Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lessons Learned?

One thing is for sure, unwillingly, the tea party has forced mainstream America to become engaged in the ugly sausage making process of governing.  Some people have found the entire process confusing and stressful, but that is a good thing, because making assumptions with ill-gotten information is becoming a thing of the past.

What have we learned from the media-driven stress and the man-created drama?
  • That the president does not have absolute power.
  • That Governing begins in our cities, counties and states first, Washington later.
  • That Mid-term elections matter more than anyone thought possible.
  • That our government is rife with elected officials blatantly catering to corporations and not the people in their districts.
  • That social media helps greatly to relieve stress and cause it as well.
  • That the "news" media favors controversy and when there is none, they'll create it.
  • That factions within a party will destroy the party. 
Let's keep the last one in mind when we attack each other for not being progressive enough, liberal enough or demanding more.

What happened? 

For the duration of the Bush administration we saw the wrongs, the lies, the theft of our resources, and all we did was grumble.  We were hell-bent determined to elect a Democratic President but never went beyond that frame of thought because most believed that this particular effort would solve all the problems created by the previous administration instantly. All we wanted was to go back to our lives and put the nightmare behind us.

This is not beating up on Bush, these are facts that the powers-that-be to the right want to sweep under the carpet with revisionist history.  No one tried harder than former vice-president Cheney and his daughter Liz.  Let's keep in mind our past to ensure our future looks nothing like it.

We were wrong and nothing proves it more that the complete ignorance in which we lived during those fateful years.  No one knew the depth of the economic gutting done to our country and the world by those who own our government officials: Wall Street.  To this day, we still don't know, because much of what could have happened was averted by an obscene amount of money given to Wall Street.  President Bush did not want to be held responsible for giving Wall Street all that money, so as they are fond of saying; he "kicked the can down the road" and only bailed out Wall Street by 50 percent, leaving the other 50 percent to be distributed by his successor; President Obama.

Wall Street and big corporations do not like this man one bit. He speaks a strange language of serving the American people's needs and demanding fairness and equality in taxable contributions.  He has clearly stated that the top 2% have not contributed their fare share to the country that provided them with their immense wealth.  "Takers" don't like to be singled out or shown for what they are, hence, they started their massive campaign to undermine our president and strangle our country.

Enter the Tea party movement and its various incantations.  Heavily funded by corporations such as the Heritage Foundation, Koch Brothers, or the many Carl Rove, Bush's brain, organizations.

This faction is effectively demolishing the Republican party and has paralyzed our economy, what we fail to see is that the distraction of a debt ceiling is hiding a lot of other sins we are not paying attention to right now.  Riders in bills are being passed to allow the destruction of our national parks because no one is reporting on this and we are too busy arguing pundit's talking points instead of being vigilant on what is happening behind the curtain.

Excerpt from

“This bill is spreading death and disease across America as House Republicans massacre environmental safeguards meant to protect us all.”
For a comprehensive list go to Earth Justice and read House Continues Assault on Key Health & Environmental Protections and Congress V. The Environment: The 2012 Appropriations Rider Tracker 

While we focus on Washington's debt-ceiling drama we are ignoring activism that needs to take place in our communities.  While wrecking the environment is an enormous financial windfall to the coal and mining industry, let's not make the mistake of thinking that the corporatist machinery ends at the water's edge.  Total control of our governmental system is the final goal and the only way to achieve this is to make sure we have no rights and no options.

Across the nation, governors are dismantling the social structure we have come to expect would be there for generations to come: 

In Wisconsin, the tool of the Koch brothers could careless if he is re-elected or not, his job was to infiltrate government and cause as much damage as possible during his tenure.  Does anyone think for a second that Scott Walker will be unemployed once he is out of office? Think again and keep an eye out for what type of executive position within the Koch industries he is rewarded.

In Michigan, the governor is even more blatant, he has stripped local officials of any power to govern in their communities.

The list goes on and on, but it all serves the same purpose: Disenfranchise voters in 2012 elections and beyond.  Districts are being demolished, accessibility to voting is made difficult for some and impossible for others.  This is the only way they can win any election with the lack of a substantive platform that appeals to the vast majority.
  • Get involved in your community with the democratic party and help with voter registration.  Fight for the elderly and disabled because their voices are drowned in a barrage of nonsense from loud and dysfunctional individuals.
  • Stay informed of what your governor, your legislators and mayor's are doing on a daily basis and fight for your rights and those of the people in your community.
  • Follow Wisconsin's example and realize that it took time, grit, fortitude and determination to right the wrong of being absent during the mid-term election.
  • Support the president we have even if he is not left enough for us, because the alternative will render economic conditions far worse than what we have so far experienced.
I have not found anything to agree with when someone from the tea party opens their mouth, but found the following statement making me nod my head in complete agreement: "Government belongs to those who show up." - The mid-term elections proved him right.

Image: Carlos Porto /

Friday, July 29, 2011

Debt Ceiling Drama: Our National Treasures

Americans who still have jobs work hard and work long hours.  Their vacation time can be measured in rare long weekends or maybe a full week with no respite for another year.  Some of us save up for years just to take our kids, at least once, to experience what we collectively share as a nation.

Tourists coming in from Europe and other continents spend time and money in something that does not exist where they come from.  It should be a source of pride and joy in our collective hearts that other people want to come here and visit our National Treasures: Our National parks. 

The Grand Canyon is visited by millions of people every year.  It earns Arizona millions of dollars in gas revenues, hotels, RV parking, fast food, restaurants and supermarket sales.  It has created over 6,000 jobs and brought millions of dollars to the economy.

The revenue is not confined to Arizona, it extends across the states that provide lodging, food, gas and souvenirs to visitors along the way.  Europeans rent RVs online, Google their itinerary and pack as many miles as they can into their four-week vacations. Yes, 4 weeks.  

We recently spent a few days at Lake Chabot Regional Park where we met British and German families packed in those Rent America RV's so familiar around National Parks.  The German family was on their way to the San Francisco airport the next day after having been to Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon and Yosemite among a whole bunch of other places I could not keep track of.

Rarely has there been a time when we have visited the Grand Canyon or Yosemite that we did not end up at lesser known regional parks to rest up for a couple of days and be one of the few Americans in a sold-out location.

