Thursday, November 8, 2012

Left Of California

What a difference a day makes.     It was startling to wake up Wednesday morning and find myself living in a state Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat described as  "Left of California".    Westneat was referring to the fact that Washington voters appear to be passing Referendum 74,  which legalizes gay marriage and Initiative 502  which legalizes marijuana for adult recreational use.  One of the disadvantages of Washington's vote by mail system is that it sometimes takes longer to get the results.   Since ballots must be accepted and counted if they are post-marked by election day,   most Washington counties will continue counting ballots for I believe up to 14 days before they must submit their results to the secretary of state.   As of Wednesday evening both the marriage and marijuana measures are leading.   The marriage measure is still considered too close to call,   but the marijuana question is projected to win by the newspapers which endorsed it.  (Which is to say most of the major daily newspapers in this state.)   Informed observes expect (as do I) that there will be a federal lawsuit (or perhaps a more friendly state-federal negotiation,  in that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.    (In a previous election,   California voters rejected similar measures on both of these issues.)

However ground-breaking our state's steps towards full civil rights for lesbian and gay citizens and what may hopefully at least be a beginning of a conversation on drug policy reform--  an issue which has never gained any traction despite decades of activism by organizations like NORML,  one thought that struck me while reviewing results from around the country is that while big money has been completely let lose in this election,  big money did not always win.    Connecticut Republican Linda McMahon spent over $40 million of her own fortune,  out-spending her Democratic opponent Chris Murphy by more than two to one.   Murphy easily defeated McMahon.    Likewise in Virginia's Senate contest Democrat Tim Kaine vastly out-raised his Republican opponent, George Allen who received a lot of money from outside groups.   But Kaine narrowly defeated Allen.

It does concern me that we Americans have maintained the divided government that has seen Washington largely grid-locked in recent years.   And yet on Wednesday it sounds almost as though there is a new focus on trying to work together,   seen in remarks by House Speaker John Boehner that sound a bit more conciliatory.    Although the fact that Boehner remains adamant about taxes for the wealthy leaves me to wonder whether there really is any compromise to be had.    I am frankly more glad than I can say for this long, divisive election to finally be over.   And I am trying today to see a future in which we Americans,  from our leaders in Washington all the way down to our friends and neighbors right here at home,  work together to build a better future for all of us.

Monday, November 5, 2012

So Whaddayathink?

When I started this blog,  I certainly didn't see it as a place to write responses to Washington Post columnists.    And yet here I am again.   The Washington Post is the national newspaper I read every day.   I especially like the fact that it is free on the web.   I've written before about moving on from The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times after these newspapers set up paywalls.     I was pleased last week when the New York Times temporarily disabled their paywall to provide free coverage of superstorm Sandy.   And I do occasionally read an occasional piece from the New York Times when the URL is tweeted or linked in a blog post,  either of which seem to bypass the paywall.

I almost spewed coffee on my screen this morning when I read Ed Rogers histrionic diatribe detailing his impending 'brain explosion'  due to the fact that it seems as though President Obama may be re-elected,  despite all of the various 'political dynamics'  which Rogers claim all favor McLame err Romney.    The facts that Rogers cites are in fact real  (the 2010 Republican sweep,  high unemployment) and yet readings his rant,  I find myself wondering if Rogers has been watching some campaign other than the one I have been seeing.     That Romney callously dismisses almost half of all Americans  (the forty-seven percent) was to me the most amazing public comment of the election season.

And despite whatever Mr. Rogers may think,  I assure you at least some of us in that forty-seven percent do vote.   (Our ballots have been turned in for more than a week and in this household we are most anxious for the election to be Over.)   Rogers does end his piece by proclaiming that nothing has been decided and this election is still very much up in the air.   I don't disagree with that.    And if you are a registered voter and you haven't cast your vote yet,  do it today or tomorrow.   Because come Tuesday night,   your opportunity will have passed.    No matter where you live there are almost certainly local, state and national races where you vote may count for a lot,  even in you are not a 'swing voter'  in a 'swing state',   the only voters the Presidential campaigns and all of their press junkies are slavering over.       No excuses.   Go vote.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Who's Younger Now?

