he had just awakened the sleeping giant.  He had.  Also, as close as you are to Iraq, have you not witnessed the results of a U. S. Shock and Awe campaign?  Do you want the hawks to call for one on your turf?

It's possible, I suppose, that you do have a better military than most of the world believes.  But most of the world doubts it.  So, if you cannot back bluster with might, it is best to get and stay quiet.

World Community, especially Great Britain, is it or is it not moral to use chemical weapons on anyone, especially one's own people?  If it is wrong, what should the world do about it?  Should we fight it or watch it?  What is your moral evaluation and are you willing to stand behind your principles?  Or are you, also, waiting for the United States to back your beliefs? 

To our Congress, this is a time to set aside politics and make a decision based on morals.  Is it right or wrong to use chemical weapons?  On your own people?  Is it the world's responsibility to police it?  Should we lead a police effort?  Should we even participate in a police effort?

Messieurs McCain and Graham, please do not vote against the plan because it is too little, too late.  Make it a yes or no vote on the proposed plan.  The good Lord knows it will probably become more than planned anyway.  It always does.

No games gentlemen.  Please pray people.  Please base your votes on moral choices, not just on the use of chemical weapons, but also on our responsibility for and business to interfere in another country's war.

Yes, Mr. President, we believe you did have the power to launch that attack.  But, thank you for not exercising it without the vote of Congress.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Words: The Meaning Or Interpretation

There seems to be no end to learning how to be "politically correct".  Now we must be careful to use the term bi-racial.  In the world in which I live, there just are not that many pure black people.  Most African Americans appear bi-racial.  Yet, "pissy" as it makes me feel to have to readjust again at age 75, I definitely feel a good deal of pressure to make the change.  I must exert the effort to refer to all lighter skinned dark people as bi-racial.  Certainly our President deserves the maximum level of respect we can offer.  Then, who wouldn't want to please someone that looks like and/or seems as nice as Lenny Kravitz.

Mr. Kravitz made a short, but significant, statement on a talk show recently.  He quoted a conversation he had with his mother concerning his heritage.  As best as I can paraphrase, she told him that he was half black and half white, not more one than the other.  But she told him that the world would see him as only one race, the one dictated by the color of his skin. 

Let's begin with a review of some of the appropriate terms.  When I became aware of racial differences, dark skinned people were called negroes.  One elegant authority figure in my life --
from the south -- pronounced it negra.  She meant no disrespect.  Then we were expected to switch to black.  At some point it was common to hear Afro-American, though some people both deny this and take offence.  Then we switched to African American, even though many of the dark-skinned people came from islands not related to Africa.  Now we are to say bi-racial where appropriate, which is about all the time. 

I'm reminded of all the changes required by Native Americans.  I wonder why I see that as somewhat irritating, as well.  The few drops of American Indian blood flowing in my veins by this generation must not be enough to spark my ire.  Neither did I get upset when a new acquaintance asked about my ancestry.  He couldn't wait to tell me my Irish ancestors floated across the ocean on their own scum. Yes, we were both supposedly adults.

Now, let's look at the word negro.  Webster's Spanish-English Dictionary defined negro and negra as an adjective that means black; dark, negro.  Okay, it describes the color of one's skin.  You should see the white boys that live across the street from me.  They mow lawns for a living every summer.  Their skin color changes to almost pure black.  What do you think may have caused humans in hot, sunny climates to have dark skin?  Generation after generation of exposure to the sun?  Another adaptation to an environment?  I actually heard a television show in the fifties proposing just such a theory.  I suggest you all be proud, not ashamed, of your skin color.  White people certainly spend a lot of time on beaches trying to achieve a darker look.

Personally, I like the Existential philosophy about "labels".  Words are just words.  The problem is how we interpret the words.  If we are super-sensitive to everything, words will hurt us worse.  I know about super-sensitive people.  I tend to be one myself.  I also know to keep it reined in constantly.  If I run around with a chip on my shoulder all the time, someone is liable to knock it off.