Enter the GOP who is not satisfied with the revenue generated by gently using and protecting our National Treasures, they want to mine the *%&%$ out of it on behalf of their corporate masters.  They have attached riders to appropriation bills that will allow them to start mining well ahead of the moratorium achieved by Ken Salazar, our Secretary of the Interior.

Frankly, six months is not enough time to even bring this subject to the public consciousness and explain how the mining would impact our immediate environment and the pristine parks we all have a right to enjoy.  But then again, maybe, just maybe, that is the actual plan.  Without having enough time to digest what is planned, the dirty deed can be done and there is no turning back.

So what if Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, had declared a moratorium on mining?  So what if the public is not interested in fouling the Colorado's drinking water that makes its way to the Hoover Dam and provides safe drinking water to over 25 million Americans? So what if uranium mining pollutes our drinking water?  Why should they care?

These people don't stick around to see what happens once their job is done.  Don't believe me? Ask yourself how close to the Florida Coast is the residence of British Petroleum (BP) executives.  The damage is done and they are long gone.

Ask yourself how close to Alaska is anyone associated with the-now-infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill? - The facts after the Valdez spill, years later. 

What about the spill at Yosemite National Park? - Also courtesy of Exxon - Update from the EPA on Yosemite

The fact is, that there are around 10,000 claims to mine in the surrounding Grand Canyon area and those claims WILL be honored, what we are discussing here is new claims that have no business being allowed without scrutiny and assessing environmental impacts.  

This is what the GOP does not want; A bunch of tree-hugging-liberal-hippies who think clean water and fresh air are more important that corporate profits.

We call them National Treasures for a reason: These parks are in OUR nation, they belong to all of us regardless of state lines, and they are meant to be passed on in pristine conditions to future generations just like they were passed on to us.

We may not be the wealthiest of people who can leave our kids and grand-kids billions of dollars, but we certainly can leave them unspoiled beauty, trees for oxygen and fresh water to drink.  We are not asking for much, but we are expected to give up everything for the mighty dollar.

The answer is NO! we won't.

Contact your representatives and support Ken Salazar, call his office and find out how you can help stop this runaway Congress from destroying everything worth saving.  The current Debt-Ceiling drama is meant to hide a variety of ugly sins they don't want us to know about.

This is one of them.  We need to keep our eyes open for more because as long as the news is dominated by Boehner, Cantor and the Tea Party having tantrums, these "little" appropriations are not being scrutinized, and this is unacceptable.

Images: By Tobias Alt CC BY-SA 3.0;  By User:Dschwen CC BY-SA 3.0


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Flip Flop? Fizz Fizz!

Hello! How are you today? Hopefully, you are in a serene island seeping a cool beverage and tossing your worries into the ocean breeze.

If you are like most politically engaged Americans you are home watching the political circus and wondering when someone is going to start screaming: "the emperor has no clothes on."

If you are John McCain you will rail against the hobbits of the Tea Party.  Actually, this is pretty funny, and the fact that lunatic Sharron Angle felt compelled to reply and did not waste any time to equate the tea party as the heroes who save the day is funnier still, since they are the ones destroying the country's economy and civil rights across the Nation.

"The Lord Of The Rings"  is getting a lot of mileage in this political silly season as well as hypocrisy and what Democrats have always been accused of: "Flip-Flopping" - no doubt, it will all fizzle away soon, but one can't help wonder how many ulcers is all this uncertainty and anxiety causing the population. 

Flip-Flop: Here is a video of McCain embracing and stomping in Las Vegas for Sharron Angle. 

And in the one below, he is trashing Sharron Angle and O'Donnell.  Of course, he did not mention his vice-presidential running mate, who belongs in the same category and is cut from the same cloth. - Has anyone "thanked" him for that yet?

 Your Comedy Break - Jon Stewart

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Your Political Power

No one can take your political power away from you unless you give it away.  No one can take it unless you allow those in charge take away your collective bargaining rights, demolish your educational system and make sure you don't have Social Security and Medicare at a time you are too frail to take care of yourself.  Can you imagine your grandparents picking  tomatoes off the fields in triple-digit temperatures for less than a $1.00 a bucket? Can you see yourself doing it now? let alone two or three decades later?

The pundits are raking in the money over our collective misery, the ratings soar on talk show radio and television when there is conflict, drama and anxiety.  Wall Street is doing fine, how is your 401K? How is your ROTH account? - Do you even have any of that left? Where you able to contribute?

Have you been unemployed for months or a couple of years? Are you hanging on to a job you hate because you have no other choice and feel trapped? - Your quality of life is directly linked to your political power and if you don't do anything to change the course this runaway Congress is headed, you, me and your neighbor down the street are going to become homeless and begging for sustenance at soup kitchens.

Do you think this is not going to happen? - Take a look at the relentless requests for donations to support free-clinics around the state and take a look at the lines of people who have not been feeling well for years, but pulled themselves up by their boot straps and endure pain and illness without relief. 

The letter on the debt ceiling issue to your Congressman can be sent to your Senators as well.  You can change it around, you can use it as a template for what you want to say, you can fax it, e-mail it, or send it snail mail, but please do something to have your voice heard by the elected officials.

You have every right to make your voices heard and while we all enjoy venting on social media to one another, no one hears us except our followers and we are stuck in a useless loop of anger and anxiety that does nothing to resolve the situation.

Your political power is your ability to take civilized action to effectuate changes.  When you feel dejected, take a look at our neighbors in Wisconsin and their ongoing struggle to rectify some incomprehensible wrongs perpetrated by a governor that is wholly owned by the corporations.

Wisconsin workers are exercising their political power and we need to do the same across the nation before the middle class is completely devastated beyond repair.  

It is not a myth: Divided, we fall. United, we can move mountains.  It does not get more grassroots than this: taking action towards a common goal collectively.  

If you are a progressive so far to the left that you can't see the right anymore, you need to side with your centrists, moderate neighbors and steer this ship in the right direction.  There will be time afterwards to pass better agendas and have a healthy discussion about any topic.

