Monday, December 12, 2011

Google+ And Me

I am trying something new!  Signed up for Google + and am liking it so far...as soon as I can wrap my aged head around some of the new technological ways to do things, that is.  If it works like I think it will, then I can post my thoughts to it without any problem.  If not, then I will keep trying until I get it figured out!

Since I have only had my computer for a little over a year, and since I was completely computer illiterate before that, don't be surprised if this old woman makes some goofy mistakes!  Just remember, we were all born naked and uneducated, so please cut me some slack.  I had my 68th birthday not too long ago so it's not that my mind is not clear, just takes a bit longer for new stuff to be inserted into the middle of all that old stuff already ensconced in my brain.

Since my last post, the OWS movement has undergone many changes, along with my learning lots of new information on our country's political craziness...being a political junkie can keep me very busy.  Thanks to the militarization of our police forces across America, their aggression has kept the Occupy Wall  Street protesters in the foreground of my mind.  And, I might add, I'm not alone in that, the public seems to be finally getting the message they are fighting so hard to get out!  So, for those of you about to give up on the whole mess, hang in there,don't give up yet, keep on fighting!

It has taken over 30 years for the corporations and their bought paid for political hacks to bring America to her knees, but the tide is changing.  I will continue to insert my 2 cents worth in an effort to help reawaken those who still slumber, some days louder than others, even though my own optimistic self gets a little discouraged occasionally.  Even if no one ever agrees with me, at least it might make them think about the current scene and possibly even encourage them to do their bit to changing the outlook.  At least, that is my fervent hope!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Correction!

In my post on  Wall Street and the 99% I wrongly typed 10% in the line that says...The top 1% are taking in more of the nations income than at any time since the 1920s.  The 1%figure is the correct one!  Sorry!

The 99% And Occupying Wall Street

It has been a long, hot summer, and now the autumn season is beginning to heat up as well!  On September 17, 2011, a small group of citizens began a protest/occupation of a small park near Wall Street.  It was originally called Liberty Park, but since a wealthy benefactor donated to some renovations of the park, it was renamed Zuccotti Park after the donor.  These citizens have joined together in their anger over the inequality of wealth in America, and are protesting the unfair advantage the corporations and bankers of Wall Street, who  feed off the middle and lower class working folks, have over the political arena in our country.  And with good reason, I might say!

At this point, the top 10% are taking in more of the nation's income than at any time since the 1920s! Watching the videos of the Wall Street bankers looking down their noses at the occupiers while sipping champagne with sneers that only those who feel entitled can muster, were enough to make me cheer for the occupiers!  They have a lot of courage to be able to stand up and be counted in their defense of the working class!

Of course, the main stream media ignored them for quite a while until the crowds of protesters began to grow, and, as is the nature of our bought and paid for media, painted them in an unflattering light.  You know the drill, unwashed hippies, (now, there's a term you haven't heard in a while!) kids whose parents spoil them, unemployable trash, etc.  Except, since there are cameras on every single cell phone now, pictures began to emerge of gray heads, people in suite, construction workers, nurses, teachers, a total mix of people from all walks of life, united in their anger at how bad our economy has become.  Not by chance, but by design of the top 1%, the wealthy few who own us all!  Yesterday there were over 20,000 people marching in New York City, and other "occupy" protests have sprung up in cities all over the United States.  It is growing quickly, as ordinary people realize that we've been had!

In Egypt they had the Arab Spring...perhaps now that our own populace is finally awakening to the reality that the top 1% own 42% of the wealth in our country  while the bottom 80% own only 7% of the wealth, we will shake off our complacency and fight to even up the odds!  It's been a long time coming, and it's my hope that every citizen will join the fight and see a return to some economic equality in America.  The rich call it a class war, one which they have been winning for years.  The other 99% of us are either going to have it more equitable, or die trying.  Just a note, we outnumber them immensely, let's get together and win this fight!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Politics And Civility, A Lost Cause?

Some days I feel like Alice in Wonderland!  I have been a political junkie since I was a young girl, but I can't remember one single instance where it has been as totally insane as today.  Back during the Clinton administration  politics got pretty ugly, but nowhere near as ugly as they have been since Barack Hussein Obama was elected!  I voted for President Obama and hoped that finally with a mixed race person being elected the president of these United States it meant that prejudice and bigotry were on the downgrade.  Was I ever mistaken!  The Republicans who dogged President Clinton during his term have been joined by an even more vile and repulsive bunch, they call themselves the Tea Party.  Even though they pretend to be a grassroots organization, it has become common knowledge that their funding comes from Koch Industries owners, the Koch brothers.  They have a really ordinary face, on the surface they seem to be everyday folks, but it soon becomes apparent that they have been mislead by the Koch Brothers into forgoing their own personal interests in favor of a corporate takeover.  A recent poll after the debt ceiling debacle showed that their membership is falling rapidly, they appear to be wising up to the fact that they have been manipulated by the Koch brothers' unholy alliance.

