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ok, I’m a bit befuddled and am wondering how people feel about this issue.

As a law-abiding person (mostly – ok, I do exceed the speed limit sometimes) and as a child of a naturalized US citizen (and one parent who was born here), I have to ask – What is wrong with enforcing existing laws regarding legal and illegal residency in the United States? 

This whole bruhaha about Jessica Colotl in Georgia is being paraded in the news as some poster example of trampling on civil rights.  From what I understand, she was never a legal resident of the United States.  She went to college.  She was stopped for some traffic violation.  She gave false information to the officers and couldn’t produce a driver’s license because she never had one.  So, she was arrested.  She faces deportation but it will be delayed until she finishes college. 

ok.  On the human-interest side, I sympathize.  She came into the US when she was 11, so it’s not really like it was her idea to enter the country illegally.  She was a child whose family probably wanted to try and find a good life for themselves and her.  But she is not a legal resident.  She never gained legal residency.  And she was driving a car without a driver’s license.  What are authorities supposed to do?  And why is this case such a lightening rod?  Aren’t there many similar cases across the country?  Why does she get to cry in front of the cameras, thereby possibly granting her some leniency that no one else will get?

When a country has a hard time taking care of its own citizens – with not enough jobs, not enough money for our own needs like health care and defense – then I think a country does have to limit the number of people it allows to live in this country at one time.  If that is the case, there has to be a system in place to identify what is legal and what is not.  And that system needs to be enforced.  If people think this case of Jessica Colotl is an example of all that is wrong with the immigration system, then my question is – What should the immigration system look like?  And if the answer is not “Let anyone in who wants to,” then who are these lawyers, or anyone else, to stand up there and lecture about why any particular person should be an exception to the rule?  I sympathize.  I do.  But I also sympathize with people who went through crap-loads of processes to get legal residency. 

These lawyers grandstand and make a big deal over one case.  But what is their solution?  I’m hearing a lot of people make statements back and forth about the issue.  Why should I be made to feel bad if I ask these questions?

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I suppose I should finish this rambling blog that I started a couple of days ago.

I would like to also say, before I sit down to listen to the President’s State of the Union Address, that I hope I am not one of those people who everyone seems to think pinned all my hopes for the country on one man, one new President.  That was never the case with me as I have been following politics for years and became a bit disillusioned with the whole lot of them (politicians) years ago.  Looking back at the blog I wrote when President Obama was inaugurated, I said:

I don’t hold notions that the entire country, or world, can come together into a “beautiful symphony of brotherhood” as Dr. King put it.  But I do believe that the the goodwill of the rest of the world is not something to spit on and we have a better chance of regaining that.  I do believe that the security of this nation is a priority and I don’t think we will be losing ground on that.  I do believe that many people in this country can work constructively towards a better future and I think many people are willing to put their best foot forward. 

That was it and I still believe that.  Although I used the dreaded word “Hope” to title that blog, it was not meant to say that all my hopes rested on one man. 

And now on to the much less controversial topic of health care.  Ha!

I figured it was time to get a little more personal….

When I was about to graduate from college, a friend of mine asked me a question for an article he was writing for the campus newspaper.  It was the end of the school year, seniors were about to matriculate off of campus and into the wide world.  I can’t remember for sure the specific topic of the article – I think it had to do with the things we were anxious about in regards to our graduation.  The job market?  Being on our own?  Maybe it was an article on the things we were looking forward to after graduation.  Independence?  Being on our own?

I think I said something along the lines of: “I’m worried about health insurance.”

Along with being kicked out of the nest of the university, I was also about to be kicked out of the student health insurance I enjoyed during my undergraduate years.  For the last 4.25 years, I had been able to see a doctor whenever I wanted, get prescriptions I needed, and not worry about what would happen to me if I was gravely injured.  Well, you know – not worry about going bankrupt and all that.  I would be worried, of course.  It may seem like a strange thing to feel anxious about when leaving college.  With all the world in front of me and no full-time job lined up, I was most worried about health insurance.   

You see, I didn’t have that growing up.  I’m willing to bet a lot of kids my age didn’t either.  But really, I’m not sure. If their parents worked for a good-sized company, maybe they all did have health insurance. My parents didn’t and so, we didn’t. 

I didn’t understand health insurance when I was a kid.  I remember going to the dentist on a regular basis.  I had to, what with the teeth extractions and the cavities and the braces and all.  But going to the doctor?  Not so much.  I remember a shot when I was very little.  Some sort of pain in my neck in 6th grade when I turned my head too fast.  And……that was it.  I don’t remember seeing a doctor between the age of – oh about 11 to age 19.  Not that I really needed one.  I was a fairly healthy kid. 

