iBernie

By Brian Dann


 

BernPoliticians are scum. All politicians lie. All politicians will do or say whatever they have to to get elected. You can not trust any politician, especially one running for President! For the most part I agree with this. For the most part, in most elections, you are voting for the lessor of the evils because let’s face it they all make big promises, they all say whatever they have to, to get elected, and because our system is so messed up, so corrupt, nothing ever changes...and you can’t trust any of them!
 
Really?
 
Bernie Sanders is a politician. I like to refer to Senator Sanders as iBernie. Let me explain why. Actually “Why” is the reason I refer to Bernie Sanders as iBernie. You see iBernie and Apple have a lot in common. People are loyal to Apple at often a seemingly incomprehensible, irrational level. It almost does not matter what Apple makes, because Apple loyalists will shell out hard earned cash for whatever it is. It does not even have to be the best product in its class, Apple consumers will stand in line for hours to get it. They will scrap a perfectly functional iPhone to have the latest and greatest model. They will wait for the Apple Watch even though Motorola had an Android smartwatch available months before the Apple Watch came out. They will spend more for an iBook that is not nearly as powerful as an HP laptop at a lower price and could care less about the technical specifications of the item because they don't buy Apple for the features, they buy it for the “Why”. People are loyal to Apple because of why Apple started, why Apple exists, because of Apple’s reason for being, because of their “Why.” We believe that, just like Apple, we “Think Different.” Apple is a movement, a philosophy. It’s creative, it’s counter culture, it’s the artists, and the thinkers. It’s a lifestyle, a cult. IBM was business. Apple was life. Apple has been guided by their “Why”, and endures because if it, and we drink the Apple koolaid to be a part of it, to be a part of their “Why.” We believe in Apple.

Bernie Sanders, like Apple, has a “Why” and it’s not a Democratic “Why” or a Republican “Why.” It’s an iBernie “Why.” And what sets iBernie apart from all the other politicians out there is that long before iBernie decided to run for President, long before iBernie was a Senator, iBernie had been preaching the same message that we all hear over and over again today. He hasn’t changed his message with the times or changed to get elected. He has always preached the same common sense solutions to real issues that in the short term were never popular with the ultra wealthy or the corporations, but would would bring prosperity to the average working American and would make our country greater in the long run...if only people would listen, if only other politicians would get on board, if only we could all start to “Think Different,” if only people bought in to iBernie’s “Why.”
 
I became aware of iBernie shortly after President Obama took office. For years, every Friday, Thom Hartmann’s afternoon radio show became “Brunch with Bernie.” Senator Bernie Sanders would call in and take questions from anyone who could get through. He would address any question that someone might have regardless of their political affiliation. He never came off fake or condescending. He listened and was gracious and gave commonsense answers usually to the same problems that we are facing today, unemployment, immigration, rising healthcare costs, the shrinking middle class, corporations not paying their fair share of taxes, campaign finance, a woman's right to choose, a right to fair pay in the workplace, discrimination, terrorism, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change, and so on...and his answers were logical, they made sense, and when he was done you wished every politician thought like iBernie, that every politician cared more about doing what was right for the country, that every politician would care more about what was necessary to fix our problems then defending their “party” line. You wished that every politician would work with the other side to make all of our lives better, regardless if it got them re-elected or not. You wished that every politician represented us instead of who financed their re-election campaign. And you never imagined that this man, who seemed way to caring, way to empathetic, way to common sense, way to Brooklyn and way to honest, would ever run for President...but you always wished he would.
 