Watching the Tea Party and Republican politicians during the debt ceiling brouhaha was like Chinese water torture, each day whittling away at the fabric of our society, until it appeared that collapse was imminent.  They took the nation to the brink because it had dared to elect a president who was not totally white, half black instead, what a threat to their lily white bigotry.  President Obama was the only mentally stable participant in the bunch.  This president who was elected by a majority of the voting public was disrespected daily in mentally deranged rants by a group of politicians who were elected by a tiny percent of the voting public.  What a spectacle they were trying to frighten folks with the specter of a default of our countries debt.

Remember what I said about being a political junkie?  It was wonderful to see our President unbowed by these creepy fools!  He played them like a fiddle, showing their bigotry and avarice to the rest of the public for what they were.  Soon, the public shook itself out of a deep sleep to roar to life and demand from their elected officials that an agreement be reached.  I don't believe that regular folks will let themselves be fooled again so easily!  I visited the office of one of Wyoming's Senators, John Barrasso, as well as called the other one and also the Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis to voice my dismay at the incivility and lack of compromise shown by their party.   As a result of my speaking out as well as many, many other citizens who did the same,  all 3 of Wyoming's elected officials voted yes on the budget agreement.  I know that much of their mouthing of Tea Party slogans and corporate talking points was in the spirit of kabuki theater politics, but in the end they did the right thing.

Now, we need to keep the pressure on our elected officials, one and all, to do their jobs and help President Obama instead of obstructing him.  Millions of Americans need jobs...this should be their number one priority!  Priority number two, end both wars and cut our defense spending by massive amounts.  Enough bickering and bigotry, work together for the betterment of the American people!    

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Former U.S.Senator Alan Simpson, Amazing Clarity On Debt Ceiling!

If you have ever read this blog, you know that I am no huge fan of former U.S.Senator Alan Simpson!  However, in an interview by Ben Neary of the Associated Press, I have to admit that he showed an amazing clarity on the current debt ceiling brouhaha!  He spoke of Senator Mitch McConnell's recent proposal to give President Obama authority to raise the debt limit without congressional approval and said that such maneuvering indicates that all the players, "seem to have forgotten the singular question: what's best for the United States of America in this present situation?  Without thinking of who will be the majority leader the next time, or the minority leader, or the president."  I agree absolutely!  He went on to make it clear that the country won't climb out of this financial crisis solely by cutting spending or raising taxes, it will take both.  Again, I absolutely agree!  Kind of scary, isn't it!

Then Simpson stated further, "there's no way to do this without additional revenue, let's just quit fooling ourselves.  I mean what the hell?  Half of the American public don't even pay taxes.  And the top 400 people pay an average of 16% of their income."   Here we differ a little...the percentage of people who don't pay income taxes is large because they are living AT or NEAR POVERTY levels, therefore they don't have enough income to pay taxes on!  I'm quite sure that they would be happy to make more income to pay taxes on!  I agree with Senator Simpson that a 16% rate of tax on the wealthiest 400 people is absurdly low.

In speaking about the deficit reduction commission on which he served at the request of President Obama, he said they proposed closing over 180 tax breaks that cost the country over $1.1 trillion a year.  This is the best part!  "Those we really call tax earmarks.  They are spending by any other name, like ethanol subsidies,  They got rid of that the other day--$6 billion a year or whatever it was--and Grover Norquist called it a tax increase.  I'll tell you, if that's a tax increase, I'm Mussolini."   Good for you Senator Simpson!

This last part of the interview is absolutely the best, and really inspired me to respect what Senator Simpson had to say about Grover Norquist!    I have a really low opinion of Nordquist's pledge that he coerces politicians to sign about not supporting increasing taxes and apparently so does Simpson.  In his words:  "This makes no sense whatsoever. I  guess I'll just say this, I hate to get to personalities, but if Grover Norquist is more powerful than the president of the United States, and the AARP is more powerful than the Congress, we ain't got a prayer."   Well said, Senator Simpson, and I applaud you for the saying of it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

May I Ask Why, President Obama?

When reading the Sunday Rocket-Miner, I saw a tiny article with the headline, Douglas Honors Marine Killed in Afghanistan.  Douglas is a small community east of Casper, Wyoming, and the young Marine was 22 years old at the time of his death.  He apparently died on the previous Sunday, June 12, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province.  That's the way the paper described it, died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  Not killed, died.  The young Marine's name was Lance Corporal Sean M. O'Connor and his family met the plane which carried his casket, and as stated in the paper, approached his flag-draped casket, paid him respect, cried for him, loved him.  Then six Marines put his casket into a hearse and it took him to Douglas, where he had grown up and where his family lives.

