Sunday, May 8, 2016

State of the Union

It is currently Mother's Day, sometime around 0600 EDT, and I have just walked in the door from a visit to the Emergency Room with my Mom. I was in a piss poor mood when I went, and my mood has gotten even worse. I might not look like it, but I have a very common trait with the likes of Trump when I become extremely tired, which I am currently, and when I become extremely agitated, which yeah, you guessed it, and that is the more agitated and tired I become, the less my filter works. I am at the point that I really don't give a shit about censoring myself, so, I am going to post this later, but write it now and sleep on it.

So a few weeks ago, we had a massive take down of pro-Sanders Facebook pages. So, as new pages were formed, I quickly rejoined some, or joined others. I joined one, that I will not link here, but goes by the name Bernie Sanders is my Hero, and didn't give it a second thought, I have my usual haunts, and the truth is, I rarely keep up with groups these days. So, I noticed something in my news feed that rubbed me the wrong way, so I commented on it.

The gist of it was that we should “fall in line behind Hillary because Trump.” Sorry ladies and gentlemen, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I only registered as a Democrat to vote for Sanders in my state's primary, mostly because I was unsure about the rules here, and I wanted to ensure my vote counted, it is better to be safe than sorry. So, my general comment went something like, “No.” From that point, it wasn't the normal bullshit, it all descended to we have to work 10-20 years to change things in the DNC and in this country. My response was, “People have been working 10-20 years to change these things and more, and we get ignored or bullied. If you want to keep things going this way, be my guest.” I feel I was fairly polite about it, but yeah, I got banished from a pro-Hillary group fronting as a pro-Sanders group, because I refuse to support a candidate that I not only dislike, but I find disingenuous.

Well, since I got banished for speaking my mind, while dealing with my mother sitting in the local hospital's ER, without medical insurance, mostly because she can't afford her medications, I decided to come home get on my bully pulpit, and have my say. So, bare with me, there is going to be plenty of not safe for work commentary on the state of the union, but I promise to edit out the worst of it, because sensitive eyes and all.

For the entirety of my existence, that will be 35 years in a few weeks, this country has gone to the right, some of us have fought this change, some of us have railed against it to anyone willing to listen, we pushed for liberal and progressive candidates at all levels of government, and we failed. Ultimately, we saw that if we failed to show up for the DNC, regardless of them being liberal, moderate or blue dog things would be worse, but there was a problem, the DNC was often only slightly better than the GOP for us, for the people. We sought out those of like mind, tried to get them on local tickets, tried to push them forward, and yeah, like I said before we got ignored, and we got shut down at every turn. We lacked the ability to fund said candidates, we lacked the ability to get word out of these people, we basically ran around to every mall, and store and plugged away back in the late 90's. In the Early 2000's we hit the internet message boards and chat rooms to spread the word, this was as the internet was becoming more widely used. Now we are at a time when information can be spread to thousands of people in seconds, Facebook, Twitter, TSU, and a host of other social media sites that exist. We also have the ability to do as I am, get on our f@@king bully pulpit and speak whatever is on our mind.

Anyway, so we are sitting here today, and we have some serious f@@king problems, and as a “one issue voter.” I am going to preach it to you. The DNC is no longer the real party of the people. Sure, they give us some lip service, they say that they will do what they can do, and sure, many of the Democratic Party members in our city and state halls, as well as congress really do try to do great things, but those people are bogged down with the same problem we have, they cannot seem to get traction, the DNC resists change as much as the GOP. These officials are bullied into taking stances by the higher ups on the food chain, held hostage with their ability to get things done, and the possibility of being allowed to advance with support. This is not solely about big money in politics, this is something more insidious than Citizens United. This is about the common belief that you should run from all that is liberal, and that as a representative you are beholden to the party for which you are elected. If you think Lincoln is rolling in his grave over what has become the GOP, I can promise you that FDR is absolutely livid at his own party, and his cousin Teddy has gone insane at the mere thought of what passes for progressive today.

Only in Murica today can the PPACA be called a progressive bill. Sure, I agree with the PP part of the PPACA, that was the only thing the bill got half way correct. No coverage limits, no refusal of insurance because of per-existing conditions, those are good things. The problem is, in place of coverage limits and removal of per-existing conditions, we got higher rates and mandates to carry health insurance, with huge deductibles. So, people on limited incomes, who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid are left in the loop of doom. So great, we have insured tens of millions of people, by threat of penalty, and they still can't afford to use their health insurance. Clinton for her part can't decide if we can or cannot have a single payer system, and my bet is, if she manages to get elected, and doesn't get impeached or arrested, by 2024 we still won't have it, we will be stuck with the PPACA for that 10-20 years I mentioned above (or as long as we can afford it anyway).

The minimum wage will increase, I am sure of it, but the fact is, wages will still be stagnant, they will be sucked dry before our checks hit our bank accounts, income inequality will continue to grow. Basically we will break even or be slightly worse off the way the minimum wage will increase, slowly over five or ten years (and those on Widow's Benefits or Social Security may or may not see any meaningful CoLAs). Speaking of which, the minimum wage was put into place to put a floor on the basic standard of living, now its reserved for “unskilled labor” and well I guess there is a whole shit load of us who are unskilled labor these days. Wall Street will continue to gamble away our retirements, and our money, while banks continue to place bets on bets on other bets that you will likely fail to pay your mortgage. Again, Clinton appears to be willing or able to do nothing, but will be perfectly adept at taking responsibility for anything is of benefit. Speaking of which, she does not want to reinstate Glass Stegall, she doesn't want to push for any new legislation to curb Wall Street running wild over the country, or slow down the banks.

