Thursday, April 23, 2015

The California Drought - Why should we care?

Like the song says, "All the gold in California, is in a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills, in somebody else's name". (I feel I must interject here that they not only bankrupted the state repeatedly using "trickle down/voodoo economics policies" instituted by Reagan and every GOP legislator that followed, then Schwarzenegger did the same. Their actual policies amount to "Spend, lie about how much we are spending, and let the rest of the population worry about it after we leave office.")
California has long been going in and out of needing federal assistance for years to run the most expensive experiment in social democracy that we have in any state - other than Vermont, which makes all their programs work, autonomously through higher taxes.
But, one of the things we have to say is their average citizens do make MORE MONEY per capita, that goes into the economy, than ANY of the red states, and almost more than all of them combined. Lots of the wealthy have at least one home there (Including the elite of the GOP, like Mitt Romney's houses with car elevators.), and it is the state that encompasses most of the movie industry and the original home of most of the original tourist traps along the roadside. That would include Santa's Villages everywhere, the Winchester Mystery House, Hearst Castle, Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo (and the entire Balboa Park Area, complete with HUGE lawns and flower gardens.) , and who can forget San Francisco, with the world's best public transit systems (San Diego MTS also features busses going from any stop every 15 minutes from lower L.A. County to the Mexican Border.)? They also have freeway systems that contain the most comprehensive infrastructure to rival most any place in the world.
But inevitably, the question always comes down to how much it costs to live there, the cost versus wages in the whole state, etc. It is an expensive place to live so wages there are about one and a half to two times the rest of the country.  While some, in other states, clammer for California wages, they don't want to live there because of the cost of California real estate seems unaffordable to anyone who doesn't live there and the driving time to commute for many people is longer, not to mention rush hour traffic.
Now, down to the real question that I 'selfishly' asked myself, while not considering global responsibility and compassion for others less fortunate (?) as a practicing Buddhist should, about California. I realize that most of California isn't just wealthy selfish out of touch morons as citizens, but should some of them start being more responsible? Let me weigh that in comparison to my own responsibility.
OKAY NOW! It occurred to me today that when we have problems in the rest of the country - that they don't seem to effect California in the same way. So, when we have problems, they (the California elite) pretty much ignore them, until/unless it effects them. This recent drought is no different. The latest joke going around Facebook and Twitter about this is that they only seemed to notice the drought when their huge lawns started to suffer. There is even an old song about rain in California, saying that it doesn't rain, it pours. Lead Republicans in that state have started ignoring the call by their wealthiest donors, the Koch Industries brothers, to ignore and even deny climate change, in light of the fact that now, THIS IS effecting them personally/directly. But still, not much action is being taken by the elite in California.
NOW, THE FLIP SIDE:
The governor, Jerry Brown, started a petition site to deal with this and here is what I think about that:
The same people who want to deny that climate change is happening, now have to explain to themselves why California is facing the worst drought they have ever had. When it happens in Arizona, they always say, "Well, it's mostly desert in Arizona, you can expect that there", and ignore it. Now, even the California governor is calling for some water resource preservation policies. There is a petition going around which is asking the legislature to quit allowing the Nestle Bottled Water plants in CA to desist hoarding all the clean water while there is a drought. I signed the petition at https://couragecampaign.org/ and left my own comments. I said, "The fact that these people want to "profitize" clean drinking water is disgusting enough. Now they want to hoard water for profit during a drought. They don't have any more right to it than the public. Water rights in most states where there are rural areas, as California also has, have laws protecting the right to access to drinking water for their livestock and crops. With the draught going on, this is twice as disgraceful. Let them find a real job and quit screwing the public over advertising and packaging a "natural resource" that everyone else needs. Between the bottled water industry and the "fracking" idiots and the other polluters (mostly Koch industries), we will no longer have any clean water soon. If this continues, our legislative system will be the next thing citizens demand to be reformed, like health care, or else you can continue with your system of everything being 'profitized', including YOUR JOBS, and then you legislators can pay to make laws and change the historical direction of things - the way the Citizens United Bill allows."
Was I being too rough on them in light of their tragedy? Is it too much to ask citizens to care about citizens' problems when the legislators that are asking for our help are just now acknowledging something that the majority of us have been saying for decades? I signed the petition because I care. Will that solve the problem? No, but it shows that someone outside of California cares about them.
I suggest you do the same, although you can go with your own conscience.
Have a nice day.
Arizona Mildman

Monday, March 30, 2015

Indiana, "The Bigot State"


The New Sexual Orientation

Discrimination and Hate Law,

Disguised As Religious Freedom


Restaurants and other businesses have something as a virtue that they call "customer service. It is defined literally as the hospitality that their business is known for extending to any customer who walks in the door. Hospitality can be defined as “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.” In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “hospitality” literally means “love of strangers.” Hospitality is a virtue that is both commanded and commended throughout Scripture.