I do not know this young man, nor his family, but the stark coldness of the newspaper article chilled me.  As a parent, I immediately felt grief and compassion for the young man and for his family.  It has been quite a while since the death of Osama bin Laden, the prime reason for our government to have troops in Afghanistan, or so they say, and yet young troops are still dying, or rather being killed in a war which seems to have no end or even a purpose.  This kid was 22 years old, he entered the Marines right out of high school, and now there is only a casket.

Tomorrow, President Obama is supposed to announce how many troops will be brought home from Afghanistan, and what the plans are for withdrawal of further forces.  Unfortunately, for this young Marine and many others who have been killed there since the death of bin Laden, the timing is more than a little late.  I will never understand how a country which is supposed to be civilized can send their young into battle facing death, when there seems to be no real good reason for doing so!  Here it is 2011, and we still can't figure out a better way of dealing with other countries besides maiming and killing people.

I am not a religious person, in fact my belief is that life begins with birth and ends with death, no heaven, no hell, no heavenly father out there somewhere who sends young people off to war to be killed.  No, that is what politicians do when they don't have the good sense to use diplomatic means to resolve conflicts.  My heart does go out to the family of this young man, however, because they lost a son, they will never hold his children, never hug him again, their hearts must be broken.

May I ask why, President Obama?  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Israel, Palestine, President Obama and American Policy

When Republican Eric Cantor invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress I was appalled!  Before you decide that I'm anti-semitic, let me state emphatically, I hate no one based on their color, religion, sex, national origin, political beliefs or physical stature.  Rather, I happen to be a rather soft hearted individual, prone to stick up for the underdog against the oppressor.  I dislike Netanyahu, not because he is an Israeli, but because he is a bully!  He isn't the first of his religion to oppress the Palestinians, and he probably won't be the last.  He has, however, brought this oppression to a new high, insisting that the Israelis are being persecuted by the Palestinians.  The Palestinians throw rocks and hand-made rockets, the Israelis use tanks and bombs and rubber bullets and REAL bullets, keeping supplies like food and medicine from reaching Palestine.  That Cantor invited him is a slap in the face of our President Obama and also every citizen of the U.S. who believe that both Palestine and Israel have the right to self government and self determination.

I also believe that the time has come for America to cut off any and all military aid to Israel.  The fact that my tax money is being used for the brutalization of the Palestinians is untenable!  In my opinion, the United States has made some very big mistakes in foreign policy, our unprovoked attack and destructive war on Iraq and its citizens comes to mind.  Unfortunately, I could fill this page and many others on American overreach and domination in the world, but I will try to concentrate just on the Israeli/Palestinian matter.  How do you defend a policy that discriminates against one group of people at the bargaining table while offering help to the ones who are occupying them?   This is not a practical way to forge peace, it only further deepens the divide between those two peoples.  The fact that one of President Obama's advisors, Dennis Ross, is also the co-founder of AIPAC, a lobbying group for Israel, seems more than just a little bit of a conflict of interest!  Why he was chosen to be an advisor is a mystery to me, but I feel like President Obama has been getting the wrong advice.

I do know, that when I saw the members of Congress applauding Netanyahu's speech, it made me wonder if I was Alice in Wonderland and had passed through the looking glass!  Our own country is in dire need of so many things, infrastructure repair, to name one, and we send money to Israel to oppress and kill Palestinians.  Our politicians want to cut any program that helps ANY citizen in America, only to fund Israel and it's demands.  It is way past time to ask our politicians exactly who they work for.  Is Eric Cantor an American or an Israeli?  Does President Obama think that the children of the Palestinians are any less precious than those of the Israelis?  Do the children of Americans even have a say in all of this?  Is this still the United States of America?  If so, I think that we must demand that some common sense enter our foreign policy debate!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cheney And Simpson Just Won't Go Away!

  Two of our former politicians, Dick Cheney and Alan Simpson are back in the news.  While reading Huffington Post, I read an article about former Vice-President Dick Cheney who is apparently contemplating whether or not to have a heart transplant.  He has had a pump type implant which moves blood through his body while not registering a heartbeat like normal people.  He is having a problem making up his mind. Either way, the first thought that came to my my mind was, what a waste of a good heart...swiftly followed by what a heartless bastard he is in the first place.  Then, as I pondered on it, I said to myself that if I were an organ donor and were to have my heart transplanted into Dick Cheney, pure and simple karma would dictate that the heart stop beating.  So, after all, my first thought was the correct one for me, what a waste of a good heart!