Before we do that, we need to stop the chaos and disorganization that has permeated the left since its inception. Strengthening your political power depends on the support of other like-minded individuals who think in term of "us" not "me"

Talk to each other in social media, but please, I beg you... Talk to your elected officials and demand responses because in your resolve and action, lies your power.

Donate directly to The National Association Of Free Clinics if you can. 

Get Involved Ideas:
  • Join or any other organization that aligns with your way of thinking. 
  • Join your local Democratic Chapter and attend meetings and get involved at the local level, because every state's success or failures in civil rights and governance we share collectively. 
  • Find out how hard or easy it is in your state for young, old and poor to be able to vote. Be an advocate for them and make sure you and people like you, will allow their voices to be heard this coming election cycle.
  • Join your local union chapters and get involved in lending a hand, your skills, your knowledge and your passion.  You don't have to work for the union to volunteer.
If you have any other ideas we can add to this list, please share with us.  The more of us thinking and working together, the better our solutions.

PEACE - Olivia

Monday, July 25, 2011

Letter To Congress

If you want Congress to hear you and stop referring to you as "The American People Want..." and actually let them know what you want, please feel free to copy the letter below, print it, insert the name of your state representative(s), sign it and mail it.

In these hard economic times, I hope we can all afford an envelope and the price of stamps.  Congress can't ignore hundreds of thousands of physical letters delivered to their offices, but have become adept to ignoring emails and electronic petitions.  You can can still do that and donate, but here, you get to do it for free and send a physical reminder that you are a human being and not an abstract member of a nebulous Middle Class that earns $250,000 a year. (that's what they think middle class is)

Go Here to find your congressperson by clicking on your state: Contacting the Congress.
Click on their name and you will see all their office's addresses. You can send a letter to each and every one of them.  The more, the better.

This sample letter has left blank the name so you can insert that yourself and you can modify it in any way you see fit.  Consider it a starting point if you don't agree with the language or the points made. 

Take action and talk to your representative(s) in plain, clear language. We, the American people, are the government.  If we don't like it, we must change it.  

Date _____________

My name & Address ___________________________________

To: Congressman _____________________________________

As a constituent in your district I am appalled at the political circus created by Congress with the United States of America debt ceiling.  We, the American people, are not deadbeats and work hard in our daily lives to put a roof over our family’s head and food on the table. 

We, the American people, expect our government to meet its financial and contractual obligations and are sick and tired of the political games played with our benefits, our tax dollars and the reputation of our Nation.

We, the American people, honor our debts and expect Congress to raise the debt ceiling permanently because we have other issues to deal with that have been taken off the table with this unpleasant distraction and mockery of our democratic system.

This letter is to inform you that as a committed voter and American, I demand the debt ceiling be raised permanently and Congress can begin to work in earnest to invest in our infrastructure and promote job growth across all 50 states.

We, the American people, understand the political football Congress is playing using our livelihood, our quality of life and our tax dollars as hostage in these nonsense negotiations. 

We, the American people, demand that you stop immediately.

We, the American people,  are sick and tired of the incompetence and bravado displays and we are not falling for it.  We have seen these games before and this is not where we want to keep going in perpetuity.

We, the American people, will be writing to you again after the debt ceiling has been raised regarding pressing issues that affect us, the American people.  It seems Congress has never spoken to one of us when they posture for the cameras.

This letter is very clear: We, the American people, want Congress to raise the debt ceiling permanently and  never, ever threaten us with eliminating Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.  We, the American people, are entitled to those benefits we have paid so dearly for and we refuse to be held hostage so the top 2% can continue to profit without contributing to our society or democracy.


Image: Atsawintarangkul /

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blog Money

Over the past few years I have received links to making enormous amounts of "passive income" from blogs and websites through Google Ad Sense and affiliate accounts.  While I don't understand how people claim they are earning thousands of dollars a month while sitting at a beach house in the Bahamas, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say their experiences are better than most people's and if they are not trying to sell me something that requires a subscription, a multi-level marketing scheme or pushing some other product, I'd say they are legit in their claims and know how to make blog money better than anyone else.

Most people's experience with monetizing their blogs maybe more in line with my own than those who are sipping Mai-Tai's and Pina Coladas under a shady palm tree in some tropical location.  You never hear about the other side of the coin (pun intended) but you should if you want to monetize your blog and try to make ends meet. 

Google Ads

You see these in every blog that has a Google Ad Sense account.  These ads can be configured to display something you like or avoid having something you don't like.  

In this particular blog, the only thing I won't tolerate is adult content and I allow Google to decide on the ads content based on what the topic of conversation is.  Since I write mostly about politics, the ads will generally be political in nature, even if I don't endorse or support the organization or politicians depicted in the ad.  For instance, under Politicians Gone Wild: Ron Paul, on the preview page I saw ads for organizations that support him or advertised Ron Paul's Website. However, I don't see what my readers see because Google is a very smart and complex engine that tailors ads to everyone differently, so your view of one of my pages will have different ads than your friend viewing the same article from a different computer or location.

Keep this in mind when you try to monetize your blog or website and read the Google Ad Sense instructions well to make sure you get the right product placement for your blog or website.

Occasionally, there may be an advertisement for a car or a cell phone company and most of the time, the Google wizards will display ads differently to each viewer because they have access to viewing history and cookies people allow sites to collect from their browsers.  Other ads may be targeted based on the IP address or referral links and the ads are adjusted to that particular segment of the viewing/reading population.

The idea is simple: Your readers click one ad on your blog and view the contents. They like something? they buy it. Don't care to do so? They don't. The fact that they clicked on the ad on your blog or website may net you a couple of pennies that will be added to your account and you can cash out whenever the account reaches the total of  $100.  

Sounds easy, right? - Many website owners find that the "passive income" and the colorful drinks with umbrellas in them is nothing more than a dream.  It is more common that people won't click on the ads and simply read the content they came to read in the first place.

