In the News

-From a conversation I had with a friend online about how we talk about AF-15 assault rifles in the public sphere.

For me, it’s relatively simple. I am against guns, of any kind. I don’t even think police should use guns, though I don’t know how that would work with so many guns on our streets today. But the culture of violence that we live in has got to stop.

I am also not a hunter, so it’s hard for me to understand putting hunting rights ahead of our children’s safety. Or the public’s safety. I know not everyone feels this way and were these normal times, then this could be a normal debate about gun rights. But this isn’t normal times, and we are not having a normal discussion. We aren’t doing ‘normal’ right now. We’re not doing much of anything at all, except point fingers, yell, and try to make this a political issue with sides, -rather than the public safety issue that it is.

We aren’t having a legitimate debate in Washington or in most of the media, where they are still debating whether to pass background checks-or not, whether military-style assault weapons should be banned- or not.

We’re arming teachers, we’re yelling about second amendment rights, and ignoring the 70% of people in this country who want these guns off our streets.

For me, this isn’t whether or not people use AR-15 style assault weapons to hunt with, modify them to shoot bean bags, use them to hunt for food or protect their home from ‘invasion’.

To me, whatever else that gun may be used for, that tells me what I need to know:
This gun was designed to shoot the most amount of people as possible as fast as possible.
It is designed for war.
It is designed to kill,

Why would we arm a public with guns designed to kill people in war? Why would we think this doesn’t send the message that anyone you have a problem with, you have the “right” to kill as though they are an ‘enemy combatant’ of war?

Would we allow the public to indiscriminately arm themselves with bombs that similarly could kill a lot of people quickly?-bombs designed for war or mass destruction?

Are we going to war with our neighbors? With school children? With nationalized citizens? With innocent bystanders?
-Where do we draw the line?

The truth is, no one needs military-style assault rifles to hunt with.
No one needs them to shoot beanbags, or for safety. The only thing anyone would “need” a gun like this for is to kill a mass amount of people as quickly as possible.

They have no place in our communities, our schools, our public spaces, in the hands of community police officers, or even in our homes. And apparently, 70% of America agrees -that’s a clear majority.

The guns themselves are only a part of the gun violence crisis we are facing. But they are a big part of that problem. We are the only industrialized country in the world with this kind of gun problem.

Yes, we need to do better in the way we talk about these issues. To me, this means not getting sidetracked by political talking points or inaccuracies in the media that obscure and supplant what we all in our guts and hearts and minds should know.

We need to get real with ourselves and each other about gun violence and lead with discernment:
Arming our citizens with military-style guns designed to kill people is simply wrong and it needs to stop now.

TishaCP.

What an AR-15 Can Do to the Human Body
All guns can kill, but they do not kill equally. Compare the damage an AR-15 and a 9mm handgun can do to the human…www.wired.com

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This is an Opinion Piece.

I have had many debates (on Facebook) about the ideological center where the majority of people sit, we’re told, and where their policy views lie. But the ideology behind that center- the centrist democrat point of view, has been so off the mark, to my thinking, that I simply stopped calling it the ‘middle’ or center view of anything, and instead started calling it the majority view, especially when discussing progressive politics.

What has bothered me most in the past when debating the issue, is that we’ve been looking at the whole thing backward. We’ve been told that centrism is the moderate view held by the majority of people.

But it is really the other way around- it is the majority view that is at the center of America, and therefore the centrist view, and actually has nothing at all to do with the ideology of a ‘moderate’ centrist at all.

Or, at least, it shouldn’t. In our backwardness we have applied a “moderate” ideology to it because what we’ve identified as centrist has been wildly off-center.

Luckily, we have a different lens to look at this through, thanks to venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Nick Hanauer. He discusses the topic of centrism in his latest podcast, Pitchfork Economics: Should democrats appeal to the center by moving hard left? This is a follow-up to a story he wrote last August for Politico Magazine .

What Hanauer says in both his podcast and the article is that to gauge where the ideological center lies, we need to gauge where the majority of people are benefited and generally support an issue.

From this perspective, the ‘majoritarian’ center, as Hanauer calls it, (or the majority view-as I call it), is indeed the center view of the country. But the pragmatic centrism of the establishment-the centrist democrat view of the economic majority, is actually extremely, radically far right.

To understand this better, we have to determine what it is that we are weighing. The ‘majoritarian center’ accounts for what benefits the majority of people. That’s where the center of the country is. That’s also where the majority of support falls.This is NOT the economic center, however. Nor is it an ideological center. Yet, centrist democrats love to tell us their views are where most Americans fall in the center, however much to the contrary that is proven by what most people do or don’t support in poll after pool. Or how much evidence there is of who would benefit the most from a particular policy. In fact, that centrist democrat view is so skewed it seems almost the opposite of what the majority of Americans actually think, believe or support, let alone what they benefit from.

Nick Hanauer effectively illustrates this…with a yard stick!

