Research Before You Rant

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This election was exhausting for me. There was so much information and not enough people willing to sift through it all. People were repeating stories they had read on The Onion, and the never-ending birther claims. What about The Donald? That guy should be embarrassed.

I live in Tennessee where almost 60% of the vote went to Mitt Romney. My Obama sign was stolen from my yard. Our lawn service thought no one was home, but they were seen putting my sign in their truck. The next week, I left a sympathy card with my payment. Above the “Sorry for your loss,” I wrote in “inevitable”. Then, “in the upcoming election. Your services are no longer needed.” I know it was childish, but man it felt good. Feels even better now that I’m right.

For this reason, I NEVER talk politics at work. Everyone knows I’m a Liberal. My truck has two Obama campaign bumper stickers, and my car has a HRC bumper sticker. I am very vocal about LGBT rights and my non-religious status, but only when faced with obvious prejudice against either. I also make it known that the “N” word is unacceptable to me.

Yes, it still happens often in the south, though it has improved since my childhood. The day after the election, one of my co-workers came into my office ranting about President Obama. I told him I respectfully disagreed, and he called me an Obama-lover, which felt a lot like “N” lover.

A former co-worker of mine, an older white man, consistently posts rants about President Obama and Liberals. Once he posted an Onion story about President Obama’s 19 year old son with a former lover who was present at the Democratic convention. He didn’t even know the Onion is satirical. Later in the election season, he posted another false claim that the President had signed 937 Executive Orders. When I worked with this man, he was a very vocal Liberal.

Another friend posts things like “Women don’t want free abortions and contraception, we want jobs.” Nobody is suggesting the government pay for abortions. We only want them to be legal. That choice should be made by a woman and her doctor and no one else. Woman should not have to prove to anyone they need an abortion or that they have been raped. Woman should not have to discuss that choice with anyone or undergo any unnecessary procedures to have an abortion. Provide affordable and accessible contraception and it is very likely the abortion rate goes down.

There is just so much information available that I cannot understand why so many people are so uninformed. This flood of information in the internet age is overwhelming making it hard to know what to believe. My approach is to try to stick to a few reputable news sources, cross-reference for accuracy, and research before I rant.

End the Failed Drug War

The failure of the war on drugs is because it is based on ideology, or the way things “should be.” Unfortunately, that is not reality. Far from it. People “shouldn’t” do drugs. No argument there, but they do. Making it illegal only creates criminals who prey on the addicts and terrorize society.

Legalizing marijuana would have a positive effect on our economy. The production and sell would create jobs, not to mention the support industries such as, delivery devices, production equipment, leases for shops, regulatory agencies. Ending the prohibition of alcohol helped ease our country out of the Great Depression and end the violence associated with the industry. Its parallels with the war on drugs are no coincidence.

Changing our policy has the potential to have a positive ripple effect all the way to South America. It could put the violent drug cartels out of business. These are our neighbors. We should be concerned about the 60,000 deaths (since 2006) related to the drug trade in Mexico, instead of complaining because Mexicans are fleeing their country to protect their families. Help make Mexico strong, safe and attractive and the US immigration problem is solved.

After 40 years and a trillion dollars, we continue to lose the war on drugs. It is a war we cannot win. The war we should be fighting is the war against addiction through education and treatment. Facing reality is the answer, and the reality is the war on drugs is a failure.

Abortion & Personal Freedom

This whole abortion issue is pissing me off. Most pro-choice women hope they never have to consider an abortion, but that should be her choice. I can’t understand why any woman would vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket.

Ryan is opposed to abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother. So that means not even a rape or incest exception. Romney supports the rape or incest exception some days and other days only an exception for the mother’s life.

So let me get this straight. A woman is the victim of a rape. She has suffered the horrible event and the devastating effects.  On top of this, she discovers she is pregnant. She must prove that she has been raped to someone other than a criminal court before she can terminate the pregnancy. Suppose the process takes too long and it is too late to have an abortion. In 31 states in the US, the victim can be forced to share custody with her rapist.

The implications of making abortion illegal go way beyond not allowing a fertilized EGG or embryo  to become a  person. It’s about having control over those most personal and agonizing decisions in your life. It is the threat of losing personal freedom – one of our most basic and cherished rights as an American.

Forward

Forward

In 2009, President Obama was handed a country in crisis when he took office. On top of the financial collapse, he had the unfunded wars to contend with. In my opinion, he has done an amazing job, despite the least productive and most obstructive Congress since the Civil War.

Republicans, especially Boehner, have been largely successful in blaming the rapidly rising deficit on Obama’s policies. However, multiple non-partisan studies show that most of the debt is a direct result of  the Bush tax cuts, the wars, and the unfunded Medicare drug benefit (kickback for big pharmaceuticals). While almost $5 trillion has been added to the debt during Obama’s presidency, only about $1.5 trillion is the result of Obama’s policies (and half of that is the from the stimulus).

Government spending routinely increases during an economic downturn, due to the increased need for government assistance, such as unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. With a record 46 million Americans on food stamps, Republicans  have dubbed Obama the “food stamp president.” While there are way too many people abusing government assistance, the greater problem is the reason for the need, and how we got here?

The Clinton years were unquestionably a time of progress, especially on the economy. Besides the record-high surpluses and the record-low poverty rates, we had the longest economic expansion in US history; the lowest unemployment since the early 1970s; and the lowest poverty rates for single mothers, black Americans, and the aged. Clinton submitted a budget that would cut the deficit by $500 billion over five years by reducing $255 billion of spending and raising taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of Americans. The results were the exact opposite of what Republicans said would happen

That policy allowed GW Bush to take over with a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, GW and his Republican congress used it to fund massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Then come the unfunded wars and there goes the surplus.  Then finally, just before Obama takes office, 30 years of deregulation by both parties catch up to us, and the economy almost collapses creating the need for additional spending.