Except, really I wasn’t.  I got sick often.  When I finally saw a doctor during my first year of college and he asked me all sorts of questions and listened to my lungs, he said “You have bronchitis” and gave me some antibiotics.  “Really?”  I thought to myself.  Because I was experiencing the same symptoms and problems I’d had many times in the past.  I just never thought to go to the doctor.  Now again, I consider myself to be lucky because, even though it probably caused a world of stress for my parents, I got help when I needed it.  They paid for my braces.  They paid for my eye exams and glasses.  I just don’t remember if insurance was ever part of our vocabulary back then. 

But I do remember a lot of anxiety over the idea of needing to see a doctor.  This had mostly to do with the fact that my dad had a couple of scary stints in the hospital when I was younger.  The irony I came to learn later was that – I think Dad could have avoided the times in the ICU if he had sought medical help earlier with his doctor.  When I was in college and he was in between insurance carriers, he didn’t go to see the doctor until the pain and damage was enough to cause him to pass out when he finally drove to the hospital.  And then, he wasn’t covered by insurance and spent years paying off the hospital stay.  Didn’t matter that he had just been covered.  Or that, in a few more weeks he would be covered.  He didn’t have an interim policy and therefore, he was screwed.

Over the years since college, I’ve watched and listened to friends who won’t go to see a doctor when they are not covered by insurance.  I’ve seen friends fret over getting independent insurance when they fear that some benign old ailment will suddenly become the “preexisting condition” that results in denial of coverage. 

People like to throw out terms like “death panels” when talking about the proposals for health care reform that have been winding their ways through Congress last year.  As if the idea of someone dying because he or she is denied health care coverage under the new proposals is a completely novel idea.  Really??  Where have you been?  Oh sure, you say that anyone in this country can walk into an emergency room and get help.  Sure.  But they still have to pay for it if they are not covered.  For some people, the choice of trying to manage their own pain versus paying thousands and thousands of dollars for emergency care is not a choice at all.  Or, some people who seek treatments are flat out denied coverage by their existing insurance carriers and, believe me, there are not many things harder to do than make an appointment with a doctor, let alone a specialist, without health insurance.  I tried to do it. 

Years ago, I was dissatisfied with my existing doctor and wanted to meet a new potential primary care physician.  I wanted to meet this doctor first before switching to her so I made an appointment.  I went into the office to check in and gave them my insurance card. 

But wait, I was told, Dr. A is not your PCP. 

I know, I said.  I want to meet her first before I assign her as my PCP.

But then your’re not covered by your insurance.

Well, that’s irritating but ok.  Can you give me an estimate of how much it will cost to talk to her?

No.

No?  Excuse me?  Can you just give me a ballpark figure of how much it would cost to walk through that door right there, sit down with the doctor for 10 minutes and walk out?

No.

Why not?

We cannot possibly cover all the possible things that may happen.  We can’t give you an estimate. Why don’t you just call your insurance, change her to your PCP, make a new appointment and if you don’t like her, you can change your PCP again. 

Now tell me, is that a WTF? moment or not?  I’m standing about 20 feet away from the doctor I want to meet.  But I have to pay money to open that door and meet her.  And her staff cannot give me a price estimate.  Cannot give me a price estimate.

WHO DOESN”T DO THAT????  WTF?  You need your oil changed in your car?  You call a garage and get a price estimate.  You want to switch your cell phone carrier?  You can call companies and get price estimates.  You want to buy a new TV?  You can shop around and look at price tags.  Hell, if you want me to write you a Population, Employment and Housing section of an environmental impact report for a new development, the least I can do is give you my billing rate. 

But ask how much it costs to see a doctor in this country?????  Nooooooooo.  We can’t do that.  Who knows -you might slam the door shut on your finger, bump your head on the counter and suddenly – the doctor needs to perform brain surgery.  Yeah.  That’s right stupid little patient.  Do what your insurance company tells you and it will all be better.

So, that was my attempt to get help without proper insurance coverage.  I ended up walking out, switching my PCP and going back to meet her.  Crazy how we can meet with anyone else in the world we want to hire beforehand but we can’t seem to cross that magic door to see a doctor without the proper paperwork. 

After I graduated from college, I was lucky enough to picked up for a full-time position with the research group I had been working for as a student.  Ever since then, I’ve either been working full time or covered by a COBRA policy.  Or – now that I am working on my own, covered by my husband’s work insurance.  There are still problems, especially if we want to move back to the mainland.  But still – I’m one of the lucky ones. 

