My Progressive Rationale

This just in:  I want to spend some time on today’s blog talking about why I “lean left”.  But first…I’d like to tip my hat to Anthony Bourdain.  He tragically took his own life yesterday.  Those of us left behind get to miss him.   As for Anthony…he is truly off on the final trip to Parts Unknown.

So, why am I a Progressive?  Why do I use that term instead of “Liberal” or “Democrat”?

To me, “Progressive” describes someone that recognizes the world is in constant flux, always moving forward, not backward.  Success belongs to those that prepare for what is coming rather than hugging on to that which is past.

“Liberal” makes me turn away.  It sounds like a person that wants to give stuff away for free because it makes them feel good for some reason.

“Democrat” means “Not Republican” so I could live with that one.

I’d like to list a few items and tell you why I support them.

  1. I support DACA and a path forwards for citizenship.  I support this because these people are an integral part of our society.  They are doctors and farm laborers.  They pay their taxes and, as they stay in the United States, the look for ways to make things better for their families.  In short, they contribute more to our economy and society than they take away from it.
  2. I support Gun Control.  Keep in mind, this is not “taking away guns.”  People blame porn, lack of a God, energy drinks, mental illness and solar flares on the 35,000 gun deaths we experience every year.  I think that is all nonsense.  Why?  Because every other country that experiences all of those things, does not kill itself with guns at anything near the rate we do.  Guns guns the only difference.  (see tab above for ideas about Gun Control)
  3. I support higher taxes on the wealthy.  Yes, this is a redistribution of wealth…but so was the latest tax cut which redistributed billions from the poor and middle class to the wealthy.  This has nothing to do with envy or whatever the Atlas Shrugged people want to call it.  When we have income inequality, the overall economy of our country suffers.  Watch this TED talk about income inequality.  Our overall quality of life, economy and position of power internationally all improve when this inequality is less.
  4. I support universal health care.  There is only one reason for this – it works far better than our current system in 100% of the countries that use it….and all industrialized countries besides the United States use it.  We pay more and have poorer outcomes because…politics.
  5. I support efforts to combat climate change.  There is only one reason for this – 98% of all scientists and our military claim that climate change is real and is the greatest threat to our national security.
  6. I support any program that makes sure children don’t go hungry.  I do this because each child represents two potentials: (1) someone that drops out of school and becomes a burden to society and (2) someone that grows up, has a family and contributes to society.  I believe a child with a full stomach is nudged towards the more positive of these two potentialities.
  7. I support free education to whatever level you would like to attain.  There is only one reason for this: We need educated people if we are to compete with the rest of the world.  Short of making education free, we are only allowing the rich to attain it.  Who is to say that the children of the top 1% have more potential than the other 99%.
  8. I support higher taxes that give a positive return on investment.  We can spend $10 billion on tanks and get nothing in return.  Or, we can spend $10 billion on high-speed transportation which enables people to live outside the overprices housing markets in cities and still work in those cities.  Money on universal healthcare and education is money that gives us a greater value in return than that of the tax dollars we invested.
  9. I support getting out of the conflicts in the Middle East.   We started going there for oil.  We stayed there because we wanted to have influence and military bases.  Today, we can conduct a war anywhere without actually having a base nearby.  History books will have a hard time explaining why we are sending our kids to die in “over there” and why we are spending trillions of dollars to do so.
  10. I support legalized abortion.  Why?  Because making it illegal only drives abortions into the alleys.  It does nothing to reduce abortions.  I support Planned Parenthood because it is the single biggest contributor to stopping unwanted pregnancies, and thus abortions.
  11. I support government regulation.  Not all regulations but those that protect the population and the environment.  Why?  I want to be able to eat grapes that don’t kill me.  I want us to be in the game for the long run which means realizing that Earth is a finite resource that needs to be managed or lost.
  12. I support a Constitutional Amendment that overturns Citizens United.  Ever since that ruling, our government has become increasingly more corrupt.  It’s not so much the money grabbing that’s bad.  It’s the bad policy that comes from the money grabbing that it pulling us down.