The kind of people who are CINOS (Christian In Name Only) or Cafeteria Christians (take what you want and leave the rest) and rail against gay people, always cherry pick scripture from the Old Testament which, first of all, is not their portion of the bible. Usually they quote scripture from Leviticus and choose only to quote the part that suits their argument. They leave out the rest of the book. The next part, especially.

In the Old Testament, it was specifically commanded by God: “33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34, emphasis added).

In closing, I would like to leave you with this thought, especially for those of you who think discrimination of any kind doesn't effect you, even though you aren't part of the demographic (group/type of people mentioned) that is being discriminated against right at this moment, a really pertinent quote: 

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me." 


Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps, despite his ardent nationalism.

Monday, March 23, 2015

My Email to Mayor Fischer of Louisville

Some days I read the news and just want to ask, "What the hell is going on out there?" as if I don't live in the middle of this chaos we consider and call 'society". People are selfish, greedy, dishonest, and keep wanting to hurt each other, even little kids some time and I just want to cry and be depressed as if it were my responsibility to make things right. In a way, I guess all I can do is pray and do my part. Some days I see things that literally touch my black old sick heart and make me so happy inside that tears of joy or gratitude swell inside of me. 
Yesterday was one of those days. When I was upset and depressed about some personal stuff going on in my own life, someone posted an article on Facebook that kind of touched me inside. I tried to express myself in the best way I know how, to write it. Everyone in the Southern states get kind of painted as redneck, toothless, poor white trash, racist, ignorant, angry assholes by a lot of people because of some who are. That isn't fair. I am not saying that characterization isn't alive and well in some but I wish to always give my fellow man the benefit of the doubt and take the time and see for myself. 
There was a policeman in Louisville yesterday who helped a lady who was struggling. She had weighed 475 lbs. at one time and lost 200 lbs. That wasn't enough, she decided to participate in the annual Louisville 10 K  run. at the last of the trek, she became somewhat overwhelmed but stayed determined to continue. Her name was Asia Ford. The officer wasn't anyone most of us had heard of before, but he was just a genuinely nice man. I believe that when someone does something wrong we are to speak up about it and when we see someone do something we consider admirable, then we should say something then, also. I didn't write to him personally because I didn't know how but I knew his boss, the mayor, would have some sort of contact page so I wrote to him. I almost couldn't contain myself so I felt I had to express what I was feeling. He wrote back and the section below is what was said. 

"Mayor Fischer, 
I know by now you are proud of your officer, Louisville Metro Police Lt. Aubrey Gregory, who helped Asia Ford the last four miles of her ten K run. I read the story and had to say that, with all the bad press you have had locally because of officers being broad brush painted as angry and racist white guys that don't care about and actually hate black people. Lt. Gregory should be congratulated not for proving that all white people aren't racist, not for proving that all policemen aren't angry trigger happy internally scared insecure morons, and not for proving that he could do a good thing for a photo opportunity that some might take advantage of, but because my dad was a reserve policeman locally who thrived on public service and helping others and doing the right thing was something he thrived on, which is what I admired about my dad. What he should be congratulated for is just being a good human being, showing love and compassion for other people, and being an example, not only to the rest of the officers or even public servants that he works with, but as an example of what all Americans and all human beings in the world should be. 
I am sure you are proud to be having someone like that serving under you. I heard you are going to recognise him for that. I really hope I get to see that here. I am sure you are going to be having a busy day but I just had to let you know what I felt. Have a nice day, sir, and thanks.
Sincerely,
Steve Walker
of Phoenix, Arizona"


The mayor sent  me a thank you reply today. I hope he prints out a copy of my email and shows it to the officer involved 

"Mayor Information Mayor.Information@louisvilleky.gov

5:26 AM (14 hours ago)
to me
Good Morning.

Mr. Walker,

Thank you for sending such a positive letter.  Your input is appreciated."




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Reply From Senator John McCain Concerning Meals On Wheels

I am not sure who sent this, as I hear that Senator McCain doesn't do his own email, although I appreciate the response, no matter how long it took. It tells me that SOMEONE in his office actually read the content of my concern and correspondence with him and took the time to write an explanation of what was going on so far. I had sent a "contact form" email to his office when I heard that the "Meals On Wheels" program and other programs, that many seniors depend on, was being considered for budget cuts or suspension. 
So, in complete form, here is his response to me with my name and address edited out.


