Tag Archives: Republicans

Talking Stick vs Talking Box of Rocks

On Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, the government shutdown came to an end.  It lasted 3 whole days, 2 of which were weekend days.

The title for today’s blogpost is a reference, in part, to something Susan Collins (R-ME) showed off to newspeople – a “talking stick”.  She said it was a stick a friend gave her (and that it was originally from Africa), and that she used it to “control the conversation” she and 17 other politicians had as part of their discussion regarding how to end the government shutdown.

Presumably, one would hold the stick when one wanted to speak.  Here she is, holding it:

During the discussion, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) threw the stick to/at (depending on your p.o.v.) Mark Warner (D-VA) – because he interrupted Alexander – and the stick hit a glass elephant of Collins’, chipping it (“Area Adults Forced to Use Talking Stick”, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire website, 1/23/18).

Aside #1: This incident was made fun of by people on Twitter, and deservedly so.  Mostly regarding how it was a metaphor.  You get the idea, I’m sure.

This group apparently made the recommendation to end the shutdown by an agreement between Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

At the end of it all, it was Schumer who announced the Democrats had made a deal with McConnell to fund the government until February 8, with McConnell stating he “intended” to begin debating an immigration bill (“Shutdown Ends After Democrats Agree to Trust That McConnell Will Allow “Dreamer” Vote”, Sean Sullivan/Ed O’Keefe/Elise Vieback, Washington Post website, 1/22/18).

Odd.  McConnell promised Jeff Flake (R-AZ) the same thing, in December (“Flake: Senate Will Vote on DACA Bill to Protect Young Immigrants in January”, Daniel Gonzalez, The Republic, AZ Central website, 12/20/17).

Needless to say, this didn’t happen at all in January.

As far as I’m concerned, that – and a myriad of other reasons – causes me to believe that McConnell won’t honor his promise to Schumer and the Democrats.

Even if there is a debate or a vote on immigration, who knows what that will mean?  McConnell has stated he is tying immigration to the border wall and “U.S. security”, which is vague and also suggests that Republicans will back 45’s stupid, unnecessary, and expensive wall demand.

Aside #2: McConnell stated “Let me be clear: This immigration debate will have a level playing field at the outset and an amendment process that’s fair to all sides.” (“Trump Signs Funding Bill to End Shutdown; Immigration Debate Continues”, Mary Bruce/Miriam Khan/Adam Kelsey/Trish Turner, ABC News website, 1/23/18).

Maybe the vote will be to end DACA (“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”) once and for all, which expires in March because 45 signed one of his zillions of executive orders to phase out the program.

Maybe it will be ignored, and the Democrats will again attempt to shut down the government on February 8.

Maybe there will be a proposal by a bipatisan committee to rework immigration law, including DACA, but 45 will reject it because he’s a racist who doesn’t want to do anything but deport every undocumented person in this country, even if this country is the only home they’ve ever known.

I’m betting on that last scenario.

Why?  Because 45 already did that, which resulted in the shutdown we just recently had (“Trump Might Finally Get His Shutdown”, Russell Berman, The Atlantic website, 1/16/18).

Republicans reframed this as “Democrats shut down the government because they didn’t get their way on illegal immigration”.  From the thumbs of their master, via Twitter:

“Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!” (“Trump: Democrats Want Unchecked ‘Illegal Immigration’ “, Mallory Shelbourne, The Hill website, 1/20/18).

Aside #3: You see where the “box of rocks” part of the title fits, right?

Why did 45 reject a deal that he had previously said he would sign?  He did, you know, and it’s even on videotape (“Trump Says He’ll Sign DACA Deal, Pursue Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, Christina Wilkie, CNBC website, 1/9/18).

After 45 met with the bipartisan group and promised to agree with whatever they came up with, a few hours later Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) came up with an agreement and presented it to 45.

He rejected it.

Graham later commented that he thought Stephen Miller had talked 45 out of it (“Graham: Stephen Miller Makes Immigration Deal Impossible”, Jordain Carney, The Hill website, 1/21/18).

Stephen Miller is very far to the right (“How Stephen Miller Rode White Rage From Duke’s Campus to Trump’s West Wing”, William D. Cohan, Vanity Fair website, summer of 2017).  He especially doesn’t like Latinos (“How White House Advisor Stephen Miller Went From Pestering Hispanic Students to Designing Trump’s Immigration Policy”, Fernando Peinado, Univision website, 2/8/17).

I can’t really be too mad at Schumer for making this deal, because the Republicans were also framing the shutdown as Democrats not caring about the CHIP program, which provides medical care to low-income children (“The Best Reason For Democrats Ending the Shutdown Now: CHIP Funding”, Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker website, 1/22/18).

