Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gay Marriage Part Two

If you are wondering why this is titled "Gay Marriage Part Two" and you can't recall part one, it is because part one was written over two years ago here - "I Can't Back the Gendered Marriage Fight."

It's fascinating how what I wrote two years ago regarding the Supreme Court and Prop 8 is still completely relevant to the current newsworthy DOMA decision.

Don't miss my new novel, "You Heard It Here First!" on Amazon, Nook, and Kindle!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Should the Confederate Flag be a Presidential Campaign Topic?

In short, my answer is, "Oh please no!" 

Longer answer- should a flag of a former country that no longer exists, and yet does have historical significance, be debated over and over again? 

There seems to be a new trend where people take an object that meant one thing historically, and then debate the morality of it in today's society, forgetting that the same morals were not held or known. And then the object (or belief) is judged by irrelevant standards, deemed to be morally wrong, and offensive, completely forgetting its historic significance. 

I'm a Southern Girl. I live in the country in the part of the world where Johnny Reb isn't offensive, but a symbol for a way of life. It represents our accents, lifestyles, families, and ancestors. It has nothing to do with slavery or racism. 

But I understand and sympathize that there are other people who don't agree. It represents slavery from over 150 years ago. That shouldn't be forgotten. 

But bottom line it is the flag of a rebellion war against the United States. And there is no need for that flag to be flown over government buildings, or represented on any official government product. 

Does that mean stores should remove it from products? I don't think so. But that's just me. Feel free to convince me otherwise. 

Don't miss my new novel, "You Heard It Here First!" on Amazon, Nook, and Kindle!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

2016 Presidential Primary Candidates on Healthcare

"Gov. Bobby Jindal in Oklahoma 2015" by Michael Vadon - https://www.flickr.com/photos/80038275@N00/17871530750. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

I've been gone for a while, but I'm back. It's time to start talking about the new round of contestants in the presidential campaign primary elections! (Please go back and re-read that last line in your best Bob Barker "Price is Right" voice.) 
As is always the case this early on, the field is flooded with nearly identical campaign platforms. I will be taking the next few weeks, maybe months, to highlight the contenders and the issues. 
Today we start with a simple line item comparison of where they all stand on healthcare. 
The following statement are direct quotes from the candidates' websites, thereby keeping my opinion out of things [for the time being].

Rick Perry - no website statement
Scott Walker - I refuse to "get an account" on his site to get past the front page
Donald Trump - no website statement (but I did learn that "he is the very definition of the American success story") 
Mike Huckabee - "ObamaCare is a $2.2 trillion disaster that dumps millions of people into a broken, expensive system and does nothing to fix the basic problems everyday Americans face. We must tackle out-of-control costs. ObamaCare raided $700 billion from Medicare. This is not reform — it’s theft. We must reject government dependency. We need solutions and choices — not government mandates and new taxes. We must address pre-existing conditions with common sense. As a governor, I know these issues first hand. Our system of “sick care” is upside down. Doctors, hospitals and drug companies get paid for treating people who are sick — not keeping people healthy or preventing illnesses. So many Americans cannot afford to get sick, while others take advantage of a system that isn’t fair. ObamaCare simply doubles down on this backwards, broken, flawed and failing system. We need honesty, leadership and real reform. As President, I will repeal ObamaCare and fight for real health care reform."
Bobby Jindal - no website statement (but then, he's literally only been in the race 5 minutes)
Carly Fiorina - no website statement
Rand Paul - I was not a member of the United States Senate during the 111th Congress, but if I had been I would have voted against Obamacare. As your President, one of my first acts would be to repeal the abomination that is Obamacare.
As a doctor, I have had firsthand experience with the immense problems facing health care in the United States. Prior to the implementation of Obamacare, our health care system was over-regulated and in need of serious market reforms—but Obamacare is not the answer.
Government interventions in health care have driven up the cost of coverage and decreased competition within the market. More—not less—freedom to choose and innovate will make sure our health care system remains the best in the world.
As your President, I will ensure that real free-market principles are applied to the American health care system so that it is responsive to patients, families, and doctors, rather than government bureaucracy.
Hillary Clinton - Defend the Affordable Care Act and reduce health costs
We will slow the growth of overall health care costs and deliver better care to patients. And we will ensure that the savings from those reforms benefit families—not just insurance companies, drug companies, and large corporations.
Jeb Bush - no statement
Jim Webb - no statement
Martin O'Malley - no statement
Marco Rubio - "Repeal Obamacare and replace it with a conservative solution." There is a very long and detailed statement on his website. Also, for what it's worth, he has the most organized and detailed website of all the candidates thus far. 
Ted Cruz - no statement, which is a little shocking actually!

So basically what we've learned here today is that most of the candidates don't have an issues page up on their websites yet, And the Republicans that do are against Obamacare, and the Democrats that do like it. 