I don’t believe in, nor want, an only-government-run health care plan in this country.  I’ve said it before – it’s not feasible in the United States.  I don’t think it would be efficient either.  I’m not in favor of the government spending more money than they take in.  But I do believe that reform is needed so that people who can pay for coverage and want coverage can get it.  I think that, if we require drivers to have current auto insurance, we should require citizens to have current health insurance.  I don’t say this because I am some sort of bleeding-heart who wants universal love and peace.  I say this because covering costs for the uninsured ultimately raises costs for the rest of us.  And I say this because I’ve seen the detrimental effects on my friends and family members of not having health insurance. 

I suppose there is more I could write but I’m not really trying to convince anyone of anything with my babbling here.  I’m just trying to give a little personal perspective.  People expect stereotypes in politics.  “Well, you are XYZ, so you must believe ABC.”  Sometimes I follow a stereotype.  Sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I believe in things because I research both sides and talk to people and learn as much as I can.  Sometimes I believe in things because of personal experience.  Sometimes, it’s a little bit of both.

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*sigh*

I have been trying to decide on a proper title for this blog.

“The Irony of Massachusetts”?

“The Perils of Parliamentary Procedure”?

“How the Cockiness of Politicians F*ed Up Another Election”?

“Health Care Reform Now!?!” ? 

“What the TV Show “West Wing” Taught Me About Congressional Shenanigans”?

Fox News would tell you there is a lot at stake today with the special-election vote for US Senator to take the seat of the late Ted Kennedy.  I’m guessing this because of the disparity I’ve noticed this past week in the content of CNN versus Fox News.  Since the earthquake in Haiti, CNN has been spending a lot of time on the aftermath of the tragedy.  They have their first-string reporting crew on the ground in Haiti.  As do CBS and NBC.  However, every time this past week I have turned to Fox News it has been politics politics politics.  Oh, except for the one report from some correspondent I’ve never seen in grainy video in front of a gas station somewhere in Haiti.  Turn on the TV to CNN – they are interviewing former Presidents Clinton and Bush (the second) about their combined efforts to spearhead an aid campaign to Haiti.  Turn to Fox News and, once again, I am faced with the butt-ugly, caked-on-make-up, plastic face of Charles Krauthammer talking.  And talking.  And talking. 

ABC, CBS, NBC- on the ground in Haiti.  Fox News – Krauthammer in the studio.  CNN – Anderson Cooper in Haiti.  Fox News – Krauthammer in the studio. MSNBC? – well, I have no idea.  I never watch MSNBC for fear of Keith Olbermann yelling at me. 

Then, *ding* I suddenly remember that the Massachusetts special election is coming up.  I learn  that the race is pulling closer and closer with the Republican candidate Scott Brown suddenly ahead of the Democrat Martha Coakley.  I realize that one party in the Senate is in danger of losing their supermajority of 60 seats.  And then I understand why Fox News seems to feel they cannot waste any time on some humanitarian tragedy in a developing country when there is a possibility that Republicans in Congress may once again be free to wage a filibuster war without fear of cloture.  A-ha!  

Well, not to worry Fox News.  Maybe there will be another devastating natural disaster next month and you can cover it with some amount of respect.  Maybe it will happen in a more glamorous spot than Haiti. 

So, all this bruhaha for the Republican candidate who has vowed to fight President Obama’s health care agenda.  And a few other domestic issues.

And can he do it if elected? 

Can the Republicans in the Senate torpedo the health care legislation that has already been passed in the House and passed in the Senate by the existing members of Congress?  Ummm……possibly yes if the House has any changes to the Bill that would require the Senate to vote on it again. 

Funny how quickly things can change.  Vote in the Senate in December with 60 members who would not allow a filibuster to delay the process.  Vote again in January with 41 members who will allow a filibuster on the floor.  And Bam! all the pundits are discussing the death of health care reform in the United States.

And so…………not unusual…………my brain starts working overtime.

The Irony of Massachusetts?  That would be the irony of Ted Kennedy being the champion of health care reform and having his death be the potential sticky widget in the works that kills health care reform.

The Perils of Parliamentary Procedure?  That would be the fact that the practice of delaying the vote has been carried forward in certain types of governments since ancient Rome.  Caesar faced it in 60 B.C., so garsh darn it, we Congress members are going to uphold the right and tradition.