And now for the grand finale!  Genetic studies seem to indicate that the most recent common ancestor of all humans was African. See DNA by James D. Watson.  Think of all the progress made since that great American dreamed that we would judge his children by their character, not their skin color.  Then be proud and love yourselves.  I suspect that will be the time when words become just words.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Roll Up Your Sleeves

This evening on the local news, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver was working with local charities who are trying to deal with Sequestration. 

One lady, trying to help unwed mothers, said that when Sequestration began in March, her charity lost six beds.  That's six beds where teenage mothers could be sleeping.  That's six or more babies that would be getting a good hand up (or we might say out) into this world. 

It's hard to understand the true goals of conservative politicians these days.  On the one hand they encourage -- actually want to control by new laws -- pregnant women to carry their babies to full term.  On the other hand, they don't want to pay anything to help see that they are able to do so. 

Let's hope when these congressmen get through vacationing this summer, that they will get back to the drawing board.  Let's hope they roll up their sleeves and work out some useable plans that will trim waste without abandoning good sense.

Some days these people remind me of a family that heeds the recommendation of some rich financial guru and cuts up all their credit cards.  They plunk every dollar they get their hands on paying off their debts. Then when their children get sick, they have no way to pay a doctor or buy medicine.  Where's the good sense in austerity for the sake of austerity?  People need to think about what they are doing.  And we need to tell our congressmen that we expect them to do the jobs we sent them there to do, not drive the country into the ground with ridiculous cuts.

And, may the good Lord grant that they will quit playing politics with our country's future.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Shadiest Ones Around

I was going to quit working as a School Psychologist in a particular district.  I didn't know if I'd find another school psychology job in the same state and was in a dilemma about what to do with my retirement funds.  So, I asked the Almighty.  I sensed I received an answer, but it was so unusual I found it hard to believe it really came from above.  "Should I take out my retirement funds when the required year of waiting is up, or should I leave them invested?"  The answer I discerned was that I had might as well take them out because the fund would be bankrupt in about three years.  I shared the information with the psychologist next to me.  He believed the only way that would happen would be if the whole country went bankrupt.

At the end of the year, I had decided to move to another state, so took out my funds.  I was gone about nine months at which time I missed family and friends so much I returned.  I had hardly gotten back before my bank and several others owned by the same group went "belly up".  My own funds, far less than $100,000, were protected, so my checking account barely felt the changeover.  However, the same group owned the banks where the retirement on my current job, as well as the retirement accounts for the teacher retirement funds, were both stashed.

The corporation that handled the bankruptcy procedures issued me several shares of stock, some common and some preferred, on the current account.  That made the mess look a whole lot better, right?  Except that a few months down the road, they offered me $15 to $16 for all of them.  Non negotiable.  Accept the offer or eat the loss.  Later, the same company -- handling the teachers' fund by now -- paid me $19 from the general slush fund.  This was more than I had been offered for a retirement account on an active job.

The reason given for the demise of the banks and my funds was bad real estate investments.  When I mentioned this to a relative, he said that it was more than bad investments -- fraud was involved.  Since I was working two jobs at the time, I didn't hear more about it.

Years down the line, I went to work for a catalog order company.  About two years into the job, rumors began that we would be offered an IRA or 401K plan.  The finalized plan offered to match 25 per cent of what we invested.

There were a lot of bitter feelings held by long-term employees at this workplace.  The owner apparently thought it was acceptable, if not downright cute, to be a shady individual.  At one time he had business cards printed with "The Shadiest Man In Town" under his name.  His employees found this extremely offensive.

When the business got into financial difficulty, he began passing some bad paychecks each payday.  He avoided dealing with annual raises by circulating notices that in lieu of raises, he would be paying fifty per cent matching on our retirement accounts.

At the same time he was passing bad paychecks, he was paying his wife $15,000 per week for running a spinoff company.  They were separated and divorcing.  He was buying an ocean worthy yacht for himself and a house for her.  Yep, he was preparing to file for bankruptcy.