Schumer, pressured by the optics and also by the reality that 9 million kids would be out of healthcare, did the only thing he could do – he gave in.

Aside #4: Republicans let time run out on CHIP in September of 2017, and actually that makes them responsible for the CHIP debacle, but when did facts ever matter to them, especially when it’s their fault?  

But I am a little angry because I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to take a stand and then back down soon after.   When dealing with bullies like the current administration/GOP, this is seen as a sign of weakness and it encourages them to continue their dishonest, bullying ways.

And, predictably, the Bully-in-Chief tweeted:

“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA.  We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!” (“Trump to Schumer: If There is No Wall, There is No DACA’ “, Louis Nelson, Politico website, 1/24/18)

Aside #5: What’s with this random capitalization of words, anyway?  So ignorant.

There you have it.  Democrats fell for the taunting and spin, and also projected their principled ideals (like honoring one’s word) on Republicans – who have no such ideals and have proven that over and over again.

It’s impossible to trust – or it should be impossible to trust – a party that uses every dirty trick, and Russian help, to win elections.  A party that has consistently broken its word (see link on Flake and McConnell, above).  Yet it seems that the Democratic leadership hasn’t learned this.

Do they really expect someone who has referred to African countries, El Salvador, and Haiti as “shithole countries”, and prefers immigrants come from white places like Norway, to support any bill that allows a pathway to citizenship for a predominantly Latino population? (“A New Low: The World is Furious at Trump for His Remark About ‘Shithole Countries’ “, Laignee Barron, Time website, 1/12/18)

A party and leader who run 45’s re-election campaign (!!!) ads that state that Democrats are complicit in murder because they support immigration reform and DACA? (“White House Defends Anti-Immigration Trump Campaign Ad, Calling Democrats ‘Complicit’ in Killings”, Associated Press, PBS News Hour website, 1/22/18)

I think it is the height of naiveté to expect any realistic or humane attitude on immigration from 45 or the GOP.  I think Schumer will find that out very soon, and I hope he has a better plan for it than the last time.

Weirdness of the week: “An Alabama Town Held a Candlelight Vigil for a Taco Bell After it Went Up In Flames”, Ryan Thaxton, Mashable website, 1/23/18.

(They weren’t serious.)

Recommendations?  An app called MyPlate.  You use it to count calories – it’s easy, trust me –  and to track any exercise you can think of (it even tells you how many calories you burn walking around a store pushing a shopping cart!).  It records dietary information on a ton of food, and if it doesn’t have what you eat you can easily add it.  Available at your app store.  Also available online, if you don’t want to put it on your phone.

Be good.  Be kind.   “Fool me once…” etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Upcoming Struggle to Defend Social Security…

…and other entitlement programs.    

I want to start out by defining what the word “entitlement” means, in this context:

“A government program that provides benefits to any individual meeting certain eligibility requirements.” – Dictionary.com  (emphasis mine)

Notice that nowhere does it use the word “deserve”.  Because, in this case, “entitlement” is simply a word to describe a social program – albeit an unfortunate choice of a word, in my opinion.

Nevertheless, people who support programs such as Social Security and Medicare, as well as people who oppose those programs, tend to use the word “entitlement” as meaning this:

“The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” – Dictionary.com

(This does not usually apply to peoples’ attitudes about SNAP and TANF, however, as you have to be straight-up poor to get those.  The Social Security and Medicare people think of, especially these days when these programs are under attack, are the ones people “earned” by having money taken out of their paychecks.)

No one, except the poor and a few enlightened progressives, thinks that the poor are “entitled” to anything.

And, of course, that’s my beef with all this screaming about “hands off our Social Security” stuff I see on Facebook and elsewhere.  Because, well, you guys know me – always bringing it back to the poor folks, and how some of the not-poor progressives need to adjust their attitudes.

Side note #1: I think you already know this, but the “not-poor progressives” group I am referring to does not include my friends.  My friends already understand what I am writing about.

So…to continue…I see all kinds of memes on my FB page, posted by others, that encourage people to write their congresspeople and/or attend protests and meetings in order to express displeasure at the upcoming Paul Ryan-led decimation of Social Security (though he is going after Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF also).

Comments about these posts range from “Leave my Social Security/Medicare alone, I PAID for those and I am ENTITLED to them!” to…ok, just kidding, there are no other comments on posts like that.  It’s all about how people paid into Social Security/Medicare so they deserve to get them when they retire.

I want to tell you, I don’t actually dispute that.  It’s ok by me if people get Social Security/Medicare when they retire.

What I object to is the idea that only they are “entitled” to social support payments when they can no longer work.

It’s something that makes us poor folks cringe, the idea that one should only get benefits if one has paid for them.  And with that cringing comes the knowledge that, if saving their “paid-for” benefits and leaving us with none is an option, the working and middle classes will have no problem with doing that.

