First Nice Spring Day


I always look forward to that first really nice spring day.  That first day over 70.  Clear skies.

Today was that.  After an overnight rain, I was up early and had to take the dog outside.  All the plants are blooming.

So I pulled out the camera.

It was that day.  Can’t all be deep thoughts and brain strain.

As the sun began to dry up the ground, I decided to take the dog for a walk.

I plugged the new Mark Lanegan album, Gargoyle, into my ears and we started.

The road to the river has a line of cherry blossom trees all in bloom.

We got down to the river where I let the dog off his leash.

We headed north under the bridge.

Bridges are where people like to get noticed.  Leave their opinions.  Show off their artistic talents.

I let this guy run around the trail.  Splash in the river.  Work up a thirst.

Then we headed home.  Greeted in our backyard by this guy.

Simple post today I know, but I do enjoy taking photographs on occasion.

And tomorrow promises to be challenging to all those who enjoy simple freedoms.

March of the Orange King


Quick note- I started this a few days ago.  I felt I should finish it.

It seems that being President of these here United States for 100 days is a big deal.  It has to be.  The media has been counting down to 100 days for 101 days now.

I would agree that it would be a big deal if it were similar to a 90 day probationary period.  I mean, I just signed an offer letter for a job which made it very clear that my first 90 days were exactly that.  If I don’t do a good job, they’ll kick me to the curb.

Of course the very next paragraph outlined that my employment is “at will” and I can be excused from the position at any point for no reason.

Yes, let’s discuss the 100 days if we get to take it back.  Go get a new fish.  Probationary period is over, Mr. President, and you’re fired.  See, we didn’t hire you to simply sign executive orders and play golf.

But that’s not how it operates.

And as the television is humming along yesterday, they focus on the latest of these seemingly weekly stream of marches that takes place.  This week was climate change.

There’s been a woman’s march, a science march, an LGBTQ march, and many others.

Song in my head as I write this… March of the Black Queen by Queen.

It is exciting to see people get so active and take a vested interest in the well being of our world.  It would feel like democracy in action if half the country didn’t stay home last November.

There have been so many marches covering every topic and group and whatever else they could drum up.  And I wonder why.  What are they going to accomplish?

The reporter talked to a protester yesterday while the television served as background noise.  She asked what he hopes to accomplish with this protest.

He told the reporter that he hoped to get the President to take note that people care about climate change and he will change his direction on this issue.

Really kind of silly.

Really.

Trump does not care what people think.  He will do what he wants.

I mean, it’s been a maddeningly head spinning week.  This guy desperate for the approval of anybody first said he thought that the 100 day mark was made up and then started forcing ideas and executive orders so that he could tell the media they are wrong.

Look how productive we’ve been.  I’ve signed 30 laws.

The only march which seems to matter is not the one that the people put together, but rather the march to undo progress.

Executive order to allow the protected lands from Monuments be available for drilling if the state wishes.  Utah sleaze Mike Lee and Orin Hatch were on hand for this signing.  They will start the unbeutification of Bear’s Ears.

Executive order to allow off shore drilling.

Executive order to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood.

A tax plan that gives Donald Trump and his family a huge tax break at the corporate level and allows for money to come back into the country at a one time low cost.

A health plan which will take away the preexisting condition protections if the states decide.

And the first president to speak to the NRA directly since Ronald Reagan.

Please, I ask you to take a stab at who some of Trump’s largest financial contributors were.

Most notably, I want you to look at the tax plan.  Because trickle down does not work.  If it did, we’d be reaping the benefits of 35 years of trickle down growth and expansion.  But we are not.  Businesses are.  The most wealthy in our country are getting wealthier because trickle down does not convince people to spend.  They put it in their pocket.

And Trump is wealthy.

He wants his kids to be wealthier.

You know what works?  Paying people a living wage so they can afford to go out and buy shit at a pace which will require businesses to hire people and grow.  A different post a different time.

But this week we may see the worst of all executive orders.  Trump has invited many faith leaders to the White House for the signing of a Religious Freedom Executive Order.

Anytime somebody puts the words religious and freedom together, they are generally pitching the exact opposite.

This is to take place on May 4th.  Also the National Day of Prayer.  Also Star Wars day.  I’m not interested in any of those.

