First off, let me say that I tend to be pessimistic about most aspects of American politics. I was pessimistic about the chances of Obama winning re-election in 2012. And I was totally wrong about that. So, grain of salt and all that.

I’m not optimistic about Bernie Sanders.

Everyone I know on the left is super excited about Bernie. And why not? I get it. I love what he has to say too. But I’m not so sure the general American public is ready for him. The Bernie supporters that I’ve spoken to claim that it is. Perhaps they’re encouraged by Obama getting elected and then re-elected. But Obama has spent his presidency governing more like a moderate Republican, and half the country STILL believes that he is an evil Communist. So I’m a little worried about the chances of a self-proclaimed Socialist.

And I’m very worried about the chances of Scott Walker getting the Republican nomination, since that is the direction I believe the GOP is heading in. Scott Walker makes me nervous. I’m an American worker, and he’s got a legacy of either doing or trying to do awful things to the workers in his state. Keep in mind, this is the pessimist talking–I believe he could win the whole thing. I think he could easily beat Bernie, as Scott has a way of pretending that he’s a centrist during his campaigns. He will portray himself as the moderate and Bernie as the fringe candidate.

What are some of the things I fear a President Walker doing? Reclassifying overtime pay law, so that fewer jobs qualify for it. Killing the weekend and the 40 hour work week, as the Republicans in Wisconsin wanted to do. Repealing the ACA. Privatizing Medicare. I don’t buy for a second that there wouldn’t be any difference between a Hillary presidency and a Walker presidency. Yeah, most Democrats are part of the corporate system too, but none of them are going to go after the average worker in the aggressive way that Walker will.

Of course, Bernie would be perfect at addressing all these issues. Sadly, America just isn’t progressive enough for him. Maybe there’s been a deeper and faster demographic shift than I realized. Otherwise, I don’t see it.

I should add that if Bernie does become the Democratic nominee, I will definitely support him and put time and effort into working for his election. Until then, I remain cautious.

One thing is for sure–volunteering for Hillary’s local campaign should be a lot of fun. I expect to get abuse from both sides, the conservatives *and* the Bernie supporters. Bring it on! I’ve always enjoyed a good debate.

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So it seems we are now deep in the doldrums of a presidency. I guess this is what people mean when they say the second term is always a problem.

And a problem it is indeed. I’m not happy about a lot of things. I’m not happy about the situation with Russia. I’m not happy with the IRS losing e-mails. I’m not happy about the flood of kids coming across our border, although in that case I’m unhappy with both sides for a muddled immigration policy. And I’m very unhappy about the conditions at the VA.

And, with all that being said, I still don’t regret my vote for the President’s re-election. With all the things I’m unhappy about, would I have voted for Romney/Ryan? Nope. I would not have voted for someone who would’ve done his best to repeal the ACA–definitely not voted for someone whose budget plan would have cut Medicare and Social Security. And I would not have voted for someone who would possibly have gotten us involved in another war with Iran.

Politicians are flawed, so they will not always make me happy. As long as I’m less unhappy than I was during the W years, it’s all good. Happiness, after all, is the absence of pain. It will remain to be seen what Obama’s legacy will be in the end, and we will not be able to determine that until his presidency is over and some time has passed. All I know is that one day, when we have a Republican in the White House again? I will miss this guy soooooo much.

For your enjoyment, here is an inspiring video from a guy clearly angling to be a 2016 presidential candidate:

I like the American flag flapping patriotically in the breeze at the beginning of the ad–nice touch–but if Ted really wants to run for national office, he needs to stop stealing slogans from other campaigns.  The “Yes We Can” thing has been done before.  And in the rest of his CPAC speech, Ted also mentions “Hope and Change” as his motto, and finishes his performance with “morning in America”.  I get that borrowing the Obama stuff is meant to be sarcastic, but I can tell you from personal experience that sarcasm will only get you so far.  This man needs his own slogans.  And they shouldn’t be Dr. Seuss quotes, either.

Unfortunately, I’m not very helpful in this regard.  I’m terrible at trying to come up with ideas for Ted.  He certainly has policy positions he can write slogans about, but they don’t sound very catchy.  There’s Obamacare–“It’s Finally Working!  Let’s Repeal It!”  There’s his call to abolish the IRS–you could go with “Sick And Tired Of Roads!” or “Food Stamps Are For Losers”.  I’m pretty sure Ted is in favor of privatizing Medicare and Social Security, so perhaps an empowering chant of “Old People Can Make It!” might be nice, or even an #oldpeoplestrong, a la Boston Strong.  And since the GOP is trying to repackage old moral values and sell them to the millennials, maybe a suggestive ad with two beautiful people and the tagline “Conservatives–Making Sex Feel Dirty Again” would do the trick.

Finally, a slogan to help Ted market himself to his fellow Latinos–“Build The Wall And Kick Them Out!”

So you can see the problem.  I really do suck at this.  Luckily for Ted, he will have professionals doing this kind of work for him.  Let’s hope they come up with something that has at least a bit of an original ring to it.

April Fools has come and gone, yet people continue to promote ideas so ludicrous I can only assume they’re pranks being played on us.  Perhaps this entire year should be dedicated to the Fool.  Here are some of the best jokes so far:

Paul Ryan:  “My plan to replace Medicare with a voucher was such a huge success, I’m totally going to bring it back.”

Chris Christie:  “I’m innocent!  My lawyer buddy says so.”

Sarah Palin:  “The Republican budget plan doesn’t cut enough benefits for the poor!”

Paul Ryan again:  “The pre-existing condition clause of the Affordable Care Act is wildly popular.  But I’m sure nobody will mind if we repeal it.”

Ann Coulter:  “If they really want to endear themselves to the voters, conservatives should keep making comments about rape.  For instance–immigration is just like rape.”  (Thanks to the Kavalkade Krew for drawing my attention to this one.)

