Floods, Fires and Hurricanes, Oh My!

You guys!  Mother Nature is pissed off.  We have fires out west and floods and hurricanes in the south and southeast portions of the United States.  And all of these events have been catastrophic.  But what isn’t being mentioned as it should be is these weather occurrences can be a direct result of climate change.  One could think that this is just a bad hurricane or wild fire season, but it is more than just that, because this isn’t normal by far.  Every year has been the hottest year on record for the past decade.  The Earth is angry and she is letting us know.

Let’s take a look out West.  Right now there are 76 fires that are happening.  There are fires in Montana, Washington, Oregon, and even California.  This year alone, 12,500 acres have burned, so far. 2012 and 2015 were the only other years where there was a large amount of land that was on fire.  And while the winter out west was extremely wet with record snowfall, the Spring came fast and hot, thus creating the perfect breeding ground for fires to start.  And there are areas of the west that are experiencing fires like they never had before.  For example, Burbank, California is on fire.  It is the largest fire that the Los Angeles area has ever experienced.  So what is the reasoning for these fires?  Climate change.  But it isn’t climate change alone.  Humans are emitted more greenhouse gases than every before, thus adding to the role of climate change.  Right now there are more than 26,000 people backed by 200 helicopters and military help fighting these fires.  But unfortunately, they are still burning.

And so far this years Hurricane season has been anything but quiet.  Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and caused floods that will take much time to recede.  Hurricane Irma devastated the entire state of Florida and caused a lot of damage.  And while there are some, including the head of the Environmental Protection Agency that think that by discussing the idea that these storms are a direct result of climate change is insensitive, however just the opposite is true.  While denying that climate change is causing these storms is an insult to anyone with common sense.  Scientists can and do agree that Harvey and Irma were made worse by the effects of climate change.  Sea levels are rising to due to melting glaciers, the oceans are becoming warmer and this makes for the perfect storm and causes hurricanes to be more intense.  Harvey dumped a record 51 inches of rain and Irma was the strongest storm that the Atlantic has ever seen. And the season isn’t over yet. We are expected to get more storms that will be just as intense if not more.  This isn’t over yet.

To deny what is happening right now and deny climate change is naïve and dangerous.  It goes against science and it goes against common sense.  This pattern that we see with intense storms, rising oceans, drought and fires is only going to get worse.  That is the bad news.  The good news is that we can control what we do.  We can embrace the science and make small changes that can have a huge difference.  It won’t fix everything, but we can make sure that Mother Earth is here for our children and grandchildren.  We can literally clean up our act and not force the generations that come after do it for us.

 

 

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/us-wildfire-season-worst-49690858

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/09/wildfires-rage-across-the-american-west/538977/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/15/us/climate-change-hurricanes-harvey-and-irma/index.html

 

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The Oldest Form of Terrorism in the United States

The events that have recently unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend, are unfortunately nothing new in the United States.   Hate groups have been around since our inception and tend to poke their evil head when it wants and it terrorizes its victims in the its path.  The rise of hate groups in the United States has steadily risen since the Civil War, but the terrorism arrived with Columbus in 1492.

In order for this nation, this hemisphere to be what it is today, people had to be removed.  The first of those groups were the Native Americans that inhabited this land before the invasion of the Europeans.  When Columbus showed up he virtually wiped out an entire indigenous group in the Caribbean without even a second thought.  In the United States the Native tribes were continuously pushed off their lands and forced to live on reservations.  They were forced to give up their traditional religion, dances, language and culture.  Children were forcibly taken from their homes and sent to boarding schools where they were beaten if they spoke their language and all clothing that resembled home was taken and burned.  Native women were victimized almost daily and murders and massacres were prevalent.  These people were terrorized.