  Next, the old goat Simpson!  You know, he's the one that thinks that older folks who draw Social Security are a drag on the economy, calling it a "Ponzi" scheme.  He was appearing at a forum held on Social Security and gave the old one arm salute to the people from AARP who were also at the forum, calling them a business not a senior advocate group.  For those of you too young to know what a one arm salute is, it's the ancient version of flipping someone the finger implying that they should go fuck themselves.  A reporter/blogger from Huffington Post asked him some questions about Social Security which got l all torqued off and he ended up saying some really stupid stuff, as is his usual routine.  Within an hour of it being posted on HP, there were 2000 comments on the old croaker, most of which agreed that he should just fade away.  What a lovely thought, but alas, even though he will be 80 years old in September, he shows no sign of being smart enough to take the hint.  When President Obama appointed him to the fiscal deficit commission, I thought he made a mistake, but after seeing just how people got active when the old geezer ran his mouth, I started to think that maybe he did it on purpose.  When you have this ignorant, biased and militantly caustic, greedy guy spouting off about older working folks relying on the government, people pay attention and start to fight for their rights!  Pissed off people are very effective at standing up for themselves!  If President Obama planned it, it was a brilliant political move, and if he didn't, we still reap the benefits of the spectacle he creates so that is good.

So, it is what it is...just makes me wonder why our lovely state of Wyoming has to be known for having these two as citizens!  All states have their own share of goofy folks, but these two are just downright mean spirited.    It's as though they hate for anyone other than them to have anything good.  I think that's one of the symptoms of being a narcissist, but I'm no therapist, just a woman who believes that all people have to right to live decent lives.  Anyhow, I sure hope that they fade away soon and quite using the common oxygen on the planet.  I'm sure there's a couple of people somewhere who are more deserving than they to benefit from breathing.

  Does that make me sound mean?  Good, I meant it that way!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama bin Laden Gone, Time For Troops To Return Home

May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden is shot in the head and later buried at sea.  Navy Seals did what they are trained to do and did it well!  The country where he was born would not accept the remains of his mortal body, hence the burial in the Arabian Sea.  It seems ironic to me, that the country which enabled him to be trained as a jihadist during the Russian attempt at invading Afghanistan, was the same one that delivered that final bullet to the head.  I do hope that the families of those killed in the World Trade Center can now find some peace of mind now that this evil voice has been stilled.  There is much evil in this world...I hope that the remaining evil will also be brought to an end.

Now that the main reason for our occupation of Afghanistan is dead and gone, it would seem that this is a perfect time to declare an end to the occupation and bring the troops home.  If the government has another reason for being there, then they should be honest about it and declare what that reason is.  We have wasted many young lives of our military and destroyed so much for the people of Afghanistan who deserve to be left alone to decide what they want.  I do not want to forget that so many innocent Afghanis, who never had anything to do with bringing down the Towers, were killed just for being a citizen of their home country, much like those that died that September day in the World Trade Center.  All innocent victims, regardless of the country of their birth.  My hope is that some time before I leave this mortal world, humanity will find some better way of dealing with each other than by wanton and random murder.  If history holds any lessons, now would seem to be the time to learn them!

I have always been a dreamer, one of those people who feels the pain of others and not only tries to understand it, but also tries to make the hurt go away.  My dream is for a peaceful world, where children of any country can play and learn together...where their parents can do the same, in tolerance and understanding of one another, not in war and destruction.  I hope I live long enough to see that!  Peace would be such a beautiful way for our world to come together in the brother and sisterhood of all human beings to live together.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cynthia Lummis And Paul Ryan Joined At The Hip

Now, if you've read this blog before, you already know that I hold our Wyoming representative in the House of Representatives, Cynthia Lummis in low regard. Good, then you won't be surprised by what I type next! While reading through my emails, I clicked on one from Moveon.org that asked if I would call her Washington, D.C. office phone number and ask if she supported Paul Ryan's plan to demolish Medicare. They also asked for me to let them know what the answer was.

Since I do call Washington, D.C. quite a lot and let Ms. Lummis and our equally low regarded Senators Enzi and Barrasso know what my opinion is, I decided to try calling the local office for Congresswoman Lummis instead. As a public service to anyone who reads this the number is 307-362-4095, here in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I spoke to her office person, Bonnie, and asked her if the congresswoman supports the Paul Ryan plan to demolish Medicare. Well, she said, we don't characterize it quite that way, we like to think it's more like taking medicine for a problem. I said that since Social Security is solvent and Medicare contributions are probably lower now because of the recession, how can there be a problem? She gave me the Republican Party speech about deficits and future generations having to pay for it, you know the drill! Then she told me that I shouldn't worry, because it wouldn't effect me, just future participants, and that the plan probably wouldn't pass anyway. Being good at reading doublespeak, I took that to mean that the whole fuss about the budget by the Tea Party/Republican Party was a big dog and pony show to cater to their base. I specifically asked if the congresswoman supported vouchers for seniors to use for medical insurance, in lieu of Medicare and she agreed that she did.