Senator John McCain

3:05 PM (2 hours ago)
to me
March 11, 2015
Mr. XXXXX   XXXXXXXXX
MY ADDRESS
Phoenix, AZ My Zipcode
Dear Mr. My Last Name

          Thank you for contacting me regarding your thoughts on the Older Americans Act (OAA).  I appreciate knowing your views on this issue. 
          The OAA was created in 1965 and defines a system of support that is of utmost importance to the dignity and self-sufficiency of our senior populations.  Some of the services are meals on wheels, adult day care to help people stay at home longer and out of nursing homes, transportation, employment for low income seniors, advocacy through the ombudsman, protection from abuse, research on issues significant in the field of aging, and pension/benefit counseling programs.  For Native Americans, it is the cornerstone of programs for their elderly and the only federal legislation that allows them to directly plan for the needs of their elderly based on their culture and traditions.
          Congress has reauthorized and amended the OAA numerous times since it was first enacted in 1965.  The last OAA reauthorization occurred in 2006, which funded the program through 2011.  While funding for most OAA programs, including the senior nutrition programs, expired in September 2011, Congress has continued to fund OAA services and programs through temporary bills. Most recently, OAA received $1.88 billion in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 (H.R. 83), which was signed into law by the President in December 2014.
          Legislation was again introduced this year that would reauthorize the OAA through 2018.   S. 192, the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, was introduced on January 20, 2015 and referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  Although I do not serve on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, it is increasingly clear to me that we must take action to see that the OAA is reauthorized.  
          I strongly believe the federal government has an obligation to assist those most in need and we must not abdicate that responsibility.  The OAA is a promise to our seniors that they can enter the last years of their lives with confidence that they will have a safe place, continuing independence, and a way to live and not just survive.
          Thank you for taking the time to share your views with me regarding this very important issue.  Please feel free to contact me on this or any other matter of concern.


         Sincerely,
 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Reply From and To Representative Schweikert of Arizona

I originally posted an article about the 20 week abortion ban and included a copy of my email to my Congressional Representative Schweikert from Arizona. It was posted at http://dumbargument.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-new-20-week-abortion-ban.html and you can refer back to that post to see what I actually said. The reply I got sounded to me like we were having a different conversation. He tried to side step my whole position and intoned a talking point instead of referring to and answering with a real reply to what I said, below his email you can read my reply to his effort to dodge me.

My reply FROM Representative Schweikert:

ARIZONA OFFICE:
10603 North Hayden Road
Suite 108
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
(480) 946-2411
Fax: (480) 946-2446
Congress of the United States // House of Representatives
COMMITTEE ON
FINANCIAL SERVICES

January 28, 2015
Dear Mr. Walker:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding your support for pro-life legislation.  I appreciate your advocacy on this issue and am pleased to take this moment to address your concerns.

This is a subject that is very close to my heart. My birth mother chose to give me up for adoption rather than have an abortion; I was given the chance to be here today.  If you have the time, please read the article that I wrote for the Daily Caller, which I have attached.

Since arriving in Washington I have supported and co-sponsored a number of pro-life bills, including Congressman Chris Smith's bill H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015, Congressman Trent Franks' bill H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and Congresswoman Diane Black's bill H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.

I am proud to have supported these measures and can assure you that I will continue to advocate for policies that defends the lives of unborn children and prohibits federal funding for abortion.

I am greatly honored to serve you in Congress and look forward to future correspondence with you.  Please contact me if you have a future questions or concerns that I may assist you with.

Sincerely,
(signed)
David Schweikert
Member of Congress
DS/KS 

My reply TO Representative Schweiker (As you can tell, I didn't say his name, who it was to, or address it, I just replied without even a regular signature.) :

