Is the New “Presidential Alert” a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

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Yesterday ushered in a new day for governmental contact with its citizens. At precisely 2:18PM (Eastern Time) on Wednesday, the federal government issued the first ever Emergency Alert over cellphones. It was a simple statement, much like what you have when they perform this same test monthly on radio and television (“This is a test of the Wireless Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.”). And not everyone received it; according to many that I have spoken to (admittedly a small group), there were couples that one received the message while the other didn’t (even if they were in the same room), there were those that received the message even though they had shut their phones off (don’t ask this layman how that happened) and those that got the message right on time.

Naturally, everyone lost their shit over the text message. A lawsuit (one of many) was filed in New York looking to stop the deployment of the “Wireless Emergency Alert System,” arguing that it violated the First and Fourth Amendments of the U. S. Constitution. Attorneys argued that the system was a “violation of Americans’ First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from Government-compelled listening, as well as warrantless, non-consensual trespass into and seizure of their cellular devices.”

It is reasonable that these people believe the veracity of their arguments. While people can get on “Do Not Call” lists, opt out of Amber or Silver Alerts (the Silver Alert is for older people who are in jeopardy) and other bothersome contacts, this particular Alert cannot be opted out of because of federal regulations. But the problems that some people have is perhaps not as much about the Alert but about how it was billed.

At the top of yesterday’s Emergency Alert test was, in bold print, Presidential Alert. Now, just who would currently be the president (and I put it in lowercase because he doesn’t fucking deserve upper)? That’s right, it is Orange Foolius, a petulant man-child whose propensity for hate-Tweeting is well-known. When presented with the ability to reach 330 MILLION cellphones in this country, the Narcissist in Chief has a megaphone that he can use to spew his garbage to the entirety of the country.

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Except it isn’t supposed to be used in that manner. President Barack Obama actually instigated the Wireless Emergency Alert System back in 2016 when he signed a law authorizing its creation. In that law, the usage of the system was just like that of television and radio – that it was only authorized in the case of a national emergency. The actual language in the law state that a president (and, since President Obama isn’t in the office anymore, we’re speaking about the jackass there now and future office holders) “shall not be used to transmit a message that does not relate to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety.” Arguments against the Alerts state that this is “unconstitutionally vague,” and that is reasonable.

If they had simply called it a “Wireless Emergency Alert System” and left it at that, I don’t think people would be as upset as they are. Most people don’t even watch television or have radio anymore – the old ways that the Emergency Alert System was to inform people in case of an emergency. But it seems that everyone has a cellphone, which is awake 24/7 and never sleeps. Thus, shouldn’t there be a way for the federal government to reach people in a time of emergency (let’s leave out the questions of when cell service wouldn’t reach people, such as a hurricane or other weather-related phenomenon)?

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While President Obama started this law, it was accelerated after an incident earlier this year. In January in Hawaii, there was an inaccurate Emergency Alert sent out about an impending nuclear attack coming in. The ballistic missile warning was sent over the tradition Emergency Alert System and the Commercial Mobile Alert System (covering all televisions, radio and cellphones) that stated firmly that “this is not a drill.” People were panicking across the islands for almost 45 minutes (this occurred at roughly 8AM local time) before authorities could get out word that the alert was false. This particular wireless system, in theory, could have gotten the message out quicker (don’t ask me how) and corrected the inaccurate report.

Where the feds fucked this up is in calling it a “Presidential Alert.” With the divisiveness of this asswipe in the WH currently, there’s more than half the country that is going to despise it, not to mention those that believe in the libertarian philosophy of less government intrusion into private lives. Let’s not even get into the legal and/or ethical situations of tapping the 911 lines to be able to hunt you down so you get precise alerts (that’s why Amber Alerts work wherever you go and always for that area). I do think this should be examined, but it could have been avoided with a little research into branding the product.

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Furthermore, there is some credence to the fact that citizens of the States of America have given up an extreme amount of freedom. Since 9/11, the freedoms of the Average Joe have been eroded bit by bit. The Patriot Act opened up that Pandora’s Box under the pretense of the “war on terrorism” (an unwinnable engagement because there isn’t a set opponent or location to actually fight the war) and, for the most part, U. S. citizens have acquiesced to the invasion of their privacy. That invasion continues to grow, mostly without anyone even noticing that the once large arena of personal liberty has shrunk to a small room.

The bottom line is that the situation could have been avoided by a little smarter work and a little better branding of the product by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (the government organization in charge of the usage of the Emergency Alert System). With Mushroom Dick in the office currently (and his approval rating floundering around 35%), such actions as this aren’t going to be viewed in a good light. But instead of arguing about whether Orange Foolius is going to be using the “Presidential Alert” to send out his latest Twitter missives aimed at those he believes have “wronged him,” we ought to look at the overall picture of security for the country and then determine if this step is really necessary to ensure that all citizens of the States of America can be informed in the case of a TRUE national emergency.