How the Cockiness of Politicians F*ed Up Another Election?  That would be the complete inability of certain campaign managers to learn to NEVER TAKE AN ELECTION FOR GRANTED.  Hindsight commentators criticize Hilary Clinton’s primary campaign for being so sure of a win they had no strategy for a prolonged primary contest.  Seems that Martha Coakley let her lackadaisical campaign get a little too self-assured for their own britches. 

Health Care Reform Now?!  The reason I care about this issue at all is because I do believe that some health care reform is needed in the United States.  I’ve been trying to explain to people my feelings on the difference between Universal Health Care and Government-Run Health Care.  I support the former, oppose the latter.  I think that those of us who pay for health care ultimately pay the higher costs of a system that takes care of the uninsured.  I think that those of us currently covered by a health care plan should be able to transfer from one state to another as I face the specter of searching for a new health care carrier if I move back to California without finding a full time job.  I think that people who are searching for a health care provider shouldn’t be afraid to seek medical help for fear of suddenly being denied coverage because of an “existing condition.”  I have seen mandates for health care coverage work in other countries that provide public and PRIVATE health care options.  I do not advocate that the whole system be government-run.  What a disaster that would be. 

What the show “The West Wing” Taught Me About Congressional Shenanigans.  I think about certain episodes where staff members kept running to Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff, for ideas on how to delay a vote (can’t remember if it was House or Senate).  Josh would pull archaic parliamentary rules from his memory that members would use to take up time on the floor.  Or the episode, The Stackhouse Filibuster.  When the White House staff realized why a particular Senator was waging a filibuster, they tried to help him out by enlisting the aid of other Senators via a rule that allows him to yield the floor without abandoning his delaying cause.  Of course, that seems to promote the nobility of the worthy filibuster. 

So, I decided on “Don’t Fear the Filibuster.”

Because right now, I’m a little pissed about the whole idea of a worthy filibuster.  But I’m more pissed that the Democrats and Republicans and pundits seem to think that a filibuster would kill the entire months-long effort of passing a health care reform bill.  It all comes down to votes in Massachusetts today because without a supermajority to end a filibuster, the Senate is doomed to not pass a bill?  What am I missing?  If you  have the votes to pass a bill, you have the votes?  How long, in the history of our government, did the longest filibuster last?  Hours?  Days?  Weeks?  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t weeks.  In fact, it was a 24-hour and 18-minute-filibuster conducted by Strom Thurmond in 1957 arguing against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.  He read Washington’s Farewell Address and talked about his mother’s biscuits.  What happened to the Bill?  It passed.  Eventually.

So, my question is “Why Fear the Filibuster?”  So the vote is delayed.  Yes, it sucks.  It delays the work of the Senate on other important matters.  But maybe the Senators’ constituents will be upset enough to call filibuster shenanigans on their Senators.  Ultimately, won’t a vote still be made?  And if there are enough votes to pass the bill, it will pass.  Why does the entire health care initiative have to die if Scott Brown is elected?  Why are we being told the stock market is up today on expectations that health care reform is dead.

Seriously, someone help me out here.  Are filibusters that effective?  Can’t the other Senators hold their ground?  Or do we just ask the House to ok the bill as put forth by the Senate, negating another Senate vote, and hope adequate changes are made afterward?  When are the Democrats going to grow a pair?

I seriously understand how Jon Stewart feels here at about 8:22.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
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There are some feelings I consider wasted emotions. 

I suffer from some of these wasted emotions and I don’t mind talking about that.  Worry is probably my biggest wasted emotion.  I’ve wasted time, energy, good relations (temporarily mostly), and lots and lots of sleep worrying about things.  Worry, on occasion may lead to something productive.  If, for example, I manage to write out and complete a to-do list to ease my stress.  Or, if I spend extra time or attention with someone I care about because I am worried about them.  There are many ways that worry can become worthwhile.  But, I freely admit that I’ve spun myself into circles with needless useless wasted worry.

Insecurity is another wasted emotion I am constantly dogged with.  Too often Sweetie bears the brunt of this wasted emotion and it is awful.  Simply awful.  You would think by now that all my insecurities where my husband are concerned would be gone and we wouldn’t be weighed down by it.  But no, it rears its ugly head time and again and I am still trying to learn to discipline my own thoughts to banish insecurity forever.

