Burying my head

I’ve not been writing here for some time, distracted by business and now by the fate of the entire frigging world. Given this latter issue, here I’ll wring my sorrows into words, sentences and, if I have any skill left, a paragraph or two that makes some sense.

Let’s talk.

Let’s do.

On Monday, I’m calling my Congressional representatives, Sens. Durkin and (elect) Duckworth and Rep. Randy Hultgren, about the president elect’s choice of Steve Bannon as his close advisor. I’ll let you know how each (or staff) responds.

Bread Bags

Thinking, vaguely, about opening a fundraising campaign to finance science-method research on how long bread bags last as waterproof covers for shoes. #joniernst

A Lesson from Isabel

Once upon a time companies provided pensions but they didn’t want to. So, the 401k was invented and, to get people to sign up, companies promised matching contributi­ons. After a time, many companies stopped making matching contributi­ons because they didn’t like to. (Details here and here.) Then Wall Street fraud bleed our 401ks in part by slipping toxic mortgage bonds into our portfolios­. Retirement portfolios have been battered by the mortgage crisis and subsequent resulting volatility in stock and bond markets.

In the meantime, Social Security didn’t skip a payment. That’s why it’s called a safety net. Do you really want to rely on Wall Street to be your safety net? Ask this question of your Representative or Senator. I’d ask this of my representative but, unfortunately, it’s Joe Walsh and, given his recent performance, I’m afraid his head would explode and by-standers would get hurt. Newt Gingrich’s head, at least egotistically, has already exploded in promoting the privatization of all retirement funds.

Where is all this coming from? David Koch ran as vice president in1980 on a plan to abolish Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and all forms of “welfare” and public education. The results of his failed campaign are being played out today.

Post-1980, Koch and his brother set about to redefine the narrative, the “script” as he called it that politicians follow. The Koches founded the Heritage Foundation, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and more, all organizations that set about to recast the narrative. While this sounds conspiratorial, it’s not. You can look up on ALEC’s web site how mush so-called model legislation, crafted by corporate lobby attorneys, they’ve pushed through state legislatures. The contentious Arizona immigration bill is one. Ohio Governor John Kasich’s anti-union legislation so roundly rejected by voters is another. This isn’t conspiracy: it is history and current events. ALEC Exposed discusses the forces behind ALEC model legislation.

My late grandmother, Isabel, told me why she was staunchly Republican. During the depression, she was offered a job, a great opportunity since she was disabled young by severe arthritis. But, one requisite was she would have to register Democrat. She wouldn’t and didn’t take the job: A stand of principle over self-interest and a stubbornness that defines our family heritage. She also told me that as much as she rejected Franklin D. Roosevelt, that Social Security was the best thing the government had accomplished. Social Security enabled my grandmother to live to 88 with a modicum of dignity. Details here, so we needn’t bandy about percentages of seniors living in poverty before and after enactment. Legitimate dispute may exist on the percentages but no dispute should exist that too many elderly lived shorter lives in poverty before Social Security.

Today’s GOP and its Koch-driven allies simply don’t want to pay towards the earned benefit that is Social Security, promoting some sort of Libertarian Nirvana where we all take care of ourselves. Would that we all had the wherewithal. I don’t like the look of a nation where a huge proportion of elderly live in poverty and I’m willing to live with fractional abuse of the system in order to retain a safety net.

Illicit pressure

I’m essentially OK with the generic, feel good pass this along stuff that comes by on Facebook. What I’m not OK with is the unwarranted pressure.

Look at these two examples, the first arriving from someone I know and love and who has sincere and deep feelings about the effects of cancer on others we both know and love.

May I ask a personal favor…. only some of you will do it, and I know who you are, if you know someone who fought cancer and passed away, or someone who is still fighting… please add this to your status for 1 hour as a mark of respect and remembrance, I hope I was right about the people who will.

Here’s a rewrite lacking the onerous pressure to perform or else “I know who you are!”

May I ask a personal favor? If you know someone who fought cancer and passed away, or someone who is still fighting, please add this to your status for 1 hour as a mark of remembrance and respect.

Unfortunately, neither led to anyplace that would do any good, other than perhaps a moment of satisfaction in thinking a good thought about cancer victims. So, here’s a link where you can put your money where your smug is.

(The link is the obvious pick. Of course, many other worthy organizations would benefit from your largesse.)

Thinking about the thin state of democracy. Here’s what Paul Weyrich* told a meeting of the religious right in Dallas in 1980 about the power of suppressin­­g voter turnouts:

Many of our Christians have what I call the Goo Goo Syndrome: Good Government­­. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been, from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down.

*Weyrich founded the Heritage Foundation and ALEC, where Republican legislator­s learn to write laws to benefit their corporate benefactor­s like the private prison industry.

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.” (That was President Eisenhower, writing to his brother Edgar in 1954.)

A single quote from Mike Lofgren’s article at TruthOut. Recommended reading from a long-time Republican congressional staffer on the state of politics today.

Expecting inconsistency

In 2004 Eric Cantor voted against an amendment to a supplemental disaster relief bill that would require offsetting cuts in other federal discretionary accounts.

Today, he threatens to hold up funding for disaster recovery from Irene, the tornadoes in Joplin and Alabama in pursuit of an obviously new-found ideological purity since it couldn’t be, could it, that there’s another party sitting in the White House.

Give him and the Grand Old Tea Party another inch and we can all earn our way through life with a tin cup in hand.