An Open Letter To Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey (R)

File this one under #DiggyRant

It may surprise some that, though I’m a registered Democrat, I don’t vote along party lines. I lean liberal. I also believe in some conservative ideas. I understand that the freedoms I want often come with responsibilities to my community. Seems fair to me.

I got a mass email today from the office of Pennsylvania Senator, Pat Toomey, in which he blames President Obama’s environmental policies for Pennsylvania’s unemployment issues, which have been ongoing for years.

The email reads, in part: “…due to the Obama administration’s policies – the company FirstEnergy is deactivating coal-fired power plants in Fayette and Washington counties and leaving hundreds out of work. These unemployed Pennsylvanians are unfortunate casualties in President Obama’s ‘war on coal,’ which I will continue to fight against in the Senate.”

War on coal? It that a thing?

He also mentioned his visit to Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe Inc. in Chambersburg – one of Franklin County’s largest employers – to hear concerns over excessive government regulations.  “One was the cost of Obamacare, the unreasonable mandates that are associated with it, including the contraception and abortifacient mandate, which is so problematic for so many people.”

So, Senator Toomey is concerned about the cost of contraception, but not the 18+ years of childcare that comes after? What kind of strange logic is that?

The email was an itemized list of the usual GOP propaganda that is meant to stir up their base. It was so filled with exaggeration and inaccuracies.

…and begging for this response from me.

To: Senator Toomey

RE: The Toomey mass email

Instead of whining about President Obama’s concern for the environment, you should be looking for ways to retrain coal workers in clean, renewable energy.
Your push for fracking without regard for the ecological effects is frightening. Drinking water should NOT be flammable, Mr Toomey!

Thank God I don’t have children. I’d be terrified for their future.

The biggest roadblock to economic recovery is the mass layoffs of public employees like police,  fire, and teachers. This is a threat to public safety as well. The GOP’s focus is tax breaks for corporations, not struggling families. So stop lying about it.

It was greed that caused our economy to fall into a deep recession, Mr Toomey, not Social Security and Medicare. But the first thing you guys do when times get tough, is pull away the safety nets for those in need.

The worst part is that no one even bothers to read the emails I send. I get a form letter in response.
I have to wonder why I even bother. What’s the point? Why waste my time when nobody is listening?

I do it because I care, Mr Toomey. I care about my city, my state, and most of all, my country.
In spite of fools like you, I love my country.

Here’s a suggestion for you. Try living on the average minimum wage.
I think our elected officials should receive the same level of healthcare that Medicare provides. Maybe then they’d understand the struggles of the average citizen.
But that will never happen. You’re so disconnected from reality, it would be funny if it weren’t so damned tragic.

I feel so much better now. :\

Some Serious Questions For Conservatives

Why do conservatives use the word “Entitlement” as if it was a bad word.

They’re called “Entitlements” because the people who receive them worked hard for and earned them as part of an agreed upon contract with the United States government. Money is taken from our paycheck each week as insurance until such time as we either retire, become disabled and cannot work, or the worst case scenario, a disaster happens and we need help.

Entitlements are not handouts. Entitlements are not charity. Entitlements did not tank our economy. Corporate greed did. So why do you want to punish the least of us just so the wealthiest can have tax breaks?

Conservatives claim to be for limited government and keeping government out of our private lives.

How does amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage limit government or keep the government out of our private lives? How does one person’s marriage affect yours? Is the foundation or your marriage so fragile that it would crumble under the weight of another couple’s happiness?

Conservatives claim to be for fiscal responsibility, yet they are largely against paying for birth control. Does it not occur to them that tax payers will undoubtedly foot the bill, through welfare, for eighteen plus years of childcare for many of the children that result from unplanned pregnancies? Compared to that, contraception is cheap.

There’s nothing wrong with conservative ideas. Personal responsibility is important. Responsibility to our community is even more important.

Ensuring that companies provide a living wage so that families don’t have to rely on food stamps is the responsible thing to do. A family that can’t afford food isn’t self sufficient. Isn’t that what conservatism is all about; being self sufficient? A family that’s not self sufficient cannot contribute to the economy.

If families aren’t contributing to the economy, the economy doesn’t grow.

One more thing.

As our country experiences extreme weather powerful enough to bring about the destruction of whole communities, more and more people are going to find themselves in need of some kind of assistance, be it food stamps or welfare. These people are not deadbeats. They aren’t looking for handouts either. Yet many conservatives want to reduce these life saving safety nets because of the cost. Are these the “family values” that conservatives claim they hold in such high regard?

The United States of America is a vast and wealthy country populated with people of many different faiths and from every walk of life. In order for us to have a strong country we must look out for one another. United we stand. Divided we fall.

A word about the so-called IRS scandal…

Shortly after President Obama was elected, 501(c) (4) applications started to pour into the IRS by the thousands from anti-government Tea Party groups. Those of you with a short memory might not remember the negative reaction to the economic stimulus and those big business bail outs that saved the auto industry. By 2010, as healthcare reform legislation became law, and the U.S. Supreme Court deemed corporations are people too, the number of 501(c) (4) applications increased.

According to Michael Scherer of Time.com, “many of these so-called social-welfare groups have multiplied–annual applications for the designation have nearly doubled since 2009–with many spending nearly 50% of their money on campaign advertising, almost daring the IRS to challenge their activities. Of the more than $1.2 billion spent by outside groups in the 2012 federal election cycle, at least $254 million came from “social welfare” nonprofits.”

