Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Other Side of the Story

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I work with lower income people in my job, every week day and sometimes on the weekends. They aren't the so-poor-they've-given-up poor. Rather, they are the still-struggling-to-keep-their-heads-above-water poor. Most of them work. Most of them have kids.

I get so sick of reading negative memes about them on Facebook from people who don't know jack about what they are talking about.

No, they aren't scamming the system. No, they don't buy steak and lobster with their EBT card. No, they don't live in fancy houses or drive expensive cars.  Yes, most of them have cell phones. These are their only phones. A lot of times their phones get shut off. They call me from a friend's phone to let me know theirs won't be working until they can afford to get it reactivated.

Some of them look really nice, not like they are poor at all. They know how to style their hair and wear flattering make up and choose attractive clothes (that they often buy at garage sales or Good Will). Would you feel better if they were so beaten down they no longer worried about such things? If their hair was straggly and their clothes were raggy? Would that allow you to feel superior?

My job is to find them attorneys who'll take their cases pro bono (for free). Their stories of how they arrived at the places they are are in are sad. No, it wasn't stupidity (though it may have been ignorance) and it wasn't drugs and it wasn't laziness. It was sometimes poor judgment. They trusted people they shouldn't have trusted. And it was sometimes short-sightedness. Poor people from poor families have a difficult time planning for the future. To the young ones, going to college and joining the middle class seems as impossible as flying to the moon. They have no experience with goals or delayed gratification to achieve those goals.

Sometimes, the misfortune of life simply caught up with them. Their husbands left, their good jobs left, someone in the family got seriously sick. They slid down gradually and now they fight not to slide any farther.

They get screwed by almost everyone around them. They get cheated by "buy here, pay here" places that sell them pieces of crap that fall apart shortly after the so-called "warranty" expires....but they still get sued for the balance of the debt.

Slum lords take advantage of them with rental agreements that are written totally for the benefit of the landlord. They get evicted, then they get sued for way more than they ever owed.

Banks treat them like second-class citizens by charging ATM fees or check cashing fees. If they can get a loan, the interest rate is higher than yours or mine. If they get a credit card with a $250-$500 line of credit, they end up paying back more than they borrowed by the time you add in interest and late payment fees. Yes, poor people are often late on their payments. Sometimes, it is hard to choose between the getting the car fixed or making the car payment. And, of course, those payday check places are nothing but legalized thievery. They don't have a prayer against the professional institutions that write the rules.

Sometimes, they smoke and sometimes they have pets. Oh. My. God. Don't they realize they are poor and they aren't allowed any of the pleasures that make life worth getting up for every morning?

The holier-than-thou sanctimony of some of their critics makes me freaking sick. Let's eliminate certain foods that are too good for them from the food-stamp-approved purchases. Let's not let them go to restaurants. Let's drug test them all. In other words, let's make being poor as humiliating as we possibly can. Maybe that will make them get off their lazy butts and go to work.

The government is taking our tax money to support them and how indignant that makes many of us even though most Americans are only a paycheck or two away from poverty ourselves. Better hope you stay lucky. You won't like the way you are treated if you're not.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tale of Three Prisoner Releases


The hostages huddled in the airport awaiting the plane that would bring them from Iran back to the United States. I imagine it was a rather anxious time wondering if it was real and not a sick Iranian joke. On the other side of the world, stressed families also waited to see if they were truly going to see their loved ones again.

This was all part of two-track negotiations with Iran. One track was the effort to convince Iran to cease its attempts to build nuclear weapons. As part of that, the U.S. agreed to release funds we'd had frozen for decades. In addition, we were to release some of Iran's hostages and they were to release some of ours. It was all very intertwined and complex.

There's still not much trust between Iran and America so sensibly, the Obama administration made the decision not to turn over their money - $400 million - until our hostages were safely released just in case Iran decided to renege. This seems like the soul of commonsense to me.

But, of course, conservatives were outraged, outraged, I say! In their eyes, it was paying ransom for hostages. In the administration's eyes, it was getting the maximum benefit from something that was going to happen anyway.

Can you even imagine the Republican screaming if Obama hadn't gotten our hostages released? Then they would have been yelling furiously about how the president abandoned them because he simply didn't care!

It was the same with Bowe Bergdahl. The Republicans ranted and raved because the administration didn't get our soldier back from the Taliban. Our sacred honor was at stake. America NEVER abandons it's own!

So, Bowe Bergdahl came home, not to a hero's welcome, but to face charges of desertion. But that wasn't enough for Republicans. Now they said, we should not have wasted our time and effort to rescue him. Now they said he was a filthy deserter who should be hanged on the spot! We doan' need no steenken' trial!

Documents released from the first investigation, which have not previously been disclosed, indicate that the Army’s 22-member investigative team, which spent two months interviewing scores of witnesses and compiled the report that formed the initial basis for prosecuting Sergeant Bergdahl, never proposed that he could be tried on the most serious charge he now faces which carries a sentence of up to a year in prison.

And how did that happen? The usual pissing and moaning by the right from people who don't know what the hell they are talking about and should never have poked their noses in an on-going trial.

John McCain, for instance, who stated Bergdahl "clearly deserted his post" and who promised to hold congressional hearings if Bergdahl isn't sufficiently punished in a way McCain approves of. And yes, our favorite presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has insisted all along that Bergdahl is a "dirty, rotten traitor".