Don't miss my new novel, "You Heard It Here First!" on Amazon, Nook, and Kindle!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Shut down

To quote a co-worker, “The federal government is the only entity that could cut costs and shut down, and still lose money.”
When I look at the things people are whining about that have been closed due to the shutdown, I ask myself where the logic is in many of these programs.
For instance- the national monuments in Washington, DC have been closed. Each of these monuments has a gift shop that has been closed. I understand the monument being closed, as it costs federal dollars to pay the upkeep, power bill, security, etc. But the gift shop? Are you telling me that the money-making business isn’t profitable and requires federal dollars to maintain? How about step #1 is we stop putting federal tax dollars into postcards for tourists, and force the stores to run themselves? It seems so logical.
Next, national parks have also been closed. Again, I understand why. Maintenance, ranger staff, etc., they all cost money to operate. Except don’t most parks also charge admission? And have charitable organizations that support them? How is it then that they also need federal tax dollars? I think the problem here is that the federal government is supporting them at all. Why aren’t these parks (which often have restaurants, gift shops, classes, etc., inside) self-supporting? It seems fairly logical to me that they should actually be able to make money, and not drain federal tax dollars!
And the panda cam? Seriously? It’s not the absurdity that it had to be shut down. It’s the absurdity that tax dollars paid for it at all! Are you really telling me that there isn’t some corporation out there that wouldn’t love to sponsor the panda cam just for the goodwill PR benefits? Or a non-profit that wouldn’t raise funds to pay for it? I’d donate, wouldn’t you? Or how about people have to pay “admission” to view the panda cam?
Here’s another little thing to think about- a friend of mine works for a government contractor. S/he has been vocal about how “stupid” the government is for shutting down. And regularly vents and complains about all the “perks” that “Congress” receives. (I beg you, please, share with me just one “perk” that you can back up with unbiased facts.) Meanwhile his/her company (again- a federal contractor) is having the company party this week. It’s a massive, huge festival/fair. Roller coasters, games, rides, free food, etc. It easily will cost the company about $1M. Is it not hypocritical to demand that “congress” (I think many people use this term completely wrong) live frugally, and demand on a shoestring operation, while spending federal dollars on roller coasters and cotton candy? Or is it because you perceive that elected officials are all wealthy and chose their careers that you don’t see it the same way when your upper management is wealthy and also chose their careers?
Ultimately what is happening right now in our legislative branch is an amazing and elegant thing. Simply put, this country is equally split on a very divisive new law. Some believe that the Affordable Care Act is a good thing, others do not. Our elected representatives are only a reflection of the divided country. Our elected officials are representing what we as a country feel.
So how about instead of complaining and criticizing them, we support them? Has anyone considered that angle? Has anyone really thought about the fact that this is all a good thing?
Sure the shutdown is effecting millions of people. But right now the government is doing something many of us are not brave enough to do in our own lives. When you run out of money, you stop spending. It’s the “first rule of holes” concept (stop digging). When a business runs out of money, it goes out of business. It lays off employees. It cuts costs. It looks for new ways to make money.
Shouldn’t the government do the same?
I do feel a great deal of sympathy for my furloughed friends. I was unemployed and underemployed for 3 years. Believe me, I know how hard and scary it is to not know how long it will be until you get your next paycheck. But here’s the good news- you know you will get one. Most people don't have that peace of mind.
So I beg of my friends, instead of complaining about the government, stop and ask yourself what is really important. Where should tax dollars be spent? On the panda cam? And where can revenue be found? A museum gift shop?
And here's some food for thought- Mitt Romney took a debt-riddled Massachusetts, turned it around, and made it a profitable state in just one term in office. How? He turned resource-sucking programs into revenue generating ones. 
Makes you wish things had gone differently one year ago. 
Don't miss my new novel, "You Heard It Here First!" on Amazon, Nook, and Kindle!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Help Prevent More Unnecessary Tragedies by Contacting Your Senator About S.1284 and S.689 Today

The tragedy at the Navy Yard is yet another wake-up call to both citizens and lawmakers that the United States needs legislative reform.

The Navy Yard, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Fort Hood, Tucson, Virginia Tech, Columbine, and several other unnecessary mass murders all had one strong, undeniable detail in common- mental health disorders.

Placing the blame on firearms regulations will not stop mentally ill persons from attacking and hurting others. The root of the problem is the mentally ill, not the tool the person chose for their attack. The real problem lies with sick persons who were not treated for mental illnesses adequately.

The time has come to raise awareness of mental health disorders in the public square and provide more resources to help ill persons. All individuals need to learn and identify the mentally ill among them, and help the sick and afflicted get help. Schools need to be given more resources to identify and serve mentally ill students.