I am hoping this was an auto response and not an answer to my message because then you would have completely ignored what I was talking about and what this legislation was about and went right on expressing your agenda instead of addressing my concern. The fact is that some defects, including the likelihood of being stillborn or born in the state we consider medically to be a "vegetable state" or basically braindead, is what this issue is about, not regular births. 
If you were trying to disarm me with your talk about you being born to a mother who might not have been married or was in a rough circumstance, which included my birth parents, and you were put up for adoption, you picked the wrong guy. 
So was I, and I am grateful, but obviously, as you can tell by my reply, I wasn't born braindead or a vegetable. Some of those symptoms can't be diagnosed in a fetus (which according to scripture, isn't alive until it starts breathing) 
Yes, I also was born as an illegitimate birth back when that mattered and was put on the birth certificates, legislated into being by hypocritical conservative religious people. .My birth parents were chastised by the same type of people in their own families and were Catholic, one British and one Italian, and without the pressure of bronze age dogma, might have felt good about keeping me until they got married (or not) later on. I wouldn't have had to grow up with that social stigma. But then, that is about me, who isn't brain dead or a vegetable. 
I am going to send this reply to you who I assume isn't a vegetable either, though if you reply again without addressing the actual topic I mentioned, I might wonder, maybe if at least partially, you don't comprehend reality and logic. This 20 week abortion ban is unfair to mothers because it is none of anyone's business, since the time limit is up the the woman's doctor and herself. It isn't up to bunch of men, especially, to decide for women what their options are supposed to be since we don't life in the Middle East or other patriarchal societies since the suffragette movement. 
Although, I am not a fan of abortion, or death imposed for any reason, as a Buddhist, there are exceptions and logical avenues that can't be avoided, but the main problem with bans and restrictions of this kind are that NO ONE has the right to tell a pregnant female what her future should be besides her and her parents, until she is over the age of 18, and then it's up to her. I find it ironic that the same people who seem so concerned about a fetus are the same ones who want to take food stamps away from poor children. So they care about you until you are born and then you are left on your own, if opportunities don't arise for your life and your parents are struggling. That might be hard for you to conceive but I see it every day. 
I am a senior now, so, I am old enough to remember when abortions were illegal and I realized, like the rest of society did at that time, that women, and young women especially, are going to get abortions, legal or not. I watched the news and saw local girls using clothes hangers to self abort and dying. The bans or restrictions are the first step in trying to go back in that direction and should be stopped, as I said in my first email. The right wing zealots and the bought and paid for corrupted people will stand on the side of the Healthcare Insurance Lobbies that don't want to pay for a woman's needs at all, if they could get away with it, and the religious zealots, although some have been brainwashed into believing it's a "biblical thing" although, as I said before, it isn't in the bible or any other religious text, and the guys at the pulpits are just mouthing what the people who pay the congressmen to keep them from having to pay income tax, tell them to say. 
And from the party that always talks about smaller, less intrusive government being the answer, this intrusion into women's healthcare is ludicrous. I will close with my last thought. 
We already had this argument for centuries before it was decided by a much more spiritually fit and morally correct society of Americans 50 years ago, arguing about it now is just a bothersome anecdote to what will be eventually archaic mythology. Someday, perhaps 50 years from now, society will look back and wonder what the hell we were thinking arguing about it continually. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The New 20 Week Abortion Ban

I would hope that all US citizens contact their representative in congress and tell them the same thing. You have my permission to copy and paste parts of this blog post. You can find your representative here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

My letter to my congressional representative, David Schweikert said:

"...
Representative Schweikert,
Radical anti-choice leaders in Congress have scheduled the first big vote on their bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks for THIS THURSDAY.
That means to me that it is important to stop this radical attack on the right to choose. I am writing to ask you to stop this bill from ever getting to the president’s desk, so we’re counting on you to pitch in.
Please stop the 20-week abortion ban and defend the right to choose. Opponents of abortion rights think they can score political points by focusing on women who need abortion care later in pregnancy. But here’s what this bill is really about: Politicians standing between women and their doctors in some of the most tragic situations imaginable. This is a direct link in the chain to ban all abortions altogether. Those of us who have been alive before Roe v Wade remember the coathanger abortions and backstreet clinics that caused us to insist that abortion be legal to begin with, but in this instance (the 20 week ban) , this is the type of backward thinking involved. Like it was decided during prohibition, people are going to drink and women are going to get abortions. Looking for wiggle room for some politicians to use abortion as a vote gaining tool is ludicrous 50 years after we already had this debate and decided. Her doctors and her are to make those decisions, not a bunch of radical bought and paid for, lobbyist pandering extremists. In this case, it doesn't even make any sense.
I will give you the example of Christy Zink. At 21 weeks, her doctors discovered that her fetus had no brain function—a condition that could not have been detected earlier. And when she testified before Congress, one of the lead sponsors of the 20-week ban told her to her face that she should have been forced to carry the fetus to term. That would have been 16 weeks of suffering and being reminded everyday that her baby would be born without a brain. That is ignorant and regardless for the feelings of the mother.
That’s the mindset that we’re up against—and if we don’t fight back and win, women like Christy may be forced to do just that. We all know this is actually about the lobbyists from the medical insurance companies, not a "biblical commandment", as the supposed right to life (but not to right to a good life after birth) opponents of over 20 week abortions claim. They don't want this same mother to get specialized healthcare covered in this extreme circumstance or pay for a disabled child until they die. The alternative is what they do in India and China, euthanasia at birth. This legislation is wrong, hurtful for the parents, and in my opinion, stupid.
Thank you for helping to make choice real for all women,"
A concerned citizen of Phoenix, AZ "


Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Story of Jose

(I will preface this today with saying that this isn't my original idea, I heard this from a man I know in the 12 step program, who, for traditions' sake will remain anonymous, but I thought it was a good idea to share this.)
The Story of Jose
The story goes that there was a man named Jose, who was an immigrant and janitorial worker in Los Angeles, who worked as a janitor at the only place that would pay him enough to make it worth it, a brothel. All the women who worked there loved him, he was just this nice man who was polite and seemed to genuinely enjoy cleaning up after everyone there and keeping busy. At a time when the majority of customers were being harassed by certain police sweeps and sting operations, the business for the whore house was at a minimal level and didn't see any chance of a return to the kind of business that they had done previously. Jose realized that his job was in danger, so he started making plans to do something else or seek janitorial work somewhere else, though he was having a hard time. 
One day the boss did finally say, "Joe, when you get a chance after you finish today, I would like you to come to my office." Jose knew what this meant and was mentally prepared for the event of his being fired. Something he didn't expect happened. 
The boss told him, "Joe, you are a good worker and we would hate to lose you, but we are having money problems right now and everyone has to double up on jobs if we plan to stay in business at all. We would like you to be the book keeper here, and clean up with your other job in your spare time from that."
Jose smiled but looked apologetic and he knew that he had to explain what he hadn't had to admit since he arrived there to anyone. "The problem with that is that I can't read or write. I never got an education in my homeland and this is not something I can learn or even want to, learn right away." The boss explained about some educational ideas, but Jose rejected them, and eventually he heard the words he had been dreading, "I am sorry, Joe. We will have to find someone else to do your job, so as of now, you are fired."
He smiled, thanked them for their help in employing him for so long and said, "Thanks, I can find something else, I enjoyed working with all of you, Goodbye." And he shook the boss's hand and walked out. The girls there had anticipated his leaving and had a small going away party waiting for him with a gift.
They gave him a basket, beautifully wrapped with cellophane and ribbons, full of fruit and flowers. He admired it a second and then, thanked them all, and tearfully walked out into the street. 
As he was walking to the bus stop. someone stopped him and asked where he got his going away present. He said he didn't really know, it was a gift - and the man started offering him money for it until he said, "I will give you thirty dollars."  Out of a job and needing money, Jose reluctantly gave the man the basket and took his money. 
As he stood there, an idea came to him. He rushed back into the brothel and asked one of the girls where they got the basket. She explained that they made the basket out of things they bought at several different places and put together, reciting the list of what was purchased and where. Joe ran out with his thirty dollars and went to the various stores, knowing he could create 3 more baskets with the that amount. When he sold those three, he made nine more and kept the profit. He kept buying and selling baskets on the corner for a long time.
Fast forwards to 25 years later, he is sitting in his corporate office in
San Francisco, looking out at his fleet of ships from his office window . He had baskets woven from Manila, fruit from Dole and other large growers, ribbon and cellophane from The United Kingdom, and flowers from Japanese garden farms in California. Everything collected and put lovingly together at his factory by hundreds of workers, then sold at stationery and gift stores around the world. He had become a wealthy man from a simple set of accidental circumstances long ago and some determination and hard work. 
One of his administrative assistants was somewhat new and the man brought him a contract, that Jose normally shied away from to protect his secret. The guy kept pushing him to sign some things because he was convinced no one else had the authority. "Joe, this needs YOUR signature, Please?"
Finally Jose smiled and said, "Okay, you have backed me into a corner on this. I have a problem with those, the reason I need people like you to read them over for me and help make decisions based on this is because I can't read or write. So just handle it, OKAY?"
His assistant stood there with his mouth hanging open for a long time, then exclaimed, "Damn, Joe, you are one of the most successful people I know personally. Just think- WHAT IF you could read and write, and had a decent education." 
Joe laughed out loud and then yelled, "YEAH, I would be a janitor and book keeper in a whore house."