If you are looking to monetize your blog, you need to know that the experience you are looking for may not be available to you.  Why? because a lot of it has do with the following:
  • What you write about.
  • How much traffic you get.
  • How many sites refer your article to their readers (back links)
  • The quality of your work.
  • How visually appealing or easy to read and maneuver is your website or blog.
  • How much time and effort you spend on placing keywords throughout your article so search engines can list your blog or website near the top of the search results. Also known as SEO. 
  • How heavily you promote your website or blog on social media.
Note:  There is nothing wrong with promoting your site on social media, you will see the same links over and over from writers to their blogs, or to specific articles they wrote for months on end.  I can't do that but you need to know that the difference between them and me is in the hundreds of dollars a month (to their favor).  I tried it once and could see the difference in earnings, but I just can't justify what seems like "spamming" people who trust me with the same article for years on end.

Topics For Your Blog

Political blogs are fairly common, people who are well known in the political arena as writers, pundits or celebrities will make a substantial amount on a regular basis.  People like you and me, not so much. 

I rely on people wanting to read what I write and don't invest much time on monetizing the content because I write for people, not search engines.  Therefore, I have to rely on my readers (small group so far) on reading, liking it and referring the article to like-minded friends.
If you are new to blogging and would like to appeal to a variety of people and get a ton of traffic to your site, you may have to write about things you don't like to write about, but things that people are eager to read about.  For instance, pick a trendy topic like Justin Bieber, Harry Potter movies or books or merchandise.  Your blog should be updated regularly and kept up to speed with the ever-evolving public taste. 

Warning:  Never, ever, ever... click on your own ads or it will be a breach of contract that will terminate your Ad Sense account with Google permanently.  Read Google's Terms Of Service (TOS) and understand fully what you are doing.  

Affiliate Accounts 

There are various of those, Target and Amazon allow blogs and websites to display products on their pages and for everyone who buys something from them through the web or blog pages, the owner gets a few pennies.  For instance, through a link on these pages, or any other blog that has Amazon ads,  a reader could choose to purchase something entirely different, let's say the reader clicks on an Amazon ad for a pair of pliers, but once on the Amazon pages, he decides to buy a movie at Amazon instead.

If your readers go through the website or blog's link to Amazon, they will still get the movie at the Amazon price, but you, the owner of the blog or website, gets a few pennies or a dollar deposited to your account.  You won't earn a penny if your readers do not purchase anything from going through your link, so don't get your hopes high and start packing up the Bermuda shorts and sunscreen yet. 

Note: The amount you earn through your affiliate accounts is dependent on the amount of purchase and the commission rate that your affiliate account qualifies for.

Sell Your Stuff 

Some blogs and websites have a page or two incorporated into them in which the owner sells personal products, services, advice or has their Ebay store account prominently displayed to attract more customers and get back links from a wider network.

If the Ebay account or services offered are popular, the owner of the website may be well on their way to pack up their bags for a tropical paradise.

If you are new to this, I encourage you to read unbiased accounts of how to make money from your blog that do not try to sell you anything in order to assure your success.  Also, keep the information provided here in the back of your mind and read accounts of people who will honestly share their experiences with you for free.

PEACE - Olivia 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Shame On NV Energy

The short story is that Sierra Pacific was a great company that provided reliable service to customers and treated its employees with dignity and respect.  It was purchased by Florida Power and the profits that should have been invested in Nevada have found their way into the pockets of its executives.  Under its new name, NV Energy is following in the unpleasant path we are seeing around the country: union busting, break retirement contracts and deny health benefits to its employees.

Watch the video below and sign the petition to release an internal report between former Senator Ensign and NV Energy executive Yackira.  Sign the petition to release the records.

This petition should be signed by anyone who wants to know the truth about Senator's Ensign's deep involvement in what appears to be illegal activities conducted on his behalf and/or per his orders by members of his staff.  Letting Senator Ensign slip away into the oblivion of forgotten politicians is a mistake that will continue to repeat itself across the Nation who will continue to enjoy a life of luxury thanks to the back-breaking labor of regular folks.

Below is an excerpt from the open letter sent to the Phillip G. Satre, Chairman of the Board at NV Energy by Shame On NV Energy
As your employees, customers and fellow Nevadans, we are calling on you to release the results of your internal investigation into the hiring of Douglas Hampton, the husband of former Senator John Ensign’s mistress. Mr. Hampton was indicted on charges of violating federal lobbying rules while he was your employee, and as a public utility – our public utility – we ask that you not keep us in the dark and release the full, unedited report.

We know that as CEO of NV Energy, Michael Yackira is the person ultimately responsible for hiring Douglas Hampton. What we don’t know is if Yackira – knowingly or not – violated the law or NV Energy policy in doing so. As the Chairman of the Board of the utility, we are calling on you to be transparent and release any and all findings of your investigation.

The Shame on NV Energy Community
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 has represented workers at NV Energy since 1945. 
Full text of the letter . Please, sign the petition and support our unions everywhere.

PEACE - Olivia

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hating On Women

The republican leadership is never seen in mixed company when it comes to making decisions that impact the nation and yet, they have no qualms about intruding in personal and private matters that affect women. The attacks on Planned Parenthood across the nation are a perfect example of that.   They could care less if these women die of ovarian or breast cancer.  It must be a small price to pay if they can be denied low-cost birth control pills. (keep them pregnant and then eliminate funding to health care and nutrition for the infants they bring into the world)

The republican leadership has repeatedly insisted that government is bad for us because it intrudes into our lives with unwanted regulations, such as the EPA.

Photo by Marcus J. Ranum
When it comes to personal intrusion and regulations, all bets are off.  They want government to regulate women in every aspect of their lives.

No one does this better than republican leadership.  In fact, they get downright personal and make no mistake, it is a form of slavery and oppression that should not be tolerated in this day and age.

Women's uterus should only be discussed with a doctor by the women seeking health care.  But the leadership is establishing legislation around the country in which doctors are told what to do and say to women who want or need to terminate a pregnancy.  They also want to eliminate women's access to contraceptives.  Contraception is something only a woman and her mate should be discussing and the rest of us have no business intruding upon.  

The government has never intruded in a woman's decisions to health care and reproductive rights, except to make it available and affordable.  One would say this is not an intrusion but a matter that has achieved the kind of attention as requested and fought for women who came before us.  The republican leadership and religious extremist, expect women to be beautiful, subservient and malleable.  The picture above is a good example of a fantasy about women that "real women" have fought an uphill battle for decades to get rid of.

