Thursday, September 19, 2013

House GOP at it again....this time they are taking food out of children's mouths!

Charlie Dent and the rest of the House GOP Caucus should be ashamed of themselves. They voted over 40 times to stop “Obamacare” instead of letting it become law. If the law is broke, fix it. If you oppose it, propose a workable solution. With a Democratic-run Senate, moves like that are only symbolic. They complained for years that the Senate did not pass a budget. When they did, now the GOP is blocking the bill to go to conference. Partisanship is getting old. What happened to working together for the betterment of the country, not for the betterment of your base?

Now the latest comes down to the Farm Bill. For decades, the Farm bill had both legislation for farm subsidies and food stamps. That is the only way both Republicans and Democrats can agree. It is called compromise and (Gasp) Bipartisanship! Earlier this year, in their first bill, the GOP bloated the subsidies and slashed the food stamps allocation. This bill failed spectacularly because it was too bloated in subsidies, even for the GOP and it cut too much from food stamps for the Democrats to get behind. Now the latest thinly-veiled grand-stand bill was to slash a food stamp only bill. The House GOP, including Charlie Dent, passed the bill with a whopping $40 billion slash in cuts! Part of the bill requires that people on assistance get a job. In case you didn't notice, we are well over 7% unemployment, which in any other downturn, would be considered still be in a recession. 

I am a volunteer at The Pennsylvania Avenue Interfaith Food Pantry. We provide direct food assistance to low-income people. Do you know what the faces of these people look like? They are grandmothers; they are children (over 40% of people receiving assistance are kids); they are the unemployed or underemployed. They are anyone that goes hungry. Are people defrauding the system? Are we feeding too many hungry people? It is just food, a basic necessity. Are people abusing this system? Maybe some, they may have gotten an extra jar of Peanut Butter. GASP! By slashing this money, you are directly taking food out of mouths. Nothing more or less!

If you think this is outrageous and want to reverse this, try doing the following:
Call or write Charlie Dent or whoever your representative is!
September is Hunger Awareness Month! Click here to find out other ways to help the hungry! 
Or just maybe take the #SNAPChallenge by eating on $4.50 a day. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Voter Fraud vs. voter suppression

A friend posted on Facebook about the new voter laws being on the books and questioned why it was such an uproar. I am not trying to hijack her discussion, nor do I want to offend her, but it has made me think about this subject a little more.

It is true that we ask for ID for anything we do now so it should be a foregone conclusion that everyone has one, right? You all know I lean left when it comes to politics, but I had to think a little about both sides stances. I think that both sides are truly hiding the reasoning behind why there is a big push.

Make no mistake that this is a push by the GOP party. The Republicans own this legislation. Why all of a sudden do we need to implement these laws? Why now in a Presidential election year? Would this be advantageous for the GOP to do this now? In 2010, the GOP made huge gains in many states not just in the National stage, but also in the State-wide races as well. Is this an attempt to keep the people elected, elected?

There is no evidence that wide-spread fraud is occurring. In fact, the biggest problems with voting has been the people that oversee the elections and election sites eg. adding more votes that weren't there, losing certain votes, etc. That is where the actual vote cheating is occurring. So a solution was created where there was not a problem.

Pennsylvania passed the law in March. That gave the state a little over 7 months to create a system and implement it.Why does it have to be so quick? When was the last time any state or Federal program was ever rolled out that quick? I know seniors especially the elderly that don't have, lost, or have the wrong name on their birth certificate. Many of these people don't drive or are limited in driving. It takes time to remedy these issues.

You may say that the Democrats are saying that this is hurting the poor. But if your poor, you have these documents already especially if you are receiving assistance (housing, food, etc.). So that particular argument doesn't wash with me. They are just ticked off because this shouldn't be a law to begin with. I still don't know if that is true or not. I still flip flop on this issue.