Vladimir Putin:  “Ukrainians long to be freed by their beloved Russian brothers.”

Kim Jong Un:  “I haven’t done enough executions.  Let’s try one with a flame thrower.”

Miley Cyrus:  “America is in love with my sexiness!”

Ted Cruz:  “America is in love with my intellect!”

If this is any indication of what this year will be like, I will spend the rest of it in constant fits of laughter…or weeping.  I haven’t yet decided which.

When I criticize Fox News for being biased, I frequently get the response from avid Fox watchers that Fox is not biased, it is in fact objective, especially as compared to the liberally slanted “lamestream” media.

But then there’s stuff like this article about the sequester.  The article actually states:  “Republicans want to replace the current regime of cuts with different, more sensible, cuts.”

Huh? Now keep in mind, this is a news article, not opinion.  Last time I heard, the Republican version of “sensible” involved going after Social Security and Medicare as a first priority.  Going after the elderly, sick and disabled, who already don’t have very much, is not sensible.  Especially if you refuse to consider any other sources of revenue.

And just as importantly, saying that one party is “more sensible” than the other is clearly opinion and bias.  I can’t imagine a news source like the BBC, for instance, injecting a phrase like this into their reporting, without it being a quote from somebody else.  I can imagine MSNBC using this kind of wording, but then I’m fully willing to admit that MSNBC is biased in the liberal direction–that’s why I enjoy watching them so much.

Perhaps those who watch Fox should also be able to admit that it’s not objective and that is why they love it.

 

A couple years ago, my mother became one of the uninsured.  My father got a new job and his employer’s health care plan does not cover spouses or children. 

On a quest to find health care coverage that we could afford while paying our other bills, she applied for an individual insurance plan…only to be rejected because she had once been seen by a doctor for liver pain.  Mind you, no serious or ongoing liver problems, just a one-time visit.  Now, if she applies for any other individual insurance, her application will have to state that she has been previously rejected by another insurance company (there is a question on insurance applications which requires this), pretty much guaranteeing that no other plan will accept her. 

So, since paying the full premium for the employer coverage is not affordable for her, Mom claims she is fine with not having any insurance.  The thing that scares me the most is that I know perfectly well she is the kind of person who will pretend that she is doing great, even if she happens to be sick or in pain.  She doesn’t want anyone else to worry about her and will sacrifice herself before she does anything that would endanger her family’s financial future.

I hear a lot of people talking about how government health care will take away our liberty.  My question is this:  exactly what kind of liberty will it take away from my Mom?  The liberty not to get medical treatment?  The liberty to lose our house and everything we have if she gets seriously ill?  The liberty to live with the stress and worry of that?  Are those the exciting freedoms I have heard so much about?  What choices would single payer take away?  If I get sick under the current private health care system, I will go to the doctor and get treated for it (if I can afford it).  If I get sick under single payer, I will go to the doctor and get treated for it.  The health care system will make absolutely no difference in the choices I make, except that I won’t have to panic about the money side of things.  Are there really exotic treatment options that I’m not aware of that will disappear if government health care comes in?   

The solution which always gets trotted out in this country in response to desperate situations is that of private charity.  My mother’s answer to any such conversations is to snap, “I shouldn’t have to beg for my health care.”  And she’s right—she shouldn’t.

Thankfully, there is a real solution, and it’s a lifesaver for us.  My parents are both in their 60s, so the time when they will be able to get on Medicare is quickly approaching.  I am literally praying for the moment when Mom can have her Medicare, and praying that she doesn’t develop any life-threatening conditions in the meantime…there’s still a few years to go.

And to think, when she turns 65 she will lose all that “freedom”…poor thing!

We just got out of one.  I had breathed a sigh of relief that we would be able to start getting back on our feet.  And now, here comes another one.

Today I’m reading in several news sources that US General Martin Dempsey is in Israel to urge restraint, as Israel mulls a possible pre-emptive strike on Iran.  What happens if Israel gets embroiled in military conflict with Iran?  I doubt that we’re going to let our ally get beaten to a pulp.  As much as I disagree with Israel’s domestic policy sometimes, I do not see that as an option either.  So then it’s yet another potentially disastrous and draining war for us.  Just the thought of it makes me want to curl up in a fetal position under my desk.

Like most people, I’m no fan of Ahmadinejacket.  I was very excited when the Green Revolution in Iran was taking place, and even took part in a completely useless march through downtown Portland supporting it.  Because that’s our cure for everything in Portland—protest marches.  I love the idea that the people of Iran might be able to overthrow their tyrannical government.  I hate the idea that we may soon be bombing those same ambitious, idealistic people into oblivion.

Also, has everyone forgotten that we don’t have the money for another war?  Some of the Republicans calling the loudest for an attack on Iran are also the biggest budget cut proponents.  Ah, but wait, we have all these programs like Social Security and Medicare that need to get slashed anyway.  We’re getting too big for our britches in this country, expecting things like a dignified retirement.  We forget that we have to pay a price for maintaining the empire.

And then what about countries like China and Russia, who oppose an attack on Iran?  Are we headed for an all-out world war?  China is obviously a trading partner, so they have to tread down a very cautious path.  It’s doubtful they would want to take us on at this point.  But I fear what might happen when we become so weakened by a series of unending wars that other countries no longer respect us.  Please, let’s maintain our strength, not waste it.

If nothing else, this is another useful wake up call telling us that we need to stop being so dependent on oil, so dependent on it that we keep having to fight for it.  We have to look at options like alternative energy sources and public transit and bikes, before it’s too late.

In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my fingers and toes crossed that it’s not time for World War III yet.  I mean, I’m just getting started on this blog, for chrissakes!