First he asks us to imagine a 36-inch-long ruler where all of the people in the country are equally positioned along, with the person at the bottom of the economic ladder standing all the way to the left at zero and the wealthiest person standing all the way to the right at 36 inches. If everyone is equally aligned across the spectrum, and it does not correlate with its weight, then the center would be at 18 inches, in the middle. That is where presumably the majority of people fall.

Only, economically speaking, they don’t. 

Now, imagine the same ruler, but rather than measuring people we’re measuring personal wealth. The center would be where half of the personal wealth in the country is held, between zero and thirty-six inches.

Fifty percent of the wealth in America, however, isn’t held at the 18-inch, half-way mark. Fifty percent of America’s wealth is owned by the top 2 percent, which would put the center of the economic majority just before the last thirty-six-inch mark at the farthest right of the yard stick. Not only an apt depiction of income inequality, this also reflects how far off center we have become with where, or what we’ve been calling the centrist (majority) view. That view, which actually represents just the top 2% of the wealthy few, and their economic interests and agenda, is what we’ve been calling the ideological center of the American people!

Wrong.

If the majority view is the center and therefor the centrist view, then progressive policies that have majority support and benefit the majority of the people are actually the center, or ‘centrist’ position, and not the radical, extreme, or very far left minority we’ve been told they are, according to Hanauer. This is why progressive issues that effect and benefit the majority of people tend to have bipartisan support, on both-or all sides of the political spectrum.

In fact, the more progressive an idea, the more centrist it usually is! For example, the minimum wage, which Hanauer highlights in both his article and podcast.

Raising the minimum wage

Only a small portion of the country attempts to live on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, approximately 1.3 percent of workers. So, raising the minimum wage to $9 or $10 an hour, as Obama proposed, would only marginally benefit a small minority of people in the country. But, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour builds interest and momentum-and popular support because it would impact a larger portion of Americans-29.2 percent. If we raise the minimum wage even higher to $20 an hour, which is considered the far-left radical ‘progressive’ position, it would benefit the largest number of Americans by far. Currently, 50 percent of American workers make $18 or less per hour. So, a $20 an hr. minimum wage would both directly and indirectly benefit them, thereby representing the interests of the majority of workers at the median or center of the country.

The New Centrism and the rebirth of the American Dream

This ‘new centrism’ should come as no shock to most Americans. It was, after all, the prevailing New Deal liberal perspective following WWII.That New Deal ideology led to three decades of economic prosperity, the rise of the industrial revolution, and the expanding middle class that sparked the American Dream, as Hanauer points out in his Politico article. But we’ve gotten so far off message that we have forgotten what the American Dream was really all about, and what it represented to most Americans at the time.

In the town hall that Bernie Sanders recently held on Fox News, these perspectives are illustrated perfectly. During one of the several occasions that FOX News hosts point out Bernie’s new ‘millionaire’ status, they ask him if making a fortune wasn’t the American Dream? To which Sanders replied frankly, “no.”

And he was right.

Living the American Dream meant that a working-class family with one income could afford a nice house, buy a car, and send their kids to college. It meant having the economic stability to be able to give your children a better life.  It was not about getting rich or collecting excessive wealth and status at the expense of everyone else.

The modest, center view of the American Dream focused on the quality of life, not the quantity of your bank account.

For most working and middle-class people, the American Dream was to live a good, decent life where your kids had more opportunities than you did to truly partake in upward mobility, embrace the ideas of entrepreneurship and innovation, and move our country to the forefront of the global economy. For three decades, that’s just what we did, and we’ve been knocking down the gains from that 30 years of prosperity ever since. (Hanauer discusses this at length in his article.)

The New Deal idealism that sparked the American Dream, also sparked ideas like free public colleges and having healthcare as a human right. Which brings me to the next apt illustration from the town hall on Fox News, in front of the FOX News conservative, republican, far right viewing audience.

The majority of their audience, however, when asked if they would support a government-run single-payer healthcare system like Bernie Sander’s Medicare-for-All plan, burst out in vocal support and raised their hands and cheered…not quite the reaction that FOX News hosts were expecting, even with a contingency of Bernie supporters in the house.

That’s because most voters understand that Medicare-for-all gives healthcare to everyone as a human right, which affects and benefits the majority of Americans who are currently uninsured or under-insured. That’s also why most people support Medicare-for-all, whether they call themselves conservative, liberal, republican, democrat, or anything in between, or farther to the right or left.

Yet, we continue to confuse the center majority with the “ideological center balancing the interests of the top 2% against everyone else ‘, as Hanauer points out. This has led to the belief that incrementalism, bipartisanship, or the moderate center was and still is the centrist (majority), and that progressive issues like Medicare-for-all are far left, extreme, radical positions that most Americans don’t supports. The fact that progressive issues and center-majority issues are one in the same fails to resonate with centrist democrats, however.

The reality is that the Neoliberal centrist democrat isn’t the majority. They never have been, and their ideas are increasingly at odds with the real center where our collective majority interests lie.