Beginning in the 1600’s Africans were brought over to this country as enslaved people.  They were kidnap, chained and thrown onto ships, where many of them would never make it off the ship and bodies were routinely thrown overboard.  Families were torn apart as those that did make it were sold to various families across the slave loving United States.  Like the Native Americans, you weren’t allowed to speak your native language, you couldn’t practice your native religion and you were worked like a dog.  You couldn’t marry, you couldn’t learn to read or write and if you were a woman, there was a chance that you would be raped on a regular basis by your master.  If you had the courage to run, you were tracked down by bounty hunters and dogs who took no mercy on you and dragged you back to face whatever punishment awaited you.  These people were terrorized.

One thing that we do not do in the United States is recognize the terrorism committed in our past by those who were white.  We face that same terrorism today.  Native Americans still face continual terrorism from the government and land hungry people and black people have to bring attention to the fact that their lives matter too.  What is wrong with this picture?   Muslims are continually blamed for all acts of terrorism when in reality, more lives are lost to white terrorism than those acts committed by a few Muslims.  But we don’t want to recognize or admit that.

We live in a world where the leader of the free world employs white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the White House.  We live in a world where the President of the United States won’t even call these terrorists out by name.  How messed up is that?

What we need to do now if to stand up against this hate.  We need to learn from our past and make it clear that hate has no business here and will not be tolerated.  I think that Martin Luther King, Jr said it best “Darkness will not drive out darkness, only  light can do that.”

Ruled by Twitter and a Soft Mutiny

In the year 2017 it is very easy and accessible to use social media to get your point across.  Instagram helps you share your photos, Facebook and Twitter you can share your feeling is 140 characters.  And of course there is blogging, which is why I use WordPress.  We all do it and we all use social media.  Movie stars, musicians, and even politicians, including the President.  However, none of us use social media to dictate or announce policy, unless your name is Donald Trump.

On July 26, 2017, via Twitter, Trump announced that transgender people would no longer be able to serve in the military.  In a series of tweets Trump said that he was going to undo the Obama Administration policy that allowed transgender people to serve openly and freely in the military.  Why?  He cited medical costs.  Trump explained in three tweets that  “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”.  However, he didn’t give the American people any explanation on how he got to this point.  He announced this atrocity on Twitter, which is not the proper way to make major policy changes.  And frankly, his remarks weren’t even true.

First, in the United States, we spend more on defense and military then the next seven countries combined.  A study published last year by the Rand Corp. provides estimates on what and how the military uses medical funds for transgender service members.  They estimated that the military spends between $2.4 and $8.4 million annually on gender transition related medical services.  And secondly the Military Times also did an analysis and discovered that annually the military spends $84 million on erectile dysfunction medication with $41.6 million on Viagra alone.  Again, at most, only $8.4 million is spent on transgender health care.

And while he announced this policy change via Twitter and caused a huge uproar, there may be hope that this discriminatory policy may never take shape.  The very next day after the announcement was made, the Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. of the Joint Chiefs Staff, in a press conference, announced that this policy wouldn’t take affect until White House follows the proper protocol.  Meaning that new rules related to the military need to be sent to the Department of Defense, who knew nothing of the Twitter announcement, and the Secretary of Defense and administrators review and implement policy.  So for now, according to Gen. Dunford, those who are serving can continue to serve with respect.  Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have come out against the Twitter announcement.  Senator Orrin Hatch spoke out in an interview that transgender people need to be able to serve regardless since you are born transgender.  Sen. Lindsey Graham stated that hearings, not tweets need to be had on the issue. Senator Graham, Senator Hatch, Senator John McCain and several other GOP members of Congress have said that they would not support throwing transgender people out of the military.

Regardless of what happens with this policy announcement, Twitter isn’t the place to announce that you are going to strip people of their civil rights.  Bottom line is, if you have someone who is willing to serve their country, why would you tell them that they can’t because they happen to be transgender?  Sex and gender shouldn’t matter when it come to military service or jobs in general.  In only six months Trump has managed to alienate and offend every single group in the United States.  So this shouldn’t be a surprise, but when someone’s civil rights are threatened, it should be surprising and we should be doing something about it.  Six months people, that is all.  Tomorrow it could be your rights that are being threatened.