I bent her ear a little longer and told her to be sure that Congresswoman Lummis was told that not only did I think that was a terrible plan, but that I also thought that playing games with Social Security and Medicare was out of bounds and that those of us who paid into it for all of our working years didn't take to kindly to having them steal from us. She then took my name and address and promised to give her the message. I also asked her to be sure to tell Lummis for me that no senior I knew would ever vote for anyone who messed with Social Security and Medicare and that we didn't appreciate being treated like fools. She said she would, and thanked me for my opinion.

Now, as I've written before, Social Security and Medicare are two of the most successful government programs ever and are funded through payroll deductions. If a person purchases Medicare part B, the premium is withheld from their Social Security benefits, you also have the option to purchase Medicare Part D which partially pays for prescription medicines, so that is an extra monthly cost. Last, but definitely not least, if you want a supplemental insurance that pays the percentage of costs that isn't covered by Medicare, you also pay for that. Incidentally, thanks to the healthcare pushed by President Obama, the Part D Medicare has been improved, and eventually the doughnut hole will be closed. The Medicare Part D was originally passed during the Bush administration, and was a boon for insurance and drug companies, not so much for seniors! Paul Ryan voted for it and so did Barbara Cubin, Lummis's predecessor in Congress.

Here's what I think, the Republicans want to push a government shutdown to give themselves a better chance at reelection and to piss off President Obama, and we seniors are just pawns in their evil little chess game! As a native and current resident of Wyoming, I will try to make sure that everyone I know has as many accurate facts about this issue as I can find! Oh, and if you feel like asking questions for yourself, feel free to call Bonnie at Congresswoman Lummis's office at this number...307-362-4095. Just remember, she wants to abolish Medicare along with her Tea Party/Republican Party cohort Paul Ryan and she's proud of that! We can't let them screw us any more!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is Popular Revolt Even Possible In U.S.A.?

As I watch and read about the people's uprising against tyranny across the world, I am very impressed by the courage, bravery and knowledge shown by them. Instant videos appear on YouTube and Al Jazeera, beamed right from the front lines within moments of happening. Raw news abounds and something else, the music and poetry of revolution, each country seems to have similar words and sounds to reflect the human conditions on the ground. I am fascinated by it all, the music moves me even if I don't understand the words sung, one song in particular sung by the crowd in Benghazi, Libya upon victory over Gaddafi's thugs, runs through my mind like a meditation tape. I finally found a very good version on YouTube and listen to it whenever feelings of sadness for the oppressed overwhelms me. After it finishes, my mind and hope are refreshed! The people who sing this song are magicians, full of endless inspiration. It makes me wonder how they came to be so brave, their suffering has somehow made them better human beings than their oppressors. Lots of food for thought!

There was a cartoon in this morning's Daily Rocket-Miner which really put into words just how I have been feeling about our country and our problems when so many of the people seem so uninformed and uneducated about why we have these problems. In the cartoon, a younger guy tells his mom and her friend that a woman told him that babies are born with tails, and asks them if that is true. The two older women look at each other with dumbfounded looks and the mother's friend tells him this: You know, Jack, some people spend their lives drinking from the fountain of knowledge...but you pretty much just swish and spit, don't you? After laughing for a moment, I realized that this cartoon had hit the nail on the head! A large portion of our population in the United States (and Wyoming, in particular!) don't drink from the fountain of knowledge, they just swish and spit! They read very little, watch tv, and take all of what passes for news as gospel truth. We no longer take the time to resolve our daily problems, we just take whatever opinion is presented by our favorite pundit or newspaper columnist as our own, no heavy thought process needed! All of our thinking is done for us by others. It's no wonder that we find ourselves in a country where the rich and powerful have all the say and the poor have no voice at all. We need to take the time to investigate what's going on and see who exactly benefits by our being so poorly informed.

Only with an educated and well informed citizenry, can we even hope to make sure that each citizen has an even chance of making a decent life and earning a living. I'm not saying every one needs to be formally educated, just well informed. Read current events news, discuss things with your friends and family, just do something to make sure you know the truth of any matter. Only when we can make up our own minds and form our own opinions will we be truly able to show others that we are masters of our own destiny. Remember that old expression no pain, no gain? Well, it's going to take a lot of pain to get our country back on the right track, maybe even some protests and uprisings by our own citizens. We need to let our government know that we are not happy with corporations being in control, we are going to gain through self educating ourselves! Then, they can no longer control our lives, and we will be truly free.

Is popular revolt even possible in the United States of America? Only we can be the judge of that, we the people, standing together! People all over the world are doing it, why not us?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Libya,Wisconsin,Wyoming, Japan:What A Week!