This executive order is supposed to make it so that private corporations can discriminate against people if they do not think their lifestyle is in line with the corporation’s religious affiliation.  LGBT and Q will be frowned upon.  Premarital sex.  Do not invite any of your friends to follow you on Facebook or Instagram.  They may rat you out.

I have a disease.  I do not back down from conversations.  I better start.  Religious freedom could cover way more than I think.

I also believe that anybody who pitches religious freedom forgets that I have the right to freedom from religion.

So what do I see today?

TakeiTweet

That’s the answer?

Another march?

Trump does not care.  One bit.  He has little interest in you.  He has no interest in what people want.  This executive order, if he does sign it, will be a bone to Mike Pence.

Tolerance is not a strength of this administration.

And neither is listening to the population.

So I expect many more marches to take place.  In fact, I’ve already seen people discuss future events.  To be clear, I’m not suggesting people don’t try to get their voice heard.  Furthest thing from my mind.

But this president does not care.

He is doing only what he wants.

So call your representatives.  Write them.  Email them.  Take that stand.

Contact the ACLU.

I’m pretty sure a federal judge will strike down any religious freedom executive order and it won’t take long.  It’s a clear violation of everything this nation is supposed to stand for.

But be very clear that Trump doesn’t care what anybody outside of his immediate circle thinks.

Keep marching.  At least you’re getting out of the house.

This DNC Fraud Case


I’m going to link to Zach Haller’s article on it.  Mostly because I’ve been following him and his work reading the transcripts on the case.

Oh, wait, you didn’t know that the DNC fraud lawsuit had started?

Here’s the problem with the way the media runs its organizations.  They don’t report on news.  They report what they want you to hear regardless of whether or not it is a major story.

Are Trump’s tweets important?  Somewhat.  But at some point CNN shouldn’t run the “Breaking News” graphic every single time Donald Trump’s little thumb gets itchy.

Not only that, but the major news outlets were complicit in ensuring the DNC put the candidate of their choice and not the candidate of the people as the nominee.

If you didn’t immediately click the link above, let me give you the single most important piece of the defense’s argument.

c-irbsou0aaetzw

There you have it.  And I remember Joy Reid arguing this exact same point last year.  She said it’s not up to the people.  That’s why the DNC has Super Delegates.  She said that the DNC is a private organization and the people are part of the private organization and they get to choose their nominee.

Well I’m not cool enough to belong to any clubs.  In fact, I can’t see myself doing much more than taking over a club.

Joy Reid is a part of the neoliberal club.  She is a very important member of it and has a voice in the media.  I would argue that virtually every liberal who speaks on mainstream television is a neoliberal.  There’s not much room for anybody but corporate Democrats on television.

I’m not going to write a ton on this.  This is information and more information can be found if you wish to find it.  A determination won’t be made for quite some time.

My takeaway?  It’s simple.

Media bias is a big deal.  They have an agenda and that agenda comes from the people who write the checks.  I’m tired of hearing about how all the reporters are liberal.  It’s not true and it does not matter.  The people on television deliver only the information they are allowed to deliver.

Why none of them are delivering this information.

You may remember how Donna Brazille gave Hillary Clinton some of the questions she would be asked before a debate with Bernie Sanders.  And then Brazille became the interim DNC Chair.

Honestly, the media loves having Trump as president because he helps them fill in their exhausting 24 hours.  Well, between that and Lockup or Anthony Bourdaine.

The other reason this is of interest to me?

People donated their hard earned cash.

People sent money to the candidate they wanted to win.  They believed they were helping get elected their candidate of choice.  They should have been given the truth and allowed to keep the money we all work very hard for in their pockets.  Because we all hate being conned.  We all hate being lied to.

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Maybe the whole thing was fair and on the up and up?

Maybe

But if it was, I truly believe it would be covered by the media.

One thing we, as a nation, need to do is stop lying to the people and stop trying to convince everybody they live in a democracy.

We’ll see how this shakes out next year and in 2020.

Words Matter


I have maybe three or four posts which I’ve started but not finished.  Maybe more.  In the corner of my screen it says 15.