Most politicians are fake and dishonest. They will change their views each time there is a change in the polls. I don’t say this because I would like to see iBernie become our next president, I say this simply because it is true. Bernie Sanders is an honest politician. His “Why” is strong. His “Why” is consistent, and his “Why” has never changed since the day he ran for mayor of Burlington, Vermont. I unlike many, was aware of the following that iBernie had on the day he announced his bid for President of the United States. And while all the media was saying that this man could never beat Hillary Clinton, I was thinking to myself, the same thing I thought the day Senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy on February 10th 2007. “I am looking at our next President of the United States.” I knew that this was going to be something that the Clintons never saw coming and that if iBernie stayed true to the message that he had been preaching for the past 35 years, a Clinton sure thing would no longer be. So for me, iBernie almost tying Hillary in Iowa and beating her in a landslide in New Hampshire came as no surprise. What it did do was to speak to the intensely passionate following that has the real potential to send iBernie to the White House. iBernie is not your typical presidential candidate. He looks like your butcher, not your President, and unlike the train wreck that is Donald Trump, he has solutions, solutions that no matter what the naysayers say, will work. Even his rival, who thought she was a sure thing, has not come out to say that Single Payer Health Care, or Free College Tuition for public universities, will not work, because she knows they will. She has only said, it can not pass. And while it may be true that Single Payer Health Insurance, a program that alone could save our economy and revolutionize not only healthcare but also raise our level of discretionary spending, or Free College Tuition, which would raise the level of young people's access to higher education and eliminate the mountain of debt they leave school with, would almost have no chance of getting through a republican congress today, we can not simply sit back and accept defeat before we have even tried. Change, progress, revolution does not happen overnight and if we start now, one day these things will become a reality. Clinton’s willingness to settle for what is easy, to settle for the status quo, to simply say that it's just too hard so why even try, to give up before we have even started, to refuse to fight for what we need and instead settle for what we can get, is why iBernie is the only choice if we ever want any hope of an America that works for all the people not just the 1%. If Hillary Clinton in the ‘80’s, as first lady didn’t fight for health care reform, it would not have happened in 2009. If Harvey Milk didn't fight in the ‘70’s to become the first gay politician, we wouldn't have gay marriage today. If Rosa Parks didn’t fight for that seat on the bus, and Martin Luther King didn't march on Selma, we would never would have seen a change years later in our civil rights. For change to happen we have to make it happen. And that change can not be banning all muslims or building a wall. Change must be human and passionate, inclusive and tolerant. And whether or not iBernie’s programs can pass today, the fight for them has to happen so that they can pass someday. We are not voting for a man so much as we are voting for his “Why,” a “Why” that’s become our “Why.” Because just like Apple, just like iBernie, we are “...the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” - Steve Jobs

  

 


Related links:

"Start with Why" by Simon Sinek

 


Single Payer Health Insurance Explained or How to get a $5500 Raise

By Brian Dann

 

I’ve decided that no matter how much I like Bernie Sanders, he does a real piss poor job of explaining Single Payer Health Insurance. So I will give it a try.
 
King healthcareImagine for a moment that you get sick, break your leg, get a cold, whatever, and you have to go to the doctor.  Now imagine that you are unemployed, can’t afford cobra, or you are one of the millions of Americans, who even with Obamacare, can't afford to buy health insurance.  What do you do?  You can go to an emergency room and wait hours and hours, but if you can’t afford insurance how will you afford hospital fees, cat scans, prescription costs, and medical bills?  Would you even go? Many don’t and because of this many die. Now imagine that you have a job, you have Obamacare or a group health plan, and you or a family member comes down with a catastrophic illness or accident.  You have medical costs that in one year exceed $100,000, your insurance will only pay 80% or your costs.  After insurance you owe over $20,000 on top of the five to ten thousand dollars in premiums you’ve paid this year, and you don’t have it.  You are forced into bankruptcy and lose your home to foreclosure, even though you have group medical insurance or Obamacare. These scenarios happen every day to millions and millions of Americans because of the for-profit, health care insurance system in this country.  It is estimated that even with the Affordable Care act or Obamacare, around 29,000,000 Americans are still without health insurance, millions more are underinsured, and thousands of Americans die every year because of lack of health insurance.  We are the only industrialized nation where this occurs. 
 
Now imagine, you or a family member gets sick.  Imagine you could choose to go to any privately owned medical practice or hospital you wish.  Imagine that you don’t have to worry about paying a single medical bill or even a co-pay for you or anyone in your family because your insurance pays it all, 100%.  Imagine that your insurance stays with you from job to job and even if you are unemployed or retired. Imagine that you have guaranteed health insurance coverage, from the day you are born until the day you pass on.   Now imagine that this insurance is provided to you as a guaranteed right as a U.S. citizen.  This is what is known as Single-Payer Health Insurance.  
 
