Actions Speak Louder

firebreath

Since before the 2016 election, America has been hearing about questionable and downright illegal behavior of our president.  We’ve known for a long time his attitudes towards woman border on Paleolithic.  We’ve also known that he’s abusive to staff, he stiffs his workers and cons hardworking people out of their money.

Since the presidential Twitter storm began, we’ve also learned he’s bigoted, uneducated and lacks human sympathy.  We see it every day.  We hear it every day.  It’s reported every day.

So why is he still president?  The majority of America voted for Hillary Clinton.  The vast majority of Americans now believe the president is unhinged, or at best, unpresidential. He’s a boorish man who takes pleasure in provoking people who already hate us.  He’s lied, cheated and boasted throughout the last year.  He’s performed criminal acts.  He’s assaulted underaged women. We know this.  There is incontrovertible evidence.  Hell, he’s admitted it.

But still he sits in the oval office.

Are Americans so powerless that they are forced to give up their values for the gratification of this narcissist?  Are we so confused by the blitz of bizarre and depraved behavior?  Have our standards sunk so low that we are willing to put up with blatant racism and oppression?

There are plenty of people who complain.  They say they want him impeached.  They say they want him indicted.  They report he’s unfit for office.

But talk is cheap.

When is someone going to DO something?  When is Robert Mueller going to come out with his information?  When will the people enabling the president be called to pay for their complicity?  When will we see the tail end of this president?  When will we shed the antiquated Electoral College system of electing our leaders and let the people decide?

Actions speak louder than words, America.

What are we going to DO?

 

 

 

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When Hatred Thrives

prevent

This weekend has been a horror of racism and terrorism.  Armed Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists went beyond exercising their First Amendment and Second Amendment rights.  They brought roaring violence and racism, terrorizing the city of Charlottesville and appalling the nation.  One woman was killed and injured in a savage act of terrorism.  Two officers lost their lives during the police response which included local and state police and the Virginia National Guard.  Terry McAuliffe, governor of Virginia, declared a state of emergency.

Due to a lawsuit filed by Jason Kessler, U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad ordered a preliminary injunction late Friday night that allowed White Supremacists to hold protests about the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, American General in the Confederate Army.  The removal of his statue from previously named Lee Park, now officially Emancipation Park, was decided by a vote of the city council.  The effort, now in the court system, included a plan to move the statue to another site with other war memorials. It’s important to know that the statue was erected post-World War I.

As soon as Judge Conrad ordered the injunction, the torch-waving group descended on the University of Virginia campus shouting, “You will not replace us,” and “Jews will not replace us.”  This campus display of hatred and intimidation was not covered in the injunction filed by Judge Conrad, who allowed a protest to be held in downtown Charlottesville over the weekend.

This was unsanctioned by the university and condemned by UVA’s president Theresa A. Sullivan.  She is quoted as saying,

“I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including university personnel who were attempting to maintain order.”

At the same time Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer said,

“I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.”

Saturday, White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, including past leader David Dukes, showed up with Nazi and Confederate flags, bats, clubs and long guns to begin what was described by Kessler to the courts as a “peaceable assembly.”

The State of Virginia has an open carry law.

“Open carry of a handgun without a permit is legal in Virginia at age 18, withstanding other applicable laws. Concealed carry of a handgun is allowed for persons who hold a valid CHP (concealed handgun permit), comply with certain restrictions, or who hold certain positions.”

Long guns such as rifles and shotguns are also addressed:

“The following cities and counties have exceptions that disallow the open carry of “assault weapons” (any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or is designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock) or shotguns equipped with a magazine that holds more than 7 rounds: the Cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach and in the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, and Prince William.”

Charlottesville and the surrounding Albemarle County have no such restrictions.

Protest leader Richard Spencer, a white nationalist, inflamed the crowd with white supremacist rhetoric.

“What brings us together is that we are white.  We are a people. We will not be replaced!”

Demonstrators launched tear gas and threw water bottles.  Police did little to calm the protests.