When we received our quarterly report on our retirement funds that October, my personal deposit showed only the amount of funds I had paid into it.  Worse, those funds had been divided between the column of my investment and the column the employer had supposedly invested.  I told colleagues to check their reports.  I called the insurance company.  They were clueless.  In effect, they had been asleep at the wheel and not even noticed he had failed to send his matching.  He had not even notified them he had increased the proposed amount of the matching.  Why should he?  He hadn't intended to turn it over anyway.  A check had been drawn in the correct amount, but he had refused to deliver it.

The company president, fearful for her own culpability, consulted a lawyer.  She was told to tell the owner to turn over the funds or she would quit.  He turned them over.  We got our correct amount and it was deposited in the correct columns.  Those who were not fully vested would not be losing any of their own money.

Within the month, the owners had made the decision to close the company.  Remember the spinoff company?  In a sudden change of behavior, those employees were offered medical insurance.  When an illness circulated through the building, grateful employees consulted doctors.  You guessed it!  The shadiest man in town hadn't been submitting the health insurance premiums either.

This kind of behavior is as rampant as a viral infection.  You've heard of Enron.  You know about Maadoff.  Recently a city filed for bankruptcy leaving the retirement of public servants in jeopardy.  There have been a lot of other such situations over many, many years.  It can happen in small or large settings.  The amoral custodians of people's futures think nothing of stealing their funds.  And now that element of people appears to be influencing the insurance programs (Social Security and Medicare) of millions of retirees.  Somebody with good morals needs to see these individuals are not allowed to continue to behave in this manner.  Perhaps they need to learn that being sly and cunning is not the same as being intelligent.  They also could benefit from learning that criminal behavior is criminal, not cute.

It's time for us as voters to look more carefully at the moral fiber of the individuals we elect.  Graft and cronyism are supposed to be things of the past.  We need to make sure they stay in the past.  And our media hawks should not permit it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dissension In The Ranks

Somewhere in the throes of earning my credits in psychology, we studied different ways people relate to others.  Some have such strong will to please (a driver) that they keep trying to accommodate all sides.  Others have strong internal controls and are considered self-motivated.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be a leader in this day and age?  A President with a need to please would definitely be left out in the cold.  How would he or she figure out decisions?  The conservatives today operate from the far, far right and liberals are criticized for being too far left.  Whatever happened to moderation?  Just as in the case of Mitt Romney, a moderate has to change his colors to get the nomination of a conservative party.  A too liberal Democratic party would have to be appeased as well.

Most grownups have known for years that one has to have a really stiff spine to be a leader in this country.  How would someone cope today with world expectations that our country should step in and fight their wars for them? At the same time that we are being called to assist, demonstrators in the streets of the Middle East are telling Americans that they hate us.  Mothers and Grandmothers are crying out for our children's lives and limbs and minds to be spared.  Congress is dealing with gut wrenching deficits which could be eased a lot by having far fewer wars and obligations to other countries.  On top of that, terrorists are fighting a type of war we are only beginning to understand.  This is a war which is unlikely to be won by troop surges and tanks.  Thumbs up to drone usage, however. 

Enter military man after military man telling television audiences what we should be doing in Iraq, Iran, Israel, Syria, on and on and on.  Don't they teach military militants the steps that President Harry Truman took when faced with a similar situation?  Such steps are available today, are they not?

And then there are the Congressional dissidents -- the hawks -- who want to cut all spending except their own incomes plus benefits and military buildup.  Smart move, Mr. President, sending a couple of those dissidents over there to scope out the situation.  Smart move!

I, once again, refer to Ron Paul's debate statement that our country cannot police the whole world.  If other countries are going to start internal conflicts, they need to be prepared to fight the battles themselves.  We are too tired, too broke, too in need of healing.  And besides, when the battle is done, we are going to have to coexist with whatever side wins.