Thankfully, there is one (what I consider) wasted emotion that I don’t tangle with too often: envy/jealousy.*  Maybe my brain just figured out that I’m wasting enough energy on worry and insecurity.  Or maybe I’m just not wired for jealousy.  (Have they figured out what parts of the brain these emotions come from? I need to finish reading my Destructive Emotions book.)  But throughout much of my life, when I have been handed good news by people I know, I manage to process it through my brain without the filter of jealousy kicking in.  Or maybe – like that lesson I learned the hard way with my sister and talking about people behind their backs – I learned a long time ago that envy can be ruinous not just to me, but to my relationships.  Sitting here writing about it – I distinctly remember a conversation I had with one of my best friends in high school.  She was so happy about something concerning her family and I remember making some biting comment alluding to how much money they had.  I was sort of happy for her but I do believe that my own jealousy made me snarky and mean.  She called me on it.  Literally.  She called me up and told me how much that hurt her (or maybe she passed me a note….I’m forgetting).  I agonized over it because I felt so bad and I knew she was right.  And I think because of my obvious envy – among other things – our friendship took an unrecoverable slide.

It’s interesting how some particularly painful experiences can shape my behavior for years after.

All I know is – I didn’t feel jealous of one of my best friends in high school when she got a boyfriend – something I very much wanted.  I felt like so many stupid young boys didn’t appreciate her enough and was glad that someone finally did.  I didn’t even feel envious of friends who got loads of attention from different guys in college.  Sure, I would feel miserable for myself for being single and feeling so unattractive for so long.  But there was (as far as I remember) no major encore of my high school Snarky Jealousy.  I stopped worrying altogether at the grades my friends were getting when mine nose-dived.  I don’t begrudge my friends material happiness.  And I’ve never stood beside a loved one on her wedding day feeling lonely for myself – I’ve been too dizzyingly happy for her. 

So maybe I’m just over-aware when I see the destructive trail that jealousy leads people on.  As far as wasted energy is concerned.  Sure, I understand a bit of envy here and there.  But it strikes me in particular when people are jealous of their own loved ones.  When that envy swamps what should be a shared joy, I think it is such a tragedy that someone ends up spending more time feeling bad for his/herself than happy for someone else.  What happens when someone is greeted by a loved one with news of new love, happy family, new children, bigger paycheck, job recognition, or some other joy?  Do you feel joy?  Or do you end up feeling sad?  And does that one moment of good news lead to countless moments of feeling loneliness, loss, bitterness, rage, or worry?  And how is someone supposed to feel when they share good news and know that it makes someone else miserable? 

I recently commented on someone else’s blog about how I enjoy getting Christmas letters from people and I don’t understand why some people hate them so much.  People who revile them call them “brag letters” and maybe their hatred comes from constant jealousy.  But my letters are what they are.  The year my uncle died I think I just wrote a long poem.  When my father died I told people my father died.  I wonder if my jealous friends and family members enjoyed that particular letter more than my others.  Who knows.  I hope not.

In any case, I’m left again feeling I don’t have a proper solution.  I just hope that people can learn to separate their own disappointments in life from the joys of others.  Especially from others you claim to like, or love.  We spend so much time concentrating on ourselves.  At the least, we should be able to afford other people sincere happiness when it is due.  They say the word jealous comes from the Low Latin zealous and from the Greek word that meant zeal in a good way – like emulation, ardor, zeal – with a root connoting “to boil, ferment” or “yeast.”  I just keep thinking how the word ends in “lousy,” which is pretty much how it makes you feel.

What if we could learn to turn our negative “jealous” back into positive “ambition?”  If we must feel the pangs of envy for someone else, can we bend it into achievement and use that energy to help us work harder to fulfill our own goals?  At the end of the day, think how bad you feel when you hear insincere congratulations when you yearn for shared joys.  How crappy it is to get criticism instead of praise?  Why do that to someone else?  Even if you don’t express it out loud.  If you want to be selfish at all, spend the energy on yourself and figure out how to get closer to some semblance of that other person’s joy.  Then share some good news and see how people’s faces and voices light up in celebration.  Savor those sincere congratulations.  Sometimes they are hard to come by.

I snagged this picture from HERE, where there are also a few good words about jealousy.

*There are differences in the etymology of these two words.  Maybe I should be focusing on Envy, which seems to have a more negative connotation than jealousy.  For now, I’m sticking with jealousy and I figure you understand the point.

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Or should I say – Respectful politician vs. hatemongers?

I have, in the past, lamented the fact that people cannot seem to articulate opinions without spouting generalized unfounded attacks on the people they perceive as their “opponents.” Drives me batty. If I’m going to take the time to spread my opinions around, I’ll take the time to listen to people who respectfully disagree with me. Ask my brother-in-law. We’ve spent a bit of time in the last 20 years “discussing” issues. He tells me he is becoming less political as the years go on, and I will take him at his word since I asked him to remove me from his e-mail forwards a little while ago.