I am sure that if she graces the White House, that she will be more than happy to continue the trend of signing away our jobs. Free Trade is not free, nothing is free, and if you think it is, you are a fool. Jobs that leave here, are not easily replaced (look at manufacturing jobs, textile jobs, auto worker jobs, customer service jobs, steel mills. Jobs reading X-Rays, and the list goes on). These jobs are shipped over seas to workers who are able and willing to survive on dollars a day, that whole cost of living thing, just with a different meaning. Just go check out how much it costs to live in some other countries, take your current income and then compare how you live here versus how you would live there. Huge difference. But more free trade, more lost jobs, that create more low wage jobs, more people living hand to mouth, and honestly if you think its a grand idea cast your ballot, but don't bitch when your job goes away. Because we have a secondary job problem, automation, just look at all those beautify self-checkout lines, and ponder that future.

Of course, we will see more war. But hey war is good for some sectors of our economy, unless of course, we are the ones getting the shit bombed out of us. Sure, we kicked our economy into high gear after WWII, but Europe had to rebuild, their infrastructure was bombed into oblivion, first by the blitzkrieg and then by our attempts to retake those countries. Maybe with Hillary in office we can experience that ourselves. Oh, and before you start about my “pro-Trump” leanings, we will likely have the front lines in our backyards with Trump running things as well. Blame a history where we decided we would be the world police, and we would dictate everything.

Our environment will be further damaged, with her “I'm pro-coal know because the rubes in West Virginia are getting ready to primary,” crap. Of course, she is still pro(ish) fracking, but would rather let the states job over their citizens than be responsible for that clusterf@@k. But hey, never fear she has a plan, I've never heard it, and when asked nobody ever tells me what it is, I all I ever get is “she has a plan.” But that is a-okay, “Cause its time for a women in the White House.” Speaking of which, why haven't we already done this? Surely in the last hundred years or so we could have found some magnificent woman who wasn't on a power trip, and had solid positions to take the position of FLotUS? Surely there have been noble women who said I have ideas to right this ship that we could have thrown in with and got her elected to the White House? Hell, Jill Stein has been around for years, she is far less hawkish, and holds similar views as real progressives, and appears on the surface to be far more solid than Clinton. What about Bachman, Palin, and any other ladies who have ran before Clinton, or ran at the same time, just on the GOP ticket? Why is it that Clinton is the heir apparent to the White House, outside of most pundits calling the GOP women crazy. Yeah, I bet no Clinton supporter will touch that.

So, here is the gist of this commentary in that group...  We (people like me) are being told to go slug it out in the trenches for another 10-20 years. So, by the time that anything meaningful will happen when I am in my mid-40s to mid-50s, far too late to be of any real benefit to me personally, but at least my kids and grand kids will benefit, providing that the planet Earth isn't a smoldering shithole by then. But what happens to people like my Mom? Half of her problem is she is stressed out dealing with bill collectors over my deceased father, her own mounting medical bills, just trying to keep the lights on with food on the table, and the other half is not taking essential medications. As the doctor sagely noted, “taking your medications is cost prohibitive.” Certainly is, when your household income is $2,000 a month, rent and utilities take over half of that, and then you get down to the basics of having a cell phone, and any other bills you may or may not have (this includes repaying people you have borrowed money from to cover stupid little happenings). This is a common thread even with people who actually have medical insurance.

The thing I find funny about all of this is that I had this argument a few years back with a friend about the corrupt politics in West Virginia. His point of contention was that change takes large chunks of time, that one must first infiltrate the machine, learn its workings, gather power within it, then change it. He believed that if he started that very day, it would take him 30 years, to gather enough influence to change anything. My points of contention were, in the course of that 30 years, you as a person change, when you are in your mid-60s you are not concerned about the things that concern a man in his mid-30s. Times also change, I said to him, in 30 years the problems we have today will not be the problems we face then. As a joke I added “Today we are fighting homelessness and poverty, in 30 years we might be fighting the f@@king Klingons.” The last thing I said, and this was what really pissed him off, just as I was pissed about having to say it. In that time period, those 30 years you spend infiltrating the machine, learning how it works, gathering your power within it, then making the change, what happens to those who fall by the wayside, those who are unable to survive? I want to ask now, because I found his answer unacceptable, “What happens to those people who are unable to survive this?” His general view was that it was regrettable, but sacrifices had to be made, that until people like us had sufficient power anyone who died, anyone who became irrevocably damaged as a result of our inability to do anything with our elected officials, were just needlessly sacrificed. Regrettable indeed, that in a time when we are supposed to be so enlightened, in what so many call the greatest nation in the world, the greatest nation to ever exist, we have to play a game where people continue to suffer for 10-20 years because we have to change slowly, because those who we elected to represent us, have decided they like things they way they are, mostly because they get all the perks and we get all the chaff.

As for me, should Sanders not secure the nomination, I refuse to continue down the path of the neo-liberal third way way of doing things. I have hit the end of my personal rope. Third way neo-liberalism is a tired way of doing things, it is worn out, it is also destructive. So Clinton supporters, if you, in all your personal wisdom, and all your self-perceived privilege think you can withstand the third way neo-liberal ways, that you can ride Clinton out, like you think you can withstand or ride out a Trump presidency, be my guest.

I said it before, and it bears repeating, I can live with anything, that you can. I think I am going to amend the previous statement, for posterity, while I pose it as a question. I can live with anything that happens, can you do the same? I would also ask if you can live with what is about to happen to millions of people, not just in your own backyard, but worldwide, because I know I can, as there are only two options, survive what is about to come or passively accept it and die. I am going to survive, and I am going to fight tooth and nail until there is nothing left.