Neoliberal centrism is also what helped created the Overton window where the center keeps moving further to the right. It’s what allowed decades of incrementalism, created such income and wealth inequality, and kept the political agenda in Washington virtually unaffected and un-swayed by the needs and wants of most people, and the policies that affect and benefit the majority of Americans.

Reclaiming the Narrative!

Which is why we need to reclaim the narrative about what truly is centrist and what truly is radical or extreme. Economically speaking, we need to shift our thinking of the center, not as the economic center, which paints 2% of the American population holding 50% of the wealth as the majority view, but instead what represents the economic policies that benefit-and are supported by the majority of the people. Form that perspective, we can reclaim the term-and the meaning of centrism, and the center/majority, and re-frame the progressive agenda as the truly centrist agenda that it is.

But first, we also need to divorce ourselves from the idea that ‘moderate’ is the same as centrist, or stop confusing the idea that the center view is a moderate view. We’re not gauging ideology-we’re gauging what benefits and is supported by the majority. So, incrementalism, Neoliberalism, or moderate views are not, in most cases, centrist views. Most of the time, pragmatic, incremental, Neoliberal centrist democrat positions are, again, radically far right because they represent a very small minority of people far to the right-of-center. (Just remember our yard stick!)

If we reclaim centrism as the progressive majority at the center of the country, then:

“What would a truly centrist democratic agenda look like?”

` Nick Hanauer

That is the question Hanauer poses in his latest podcast. Of course, he paints this argument from his position as a democrat, rather than as a progressive. While I don’t agree with everything Hanauer says about the democratic establishment, it makes sense to frame the narrative this way if that is the audience you are trying to reach. However, I still think he gives the democrats-especially centrist democrats, way too much credit.

For example, he talks about the far right economic ideology that centrist democrats have “internalized”, and what they mean by “pragmatic centrism” as,

“An economic policy agenda that necessarily balances the interests of business (the few) versus the interests of labor (the many) in an attempt to best serve the interests of all.” – Nick Hanauer, Politico Magazine

I don’t know that centrist democrats are concerned with ‘serving the interests of all’. They seem content to serve their own interests and call it the center majority interests, even when it is clearly not popular opinion. Even when it causes a decades-long stream of unprecedented democratic losses. Even when they simultaneously recognize how hard it is to get elected now without at least calling yourself a progressive! Yet, they still position progressive policies as the fringe minority, ‘unrealistic’ view, not supported by most voters. Or way too radical to ever win the bipartisan support needed to pass a policy measure through congress.

However, we know the real obstacle to passing progressive (centrist) legislation like Medicare-for-all, $15 minimum wage, or the host of other popular progressive policies that have been introduced. It’s their lack of political will. A lack that exists because the interests the democratic establishment serve are not the majority interests of the country, but the economic interests of the elite at the top of the wage and income gap, the ones funding their campaigns, influencing the party, and providing the revolving door through congress to lucrative jobs in the private sector.

Having said all that, Hanauer’s question is a good one, so let’s get back to the answer. The list of what a centrist democratic agenda might include could surprise you, but never the less, this is what Hanauer included (with a few additions of my own at the end). In the context of a ‘majoritarian centrism’, here is what a truly centrist democratic agenda could look like

The Centrist Democratic Agenda

  • ‘$15 minimum wage’
  • ‘Crucial infrastructure investments’
  • ‘Modern labor laws”
  • ‘Restored overtime threshold’
  • ‘Substantially higher wages on wealthy corporations and individuals’
  • Tuition-free public colleges and universities
  • Medicare-for-all
  • Green New Deal goals and projects

In other words, the progressive agenda is the most centrist political and economic ideology, held by the majority of people in America.

Tisha c.p.

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After watching a recent clip on YouTube from Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer about a proposal they are working on together to end corporate stock buybacks, among other things, a few cringe-worthy alarm bells began worrying loudly in my ears.
Here’s the clip.

~ And, Here’s my take on the latest issue of:


ThWeekly Rant

02/07/2019

While I understand the political strategy here, seeing Chuck Schumer, one of the biggest corporatists and anything BUT a defender of working and middle-class taxpayers, pandering to voters, trying to piggyback off of Bernie’s long-held agenda for reigning in corporate greed and closing tax loopholes for corporate billionaires just bothers me.

Chuck Schumer, known defender of tax breaks for hedge fund managers and private equity firm CEOs, whose biggest backers include investment lawyers, real estate, insurance, and corporate lobbyists (in that order), whose top nine campaign contributions between 2013-2018  were all from financial institutions, with over $4.5 million from corporate PAC donations alone (vs. the less than $600K he’s raised in small individual contributions under $200) between 2013-2018.

The New York senate democrat who held seats on both senate banking and finance committees when the New York Times cited in a 2008 article that he’d,

“…embraced the industry’s free-market, deregulatory agenda more than almost any other Democrat in Congress, even backing some measures now blamed for contributing to the financial crisis.” 

