So I read a guest column in the Orlando Sentinel – a newspaper that I normally respect – that pitched this tired allegation once again that at the end of the day, Democrats are just sore losers who will stop at nothing to avoid admitting that we lost the election…

…even if it means taking down the president as a result…

And I can’t help but just laugh and laugh and laugh at that hypocritical perspective after all that we’ve endured from the Republican line during President Obama’s time in office:

  • Three years of demands to see Obama’s birth certificate, then his long form birth certificate, under allegations that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii.
  • Three years and seven investigations into the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.
  • Over 50 attempts by the House to repeal, dismantle, or otherwise defund the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010.

Just for the record, Donald Trump got elected 187 days ago and has now been in office for 113 days.

I won’t even argue with the merits of each of those efforts … except for the birther movement because that was just ridiculous … but for Benghazi and critiques over the ACA – fine. Republican representatives had concerns and were obligated by their constituents to see them through, albeit excessively, but still…

Three years to investigate an attack 8,000 miles away in which four Americans lost their lives.

Five years to fight a healthcare bill that has affected the lives of tens of millions of Americans, both for better and for worse.

But now it’s suddenly excessive to spend barely than six months looking into whether there was influence from another nation that compromised the election of the President of the United States?!

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it’s time for us to put this pettiness behind us and come together to support our President … who may have been installed by a foreign government, but probably wasn’t … we’ll just have to trust him despite not having given any reason to date why we actually should!

No. Just no.

You don’t get to dig in your heels for every passionate argument that your side had during the last eight years and then call the other side a bunch of crybabies when they raise question asking for a similar level of scrutiny. Especially after Donald Trump has done more to act suspicious – like firing the guy leading the investigation against him – than all of the “We need to pass the bill to know what’s in the bill!” and “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor!” you can throw at the Obama administration.

Just like you wanted to know whether those four lives in Benghazi were lost due to negligence, we want to know if Donald Trump is a legitimate president because for all of the talk the Republican party makes about concerns over voter fraud, they sure haven’t seemed too concerned with this notion that a foreign entity may have dipped its hands in our election.

Maybe they’re not so concerned because it resulted in their guy beating Hillary, but the integrity of our election should be worth more than either candidate.

So come back to me in 3 – 5 years if we’re still beating this drum and are just unwilling to accept the numerous facts laid out around us, but for now stop acting like a bunch of babies and let your president stand up to the level of scrutiny that ANYONE in the highest office in our nation should be able to handle.

one more thing…

May 10, 2017 6:19pm
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If anything, our current political climate – not even limited to President Trump, but considering the entire establishment as a whole – confirms that the United States desperately needs election reform. And fast.

Because it’s painful to see just how fragile the institution of our great electoral system really is…

  • Voter ID laws, cutbacks on early voting, and new voter registration rules being used to restrict access to voting.
  • Gerrymandering to guide regional votes in a particular direction.
  • The opinion of the people being so easily swayed by widespread information regardless of its accuracy.
  • Campaign finance abuse and corporations buying political favor.
  • Questions of the validity of the Electoral College 200+ years after its introduction.
  • Lackluster voter turnout in general

It’s clear that our current voting system isn’t electing the right people to these offices to actually drive meaningful governance in our country, and I’d like to think that these most recent allegations of foreign interference would lead us to take a step back and figure out what really needs to be done to fix the process from the top down. And it’s complicated because not only do we need a new election process, we also need better candidates that aren’t as dramatically tied to party lines and can help to bridge the nuance between the left and the right so that we can start making things better across the board.

I’d love to see these problems solved during my lifetime because they’re really vital to the core of our democracy, but it’s forever going to be a struggle if uprooting the existing system also means uprooting the politicians who’ve established their careers based on these antiquated systems…

A glimmer of hope…

May 10, 2017 5:38pm
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Maybe it’s still just wishful thinking at this point, but I can’t help but feel that Trump’s firing of the FBI director who was leading the investigation about his collusion with Russia has got to be the smoking gun that begins to sway the tides towards his inevitable impeachment.

I’ve always thought that ever since the election, Trump’s best bet politically would’ve been for him to tell Congress to organize an independent investigation right off the bat to prove to those against him as well as to protect the integrity of the American election – if he really had nothing to hide, it should’ve been an easy enough task and he could only come out at the top after the investigation had found that he’d done nothing wrong.