I do much of my writing in my head before I ever place my fingers over my keyboard.  Sometimes I wake up with the words to the start of a post.  Maybe I come up with lines I like while walking or listening to music or on a drive.

But even what I have posted lately hasn’t been what was in my head earlier that day or as I woke in the morning or on and on.

Must be age.  My memory is not quite right these days.

All that said, I don’t write anything and say it unless I’m exact with my words.  Saying stuff exactly as I intend them is important.  Why I rarely force myself to write.

And I’m nobody.

Nobody at all.

If I were somebody important, I’d be very careful with my words.  It’s necessary.

Because words matter.

Let’s get to somebody who has many many great words.  The best words.  He knows all the great words.  Such an unbelievable vocabulary.

I watched on Saturday night in that not quite jam packed tiny arena just outside of Philadelphia.  He took on the media.  He said he broke records for the amount of people in that arena.  He said it was hard to do without holding a guitar.

He booked the Philadelphia Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.  Capacity for this expo center is 7,600.  Trump told the people that there were many people waiting outside trying to get in, but there just wasn’t enough room.

empty-seats-at-harrisburg-rally-via-twitter-410x220Here’s the problem.  This event center is not that big.  It’s not that impressive of a feat.  And everybody has a camera.  It’s easy to show that the event center was not sold out and there was nobody waiting outside.

He spent much of this rally accusing the media of being so unfair to him.  And many people believe that the media has been.

By reporting the words he actually says.

Donald Trump is crying that a vast majority of the coverage he has received has been negative.  I believe he said something like 89% of the reporting on him has been negative. The only reporting that should matter is the reporting where they report his words.

His tweets.

His interviews.

His rallies.

The place was not sold out.

I live in a very small town.  Many of them are Trump supporters.  I saw the signs.  This arena which held Trump’s rally could just about hold my tiny town.

And then there’s this.

I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War.  He was a very tough person but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw with regard to the Civil War, he said ‘There’s no reason for this.'”

People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

Great questions my kids probably asked me when they were five.  And why didn’t the ghost of Andrew Jackson stop it?  I’m sure Jackson, a slave owner, would have negotiated us right out of a war which pitted brother against brother.

Seriously, Donald Trump, families fought against each other with guns.  They knew their enemy well.

But it was still important enough to kill each other over.

This isn’t what got me to put the fingers on the keys today.

John Dickerson, who I think is one of the few who is good at interviews and one of the only shows I watch on Sunday morning, interviewed Trump this past weekend.  Trump sat down with him.

Trump made sure to throw his very clever joke about how he calls Dickerson’s show “Deface the Nation” and we’ve all heard that one before.

Great one.

Toward the end, Dickerson pressed Trump on his wiretapping claims.  Dickerson wanted Trump to say it.

Because Dickerson wanted to report exactly what Trump wanted him to report.  Trump kept telling him that many people know about this and told Dickerson to make up his own mind.

And then walked off.

Apparently Trump is less of a coward with his phone on twitter.

So here’s the point.  Don’t buy into the negativity garbage.  Don’t.

Dickerson gave Trump every chance to get the reporting exactly as he wanted it but he chose to walk off.

People are reporting Trump’s actual words.  They are quoting him.  They are showing how he says one thing during the campaign and something completely different as president.  They are playing real video and audio clips.

But Trump takes that reporting and tells the media, you’re so unfair.

The media is not Trump’s enemy.  They created him from orange dust and really long ties.  They gave him more free press than anybody else.  He stepped on his own words more than anybody could every expect while still succeeding.

And all of it was reported on so much that Trump owned the media cycles constantly.

Clinton couldn’t even be bothered to hold a press conference or to try and demand air time.

The media has not been unfair to Trump.  He is an attention whore and the media paid him in spades.

Donald Trump is his own worst enemy.  He is unfair to himself by not thinking about the words he says before he says them.

Or tweets them.

I see 10 minutes ago, Trump tweeted out that Jackson was dead before the Civil War, but saw it coming and could’ve stopped it had he been alive.

Just let it go.

Think about your words.

I think about mine.

And I’m just a lowly blogger who writes for kicks.

But at least I know words matter.

Tired


When we first got this dog early last year, the major challenge was getting him to go outside.  He’s a pretty smart dog, so it didn’t take him long to figure out that is what he was supposed to do.