And his subsequent support of the big bank bailout at taxpayers’ expense, now trying to position himself as an alleged proponent of stricter regulations for big corporations and/or changing the tax code to limit profits made off corporate dividends, I find just a little hard to swallow.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), accompanied by Senate Minoirity Leader Chuck Schumer, speaks with reporters following the party luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington

The same Chuck Schumer who, as senate minority leader in 2016 said,

“For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” 

(and we all know how well THAT strategy turned out)

~ This, After ringing in the era of the “New Democrat” (a.k.a. moderate-republican/economically conservative centrists) in 2004-2006, sixteen of whom recently voted to roll back Dodd-Frank banking regulations put in place following the 2008 financial crisis, three of  them (Donnelly, HietKamp and McCaskill) subsequently losing re-election in 2018, largely due to running “republican-lite” pro-Trump/corporate tax cuts, anti-democrat campaigns.

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~NOW, all of a sudden, we are supposed to believe that same ol’ Chuck is just like Bernie- looking out for low and middle-income workers in America?

Who wants to reign in Wall Street, stop corporate buybacks and tax dividends for corporations?

That he, too, wants to raise wages, invest in pension funds and ensure working families have the opportunity to live the “American Dream”?

~Really?

Well, I’m sorry, Schumer, if I’m a little bit skeptical of your intent.

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I’m even more skeptical of politicians trying to align themselves with Bernie progressives by alleging support for some of Bernie’s progressive policies while remaining less-than-enthusiastic about his key platform positions like medicare-for-All, Free college tuition, the fight for $15, expanding Social security, The green New Deal, lowering prescription drug prices, Campaign Finance Reform, Ending Citizens United, the crisis in Yemen, and closing private prisons and detention centers, among other issues, or for Bernie himself, especially if/when he decides to run for president…

Still, it’s good to see Bernie pushing democrats like Chuck Schumer back to the left and their democratic base, ~ the working and middle-class majorities that make up this country, still struggling so hard to survive, for whom the “American Dream” is simply out of reach.

TishaC.P.

Have a Thought or Comment or a different take on this issue? Please feel free to add your own opinions below!

(please keep any personal attacks to yourself).

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OK,  after several weeks with no posts I am finally writing my weekly rant! I’ve been collecting snippets of edited diatribes in responses to Facebook and Twitter posts, intending to formulate them into some sort of cohesive singular “rant” each week, but out of context, they are hard to follow and often change course midstream-such is the way of the Tisha-rant! Still, I think it’s better I post these things here than bombarding unsuspecting FB friends with repetitive, vitriolic ranting.

Oh, and while you are here, please stick around to check out the article my 17-yr-old budding-feminist daughter wrote on activism and reproductive rights, or better still, post a comment yourself or submit a piece of your own if you like. I’ll  happily post it for you, and probably ask you for a few more!!

On to the article:

If every woman who’s had an abortion took tomorrow off in protest, America would grind to a halt. And that would be symbolic: because women grind to a halt if they are not in control of their fertility.
—Caitlin Moran

 

I started responding to the plethora of posts and comments about Hillary Clinton and sexism recently without realizing the context of the day- the rueful legislation passed by Congress marginalizing women and the LGBT community. Awareness of this was quickly followed by the typical onslaught of attacks on progressives and Bernie Sanders by Hillary supporters and centrist Democrats still upset over mythical sexism and divisiveness caused by Bernie and all us angry “Bernie Bro’s” that no one can ever find. We simply disappear into the ethereal mist of hot air coming from their vehement attacks while ignoring (at least for the moment) the real sexists and gender-oppressors of the day sitting in Congress and our misogynistic, sexist, racist, TRULY divisive president, the orange-man Mr. T who instigated this attack against  our right to govern our own bodies.

I suppose it would be too much to ask that this strong opposition to sexism be aimed at the actual sexists who passed the unconstitutional legislation rather than the people who are fighting the hardest for gender equality protections and reproductive rights with Medicare-for-all coverage that includes ALL women’s health and reproductive needs, not just the ones a bunch of non-medical doctor in Congress decides is important.

Or, maybe at least for the moment, you can lay off the attacks against someone as they stand up for our healthcare rights and strong opposition against this kind of horrible legislation ( not to mention who hold a consistent 100% rating on the support of women’s rights issues as a legislater). It’s rather ironic seeing all these Bernie Sanders posts and tweets today condemning the utterly disappointing legislation congress just passed, championing the importance of protecting women’s rights, and  access to adequate, affordable health care coverage that actually includes abortions, gynecological exams, and contraception alongside these erroneous claims from neo-liberal centrists attacking  Bernie for his sexism and divisiveness. Bernie has never once, to my knowledge, responded to any of these inflammatory remarks, but rather continues to focus his and our attention on vital issues like these instead.

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I know many of us, (myself included) from all sides of the issues can get caught up in arguments and reactionary responses to each other over our various forms of social media, but I got to say, Bernie Sanders is the least incendiary politician around when it comes to personal attacks or smearing. But if it makes you feel better to rail against the person leading the fight for Medicare for all, and promoting equal pay and opportunity for  women, affordable access to childcare for working families, and extended paid leave during illness or after giving birth-for both parents, rather than the sexist racist a-holes in congress and the white house who passed legislation that violates our civil liberties and protections and risks both the health and well-being of many  women around the country, especially the already marginalized, low-income women underserved in rural areas, as well as members of the LGBT community, well, then knock yourself out, I guess.