Enter Michelle Bachmann into the political arena and we have the perfect blend of what the religious right and the republican leadership consider "perfect women"  These women are more deserving of our pity than our dislike, and yet, we can't, as "normal" or "real" women help ourselves; We loathe them. (Palin is included in this category of unrealistic perfection)

Almost every woman can categorically state: "I am NOTHING like her." and yet, they want us to think, talk and be just like them because dealing with real women is too hard.  We should just know our place and shut up. (Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz knows all about this)

Michelle Bachmann has several things going against her:
  1. She hears the voice of God in her head and acts upon it. (her career choices, whom to marry, how many children to have and foster, running for office... you name it, even when to stop eating and fasting is ordained by the God voice in her head)
  2. She hates gays, but the "talk on the street" is that her husband is in the closet and she claims to be "very proud" of the clinic her husband runs to "cure the gay." through prayer and techniques that have been proven to be psychologically detrimental to conflicted individuals and young adults.  Her husband has called gays: "Barbarians"
  3. She suffers from debilitating migraine headaches that force her to take several days a month off from work.
Enter Mr. Pawlenty who could not waste a second after hearing the news about Mrs. Bachman's headaches to trash her as incapable of holding high office because the job requires the president to not take a day off.  Really? she is that weak? These are the standards we now have for her?  In that case, since her headaches are so debilitating, she should be unfit for her current position as well.

President Bush took almost 1/3 of his presidency as vacation time and members of Congress only work six months a year thanks to House Speaker John Boehner who instituted one week of work with one week off.  What is their excuse for goofing off in these times of economic turmoil? When it comes to Michelle Bachman, she is not fit for leadership because she takes time off? 


Perhaps we can all agree she is not fit for a leadership position, but can we say that it has nothing to do with her headaches? But her delusions? Her dismal understanding of history? (Our Founding Fathers abolished slavery, for instance) and her persistence in putting her whacked religious mantra ahead of governance?  This is what should be the topic of conversation, not her headaches which may be very well triggered by stress and neurological conditions.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz is now insulted and degraded for being a strong representative for the people in her district and standing up to the GOP/Tea Party agenda to end Medicare and Social Security.

This is what a REAL woman in politics doing her job sounds like, and most of all, she is coherent, on point and factual.

For her courageous stand against killing Medicare and Social Security, Allen West made the following statements to her via e-mail:
"Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up."
"that you are not a Lady" and "shall not be afforded due respect from me!" He said he was alerting House leaders to her "heinous characterless behavior."
While it falls to the pundits on the left to mock and point out how ridiculous Bachman and Palin are, it is appalling that the GOP will finance and promote the Michelle Bachmann's of this world as representatives of their ideals.  Women, to these folks are a mockery, and as a spokesperson for  Debbie Wasserman Schultz stated on the response to Allen West:
"... the truth hurts."and the GOP has been hurting women from day one.

Image: Marcus J. Ranum CC BY-SA 3.0

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Minimum Wage, Health Care And Education

Santa Cruz, California
We have heard people disparage "socialist Europe" as a den of high taxes, government regulated industries and a host of other bad, bad, things that make capitalists spew venom about Europe on U.S. Soil.  

If someone is right, then we have to give them their due, but to twist the truth into a gnarled ball of lies, is reprehensible.  Using the irrational fear of communism, socialism and other less understood -isms to impress onto Americans how good they have it here and don't complain or compare is an outrage.  To add insult to injury, they degrade, insult and patronize countries who have actually enacted a democracy that works for its people.  We need to  STOP listening to this garbage and take a good look at how really bad other countries have it in comparison to our great Nation. 

We owe it to ourselves to separate fact from fiction. After all, we are not children, we can deal with the boogieman and turn on the light.

Yes, Europeans pay higher taxes on personal income and higher gas prices.  True.

Also true: Europeans drive cars that give them far higher mileage than the monstrosities most of us house in our garages. Gas mileage in European cars approaches 60 MPG and the great-looking Ford ECOnetics 2012 boasts 67 MPG.  

So yes, they pay more per gallon but with such high mileage, even a vehicle a couple of years old, would still average around $1.50 per gallon in the end.  When was the last time we saw those prices here? - We'd have to fill up our tanks several times to run the same amount of miles European models run, and pay a lot more by the end of the trip with our American versions.  So yes, they pay more, but it is well worth it financially and environmentally.

Europeans pay higher personal taxes than American workers. Yes, they do. They most certainly do! and good for them!

Their taxes go to pay for social services they all enjoy: From paid 5 to 6 weeks vacations a year, to an excellent school system that provides top-notch quality education from pre-school to university graduations.  

Our tax dollars go to subsidize corporations, not our social structure.  We are on our own and not seeing a good return on our investment (ROI)

What is most appalling is that American companies have no problem having a huge percentage of their labor force in European countries, paying taxes and the high wages they command.  When it comes to the American counterparts ... not so much.  Please bear in mind that even Microsoft made the statement that the workers in Ireland were exactly what the company was looking for: EDUCATED.

We need to work on that pesky education thing because if we get any less educated, all we are good for is digging ditches and shoveling manure for minimum wage.  By the way, do you know what the minimum wage is in some of those god-awful-good-for-nothing-socialist-countries?

The Netherlands: Minimum Wage: $19.00 an hour. 
France: Minimum Wage $17.00 an hour.

How about these guys?:
Australia: Minimum Wage $20.00 an hour
New Zealand: Minimum Wage: $13.00 an hour.

What about other European Countries?

Other European countries do not have a minimum wage because wages are agreed upon through WORKER'S COLLECTIVE BARGAINING and the industries they work for.  It has to be said because we are going through a dismantling of worker's collective bargaining rights across the United States and we are in the fight of our life when it comes to maintaining a minimum of dignity in quality of life that will affect future generations.  Health care is as much a part of good wages and education as minimum wage and taxes.


Sweden: Parental leave for both parents - 13 months total with at least three of those going to the father.  Pre-natal and post-natal care has made Sweden the country with the lowest infant mortality rate.  Sweden has made children's health a top priority and their educational system is top notch.  This makes for healthy and well educated adults that understand the priviledge and responsibility of having a solid social foundation to build upon. 