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OK, Hollywood…Point Made. Now Let’s Move on To a Solution…

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It wasn’t like there was no warning regarding the issue. Prior to the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards, which were handed out on Sunday, there was a well-done demonstration by the ladies who make up Hollywood – actresses (whom I prefer to call actors, but regardless), directors, writers, technical staff, etc. – regarding the ongoing issue of sexual inequality, sexual harassment and sexual assault. The ladies involved in making the statement all chose to wear black dresses – not sure of the symbolism, but effective, as everyone from Oprah Winfrey to the newest clipboard carrier on set came dressed in their finest black gowns.

What came next had me saying, “OK, Hollywood. You’ve made your point. Now let’s move on and work on the issue…”

Globes host Seth Meyers, a tremendously funny guy, popped a couple of jabs at two of the culprits, former Hollywood honcho Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey, whose actions brought on the “black dress” protest and the new “Time’s Up” stance to fight such actions. He even poked Winfrey, seated center stage as the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment,” by noting he had chastised Orange Foolius in 2011. From that act, where Meyers said that Orange Foolius had no shot at the Presidency, Meyers proclaimed to Winfrey, “You will never be President! Never!” with the obvious implication.

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Meyers had the right touch with his opening monologue. He recognized the issues that Hollywood and, fuck, the entire world is facing with the conduct between men and women, and moved on, knowing his monologue wasn’t going to solve the issue. If only others – those who won the Golden Globes statuette – would have taken the same approach.

Time and time again, women who won the prestigious award handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association opened their statements by thanking those who helped them reach their level of success. Various parents, teachers, acting coaches, managers, all got their moment in the sun, as is normal with these situations. Then the winners would, almost to a woman, go off on their specific rant about the situations of the last year and how women “weren’t afraid to speak out now.”

Now, let’s set this straight from the start. That they took the moment to make a statement about ANYTHING that they wanted wasn’t the problem. These speeches – whether at the Golden Globes, the Emmys, the Tonys or the Grammys – are always infused with commentary on the social condition. There were many who spoke about how Hollywood, with those in Washington D. C. lacking the ability, clarity or state to be able to discuss ANY issue regarding morality in this country (look at who the GOP nominated and tell me they have ANY moral base today), was now taking up the mantle of a moral stance with this issue. No, that didn’t happen, it was just another instance where Hollywood’s elite used their platform to promote a social or political agenda.

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Having said this, the repeated instances of women marching to the stage for their awards and the continued brow-beating of the male gender reached a point where it wasn’t commentary, but it was male-bashing. Close to the end Elizabeth Moss, who is an outstanding actress who won the award for Best Actress in a Television Drama for her work on The Handmaid’s Tale, stepped up and delivered a statement where she paraphrased the woman who wrote the book, Margaret Atwood (“We no longer live in the blank white spaces at the edge of print. We no longer live in the gaps between the stories. We are the story in print, and we are writing the story ourselves.”). Lo and behold, it comes out afterwards that Moss is allegedly a member of the “Church” of Scientology (which is also allegedly a church), itself beset with multiple complaints of subjugation of women, blockage of investigation of and disavowal of sexual assault.

Then came Winfrey’s speech in front of the gathered throng and those watching around the world. First off, let’s make this perfectly clear: Winfrey could buy Barack Obama’s former speechwriters and still have enough left over to take over a decent sized country. So, the factor that she came out with an outstanding speech shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. But it was the continuance of the bashing of the male race – not any suggestions for moving forward, not mentioning that both sides are necessary to discuss the situation – that was left out of Winfrey’s magical words.

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(And for those that are touting “Oprah 2020,” pump the brakes. The replacement for an egomaniacal billionaire who wants to be a dictator is NOT another billionaire who wants to be a savior to the masses.)

By the time the end of the more than three-hour awards ceremony had reached its conclusion, I had about reached the end of my rope regarding the constant stream of male-bashing. OK, ladies, you made your point. While it didn’t totally ruin the program, it certainly put a damper on things as male actors had to walk out on stage, sheepishly with their tail between their legs and an “I’m sorry” look on their face, after yet another evisceration of their entire gender by one of their female contemporaries.

(And I am not even going to start in on actor Natalie Portman’s snide-ass comment about “five MEN” (her emphasis) being nominated for Best Director…for fuck’s sake, let’s take care of one issue at a time.)

Almost a year ago, I wrote about how difficult it is for women in any arena of business, media or Hollywood. I accepted the commentary from ladies like sports broadcaster Erin Andrews and singers Kesha and Lady Gaga regarding their incidences of assault by men either in the industry or, in Andrews’ case, a Peeping Tom who took advantage of her. I stated then that I wondered how women could put up with such behavior from the other gender of the species.

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The answer, however, is not to swing the pendulum 180 degrees to the other side. All men are not slathering sex fiends and all women are not saintly ingenues. The answer is that there’s a middle ground that must be found and, once that turf has been discovered, then there can be discussion on the issue. It isn’t to villainize people who might be a part of the solution to the problem – yes, men who haven’t committed these acts along with women – as it seemed it was on Sunday night.