You’ll understand,  of course, if I and thousand of others think your machinations are ridiculous.

 

 

Onto Hillary and sexism:

The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. When the government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a full adult human responsiblefor her own choices.

~ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

 

I started the day rebuking the idea that sexism was the main reason Hillary lost the election. Why we are still debating this or why I continue to get caught up in the debate are beyond me. Still, in light of recent events I’ve had to rethink my position a little. While I do not think it a prudent idea to marginalize gender-inequality in any way I do think there was more than sexism involved in why she lost the election. I also think fake feminism claims that hold Hillary Clinton up as the poster child for women’s rights and gender-equality issues is a bit of a stretch and maybe even harmful. Any sane person knows Hillary has never been exemplary on ANY issue, nor has she been consistent.

 

While she’s offered some important gains for women over equal pay and support of Planned Parenthood, when it comes to women’s rights and LGBT issues, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act notwithstanding,   Hillary has otherwise flipflopped. She’s changed her views more than once over LGBT protections and even waffled on reproductive health and pro-choice, at times. She supported significant policies like DOMA  and Doesn’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and waited until 2014 to come out in support of same-sex marriage and has been open to negotiations with rightwing Republicans when (and if)  they propose “reasonable”  changes to abortion rights.

Still, she isn’t  the reason Republicans are attacking our reproductive rights so that’s enough about Clinton on this issue, and instead, let’s start pushing back on what Congress and Trump are doing to our rights and civil liberties.

You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.
—Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

Forgetting, for a moment that this is a women’s health issue and not one that politicians without medical degrees or a vagina are qualified to make decisions on, it’s also, at least for the present, a protected right and not up for negotiation. We have to stop allowing legislators, especially sexist, out-of-touch male Republicans with anti-abortion crusader oppressive agenda’s to continue to think that what, who, how, when, where, if or why I do anything with my own body is any of their damn business.

How about, just for a day, we regulated the choices those 25 republican men decided for us without including a single woman in their negotiations on what THEY can do with their penises, or how about we pass  some legislation of our own  to control their reproductive and sexual health, and let’s face it, our basic human rights to decide if or when we become mothers and what decisions, if any,  we have about preventing pregnancies. What they’ve done hasn’t just taken away our health coverage, it’s taken our choices as well about what we can do with our bodies sexually and given those choices to sexist men intent on oppressing women. So if turn around is fair play, how about we set the limits for them on what they can or can’t decide about their reproductive and sexual organ and if they’re allowed to have sex outside of marriage without risking pregnancy or being fired for trying to prevent one without insurance for birth control. How about we take away their access to the plethora of health issues related to their sexual and reproductive organs and system, starting with viagra which is still covered by their healthcare plans, and condoms, while we’re at it. How about we prevent them from being treated for any of the sexually-transmitted diseases that Planned Parenthood offers that make up more than half their annual budget every year,  and lets throw in some other issues similar to what hospital maternity costs will be without any insurance and the restrictions to our access and ability to treat some of the other reproductive/sexual conditions now limited to us from.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Inflammation of the penis.  redness, itching, swelling, and pain in the foreskin, usually due to a yeast or bacterial infection.
  • Paraphimosis, The foreskin becomes lodged behind the head and can’t contract, causing a medical emergency that can cause serious complications if not treated.
  • Penile cancer, a rare type of cancer that starts in the skin cells of the penis.
  • Papillomavirus,  An easily transmitted virus that causes genital warts and raises risks for penile cancer.
  • Testicular cancer
  • An inguinal hernia 
  • Hypospadias 
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Low Testosterone/Sex Drive

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  • Epididymitis: inflammation of the coiled tubes that connect the testes usually caused by an infection, such as the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia, and results in pain and swelling next to one of the testicles.
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Genital Herpes
  • Hepatitis B

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~ Feel free to add your own additions to the list.

Tishacp.

 

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Just before heading off to bed last night I saw a news flash about an earthquake somewhere in the south Pacific. I decided to wait until morning to read the article. After the bombardment of headlines that greeted my late Sunday morning coffee and news, it seems pretty clear what caused the 6.3 earthquake not far from Guam.

According to Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, the bomb detonated by North Korea that caused the earthquake could have been up to 70 kilotons in strength, more than twice as powerful as any of North Korea’s previous bomb tests in the 10-30 kiloton range. This latest testing also seems to confirm that North Korea does indeed possess hydrogen nuclear war missiles large enough to take out a few U.S. cities, should they launch them our way. Certainly, a 70-kiloton hydrogen bomb would decimate the B-1B Bomber headquarters located on Guam which launched an F-35 Stealth Fighter fly-over of South Korea last thursday. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un wasn’t pleased by that, I’d say.

