This week I coud not decide on a blog topic. I wanted to write about the NRA anti-gun control lobby, the more than 30,000 deaths from gun violence every year and 3,833 or more since Newtown. I also wanted to write that the NRA, Republicans (and some Democrats) in Congress have given criminals and terrorists a free ride by blocking passage of a law requiring universal background checks for gun buyers, but that would have been too depressing.
Then I stumbled across this article which gave me a reason to laugh – hysterically!!! (Well – I recently attended a performance s”The Book of Morman” on Broadway and could not help thinking of the scene in which the newly converted Mormons demonstrated their understanding of the “quiverful” of kids, in a way of speaking.)
How will those couples feed and clothe this “quiverfull” of kids after paying taxes at a tax rate up to 30% on declining incomes? What about education and health care? But if they are Mormons, they should do just fine. They will probably qualify for free food from the Mormon’s considerable food pantry (they would not be takers, just good Mormons). Maybe some would become rich like Mitt Romney, and I suppose there is a middle somewhere? True, I expect that Mitt was speaking to a largely Mormon audience, but for the rest of us who are suffering under the harsh reality of sequestration and the “Republican” austerity plan, that advice is just plain stupid. Strong word. But stupid works for me right now.
And because this whole Republican anti-Obama thing is so discouraging, here’s a little pick me up.
Until recently, I had hoped that congress would find a way to stop the drastic and unnecessary spending cuts that sequestration would unleash. Now that many federal agencies have mailed furlough notices to thousands of federal workers promising pay cuts of 10-20 percent, there is no longer any hope that those drastic and irrational pay cuts will be avoided.
While there are many sources of financial advice available, one online site I particularly like is https://www.balancepro.net/services/index.html, which has lots of strategies for living on a reduced income. And it may also be useful to read Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler’s fine article, “The Five Stages of Grief.” As I discovered, I have been experiencing the five stages of grief in the months following President Obama’s reelection.
Stage 1. Denial. According to the authors, denial is the first stage of grief. It is “nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.” Well, there is no longer any room for denial. We may have avoided a government shut down, but sequestration is now a reality, and children and families will be hurt.
Stage 2. Anger. I am astounded by the hypocrisy of the newly converted fiscal conservatives who would cut school lunch and head start programs, but not ask even the uber-rich to pay more than a 15% income tax rate. And where were these fiscal conservatives when the previous administration was spending our tax dollars like a group of drunken sailors? I am stuck in this phase, but working on anger management strategies.
Stage 3. Bargaining. This I have no inclination to do, not now or ever. I want the President to show the crazies on Capitol Hill that he is not a patsy. I want him to stand tall, firm and reasonable, but know that he cannot be reasonable with unreasonable people.
Stage 4. Depression. This dragon is hard to slay once he gets his foot in the door, so I have resolved to find joy – every day.
Stage 5. Acceptance. I am trying. Mightily. And if there is no last minute reprieve from sequestration, I will institute my own version of the sequester with a 10 percent reduction in spending. Notice I used the word “if” just now, so perhaps I am still in the denial phase.
My sequestration list -
Vacation – OUT. No sleeping in a Marriott hotel for me.
Staycation – IN. There will be lots of empty museums around, so no crowds to worry about.
Walking – IN. Perhaps I’ll catch a glimpse of Bo, but even Bo is under attack. No more frolicking with the groundskeeper near the First Lady’s garden. I wonder who walked Millie?
The gym – IN. I know, this is not a necessity, but…
All restaurants – OUT. (Except for the hot dog and popcorn vendors, and the mom and pop food trucks.)
Bag lunches - IN
Shopping in stores and malls – OUT
Dieting – IN
Beauty/Barber Shop – IN. Need to keep up appearances.
Credit Union – IN (less fees)
Suzie Ormon – IN
Big ticket household items and small ones too – OUT
Yard sales – IN
Movies and the theater – OUT
Paid entertainment (hockey, football, soccer, basketball) – OUT
Free entertainment – IN
Premier cable channels – OUT
Netflix and the public library – IN
Relocating/home renovating/downsizing – OUT
New car – OUT
White House Tour – OUT (sequestration)
White House Easter Egg Roll and the First Lady’s vegetable garden tour – IN
Christmas – OUT. (Except for Christmas Eve service at the National Cathedral).
New Year celebration 2014 – OUT
Tithing at church and other charities – CUT up to 20 percent.
33% federal and state taxes – ALL in by tomorrow, April 15.
Student loan repayment – definitely IN
Doctors visits – IN
Elective surgery – OUT
Dental visits – IN
Cosmetic dental visits – OUT
I expected to feel empowered after completing this list, but while I experienced a sense of control over my own choices, I became concerned about the impact of sequestration on those families who must cut not only discretionary spending but basic necessities – rent, utilities, medicine, food and transportation? And will this ill-advised austerity create jobs, which is what the economy needs to get the long-term unemployed back to work? I have no answers, and this loss of control threatens to drive me into the fiery embrace of the dragon of Stage 4.
What upsets me most is the absence of reason.
Oh happy day!!
I am amazed at how much has changed in one year and how much stays the same.
I started this blog because I had begun to despair about the insanity of the primary election campaign, the absence of truth and integrity, and the galling hypocrisy of many of the Republican candidates. But most of all they were uncaring. And as the general election progressed, my despair deepened. But like many, we worked hard to sort out the issues that really mattered and hoped that this time things would be different. In the end, the lies were exposed for what they were, and we dodged a bullet by reelecting President Obama! Take that Mitch McConnell! You lost! And the country won.
What has not changed is that the threat of gridlock still looms with endless battles to come – confirmation hearings, the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, immigration, and so on. And now I am exhausted by the Republican House and its inability to come to the middle – on anything it seems. One part of me would like the intransigent Tea Party Republicans to stay on the fringe where they will become fossils, like my eight-track tape. The other part of me would like to see our country move forward in an economy in which everyone gets a fair shot. So out of desperation, my despair is tinged with hope.