Here is the bottom line, as I see it. The GOP establishment is pushing this now so they can add another obstacle for low-income and seniors to overcome. If it is an obstacle or not, that is why they are doing it. They are doing it under this ruse they are calling voter fraud. Democrats are mad because the GOP is going to take votes away this elections. That may or may not be true.

In the end, I am probably for this law. It can legitimatize the election process. In fact, I always wondered why we didn't have to show ID to vote. But in the short term, the GOP is trying to hijack this election cycle.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Is it just a matter of race?

No parent should ever have to bury their child. Let alone having to deal with your son getting shot to death. As a parent I grieve for Trayvon Martin's parents. However, this case is screwed up!

First off, no neighborhood watch  person should be carrying a gun. That is asking for trouble. They volunteer to  watch the community and then report to police what is going on. Observation here is the key. Even the most staunch watch programs don't carry weapons. The Guardian Angels don't! Why did George Zimmerman?

Whatever happened, only a few know the truth. Zimmerman, Martin, and law enforcement are probably the only ones that know. Anyone else is just speculating. It bothers me that someone is killed and his shooter is not locked up. But it also bothers me that everyone is lynching this guy. Where you there that night? Did Zimmerman shoot him just because he was suspicious?  Did Martin come after Zimmerman? You were not there! You don't know.

Everything is conjecture. Sure Zimmerman fits the profile of a cop-wanna-be. A guy that feels he is above everyone else despite not getting that police job. Everyone knows these types. Thinks they are better than everyone else or thinks their judgement is better than yours. But is that George Zimmerman? I don't know, do you? Was he walking away then attacked?

Trayvon Martin. Was he an outstanding teen? Was he the model in well behavior? Or was he a brash teen? Could he have gotten mad and gone after Zimmerman? I've seen more than one or two teens let emotions get the better of them. Was this the case? We don't know. We do know that time is only fueling the fire.

The longer Zimmerman is out, the more troubling we feel. Notice, I said out, not free. He is by no means a free man. He is hiding for his own safety. What is Spike Lee and now Roseanne Barr thinking by tweeting his address? By doing so, you are encouraging vigilantism. That is just reckless and should be a crime as well.

So much is being made out of this being a race issue. The hoodie movement. Is it really? How do we know? It was dark out, it was raining. Someone you don't know is walking through your neighborhood, then running. You had a rash of burglaries in the community. Sounds to me like a suspicious person that happened to be black and wearing a hoodie.

Two facts that we know is Trayvon is dead and George Zimmerman killed him. Any other information we know are assumptions. Again, I believe that Zimmerman should not have carried a gun if he was a neighborhood  watch person. He pulled the trigger and I believe justice will be served. Whatever the outcome, Zimmerman will have to deal with this outcome for the rest of his life. But we, as a society, are  not the judge, jury, or executioner. Let it play out before we get the noose out to hang him!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

GOP race

If you have read any of my previous political posts, you are aware of my liberal points of view. But I feel that I need to chime in on the current GOP primary season. Tens of millions of dollars are being spent in this primary. By the time the GOP actually picks a candidate, we will be talking in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars that will be spent. Up to two billion dollars may be spent this year by both sides!These special interest Super PACs are a joke. Money is certainly going to buy votes in this election cycle.

It is a travesty that we, the American people, must endure almost 2 years of political posturing by candidates. The primary season just started and I am already sick of the news. Pretty soon, when it is our state's time to elect primary candidates, all we will see on television is political advertisements. Now, because of the Super PACs, they will all be attack ads.

The heir-apparent (maybe), Romney is the only candidate I see that could take down Obama in a General Election. If that doesn't happen, the GOP is in trouble. Because of the splintering of this party (I'm looking in your direction Tea Party), the GOP is struggling to find its identity. Bouncing around between Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney, the party has no clear direction. I think Ron Paul, even though he has great ideology and a strong following, will not make it past Super Tuesday.

Santorum's social conservative views may allow him to win Primaries, but will not be received well with Democrats and Independents. To win General Elections, Presidents must slide towards the middle to get the votes needed. Santorum will never do that. He believes in his principles. He will live by the sword and die by the sword. Thank goodness for that!