Communicating it to us was the next step.

So he would sit down facing the door and look back at us with his (literally) puppy dog eyes.  It was up to us to notice this message he was sending.

If we didn’t notice, he found a corner.  So I tried hard to notice.

He then moved into this tactic of getting our attention first.  He would get in my face or stand on my chest and start licking me in order to get my attention.  He would then go to the ottoman, sit down, and look back at me.

He would also do this while I was sleeping.  He would stand on my chest and lick me.  Wait for me to wake up.  And then go sit on the bed facing the door and look back at me.  I tried not to get mad, but this guy was waking me up.

I rarely get enough sleep.

I am positive I got frustrated more than once.

He would wake me up even if my wife was awake and watching television in the living room.

So, a few weeks ago, he took on a new tactic.

I generally sleep on my side, so this guy started coming up behind me and resting his head on my neck.  That’s it.  And he would leave it there until he knew I was awake.  He’s done this every night for weeks.

And then go to the end of the bed, face the door, and look back toward me.

My point?

None.

At.

All.

Except I found it a cute story.

And this dog is considerately smart.

And it ties to this song I currently have on heavy rotation.

Be good.

Repeal, Replace, and Profit?


I stumbled across this today.

It’s timely as the Trump Administration insists that it is closer to a new health care plan with which to replace the ACA.

Here’s the link.  But I’m going to go ahead and drop the table listed in this opensecrets.org table.  It lists lobbyist spending for the first quarter of 2017.

Organization 2016 Quarter 1 2017Quarter 1 Percent Change
US Chamber of Commerce $22,925,000.00 $24,765,000.00 8.03%
National Assn of Realtors $11,999,165.00 $10,187,567.00 -15.10%
PhRMA $5,982,500.00 $8,068,750.00 34.87%
American Medical Assn $6,810,000.00 $7,040,000.00 3.38%
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $6,304,994.00 $6,270,000.00 -0.56%
American Hospital Assn $5,665,214.00 $5,598,210.00 -1.18%
Dow Chemical $4,840,982.00 $5,290,000.00 9.28%
AT&T Inc $4,480,000.00 $4,580,000.00 2.23%
Northrop Grumman $4,740,000.00 $4,300,000.00 -9.28%
Novartis $3,174,116.00 $4,037,954.00 27.22%

Source: https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/04/phrma-shows-biggest-spike-in-lobbying-spending-in-first-quarter-of-president-trump/

We always say to follow the money, but we never really seem to put two and two together.  So let’s watch in the upcoming days how this new health plan shakes out.  I refuse to call it a healthcare plan because I don’t think the plan will include any aspect of the term “care” in it.

These pharmaceutical companies are not donating to the government for no reason.  They fully expect a return on their investment.

Tell me what the rest of the lobbyists are expecting from the candidate who “self-financed” and was beholden to nobody.  He sure seems to take a lot of money from lobbyists and taxpayers for a person as independent as he claims.

Also, seems that internet service providers, who get to sell your information for profit now, sure seemed to spend some money this quarter.

I’m sure everything will be fine.

The Y-Axis Amendment


As I wrote in my last post, the intention of the Constitution, when written, was to design a system in which only two parties could control the entirety of thought in America.  The intention was so that revolution couldn’t easily come from within the system.

Considering that the Constitution came on the heels of a revolution, those people were trying to write a system that sounded good even if it wasn’t.  They were trying to avoid future revolutions.  To be real, too many people have put their hands into it.  The Constitution has been taken apart and analyzed and given so many meanings that I’m not sure anybody is really all that fair to it.

The largest problem, if we wish to evolve as a society, is that America is not a democracy.  Even if we wish to say it is a representative democracy, it doesn’t represent all that many people.  Today, after being bastardized, this democracy really only represents the elite and corporations.  I’ll argue that it’s being true to its intentions even if not true to the wonderful words we memorize in school.