After Saturday’s violence, including a terrorist vehicle attack and the loss of two police officers in a crashed helicopter, Mayor Mike Signer made the following statement:

“This tide of hatred and of intolerance and of bigotry that has come to us and marched down with torches to the lawn of one of the founders of democracy.  It is brought here by outsiders and it’s brought here by people who belong in the trash heap of history, with these ideas.  They’re gonna be in the trash heap of history.  This day will not define us.  We will define this day by the story that we continue to tell tomorrow and the tomorrow after that, the week after that and the year after that.”

During the same press conference, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe voiced his disgust with the protest:

“You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people.  And I have a message for all the white supremacists and the nazis who came into Charlottesville today.  Our message is plain and simple: Go home.  You are not wanted in this great commonwealth.  Shame on you.

You pretend that you’re patriots.  But you are anything but a patriot.

You want to talk about patriots, talk about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington who brought our country together.  You think about the patriots today, the young men and women who are wearing the cloth of our country.   Somewhere around the globe, they are putting their life in danger.  They’re patriots.  You are not.

You came here today to hurt people.  And you did hurt people.  But my message is clear.  We are stronger than you.  You have made our commonwealth stronger.  You will not succeed.  There is no place for you here.  There is no place for you in America.

We work here today to bring people together, to unify folks.  I remind you all that we are a nation of immigrants.  Unless you’re Native American, the first ships that came to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.  And since that time many people have come to our great country to unite us.  Our diversity, that mosaic tile of immigrants is what makes us so special.  And we will not let anybody come here and destroy it.

So please, go home.  And never come back.  Take your hatred and take your bigotry.  There is no place.  And if I could give you a piece of advice, use your time and energy to help people.  Come with me to a homeless shelter.  Come with me to help a veteran find a job or a place to live.  That’s what we need help on, to bring people together.

I spoke to the president this afternoon and we had a conversation.  And I told the president that there has got to be a movement in this country to bring people together.  The hatred and rhetoric that has gone on and has intensified over the last couple of months is dividing this great nation.  We need to work together.  I told the president that twice.  I’m willing to work with you if we can work together to bring people together.  But stop the hate speech, stop the rhetoric in this country.  We have got to bring people together.

But we are a great commonwealth and we are a great nation.  And we are even stronger today  because of those actions of those people who came with their bigotry and hatred.”

Governor McAuliffe has spoken the words that the nation most needs at this hour. We will have no tolerance for hate.  We must work together to keep our country, our culture and our strength.

What Have the Democrats Got?

Make America Happy Again

Taking America Back

So, I’ve been thinking (always dangerous, I know) that Democrats pointing at Republicans and saying, “I’m better than him” are not going to get elected. Better the Devil you know, right? So it occurs to me that Democrats as a group need to have a positive offering. Here are some suggestions:
1) Infrastructure- We all know we need to put some effort into fixing the Eisenhower Interstate System. Our roads, dams, bridges, and energy delivery systems are literally falling into ruin. Some have said that investing in infrastructure only creates “temporary” employment. But maintenance is a full-time job. When one project ends, another begins.
2) Non Combustible Energy- Solar, Wind, Hydro-Electric, Geo-Thermal, Wave Action and who knows what else we can come up with if we start funding research and stop subsidizing oil, gas and coal.
3) Environment- It’s important to support environmental protection both here and abroad. The EPA needs to be strengthened and given enforcement powers. No longer will mega corporations like Monsanto, Exxon and BP be allowed to pay for their pollution. They know the rules and flout them, knowing that they can afford any fines. Environmental protection is a priority because, unless I am mistaken, this is the only planet we currently inhabit. And though the planet will be fine*, we don’t want it to go on without elephants and polar bears and humans.
4) Rapid Transit- America needs to look into creating a national rapid transit system. High speed, magnetic levitation electric trains can link hub cities and from there, lines to regional hubs and on to rural areas. Instead of airline, bus, rail and trucking companies burning combustible fuels, an economical, earth friendly transport system will allow for the movement of large portions of the population, giving Americans a heretofore unimaginable freedom of movement. And… jobs.
5) Internet access- There are smaller countries in which the internet is accessible to the entire population. But there is little incentive for the current system of competing cell phone and internet providers to invest in a national infrastructure. America could take on the challenge of making internet access available to the entire country. It might be difficult, but it would certainly create jobs.
6) Education- In the “reviled” country of Communist Cuba, education is a priority. Schools are 100% subsidized by the government. The literacy rate in that country is 99.75% (2017), second highest in the world. The country considers education an investment and apportions a large part of it’s budget for schools. The United States can take a lesson from Cuba about prioritizing education as an investment in the future.
7) Military spending- knowing that the United States has enough arms to obliterate life on Earth, it’s time to take a close look at military spending. From funding failed projects to gross overcharging on contracts, to the “Black Budget”, the US Military spends the most by far of any US budget item, well over 50%. Let’s see if we can reapportion some of that spending to social investment programs like those listed above.