Our response to these tests and threats against the United States and allied territories has been typical of what we’ve seen and heard recently. No talks of diplomacy, or nuclear response as the last resort. Instead, our presidential address tweets inform us it’s likely our one-or-the-other approach of more sanctions or nuclear attack leaves us no option now but the latter. Efforts made by South Korea to calm the waters, we’re told, are a waste of time as well.

” South Korea is finding as I have told them that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work. They only understand one thing!”, tweeted the president earlier this morning, referring to North Korea, a sentiment U.S. Secretary Jim Mattis followed up with at his subsequent press conference in front of the white house,.

“Any attack to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming.”         -S.O.D. Jim Mattis

I wonder how many of us have an idea what “massive” could me? I certainly didn’t. The extent of my knowledge about nuclear, or any other blast was limited to images from the made-for-television nuclear war movies that terrified me as a kid in the 1980’s, and the images of the naked Vietnamese children running from the 1972 Napalm blast on the cover of TIME magazine. I’m not sure as a kid I understood the difference between that U.S.-led napalm attack and the nuclear holocaust images I’d seen on television. I just knew it all sounded pretty scary. The account from one of the Enola Gay pilots, Paul Tibbets who’d dropped the bombs on Hiroshima in 1945 also had a profound effect. His reflections about the ominous flight home in the wake of the sheer magnitude of damage caused by the bomb stayed with me. Researching his words now, all these years later brought home another powerful foreshadowing of what was to come.

“”I saw the end of a long war, I saw the thousands of airplane formations, all that implied certain things to me. I said ‘this is the end of it’. We’ll never see it again. One man is going to go out with a crew and a weapon and do what thousands of airplanes used to do.”

~ Paul Tibbets interview, July 3, 1987

Of course, he couldn’t have anticipated that even an airplane may not be necessary today, that some attacks are launched from a computer at a remote location, detonated by pilotless drones that are not much more than a blip on someone’s computer screen. The devastation left behind is about as real as any detonation carried out in a video game, though likely with less exciting visuals or sound effects. The limited exposure to what these devastating bombs do, whether drone attacks, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs or nuclear warheads, terrifies me almost as much as the bombs themselves do. What does it do to our humanity when the aftermath is diminished? When we don’t see the results left behind, or our part in it?

We need to reflect long and hard, I feel, about what this means. This is a dangerous road we are heading down, one I don’t want to see the conclusion to.

~ Not sure what we can do about it, but the least we can do is face the consequences and take responsibility for our country’s actions.

~A loud resounding push-back on nuclear war engagement couldn’t hurt, either…

PHASE ONE: OBSESSION

I must admit I’ve been guilty of a little social media/political obsession in the past …well, more like A complete obsession for an entire political year, and nearly all of it regurgitated onto my twitter and Facebook pages. I’m still not quite sure how it happened. After decades of complete and purposeful disinterest in politics, suddenly there was this old socialist from Vermont with crazy hair I’d never heard of before standing in my peripheral view who managed to resurrect this old political-fighter in me, one I’d buried a long time ago. But, under the mountains of disappointment caked in layers of frustration, and beneath thirty years of apathy, somehow that old political bone managed to gnaw its way through, re-emerging, once again and settled itself in to stay. ~Much to my surprise, and more than a few friends and family member’s chagrin.

An inkling of hope miraculously took spark, rekindled, probably, by all that political Bern that was spreading around at the time, and boy was it contagious!

I’m still kind of surprised that old flame caught fire. In the back of my mind, I still held out the hope for our first female president in Hillary Clinton; an idea gleaned way back in the political dust of my youth. It, too, had managed to linger. I’d even popped my head up from where it had almost permanently lodged itself in the sand in 2008. Just long enough to register a fleeting moment of disappointment when the country decided it was ready for its first African-American President before its first female one.

So, it was a bit of a shocker being jostled awake in December of 2015 by an old white guy I’d never heard of who wasn’t even a Democrat. But that’s what happened, and jostled awake I was, which has been both inspiring and utterly disappointing, at times.

I know I’m not alone in feeling like I’m on perpetual roller-coaster full of political upheaval and sudden lurches to the right or left. The flip-side of those feelings of rediscovered hope was all this pent-up emotion and a mouthful of frustration bordering on (and often spilling into) vitriolic anger, more times than I’d care to admit. For months it seemed the only response I was capable of in the wake of our new political unreality after the presidential election.

PHASE TWO: BURNOUT

All of which is to say I needed to take a BIG time-out and step back, put an end to the continuous engagement on social media, and regain my composure, or some semblance of sanity amidst all the fake news and alternative truths that were running around. Like so many before me, I had launched myself headlong into the abyss. Submerged by political burnout and post-election-PTSD, all that new-found optimism had turned itself inside out and took a temporary nosedive. There were just one-too-many disappointments to handle and my momentum fizzled, along with any interest in what people had to say on Facebook. The pages I’d so obsessively scoured only days before seemed impenetrable, the button too heavy to click, and I just shut the whole damn mess out.