It seems at times like there is just so much happening, that an old woman really has to stretch to take it all in! Here in Wyoming, the gas drillers want to drill in the Upper Hoback area, they want to use 18,000 acres of land to drill 136 new wells, install 29 new miles of roads in the wilderness. Each new drilling pad would use 8 yo 10 acres each, they would also drill 5 industrial water wells. 3 wastewater treatment plants with impoundments and up to 4 man camps with 20 workers, all this is to take fifteen years of drilling.

This is what they want to do within a stone's throw of some of the most beautiful wilderness in the state. They have already turned Pinedale, Wyoming into one giant ozone dump, polluted groundwater and made residents and wild game animals sick. Also, nearby Pavillion, Wyoming, which is located in the center of the Wind River Indian Reservation, where residents were informed by the EPA last summer that their drinking water is no longer safe to drink or cook with can attest to what gas drilling does to a place. Of course, Encana Oil and Gas, which drilled 250 wells in the area, denies that they caused it, but will supply bottled water of the town out of the goodness of their heart. Yeah, right! I lived up in Lander, not to far from Pavillion, when I was in high school, and that area was one of the best places on the planet for clean water and air. Now, not so much.

Now to Wisconsin and Libya... what do they have in common? An out of control dictator, would be my answer! The Governor of Wisconsin must have taken lessons from Moammar Gaffafi on how to win friends and influence people. Taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees is just the start, I'm sure this megalomaniac is just getting warmed up I hope the people of Wisconsin are also taking lessons from the Libyan and Egyptian people...I just heard that a group of policemen in Madison went to a bank and closed all their accounts and withdrew $190,000 dollars from the bank. Hitting the rich in the purse, that's the only thing they understand! Best of wishes for all humans who stand up for their rights!

The earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan shows just how powerful Mother Nature can be! Stunning video and pictures coming from Japan, thanks to all this wonderful technology. As I am posting this, the news reported that another aftershock of 7.9 hit Sendai, so it's not over yet. On top of that, one of the nuclear plants right on the coast is having major problems, with the area being evacuated in a 10 mile circle and they are handing out iodine tablets to protect against radiation. My good thoughts are with the people of Japan, I can only imagine how frightened they must be.

Both our planet and the people who live on it are in a state of change. My hope is that we will all emerge from this with courage and understanding. What a week it has been...and it's not over yet!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wisconsin, Wyoming And Worker's Rights

Since my last post, the Wisconsin public employee's union has been ambushed by their governor in his intent to destroy their collective bargaining rights. I loved what the Democrat lawmakers did in response...left the state to avoid having a quorum to push the bill through. It took guts to tell this Republican, labor-hating clone that they wouldn't let him force them to vote against the best interests of their constituents, which also happen to be in the best interests of the state of Wisconsin. My hope meter hit the top seeing all the protesters who occupied the capitol building! Story after story hit the blogs and news outlets itemizing how the governor had made sweetheart deals with corporations giving them tax breaks...which was the real reason for the budget deficit. He was punked by someone pretending to be one of the Koch brothers by telephone and the resulting transcript of that conversation hit the internet like a tidal wave. Man, I love this age of instant communication via internet...it's hard to keep things hidden when everyone has a video camera on their cell phone and politicians are too stupid to realize that transparency is the only sensible approach! Anyway, good for the people of Wisconsin...keep fighting...who know what will happen next!

I got so intrigued by this event, that I began researching the "right to work" law. Yeah, I know, I'm retired, but I think everyone has the right to earn a decent living...and thanks to having a union pension along with my Social Security, my retirement is comfortable and I would like everyone to have this to look forward to after many years of working. Leave it to the right wing to name a law the "right to work" law...it is anything but! What it achieves is keeping wages low and the working individual essentially a slave.

I remember the Wyoming of my youth, where most of my friends fathers belonged to the United Mine Workers Union, and the trona mines were union, the construction trades were union, the railroads were union. They fought hard for the right to bargain collectively with their employers and were proud to belong to a union of brothers. Hell, I remember having a Democrat senator and a Democrat Congressman...now the state is two thirds Republican. I digress...then in 1963, the State of Wyoming became a "right to work" state. Not too long after that, my mama told me that the unemployment fund ran out of money, as I left Wyoming in 1962.

There are now twenty-two states that have the "right to work" law, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. Overwhelmingly right wing. Corporations rule the politicians with an iron hand, one hand handing out campaign cash and the other hand poised to punish the workers in the state for even having a thought about union membership. Yes, here in Sweetwater County there are still some unions operating, but at such a small strength, that each year membership declines. With the passage of the "right to work" law, unions could still negotiate for their members, but also had many people working that didn't pay dues, so they lost strength. Yes, I know that sometimes unions were corrupt, but that happens because any organization having power can be corrupted by human greed. However, I can say that my experience as a union member is that I was well represented and was happy to pay my dues because it benefited my well-being and long term security...it was money well spent.