To the transgender community, you are worthy, you are welcomed and you are important.  To those that serve in the military, I know you got me, I got you.

 

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/26/the-military-spends-five-times-as-much-on-viagra-as-it-would-on-transgender-troops-medical-care/?utm_term=.e7944af036ea

https://nytimes.com/2017/07/27/us/politics/transgender-military-trump-ban.html

Now It Is Personal

I don’t usually get too personal over here at Political Confessions, but with the recent events and news regarding the American Health Care Act, AHCA, I need to set the record straight.  I know I am not the only one who will feel its effects.  This hits home way too much.

You see my husband has MS.  And prior to the ACA or Obamacare, he could be denied health care based on a pre-existing condition.  And if he was lucky enough to be able to find a policy that would take him, the premiums would be unaffordable.  When the ACA passed it was a life saver, literally.  I was finally able to insure my husband and it wasn’t going to drain the bank.  By law insurance companies had to provide him a policy, regardless of whether or not he had a pre-existing condition.  He was insured, could receive his medication and I knew if anything went wrong, he could go to the doctor and it would be covered.  That is security beyond anything we have encountered with such an unpredictable disease.

But now that is all in danger of being taken away.  Millions of people are set to loose health coverage if Republicans in Congress get their way.  The AHCA isn’t going to help anyone, it is going to harm everyone.  With the bill that the GOP is trying to push through, while you can’t directly be denied health care for a pre-existing condition, you can have a ‘skinny’ plan offered by the state that you live in that isn’t adequate for what you need.  Let’s say, it doesn’t offer prescription coverage.  So in this case while you aren’t technically being denied health coverage, you are actually being denied health care because you now can’t afford your prescriptions.   Under the ACA states are required to offer you a comparable plan to help offset the costs that aren’t covered by your initial ACA plan.  The goal is to make it affordable.  This isn’t the case with the new AHCA.

If you have a pre-existing condition you can now run into lifetime caps on health care.  This means the sicker you are, the more at risk you are of hitting your lifetime cap and virtually running out of health insurance.  The company wouldn’t have to pay anymore because you hit the lifetime limit.  An example of this would be a baby born with a heart defect and having to have surgeries in order to correct it.  Not only does this child now leave the hospital with a pre-existing condition, they have also probably hit their lifetime max of coverage.  But this is fair, right?

Those are just the horrific effects of the bill.  Let’s not forget that the GOP also worked in an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood and a tax cut for the wealthy.  As former President Obama posted in a Facebook post, this isn’t a health care bill, this is a tax cut for the wealthy.  The AHCA would take us back to a system that wasn’t working before the ACA.  And that isn’t a plug for the ACA or saying that it was the best solution either.  But there are aspects of it that worked and are still working.  People are covered, my husband is covered.

The Congressional Budget Office has reported that is the AHCA passes, up to 23 million people could loose their insurance.  23 million!  For the party that continuously spouts off about being Pro-Life, why aren’t you being Pro-Life?  Instead you are literally sentencing people to their deaths.  The sad thing is that you don’t seem to care.  It isn’t right and it isn’t moral.  If you want to fix the system, then fix the system.  Don’t tag aware a literal life line that people need.  Health care is a right, not a privilege.

 

Sources:

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/ahca-senate-bill-preexisting-conditions/531375/

Yes Trump, The Civil War Was Needed

In a recent interview with the Washington Examiner, Trump asked why was there a Civil War?  Not as joke, but seriously, why was that war needed?  When I was searching through my social media feed, I saw an article from The Hill with that in the head line and immediately thought it was a joke.  But unfortunately, it turned out to be true.  Trump wanted to know why there was a Civil War.   Today I decided it was time to educate the 45th President of the United States as to why there was a Civil War.  The answer is quite simple and can be boiled down to two words.  Slavery and economy.