This is just the start of Awards season and we probably haven’t seen the end of the protests. One of the biggest songs of the year is “Praying” from Kesha, an emotional soul-ripper penned in response to her accusations of sexual assault by her former producer; she’s up for Best Solo Pop Performance at this year’s Grammys for the song (the show is January 28). There will be more protests of the type seen on Sunday at the Academy Awards in March and probably also at the Emmys. But before more of entertainment’s elite ladies start sharpening their pens into swords for this fight, perhaps they should look for solutions instead of chastising those not responsible. Remember Rose McGowan, the actor whose statements regarding Weinstein started the #MeToo movement? She perhaps said it best…where were Winfrey or Meryl Streep when Weinstein was assaulting her? The answer is they weren’t believing her account.

Orange Foolius Wasn’t the Cause, but He WAS the Catalyst

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The information out of Charlottesville, Virginia is about as sickening as it can get. While they can gather for protest, a group of white supremacists, Neo-Nazi groups, Ku Klux Klan hoodsmen and “alt-right” practitioners met for a protest in the city regarding the removal of a statue of former Confederate general Robert E. Lee, bearing torches and chanting such things as “Fuck you, faggot,” and throwing the Nazi salute at anyone who it seemed to apply to. On Saturday, met by a counter-protest of…well, pretty much the entirety of the human race…the protests turned violent to the point of death.

In a gruesome video, an “alt-right” member, like an ISIS terrorist, allegedly drove his personal vehicle into a group of counter-protestors, killing one of them and injuring 19 others. The alleged perpetrator’s MOTHER knew he was going to the rally, saying she “didn’t get into his politics.” Two Virginia State Troopers were killed when a helicopter they were riding in that was responding to the protest was brought down. That’s right, three people killed by the scum of society.

For his part, Orange Foolius looked to be the ultimate fool in trying to maintain his courtship of these Neanderthal bastards when issuing his first statement on the subject. “We condemn the…hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” MANY SIDES? Last I checked, you orange hued shitgibbon, it was an ALT-RIGHT member driving his car into protesters – like many suggested during Black Lives Matter protests over the last couple of years – not any of the counter-protestors. If you are trying to court a racist, fascist base that makes up “your people,” YOU ARE NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT. Even his own party members were castigating him for his attempt to mollify the Nazis, the racists and the “alt-right” who WERE the instigators.

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But we cannot put the entire cause on this imbecilic child’s tiny hands. He WAS the catalyst, but the pot was brewing previously; he just gave it a method of release.

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, there were literally millions who were aghast that a BLACK MAN could become the President of the United States. The numbers show in any research you would like to do. No matter what you might call them – “militia” groups, “Patriot” organizations, “Tea Party” members (in fact, many hid behind the “Tea Party” façade rather than admit what they were – white nationalists) – their numbers increased after a black man had the audacity to be elected President. “Militia” groups – basically fat fucks playing soldier for a perceived Armageddon that will never occur – went from 42 in 2008, peaked at 334 in 2011 and was down to 276 by 2015.

The purpose of these groups was to facilitate the anger, the hatred, of people that were different from them. Whether they were blacks, immigrants, Muslims or Asians, the hate was equally spread. And facilitate it they did – fed by the vitriolic gruel from Fox News, Breitbart, and more closely related outlets such as the Daily Stormer and the website Stormfront (which will not be linked to here). And they had eight years – eight LONG years – for that hatred to metastasize; all it needed was something to release it.

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Orange Foolius saw that hatred – hell, many believe he participates in it willingly (and if lawsuits are any indication, he seems to have something against minorities of ANY type) – and fed into it every moment of his scumbag campaign. He worked CLOSELY with a white nationalist/now Presidential advisor Steve Bannon, who used Breitbart to espouse his hatred of Jews and blacks. He put a damn white supremacist, Steve Miller (who was a college friend of the “alt-right’s” Richard Spencer), in as his SPEECHWRITER. And this doesn’t even touch his Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who was once deemed “racist enough” that he was UNWORTHY OF A FEDERAL JUDGSHIP!

Orange Foolius knew these would be the ones who pushed him over the top, would be the “silent” part of his support that wouldn’t be counted by the “normal” people. Thus, he tapped into the anger, tossed gasoline on the fire with his fascist, racist rhetoric. Add in his further xenophobia, misogyny, and utter idiocy on any subject that might call for a nuanced thought, and he cemented their vote.

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But now that they have their “Dear Leader,” they feel they can come out of the cesspool they lived in and try to “Make America Great Again” by taking it back to a period of hatred that was one of the worst in not just American history but in human history. Orange Foolius doesn’t know and probably doesn’t care what these scumbags do because “hey, he’s the President!”

For those of you that support the orange fool who embarrasses this nation every goddamn minute, you need to take a good, long look in the mirror. If you signed on for this, for YOUR PEOPLE, your fellow supporters, to “take back the country” in this manner, then you have a serious mental issue. If you didn’t sign on for this, then you still must stare into that abyss that is your soul and find what point is too much to take for your support to continue, for you to pledge blind obedience to “Dear Leader.” The problem is that you don’t have long; the situation isn’t going to get any better, it’s going to continue to get worse (oh, but YOU got the guns, right? That’s an embarrassing statement to even consider.).