Gingrich is to disorganized and panders to all audiences, which will not play well, especially in our "always on" culture. Up to the past decade, candidates could promise the world to the different groups that they were courting because these messages were never disseminated as easily to everyone. Now, as soon  as a sentence is muttered, it is sent to everyone and that message is analyzed and scrutinized before it is even printed in a newspaper. 90's politics doesn't work in today's politics. We'll see if Newt can change his ways. I am doubtful.

That leaves Romney. Even though he isn't getting the ultra-Conservative and Evangelical  votes, I still think he has the best shot to beat Obama. However, he does have a long way to go yet. He needs to prove to his base that he is different from Obama. At the same time, he needs to prove to Independents and Democrats that he is a better alternative.

What it will come down to though is money. Who spent the most money to get the most ads out? Who's Super PAC discredited the other opponent better? It is sad. When all is said and done, it sounds like both parties, including Super PACs, are on the path on spending over a billion dollars each for this year's Presidential election.

Think about this. What can two billion dollars buy? This is what UNICEF can do with that money! Do they need to spend that much money? Really!?

Here's a good PBS analysis of the Super PACs.  Pay attention to these non-profit Super PACs as well. Donors do not have to provide disclosure. This means they can put millions of dollars into these groups and they don't have to worry about telling anyone. Pretty sneaky politics is about to play out this year.

Unfortunately, the best candidate, especially now, rarely wins. It is about skating the issues, making promises, and seeing if you can discredit your opponent better than they can. The train wreck that is the Presidential election cycle has begun is fun to watch, but when it comes to a grinding halt, let's see what pieces are left to salvage!

Friday, October 7, 2011

10 years and counting......

10 years ago we invaded Afghanistan. We are still there with a supposed end in sight in 2014. What was the cost? We spent trillions on the two wars and Homeland Security. Thousands of lives were lost. We through the countries we invaded into civil wars. We have angered the Middle East more just by occupying these areas. At what point are we going to say maybe we went at this wrong?

We are safer now than before, but for how long? Once we leave it looks like Iran is just waiting to go into Afghan again. We have not won over the hearts and minds of these countries. We brought death and destruction to these people. I will not argue the fact that we got rid of some very bad people that were trying to harm us. But the way we did it is leaving scars on the bystanders in these places.

No matter how much money we spend over there to rebuild, their beliefs won’t change towards us. We need to cut our losses now. We should have taken a scalpel, not a machete. We are the strongest, best trained and funded military in the world, but we don’t learn from our mistakes. We went into Vietnam to change them. That didn’t work. It is not working with the extreme Muslim community. In fact, it has deepened their resolve.

One of the biggest reasons of our nation’s debt is because of the wars. We conducted 2 years in ten years, plus are trying to liberate Libya. We don't need to cut domestic spending anymore. We need to end these wars. We need to bring our troops home. Defend our country in our country.

Our military budget is even bigger than everyone else combined! That is insane. We need a strong military, I agree. But that is just too bloated! We need to stop being the world’s police and just concentrate on us, on our well-being, our economy, our jobs! Why do we have to be everywhere, all the time? We can’t afford it.   

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Safe Harbor

According to this article in the Express-Times, Easton, and its community, is going to really struggle to try and keep this shelter running. CACLV will no longer run the shelter or provide assistance. As was evident last year at our church, the homeless population is growing. We have mental health programs being cut which in turn serves less people or stretches the services so much that they become ineffective. That is why so many people are chronically homeless.

In the not to distant past, severely disabled mental health patients, like the psychotics, were cared for in log-term facilities like State Hospitals. Now they are assimilated into community programs that are not capable of handling them. The times that these people get into a really bad mental state, we can get them some temporary assistance via a mental health commitment, but that usually only lasts 48 hours. More and more get kicked out of the programs that aren't capable of handling them. Thus they become homeless.