Well, that’s a start. There are many folks with good ideas out there. Together we can find a way to fight corruption, disease and ignorance while creating a safe, prosperous America. But first we have to elect people to public office who share our values.

* = attributed to George Carlin

Open Letter to Media Outlets

real news

Since the shocking surge of confusion about the veracity of the work of you and your colleagues has subsided, The Rachel Maddow Show has become a model of how to treat a president who respects no one, especially the press. You do not show his face. You do not paste his tweets. You put what seems important into a text slide. This allows us to separate ourselves from the manipulation being perpetrated by the Administration.

Above all, Trump craves attention. He will do anything he thinks will bring him the attention believes he deserves. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad. “No such thing as bad press” is this man’s credo.

Every dog trainer knows that controlling attention controls behavior. The attention of the American people is not something to be taken, but rather something to be given.

Organizations like TRMS can serve as an example and lead Americans back to control of their country. Please continue to deny this man the opportunity to see his face on your program. Meet with your peers and make a plan to minimize the objectionable behavior and emphasize any good behavior, that kind of behavior that is adult, responsible and in the best interests of our nation.

Do yourself a favor and set up websites dedicated to covering all of Trump’s inanities and outrages.  Then you can just say at the outset of your report, “Check our website for the president’s latest stupidities.  And in real news today…”

As long as his outrageous behavior makes news media outlets’ hair catch fire, he will continue to do those things. If instead, outrageous behavior is unchallenged and unnoticed, he will have to find a new way to win the attention he craves. The news media is the personification of attention. You have the power to change his behavior.

Stop ranting, stop complaining, stop showing his face and challenging his tweets. After a brief extinction period during which his behavior will become worse, he will have no choice but to do good to get press.

And above all, he wants press.

Thanks for all you do.

Personal Effects of ACHA

 

a_little_depression_by_katiejo911A sexual assault victim I know just walked up to me and showed me her phone.  The article there was “Sexual Assault a Pre Existing Condition”.

“Is this true?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“So I can’t get medication anymore?”

The Republicans in the House just raped her again.

Mac Thornberry is our House representative her in District 13 of Texas.  He stated he was voting yes on the health care bill today before he even saw it.  His callous disregard for the health and well being of women in general and sexual assault victims in particular is appalling.

Mac Thornberry is a disgusting man, an accusation he can no longer argue.  His fealty to Donald Trump and Texas business owners who whine about providing health care so they can have a healthy, low absentee workforce has overcome his ability to feel sympathy to a young woman who was raped and contracted STDs from her rapist.  She has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is afraid to stay in the house without all the doors and windows locked and when she encounters her rapist in public (because our town had 900 rape kits that were not processed until after the statute of limitations was up), is thrown into a deadly depression.  She is unable to hold a full time job because of her trauma.  She has been permanently scarred and is struggling to live a full, happy life.

And Mac Thornberry just made it impossible to get her medications and treatment.

You tell her, Mac.  Face to face.