To politicians and military personnel alike, I say, it would seem to be a Martha Stewart Good Thing if you would coalesce behind your Commander-in-Chief and present a somewhat united front to the world.  No wonder terrorists keep sniping at us here and there.  The dissidence is showing as a sign of weakness to the world.

No President, or Congressman, or individual can please everyone and some of us need to stop trying to do so.

One thing I will say about President George W. Bush, is that one hundred per cent wrong though he may have been, he did know how to make a decision and stick to it.  He didn't let anyone, not even the United Nations, throw him off course.

And while I have brought up the topic of our debt and other countries, perhaps we could take a temporary hiatus from pouring our limited funds into foreign coffers.  Just do the math.  It would take X number of years to eliminate our debt by asking other countries to get along without our help while we step back from the brink of bankruptcy.  Couldn't hurt to give it some thought.  It would also give the powers behind the scene something to do besides being disruptive.  Your call.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chicken-Fried Attitudes

"Right now Americans want a kind of chicken-fried, good-old-boy fascist government that's safe for business and the wealthy and dangerous to women and children . . .".  Garth Frederickson, brother of Mongo, characters in Dream of a Falling Angel by George C. Chesbro, copyright, 1996.

When stated this way, what a scary thought!  But, leaving out the word fascist, it isn't all that unlike what we have today.  Our conservative congressmen are behaving like members of a good-old-boy cult.

Chicken-fried is somewhat descriptive of the southern influence.  That's sure alive, well and going strong, isn't it?

Fascist, I believe is probably too harsh.  Granted, we have an element of militants who behave like fascists, but the bulk of the country does not.  Does it?

The powers that be are trying to make a nation that's safe for business and the wealthy, and if we had a Republican Senate and Administration in addition to a Republican House of Representatives, the lower 99 per cent of us would already be toast.  We're certainly too close to the burning coils now.

You have heard the cries of wrath from women over the way Congress is treating their needs.  And, of course, there are continual threats to cut funding for children's education as well as the trend for them to send the schooling of our flocks back down to the less competent at local levels.

We've made more progress on racism than on respect for women.  I'd like to, with no disrespect meant to our current President, point out that the American public, from votes in the primaries, showed themselves more willing to support an African American male for President than, God forbid, a woman of any race.

Then, the very likeable little Pope Francis, in his eighty minute meet with the press, accepted homosexual priests and church members into the church fold by inquiring who was he to judge.  But when questioned about women in the priesthood, said no, the church had spoken.  Well, most of us thought the church had spoken about homosexuality, also, but he changed that in a heartbeat.

So, as stated, it seems ladies and gentlemen, that we have "come a long way baby" on racism and homosexuality.  But we still have tall mountains to climb concerning women and their children.  I wonder if some day we might have an African American woman president.  That would be the day, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cold-Blooded Rich Men

"I saw something on the internet. . . the qualities you need to succeed in business are the same ones cold-blooded killers have. No empathy, no emotion . . . whatever it takes to get the result you want."
by Ian Rankin from The Impossible Dead.

In a recent column, Paul Krugman of the New York Times declared there was something wrong with the soul of the Republican Party.  Another author said, "The country was burning with right-wing fever, and it was hard to find anybody, on the right wing talk shows or in the stumps, who seemed to think that the federal government was good for anything but building more bombers and prisons and providing care and feeding for big business and right-wing politicians."

Sounds pretty much like our two most recent presidential elections, doesn't it?  The latter quote came from Dream of a Falling Eagle (A Mongo Mystery) by George C. Chesbro.  The copyright date is 1996. 

Well, Mr. Krugman, a lot of us, not just George C. Chesbro, have known for many years that something is wrong with the souls of right-winged conservatives.  I can recall as long ago as the year 2000, telling some of my friends at work that we had a new caste system in the United States.  Everyone, of course, became aware of the severity of things with the financial crisis.  The Media write about it . . .  speak about it . . . and evaluate it to death.  Yet, nobody does anything much to fix it.  I hope your article does the trick.