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No, the shitgibbon in the White House didn’t cause what occurred in Virginia on Saturday. But he certainly was the catalyst for its launch because of his giving voice to those who previously were viewed correctly, as the scum of society. Now those that say they “support” the jackass at the head of the Neo-Nazis, “alt-right” and white supremacists must figure out just how far their support should go.

“TrumpCare” Is Dead – But We Should Fear What’s Next

Long ago in the States of America, Congress was a body that actually got some things done. They would battle it out on the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate and, after discussing an issue thoroughly, would usually find some way to make it work for not only each party to save some face but for the people of the country to benefit from the decision. Unfortunately, with the polarization of the political process since the mid-1990s, that has become almost as unlikely as the sighting of Yeti on the Las Vegas Strip. Thus, the information rolling out of Washington D. C. on Monday night wasn’t surprising in the least.

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Late on Monday night, the Senate, and particularly Yertle the Turtle (AKA Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), finally came to the realization that what they had fought against for almost a decade was all for naught. For all their complaining about the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare” for simpletons), for all their protestations, for all the literal ink and digital bits spilled on the subject, they had nothing to provide – not one iota of an idea – that would solve the issue regarding health insurance in this country. They weren’t the only ones, however.

Earlier this year, the House tackled the issue as one that they could bamboozle the people of the States of America out of benefits while handing a huge chunk of cash to the wealthy in the nation. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in his infinite wisdom and budget-wonkery, came up with a plan that “only” eliminated insurance from nearly 24 million people – the original “TrumpCare” or American Health Care Act (when the best you can come up with is only inserting one letter in the acronym, that probably should tell you that you’re going to have issues). It was only after pulling the bill off the table and rejiggering it (so that it only eliminated insurance for 23 million people) that the Freedom Caucus – those Tea Party bastards who didn’t think that the cuts hurt people enough nor go far enough to eliminate the ACA – came around and barely passed the bill through the House.

But McConnell would have none of that House BS. He decided he wanted to be the one to take responsibility for the AHCA with his own creation, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. As such, he and a group of men – that’s right, despite health insurance having to cover women, not one woman was asked to be on the panel – wrote up a new bill that even other members of the GOP couldn’t see. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul even went on a hunt through DC attempting to find the group penning the piece of garbage that McConnell wanted to spin off, finally stopping when he couldn’t even find where they were writing it.

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McConnell proved to be about as flaccid on the issue as Ryan had been, unable to even draw in enough of his OWN PARTY to get the bill to the point of discussion on the floor of the Senate. Maine Senator Susan Collins protested over the cuts to Medicaid and the removal of protections for women (especially through Planned Parenthood); Paul stood against it because it was “ObamaCare-lite.” Then came the stunner:  Nevada Senator Dean Heller, facing reelection this fall and an angry electorate, said he wouldn’t vote for the bill due to the Medicaid cuts. After Utah Senator Mike Lee (like Paul, concerned that the new bill didn’t do enough to kill people) and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran (ditto) got on the “no” side – and with Arizona Senator John “Sorry I started this crap with nominating Palin” McCain out of action following a serious blood clot surgery – McConnell’s efforts to eliminate health insurance for millions went out the window.

With the failure of the Senate to even bring something to the table for discussion, we can honestly say that “TrumpCare” is done and that “ObamaCare” is still the law of the land. The Democrats shouldn’t be celebrating, however, as what comes next may be much worse than what they thought a “repeal and replace” would look like.

Orange Foolius himself, who during the Presidential campaign said that “repeal and replace” was a mandatory action to take, is now so desperate for something to hang his sorry excuse for election on that he wants to see the Congress simply repeal the ACA. This is an impossibility. Such a repeal has absolutely no chance in either body of Congress because they have constituents that they somewhat must listen to, and “starting from scratch” will have absolutely no support from the Democrats. The scary part of the possibilities is that the GOP and the conservatives – who claim to be “Christians” even though they go against every tenet that the Bible set out – now will gut the ACA further, leading to more misery for the people.

Believe it or not, conservatives, but the ACA is neither collapsing, imploding, or failing. In April, Gallup found that most of the citizens of this country – 55% – were supportive of the ACA. Since 2014, there had been a slow and steady improvement in the ACA, according to such “pinko” organizations as the Kaiser Family Foundation, Standard & Poor’s and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. So why do there appear to be problems now? Because the conservative SOBs have cut off funding for the ACA.

Republicans weakened the market because they repealed provisions that were supposed to aid in supporting the market, such as the fine for those who didn’t have coverage or the taxes on medical devices and “Cadillac” insurance programs that would have kept them stable (not very good ideas, but we’ll get to that in a minute). In not fully funding the program, the GOP has tried to guarantee that the ACA will fail.

Now what do we look forward to?

The good side would be the realization by everyone in the GOP – from the dogcatcher in Podunk, AK to the cretin who sits in the most powerful seat in the world using his dinky digits to plunk out missives to a mass of followers that cannot comprehend anything beyond 140 characters – that it is time to work with their loyal opposition on a deal that BOTH can live with. The ACA was entirely based on the plan that former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney used (well) in that state. It was only after Barack Obama latched onto the idea that many in the GOP went against something they had been working on since the Nixon administration, something that was a theme throughout the eight years Obama was President.

