Archive | May 2013

Skagit River Bridge Collapse: The Blame Game

It’s interesting to me how quickly certain people were to throw blame at the GOP for the Skagit River Bridge collapse in Mount Vernon, WA, Thursday night. It didn’t take long at all for people to start saying that the Republicans fought the stimulus packages, thereby causing the bridge to collapse. Of course, nobody on the left chooses to remember the alternative stimulus measure the Republicans drafted in February of 2009. A measure “that narrows government spending to infrastructure programs and helping unemployed Americans, addresses the housing crisis and relies mostly on tax cuts”.

The spewed vitriol is especially frustrating when you read that $8.4 billion dollars in stimulus money was awarded to the state of Washington as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This money apparently created 3,723 jobs, none of which were slated to perform work on the Skagit River Bridge.

Additionally, we should not ignore the fact that the Skagit River Bridge was declared structurally sound by the Washington State Department of Transportation in 2008.

Or that, on September 11, 2007, Washington State Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) both voted ‘yes’ to tabling Amendment Number: S. Amdt. 2810 to H.R. 3074 (Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008), which would ‘prohibit funds appropriated under title I from being used for earmarks until all structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges have been repaired, with limited exceptions’.

The facts in this are plain. Not only did Washington have the money they needed to fix the bridge, Washington’s own Democratic senators voted to table an amendment that would have moved bridges in need of repairs to the top of their to-do list.

This doesn’t strike me as a finger-pointing moment. Instead, maybe people could just spare a thought or two for the people who were on or under that bridge when it collapsed, and in the future perhaps they can try to remember that other people will take them much more seriously if they can manage to keep their facts straight.

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Obamacare Hurts Working Class

It seems like there are a lot of things being done in Washington right now that add up to politicians just wanting to leave their mark in history. Guess what, politicos, you probably want your legacies to be good things, to be remembered for making our country better.

Small piece of advice:  Your mark on history should not be a skid mark.

I read something on Twitter a while back that made me see red. Someone was lambasting Republican governors for wanting a repeal of Obamacare, saying that it was free money and they were heartless to turn it down.

Well, hell. Free money! Awesome. Where do we sign up? Everyone just loves free stuff.

I didn’t engage, didn’t want to get into an argument (i.e. spew facts in the face of someone’s feel-good righteous indignation), but it’s bugged me ever since. Why? Because, when all the talk of Obamacare started, it began hitting people right where it counts: in the wallet.

In January of 2012, our insurance – which we’d had for years and had no problems with – changed. It became more expensive; certain things weren’t covered anymore.

Guess what, Twitter-dude, that free money? Is coming out of our pockets. OURS. You know, the people who aren’t rich, the ones who don’t fall into a high tax bracket, the middle class – the people whose interests Obama is so fond of saying he wants to protect.

Like hell.

This article has a link to the 17 largest insurance companies in the country whose rates are going to skyrocket because of Obamacare. You can probably guess where this is headed.

Yes. My insurance company is on that list.

For the most part I’m preaching to the choir here, I know that, but Obamacare is going to help no one. It’s not going to matter if you want insurance or not, they’re going to fine people who don’t get the package. And God help you if you’re a business; you’ll be forced to pay new federal taxes if you don’t offer this government approved Charlie Foxtrot to full time employees. This will make it more expensive to hire people in the future and, as a consequence, raise unemployment even further.

If you’re interested in reading about the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare) and have neither the time nor the inclination to read the 900+ page condensed version of the bill then Obamacarefacts.com has provided both a page of facts for the Obama Health Care Plan and, if you’re still feeling uninformed, a summary which breaks down the bill ‘section by section’.

You know how bad Obamacare will be when even the Democrats are backing away from the plan. Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana, commented that he can see a huge train wreck coming down.. And, apparently, in Washington, Republicans and Democrats are trying to declare themselves exempt from Obamacare. If they don’t have to suffer the Affordable Health Care Act, why should we?

And then you have to wonder how this will affect our right to confidentiality where our medical records are concerned. With Obamacare, our records will be accessible to the federal government. HIPAA, as regards your right to privacy, may be tossed out for the skimpiest reasons. All of your health care information, every embarrassing health problem, everything you’ve ever told your doctor that s/he’s written down is now in the hands of some low-level bureaucrat and you don’t know if this information will get out. Who will decide what will happen to you based on that information?

And for those pro-choice people out there, what if, now that the government has your records, they see that you’ve had eight or nine abortions before the current one – because you were told that abortions were basically retroactive birth control and were ignorant enough to fall for it – and the government decides that it would be a great idea to sterilize you. Personally, as non-politically-correct as it is, I think that’s a damned fine idea. If the babies you aborted were inconvenient, I hate to see what would happen when you get tired of the ones you actually want.

I’m pretty sure that whole right to privacy thing is important to everyone, even you. One of the main arguments in Roe v Wade was that women have the right to privacy, as protected by the Ninth Amendment.

As for women being told that it was perfectly acceptable to use abortion as a method of birth control, that did happen to a young woman who went into Gosnell’s clinic. A short documentary titled “3891 Lancaster” has an interview with her and another woman. The video is enlightening, but please be aware that there are brutal and shocking images and themes within the video.

Of course, there will be an excuse – probably one easily accepted by the ones who are already full of Kool-Aid – that since Big Daddy Government is now taking care of you, Big Daddy Government needs all the details of your particular health care needs – including the past – so he can take better care of you.

If that doesn’t ring any alarm bells for you, then feel free to stay safe and warm in your straightjacket.