Because they deserve it, and we don’t.  This attitude is what causes many poor folks to think they don’t have the right to fight for their benefits, and also causes many of us to avoid organizations that are mostly filled with the “I-paid-for-my-benefits” crowd.

That’s actually bad for the organizations – not only in terms of consciousness-raising, but it decreases their numbers significantly when they, say, want to conduct a mass action.  Or when voting is an issue.  Or when they need a lot of people to email their representatives.

“But why is this attitude so wrong?” you may ask.

Well, let me give you a personal example.

I worked on and off most of my adult life until my 40s.  I say “on and off” because I also had 3 kids before I was 30 (all planned), and I had them because I actually wanted to raise kids, so I attempted to work nights so my then-husband could watch them once he came home from his day job.

That would have worked brilliantly, except for the fact that my then-husband would be asleep when I got home from work, and the kids would be running around the house unsupervised.  This happened so often that I was not able to keep any job I had for very long.

After my kids were grown, I was in university getting my degree, then out of university I was working as a therapist for various organizations – and got fired from nearly all of them.

“Yeah, well, it’s your fault for getting fired.”

Unfortunately, in this for-profit healthcare system we have in this country, I always got fired for choosing the patients’ mental health over the hospitals’ profits.  I can explain all the ways in which I did that, but that’s another blog post (or you can search the blog for the times I have written about this already).

The point is, I never amassed enough work credits to be able to claim “conventional” Social Security – you know, the kind people state they worked for.  What I get is SSDI, Social Security Disability, and SSI (Supplemental Security Income). That’s for everyone who is unable to work, and who are poor.

And, by the way, FICA does not pay for SSI, so calm down.  It’s funded by general tax revenues – you know, the taxes paid for by richer folks than you, until recently (see the GOP’s tax bill they just passed).

Side note #2: Of course, having worked, I, too, paid into the system with FICA, just “not enough”.  They have some kind of formula they use.  I will never “get back what I paid”.

Ok, so what about mothers who did this?  I wasn’t the only one.  If we end up unable to work at all and on disability, are we just supposed to be homeless, without medical care, without food and so on?

Why would anyone with brains and a capacity for empathy think that?

I’ll give you another example.  Not a personal one this time.

What about kids who are born with problems?  Problems so severe that they cannot work when they come of age?  Are they just supposed to be on the streets, or in institutions?  I guess some people would prefer they just live in institutions, so they don’t have to see people like that.

Who is going to pay for these institutions?  And why do people with disabilities not have the right to live freely, not locked up?  We tried that years ago, just locking people up in institutions, and they were horribly mistreated plus no one deserves to be locked away just for who they are.

Because that’s what we as a society did – we locked people up in institutions just because of who they were.

Thankfully, until the Idiot-in-Chief and his cruel Republican friends (like the disgusting Mick Mulvaney) are successful in rolling back all the civil rights gains that people who are other-abled have won, we don’t live in a world like that presently.

Side note #3: There’s this, though (“Congress Wants to Change the Americans with Disabilities Act and Undermine the Rights of People with Disabilities”, Tyler Ray and Vania Leveille,ACLU website, 9/6/17).

“But people who don’t work don’t contribute to society,” some people argue.

Do people who get SSI and SSDI, SNAP and so on buy things?  We do!

We buy clothes and food and medicine and gas (those of us lucky enough to be part of the 85% of Americans who have a car, don’t be snooty), amongst other things.  Do people have jobs in order to provide goods and services?  They do!

Side note #4: The next time you turn up your nose at all the poor people you see in the stores you shop in, just think about how many people that business would lay off if it weren’t for customers.  Look at it for any business, even hospitals.

People do not exist in a vacuum.  Commerce continues whether the person participating in it is poor or not – no one asks for proof of income before you can buy a shirt, for example.  Money from SSI and SSDI is the same color as money from SSA.

So stop being such an “entitled” jerk about it all.  Go read some books on how capitalism works.  If you can’t be empathetic and compassionate, at least look at what “entitlement programs” actually do for you in terms of consumerism.

Maybe that will skew your beliefs a bit.

Weird news of the week: Yoga with Goats in Connecticut.  The idea is that you do yoga, and the goats do whatever they want, like climb on you and frolic around.  Better with cats, I think.

Recommendation of the week: Another tip for us poor folks – if you sign up for Red Robin rewards (free), you get a free burger during your birthday month.  You get anything free at Starbuck’s during your birthday month, and a free drink at Dunkin’ Donuts.  There are other programs, I’m sure, but if you know someone who is poor please tell them about these.

(My birthday is tomorrow but I am on a diet so no free goodies for me!)

Be good.  Be kind.  Everyone is entitled to respect and love (except Republicans heh).