Notice that none of these say, “I am a good person” or “God told me this”.  I’m just going with the facts.  When the data says universal healthcare works, I believe it.  When Hannity says it doesn’t…I know he is lying.

The crux of the matter is being informed.  If you think guns are not the problem, then you and I don’t differ on philosophy, we differ on degrees of information.

So there you have it.  Am I a liberal?  I don’t think so but you can call me that if it works for you.

I’m a progressive.  I want policies that make us stronger overall.  I want policies that use data to drive decisions.

And…I want to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

 

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Anatomy of a Republican Voter

This just in:  In California, yesterday, people actually casted votes for Republicans.  This means they voted for a person that took away many of their tax deductions and gave that money to the handful of billionaires that run and fund the Republican Party.  They voted in favor of more expensive healthcare and against social safety nets.

Why would anyone do this?

I have a few answers…

They are racist.  Those that fear America is becoming less white routinely vote Republican.  This is especially true in the age of Donald Trump.  This is the base of Donald Trump that will not abandon him no matter what he does.

or

They are Evangelical.  These are the folks that “forgive” Trump’s behavior which is, on nearly every measurable standard, the exact opposite of what the Bible preaches.  Why?  Because they fear that American may becoming a nation that is not what they believe to be manifest destiny… a Christian Nation.

or

They are uniformed.  These people either don’t follow the news or watch Fox News.  Studies have actually shown that people that rely on Fox News for all of their news, are less informed than those that watch nothing at all.  Fox can pull this off because they know people tune in to hear what they want to believe is true; something that has nothing to do with the facts.

or

They are single issue voters.  These people only care about 1 issue.  This could be a Second Amendment issue or an abortion issue of a size-of-government issue.  It could even be that the issue is “I have always voted Republican.”

I support none of these issues.  With some of these voters, I see room to work.  If you want to vote on a single issue, let’s discuss that one issue.  If you want to watch Fox News, then let’s have a debate where we both come armed with our own perspective and possibly data.

I have no interest in arguing with a racist or an Evangelical.  In my mind, they are the exact same thing.

So there you have it…the world according to Jim.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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I looked in the mirror and came away…disapointed

This just in:  Some things really get to me and others just roll off my shoulders, unnoticed.

I woke up this morning and checked my news feed and felt like our country is crumbling before my eyes as I stand by and do nothing – other than pound my chest via this blog.

There are three things that really bothered me in the news today, but first…I want to start with a quote:

“Every country has the government it deserves.” – Joseph de Maistre

In short, what I am about to complain about is my fault.  Rather, its our fault.  It’s our fault because we allow it.   It’s our fault because we feel helpless.  It’s our fault because we do nothing. It’s our fault because we ignore it.  It’s our fault because we think it’s not.

Item #1:  Guns

I’m not going to make an argument about gun control.  I won’t because it won’t change a single mind.  But, I need to be clear…Without guns, the United States wouldn’t have 36,000 gun deaths a year.  I’m tired of hearing things like “We, in congress, will do whatever it takes to make this stop…even if it means sending twice as many thoughts and prayers as normal.”

We have gun deaths because we allow it.  We don’t need to pull triggers to be culpable in every preventable gun death.

Item #2: Religion

I don’t care if you are Christian, Muslim or belong to the Order of the Jedi.  The only thing I truly believe is that if there is a supreme being, it would either be (1) indifferent about us or (2) a total asshole or (3) deeply disappointed in the fact that we use religion like we do.

I think the Pope is a great guy.  I also think he has as much of a direct line to God as my Labrador.  None of us knows the will of God.  Those that tell you they do are just making a power grab.

The biggest problem with religion in the United States is that the same people that don’t think gun deaths are related to guns, also fear that Christianity is going to become a minority “belief system” in the United States.  They think that guy over there will convince someone to believe that he knows the will of God instead of the charlatan that is currently telling you that very same thing.  The biggest problem is that these people vote…in droves.