I've no problem with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet becoming multibillionaires.  I even admire them for doing so.  I also suspect they are not among the individuals who seriously harmed others to rise to the top.

But there is an element of upwardly mobile individuals who, like the cold-blooded serial killer of the first quote, simply have lost -- or never had -- the ability to understand and show consideration for others.  Many of these will step on the heads and hearts of anybody to get ahead.  Chief among the victims are the people who work for them at inadequate salaries and for little consideration.  I've ranted for over a year now in hopes of getting this changed.

Ignoring the worker bees may fill the company coffers pretty fast at first, but over the long haul, it undercuts the entire economy of the country.  Around 2007-2008, in particular, it upset the balance for most of the world.

At the risk of being redundant (a tool which may actually underscore an idea), I want to point to Henry Ford.  He has been quoted as saying that he wanted to build his automobiles and see that his own employees could afford to buy them.  This implies he believed in paying them an adequate wage for doing so.

So what happened along the way?  The lobbyists working for big business, for one thing.  The politicians who will need jobs if ousted out of politics.  The misconception that cutting jobs and outsourcing will improve an economy.  The lack of foresight to see that countries at work improve the situation, so it is unwise to cut government jobs in a pseudo attempt to conserve funds.  Cutting jobs does not do much good if the problem is underscored by too few jobs already.

Believe me, there were many times as a worker bee trying to feed and clothe my children on seventy-five per cent of my earnings that I wished we would have another Boston Tea Party. 
The loss of dollars not just for taxes, but also for health insurance, Medicare and Social Security when trying to serve as Head of Household on inadequate income (and much of the time no child support), was no picnic.  But at least we could hope for some remnant of security in our old age -- from our own efforts.

Now, we have basically unthinking individuals cutting worthwhile and needed services across the board -- frugality for the sake of frugality.  Frugality to get reelected.  Frugality with no thought for the human condition and human need.  Frugality with no humanity.

You are right Mr. Krugman.  There is something wrong with the soul of the Republican Party, at least the right-wing conservative part, as well as the idiotic, unthinking Tea Party members who lack the ability to discern the difference between cutting for the sake of cutting and cutting to eliminate waste.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dear Mr. President

Headnotes:  *1  I finished this article Saturday.  On This Week today, Sunday, July 21, someone finally said Travon Martin also had a right to stand his ground, or at least to use it as a defense had he been the one who survived. 

**2  There are multiple pieces posted on Facebook about black on white crimes, resulting in death, that are not getting the attention of the Travon Martin death.  One of these was a babe in arms.  Have we grown so used to black on white crime that we are immune to it?  Why is there no white outrage?  Because it is politically incorrect for whites to express it, but politically correct for blacks and others to protest white on black crime?

I am a Caucasian American great grandmother who listened to your remarks trying to explain why African Americans feel as they do concerning the Zimmerman trial verdict.  There are so many reasons why we did not need to hear your words.  There is an element in our country that is deeply prejudiced and nothing you or I can say will change them.  But, Mr. President, most of us are trying to make relationships between the various cultures work.

First, let me say that I voted for you in both elections.  I have not agreed with you one hundred per cent of the time and since I write this political blog, I generally say so.  Yet, I've made a continual ass of myself defending you to my conservative family and friends.  To my liberal Democratic acquaintances, no defense has been necessary.

Second, may I vehemently state that it is not just African Americans who are upset with this verdict.  Perhaps it might be wise to explain this stance by eliminating race for the moment.  Let's refer to the bias in this case as hoodie bias.  Don't laugh.  It is quite real and supported by television characterization.  There are signs on many store entrances saying "no hoodies allowed".  For warmth on cold, snowy days, I sometimes wear hoodies.  I have to pull down my hood in order to enter just like a young teenager, black or white.

