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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

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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Most of this speaks for itself but some minute-by-minute commentary below provided by me.  I wish the interviewer had asked some more questions but I also like that he just steps back and lets people speak. 

0:10:  She wants to meet you too!  Or at least meet your money.

0:31:  Ma’am, I am so glad you are not my grandma.  You’ve got that classic pissy “You are an insolent frak-up!” look down pat.  You scare me. 

1:22:  Way to protect yourself from those “Gotcha!” questions.  Because – “What are some issues of hers that you agree with?” is fraught with danger.  Run away! Run away!

2:00:  Are you related to the older woman from 0:31?  You have that look down too. 

2:22:  Word Salad Alert!  She’s trying very hard but is missing some of the key elements of grammar.

2:33: So, you would like to eliminate the Department of Veterans Affairs?  You’d like to leave our service men and woman out in the cold?  What a good patriot you are. 

2:43:  Word Salad Alert! Are you trying to impersonate Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin?  Cap and trade.  Job creation. Trade! Alaska! 

3:06:  Good job sir.  You are compliant with Principle #7 of Mr. Glenn Beck’s 9 Principles: ….Government cannot force me to be charitable.

3:53: Sir, if an atom bomb goes off in the United States, I guarantee you that you and I are going to have more important things to worry about than the President declaring martial law.  Couldn’t you come up with something slightly less dire?

4:00:  No! Noooooo!  You are violating Principle #1……America is good.  Glenn Beck is gonna be mad at you.  Out of the club with you!

4:22:  She’s not going to have the votes because of illegal aliens?  I don’t think that is why she won’t have the votes to become President, but I’m just guessing.

4:35:  I wish the interviewer had let this woman expound a little. I’m curious where we need profiling.  At the grocery store?  The bank?  Does she advocate starting up something like the Hitler Jugend so kids can report on what is going on with their suspicious (non-white?) neighbors?  Because the police are a little overtaxed right now. 

4:55:  Pretty much speaks for itself.  ok.  No wait.  I have to ask – how many illegal aliens enter the US via the Bering Strait??  Or are you talking about illegals from Yukon?

5:45:  Oh!  She’s talking about endangered species.  PETA?  PETA?  They do weigh in on some endangered species issues, but they are not the main proponents.  You might want to talk with the lady from 2:33 about eliminating the Department of the Interior. 

6:04:  Holy crap! Why didn’t anyone tell me? I could be an oil millionaire!  I’m grabbing my shovel.

6:30:  I’ve heard over and over again that Braveheart is a good movie.  Doesn’t make it true.

7:45:  Well, I think this guy is typical of about 80-percent of all voters.  80-percent.  Am I being too generous?

7:57:  True.  When in doubt, raise volume.  Have you seen the tea-bagger rallies?

8:05.  I think so too!  It’s called: Multi-Million-Dollar-Book-and Speaking-Deal. I’m afraid to look up her other sleeve.

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I’ve refrained from talking about the former VP candidate/Governor Quitter for a while but she certainly likes to keep herself in the headlines.  She’ll be touring for her new book soon. 

If you are like me, you have received e-mails from people who advocate boycotting coins that don’t have “In God We Trust” on them.  This chain e-mail goes on and on about refusing to accept these coins from business people, etc.  People who send me e-mail forwards know that (or should know) I am prone to fact-checking and will respond to the whole dang e-mail list if I’m given a chain e-mail that includes falsehoods or urban legends.  Of course, then I get e-mails from people who send me a forwarded chain e-mail that snopes.com is some left-wing conspiracy front and the people who run it are hiding themselves and never check their sources.  Unfortunately, once again, the people who send me these e-mails don’t do any fact-checking of their own and I have to correct them again after checking fact-check.org who followed up on the chain e-mail.  I have not yet received an e-mail telling me that fact-check.org is run by a vast left-wing conspiracy group. 

Anyhoo, when I got the outraged e-mail about the US coins, I had to respond to everyone to remind them that the words “In God We Trust” were still on the coins but had been moved to the rim of the coins.  I told people if they wanted to be outraged at the change then they could still refuse the new coins if they wanted to but they better change the text of their ranty e-mails to be factually correct. 