This was somewhere around the time the two Democratic female senators from my progressively democratic state decided to vote against Bernie’s prescription drug bill, along with 11 other Democrats, when I finally threw in the towel. I mean, when your own people vote against you, how in the heck do you fight back? And, who are you fighting when allies are enemies and enemies are your enemies’ allies, and you’re just standing there pissing in the dark hoping someone somewhere will hear you and stop to look back. Only they don’t; they just keep plowing forward into alt-left nonsense this and Antifa-anarchy that, and smother you with angry Bernie-bros mythology for wanting Medicare-for-all, or fair and evenhanded elections, to earn a  decent  wage, find a job, go to college, breathe clean air, and take care of one another and the planet. I mean, is that really so much to ask?

Or, somehow the same kind of  racist, neo-nazi alt-right, armed and violent, riot-inciting extremism so recently displayed in Charlottesville? This,  the constant comparison made by media pundits, centrist Democrats, and the political elite, and now co-opted by our president to excuse neo-nazi, alt-right domestic terrorism, and vehicular manslaughter as if both side were equally violent and extreme.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. That came and went and came back again but first, there was Trump and his swampy mire,  seeping into every corner of our democracy laden with quicksand.

Like the idiot-giant looming down Jack’s spindly beanstalk as he tries to grab an ax and chop it down, you’re too late; He’s already seen you coming and swooping down his long and blundering arm, he scoops you up and sweeps you away. He seems content to play for a while, enamored by your novelty, the puniness of your inconsequential existence.Till like a petulant child, he quickly grows tired and bored, throwing you aside for a shiny new toy that suddenly caught his eye. Just like that, you’re forgotten, and you heave a tentative sigh of relief…until that 3 o’clock witching-hour, that is, the new pre-dawn time-slot for delivering a presidential address. No somber, oval office broadcast at the top of the news hour, the time of pomp and circumstance has given way. Instead, we wake to tweets, nonsensical, idiotic, and often misspelled, and nearly always void of fact or truth. Our presidential text alerts have become our new alarm-clock, shaking us awake to the alternate reality known as Trumpism.

God were that the least of it we might snicker and walk away. But it isn’t, and we are aware it. Perhaps the only good to come of such a colossal inconceivable nightmare is the brazenness of it all, the elephant in the room we can’t ignore, the emperor without his clothes, the monster in the closet you’d pretended wasn’t there, has announced himself boldly, in all his ignorant, and boastful glory for the entire world to see. Sometimes the sharpest light is the only one that reveals the truth, and we see it all, now, the whole corrupted mess of things that led to the 42nd president, Mr. Orange-man himself, Donald freaking Trump.

Outsized, outnumbered, and everything seems on the line, we need all the help we can get just to tread water, not formerly allied turn-coats who leave us high and dry and even more devastatingly behind. That final disappointment from my own senators was the final blow, one I nearly didn’t recover from…like I said, total burnout. It engulfed me, and I checked out.

PHASE THREE: DENIAL

What followed was the short-lived, but happy time in denial-land where I simply ignored all the tweets and comments, the alarming political appointments and verbal blundering. I pretended instead the real world was the one I’d once imagined and rediscovered in the four seasons of Newsroom I binge-watched on Amazon. If our president could have his own alternate world of facts created in some bizarro-upside-down Alt-reality universe of his own, then why couldn’t I?

Only, I  couldn’t keep ignoring that nagging voice in the back of my mind, the one that kept insisting my made-up alternate Newsroom reality that should be real, wasn’t and the backward, upside-down nightmare we were living really was reality, one that never should have been, but still was. Somewhere along the way, I couldn’t pretend that what wasn’t real was or what was real wasn’t… I guess the truth catches up to us all, whether we like it or not.

I still haven’t watch the last two episodes of newsroom, just in case I need a reminder of what the world ought to look like, or maybe to hold on to hope against hope that it wasn’t all fantasy, that the world really did  look like that and could again, some day. As long as the show doesn’t end, that possibility still exists, and I don’t have to feel that sharp pang in my stomach from the God-awful truth of today insisting on reasserting itself…damn that finicky friend denial, anyway.

PHASE FOUR: APATHY

Sitting glumly, I stared at the four walls for a few days which seemed to slide seamlessly into a few weeks, and suddenly I realized they’d slid right into the middle of February!  Though, by then my apathetic slump had started to recede. I soon rejoined the ranks of real-live humans again…and wouldn’t you know, my ole’ Evergreen State of Washington managed to momentarily redeem itself by way of our state attorney general Bob Ferguson who’d stopped the Trumped-up ban on Muslims in its unconstitutional tracks, at least temporarily. Strike-one, for Mr. T, and one run for the home team. 

Boy did some of us need that victory, however short lived.

PHASE FIVE: THE COMEBACK

So, there I found myself, February 19, 2017, slightly resurrected, battle-scarred and bruised like so many of us were, but with a fight still left in me. Sometimes a new day brings a new outlook along with it. Political interactions on my social media pages didn’t seem like such a good idea under that new, harsher light. The few forays back into the never-ending debate over who was worse, or should’ve won or who’s to blame for Trump have kept my posts few and far between.