The stigma of mental awareness needs to be lifted so that the ill will not be afraid to admit their sickness and reach out for help.

I urge you to support the mental health funding levels in the Senate FY2014 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill (S.1284) and to cosponsor and enact the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 689).

There has been a cut in state funding for mental health services and supports of nearly $5 billion over the last three years.  The Senate funding bill includes a roughly $107 million increase for much-needed, critical mental health services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and would fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at FY2012 levels. 

S.1284 makes important strides in investing in "upstream services" such as suicide prevention, consumer programs, Project AWARE, etc. to begin to address the treatment chasm (80 percent of children and 66 percent of adults that need treatment do not receive it).

In the wake of the the Navy Yard shooting, the Sandy Hook tragedy, Aurora, and all of the other national crises, bi-partisan legislation was introduced by Sens. Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander to assist states and local communities in addressing mental health needs ("upstream" services). 

The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 689) was passed by an overwhelming vote of 95-2 in April as an amendment to a legislative vehicle that has since been pulled from the Senate calendar.

I urge you to support the funding levels in the Senate FY2014 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill (S.1284) in any future spending package or Continuing Resolution and to urge the Senate to have the House consider the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 689). These important bills will help address the mental health and addiction needs in our state and communities.

You can show your support for this bill by contacting your Senator (click here to find your senator and her/his email address), and sending her/him the text in bold above.

Share this message on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Help spread the word, and encourage everyone to not just "like" the post, but SEND THE MESSAGE TO THE SENATE TO SUPPORT SENATE FY2014 LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AND EDUCATION AND APPROPRIATIONS BILL (S.1284) AND THE MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS AND IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2013 (S.689)!

You can learn more about this legislation on the Mental Health America website. 

Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Vladimir Putin Attempts to School Americans on Democracy and Diplomacy

Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed for The New York Times regarding the "conflict" in Syria.

This has been met with some very mixed reactions, including one member of Congress to say it made him "sick to his stomach" to read it.*

Putin attempts to remind and school Americans about diplomacy, what the Pope thinks, and almost inexplicably- democracy.

He goes on to say, "We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression. "

Vladimir Putin is telling Americans to follow current international law?!?

But before you start to think the man has a point, he then continues on to say that yes, gas was used on the Syrian people, but not by Assad's regime. He suggests the rebels did it to themselves to invoke sympathy.

And then this "former" KGB hack makes this gem of a statement, "force has proved ineffective and pointless."

And don't miss the part where on 9/11 Vladimir Putin in all sincerity asks Americans to recall the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you."

Be sure to stay to the end, where Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, former KGB agent, the man who turned off gas to his own people in the middle of a freezing winter, possible Chechnyan war criminal, persecutor of gays, and human minotaur, says in response to President Obama's address to the nation:

And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

Again, "it is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional."

And that, my friends, is what defines the difference between Russia and America.

Now I understand why the congressman was sick to his stomach.

*This post is not indicative of the writer's thoughts on the Syrian conflict, it is merely a reflection on her opinion of Putin attempting to be a compassionate communist educating Americans on liberty and democracy.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mine-golia Mongolia