I read with great interest Anya Kamenetz's Washington Post article Why young voters aren’t feeling Obama-mania this time.   I think Kamenetz makes a valid point that younger voters are not nearly as enthusiastic for Obama as they were in the election.   She attributes this to Obama's having treated them paternally (for instance it's great that they can stay on their parents insurance until age 26,  but this is clearly a stop gap which merely prolongs their dependence upon their parents.   Which from my perspective at age almost fifty is not really a bad thing.   She also points out how college costs continue to increase dramatically and the increases tend to correspond to increases in student debt.   While a great deal of attention was paid to the interest rates charged,  Kamenetz points out that the net changes to federal higher education funding granted students 6 million dollars more in benefits while costing students 20 million dollars more in costs (from the elimination of grace periods to other changes in the fee structures of student loans).   Even this non-math major can quickly note that that is a 14%  net increase for students.    She also suggests that much of the energy that went into the Obama campaign last time was spent on the Occupy Wall Street movement this time around.

I'm sure that there is some truth in all of these claims and I would not in any way attempt to refute them.   However it seems to me that Kamenetz overlooks some other things that I think are needed to have a full understanding of 'the enthusiasm gap among young voters'.    The thing is,  young voters are an ever changing group of individuals.   Today's first time young voter will some,  thirty or forty years hence,  be in the cohort of voters who have just retired.    Comparing cohorts across election cycles is a perfectly reasonable endeavor.    But I think it is important to bear in mind how age-based or generational cohorts are constantly adding and subtracting members as people are born,  grow older and at some point die.  

Any election takes place at a moment in time and what sometimes bothers me about Kamenetz's analysis was how much she personalized her theories based on her own experiences in the 2008 Obama campaign and later on Occupy Wall Street.    And I do think she is right that if Obama were to focus on the real concerns of 20-somethings in a way that is empowering rather than paternal they would stand ready to be called on to vote.    It's certainly advice that I hope someone in the Obama campaign is heeding.     I find myself very very ready for this election to be over.    I try rather hard not to talk about politics on any of my other blogs.   And I try not to promote this blog on most of my social networks,   partly since it is a very occasional thing when I feel compelled to write about political things.....that I don't ever want my other blogs and social networks to become infected with.      (I made a conscious decision on my other blogs Not to talk a lot about my politics and to try to actively gather followers who did not necessarily agree with me about Anything but were willing to respectfully discuss topics of mutual interest.    I cherish my Conservative Christian Republican virtual friends.)  

My friend Wayne,  who is a very sharp radio host and business book reviewer,  was one of several people who suggested to me,  in reply to my talk about attempting to write fiction,  that I might be better served by recognizing my talent for writing essays and concentrating on what I like to do and have a real talent for,  rather than investing a lot of time in a type of writing that I really don't seem to have much talent for.    Part of me worries a bit that this essay is a bit too personal for this political blog.    Yet it is definitely too political for my personal blog.    And what I love about the fact that we can each of us have an almost unlimited number of completely free that there is nothing to stop anyone from posting to all the blogs they would like.    There is no real resource limit.   Which I have to say seems really cool to me  :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Social Security is lifelline when you can no longer work due to disability

It seems to me I hear so called "conservatives"  getting all riled up about wanting to rip apart America's social safety net.     I really pray that they never manage to.     As a multiply-disabled person  I very sadly came to a point where my health did not permit me to continue in my library job.     Fortunately,   I was experienced with the process of applying for Social Security benefits and understood going in that even if they approved me their version of "right away"  it could still easily be a year before I received my first check,  so as soon as I was off the payroll I went to my local DSHS office  and applied for "medically needy"  benefits.    Since my income was zero and I have no real assetts,   they immediately approved me for food stamps.   After my "psych evaluation" interview with the DSHS in house psychologist they stamped my file "bi-polar"   and quickly issued me a medicaid health insurance card which allowed me to get routine health care at a local clinic.    Even though I was on welfare,  I had a primary care provider who saw me every visit and made referrals for my other serious health needs like a hearing evaluation and replacement hearing aid and a diabetic visual exam and new glasses.