Personally, I wish people would calm down about the whole issue.  There are bigger things to worry about as far as the separation of church and state in this country.  I think raging about coin design is stupid.  I also think suing the federal government so that kids can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance in class is the height of stupidity.  Stop obsessing over the language and let kids say the pledge.  Or opt out.  I’ve seen interviews with “kids” and young adults and, let me tell you, these young folks are way smarter than their adult parents.  While fathers are ranting about the words “under God,” kids are saying “What’s the big deal? We can say it or not say it. It’s no big deal.”

But adults.  You know.  Not so bright.  Sarah Palin’s latest rant insinuates that there is some conspiracy behind the moving of the words “In God We Trust” on our US coins.  The implication being, I suppose, that the new administration is evil and trying to secretly remove God from the lives of the US citizens.  Bad bad Democrat administration.  While I was set to ignore her latest rants, I’m glad to know that some people are starting to call her on her unsubstantiated statements. 

By the way, I’ll go on record as saying I really don’t think she will ever run for President of the US.  I would have written more about her after the presidential election because I told y’all I think she is a dangerous demagogue.  Then, she quit as governor and I honestly cannot believe anyone is THAT narcissistic to think that she can bail out of her elected office and expect to be elected in the future to US President.  Lots of people like to speculate about her and she lets the speculation go because – ladies and gentlemen – it sells books.  And, in my opinion, the only things she is after now is power and money.  Money money money for herself and her family.  And power to feed her narcissism. Fine.  You go girl.  Plenty of American citizens take advantage of the spotlight to sell themselves and their stories for money.  But she does need to stop spouting vitriol that has little basis in fact.  In that respect, she is still dangerous.  So, good job Fox News.

UPDATE:  Seriously, could I have possibly posted more grammatical and spelling errors than this post? I don’t think so.  Apologies to early readers.  I cringed when re-reading this post (now mostly corrected). 

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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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So, Sweetie and I jumped on a plane today headed for sunny California!

Lucky for us, sunny California is not as sunny as it was a week or so ago.  Last week, I was hearing all about the heat wave and the 100+, 110+ hot temperatures.  But we landed in Sacramento tonight and it was downright lovely.  A little wind has kicked up and I think the temperatures will be in the cool 90s for a while.  I hope.  We’ll see.

Anyway, Hooray!!!!!! We are in California.  It has been almost six months since our last visit – probably the longest amount of time I’ve spent away from my family in a long long time.  Definitely the longest amount of time I’ve not seen my nephews since they were born.  And there was Nephew #1 with Big Sis smiling at the bottom of the escalators tonight.  I wanted to smother him with hugs I was so happy to see them both.     (I know, I know —- it’s like I just discovered these emoticons or something.  Lighten up.)

Behind the scenes here, the last few weeks, Sweetie and I have been working hard to organize his family’s biennial reunion gathering.  If you remember, I attended two years ago when Sweetie and I were engaged.  I was introduced to many many members of the extended family and enjoyed a few days of hiking, horseback riding, lounging around, and chatting with my soon-to-be-family in Utah.  It’s been two years of getting ready for the next one.  And it is in California and fell to Sweetie’s immediate family to organize.  A while ago it was handed over to Sweetie, his mom, and me.  So, I’ve been trying to get head counts, and reservations, and activities organized, and so on and so forth.  And, ready or not – the family is descending in a litltle over a week!  I’m sure to blog more about that later (or not – you may have noticed I’m notoriously bad at finishing some blogs.)

Sweetie and I flew from Maui to Oahu to catch our plane to California.  Then, of course, the plane takes off from Oahu and flies right back past Maui on its way east.  And I gotta tell you, the ocean around Maui and Oahu today was the most gorgeous I have ever seen it.  Bright light blue at the shore fading into deep shades of blue so clear, I could see the waves and the coral from the plane window.  Stunningly beautiful today.  One of those days I feel quite blessed to be living in such surroundings.