I recently read a fascinating [to me] article in Bloomberg Markets magazine regarding mining in Mongolia. To sum it up in simplest terms, a very large multi-national corporation has a very large copper mining project going on there. (And some other smaller companies too.) The company, Rio Tinto, stands to make a great deal of money over many years off this project. It is one of the largest known copper deposits, if I recall correctly.
In an interesting case of corporate responsibility and working with the government and the people of the country, Rio Tinto not only paying the country for permission to be there, plus paying taxes, and employing many local nationals, they are going a few steps beyond that. For instance, Rio Tinto paid taxes in advance.
Did you know Mongolia is a democracy? It's true. It is. And that's what makes the next part more interesting.
Mongolia has been giving money to its citizens. Forget taxes. Rio Tinto is paying all of that. The government is just giving money to its people. Payments, free money, cash. For nothing. This is the "payment" Rio Tinto makes in exchange for taking their copper.
Keep in mind this is a country where most people outside of the large capital city live in yurts with no electricity. They have retained their nomadic, hunting, and gathering lifestyles. And now the government is giving them an extra $11,000 a year.
And following the history of pretty much every case of free handouts ever, now the people want more. They were given money, and they liked it. And now they want more free money.
This is a democracy. The president has to run for re-election. So naturally he's campaigning and telling the people what they want to hear. "We're going to make that big bad corporation pay up! Give us more money! They can't just come in here and strip our land while our people live in yurts! No!"
The president even held a big special legislative meeting where he gave a chilling speech. He made it clear that the government was going to move in and have more control over the mines. And that the companies would pay up. And the government would give the people more.
A few days later, he had the bank accounts of Rio Tinto frozen. He claimed it was because they didn't pay their taxes that year. The company pointed out he was right, they didn't pay them in that year, because, at the country's request, they had paid all of their taxes in advance! Their accounts were then unfrozen.
A president had that much control. No checks or balances. No oversight. So one to remind him of this large multi-national contract and its details.
Or maybe he knew full well what the contract said. (Not knowing about the millions and millions in advance taxes that the government relies heavily upon is a pretty big "oopsie.") And he was just campaigning.
Granted his campaigning and presidential style have a strange Hitler and Stalin propaganda vibe to them.
This situation (which may have progressed further by now- I was reading an article from May) is a fascinating one.
This isn't a case of a big bad company coming in and taking advantage of a poor, undereducated country. In fact, if what I have read is true, the company is actually doing things right. It has employed many of the locals, provided education opportunities for locals to go abroad, is showing environmental safety concern, and let's not forget those advance taxes. Those taxes which are pretty much just straight to the pocket payments of every citizen of the country.
Has there ever been a case in the history of the world where a government has moved in, taken over commercial operations (particularly ones that have proven to be lucrative), forced its people to become dependent upon them (the government), and it turned out well?
Where does this leave the corporation? Do they cave and let the government take over? (Hand over the keys and say, "Sure, you drive!") Has any company ever done that? Sold out to a government and walked away from profits?
There are some interesting similarities to copper and Mongolia to oil in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia. In Saudi the people do not pay taxes. The government makes so much money off of oil that it gives money to its citizens. It's true. Just for being a Saudi male, you are given money. Plus they have family money. This (combined with other cultural issues there) has led to an interesting problem with laziness and education. What incentive do the men have to work or get a decent education if the government is just going to give them money? (And these are not people living in poverty. These are wealthy people.)
There will likely never be a war with Mongolia over copper the way there has been with government controlling oil and lands in the Middle East.
But it is an interesting discussion.
What responsibilities does the corporation have to make the government happy? Many investors have been looking to Mongolia as the next big pay day- what is their moral responsibility? (Or is it even a safe investment anymore? Does anyone think the government won't ruin the situation?)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Born Republican? Born Democrat?

Are political ideologies genetic?
Watch this short 2.5 minutes video and you may be surprised!
From Academic Earth: Born Republican? Born Democrat? 
Created by AcademicEarth.org

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sebelius is right not to take immediate action in lung transplant case.

Making headlines this week is the story of a young girl who needs a lung transplant as soon as possible. But the realities of the situation are thus- child-size lungs do not become available very often. And the transplant list rules and regulations do not get her access to adult lungs.
The family (rightfully) took to the media to help their daughter out. And they petitioned the Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, to override the rules, and direct the transplant organization, UNOS, to give their daughter lungs.
A lot of right-wing types are calling Sebelius a "one-woman death panel" for her choice to not jump and do.
The case has now gone to U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson who wrote in a temporary restraining order that by refusing to set aside the existing rule for children, Sebelius had failed “to protect the very few children nationally who are subject to it.” He added that the evidence showed that the rule “discriminates against children and serves no purpose, is arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.” Baylson, a George W. Bush appointee, scheduled a hearing for June 14.
Sebelius now has 10 days to either issue a directive, or not do anything.
Here is why she would be right not to do anything-
(and shame on anyone who considers themselves a defender of the Constitution for not seeing it this way)
First and foremost, precedent. We cannot have a cabinet secretary determining who lives and dies. If she says yes in this scenario, what happens when another family needs a transplant next week? An appointed cabinet secretary is an incredibly political position.  She (and/or any of her successors) does everyone justice by not allowing herself to become a "death panel." Her job is of such a highly political nature that it is only a matter of time, nay minutes, until campaign favors, bribes, etc. become a question in transplants.
I think it goes without saying that absolutely nobody wants to see transplants become a political topic!
Transplants, above all other issues, should remain an incredibly fair, honest, and transparent decision. And that is absolutely why it was right to make this situation go through a judge.
I know many people cannot help but feel compassion and want to override "the system" to help out a dying girl. No one can be blamed for that.
But right now this little girl does have some more time. She needs the lungs, but she has a few more weeks. And that is why it is right to let this play out in courts. Judges have the right to feel compassion, recognize a bad law, and make the appropriate change so that it sets precedent that can help others.
(It also protects any medical professional who may help the girl if she gets the lungs. Otherwise, a directive from a political authority may or may not open up the door to a lawsuit from a different family who needed the lungs, but didn't get them because they went to the girl. That lawsuit could easily involve the doctors.)
Let this play out in the courts so that the right thing can be done not just for the little girl, but for all transplant patients down the road. No one is arguing that it is a bad regulation that needs to be fixed. So let's let it get fixed the proper way, and not in a way that could create further problems down the road.