In researching, I stumbled upon an excellent website:http://www.wyoworkforce.org which has an abundance of information and statistics relevant to workers in Wyoming. Some of the statistics are really eye openers! I knew that the new Wyoming wasn't anything like the old Wyoming that I lived in as a child, but now I know why. The politicians have sold out to corporations and no longer represent us...corporations like Wal-Mart and Home Depot like having a captive, poor work force that don't cost too much to employ. Now you know why Wisconsin's governor and others like him are pushing to do away with collective bargaining rights, less money for the workers, much, much more money for them. Yes, you have the "right to work", but for less!

In 2008, male workers in Wyoming earned 78% of the median income level in the 50 states, and women earned 63% of the median income level in the United States. The only thing that Wyoming leads on is the mortality rate of workers killed on the job per capita...some distinction, don't you think?

Why every Wyoming worker isn't out on the street organizing for union membership and an end to the "right to work" law is beyond my comprehension. Probably too tired from working two or more jobs to make ends meet! Don't take my word for it, go to the website above and read some of the statistics. I guarantee you it will raise your blood pressure!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt, Freedom, Facebook And Letters To The Editor

It has been almost two weeks since my last post, and what a time period to be alive in! The people of Egypt managed to throw out a dictator who had ruled them with uncompromising cruelty for 30 years. Not only that, but they did it despite being set on by his thugs, by peacefully occupying Tahrir Square 24/7. Their courage and passion was a sight to behold. Their freedom was so important to them, that even though more than 300 of their fellow citizens were martyred for the cause, they never budged from their demands. Joyful in their victory, it was inspiring to see that when it was all over, they got together, and with brooms and cleaning products brought from home, cleaned Tahrir Square with an abundance of civic pride. Absolutely amazing! I have been glued to Al Jazeera following them with such pride in their accomplishments. Maybe there is hope for the people of our United States after all...if only they would follow the Egyptian people's example! I was touched to be asked to be friended by a 16 year old young man from Cairo on Facebook after I had posted my congratulations to the Egyptian people on the Tahrir Square site. Even more surprised to receive a request for friendship from a young person from Nepal...I think the whole world was rooting for all the people of the world to come together as a family. Sure made me feel connected!

I have been busily preparing a letter to the editor of the Rocket-Miner, in response to a woman who wrote a letter about illegal immigrants and people wanting handouts abusing Social Security. I finally got it written out by hand, double spaced and signed and will submit it tomorrow when I go to the paper to pay for my subscription. Hopefully, the young woman will read it and find out that she was badly misinformed...if not, I tried! Unfortunately, in America today, people's contempt for government prior to investigation of the actual facts has become the rule in our political discourse.

After I finished the letter, I happened upon a quote from A. A. Milne which I would like to share with you. I read it in The Week magazine and here it is: "The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. A first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking." I aspire to be a first-rate mind...only time will tell! Anyway, the quote seemed to fit the situation perfectly!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tunisia, Egypt, United States: Will The People Win?

I have been paying a lot of attention to the popular uprisings in the Middle East. The courage and bravery of the people have won my undying admiration for them as citizens of the world. As usual, I have relied on outlets like Al-Jazeera and Reuters and The Independent for my information, because our news outlets in the United States are very biased against anyone who are not 100 percent believers in Americans always being right! Americans are supposed to be exceptional in all things, and that is not to be questioned by a mere citizen of the world! Several blogs, like Firedoglake and Crooks and Liars, and even Facebook have given more accurate information than the national news outlets. Every report I have watched on CNN or NBC, CBS, ABC or other news media have been showered with words meant to fool the viewer into accepting their version of the events taking place in foreign countries. I prefer the raw news, I don't require a news reporter to do my thinking for me!

However, it seems that a lot of Americans do! They quote Wolf Blitzer or other media representatives as if it was the gospel straight from above. We have become a nation of people who let other people form our opinions, because we're too damn lazy to think for ourselves. But, by god, we Americans are exceptional! And, we speak English.

While watching interviews interviews of Egyptian citizens in Tahrir Square, I was impressed by their knowledge of their country and its political system, as well as their determination to stand up to the powers that be. Many of them spoke better English than many of our American politicians do...you pick your favorite, there are many of them who sound like they never had a grammar lesson in their lives! Each Egyptian citizen interviewed had such passion for their beliefs and such courage to speak about them. I saw a t-shirt on one of them, a young woman, which said, "I love my country, it's my government that I'm afraid off!" Another young man said that it was better to die for what you believe in, than to live for nothing. Powerful sentiments!