In my gut,   when my local welfare office approved me right away on my first application for the small ($329 per month) cash stipend and the medicaid card,  I knew immediately that social security would approve my claim rather quickly for them.    Yesterday I went into my local social security office to bring in some documentation which was required and meet with my case worker.    Who handed me a letter stating that Social Security will begin paying me $1228 per month on the second Wednesday of each month.    First direct deposit will be September 8th.     During the nine months it took Social Security to approve me,  they determined I was entitled to benefits of over $5,000 dollars of which $2,000 some odd will go back to the welfare department and a direct deposit for the balance will post to my bank account within 7--10 days.

I got my first job when I was sixteen years old.   And while there were times that I did not work for one reason or another,   I  clocked more than 20 years of full-time employment and a handful of years of part time work.    And in every single job I've had over the last thirty years I have paid OASDI  (Old Age, Survivors and Diability) and Medicare taxes on every dollar that I ever earned.    Those  taxes which I paid in theory defray the cost of providing for me now that I am unable to work.     Social Security is, imho,  a contract that says if you work hard you have the right to be taken care of when you get old or become unable to work.     Social Security means that we don't leave people to die out in the streets when they are unable to work.     Disabilities can take many different forms.     But  it really comforts me to know that Social Security will allow me to retire with a little dignity and enough money to get by.   

Have you or a family member ever had to go on disability?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's Not Misogyny. Really It Isn't.

I don't read as many magazines as I used to. I've let all of my subscriptions run out and only occasionally do I make an effort to pull a few back issues of titles that interest me and check them out and bring them home to read. (Current issues of magazines can only be read in the library and may not be checked out.) So it is that I am a little late in reading and responding to Newsweek magazine's feature Hear Her Roar (Newsweek March 17, 2008).

I was saddened and frustrated when I learned in Tina Brown's lead essay that many middle aged women in Ohio had been drawn to work on Hillary's campaign because of the perceived misogyny, gender discrimination and "good old boys glass ceiling" they see in the opposition to Ms. Clinton's presidential ambitions. It feels a it like the old trick question "...and when did you stop beating your wife?". To make a point of publicly stating as I do here and now that I fully support gender equality and would definitely vote for a female candidate for President of the United States, were I satisfied with her record of achievements, her policies and priorities and her character and competence seems, to me, to give the impression that such a proclamation is merely pro-forma and intended as a fig leaf to legitimize the clear cut calls for misogyny and discrimination soon to come.

Hillary Clinton has a long history, as a lawyer, as a political spouse and power behind the throne and as a United States Senator of never failing to put the interests of Big Business over the interests of ordinary Americans, and indeed above all other interests save her political ambitions which to me seem so clearly the one high principle Ms. Cinton has always been consistently devoted to.

I oppose Sentaor Clinton's candidacy because of her strong financial ties to Wall Street, her insurance company enrichment program err failed National Health Care program and because I can clearly foresee a Hillary presidency netting us eight more years or paralytic partisan gridlock in Washington and a nightly replay of all new versions of all of the trumped up bullshit scandals of the Bill Clinton years. Near the beginning of this campaign I stated in this post that I believed that nominating Hillary was the only way the Democrats could possibly lose and nothing that has happened since then has caused me to reconsider that conclusion.

It seems to me perfectly reasonable to oppose Ms. Clinton's candidacy on the basis of her policies, past performance and enormous political baggage. And it occurs to me that we will be a lot further along the road to gender equality those Ohio women claim to want when it is safe to o without be regarded as anti-feminist trying to roll back the tide of gender equality.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Not The Oval I Was Expecting To Blacken

I find myself holding and examining my Washington state Primary Election Ballot with considerably more interest and hope than I would have anticipated feeling at this point in this election cycle. I had previously conceived and written of a plan to vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary (see The Complex Calculus of One Man's Vote). I find that I can't do that.