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The Dems got to give up some of the taxation on the “Cadillac” plans, for example. These plans, which in some cases give the wealthy the opportunity to have a doctor on call 24/7, were hard earned through their labors and shouldn’t be punished in the slightest. The GOP would have to give up the notion that health insurance is a business that the “free market” should determine all aspects of medical issues; in this case, it should be determined by the government so that it is fair for all. There are many other areas, but the essential point in this scenario is that the buffoons who occupy the halls of power in this country should work together instead of continually damaging the country with their polarization.

The bad side? Orange Foolius gets his entire repeal (which isn’t going to happen due to the fact that 1) it would take 60 votes to push any legislation through the Senate, and 2) that the GOP doesn’t want to be responsible for killing Granny) and everything goes to Hell. The repeal of the ACA would cast the entirety of the health insurance system into chaos, send shockwaves through Wall Street and send medical costs skyrocketing. Most importantly, however, it would devastate families who would have coverage ripped away, families that for the first time were able to visit a doctor for care rather than the Emergency Room.

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The people of this country must get used to the idea that they look after their fellow man also. For those who grouse about the “increase in taxes” for the ACA, well…there’s always the increase in your own insurance costs for paying for those Emergency Room visits for a cold. Then there’s the factor that it is inherent in the human condition to help those less fortunate than you, not “I got mine…screw you.”

There’s plenty of growing up that needs to be done across the board. The two ruling parties need to fix something rather than destroy it. The people of the States of America better back up their talk about being a “Christian” nation, otherwise the hypocrisy is ripe. But the problem that we face is, now that “TrumpCare” is dead and the ACA is not being funded by the GOP, what is going to happen in the future, working together or trashing the country?

Rather Than Destroy Obama’s Signature Legislation, Fix It

While much of the world has been casting their eyes towards Orange Foolius and the latest adventures of his Confederacy of Dunces, the Congress has tried to inch forward quietly with legislation that would hammer virtually everyone in the States of America who earns less than $1 million a year. You don’t believe me? Let’s look at the ledger, shall we?

When looking at the current Administration or the GOP-led majorities in Congress, we’ve seen desperate attempts to either destroy the legacy of Orange’s predecessor, Barack Obama, or simply the cruelty of the GOP looking to enact their draconian ideas. Of most importance has been what many call the signature legislation of the Obama Administration, the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare” to simpletons), which allowed for millions to have insurance they previously didn’t have before and others to have arguably better insurance. This has been one comedy of errors after another since the GOP has tried to run the ball.

First were the attempts by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to gather his cats (fellow GOP members of the House of Representatives) and push a bill that, instead of helping people, would have cast 24 million people out of health insurance (and let’s make a BIG distinction here…we are talking health insurance, not health care…they are two different things, one paying for a product and the other the product provided, which is pretty good because of the quality doctors we have in this country). In their infinite wisdom, Ryan and his gaggle of GOP gangsters would have made sure that any money saved from the changes (approximately $337 billion over 10 years) went to those who needed it most: wealthy millionaires who didn’t need the extra money.

That attempt initially failed – and rather spectacularly – because there was a faction of the GOP, the House Freedom Caucus (about the most oxymoronic three words other than “little big man”), that felt the new legislation, known as the American Health Care Act, didn’t go far enough in eradicating the ACA. After getting over the embarrassment of not even being able to bring the legislation to the floor, Ryan twisted some arms and rejiggered some numbers a couple months later (“HEY! LOOK! We brought the uninsured down to 23 million!”) and was able to cajole enough people to pass the House version of the AHCA, to much fanfare at the White House and the public blessing of Orange Foolius.

That House bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, was DOA when it reached his chamber. The GOP Senators were going to “begin from nothing” and come up with their own piece of legislation, Yertle said, and it would look far different than what had been proposed by the House GOP. Even the Orange One seemed to be on board with McConnell’s efforts, remarking how the House version was “mean” and for the Senate to come up with “more money” to make it kinder. Instead, McConnell – ensconced in a secret location that even members of the GOP not working on the health insurance plan had no access to, let alone Democratic members of the Senate – looked into his cauldron and pulled out of the ooze…virtually the same plan that the House had put up, but with NEW rejiggered numbers that brought the uninsured count down to “only” 22 million people.

At this moment, the Senate health insurance plan is about as popular as a herpes-infested whorehouse. After the full CBO breakdown was revealed, GOP Senators like Dean Heller of Nevada, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky have said they cannot accept this bill (for differing reasons; Paul has said he doesn’t want “ObamaCare Light,” which is a fair argument at the minimum). This is critical because, in losing even three votes from his own GOP caucus, McConnell cannot move any legislation forward in a Senate broken down by a 52-48 margin.
While McConnell retreats into his shell to protect himself, here’s a suggestion: rather than destroy Obama’s signature legislation, how about looking for ways to fix it?