And the propaganda machines rumble along, spreading the feel-good messages, while the drivers of the short buses keep hoping that everyone will stop thinking so much and just drink the damned Kool-Aid already. On January 18th and 19th of this year, a private organization, the Commonwealth Fund, in conjunction with SABEW, held a symposium for the press on how to report on health care.

It’s tough when you have to meet with reporters to make sure they have the company line down straight.

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Preach It … Somewhere Else

On Monday, May 6th, in response to the Pentagon’s new policy against proselytizing, The Liberty Institute announced that they would protect the religious freedom of military servicemen and servicewomen, launching the Armed Forces Religious Liberty 800 hotline and a petition campaign.

The Pentagon has since sought to make its position clear, making the distinction that it’s okay to talk about faith as long as one doesn’t try to push that faith onto others.

Fair enough.

I’m grateful for the clarification, but, since I’d been following this story and I kept seeing the word “Christian” in the articles talking about the policy of subjecting members of the military caught talking of their faith to court-martial or imprisonment, I had to wonder if it was only Christians who were being singled out or if it was any religious proselytizing.

Could you talk about any other religions? How about atheism? Was Mikey Weinstein anti-Christian or anti-religion? The whole thing smelled wrong, but it sounded like Weinstein had a hate-on for Christians.

It turns out that, yes, Mikey Weinstein does have a hate-on for Christians – the Evangelical type – because of his sons allegedly being subjected to Christian proselytizing and anti-Semitic language at the Air Force Academy.

Proselytizing, according to Merriam-Webster, means “to recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution, or cause“.

If you took what the articles said that Weinstein is proposing to mean exactly that, then the simple answer would be to avoid doing that. I can understand not wanting someone to try to give you the “Come to Jesus” speech, just as I understand that it’s part of certain religions to give that speech.

The way this was being taken – and, certainly the way I took it – was that any talk of religion is verboten and that any talk of religion, even between two people who share that faith, could get these people NJP’d or, worse, court-martialed, imprisoned, and/or given a dishonorable discharge – in whatever combination the powers-that-be deemed appropriate.

Also, what about atheism? If you talk about the lack of faith, is that also actionable?

It seemed the simplest solution would be to make the chaplains available for the people who wanted them; problem solved.

It would also be helpful if people wouldn’t flip out if someone around them mentions a belief in Buddha or Jesus or God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Just say, “No thank you,” and move on. OTOH, for those whose religion says they need to bring other people over to their particular brand of faith, just know the right place to do that is not in the military – or anywhere it could earn you a punch in the mouth.

Not to mention the fact that most servicemen and servicewomen are perfectly capable of telling someone to go tell it on somebody else’s mountain without anyone’s help.

Stereotypes, SPLC, and the Library of Hate

I have a hard time taking SPLC seriously when they point fingers at hate groups – anything their name is on loses credibility. They have people on their hate list who talk about killing every white or black person they see, right alongside names of people whose religion doesn’t accept homosexuality – but who aren’t the type of finger-pointing, hate-mongers you see along the lines of WBC and the like. Those people don’t wish anyone ill … they just don’t agree. There’s a HUGE DIFFERENCE between wanting to kill someone and not accepting someone, for whatever reason.

Also, this seriously gets on my nerves:
Since then, white supremacist attitudes in the United States has not faded away, and the new papers reflect a historical shift in ultraconservative thinking, Mark Potok, a senior fellow for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told The Times.

Along with anything that says right wing people are nutjobs.

Why? Because being Conservative or right wing does not necessarily automatically mean someone:  _______________ [insert one or more of the following]
hates black people
hates gay people
hates poor people
hates immigrants
is insane
is a terrorist
wants to kill everyone who disagrees with them
hates animals
doesn’t have a heart
etc., etc., etc. … ad nauseum

Just as I’m pretty sure being  Liberal doesn’t mean that someone is automatically batshit crazy and wants to take over the world and remake it into some Utopian society, either. It could just mean, for the most part, that the person has chosen to vote Democrat because the party stands for what most closely resembles their views. Or at least that’s what I’m going to believe of most liberal democrats – just to give them the benefit of the doubt, although I’m certain that belief will be tested by quite a few left wing people in the coming years.

Here are the Wikipedia entries:
Conservatism
Liberalism

Know what else is wrong? Pointing fingers at people and making snap judgments because they choose to live their lives a certain way.

Like if they: _______________ [insert one or more of the following]
believe in God
believe in Jesus
don’t believe in God
don’t believe in Jesus
are a man loving a man
…or a woman loving a woman
want a polyamorous relationship
…or no relationship
aren’t very social
are an extrovert
want the law to mean something
live in the South
…in the North
…in the East
…in the West
listen to country music
listen to heavy metal
like classical music
…or pop
…or cheesy Disco
are patriotic
love America
respect the military
are a member of the military
put their family first
don’t agree with everyone around them
are a responsible gun owner
choose to not own a gun
etc., etc., etc. … ad nauseum

I think there’s quite a lot of hatred being spread by people lumping others into stereotypical categories without even giving them the chance to offer a rebuttal.

One last thing is worth stating and then I’ll get off my soapbox. Things like this Library of Hate are the exception rather than the rule. Most people – and that’s all people, not Cons or Dems or Right or Left, not gay or straight or asexual, not doctors or lawyers or garbage men, that’s all people – just want a few things out of life. They want food to eat, someone to love, and a safe place to live and to raise their children (or pets). They don’t want to control the world or to change the entire world. They just want their little bit of the world to be theirs and to live there in peace, without anyone trying to ‘help’ them or ‘fix’ them.

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