Let’s clear something up right from the start.  Single-Payer Health Insurance is NOT Socialized Healthcare.  Socialized healthcare is when the hospitals and doctors offices are owned and run by the government.  The doctors and nurses are government employees.  Their paychecks come from the government. This is what VA Hospitals are.  This is what England has.  Not a single Senator, Congressman, or President is proposing any type of socialized health care system like England or the VA.  Single Payer Health Insurance is an insurance program, NOT health care, that is overseen by the government, and would be a right of every U.S. Citizen to have from birth to death, no matter if you are rich or poor, employed or unemployed.  This is what most industrialized nations have, except for us.  Doctors and hospitals would remain privately run entities just like they are now.  A doctor that has his or her own practice would still have his or her own practice. This would not change.  What would change is that now you or the company you work for would not have to pay an insurance premium.  You would not have a co-pay. You would not have a deductible.  You would not have to pay for prescriptions.  All of that would go away.   And any taxes  that you or the company you work for may have to pay for this guaranteed health insurance, would be thousands of dollars less then whatever you are paying right now!  And the savings would be even greater if you or a family member actually used the system because the money you would have had to put out for getting sick, doctor visits, medicine, would remain in your pocket!  In addition you would not have to worry if a doctor is in network or out of network because everyone would be in the same network.  You will not be told by an HMO that you can only see certain doctors that are in there plan.  You will be completely unrestricted as to what doctors you can go see because the same insurance will apply to all of them.  And doctors will not be over run with paper work, because they will no longer have to fight with multiple insurance companies to cover a visit or procedure.  They will have only one insurance company to deal with which will mean less paperwork, less administrative costs, and guaranteed coverage of procedures.    
 
In addition businesses will benefit because they will no longer have the high cost of providing insurance to their employees.  Small business will benefit because they will be able to hire employees that may have not previously come to work for them due to the lack of a group health plan.  Life expectancy and infant mortality rates will rise because every American will be able to get health care whenever they need it regardless of their employment status or income.  Homeless people will not be turned away from hospitals because they have no money.
 
How will this be paid for?  Well before I go into that let's put this into perspective.  Under the current system, if you have private health insurance for your family you could easily be spending $500 a month for your premium.  Then there are the cost of co-pays, deductibles, and prescriptions.  If you don’t actually get sick and never visit a doctor you are putting out at least $6000 a year.  Chances are though you will visit a doctor and someone will get sick, so most likely the cost will far exceed $6,000 a year.  If you have a group plan your monthly premiums may be less because you employer is picking up part of the tab, but the costs to visit the doctor and the deductibles and prescriptions will be just as much as the person with private insurance.
 
With a Single Payer Health Insurance system, that $6,000 for monthly premiums goes away.  The deductibles, the co-pays, the prescription costs, all of it goes away.  The billions of dollars that companies are paying to provide health coverage to their employees goes away.  What would replace it would be a tax, about $500 a year for families.  Yes, that is right, your yearly health insurance costs would be reduced from $6000 to $500 a year.  That’s $5500 in your pocket on average.   It could be a payroll tax, a tax to businesses, or taxes on certain items or transactions.  But these taxes would amount to thousands of dollars less per person than what we are currently paying for our monthly premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and so on.  All of the medical services would be paid for 100% by the Single Payer Health Insurance.  The average American would save thousands of dollars a year. And that savings would translate to consumer spending on things like goods and services, further boosting and strengthening our economy.  It would equal the effect of giving every U.S. citizen a substantial raise in their income, and that income boost would be felt most by the people who really need it, the poor and middle class.
 