When it was enacted seven years ago (and seriously GOP…you couldn’t come up with anything over the term of the Obama Administration as a counter?), the ACA was an audacious stab at solving a complex problem that, in reality, is one that cannot fully be solved. Health insurance isn’t a requirement, like car insurance (which is also flouted by many, but I digress), and when people are initially forced into buying something – even if it helps them – there’s a great deal of reluctance. As time has passed, however, there are several areas of the ACA that have been tremendously good for people, such as the ability of those with pre-existing conditions to obtain affordable insurance and covering young people on a family’s plan up to the age of 26. Even with these good parts, however, it is obvious that there needed to be some tinkering with the ACA (such as having 80-year olds paying for pre-natal care – yes, I KNOW how insurance works…spreading the costs amongst a larger pool…but not everyone is that knowledgeable).

First off, instead of cutting funding off to the ACA and falsely saying “it’s collapsing” (as Orange Foolius is using his dinky digits to type out over Twitter), FUND THE DAMN THING. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t, what needs to be changed and what needs to be eliminated. It is only through complete funding (and, to be honest, the insurance companies need the stability to be able to set their costs) that the ACA can be fully and fairly judged.

Second, look at other options. I personally think – and have stated on many occasions – that it is time to enact “Medicaid for All.” Under this plan, the Medicaid program on the federal level would be expanded so EVERYONE has a base of insurance. Want to have a yearly checkup? You got it. How about a basic test for disease? No problem. Such a base of simple medical should NEVER be denied anyone simply because they can’t pay for it (and really – if you listen to the doctors – more serious conditions could be prevented if caught in basic medical care).

So, what about the insurance industry? Before you go weeping for them, we’ve got them covered. If people want to have “more” medical insurance – perhaps to cover Tiffany’s rhinoplasty or pay for Daddy’s Viagra so he can chase the secretary around the desk – then they can buy plans conceived by the insurance industry to cover a multitude of things. Businesses could use these expanded plans as a recruitment tool for bringing in prospective employees – people could factor those expanded insurance plans into their decisions as to where to work.

This solves many of the aspects of health insurance (remember, health care is already there and very good) that are under debate. People can take their base insurance Medicaid wherever they go, thus eliminating the issue of going across state borders and losing one’s insurance. If a person or a business wants or needs more coverage (for whatever reason), the insurance companies are there to give it. Costs? Without the crippling competition, medical costs would come down, although there would still have to be some work done on the pharmaceutical end of the spectrum (when you pay $2 for a pill in India and $800 for the same pill in the States, you’ve got a problem)…perhaps allow for LIMITED class act negotiation to get the best deals from pharmaceutical companies, either through the local Walgreens, an employer, or the government itself?

The Affordable Care Act does have its issues. But those issues need to be worked on, not discarded like a candy wrapper. Putting a new name on it doesn’t serve any purpose except to grandstand that “you repealed it” (hear that, GOP?). Fund the operation and see what needs to be fixed, don’t starve it and then claim it didn’t work. It’s time for some people to be adults about the issue and, since the toddler in the White House is unable to get about without messing his nappy, it’s high time Congress took the reins.

Does EVERYTHING Have to be Political Nowadays?

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Yesterday was one of the more fun days of the entire calendar year, unless you had a dog in the hunt or lots of cash riding on the myriad of outcomes. Super Bowl LI (51 if your Roman numeral translator is on the fritz) featured the scrappy, underdog Atlanta Falcons versus the dastardly and favored New England Cheaters Patriots in the battle for the National Football League championship for 2016. The game itself – once again, depending on who you rooted for – was arguably one of the best in history. But what was the recurring theme that ran through pretty much everything that happened yesterday indicates a particularly troubling aspect that is occurring in our society.

I started watching about 4PM (Eastern Time), usually the time when the new Super Bowl ads start showing, but what showed up on the screen? The Resident, sitting down with Fox News “editorial commentator” (because he damn sure isn’t a journalist) Bill O’Reilly, discussing politics. Now I am pretty sure that President Barack Obama was the first president to sit down with whichever network was broadcasting the Super Bowl game – Obama, if nothing else, is a huge sports fan – and the networks, especially Fox, used that time to get political with the man in the White House. The bigger question is why did this relatively young “tradition” need to continue?

It isn’t about the politics. There are enough times that The Resident can get on television, can get on the internet or even online. There’s scant little time in today’s world when you can get a respite from the onslaught of politics. That would be proven as Super Bowl Sunday wore on.

Reports from several outlets stated that the entirety of the pre-game and halftime shows – featuring the cast members of the musical Hamilton and the outstanding entertainment prowess of six-time Grammy winner Lady Gaga, respectively – were being broadcast by Fox on a five second delay shouldn’t have surprised anyone, but it seemed that everyone was SHOCKED by this travesty. Fox, it seemed, was “violating” free speech rights of the performers by potentially editing their performances (albeit about the best they would be able to do is hit a “mute” button). This seemed to upset many, but it really shouldn’t have.