But of course, the high road is no match for Trump’s ego, and instead his administration has played the same unconvincing line of, “There’s nothing to see here, let’s move along…” that the rest of us have been right to question, and then he makes his most suspicious move to date.

At least his supporters were right in that he’s definitely not a politician because a politician would’ve played this whole thing way better! 😛

So the last month or two, I’ve seriously wondered if Trump will even make it through his entire first year in office, and in that direction I think this was a positive move because it’s getting harder and harder for even his most ardent of supporters to admit that something just doesn’t feel right. Boing Boing shared an interesting link today to a spreadsheet someone was compiling of responses on Twitter from every member of Congress about Comey’s firing and it’s very clear to look down party lines and see almost every Republican remaining silent on the matter, which to me is telling in that they’re not exactly jumping to Trump’s defense on the matter, either…

Now don’t get me wrong, as much as I’d like to see something concrete happen sooner than later, I don’t necessarily expect miracles anytime soon, and so I’m sure we’ll likely hear even more ramblings about fake news and paranoia and how everyone is out to get him, except the majority everyone who is still somehow supporting him? 😉

And even if/when he does get impeached, it’s still going to be rough waters because Mike Pence isn’t exactly a saint and Paul Ryan is kind of awful, too. The full line of succession is here – at least Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos are pretty far down on the list! But I think you’ve got to take on one demon at a time and hopefully an event as traumatic as the president leaving office would put the rest of our politicians on notice that it’s time for a REAL change.

We’ll see, and in the meantime I’m going to just soak up every glimmer of hope that I can scavenge as the Trump administration continues to dismantle our society with the remaining power that they’ve been granted. But I think their days are numbered … I’ve got to think that for my own sanity, anyways. We’ll see…

Healthcare By Any Other Name

May 6, 2017 6:33pm
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This article from a few years ago from the Huffington Post said it pretty well, but in reading all of the back and forth about the GOP’s new “healthcare” bill that passed the House the other day, I can’t for the life of me understand why everyone who supported it didn’t fight back hard on the simple use of referring to the Affordable Care Act by its formal name rather than the nickname it was given as a jab by its opposition.

By adopting the name Obamacare, it was basically giving the Republican party a free shot to take at the legislation that anyone who hated President Obama could easily get behind, regardless of actual content. We saw that last year when voters were quoted as not understanding that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were literally the same thing!

From politicians to the media, and trickling down to your average Joe on Facebook, this would’ve been such an easy perception to control if every time someone tried to call it Obamacare in discussion, the other party corrected them and called the law by its proper name. It was always meant to be a slam by the Republicans, so make them own it alone and separate the language from the president to better represent what the bill’s actual goal was all along – providing better access to healthcare for all Americans.

I only stumbled across the cult classic They Live a few years ago, but for some reason I just instantly fell in love with its quirky/creepy take on an alien invasion slowly overtaking mankind.

That said, I almost feel kind of stupid in hindsight because I never really made the connection between alien invasion and class warfare, but after watching this short video featuring interviews with John Carpenter and some of the other folks involved … it’s like seeing for the first time!

Just sleep. Obey. Make America Great Again.

Hits a little too close for home, but it just goes to show you how film can both carry entertainment value and include some pretty deep social commentary at the same time. Almost makes me want to sit down and watch it again just to see how many more GOP warning signs were baked into this movie from 30 years ago… 😉

Regulations and Buying a New Home

March 16, 2017 10:23pm
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I just read a post on Facebook bitching about how much regulations add to the cost of a new home in America…

You know, like the ones that require builders to be licensed professionals who are going to craft the place where your family lives.

The ones that require your home to be built to best practices so that it’s less likely to catch fire or collapse due to shoddy craftsmanship.

The ones that ensure access to utilities are properly installed and accessible throughout the neighborhood.

The ones that check to make sure that the other guy is legally allowed to sell you your new house before you give him a huge amount of money.

And even the ones that help to protect the banks from risk so that they’ll be willing to loan you the money to pay for your new home.