The bottom line is we are the only industrialized nation that does not offer guaranteed health insurance to our citizens.  I support Single-Payer Health Insurance not because of any party affiliation, or because I lean left or right, or because of what some  Presidential candidate may be proposing.  I support it because many years ago I did what I believe everyone in this country should do.  I stopped listening to the politicians, to the talking points, to the GOP and DNC, I went online and did my research.  I looked at plain old well documented facts to determine what best would help this country, then I decided for myself, and I encourage you to do the same.  The ACA or Obamacare was a good start but it did not go far enough and it left around twenty nine million Americans without health insurance.  It also kept the burden of paying for health care insurance with those that could afford it the least.  This is one of the single most important issues that affects every American.  It affects us personally because every American deserves to have decent health care available to them, and it affects us economically because our health care system is bankrupting us and this country.  People are losing their homes and their life savings simply because they get sick.  Businesses are losing profits because of the rising costs of health insurance that they have to provide to their employees.  And the only people benefiting from all of this are the CEO’s and executives of the Insurance companies.   There should not be 29 million Americans in this country uninsured.  There should not be thousands of Americans dying each year because of lack of health insurance.  Unless you are filthy rich, most Americans are one catastrophic illness away from bankruptcy.   We all need to do something about this.  Support Single Payer Health Insurance and support candidates who will fight to make Single Payer a reality.  And if you did not understand what single payer health insurance was all about before, I hope I have been able to shed some light on the subject.  You’re welcome Bernie.

 

To find out more about Single Payer Health Insurance check out these links:

Physicians For A National Health Program - FAQs

Single Payer vs The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

To find out more about Bernie Sanders proposal for a Single Payer system click HERE.

 

 


David Bowie Elephant Man

By Brian Dann

 
BowieDavid Bowie was an artist. He was not defined by a time. He was not defined by an era. He was not defined by a style. David Bowie was style. He was timeless, he was original, he was unique, and no one could copy him or even come close to the level of “cool” that was Bowie. His concert performances were iconic and pushed the levels of performance and showmanship to the edge and then blew that edge to pieces. I had the privilege of seeing Bowie in concert on three individual occasions and each one was more incredible then the next. A Bowie concert was like a rock show, with the theatrics of a Broadway musical, and the artistry and precision of Cirque Du Soleil all wrapped up in one fantastic package. My first time seeing Bowie was not in concert, but it was on a stage. In the summer of 1980 I found out that David Bowie was coming to the Blackstone Theater in Chicago. He was playing the lead role as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man. I had been aware of Joseph Merrick because for some reason my parents had this book with photos of human oddities in it, and Joseph Merrick was in it along with the first documented Siamese twins, and some man with elastic skin, along with other photos from around the turn of the 19th century of people who, by today's standard, were given entirely inappropriate nick names, that at the time probably played well at Circus freak shows, but today would be considered insulting at best. I found Joseph Merrick’s photo and story fascinating, and probably at first for the same reason people at the time were fascinated by him. He was shocking to look at. I was never really a reader and I still am not but the book, “The Elephant Man” was one of the few books I had read as a young boy. I found his story fascinating, and learned what an incredible person Joseph Merrick really was. If you have not seen the movie, or read the book, you should. So when I found out that the Broadway play The Elephant Man was coming to the Blackstone Theater in August of 1980 and David Bowie was playing the lead role of Joseph Merrick, I knew what I wanted for my 14th birthday.

When the lights came down and David Bowie first appeared on stage, people went crazy, girls screamed but Bowie remained stoic waiting for the rock star part of his existence to subside. All that Bowie was wearing was a small cloth around his abdomen. He had no shirt on, no pants, socks or shoes, just the cloth. Photos of the real Joseph Merrick appeared on a screen alongside Bowie. We could see Merrick’s unbelievable grotesque deformities that plagued him throughout his life. The actor who portrayed Frederick Treves, Merrick’s doctor, read in great detail the actual medical description of Joseph Merrick’s condition, describing every part of his body starting from his overgrown head, to his legs that were covered in tumors, leaving no part of his body without mention. He described each growth and how it affected his speech, the way he walked, or the pain he felt from holding up the weight of his enormous head. As he did this, as he described every deformity in great detail, and the effect it had on Merrick’s body, Bowie twisted and turned, changed and deformed, part by part, muscle by muscle, his face, his arms, his hips, legs, feet until he no longer was David Bowie. Before our eyes he became Joseph Merrick, his arm gnarled and bent, his ankles twisted to the point that you could only imagine the actual pain that Bowie must have been feeling to have his feet turned in the way they were. He altered his voice so that you could sense the struggle it was for Merrick to even speak at times. In short, Bowie’s transformation, right before our eyes, was nothing short of amazing. He became Joseph Merrick, and he held this transformation for close to two and a half hours.