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Since the 2004 Super Bowl and “Nipplegate,” every live event has been put on a delay, in theory to allow for the producers/directors to switch cameras or to mute the audio should someone utter one of George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words.” I’ve actually watched sporting events on television where one of the players involved in the game action utters an expletive and it is muted by whichever network is broadcasting the game rather than aired (that doesn’t mean there aren’t instances it slips through). It goes back a bit further than that to 2003 when U2 singer Bono, while accepting an award at the Golden Globes for their work on the soundtrack for the film Gangs of New York, said that receiving the award was “really, really fucking brilliant.” The blood running from the ears of those whose sensitivities were violated brought about this change, it wasn’t something that came from the election of The Resident and his vociferous supporters.

What it did demonstrate is that virtually everything that goes on nowadays is being viewed through the political prism whether it is applicable or not. It isn’t a new phenomenon, either, as I can recall back to the Bill Clinton administration when an innocent online discussion about gender inequality or even minimum wage increases would normally have one idiot that would bring up the Monica Lewinsky situation or some other political hot topic and go off the rails. That is the first point where, if there were some travesty that occurred or situation that defied whatever “norms” people assigned to something that the phrase “Blame (insert President here),” happened. Since then, it’s only gotten worse.

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Talk about how changing light bulbs from incandescent to LED can save energy and money? Fucking Obama (it was actually President Bush II who signed the order in 2007 to make it law)! FEDEX has to buy more tires because the roads are bad (not the potential 100,000 miles that they put on each set in a short time span)? Government pricks! “Censoring” Lady Gaga from singing on the Super Bowl? Motherfuckers at Fox! How DARE they! An actor makes a statement in support of the current President? Racist bastard (actor Matthew McConaughey was castigated by liberals for suggesting that everyone “give The Resident a chance” despite the fact that he never endorsed him. The Neo-Nazi website Breitbart, however, all but promoted McConaughey for sainthood for “defying the Hollywood elite” despite not knowing just who the hell he is)!

While politics is something that people can believe passionately about, it isn’t and shouldn’t be interwoven into every goddamned thing that we do in our existence. There is the ability to turn on the television and simply watch a television show or a movie without it being some sort of allegorical statement about our world today. There are the chances to listen to music or read where the subject matter isn’t about one political side or the other. There is plenty of sad realities of life that occur that politics doesn’t even touch, let alone have any effect on. There are also plenty of joys that never see a political side.

The same can be applicable to people. While you may find that you like someone – maybe even love them – very much but they have a different political philosophy than you, that in no sense is a reason to get rid of them. There are plenty of areas outside of that one miniscule part of life that makes those people enjoyable for 99.5% of the time. It makes literally no sense to excommunicate someone from your circle simply because of that reason alone (the same is also true of religion and being a believer/non-believer, but that’s a discussion for another time).

Does that mean that you must listen to everyone? No, not in the least. For example, if someone believes that there were 3-5 million illegals who voted in the 2016 Presidential campaign even though EVERY SHRED OF EVIDENCE says otherwise – then it is best to not discuss political topics with that person. That STILL doesn’t mean they can’t be important to you and your life, you just choose not to share that tiny segment of the world.

Then there are those that show themselves to be so inflexible in dogma that discussion cannot move forward one iota. Those are the people that you cannot do anything about (you’re not going to change their mind). It is best to disassociate from those, even though at one time they might have been a valuable person.

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It is important to say that, if someone broaches the political issue with their commentary, then it is free game. Actor Meryl Streep was roundly castigated by the conservatives for her comments during this year’s Golden Globe awards. Likewise, singer Toby Keith was lambasted by liberals for playing The Resident’s inauguration. THOSE are situations where politics could enter the discussion, when someone is actually exercising their free speech rights, not when it is what someone MIGHT do once they hit the stage or get a microphone in front of them. It is very much a Schrödinger’s Cat paradox in that you don’t know what you’re going to get until you “look in the box” – the actual moment that a particular artistic situation presents itself.

With the above said, everyone could chill out a bit instead of injecting politics into every waking moment of our lives. We need those moments to decompress, to take time to examine instances that arise in the political spectrum and come up with thoughts that help us develop as people and perhaps as informed members of a community. To apply the political litmus test to everything in your existence sounds like a way to perpetually live in either fear or anger.

What If They Threw an Inauguration and No One Cared?

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This Friday, the States of America will once again pause to see the passing of the baton from the current President, Barack Obama, to a completely inept, out-of-place scuzzbag that will be referred to here as the GOP nominee. After eight years (and yes, that’s all he gets despite the wishes of others – the Constitution says so), Obama will pack up his family, take one last look at Capitol Hill and finally be able to shout “Fuck you, cocksuckers!” to those that obstructed him. At that moment, this idiocratic kakistocracy will take over.

For myself, I’ve never been a big fan of the inauguration of a President. I’ve never watched the parade, never cared about the speeches, and certainly don’t want to watch people dancing around in their finery. There’s only a couple of parades that I’m interested in:  the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (it’s always the signifier of the start of the Christmas season) and any parade that a member of my family is in. Other than that, I don’t really want to sit around for several hours (live) or a couple of hours (on television) to watch floats, bands and other parade potpourri walk.