France: Do we really have to explain this again? - You don't pay a dime to get health care, it comes out of the "high" taxes they pay and doctors never deal with insurance papers, have to get authorization or request reimbursement.  They actually do something really strange: They take care of their patients and they make house calls (free, of course!)  The taxes also provide new parents with home visits from health providers and pay practically nothing to have their children enrolled in pre-school and daycare.  French people are also entitled to a free college education.  An educated population makes for a strong country and social fiber.  You know, like Ireland... where Microsoft is.

Canada:  For all the talk about brown people coming across the border to pick tomatoes, you would think we have it made in the shade.  Nope! Canadians put up with Americans going across the border to get health care and Mexico is inundated with folks coming across the border to get their medical and dental care.  We don't see this in the news, do we?

The Canadian health care system is not perfect, but considering what we have in the United States, it looks like Heaven. Canadians do not understand the stress over health care Americans have, they have never experienced it.  Read this account of an emergency appendectomy in Canada by an American.

What exactly are we doing that remotely compares to what these countries are doing? - Well, we are...

... sending money to free health clinics so people who can't afford insurance, have no money to pay for a doctor or medication can have their lives saved by the likes of you and me who are also stressed out over getting enough coverage for our loved ones and sweating bullets over pre-authorization and co-payments and charges that are arbitrary and rarely in our favor.

Donate if you can to The National Association of Free Clinics. You may just save someone's life. 

On a final note: It is embarrassing that our health care has come to this:  Long lines of suffering Americans who make the health care lines resemble soup kitchens from The Great Depression.  We all know how it came to this, we need to stop, think and act on behalf of each other, because yes, we are our brother's keepers and we should take this "socialist" agenda to heart.

Europe has its problems but people are more than willing to work on them and resolve them because they value family, community and quality of life.  Maybe we need to do the same because whatever it is we have been doing ... is not working.

PEACE - Olivia

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Separation of Church and State

Does anyone give a hoot if Mitt Romney is a Mormon? Does anyone care if the next President of the United States is an Evangelical Christian? Do we care if they are Catholic?

To the vast majority of people,  the answer is 'no'. No one cares, we have become very accepting of people's religions unless, of course, they claim to be Muslim.  The boogie-man of Islam-a-hate is alive and well and it is unlikely we will see a decent human being who chooses the Quran (Koran) for spiritual guidance.  That's okay, Catholics were not favored either until Kennedy and even then, it was a struggle for Irish Catholics to be taken seriously.  All this is part of our collective history and  part of this magical and painful evolution in our democracy that we must endure.

With all candidates for President in the GOP being Evangelical Christians, the only one that stands out like a sore thumb is Mitt Romney because he is a practicing Mormon and most people only know that there are those within the Mormon culture who believe polygamy is a God-given right as ordained by Joseph Smith.  We also know that HBO's "Big Love" was a delightful, crazy show, that made many contemplate various angles of polygamy; The ones who openly choose as adults to embark in a plural marriage and those who are forced into that lifestyle since birth.

The Mormon religion is viewed as "weird", a "cult", and shrouded in strange practices that other religions and mainstream society view as unhealthy, amoral or borderline illegal.  The fact is that most people know very little about the Mormon religion and Mitt Romney's presence in the GOP field as a viable candidate for the presidency makes the situation even more salacious.  Why? because no one knows enough about it and no one cares until the man jumps in the race for the second time.  The controversy over Mitt Romney is worst this time around, because among the other participants he stands out as the only logical and level-headed individual in the room.

That in itself is enough to drive righ-wing extremists over the edge and overlook every "peculiarity" about Michelle Bachmann.  Including her affinity for hearing the voice of god in her head telling her to major in tax law, marry her husband, run for Congress.... the list goes on.  To hear Michelle Bachmann talk, one gets the impression that even what to have for breakfast or when to fast is dictated by the voice of god, which she clearly hears in her head.

Mitt Romney looks like the most normal person in the world compared to the likes of Bachmann, Palin, Ron Paul, Pawlenty, and Newt Gringrich.

Basic things we take for granted about the Mormon religion:

Mountain Meadows Massacre : Mormons slaughtered emigrants in a cowardly attack and entrapment. There are a variety of books that explore this part of the Mormon history.
They wear "Magic underwear"
The man is the family's religious leader or "priesthood holder"
Mormon women's depression has been written about extensively.
Blacks were not allowed any of the privileges of being Mormon until 1978.
There are over 13 million Mormons world-wide. Most recent conversions, of all places; Africa.
It is rumored that they have strange rituals in which elders watch a virgin couple have sex on their wedding night.

But there is more to Mormon current religious practices, secret rituals and what is required to be a high-ranking member like Romney.  Yes, much more and some of it is hard to digest and a lot of it hard to believe.

Tricia Erickson who, as a former Mormon, has some very strong opinions about Mitt Romney will gladly explain it all if we give her enough time.  Her book titled "Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters" has created concern among Mormons who are busy discrediting her in blogs and forums.

Tricia Erickson questions whether she wants a president that believes he will become a god upon his death and whose allegiance to the church, its teachings, and its policies are part of a sworn oath in which the Mormon Church will take precedence over the United State's Constitution.

Tricia Erickson has some very strong opinions and insight, among them:"An indoctrinated Mormon should never be elected President" -  the highlighted link will take you to the CNN interview.  Her position as of today has not changed and on a radio interview this afternoon,  she repeated some of her insights into the depth and breath of Mitt Romney's commitment to Mormonism and how bad this is for America.  I'll render a more informed opinion after I read the book and cross-check facts.


If we can't trust Mitt Romney to govern the country to serve all people equally because he  wears his religion on his sleeve, can we trust anyone who claims their religion is the driving force in their life?  Could this be why the Founding Fathers decided on separation of Church and State? It certainly had nothing to do with the Mormon Church, since it had not been invented at that time.

Much has been made about the Mormon's belief that their religion is superior to others. Mormons believe Catholics are darn near the Anti-Christ... but wait! So do the Evangelicals right?  They think their religion, and them by extension, are better than anyone else.