Anyway, a few days ago, I saved this link to an article about Ben Stein being fired from his job at the New York Times. (http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/08/12/ben-stein-fired-by-the-new-york-times-good-work/?icid=main|main|dl4|link4|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailyfinance.com%2F2009%2F08%2F12%2Fben-stein-fired-by-the-new-york-times-good-work%2F).

I thought at the time, “Couldn’t happen to a more deserving ass.” And here’s why.

An old high school friend of mine forwarded me some text purportedly written by Mr. Ben Stein about the health care debate that is all the rage around the US right now. I read it and was convinced the e-mail was an “urban legend.” There was no way even Ben Stein could write such crap. But I looked it up, and it seems legit. Incredible but legit. In writing about health care (you know – the legislation that is currently being written by Congress, not the President) Ben Stein really did spend most of his text ranting against the President of the United States and accusing him of ultra-leftist, racist leanings. While spending a couple of sentences to talk about health care, Stein spews forth about the myth of global warming and accusations of treason against President Obama. Really? This is how you make a point about health care? And then, people like the “American Family Association” take your hate-filled spew and forward it to each other in order to get people to call their representatives about the health care bill? Because you think President Obama is not a scholar? What? The President who didn’t write any of the multiple bills being discussed in committees the last few weeks? That’s your “educated” opinion, Mr. Ben Stein? Sounds like hate mongering to me.

I wrote back to my friend:

I don’t mind having some political stuff forwarded to me, once in a while. This kind of slander bullshit is close to criminal. I don’t like such inflammatory lies. If someone wants to talk about health care policy, fine. I’ll discuss it. I’ll listen to arguments. But even when I debated the moral, political, and human-lives cost of the Iraq war, I didn’t slander the President of the United States. Let alone bring in global warming on a health care debate. This dribble is really way out of line and it would probably be good if I stay off your list for political e-mails.

And then, I have to say, I was happy to read that Ben Stein lost one of his writing jobs because he failed to disclose information about the details of a deal he made to be a spokesperson for a sketchy business. Hatemonger.

Speaking of which, there is the on-going saga of Sarah Palin’s “press releases” on her Facebook site. Because, she’s been mostly out of sight since she resigned from her post as Governor of Alaska. Because……ethics complaints make it impossible to do your job. Ha ha. Talk to New York Congressman Charles Rangel. He deals with ethics complaints. Doesn’t quit his job. But then, I think he actually likes representing people who elected him. Oh wait, Sarah Palin quit because……she might be a lame duck leader if she announced she is not running for re-election. Ha ha. Talk to every single second-term president since the 22nd Amendment was passed. Did they all just resign the last year of their elected term? Uhhhhh……..no. ANd some of them managed to get some work done. Some of them even managed to do more than one task at a time while fulfilling their oaths of office. But that’s ok. Sarah Palin seems to think she can be more effective by having someone ghostwrite for her on her Facebook page. Facebook? Seriously? I thought Facebook was for social networking. A fun little place. And yes, even the White House has a Facebook page and releases information that way. But at least, when the White House sends out information via Facebook, we have Robert Gibbs’ daily (or regular) press briefings where he stands, live, in front of the press and (shocking!) answers questions. I’ve watched his briefings. It’s true. He answers questions. Or the White House will send out President Obama himself to hold town hall meetings and (shocking!) answer questions. The White House on Facebook doesn’t just spew words and then hide behind a curtain. Easy for Sarah Palin to do when she continues to spew inflammatory non-facts into space without answering any comments from her “fans.” Even my friends on Facebook will answer back to me when I question them on a political point they make. But not Ms. Palin. Remember – this is the woman who never silenced the angry mobs she whipped into a frenzy on the presidential campaign trail. This is the woman who laughed when political opponents were called “a cancer” and who said nothing when someone yelled out “kill him!” regarding then-candidate Obama. Hatemonger. Or, as I have explained before – Demagogy.

So, what made me think of that today? This clip of John McCain at his own town hall meeting on health care. And how he still manages to frame his debate in respectful terms. And how he still manages to try and keep his crowds respectful. He was the candidate on the trail who admonished a woman in the audience when she questioned candidate-Obama’s patriotism. And he did it again this week when another female in the audience questioned the President’s respect of the United States Constitution. McCain got booed for it by his own constituents, but he stood by his statement. And he explains, again, that there is just a fundamental difference in the views about government. As is true for many politicians. And he defends the President and asks his audience to be respectful. In all the brouhaha lately in these town hall meetings, with the escalating rhetoric and the theatrics and the name-calling and the insults (from everyone), it is so freaking refreshing to hear someone say “let’s be respectful.”