And then there was Andrew Tahmooressi, the former Marina who was arrested and imprisoned in Mexico for 7 months for bringing guns across the border. He said he made a wrong turn...and perhaps he did.

Of course, the Obama administration had absolutely nothing to do with Tahmooressi's release. According to one conservative source, Donald Trump sent money to the ex-Marine whom Obama had "left to rot in Mexico".

And how do they know there weren't negotiations going on behind the scene? Well, they just do. The Mexican judge released Tahmooressi from jail out of the kindness of his heart. American officials had absolutely nothing to do with it.

So, the Obama administration obviously can't win with these folks. They got the Iranian hostages released....bad. They got Bowe Bergdahl released....bad. They didn't get Tahmooressi released, that credit goes to someone else....bad.

Do you think they would ever admit anything Obama did was good? Do they simply bald-faced lie or are they so far gone in Obama hate that they believe what they say?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Is Hate Our New Normal?

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It seems we all need a HATE button on our computers these days. I keep telling myself I'm going to take a vacation from politics. The ugliness almost makes me sick sometimes, and it certainly makes me depressed, but I'm drawn to it the way you can't pull your eyes away from a terrible wreck.

There appears to no longer be any middle ground in America. You're either a Libtard or a Repug and every single thing you believe is lies - flat out, deliberate, told-on-purpose lies. Because either you're in cahoots with the bad guys or you're just plain stupid.

Nobody with a brain could support that Queen of Evil, Hillary Clinton. Likewise, no one with an i.q. over 20 could support the Prince of Darkness, Donald Trump.  "They" are all morons who obviously want to destroy America.

Oh, man, wouldn't you love to slam that HATE button when you see a positive article about Hillary? Donald? Since there is no HATE button, you make up for it in comments. Your loathing practically drips off the computer screen.  Some of the nasty memes we see on Facebook are shocking for those of us who are older. I've worked around politics for most of my adult life and I've never seen anything like it. We all worked for our candidates but after the rally or debate was over, we were all friends again.

Even after the election, we were all friends again but, of course, that was before the man who won was a (Black) Kenyan Muslim Communist Socialist Fascist who wanted to take all our guns and replace our laws with Sharia.

We don't simply confine ourselves to despising the candidates and their fans, we now detest the media too. You can't trust a word they say because they all have an agenda. Maybe there's a source hidden over there on the right (Breitbart) or the left (Blue Nation Review) that you can put your faith in but it's pretty scary out here in the world when you watch the news and know none of it is reliable information. It makes you have to cling to one another all the more tightly to protect yourself from the "others".

The opposing side can do no right. Trump going to Louisiana makes him a saint to his people but his visit is characterized as a cheap photo op by his opponents. Obama not going because Governor Edwards asked him to wait so as not to disrupt the on-going rescue effort, is totally unbelievable to his opponents who know he didn't come because he flatly DIDN'T CARE.

What is most frightening about all this is that I don't know how we're going to put the genie back in the bottle. We've got what, about 80 days before the election? But I don't think it will be over when it's over. Yes, someone will be named president but the hate and the disbelief will remain. After such a vicious year, I don't think it is simply a matter of laying down our arms and saying, "hey, we're altogether again."

One man told me that if Trump loses to expect a blood bath because his people will know that he lost because a rigged system cheated him out of his rightful victory and if I think they're going to take that lying down, I'm crazy.

Is hate the new normal for America? And if so, what does that mean?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Here We Go Again.....

      Image result for trickle down economics cartoon           Image result for donald trump economic speech

It's beginning to feel like deja vu all over again. I'll be 70 tomorrow and this is the third time, I've listened to Republican politicians read me this same fairy tale. First it was Ronald Reagan who said we could lower taxes, spend more on the military and cut the deficit. It was all about the stimulating affect of tax cuts. They would pay for themselves and there'd be so much overflow in growth that prosperity would spill over to the rest of us. It didn't make sense to those of us weren't economic experts. In fact, it seemed like adding two plus two and trying to get nine but what did we know?

Well, it didn't work. Two plus two still equaled four. The deficit soared and the trickle down never happened. We ended up with the Savings and Loan Crisis. Remember that? A lot of people who lost their homes and their savings probably do.

Then it was George W Bush who pedaled the trickle-down theory. We could massively cut taxes, spend more on defense and cut the deficit. Oh, and we could also fight two wars and add another "entitlement", Medicare Part D, without paying for any of it because the lower taxes would stimulate our GDP and pay for themselves and that rising tide would raise all our boats. Whee, full speed ahead!

But, again, it didn't work. The deficit ballooned and the trickle down never happened. We ended up with the Banking Crisis. Millions of people lost their homes, their savings and their jobs. The argument that if we gave more money to the rich, who were the "job creators", they would reward us by financing a boom in employment didn't pan out. Instead, they took the money and ran off to the Cayman Islands to celebrate their burgeoning wealth.

And now, here we are again with Donald Trump trying to convince us that the third time is the charm and that what never succeeded before will surely succeed this time. His tax cuts will go primarily to the rich and corporations. Business will be freed of all that excessive regulation, you know, the regulations that ensure that their product have to meet minimum standards for our health and safety, the regulations that mandate that they must comply with environmental laws, the regulations that monitor them to assure they aren't cheating us on our financial contracts,

And surely, this time, the God of Growth will see to it that the deficit nose-dives. And surely, this time, the job creators will be falling all over themselves to offer us high-paying jobs.

And if we are stupid enough to buy into it yet again, then we deserve what we get.

Image result for who said people get the government they deserve