And then, flying above California, the sun on the west side of the plane was the deepest, darkest, brightest red I have ever seen as it set.  I was on the opposite side of the plane, and we were landing, so I only had a bit of a glimpse through the windows.  But wow.  Maui’s got nothing on that sunset.

So, Sweetie and I are now settling into Mom’s house.  We will, no doubt, be shuttling back and forth between our moms’ houses.  With a possible side trip to LA while we are here.   Tomorrow morning, I am walking a 5K with Big Sis and the family.  Then a little BBQ.  It’s all good.

But I gotta say – What the WHAT?!  I am in the air and out of Internet range for one day and I log into my computer tonight to find out – WHAT?!  Sarah Palin resigned as Governor of Alaska?!  Stepping down?  Not even finishing her term?  For what?  I’ve been following some of the Alaska blogs so I know about the ethics complaints, and the legislature going against her wishes to take stimulus money, and the resounding defeat of her horrible attorney general pick.  But for what?  Because the going got tough?  Because attacks got personal?  Because she felt like she couldn’t forward her agenda in her own state?

I don’t know the answer for sure.  I’m just surprised that someone who was touted as having the tenacity of a bulldog ended up giving up her elected office like a whimpering Chihuahua (no offense to Chihuahuas).  Maybe she knows of more things that are going to come to light that she can’t excuse away.  Maybe she wants to go “hike the Appalachian Trail.”  Maybe her advisors are really so stupid as to think this is the best way to launch a bid for President.  ?? Who knows.  I just honestly hope that her loyally rabid followers don’t try and turn this into what a great opportunity for her to support national candidates, or jump on the national stage, or whatnot.  In my experience, if you can’t stand tough in your own job, you have no business seeking a tougher job (and let me tell you, my old co-workers and I have stood tough for years in a workplace that can chew people up and spit them out in weeks).  Much as I think Sarah Palin is amazing fodder for crazy political stories, I stand by my earlier opinions that her rhetoric and particular brand of politics are poison, her qualifications for national office are atrocious, her viewpoints are narrow and dangerous, and I’d prefer she disappear from the national stage. 

And with that, I should sleep if I want to wake up for a fun run.  Sorry for the hodgepodge of notes here.   Just thought I’d write something before all my day’s memories are gone. 

Happy 4th of July everyone!

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Ugggg…..

Wasteful spending.  It sucks. Especially if it is being done with MY tax dollars. 

I gotta agree with the Senate Republicans on this one.  This latest version of TARP, or whatever they are calling this Federal spending plan, looks horrible.  It looks wasteful.  It still looks like a bunch of earmarked projects cherry-picked for some special donors back in the Representatives’ home districts.  Here is a list of some of the projects that the GOP leaders consider to be wasteful in the latest stimulus package bill:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/02/gop.stimulus.worries/index.html

A lot of these projects do NOT look like they would stimulate growth in our economy.  I would agree to a spending package that stimulates growth and improves infrastructure.  The American Society of Civil Engineers puts out a report called “The Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.”  It’s full of Ds.  Parents out there, if your kid came home with such a dismal report card, there would be some severe repercussions, I think.  In this report card, bridges get a C, dams get a D, roads get a D-, and drinking water gets a D-.  The United States, if we are going to pass a bill to spend billions of dollars to stimulate the economy, should make this bill a double-plus by spending the money on things we really really need.  Like roadway improvements and bridge retrofit.  Not things like furniture for new federal buildings.

I don’t agree with everything on the GOP’s list.  I don’t think spending money on Amtrak or a sewer system or new flood control projects is wasteful.  But I don’t think this bill should be passed the way it is and I hope the House and Senate Democrats work with the Republicans to fix it.  I think a lot of Americans feel the same way.  I think I’ll emulate my pal Debbie and follow this blog with an e-mail to my Congressional reps.  Let’s say “No!” to earmarked wasteful spending.  Or else just give me my tax money back.  I’ll show y’all how to spend money properly! 

Heh heh. 

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