While recovery has been slow, we have seen recovery. We have had 31 straight months of job growth in the private sector. The DOW has rebounded, the auto industry has rebounded, and  home prices are rebounding. After losing nearly 50,000 factories between 2000-2009, manufacturing is rebounding. Our exports are near record levels , and we are less dependent on foreign oil than we have been in the last 20 years.

Recovery may be slow, but we are headed in the right direction. FORWARD.

 

My Journey to Atheism

The journey to atheism has not been an easy one for me. It has been filled with fear and doubt, only to discover that I have been wasting precious moments of the only life I will have. That realization has been very liberating. It has helped me to become a more understanding, forgiving and compassionate person, and has led to a more happy and fulfilling life.

My mother and father were both very young when she got pregnant with me, and they married. When I was about 5 or 6, they separated, and my mother moved in with her boyfriend. I have very few memories of the time with my mom and dad, but according to my family, both had an affair. After the separation, my father visited me a couple of times and then I didn’t see him or hear from him again until I was 13.

My mother had four more children with my step-dad, and we were physically and emotionally abused and often went hungry. We never received medical care either. I was 8 years older than the oldest of them, and being the step-child, received the majority of the abuse, along with my mother. I could never understand why she didn’t just leave. There was even a year we lived without electricity. I often prayed during these times and felt completely abandoned. I was a good kid. I made good grades. I was responsible and stayed out of trouble. I did the best I could to protect and take care of my siblings. Why wasn’t God protecting me?

When I was 12, I escaped the abuse. Life became normal and as I started to fit in, I wouldn’t allow myself to question the group mentality of anything. I grew up in rural east Texas. Everyone was some form of Christian. My family believed in God, but didn’t attend church. My Grandma studied her Bible and told us the occasional story. I also attended church with my friends. So through my youth, I attended Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ and, my favorite, Pentecostal.

My first question about religions was, “Who is right?” There are so many religions, and each person is inclined to believe their religion is true and all who do not have the same belief system will not be saved. But what about those who can’t be convinced because they are just as convinced as you that their religion is the right one? I’m told they will not be saved no matter how well they live their lives. But what about those who know nothing of Christ? I’m told they will not be saved.  This seems horrific to me, but it must be so. I’m told it is so by every person I know and trust.

In the midst of this came my understanding of science and introduction to evolution.  For me, this was something that made sense. I had already questioned Noah fitting two of every living creature on a boat to save the world, and the virgin birth. Evolution made so much more sense, but how does that fit into the Bible’s version.  There must be a God because everyone I know and trust says so.

Eventually, I grew up and moved away. That’s when I met my first atheist. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe I had met someone who so boldly admitted they did not believe in God. I said “You will go to Hell for that.” He said “where do you think you’re going?” Talk about light bulbs. Here I am afraid to even question the existence of God, yet I don’t live my life like Christ. My chances at Heaven are no better than the atheist standing before me.  That is when I began to notice that MOST Christians don’t follow Christ teachings.

This led to an internal conflict I struggled with for many years. The realization that there might NOT be a God was more than I was ready to accept. I made justifications, such as the Bible is metaphorical, and Adam & Eve is the metaphorical version of evolution. As I discovered more inaccuracies and injustices in the Bible, I discovered more ways to justify them. Inevitably, I had to give up on the Bible. My final justification before admitting I’m an atheist was that there is a God, but the Bible is not his word. These were men influenced by God, but their own personal prejudice and experience was also an influence on their writings as they were mere men, and therefore imperfect.

I have finally come to the conclusion that there is no God. Now, I don’t have to constantly ask why of the world’s injustices and atrocities. The world is unjust, and there is no supreme being who can reach down and save us with a miracle. We are here, this is our only life and only we can save ourselves.

Why I am a Liberal

For too long now, conservatives have made liberal a dirty word. Liberals are socialists, heathens, immoral, lazy, and want something for nothing. These things don’t apply to me or any other Liberal I know.

So what is the Conservative plan? Extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, because that has worked so well to spur the economy. Deregulate, because we can trust Wall Street and huge corporate banks to do the right thing. Continue to allow corporations to buy our politicians with campaign donations, because they know what’s best for us.

Hell no! We are a government of the people by the people. Do we really want our corporate bosses to vote for us while their paychecks rise and ours declines? Do we really want an America that benefits a few at the cost to many? Is that sustainable? I think we are seeing that it is not.

So what does it mean to me to be a liberal? This hard-working liberal wants equitable government services, pensions protection, health care, education, innovation through research, equal treatment for all. I want a democracy which doesn’t pander to the rich but makes them feel they have an obligation to their workers. I want protection of our basic constitutional rights of individual freedoms, such as gay rights, freedom of choice, freedom of religion. Those are individual choices, not majority rule. I want failed policies abandoned and other avenues explored, such as the “war on drugs.” I want policies on immigration that protect us from abuses of our services, yet are humane to those fleeing an unthinkable life.

I say it is time to repeal Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, because that did not work to spur the economy, and led to greater income inequality. Regulate Wall Street and huge corporate banks, to lessen their ability to collapse our economy, like almost happened in 2008. Rebuild our countries infrastructure, creating jobs. Invest in education, creating jobs. Invest in research, creating jobs, and keeping the US a leader in innovation. Invest in renewable energy to weaken our dependence on foreign oil and protect the exploitation of domestic oil.

I do not want to house and feed the lazy. I do not want to take away your constitutional rights, as I cherish those rights also. I do not want a socialist society. I do want a handle on greed and equitable treatment for all Americans. Does that make me a bad person?

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