One would think that after the bodies of 20 little children were riddled with bullets from a semi-automatic rifle shot by one man at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the country would be in such an uproar that sensible gun laws would be a no-brainier. Instead, we have this man suggesting the federal government pay for armed guards in every school, and others who suggest we arm teachers instead of enacting sensible gun control laws. These are the same teachers whose salaries are stagnant, and whose unions are being decimated by Republicans in many states.
At long last, have you left no sense of decency? Have you no sense of decency Sir?
And this man-
So enactment of sensible gun laws has to be the next frontier – even before we get to immigration reform and a host of other issues on the President’s plate. There is no absolute right to have an assault weapon enshrined in the Constitution. If it is against the law to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, we can also limit the right to possess a gun that no one in their right mind believes is necessary for hunting animals. We should leave the Wild Wild West behind where it belongs.
It is time for gun control and of assault weapons in particular. As President Obama suggested tonight, the mass murder of 20 little children in Newtown is perhaps too high a price to pay for freedom. So I hope this atrocity is a game changer. And I also hope President Obama stands by his word to use whatever power he has to do something. Those of us who are tired of the madness agree and must stand behind him.
Yes, there is a right to bear arms, but not this type of assault weapon. According to this article, the shooter in Newtown pumped eleven bullets into each child. Is this acceptable? To anyone? Do the folks who manufacture, distribute and sell these weapons bear no responsibility?
And while we are doing something about the glut of assault weapons, we should also look at providing effective mental health care for young people like this shooter. Too often, there is no help for families unless the child who has a mental health problem is charged with a crime. Here is one mother’s story in her own words -
“When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”
We can do more. We should do more.
Why Romney was surprised to lose: His campaign had the wrong numbers, bad assumptions, and underestimated Barack Obama’s campaign team. – Slate Magazine
This article from Slate magazine is the best analysis I have read on Obama’s 2012 victory. Especially striking was the Romney team’s failure to understand or accurately predict the African – American vote, especially in Ohio, as the article notes.
We did everything we set out to do,” says a top strategist about the Ohio effort. “We just didn’t expect the African-American vote to be so high.” African-American participation in Ohio jumped from 11 percent of the electorate to 15 percent between the 2008 and 2012 elections. “We could never see that coming. We thought they’d gotten a lot last time.”
In the age of instant communication, the Republican race-baiting was bound to backfire, because any attempt to suppress the vote of black voters touches a raw nerve with African-Americans. For four years, they have listened to, and cringed at the race-baiting attempts to de-legitimize Mr. Obama’s presidency. They ached at the silence of the Republican leadership. The final straw was blatant voter suppression – of the African-American vote in particular. So on election day, they had their chance to speak, and made their voices heard loud and clear, along with the rest of the Democratic coalition.
And while the Hispanic blowback is being rehashed over and over in many circles, it is refreshing to read the following-
In the post-election analysis, the Romney ticket’s problems with Hispanic voters are well-known. During the primaries, Romney ran so far to the right on immigration he lost a platform to even woo Hispanic votes. But African-Americans are treated as if they are in a category altogether unaffected by the campaign. They were going to vote for Obama no matter what. There’s a little John Sununu-like thinking in this. The former New Hampshire governor suggested that Colin Powell was supporting Barack Obama because of his race. (When Condoleezza Rice said that the party sent “mixed messages,” that must have been what she was talking about.) It’s worth noting though, that if you were an African-American voter, there were plenty of other reasons to vote against Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. Donald Trump has loudly championed that idea that Barack Obama is illegitimate. It was a goofy charge, but one that has cultural resonance with a segment of society whose members have often been discriminated against through the types of disqualification-hunts that Donald Trump engaged in so vigorously. Mitt Romney embraced no other fundraiser with as much public gusto as he did Trump. The energetic attempts by Republicans in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida to limit voting in a way that disproportionately penalizes African-American neighborhoods might also have helped turn out the Democratic base. What role these acts played is not entirely clear, but it certainly didn’t hurt the Obama team’s effort to inspire African-American voters.
On Tuesday night, Mitt Romney’s campaign and the parallel universe he lived in along with Rush Limbaugh, Carl Rove, Donald Trump and Fox news collapsed, like a dirty soap bubble.
And they did not see it coming.
Mitt Romney and his posse tried to convince us that Jeep was moving production to China, Mr. Obama did not rescue the automobile industry, and the color of the sky was green not blue. His cronies with fat wallets tried to purchase the election with their millions. Sympathetic employers tried to intimidate workers into voting for Mitt Romney. Your vote or your job is what they said, and there was no law to stop them. In some States, voter intimidation and voter suppression was rampant.
All of this happened in the United States of America – the country that should be the shining example of fair and free elections around the world. At the end, I hung my head in shame and hoped that the American people would see through Mitt Romney’s lies.
And they did. They flocked to the polls in droves, stood in long, cold, unforgiving lines and reelected President Obama for four more years.
Through all of this, I read Nate Silverman’s column and examined his projections and analysis every day. They were solid. He seemed reasonable, so there was room for hope. But the President’s team had more than hope; they had the data and the facts, and they ran a solid campaign that was not built on blatant lies.
So Mr. President, I was crying too on election night, but they were tears of joy and gratitude. Thank you for all you have done and will do in the next four years.
And here is the best thing. You will have the support of a majority of the American people – 61,170,405 votes, and you have won 332 electoral votes, including Florida. This was a shellacking indeed. And the next best thing in all of this is that you did not need Florida this time. But even so, the people of Florida were not having Mitt Romney either. Not this time.
We have your back.