This month, our Wyoming state government began its legislative session. So far, they have offered legislation to overturn the healthcare law, voted to deny same sex marriage recognition for couples from other states, denied protection for people who have gender issues in employment, and here's a really important one, offered legislation to permit all Wyoming citizens to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Is it just me, or are we reverting to the dark ages? Suddenly, it looks like America is losing its principles and other countries are choosing to make both their lives and their countries a better place to be human. Wyoming is known as the Equality State, but only for Republican, white men. It's ironic that here we want to take away citizen's rights if they are different, but across the world people are taking huge chances to take their destiny back from their governments.

We could learn quite a few lessons from the citizens of Tunisia and Egypt, if only we would listen and educate ourselves, instead of letting others make our minds up for us. Do we still have any courage left, or are we just too fearful to find out the truth? Only time will tell!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hate Speech In Politics Has Consequences

Like lancing a boil, the vitriol spewed by major political parties and media pundits came to a head in Tucson, Arizona yesterday and exploded in violence. A young man shot and killed 6 people, including a 9 year old girl, wounded a congresswoman from the state gravely and left many others wounded. Imagine going to a shopping center on a lovely, sunny Arizona winter day, perhaps to shop, or to see your representative in the U.S. Congress visit with her constituents. A simple outing...a good way to spend a Saturday! Death and violence wouldn't have even entered your mind, just looking forward to an enjoyable day out and about in the warm sunshine!

I watched a video of the 9 year old girl's mother being questioned by phone by a reporter and she said when they called her to tell her to come to the hospital where her daughter died, she thought that they had been in an auto accident. Her daughter had gone to the shopping center with a neighbor, as she had been elected to the student council at school and wanted to listen to the congresswoman and hoped to learn more about public service. This young girl was killed by a gunshot to the chest, by a young man who decided to get his 15 minutes of fame and make his statement. That just about says it all. They always like to say that guns don't kill people, people kill people, but imagine for a moment that the young man had no gun...he wouldn't have caused so much death, suffering and heartbreak.

Our society as become so negative and hateful over the past few years, there is no tolerance for anyone who is not of the same race or belief. Civility has been replaced by weapons and the media news has been replaced by hate mongers who shout about what "those" people are doing to our country. Mental health care for people who need it is almost non-existent, perhaps the young man needed help and was unable to find it...or maybe he has been filled with hatred and never learned to deal with adversity. We can ponder all of these things, but it doesn't make what happened in Tucson any easier to comprehend. I have been wondering ...and sadly...waiting for something like this to happen, hatred is an awful weight to carry. My firm hope is that this horrible event will open people's eyes and help them realize that tolerance and understanding is needed in our daily lives. Imagine that that sweet little 9 year old girl was your daughter gone for an outing with a neighbor...and then gone, dead by a gunman's hand.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Social Security Reform Well Explained

Yesterday morning, an article in the Daily Rocket-Miner caught my eye. It was an unusually well done explanation of how Social Security benefits are accrued and received. The research was attributed to the Urban Institute. Since I'm always curious about the source of statistics I read, I went to the website for the Institute and was amazed by what I found. It was established during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson so that there would be a non-partisan, non-governmental agency which would study the effects of poverty, along with all the things which effect citizens across the nation.

Here is the website address: http://www.urbaninstitute.org. It is a treasure trove of information not only about Social Security reform, but on just about every subject that a person needs good, valid and non-partisan research for an informed opinion. Videos are available and many articles to browse in each category. I lost track of time while reading and absorbing so much good information. Many of the suggestions that I read about Social Security reform were an eye opener to me. I must admit, it made me rethink some of the ideas I had held about the proposed reform. Since I am a great believer in everyone educating themselves and forming their own opinion, please check out the website and see what you think!

In my opinion, if our government were to implement this blueprint for reforming Social Security, the benefit to citizens would be very beneficial. Again, this is strictly my opinion, so see what you think.

In these days of everyone taking as gospel what every right wing or left wing pundit spews forth in the media, it was enjoyable to find such a good source of non-partisan research. I also like the regular Social Security website, I figure if you want information go right to the source! It surprises me how few of the recipients of these benefits really and truly understand them. I made sure that I researched all the sources of information I could find prior to filing for my Social Security benefits, I always figure forewarned is forearmed! I have had really good visits with my older friends, which were almost like a tutoring session, because they hadn't done a little investigation on their own. Like I said, forewarned is forearmed, especially when it comes to money issues.

I hope this has helped you to decide to educate yourself on retirement benefits. Planning ahead can mean that you have a more secure life when you do retire. I know that young people are very busy with their lives, but believe me, the time to plan your economic situation is when you are young, Don't wait for old age to hit you in the butt, do it now!