Regulations aren’t all bad, and in a greedy, capitalist society like ours has become, government regulations are the common man’s last defense between the good and the bad. At least if you prefer your house with four walls and a roof over your head.

The Affordable Care Act has its flaws, there’s no denying it.

Healthcare costs are continuing to rise and with the individual mandate, it’s put a lot of people in a sticky situation where they can’t afford to carry insurance, yet they can’t afford to not carry insurance, either.

As President Trump apparently just realized what the rest of us have been saying for years, “It’s complicated…”

…BUT…

To say that the Affordable Care Act is “a disaster with nothing to love” is an insult to the millions of Americans who were able to get health insurance under the ACA, particularly those who have been able to get life-saving treatments thanks to their new coverage.

So the ACA has its problems … what do we say?

“We can’t afford to help sick people treat their cancer or their heart disease or their chronic diabetes because it’s just too expensive???”

Bullshit.

In 2015, Americans spent $3.2 trillion on healthcare – 17.9% of our GDP, and … like our defense budget … more than any other nation in the world.

And yet unlike defense, we don’t have the healthiest people in the world. The USA is 43rd in life expectancy and no surprise, we’re not the best at treating cancer, either. We’re really good at some types, like breast cancer, but we fall short in others and those where we do excel, we spend a lot of money to only be minimally better than those in our wake.

It was a historic step in the right direction when the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2009, and as long as the USA still dwindles embarrassingly low in these types of quality of life statistics, we’ve still got a ways to go. But it’s blasphemously ingenuous – when Americans have used its benefits to beat life threatening diseases – for anyone, much less the President of the United States, to claim that the ACA was a complete and utter failure.

Was saving the life of this award-winning tech journalist a failure to you, Mr. Trump???

On Chelsea Manning’s Commuted Sentence…

January 18, 2017 2:18am
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I don’t think that I ever actually watched the infamous horrific video that was leaked by Army intelligence analyst Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning back in 2010 showing soldiers in Baghdad firing from the air on Iraqi civilians – including two journalists – but after stumbling across it this evening and sitting through almost twenty minutes of it … which apparently is only even half of it … all I can say is that this video is the quintessential example of why whistleblowers in our military deserve protection just as much as they do throughout the rest of our society…

I could never handle being in the military, however as one of 350 million Americans who ours represents to the rest of humanity, I don’t understand how anyone could watch a display like this and not argue that the United States has a grave need for more accountability in its armed forces. The justifications for shooting, the behaviors throughout the attack, and the blind defenses both in 2007 when the incident took place and even three years later when it resurfaced through the leak – they don’t speak of a noble cause fighting to defend freedom and democracy in a foreign land.

They speak of the iconic American cowboy – one who loves fucking and fighting – and whose bloodlust, while arguably necessary for such a job, question if this is really the kind of job that needs to exist in first place, at least in a country where we never should’ve gone to war in the first place.

Ongoing internal investigations that never seem to find themselves of guilt are the simple reason that we need people like Chelsea Manning because although I don’t want our solders’ safety to be compromised on the battlefield, I don’t want to see our country being rightfully accused of being the very terrorists that we claim to be hunting due to incidents like this where we won’t even accept fault after the cards laid on the table show that our motives in that helicopter were suspect at best. There are far more videos on YouTube than I’d care to listen to from Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans themselves sharing gruesome tales of how this isn’t just an example, but an expectation in the American military today.

We all deserve better, much less those brave and selfless enough to risk their lives to reveal such aberrational behavior for us to take notice.

Thanks, Obama…

January 11, 2017 2:52am
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Looking for a little political inspiration as we prepare to stare down the dragon with Donald Trump’s own inauguration now soon upon us?

I just finished watching President Obama’s Farewell Address and here at 2:30am with his last words now fresh in my mind, I will freely admit that I’ve nearly got tears in my eyes. I can only hope that I live to see another president who speaks with such eloquence and whose sincere spirit reverberates through every word.

Barack Obama has set the bar pretty high for future presidents of these United States.

Let us not forget the character that this office deserves, and the diligence that we the people deserve from this person who strives to be our leader both here at home from sea to shining sea as well as to the rest of the world.

In the face of adversity and uncertainty, quite frankly right now I feel more patriotic than ever.

Thanks, Obama.