I think I’ll keep it that way for a while…though, who am I kidding?  I’m writing this long-winded diatribe on my WordPress blog which is linked to every online feed known to man, so it’s sure to show up on your Twitter or Facebook pages to be ignored as it passes across your screen…feel free to keep on scrolling.

So, here’s to you, my social media warriors. Keep up the good fight, stick together, and hang on tight!

~ We just might ride this storm out yet…

 

The sudden announcement that Adventist General Hospital was closing sent a shock wave through Walla Walla recently. An unwelcome reminder of the precariousness of our healthcare system and how vulnerable we are when systems fail. Walla Walla General Hospital was hardly what you could call a failure, having served eastern Washingtonians since 1899, which is why it can rattle to the core when pillars of the community like this fall. After 118 years, two world wars, the great depression, and a fluctuating local economy, even Walla Walla General could buckle and fold in the wake of an upside-down economy. What’s happening in Walla Walla’s healthcare industry may be only the precursor to what’s in store under the GOP health plan, should it pass. Which is why it’s so important to understand what’s at risk.

Rather than recap a full explanation of each part of the bill, especially as it begins to morph ever so slightly over the upcoming days and weeks, here’s a look at how losing the Affordable Care Act and major cuts to Medicaid could affect healthcare in Walla Walla and the surrounding eastern Washington counties, which groups are most at risk and what might need to prepare ourselves for in the upcoming years.

Benefits of Medicaid Expansion in Washington Since 2014:

  • 790,000 Washingtonians Received Coverage Under ACA & Medicaid or Medicaid Expansion:
    • 600,000 New Low-Income & Working-Class Washington Residents
    • 190,000 New Enrollees Through Washington State Health Plan Finder
  • 20,000 People Received Cancer Treatment
  • 30,000 People Previously without Coverage Treated for Substance Abuse & Mental/Behavioral Disorders
  • Uninsured Rates Dropped by 58%
  • 51,000 New Jobs Created in the Health Care & Services Industry in Washington State

The impact of Medicaid Expansion Cuts In Washington State:

  • Approximately 600,000 lower income people currently covered under Medicaid expansion stand to lose coverage, 80% of whom are working families.
  • Due to the age-based addition to subsidy requirements (rather than income-based alone) under the Senate BCRA bill, approximately 100,000 people, mostly seniors will be forced to drop individual market health insurance plans due to lack of affordability.
  • It will cost Washington State $351 million biannually to reinstate and fund former state programs currently covered under ACA.

Impact On Healthcare in Walla Walla Under BCRA:

  • 30% of people are covered under Medicaid in Walla Walla, 12.5-15.2% under Medicaid expansion.
  • 76% of low-income children are covered by Medicaid programs, including special education and speech pathology programs for kids with disabilities.

Veterans:

  • In Washington State, approximately 24,000 veterans and their spouses stand to lose Medicaid coverage under the current Senate health care
  • The Walla Walla VA’s new Medicaid/Care-Certified Veteran’s Home services 10 counties, 50,000 Veterans, and 20,000 seniors over 65.
  • Many of these veterans and their spouses are low-income and subsidized under Medicaid.
  • 64% of all nursing home residents use Medicaid

Healthcare/Social Service Jobs:

  • Approximately 51,000 jobs created by Medicaid expansion in Washington state are at risk under the new Senate Healthcare bill.
  • The 2nd Largest Industry in Walla Walla is Healthcare & Social Services in the private sector.
  • In 2016, healthcare and social services made up about 16.1% of local jobs.  That’s roughly 3362 jobs in health care alone.
  • Walla Walla General/Adventist Health services closures put 439 full or part time health care professionals out of work, approximately 1/3 of what St. Mary’s/ Providence Healthcare currently employs (1,153 employees).
  • Only around 50 Health Care-related job postings are listed through Providence currently, leaving many already out of work or underemployed.

Although precise statistic is hard to gauge, with statewide cuts to ACA/Medicaid expansion jobs, 80% less funding for Walla Walla’s Planned Parenthood services, Adventist Health/ general hospital closures, and an already existing shortage of primary care providers, the local workforce and patient resources for Walla Walla could be severely impacted.

These shortages would mean far fewer services available than in previous years and in addition to paying more for less health coverage, access to primary care would be even harder to find. And if you get sick, become disabled or grow old, have a baby, are a low-income worker, or underemployed, there may be little to no affordable or adequate access to care available at all.

There are more unpleasant surprises lurking in the Senate BCRA bill as well. These are just the highlights for those of us here in the easternmost part of Washington State. If you or someone you know will be negatively impacted by this health care bill, please call your congressional district representative (CD5), Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Washington state senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray today and tell them to vote No on this bill. Whatever problems may exist under the Affordable Care Act certainly aren’t worth risking the lives and health of 22 Million or more Americans, and locally we need to keep our health care industry robust, well-funded, and fully employed.

Letitia C. Page