Now that we have hypothetically eliminated race, let's examine what else was wrong with the verdict.  Mr. Zimmerman presents as a type of person I call a "hot dog."  Such hot dogs are attracted to the police force and/or neighborhood watches for the chase scenes and the power they can experience from the positions, rather than to serve and protect.  Mr. Zimmerman had the additional misfortune of being a frustrated, "wannabe" officer.  Now he has to focus all his power and chase desires on his neighborhood watch program.

Zimmerman happens to live in a state that will license residents to carry concealed.  Liberal Democrat though I tend to be, I happen to believe that is a good thing, not bad.  Mr. Zimmerman becomes licensed to carry concealed.  Now we have a frustrated wannabe cop licensed to carry concealed.  His enthusiasm for his power has not ebbed at all in the process.  The protection of the gun has increased that power. 

From what I have read and heard, during training he was taught he should not get out of the car.  Any suspicious activity was to be reported to the police department and he was trained to let the officers handle it.  In addition, there was a transcript of the dispatcher interacting with him that night.  The dispatcher apparently told him to stand down and let the police take over.

Zimmerman was not satisfied with these instructions.  Now our hot dog watchman took matters into his own hands.  He disobeyed orders and jumped out of the car.  He set up his chase scene and became the aggressor.  You know, I probably would have attempted to neutralize Zimmerman, myself, had he been following me.  (And, yes, it would happen to me.  Our own overly aggressive watchmen tailgated me as I returned from work just before ten p.m.  They were in a huge truck.  I was in a little Ford Escort hatchback.  It was a frightening situation.  I turned around and followed them).  He deserved it when Mr. Martin turned on him.  It doesn't matter whether Travon Martin was black, Asian, Caucasian or Hispanic.  (*1)  Travon Martin had a right to stand his ground and defend himself as well.  Has a single individual said that Travon had that right?  Everybody seems concerned only about Mr. Zimmerman's rights.

Now, let's reintroduce race to the equation.  All you people out there don't understand that Travon Martin was afraid?  You don't understand the history of African Americans in the South?  You don't know of the black Americans who have been beaten, hung, pulled behind cars, killed any number of ways?  You or I would have been afraid when some unknown individual began aggressively chasing us, much less Travon.   

It doesn't matter who Travon Martin was the day before this event or who he would have been the day after.  That night he was a teenage kid walking home from the grocery store, carrying a cell phone and a soda -- and some nut job started chasing him down.

It is my belief that Zimmerman should have been convicted.  So, he was afraid for his life at the last minute.  So was Travon Martin.

To Travon's family I would like to say this.  Your son does not belong just to the African American community anymore.  He's one of mine, now, too.  I'm sure a lot of us white folk feel that way.  Your son could have been Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, or African American as he was.  He was the victim of a needy man who just had to exert his importance and his power over others.

This leads toward the end of this letter, Mr. President.  There is something we need from the African American community to help us make these race relations work.  (**2)  We need for every interaction between us to cease being evaluated as racist or not racist.  We need each event to be evaluated without the race card being played first.  Then, once we have discerned the truth without race, we will be better able to factor in that bias. 

We also need African Americans to stop saying things on television like "We need to stop this black on black crime," as if black on Asian or black on white crime is okay.

We need for all African Americans to understand that it isn't just black kids that cause us to lock our doors.  Any kid eyeing us or our purses gets the same treatment.  But when it is a black kid that hears the locks click, many of us have very real reasons for doing so.  It wasn't a white, Asian or Hispanic man that held a gun in my face, demanded my purse and threatened to shoot if I screamed.  It is not a white woman that apparently keeps trying to get my credit card number.  It's the same black fifty something one every time.

It takes both sides working together to eliminate the walls between us.  Our generation did not enslave African Americans, yet we take the rage from it.  Most of us are trying to make it up.  Please lend us a helping hand in the process.

Racism is, indeed, a two-way street.  We whites just aren't politically correct if we express our concerns to you.  We have to remain silent.  Well, now I have spoken.  Does that make me racist, too?


Lou Hough