Now before I get too far into this, I want to say that I’m not really sure if this is a good use of taxpayer money or not. Our tax dollars go towards lots of programs and I don’t necessarily think that every one has to appeal to every taxpayer because in a country of 300 million people, that’s simply not realistic!

Still I thought this was interesting simply because until five minutes ago I had no idea that such a program even existed…

The program that I speak of is called Essential Air Service and it’s run by the US Dept. of Transportation to help support air travel in rural areas that otherwise couldn’t commercially support it. The way that I discovered it was through a random news article shared on Facebook about a local airport back home in Northern Michigan adding direct service to Dallas for a limited time this summer, with a single line catching my eye…

“It costs more than a million dollars to add this service, but the United States Department of Transportation provided a $750,000 grant.”

I found this interesting because apparently a total of 8 small town airports around Michigan collect some $18 million in federal tax dollars each year through Essential Air Service, out of a larger $300 million nationwide.

Now Michigan is very bottom heavy with regards to its population distribution, in that the big cities across the bottom of the state – Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Detroit – have by far the most, and the further north you go, the fewer people you’ll find until you eventually get into the Upper Peninsula where you tend to encounter more deer than actual human beings. 😉

The problem is, deer don’t fly commercial flights, so if you want to travel anywhere you pretty much have to drive downstate in order to catch a plane, with Detroit Metro being the largest airport in the state. Though many smaller communities scattered throughout the state have airports of their own, they’re mostly limited to small planes and in most cases, they’re just puddle jumpers that connect you through Detroit to continue on to your destination anyways…

I’ve never actually flown into one of the smaller airports myself, mostly because they’re typically a lot more expensive. For example, several years ago I remember pricing out tickets to visit during the summer and while two round-trip tickets from Tampa to Detroit were around $200 each, tickets from Tampa to Pellston – a small town much closer to home – were closer to $750 each!

For reference, flying into Detroit leaves you with another 4 hour car ride to get up to my hometown, whereas flying into Pellston is maybe an hour’s drive at best.

So a few thoughts here:

  • How does the airline justify charging 3x the ticket prices when they’re also getting excess of a million dollars a year in taxpayer subsidizes just to operate out of that small town airport?!
  • Is this a good use of taxpayer funds, particularly with a sizable national debt?
  • Who really benefits from these subsidizes?

I’m kind of torn on this because up until reading this article, I assumed that the higher ticket prices in these smaller airports were what the airlines needed to charge to justify doing business in those regions … but to hear that they’re also getting taxpayer funding on top of those high ticket prices??? Sure, it’s the same thing that we did with telephone surcharges and now do with cable and broadband taxes in order to require those companies to service rural areas, but at the end of the day does it all just come at the fault of our country being way too spread out in the first place?

I’m not sure if there’s much argument for transportation access for locals simply because – granted, depending on the area and the carrier – it’s hard for me to imagine most small town residents being able to afford those rates to fly local anyways! I know that whenever we flew and even now, we’d fly into the larger airport farther away purely because the time cost was easier to justify than the ticket cost.

Still, it makes it easier for travelers to come and visit these areas, and I’m ok with tax dollars going to support tourism … though I might suggest that the local states would be better off funding this reason than federal dollars.

There are jobs created – both direct and indirect – that the locals can enjoy, but again, I’m not crazy about taxes funding job creation if the markets can’t support them on their own … at least with regards to for-profit entities, for the most part.

So at the end of the day, is this just a $300 million Christmas present to an industry that’s kind of struggling, but let’s not kid ourselves when they still clear $16 billion a year in profits???

I’d be curious to know how much taxpayer funding it costs us as a nation – between transportation, telecommunications, and whatever other subsidizes like this are out there – simply to support everyone living so far apart. You’ve got to figure it also costs more in roads and bridges, there are probably expenses related to energy and other resources … what else?

And don’t get me wrong, there are certainly plenty of beautiful, natural areas around the USA that I wouldn’t exactly call for scrapping, even if the most utopian configuration called for populations in dense towers all crunched into a state the size of Texas!

Still, it’s interesting to discover a nearly unknown program that realistically affects a pretty small segment of our population, and to try and better understand the justifications for why it exists in the first place.

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