Item #3: Racism

In the last week, a lawyer went off script in New York because people around him were speaking Spanish.  Two dark skinned guys were detained by an ICE officer because they were speaking Spanish in public (both were U.S. citizens).  A black man was pulled over for not using his turn signal.  They noticed leaves on his windshield and said, “That looks like vegetation” and used that as an excuse to search his car.  Black people are being shot and threatened daily.

Historically, in our country, steps forward in Civil Liberties have always come by way of legislation.  Left to our own devices, we would still have laws that say, “You can’t eat here because the color of your skin if offensive to me.”

Living in a system where Civil Liberties are Legislated, allows me to pretend that we are not racist.  The racism is hidden because that type of behavior is illegal.

Now that we have a racist president, it has become okay to be racist again.  You can call the cops because there is a black man walking down “your” street.  You can call the FBI because a Muslim is talking into a cell phone in “your” mall.

So there you have it…my morning rant.

We don’t have to be country that puts up with any of this.  In fact, we were born into  the world were these behaviors would have been unthinkable.  I can’t see our Forefathers writing a Constitution that says: (1) Unlimited and unregulated guns will make us great or (2) To be a citizen you must first pledge allegiance to a Christian sect of your choice or (3) Only white people will have rights.

I you disagree with me, I’d love to hear about it.  If you agree, then I suggest you start doing something about it….Something like voting in November.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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“We will do whatever is humanly possible…” – Ted Cruz

This just in:  So, big surprise, there was another shooting at another school, this time in Texas.

Three things happened immediately: (1) Thoughts and prayer were sent out by the politicians, (2) Promises from everyone to fix the problem and (3) Announcing fixes that have nothing to do with gun control.

Ted Cruz even made the title quote above.  He has absolutely no plan to fix anything but this make it look like for the first time…He’s going to get to the bottom of this.  Right?

Let’s start with this: Texas is a “gun state.”  They like their guns and I think they should have all the guns they want.  They don’t need my permission.  The NRA, last year, gave $73,000 to Republican politicians in the state, all of whom got NRA grades of A or A+.  They did give $3,000 to Democrats but nearly all Texas Democrats got a grade of F.

Now, if I was running for political office, I would tattoo the “F” on my forehead.  I would want everyone to know that I think the NRA is a Russian sponsored terrorist organization that only wants your money and the money they get from selling guns (actually, promoting gun ownership so their sponsors can sell guns.)

Texas Lt. Governor was on the news laying out his plan which includes (1) faster background checks  (2) better mental health screening and (3) arm teachers.   So, if we know people have a history of gun violence, we can keep them from getting guns.  A couple of notes on this…it currently takes about 3 minutes to run a background check.  I’m not sure the ability to do this in 2 minutes will make much of a difference.

The “mental health” issue seems to imply that we have more mental health problems that drive people to mass killings than every other industrialized nation.  I find this logic astoundingly flawed.  The only thing more amazing that an educated person would say this is that other educated people believe it.

There is also the argument that laws to control guns will not be followed by people that don’t want to follow them.  What follows from this logic is “Therefore, we should not make gun laws.”  What is interesting to me is that this “Let’s not make laws because they don’t work” is the main argument for no gun control by lawmakers.

That’s right, if the NRA pays you enough money, you, a lawmaker, will stand up and tell people that laws don’t work.

On a completely unrelated note…

Did you know that kids in the United States between the ages of 15 and 18 are 82 times more likely to die from gun violence that kids of the same age in the other industrialized nations?

Here is the bottom line:  Our guns are out of control.  We don’t need to take away everyone’s guns to fix this.  If you are a Republican that takes money from the NRA, you are guilty of murder about 36,000 times a year.  If you vote for Republicans that support the NRA you are just as guilty.

Take a look at the gun control link in my toolbar at the top of this page.  I made up that list with no experience and no deep thought….in about 5 minutes.  Maybe none of those ideas are good.  But it does tell me that there are options besides relying on “Thoughts and Prayers.”

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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The Killing of Bear #399

This just in:  Last night I was watching 60 Minutes and they had a segment on a nature photographer.  One of his favorite subjects is grizzly bear (tagged as #399).  Recently, the bear population was healthy enough that there is now talk about allowing some people to hunt bears.  The photographer said many hunters have told him they can’t wait and that they hope to be the one to shoot the famous #399.