I agree, to a certain extent, with Alan Jennings as stated in the article, about the steps that is needed to keep Safe Harbor Viable,  “The good people of Easton, in order to make a difference in the lives of people who need help, need to make sure there’s substantive programs that allows people to solve their problem, not give them a place to postpone dealing with them,” Jennings said. 
But we need to work on the causes just as much as the effects of homelessness. People are homeless, remain homeless, and will not abide by programs because of the lack of oversight on the mental health issues they are dealing with. I am not saying that the people that work in this field are incompetent, just incapable of handling all of the issues that they are dealt. A systematic approach to continual care is just not possible in this environment. If I was schizophrenic, I would probably be homeless.

We, as a society, need to address this issue. We need to take care of our sick, including the ones with mental health issues. We also need to support more programs that help the homeless. Now, like the deficit cutting plans, is the wrong time to pull back. These problems will get worse before they get better.

Contemplate this scenario. If I had severe mental health issues and became homeless, the way the system is set up, I would probably be seen in the Emergency Room of a hospital on a regular basis. I would probably also become dependent on alcohol or other drugs that aren't of the prescription variety. It would cost thousands upon thousand of dollars per year just to maintain me in the homeless environment. Statistics estimate that, in about a 10 year time frame, to maintain my status quo on the streets, with addressing my addictions, mental health issues, and other ailments related to untreated health concerns from being homeless, it could cost the public about $1 million in medical bills.

Wouldn't we be able to at least half or quarter that cost by treating the illness instead of  treating just the symptoms and bandaging me up & sending me back out on the streets? Don't believe me? Read this article from Malcolm Gladwell that provides a Reno Nevada case study.

In the short-term, we all need to look at supporting Safe Harbor. They are a stop-gap for the homeless issues in the region, not just Easton. Not a church going folk at one of the churches mentioned in the article? You can still contribute to support this mission. Work with your church to support this agency. Or contact the shelter directly @ (610) 258-5540 to help.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Right time for a Third Party Candidate!?!

It wasn't too long ago that we thought a big change was going to occur. In 2008, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. We wanted a President that was not as narrow-minded, seemingly inept, and conservative as GW Bush, right? Then we voted in Barack Obama. We wanted the change he wanted to bring. The thing about change though is that for us to accept change, it must be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

When Democrats took charge, they pushed their partisan agenda. They pushed healthcare through. They pushed a consumer protection agency through. They really upset the apple cart. That truly made us angry. So the pendulum swung back to the other side. Now we are stuck with dysfunction. The Tea Partiers  think that if they can't get their agenda through, nothing will get through. Then Obama caved. He gave in to appease the Tea Party. Now we can't go back.

So now we have 2012 to look forward to. We have a limp Democratic President that can't lead his party, let alone the nation's politics. On the GOP side, we have candidates that must align themselves with the Tea Party movement or risk being branded against them. So we can either vote for a Democrat that can't seem to make a stand. He wants to please all and ends up pleasing no one. Or you have the Cut Government, Cut taxes platform. Neither seems appetizing at the moment.

So is now a ripe time to pick a Third Party Candidate? Can't a President be right in the middle? Right along the Moderate line? We used to think that traditional Presidents could do it. They actually used to. Clinton, fiscally, had more conservative stances than the GOP at the time. GW provided that partisan was the way to go and has been since then.

Now is the time for someone to stand up and say hey we can balance the budget through tax cuts and raise taxes. We can develop governmental policies that protect our people and environment while not putting too much restriction on business. We need someone to say we have or will have far more seniors that will be using Medicare and Social Security. These pots are going to shrink no matter what, so we need to make changes.

I truly hate the politics of politics. No one will say what needs to be said, just what they need to say to get elected. I hope that someone like a Ross Perot would run. I'd actually vote for someone like him this time around. Before you comment though, I am not interested in these fringe third party candidates, like the Green Party. I want a candidate that cuts the b.s. and tells the truth. Unfortunately that will not happen.