One thing that many people I respect have agreed on is that what will be needed most in the next President is someone who can work across party and ideological lines to actually get the People's business done, something that just is Not generally happening in the current Administration. And I had been So afraid that the Terry McAwful wing of the Hackocracy was gonna succeed in pushing Hillary, the only Demo who could Lose in November on an Inveitablity path to the ticket, and am thrilled that Obama has staged a decisive Saturday Sweeps across a very diverse bunch of states and has the wind at his back going into the next rounds. And it
begins to look to me as though we may be shaping up to a November choice of Obama vs McCain, Either of whom is a zillion times more likely than any of the other choices in their respective parties to be able to unify the country and work with both sides to get things done.

Which brings me back to my Washington Primary ballot and my decision to blacken a different oval than the one I had decided upon back in October when I was trying to generate some political discussion and started a Ron Paul for President group, just to generate some discussion. And I had thought I would support a long shot candidate as a gesture to his onine supporters who all seemed new to political involvement and genuinely moved by their candidate to become actively involved in the political process, which I quite applaud, even while having great reservations about their candidate and being unpersuaded by their arguments in his favor.

Obama has secured two thirds of Washington's delegates to the Democratic National Convention and party officials have cleary announced that the upcoming primary election will NOT count for any delegates. Meanwhile McCain is leading Huckabee by a whisker and is expected to carry the state but the 18 delegates allocated by the caucus are split among four candidates, including Romney who has already dropped out of the race. The results of the Republican primary will be used to allocate 19 additional delegates and a win for McCain could be critical to his success.

And so with an eye towards a new President who can work with both sides and get things done, I have darkened the oval next to Sen. John McCain--R on my Republican primary ballot. I will drop it off at city hall on my way to work once they are open to receive them next week. And will be anxiously continuing to follow the results. And I will do so, feeling much more hopeful about the future than I had expected to feel at this point.

Friday, January 4, 2008

And So It Begins

Iowa has spoken and the Presidential campaign now kicks into high gear. With the primaries so front loaded we may well be discussing the actual nominees and debating the general before Spring is sprung, and I find I am once again interested in writing about politics.

Those who've read my previous posts already know that I am at heart an Edwards man, though due to a peculiarity in the political process I am planning to take a Republican ballot in the primary and vote for Ron Paul, whom I don't actually support and would Never vote for in the general. (If this is confusing to you click here.) The media seem to be trying to spin Edwards' second place finish in Iowa as the death knell of his campaign (even though he placed ahead of the horrid Hillary whom they are not rushing to write off). But the fat lady isn't even warming up yet so clearly the media is per usual being premature in an attempt to sway the race to their corporate keepers' benefit and I continue to hold out hope of darkening an oval for John in November. But if Obama succeeds in using his bounce from Iowa to win again in New Hampshire, I may well jump right onto his bandwagon and begin flogging him like mad.

As for Huckabee, I will only say that I hope he continues to win and becomes the R's nominee since I am 101% certain that Americans are NOT under any circumstances whatsoever going to elect another Arkansas governor, let alone a frickin' Baptist preacher.

And all of this discussion of the early race quite fails to address what the real end game will be. Yesterday on Blog Catalog, for the first time in ages we had an interesting political thread when momoftwingirls posed the question "Do you think GWB will cancel the election and declare martial law?"

Few if any respondents considered this a likely scenario, but the question did lead us to consider the final outcome of the election. MadameX said that she had actually expected the 'cancel the election and declare martial law'-trick to be pulled last time and that she had not considered the possibility this time around as she is much less interested in the outcome of this one. I replied:

I did expect it in the last election and was not surprised that Ohio turned into another Florida instead. Who knows which state will be the surprise place it all turns out to hinge on but in my observation of the current ruling regime, they seem very much dedicated to the "stick to what worked before" school or totalitarian government. I personally will be shocked if we do Not have another outcome that boils down to The Supremes singing their classic hit "The Republicans Really Won Again" to the tune "Here He Comes Again" in the key of Rove.

And that's the real question, isn't it? Not 'whom will the voters select?' but rather 'how will the powers that be rig the outcome this time?' Since my political interest has been re-awakened I will probably be posting regularly about the horse race on this blog. But honestly, I will be shocked if the person actually selected by the majority of US voters takes the oath next January and moves to Pennsylvania Avenue. That hasn't actually happened in more than a decade.