Once again, a tip of the hat to John McCain. If only he hadn’t picked the demagogue of a Governor and elevated her onto the national stage. Senator McCain is so far above and beyond that. I wish more people would take his advice and actually discuss positions and philosophy rather than promote hate and fear. But then, I bet Ben Stein (and Sarah Palin soon) makes a lot more money than Mr. McCain. Or President Obama. It’s more monetarily rewarding these days to be a hatemonger than a legislator. Score one for greed.

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New Guinea is a country in Oceania, a group of islands between the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, east of Indonesia.

In New Guinea, there can be found many members of the family Paradisaeidae.  Birds of Paradise. 

From a 2007 National Geographic article “Birds of Paradise:”

Birds of paradise perch on an improbable branch of the avian family tree, the flashy cousins of straitlaced ravens and crows. They began splitting off from their bland kin millions of years ago, evolving into today’s 38 eclectic species. Of these, 34 live only on New Guinea and its satellite islands.

Fruit and insects abound all year in the forests of New Guinea, the largest tropical island in the world, and natural threats are few. Linked to Australia until about 8,000 years ago, the 1,500-mile-long (2,400 kilometers) island shared much of its neighbor’s fauna. Marsupials and birds were plentiful, but placental mammals were entirely absent, meaning no monkeys and squirrels to compete with birds for food, and no cats to prey on them. The result: an avian paradise that today is home to more than 700 species of birds.

Freed of other pressures, birds of paradise began to specialize for sexual competition. Traits that made one bird more attractive than another were passed on and enhanced over time. Known as sexual selection, this process “is to birds of paradise what natural selection is to Darwin’s finches—the prime mover,” says Scholes. “The usual rules of survival aren’t as important here as the rules of successful mating.”

Mating.  Male Birds of Paradise are all about the mating.  The colors of their feathers.  The behavior they display.  The songs they sing.  For a time in their lives – it is all about attracting a mate.  These birds put on their best plumage, strut their best dances, and sing their best songs in hopes of becoming the lucky male who is picked by the lovely but drab little female chicks.  Take this guy – the Six-Plumed Bird of Paradise. 

What extremes will he go to to impress a potential mate?  He sings.  He dances.  Would you believe he even makes the effort to clean up his home turf before strutting his stuff?

If any of you have watched the enthralling, enchanting, gorgeous, amazing series “Planet Earth”, then you have seen this guy in action.  They even have footage of him cleaning up before any lady friends arrive. 

Hmmmm….does that sound like any other creatures we know? 

Pretty impressive behavior.  Unfortunately for the lucky lady who picks this fancy bird to start a family with, it appears that most of the work and effort end with the act of mating.   The Six-plumed Bird of Paradise is polygamous and does not take part in raising the young.  All that work to make a good impression.  And then, an entirely different creature.

Does *that* sound like any other creatures we know?

I for one worked very hard to make a good impression on my Sweetie when we first got together.  I guess I did a good job because here we are – married and committed to each other for the rest of our lives.  Now, a few years into our relationship, when I go through my bad days and my low points, I still sometimes think to myself: “Don’t screw this up. ”  I worry that my bad points are too too off-putting for anyone to bear.  I wonder if Sweetie really knew what he was getting himself into when he married me.  Did I dazzle him with my bright plumage into thinking I was some kind of woman that I am not?

Which is a ridiculous thought because I went through plenty of low points during our dating time.  And he knew everything about me before he asked me to marry him.  Because, eventually, the newness of our time together wore off and we became comfortable enough with each other to display behavior that was less-than-prime courting behavior.  The burping.  The tears.  Leaving dishes in the sink.  The grumpiness. The insecurity.  His inability to remember to pull the shower curtain to ward off the damp buildup.  My inability to shut my brain off in the middle of the night.  All of it.  He knew.  I knew.  We did a little more in-depth research and soul searching than those six-plumed birdies. 

For many humans, our instincts have evolved beyond the basic “make a copy of yourself before you die” tic.  And with more complicated wants and needs comes the complications of human relationships.  I don’t know if I can ever completely shut off my occasional insecurity in relationships.    And Sweetie may get frustrated by my inability to swallow my own feelings and my endless need to talk things through with him, but I’m not like the housewives of yore – who smoothed their aprons and plastered smiles on their faces for their husbands, no matter what.   And I don’t imagine that’s what he wanted, or thought he was getting. 