From the inception of the United States, slaves and slavery were apart of the formation.  Slavery was introduced to the North American continent with the landing of Columbus, with many Native Americans being forced into slavery.  With the establishment of the British colonies, slavery was a staple from the 1620’s, with the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade forcibly bringing millions of Africans over.  And even after that was outlawed, you still had slave trading happening within the United States with the millions already being held in captivity.  Stripped of culture and language, slave families were torn apart and scattered around the South.  By the time of the Civil War there were over 4 million souls being held against their will.

The economy of the south was based in agriculture.  They were dependent on the world buying the crops that they were producing.  Cotton and tobacco were huge money makers for southern plantation owners.  The south produced two-thirds of the world’s cotton.  They were also crops that demanding a large amount of man power.  In an article from the National Parks Service, they sum up the economy in the South in one sentence:

“In 1860, the economic value of slaves in the United States exceeded the invested value of all of the nation’s railroads, factories, and banks combined.”- NPS

The southern economy depended on the slave labor in order to produce its wealth.  Take that away and you take away people’s livelihoods.  Wrong as it is, who wouldn’t fight for what they believed was theirs?  When Lincoln and other abolitionists vowed to put an end to slavery, those who depended on it went nuts.  There was no talking about it, there was going to be war.  And when Lincoln won the 1860 election, South Carolina ceded from the Union.

Newspapers, pamphlets and books were all written about the evils of slavery and how it should be stopped.  Politicians even pushed the issue in Congress.  With acts such as the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas Nebraska Act, slavery was being confined, but not outlawed.  Diplomacy wasn’t going to end slavery.  Even with the election of man who had hopes of using diplomacy, it wasn’t going to work.  It boiled down to one thing that was going to work that was going to be a war.

Diplomacy didn’t work and it wasn’t going to work.  So yes, there were specific reasons that there needed to be a Civil War.  And contrary to what someone may think, no matter who was President, the Civil War was going to be a thing.  When your way of life is threatened, when your wealth is threatened, when someone is trying to take something away from you, ultimately you will fight to be able to survive.

 

Sources:

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/331349-trump-why-was-there-the-civil-war

https://www.nps.gov/resources/story.htm%3Fid%3D251

What Does it Mean to be An American in 2017?

Well, I think it is safe to say that the start of this new presidential administration has been anything but smooth.  Keeping good on many campaign promises thus far, President Trump has managed to alienate just about every decent person in the country right now.  Immediately following and during his inauguration, protests broke out all over the country.  And the largest inauguration protest in US history took place just one day after his swearing in on January 21, 2017.  The Women’s March on Washington is the single largest inauguration protest in history with an estimated 4 million people participating in the United States and around the world.  That’s right, you read that correctly, around the world.  From the coasts of Australia to the streets of London to Antarctica, the world joined the citizens of the United States and united around solidarity and standing up to hate.  Something that the President ran on during his campaign.  We are trying to show the world that we will not tolerate hate, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia or anything like that in this country.  We are better than that.

So right now in the country we are at a vital moment.  We are at a defining moment.  And we have a question to answer, What does it mean to be an American in 2017?  It isn’t as simply as you think.   We live in a time where a person elected to office has signed 20 executive orders in just 8 days that are seeming to redefine what and who we are as a country.  We live in a time where just the mere thought of protesting these actions has people questioning your allegiance or patriotism.  So what does it mean to be an American in 2017?  Does it mean that you just accept things as they are?  Or does it mean that you fight back for those who can’t fight for themselves?

When you look back at history you can see a pattern of resistance against injustice, just as we are seeing today.  We don’t look at those protests and marches as anything but patriotic and heroic.  So why is it different today?  Why is there such a hang up on the resistance movement we are seeing today?  There are 65 million Americans who are trying to fight back as we speak.  They are standing up to the injustices that are happening and it hasn’t even been a month yet.  They are defining right now what it means to be an American and it means that we don’t take things lying down.  We overcome and we persevere.  So to those just taking a back seat, I ask you, what does it mean to be an American in 2017 to you?