Pastor John Hagee called the Catholic Church, "The Great Whore of Babylon"  among other despicable and unrepeatable diatribe against Haiti and New Orleans that reeks of racism to high heaven.  Most recently, he has denounced Oprah Winfrey as a tool of the devil or such nonsense and blamed the troubles of Japan on the Emperor having sexual relations with the Sun Goddess. (yeah baby! when they have an affair with a demon, it is a hot one!)

But what about Palin's exorcism and the clear hatred of Jews by the KENYAN pastor who is an expert in casting out witches?  She claims he was instrumental in getting her to the Governor's mansion by praying over her.  The video below is from Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow reporting on the story.

But what about Catholics? Can we trust a Catholic as President? Would his/her allegiance be to the Pope? or to America? That was the rhetoric spewed against President Kennedy and if there was another Catholic (a real one, not a Gingrich type) running for president, we will hear all of that again. We can almost bet money on it.

Religious wars need to be fought out of our government.  Lunatics and radicals use the cloak of religion to never have to answer any questions on policy because they wrap themselves in religious righteousness and will quote the Bible to justify their actions.  Or in Mitt Romney's case, follow The Book of Mormon and his church superiors.

Some of these people are well funded delusional zealots -  Michelle Bachmann is someone that once we put aside the ridicule, we need to ask ourselves if a mental health evaluation is in order.

Her husband, Marcus Bachmann, is a partner in a clinic that works "to cure the gay"  His recent remarks can be seen in the video below and it makes you wonder if this entire concept of separation of Church and State by our Founding Fathers was put in place with just cause. 

Could they have envision the current level of religious insanity (or fervor) that has permeated our political discourse since President Obama was elected?  Could they have envisioned the litmus test President Obama would be forced to pass time and again to prove his Christianity? - Or had they seen enough religious history ending in debauchery, prosecutions, rape, delusion and unbridled need for power and wealth in their own life time that they wanted to spare us and ensure that a democracy truly serves all people regardless of their faith?

Boy! did we screw up by allowing religion to intrude in our governance.

I am wondering if we will ever elected someone who claims to be agnostic, Wickan, or an atheist.  Even though religion should not be an issue, if  we can't avoid it, maybe we need to try something new  because the rhetoric and insanity is failing to shock and awe.  We get bored and annoyed.

Thinking  individuals look for substance in a person, not religious dogma.

Image: Cross by renjith krishnan /

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Social Security and Other Distractions

"They say" that people don't read anymore, that they need sound bites and online writers should keep their articles to one page because we all suffer from collective Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I disagree, I think we can read and comprehend better than they give us credit for.  Today I want to throw a few things out there worthy of consideration because apparently, we have so many issues going on that we can't keep track of everything and the confusion is giving us indigestion.

The more issues that are conflated, the more anxiety and apathy generated - That, in my opinion, is the plan. Some of the "issues" are not issues at all, but between the games played by the politicians and the lazy media, we are led to believe that there is not a single person left in this country capable of reason or adult-like behavior.


Social Security is an insurance every working stiff pays into through payroll tax deductions.  This insurance says to every working man and woman out there, that when our bodies begins to decline, our muscle tone is not what it used to be and our most productive and energetic years have been spent to benefit a company or corporation, we will be ENTITLED to receive a measly $500 to $800 a month or so, to supplement whatever we have saved up for our retirement in the form of a pension plan, ROTH and IRA accounts.

Some individuals pull in $2,000 a month or more because they have contributed a tremendous amount in their lifetime through payroll deductions.  They too, are ENTITLED to those checks in their older years because their insurance premiums were higher than most.

What are the odds that your 401K will be solvent in your later years? What are the odds that your pension plan has not been used as petty cash by the gamblers on Wall Street? What are the odds that you have earned enough credits through a life of hard work to even merit $800 a month in Social Security benefits?

Maybe you have had great paying, back-breaking jobs that kept you in the category of Middle-Class financially but placed you in the position of health-risk to most insurers and now, as you approach your later years with pains and stiffness in your joints, you wonder, if you can just stop... stop working and start living, because at some point you are ENTITLED to stop.

That is the story we have been told: Work hard all your life and when you get old(er) you will be able to enjoy the product of your labor.  You are ENTITLED to it, you played by the rules and America has a contract with you that is solid as a rock.  After all, this is the United States of America and we keep our promises because we are honorable, decent and in the end, a Nation governed by laws and moral rectitude.

Somewhere along the way, greedy bastards have kept an eye on your contributions and decided that if they skim a 'little off the top' you won't notice.  Social Security is sound, there is no shortfall in Social Security.  In fact, it has been such a successful program that Congress has never felt qualms on using YOUR money to fund crap we don't need or want by leaving I.O.U's behind and conveniently forgetting to create revenue to restore what was "borrowed".
Now they are raising up dust telling you that they want to kill Medicare, disassemble Social Security and give you a "voucher" for everything.  From schooling your children to providing for your old age.

Maybe Wal Mart will accept your vouchers in conjunction with newspaper coupons (if newspapers are still around by the time you retire) and give you the colonoscopy you need by another retiree earning minimum wage.  Maybe Target will match the deal and maybe, just maybe, your children won't mind letting you stay in the backroom for the remaining of your miserable old life.

Is it true? are they going to dismantle Social Security? In the words of Speaker of the House John Boehner: "HELL NO! YOU CAN'T".  Because we are not going to allow it.  The greed and corruption is no longer disguised with euphemisms we may be bamboozled with; it is up front and center, and frankly, we would have to be complete morons to confuse the so-called "plan" with a real solution to a NON-EXISTENT problem.

I also expect that any changes made to either social security or medicare will be to streamline the system and make it better.  Elected democrats are not suicidal or weak enough to allow their crowning glory to be trashed.

Older folks were fond of saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, Social Security ain't broke, but the greed-that-be wants to get their hands on all of it.  Wall Street was not satisfied with the gazzillion dollars they got from you or the quadrillions they gave each other in bonuses for a "job well done" destroying America's economy, shipping YOUR jobs overseas or lying through their teeth about their 'creative mortgage incentives'.  They want more and there is only one place to get more without doing any kind of work, producing a single thing or being held accountable for: YOUR money.