Why The Republican Budget Will Kill

I have always worked with disadvantaged Americans at the American Red Cross, other voluntary agencies and as a disaster caseworker for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is a subculture of working poor who can’t afford a disruption in their lives. They work one, two and sometimes three jobs, they have to make choices between food and medicine, utilities and insurance, gasoline and clothing.
These people regularly barter their skills and possessions with other working poor. “I’ll fix your plumbing if you fix my car.” “I’ll cut your hair in trade for those tomatoes”. All it takes for these hardworking families is one upset, one large expense, one doctor visit to spiral them into poverty and homelessness.
I see it again and again.
When a disaster hits, despite assistance from the Federal Government, owners become renters and renters become homeless. Elderly folks who have paid off their homes can’t afford insurance. So when a tornado or a flood or fire strikes, they have zero resources. The same thing happens with catastrophic illness and injuries. They lose function, they lose work and they lose their resources.
These are the people who have been told they would get tax deduction for a “health insurance savings account”. They make too little to file taxes and can’t afford to put aside even the $25.00 it may take to start any sort of savings account.
I’ve seen an elderly woman sitting on the porch of her storm damaged home, roof mostly destroyed and her home filled with mold. She can’t afford to fix her home, even with assistance from FEMA. She can’t afford to rent a home because she’s on a limited social security budget. And so she will live in that home until the mold, or the cold, or the hunger eventually kills her.
I’ve seen an elderly man who’s roof is leaking and windows are broken, walking to the nearby service station every morning to clean up because he can’t afford to pay his utilities. The $800.00 per month he receives from Social Security goes to medication, medical treatments, doctors appointments, car payments (to get to the doctors’ appointments), gasoline (to get to the doctors’ appointments), registration, inspection and liability insurance for his car (to get to the doctors appointments).
He eats once a day when volunteers deliver his Meals on Wheels lunch. His expenses are $900.00 per month. He makes it because he “borrows” $100.00 per month from his sister, who is also, by the way, on social security.
I’ve seen a young single mother, herself and her children sick from the mold growing in their flooded rental apartment. The Head Start site where her children go during the day is unavailable. She misses work. The family loses money.
She can’t return to work until she can find child care, which is an additional expense on her already overburdened budget. If she misses too much work, she can be fired. And in order to move to a safe, dry apartment she needs first and last month’s rent, a security deposit and utility hookup expenses. This can add up to three to four times her previous monthly rent, all due at once. Her family is separated, children gone to stay with relatives while the mother lives in a shelter until she can make enough to rent again.
I have hundreds of these stories. I have relatives with these stories. You have relatives with these stories. This health care plan from congressional republicans cuts even these small benefits. And not hundreds, not thousands, not tens of thousands but millions of Americans will suffer. And they will die.

The Razor’s Edge

still_waiting_by_katiejo911-d2ym38s

Hurricane Katrina Survivor

This article is in response to women who did not participate in the recent Women’s March (which is their right) and begrudge participation from others.

For almost sixty years I have either been or worked to assist people (which includes women) who are living on the razor’s edge of poverty. I see it all the time. There is a subculture in the United States of people who are one illness, one rent payment, one plant closing and/or one disaster away from ending up on the street. The majority of them are women. Nearly all of them are Americans. They work hard for minimum wage or less, they can’t keep enough money to open a bank account, they barter work and goods for staples. Many are chronically ill because they don’t have insurance and can’t afford to get emergency care from physicians, much less health maintenance.

Many of these people are elderly. They’ve worked very hard all their lives and paid into social security. If they have homes, they might be paid off, they might not.

But on $800.00 per month (payment to single male non-veteran on Social Security income in Mississippi in 2013) it’s impossible to pay for all the expenses: Home insurance, real estate taxes, car payment, insurance and registration, mortgage/rent, gasoline, doctor visits, medications, utility bills, clothing, food. When your bills outweigh your income, you have to make choices. Car or taxi? Insurance or taxes? Doctor or heat? Medicine or food?

I’ve seen poor and elderly people who let their utility bills go unpaid so they can have their life-saving medications. That means a walk to the nearby service station to get cleaned up and use the bathroom daily. Or spending the day at the public library because there’s no heat or air conditioning. Or eating one meal per day instead of three.

And God forbid a tornado takes their home. With the home paid for, you don’t have to pay rent. When that home is gone, that expense is added to the ones you already can’t pay.

If you think everyone in America has the same advantages as you, you are mistaken. You should be thankful your biggest problems are who’s going to drive the SUV to soccer practice and bring treats for the kids.

But do not deny people the dignity of standing up for themselves because of what they lack. That is their right.

And thank God for that.


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