The Day the World Stood Still and A Call to Action

So it would appear that it has happened.  What I thought was virtually impossible happened.  Donald Trump is now the 45th President of the United States and I still can’t seem to wrap my mind around it.  I still don’t understand how or why it happened.  I mean, he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.  He lost but won.  It doesn’t seem real.

But it is real and now the real work begins.  For those of us who worked tirelessly against hate, bigotry, misogyny, racism and corruption, our work begins.  We must stand up and fight.  Now is the time to not stop and cry to move forward and fight for the good.  We must oppose the hate, the bigotry, the racism, the xenophobia.  We must fights for reproductive rights, equal pay and safe passage for our immigrant friends.  Get out and volunteer, join a group, knit a hat.

We can’t just let the tears and hurt take over.  Get out and make a difference.  Run for office, create art, lead a march, organize.  We’ve got this.  We are strong.  We will not back down.  We will fight.  And I will be right there with you.  I will not back down.  I will fight for and with you.  We got this.

History Does Repeat Itself

When you are a student studying history there is one thing that you learn fast.  After countless lectures and swearing you have heard the same thing one million times, you realize something.  History does repeat itself.  Always without fail you can relate something that happened in 1860 to something that happened in 1760.  Or something that happened in 1965 to something that happened in 2016.  Why is this?  I would argue that we tend to not learn from our history.  We don’t see the lessons in the actions of those who came before us.  We don’t see the warnings.  Many would argue that this is happening now again since the election.  That the rhetoric that Trump uses and the people that he surrounds himself with should be a warning.  That this is becoming all to familiar.  That the white supremacist groups that support Trump are trying to take something back.  We must remember that several hate groups in the United States such as the American Nazi Party and Klansman  David Duke endorsed Donald Trump.  These endorsements have a striking resemblance to past historic events.  So, instead of trying to explain it, I leave you with this video which does a much better job than I.

This video from TED Ed, from the creators of the TED Talks give a brief history into the rise of Hitler.  One can’t help but notice the striking similarities between the then and now, but I will let you be the judge of that.  Watch the video, think about that is going on now and form your own opinions.  Maybe se can stop history from repeating itself again.

https://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-did-hitler-rise-to-power-alex-gendler-and-anthony-hazard

Sources:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/09/trump-supporters-neo-nazis-white-nationalists-kkk-militias-racism-hate

Why The Worlds Laughs

One of the things that we pride ourselves on here in the United States is the that we have the right to vote.  We can vote in every election from school board, to state legislatures to the President of the United States.  This is a right that was fought for and many died securing it for us.  It is a right that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Now having said that, with the recent Presidential election for 2016, voter turnout was at a 20 year low.  In this election cycle only 56% of those eligible to vote actually turned out. Which is down from 2012 where 58% turned out to vote, which is down from 2008, which had the highest turnout rate in recent history, but still with only 61.6% of those eligible actually voting.  In 1980 the voting turnout was 54.2%.  So what is going on here?  Why is the nation that boasts itself on freedom and democracy having an issue getting its population to come out and vote?

Compared to other modernized countries the voting turnout in the United States is a joke.  According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014 in Belgium, where they have a registered voting population of 89.4%, in their election 87.2% turned out to cast their vote.  I repeat, 87.2% of those registered came out to vote!  In Turkey, 85.2% turned out to vote in 2015.  Only 56% of registered voters turned out to vote in the 2016 Presidential election and we ended up with Donald Trump as President.

So why don’t we vote in the United States?  Well one reason could be that voter registration in the United States is hard compared to other countries.  There are various reasons as to why voter registration is hard, but one of the reasons is that in the United States is that we have deadlines as to when you can register to vote.  In Germany and Sweden you are automatically registered to vote when you become eligible.  Now this rule varies in the US with some states like Minnesota that allow you to register to vote on election day, but for the  most part, there is a deadline that happens before election day.