Social Security looks to them like that little jar of loose coins and singles some parents keep in the house for "just in case" moments.

I don't believe for a minute that Social Security is going to be destroyed, it is one of the greatest democratic achievements of our time and at the time of inception, it became a national treasure.  A nation that takes care of its citizens is a great nation indeed.  Third World countries can't or won't because their resources are accumulated and squandered by the top 2% or by one big, extended royal family.  (Does it sound familiar?)


Other countries did not have this safety net for the elderly, widowed and disabled and they took a look at their situations and did something about it.  Today, every industrialized nation has an ongoing safety net that keeps expanding and changing with the needs of the times and their population. Yes, they have done better and we need to look at it and implement it.  Don't you think that corporations have a real problem with credibility when they scream against unions, minimum wage and taxes?


For instance, General Electric has a workforce in France that earns more than their American counterparts doing the same job. They are Union workers and G.E. pays more in taxes in France than in the United States. Their employees get FIVE PAID vacations a year plus more PAID holidays than their American counterparts, and yet, they love doing business there and throughout the globe.

Keep that in mind because GE is NOT the only corporation doing business abroad and not bringing the zest for innovation and production to the United States, as a matter of fact, in March of 2011, G.E. will acquire a French company by investing 3.2 Billion dollars - A wonderful business move, but G.E., like many others, is no longer an American Company, G.E. and others are multi-nationals with no particular loyalty to country of origin.

In spite of what the corporatist Supreme Court says, corporations are not people, the sole purpose of their existence is to maximize profits and eliminate costs.  Humans care about humans, corporate social responsibility is implemented by people working for the corporations who must influence the culture of the workplace to make things happen.

Think about it for a while, let it percolate, and take a realistic look at our way of life.  Consider that their global expansion includes Spain, Germany, The Netherlands and Japan just to name a few but little to no developments in the United States.

Corporations are not evil, they are allegiances created on paper, but some of the people running those corporations have a tunnel vision that precludes them for seeing or caring about the effects of their actions on the environment we all must share and the lives of families across the various communities they operate in.

Exxon and British Petroleum have more recently been in the news, but there are others who keep taking and don't give back.  They have no plan of action for how they mess up and worst of all, they accept no responsibility for the damage they do.

The solution is not to stick the hands in the cookie jar and deplete or privatize Social Security, but to demand social responsibility from company's and corporations as the price of doing business in what can easily be, once again, the greatest country in the world.  


We have remained stagnant and we are no longer #1 at anything.  For some reason, we think that if we continue to bring up American exceptionalism from generation's past, somehow it rubs off on us.  Let us deal with reality shall we? - Our generation's exceptionalism will be done by our generation to add to the ones that came before us, not by claiming previous generations victories and struggles as our own.

We have the responsibility to leave our positive mark in OUR lifetime.  The greatest and biggest achievement of America's exceptionalism now-a-days seems to be bitching, moaning, whining and stomping our feet like toddlers who are not getting their way, while blaming Timmy, our invisible friend, for the mess in the living room.

Wisconsin residents decided to be proactive and rectify the situation.  The rest of the country needs to get off the couch and do the same.
  • Write letters to your elected officials that clearly express what you want them to do to benefit society.  Be clear, concise and respectful.  Do it often, demand responses and remember their names at election time.
  • Is there a special election being held in your state? VOTE damn it! and make damn sure you have vetted the person you are voting for.  They are not gods, they are YOUR employees and just like your foreman and human resources person made you sweat the interview before they hired you, you have the right and obligation to find out if this person applying for the job is properly qualified and understands what the best interests of your community are.
  • STOP blaming President Obama for every little thing and acknowledge the following: MANY have listened to talk radio show hosts as if they were the answer to what ails us.  When they tell you to stay home on the upcoming elections recall Boehner's words and say "HELL NO! WE CAN'T do that!" because those talking heads are just people with their own agendas, for some it is ratings, for others it is ego, and many of them are insecure individuals who need constant adulation and recognition to feel good about themselves.  Let's be clear: You are not a psychiatrist, you are not qualified to treat their emotional disorders and your time and energies are best suited to take care of you, your family and the welfare of your community.  Listen, think for yourself, and make the decisions that matter based on your situation because one size, does not fit all.
  • Give credit where credit is due and recognize that when we sat out this past election, we limited what President Obama could do.  If we had vetted the people who sought the job and retained the ones that do a good job, we would not be having the distraction and anxiety-causing drama we are exposed to daily.  We would have been well on our way to take our country forward instead of remaining stagnant. 
What Has President Obama Accomplished? and did he get any thanks or credit for it? Here is a sample:  WHAT THE "F" HAS OBAMA DONE SO FAR?  and the best Twit this week:
Conservatives think Obama is a Jesus-figure to the Left, and the Left expects Obama to walk on water... and both sides are crucifying him.
President Obama has said it over and over again, "I can't do it alone" and we left him alone.  He has said that if we want him to do something, we should "make him" do it.  

This form of leadership is frustrating to most because we want to put a guy in place that will handle everything without our involvement.  We are tired, we are busy, we are worried.  If we can do our paying jobs, why can't elected officials do theirs?

At some point we forgot that it is part of our job to hire the right people.  Maybe then, we can relax a bit, but until then, there is no rest for the weary.  We, the people, need be proactively involved and that includes organizing at the local level and being very clear with those who seek to represent us.  If they are cute, have great hair or look virile is no longer the criteria.  We need people who have a brain and who view their jobs of public service as serving the public, not their own personal agendas.  Senator Bernie Sanders comes to mind every time I think of a good example, surely there are other like him in every community?

  • What if all this nonsense is another distraction? What is being cooked behind the curtain? What happens when we do nothing? Hold no one accountable?
  • What is going to happen if we continue arguing with others in social media and with each other?
  • At what point do we show our kids that we are all grown-up and we are not their peers? That we are serious people and in charge of unpleasant situation, but the buck stops with us?
It is not pretty being the adult in the room, but as long as we keep acting like children, they will continue to bully us and take away our candy.  You know, the one we paid for by working hard.

I know it is a long article, but there is much to talk about. I look forward to your comments.