To me, this is a red flag!
“All this outrage threatens to obscure an important point: the IRS does need to crack down on political groups masquerading as social-welfare organizations. Many of the nonprofit groups who claim 501(c)(4) status either flout tax law or flirt with the murky line between electioneering and issue advocacy, all while using their tax-exempt status to conceal their donors.” – Alex Altman “The Real IRS Scandal” time.com

The IRS may have been overzealous, but there’s certainly no scandal here.

Lists. …this is a good one.

The 2013 TIME 100 was released a week ago. I’m always suspicious of lists. Often, they are nothing more than self promotion and mutual masturba back scratching. But I think Time Magazine got it right on at least three of it’s picks.

Rebecca Smeyne / Corbis

Rebecca Smeyne / Corbis

John Legend writes of Frank Ocean as a respected colleague and close friend. “Frank is brilliant,” he writes. “The day I started writing with him, it was clear that he has a very interesting mind and a distinctive way of expressing himself. He was fearless and innately creative. You talk to some people in this business and you get the sense that they’re very focused on radio: what will be a hit or won’t be a hit. You never get that from Frank. The focus is on creating something that’s beautiful, that’s great art.

“Frank broke a lot of rules with his album Channel Orange. He wasn’t focused on “What’s gonna be my single?” And obviously, one of the cardinal rules was that he wasn’t supposed to come out. But he did…”
Illustration by David Despau for TIME

Illustration by David Despau for TIME

Maya Angelou wrote one of the most beautiful pieces on a First Lady I have ever read. Of Michelle Obama, she writes, “Modesty is a learned affectation. It’s just like decals. As soon as the world shakes the modest person against the wall, that modesty will drop off them. But humility comes from inside out. It says someone was here before me; I have already been paid for. All I have to do is prepare myself to pay for someone else who is yet to come. And that’s exactly what Mrs. Obama’s doing with the fight against obesity. She considers all children her responsibility: black or white, pretty or plain, all the children.The philosophers tell us that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Mrs. Obama is as if it doesn’t touch her. She hasn’t tried to become anybody else’s idea of the First Lady. She has remained herself, with her grace, her gentleness and her sense of humor. That she would dare to wear clothes off the rack. Or go out and garden. Or have a grandmother in the White House. She knows how to be a public creature without being separate from her family.” Beautiful words for a beautiful First Lady.

But my favorite by far is what Chelsea Clinton wrote of 15 year old accidental activist, Malala Yousafzai  
Mark Seliger for TIME

Mark Seliger for TIME

“People whose courage has been met by violence populate history. Few, though, are as young as Malala was when, at 15, a Taliban gunman boarded her school bus in northwestern Pakistan and shot her and two other girls, attempting to both kill Malala and, as the Taliban later said, teach a “lesson” to anyone who had the courage to stand up for education, freedom and self-determination, particularly for girls and women. Or as young as 11, when Malala began blogging for the BBC’s Urdu site, writing about her ambition to become a doctor, her fears of the Taliban and her determination to not allow the Taliban — or her fear — to prevent her from getting the education she needed to realize her dreams.Malala is now where she wants to be: back in school. The Taliban almost made Malala a martyr; they succeeded in making her a symbol. The memoir she is writing to raise awareness about the 61 million children around the world who are not in school indicates she accepts that unasked-for responsibility as a synonym for courage and a champion for girls everywhere. However Malala concludes her book, her story so far is only just beginning.”

News Vs. Entertainment

File this under #DiggyRant

I thought it was really nice that the whole world paused for a few days while we learned about Pope Francis. Seriously, it was the only coverage on the Nightly News!

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that selecting a new Pope is important because of how the church influences the world. But that was all we saw on the news! For two days there was very little reporting on North Korea, as if Kim Jung-Un suddenly decided, “Hey, the Catholics have just selected a new Pope. Let’s hold off on trying to kill everyone in the Western World.”

This isn’t the first time I was disappointed by network news. It’s happens more and more. Half of the local news is sports. The last ten minutes of both the local and the national news is a report on what’s coming up on tonight’s prime time TV schedule.

Can someone please tell me why the ever changing list of contestants on Dancing With The Stars is considered news worthy?

The worst is when the news anchors ask for your opinion. I Don’t Want To Know What The Average Person Has To Say About The First Lady’s Hair Cut!!! Why is the First Lady’s hair cut even news???

Hey news anchors! Don’t ask me to follow or friend you. Just give me the damn news!

…we now return you to our regularly scheduled insanity.

Language Is A Virus From Outer Space

From William S. Burroughs to Laurie Anderson. …or was that Louie Anderson?

As someone who enjoys the English language, you’d think I’d write a lot more than I do. Don’t get me wrong, I am not short on inspiration. The ideas come, but they come when I’m doing other things. By the time I get to a keyboard, the words are either gone or I’ve elaborated and embellished them to the point where I no longer recognize the original thought.

I love words. I love that the English language has so many ways to express a thought. I keep a shortcut to Dictionary.com on my desktop just so I can find the right word.

About WordPress…

I’ve been doing Tumblr for a while. I originally intended to use it as a writing tool. But tumblr is mostly pictures and politics. While I do plenty of both, I wanted to see if I could do some writing that wasn’t necessarily ranting. Who knows? Maybe I do rant better than write.

But what does all this have to do with Bill Burroughs or either of the Andersons?

See what I mean about losing the topic? When I started this entry, I had planned to show how instrumental popular culture is in exposing me to words and authors. Long before I gave serious thought to William S. Burroughs or the beat movement, I was a fan of Laurie Anderson. Very often I’ll see, read, or hear an artist say something that will lead me to explore other topics more thoroughly.

In the words of Number Five, “Input. More INPUT!”