Other reasons include the fact that many people believe that their vote doesn’t count or that it is too inconvenient to vote due to long lines and the elimination of early voting in many states.  Still another reason that many don’t vote is that we are bombarded with more elections than any other country.  Voters are tired and have had enough.  Whatever the reason may be only 56% of those registered voted in the this current election.

While we take a right that many don’t have for granted, the world laughs.  Voting is taken seriously in so many countries, yet it is thrown by the wayside here in the United States.  Many fought and died for the right to be able to cast a ballot and only 56% did in 2016.  Shouldn’t we take this more seriously?

 

Sources:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/02/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries/

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/7/13536198/election-day-americans-vote

A New Reality

It has been about fives days since the Presidential election of 2016.  It has been five days but the shock still has not worn off.  I have been in mourning since I woke up Wednesday morning to hearing the news of a President elect Trump (ugh, sorry, just typing that made me nauseous).  This can’t really be the new reality, but it is.  My heart is broken.  Let me start from the beginning on how I got here.

Hillary Clinton was not the candidate that I supported.  I was and still am a #stillsanders person and I still #feelthebern.  When I voted in my home state primary my ballot was cast for Bernie Sanders.  And as woman, I got a lot of slack for that.  Slack for not supporting a woman who was running for the highest office in the land.  It isn’t that I didn’t like her, Sanders just spoke to me more.  I’m 34, my husband is ill making us a one income household, I’m a minority, I’m Native American (and Sanders made it a point to meet with various tribes to discuss policy), I’m on the older side of the millennials and many issues Sanders spoke to, spoke to me.  So I fought hard.  I watched the debates, cheered for Bernie, voted and helped to spread his message.  I cried when the convention took place and he so eloquently stepped aside and put his support behind the first woman ever to receive a major party nomination for the Presidency of the United States.  It was hard, but I followed suite.  I didn’t publicly make it known that I was going to vote for Hillary, but knew that it had to be done.  We couldn’t allow Donald Trump to win the White House.  And while it seemed like a no brainer, I would still cast my ballot for Clinton, just to make sure.

Election day came and I tried to vote in the morning before work, but the line was ridiculous!  I didn’t have time to wait.  So I went to work and left about five minutes early so I could make it back to my polling station so I could vote.  I proceeded to fill out my ballot by filling in the appropriate bubbles and reading various proposals.  I saved the presidential voting for last.  I stared down at my ballot and just thought for a moment.  Hillary wasn’t my first choice.  She wasn’t my second choice.  Up until that moment I was still struggling with casting my vote for her.  But the more I stared, the more emotional I became.  As I filled in my bubble for Hillary Clinton I knew that I was apart of history.  I took a moment and thought about all those women who came before me.  The ones who made it possible for me to vote, the ones who made it possible for a woman to even be running for President.  It all became too much to handle and I began to weep.  But these were tears of pure happiness.  I was overjoyed and so completely hopeful.  The same way I felt in 2008.

When I woke up the day after the election, to say that I was stunned would be an understatement.  I was floored.  I couldn’t believe it.  I still can’t believe it.  I went to bed Tuesday night believing in my country and knowing that it does the right thing.  I woke up Wednesday morning and was told that I don’t matter.  I was told that my fellow friends who are immigrants, minorities, LGBTQ, have disabilities, those who rely on the ACA, or women and survivors of sexual assault, you don’t matter.  We are scared.  I am terrified.  How did we allow this to happen?  And now we are told to just get over it.  To move on.  Well to my friends in protest, you don’t have to move on.  You don’t have to get over it.  I don’t have to get over it.  We matter, our voices matter.  We understand and know that #lovetrumpshate.  The cries of #notmypresident are real and true.  I’m told that I must respect the new President-elect.  I argue that respect is earned.

So this is our new reality.  We now live in a new era.  We must fight the hate, bigotry, sexism, misogyny, Xenophobia and Islamophobia that so many people on Tuesday showed that they are okay with.  We must continue to fight.  We must look at those who are afraid and let them know that we are with them.  We must stand against hate.  #iamasafeplace #safetypinmovement