At least I am able to reassure myself that I tried not to puff myself up to an illusion of something I am not.  When my feathers come down, I am an ordinary woman with ordinary foibles.  That can’t be too surprising to him, can it?  He knew what he was getting into. 

I think, for us humans, if we want our mates to actually stick around past the mating act itself, we do ourselves a favor by exposing our flaws along with our fine feathers.  In the long run, we are better able to adapt in the future if we see the real people behind our loved ones’ faces.  No guarantees, of course.  But it helps. 

But really, check this guy out –

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eBay Sucks!

Every once in a while, I sell stuff on eBay.  I’ve been doing this for a few years.  Most of my inventory has been comic books.  Most of the stuff I buy on eBay are comic books.

If you are a buyer on eBay, you probably haven’t noticed many of the changes that have occurred the last couple of years.  However, if you are a seller, you are painfully aware of them.  And if you are like me, YOU ARE FED UP!

That’s it.  I’ve had it.  I’m moving my inventory somewhere else.  Ditch eBay, I say!!  Everyone move to eBid!!!

It all started with fee increases and fees and fees.  Fees to have a Store. Fees for extra pictures. Insertion fees to list items.  The fee that eBay takes off your final selling price.  Ug.  For a long time, it was worth it because eBay was essentially the only player in town if you really want to auction stuff off on-line.  Everyone knows about eBay.

Last January, eBay instituted a new policy that does not allow sellers to leave feedback for buyers. 

WHAT?!!  EBay wrote some sort of BS nonsense about allowing buyers to feel more safe to leave negative feedback.  This policy leaves sellers flapping in the wind!  We have nothing to protect us from random, undeserved negative comments.  We can work as hard as we can to try and fix any problems our buyers may have (I offer returns on most items).  But now a buyer doesn’t have to worry about getting negative feedback if they want to stick it to a seller.  In my opinion, an eBay transaction is a mutual transaction, and this policy screws the sellers.

Finally, the last straw.  Apparently this was announced a few months ago, but I didn’t realize it.  EBay no longer allows sellers to accept check, money orders and cashier’s checks for items.  Long story short, we are basically forced to use PayPal (and a couple of other smaller online payment centers) for items.  EBay wrote some sort of BS nonsense about this allowing for more secure transactions for sellers.  Which is CRAP.  Every seller used to be able to choose what method of payment we accepted.  If you only wanted PayPal and didn’t want to accept checks and money orders, that was fine.  Just say you only accept PayPal.  Or cash.  Or glass beads.  Whatever.  It worked.  I’ve had plenty of people send me checks and money orders.  Never had a problem.  But now, unless we want to violate eBay’s new policy, we can’t do that.

WHAT?!! 

Oh right.  Guess who owns PayPal?

EBay.

EBay owns PayPal.  This policy has jack nothing to do with protecting sellers (or buyers) and everything to do with eBay’s bottom line.  Which, you know, eBay has the right to do.  It’s their business.

Well, guess what?  It’s my business too and I am taking it elsewhere.

I’ve found some great resources this week to help me find new auction/selling sites.  There is a great little “Mashable” article called “17 Alternatives to Buying and Selling on EBay.”  This article lists a bunch (17) other sites and gives some information on each of them.  Sweetie found this great site:  http://www.online-auction-sites.toptenreviews.com/

That site lists 10 different auction sites and does a side-by-side comparison of things like types of sales, seller fees, reliability, etc.  Nice site.

I searched around for other sites last January.  The problem was, and still is, this:  While there is plenty of inventory on many of these sites, when I browse through the auctions, I don’t see a lot of active bids.  These sites NEED MORE BUYERS!!  I think we need to get the word out to people that there are other options besides eBay.

It may be a bit of a struggle.  Like I said, there are no disincentives to buyers on eBay.  They don’t have to pay an extra fee.  But what you may not realize is that 1) sellers may be slightly increasing their prices to make up for the selling fees, and 2) over time, inventory will go down on eBay because more and more sellers are leaving.  One of the stores I used to keep track of on eBay shut down last January after the new policies took effect.  I think more people will leave this month.  And I think that buyers will soon get the word that there are other alternatives.

For now, I think I’m moving over to eBid.  The setup is very similar – there are auctions and “Buy Now” options.  There are stores and feedback.  And, right now, they are offering Lifetime seller subscriptions for $49.99.  Lifetime.  Set up a store and there will be no more monthly fees every single month.  Ever.  There may be some other fees, but they are nothing compared to what eBay has been charging.  Wow! 

EBay may someday learn that their money-grabbing efforts are so extreme that they will  backfire.  I don’t feel bad for them at all.

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