I don’t get this.  It is so far from what I could consider as a “good idea” that it makes me feel like there are aliens among us; or at least a branch of the human race made up of gun-toting sociopaths.

The NRA recently had a convention in Texas.  The President and V.P. were both there.  In the President’s speech, he managed to anger both the country of France and the country of England.

Here are Trump’s views on gun violence as far as I can tell…

  1. If the violence was perpetrated by a non-white, then it is terrorism.
  2. If the violence happened at a school, then blame video games and arm your gym teachers.
  3. If the violence was by a white supremacist…silence.

Also, while the NRA convention was taking place, a breakfast place in Dallas put a note on receipts that portion of the receipt would go to organizations that support “reasonable and effective gun regulations.”  How did the NRA visitors respond?  With death threats; threatening to “shoot up the place.”  This…is the NRA…our very own, homegrown terrorist organization.

We’ve become a country where we can make stuff up to suit whatever fantasy we like.

For example:

  • Universal Health care is a government takeover of healthcare.  The facts actually tell a different story.  Countries that have universal healthcare pay much less for much better outcomes.
  • Guns are not the reason we kill each other with guns.  The facts say that we have the same rate of mental illness and video game addiction as other countries and yet…we kill each other with guns at a much higher rate.
  • Tax cuts for the rich will spur economic growth and create high-paying jobs.  The facts say that this economic policy (also known as trickle-down economics) is a failure 100% of the time.
  • Unlimited campaign financing is Freedom of Speech.  Actually, you can link the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United to the rapid fall of the Republican Party into a corrupt organization that profits by legislating based on the whims of their billionaire donors.

It’s getting to the point where nothing makes sense anymore.

However, there is hope.  Here is a…something created by the young daughter of a artist friend.

This is so cute I can’t help but have a positive outlook on our future.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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I know who to blame

This just in:  I noticed I have become increasing less sensitive to those that propagate political nonsense.  For example, yesterday I saw a post that said, “Hitler supported universal healthcare.”  The implication seemed to be that if you supported everyone having healthcare as a right…you want to kill 6 million Jews.

So…today…I’ve decided to put “niceness”aside and call ’em as I see ’em.

Let’s start with Trump.  He is a crime family boss indebted to the Russian government.  His existence as our president instead of an an inmate is the fault of the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

For underprivileged kids that get free meals at school because their parents can’t afford to feed them….I blame the Democrats and those that vote Democrat.

For a tax break that gives billions to the richest in the country while almost nothing to the middle class and the poor, all the while creating the largest annual deficit in our nation’s history…I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

Every time there is a “Death by Gun” I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

When there are federally funded advances in technology and medicine, I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

Every time there is an attempt to keep people from voting (voter suppression) or to keep 1 vote from having the same weight as another vote (Gerrymandering) I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

Every time I see a public project, like transportation, that costs billions but contributes to the public good, I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

Whenever the NRA gets it way with regards to gun legislation, I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

Whenever our government reaches out to help those in need (contributions to poor countries, welcoming refugees etc) I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

Whenever my health care cost go up as services decline, I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

Whenever I see the United States working with other countries in harmony on issues such as the Environment or trade, I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

When I see a news station put out knowingly bias and/or false information while those that offer real news are called “fake” I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.  (You must watch this video to see what I mean.  After watching…pass it along)

When people see families as families and not as “Muslim” or “Mexican” and treat them as such, I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

Whenever I see the rest of the world turning their back to the United States, whether it’s because of trade or human rights or whatever, I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

When I see hate groups legitimized; when Muslims are seen as terrorists and Mexicans as someone to blame for our own shortfalls, I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

In short, I see no reason to vote Republican.

I see nothing but The Dark Side, when I think of a Republican.

It has not always been this way.  I, myself, am an ex-Republican.  However, in the last 15 years…this party has morphed into something unrecognizable.

We must vote in 2018.  We need this corrupt Political Party of fear, hate and greed to be erase from the American vista.

Now…it’s time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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