This year’s inauguration, then, is no different for me…I won’t be watching it, much like I didn’t watch Obama’s, nor Bush’s, nor Clinton’s. What makes it even easier is because there is absolutely no reason to give any “celebration” to the cacophony of idiocy that the minority of people have subjugated on the country through their vote nor the person who it is supposed to celebrate. No one wants to perform, save for a 16-year old who didn’t even win the competition she was vying for, a church choir, dancers who might have been forced to appear and the Great American Redneck(s), and there’s plenty of nice dresses available (despite Twitler’s protestations to the contrary). And it appears that many are coming around to the notion that hey, maybe we should have thought about this a bit more.

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While his minions continue to harp about how much he’ll do the “first day,” the GOP nominee has himself stated that he won’t be starting his new position until MONDAY. In an interview with the Times of London, the GOP nominee is quoted as saying, “Day one – which I will consider to be Monday as opposed to Friday or Saturday…my day one is gonna be Monday because I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration.”

The utter stupidity of this statement boggles the imagination. This fuckhead just took a job that is a 24/7 gig, not a 9-to-5 job. You don’t get weekends off…hell, you don’t even get VACATIONS off. Just ask the former Presidents how many days they said, “Fuck it…just going to go back to my mansion in (insert your favorite Presidential retreat here) and take a few days off.” As the President, you’re there FOR THE PEOPLE and the free world all the goddamn time. You’re taking briefings WHILE ON VACATION because, you know, shit can happen at any time. But this thimble-fingered imbecile seems to think that he’ll just be able to go about life, not a care in the world. How long before that wears thin on him?

Then there’s the constant circus that has been the parade of the Confederacy of Dunces to Capitol Hill. “Billionaire Betsy” DeVos, the choice of the orange-hued stain on the human condition for the Secretary of the Department of Education, couldn’t manage to get through her hearing without proving her total ineptitude for the position she was taking. Under questioning from Senator Al Franken, “Billionaire Betsy” couldn’t discern the difference between achievement testing and performance testing. She stumbled through another question on gun-free school zones by saying that weaponry might be needed to “defend against grizzly bears.” (Research into that has shown that, in recent history, there have been zero grizzly attacks on schools while there have been 210 attacks by people with guns since just 2013.)

Finally, Senator Bernie Sanders was the only one with the balls in the room to call her out. Sanders recited the litany of things that she hasn’t done that you might want in a Secretary of Education (didn’t attend public school, no collegiate background or degree in education, children didn’t attend public school, etc.) before noting that her family had donated “around $200 million” to GOP causes. “Do you think you’d be sitting here today if it weren’t for those contributions?” Sanders asked a woman who had NO REASON to be sitting there other than THAT REASON.

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I’d get into the GOP nominee’s choice for the Secretary of Health and Human ServicesRepresentative Tom Price – and his travails with non-payment of taxes, buying stock in companies and then writing bills to aid said companies and PROFITEERING off such actions or even the factor that major National Security Council personnel have been unable to brief their incoming replacements because those replacements HAVEN’T RECEIVED SECURITY CLEARANCES, but the real fun hasn’t even occurred yet. That comes on Thursday when former Texas Governor Rick Perry tries to tell a cadre of Senators that he’s ready to be the Secretary of the Department of Energy.

Perry, who once wanted to disband this organization before forgetting about it during the GOP debates in 2012 (now known as the “OOPS!” Moment), was reportedly thrilled when the GOP nominee asked him to fill the position. That was before he actually learned what the job was all about. Instead of ensuring the security of the nuclear arsenal of this country – the primary job of the Secretary of the department – Buckaroo Ricky thought that he’d be promoting the country’s oil and gas industry just like he did as the “guvner” of the Lone Star State.

Let that sink in a minute…this moron thought he’d be a glorified salesman, promoting a product to exactly whom isn’t known…

The continued Circus of Comedy that is being provided by the GOP nominee’s proposed administration (he’s already lost one person, former Fox News commentator Monica Crowley, due to her plagiarism of significant portions of a book she allegedly wrote…perhaps she can continue her wall research now) has sent many into a fit of navel gazing. The GOP nominee is coming into the office of the Presidency with the LOWEST APPROVAL RATING of any candidate since 1977. The GOP nominee’s approval rating is 37%, according to a Quinnipiac poll, a pitiful rating even for a scumbag that has shown no ability to grasp the importance of the job he ran for and no interest in even the base learning of the myriad of things he might face. Not only are the numbers overall for the GOP nominee in this shitter, his overall transition has been received less-than glowing reviews. An equal number of citizens of the States of America – 48% each – have said they either “approve” or “disapprove” of his transition period, according to a Gallup poll. The reason this is bad? NO ONE has ever seen numbers that bad when they were entering the Presidency.

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So we can lament the loss of the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus, but it isn’t like we’re without new performers. In fact, a new circus is moving into the White House soon – just as soon as “wittle Barron” can pull himself away from his silver-spoon up their asses brats at his private school and Melania can get her “model scowl” just right – along with the Head Clown and a cast of characters. Unfortunately, the comedy of errors they’ll be presenting won’t be making anyone laugh as they wreak havoc on the country. As such, I won’t be watching when this embarrassment for the country is jutting his chin out like Mussolini as he reviews whatever high school band marches in front of him during the inauguration.