I put an x-axis up on my last post.  This is how we are forced to look at thought in today’s society.  We have tagged ideologies as either “left” or “right” from center.  We have even labeled people as “moderates” or “centrists” or “extremists” in order to determine degrees from the center they are.  But it’s not really fair to pin people down on how they think and how they are represented in this government.  That’s not democracy.  That’s team sports.

coordinates

The above graph is the same graph I used to isolate the x-axis before.  Even if not measurable, people don’t think on the same line from one another.  There should be a way to think above or below the line and still be represented.

But if you try to introduce a third party into the system, we are simply putting together a party that cannot compete at any level so it gets dismissed.  The two parties which run the country and are financed by the biggest of corporations hold unlimited power and are not really beholden to the people they are supposed to represent.

The entire y-axis is being ignored.

I don’t believe much should change at the local level.  Or even to the House.  But the rest of the system is broken.  I do believe, in order to allow for the y-axis of thought, all races should change to highest score wins.  At the very least, the threshold needs to be moved down so that people are not afraid to vote outside the powers that control.

Gerrymandering needs to go.  The local representatives need to represent their neighbors.

First, election day should be a national holiday.  People should be encouraged to vote and should be automatically registered when they turn 18.  Why would we discourage people from voting by making them jump hoops or try to find time from their jobs when people are working more hours and more off shifts are common?  I realize that the people in power don’t actually want everybody to vote.  I realize.  But it’s not consistent with the term “democracy” at all.

Second, get rid of the Electoral College.  It doesn’t even make sense anymore.  Maybe it made sense when the distribution of the population over 13 small states was fairly even it kind of made sense.  The Electoral College alienates voters and encourages many voters to not even participate in general elections.  My home state, for instance, generally votes Democrat even though there are large pockets which are very Republican leaning.  These people are discouraged from voting with the current system because they have little influence on the overall outcome of the Presidential race.  Which means they may not participate at the local level at all.

Even if we believe that representation should happen at all levels, then let the states be proportionally allocated.  You get a proportion of the college from each state.  It’s okay.

Next, if we are supposed to be a representative democracy, then why is the Senate winner take all seats?  This is where I believe the biggest change needs to happen.

There are 100 Senate seats.  The people should vote each year and allocate so many seats to each party.  This would actually be a representative democracy.  It really does not make sense for Delaware to have as many Senate seats as California or New York.  The representation at that level is not distributed appropriately.

Let’s say four parties are running.  For simplicity’s sake, let’s call them parties A, B, C, and D.  Each voter would select a party for whom to vote and then rank choice the preference for who should lead that party at the Senate level.

If Party D only gets 2% of the vote, they only get two seats in the Senate, but they will get to represent a proper amount of the population.  If Party A pulls in 41% of the vote, that’s how many seats they get to fill.  Not a majority, but at least they will have to work with the other parties to pass legislation and confirmations- because those should always stay at a majority.

We need to get rid of Citizens United in order for this to work.

The wealthy already get more advantages in this world than the rest of us.  Why should they get a larger say in the political process?

A major problem with the system today is that parties are not only financed at a high level, but they are also driven from the national level.  Top-down politics has taken away from true representation in our system.  Representation should be bottom-up.  Grass roots politics has never really existed in our system.

This shouldn’t be important:

KasieHuntTweet

We shouldn’t be worried about labels.  We should be worried about ideas.  We should take concern with what the big picture of the candidate.  With the petty two party system that exists today, we get caught up in simple ideas.

What should matter is that our representatives should reach back into the community, and be required to do this, in order to properly represent the region from which they came.

Our senators should, in our ever shrinking world, be required to hold online meetings in order to truly represent those who voted that person into office.

What should be required is that we should be involved and not discouraged.

Even if you find politics petty and boring, it should be accessible.

I remember back in fifth grade as we sat around learning about the people who decided to break away from England because they wanted to form a more perfect system.  I remember the words they used to charge up their base.

Taxation without representation.

Why do those words mean even less now?

Because I am a middle aged man who has never felt represented.  If you want to tell me those words were hollow, I’ll believe you.  Because they didn’t believe that all men were created equal.  They didn’t believe in the words “We the people…” and they certainly didn’t write on behalf of the poor or women or slaves.

But it doesn’t mean we cannot demand a better democracy.

In fact, I believe we should take those words above all else and demand a form of government which represents the people more often and more fairly than ever.

Our taxes deserve a stroll up and down the y-axis.