To say Bowie’s performance was amazing is an understatement and to be able to say that I was fortunate enough to witness this live is a privilege and an experience that I will never forget. But this performance, to me, is what defines Bowie because David Bowie was so much more than a rock star. From the beginning David Bowie was a performance artist. Whether it was a concert, a movie, or The Elephant Man, David Bowie was a performer. Just as he had transformed himself, right before my eyes into Joseph Merrick, he also transformed himself in to Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke, Major Tom and Aladdin Sane, Jareth the Goblin King and Nikola Tesla. He performed with everyone from Bing Crosby to Mick Jagger and created iconic music that will live on forever. And although his concerts were nothing short of amazing, I will never forget the experience of seeing him become Joseph Merrick.

Joseph Merrick loved to write letters, and every letter he wrote he ended with the same poem. 


“'Tis true my form is something odd,
But blaming me is blaming God;
Could I create myself anew
I would not fail in pleasing you.

If I could reach from pole to pole
Or grasp the ocean with a span,
I would be measured by the soul;
The mind's the standard of the man.” – Joseph Merrick

 

Rest In Peace Major Tom.

 

 David Bowie as John Merrick in the Elephant Man, 1980.

Note: Frederick Travis changed the name of Joseph Merrick to John Merrick in his memoirs of the Elephant Man.  The name John was used not only in his book but also in the play and movie.

 


Is Trump Running for President or Fuhrer?

By Brian Dann

 

Trump-security-rule-smIf Donald Trump has a strategy for winning the presidency, it seems to be to go for for the elusive Neo-Nazi vote. Trump recently made statements that indicated he would treat American Muslims, similar to the way Hitler treated the Jews in Germany. I'm not sure how Mr. Trump plans on winning this election by alienating every Hispanic, every female, and now every Muslim, but his recent comments really seem to be hitting home with bigots, and white supremacist. So if that is what “The Donald” is going for then mission accomplished! The difference is that Hitler’s craziness, while being diabolical and disgusting, was well planned, well thought out insanity, and Trump simply suffers from diarrhea of the mouth, constantly shooting from the hip without actually thinking before he speaks. Regardless, his attitude towards entire groups of people are disturbingly similar to the infamous Adolf Hitler. Let me explain.

In the 1930’s Germany’s economy was in ruins. Germany was still trying to recover from losing World War One. Hitler entered the scene and gave the German people someone to blame, the Jews. He claimed that Germany would have won the war if Germany had not been “stabbed in the back” by the Jews and those that conspired with them. It of course was nonsense. Hitler preached hate and intolerance against the Jews and the German people ate it up. So when it came time for Hitler to require all Jews to be registered with the government and also display a yellow Jewish star on there clothing that read Jude, the German people supported it. The Jews of Germany did not physically look all that different from the non-Jewish population of Germany, much like the Muslims or Syrians who live in the United States do not look that much different than the rest of us. (wink wink, see what I did there) So registration made it certain the the Nazis could track down all the Muslims, oops, I mean Jews, and the people of Germany would know exactly who to direct their anti-semitism towards. Hitler singled out one particular group of people based only on their religion. He included men, women and children regardless of their age. He included German Jews who fought in WW1 for Germany, who lived in Germany for generations, who contributed to the life, art, culture and economy of Germany, who were businessmen, teachers, students, and for only one reason, because they were Jewish, because of their religion. He made them register only because they were Jewish. They did nothing wrong, yet he singled them out, men, women and children only because of their religion.

On Thursday, in an interview with Yahoo News, Donald Trump said that he would not rule out requiring all Muslims living in the U.S. to register with a national database. ALL Muslims is what he said. He would single out a particular religious group of people to register with our government, the Muslims. Everyone else to Trump is apparently ok and does not need to be watched, just the Muslims. This includes Muslims who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, and WW2, Muslims whose families have lived in America for generations, Muslims who contribute to the life, art, culture and economy of the USA, who are businessmen, teachers, students, and for only one reason, because they are Muslim, because of their religion. He would make them register only because they are Muslim. They have done nothing wrong, yet he has singled them out, men, women and children only because of their religion...exactly like Hitler did to the Jews.

Is Trump really this much of a bigot? Does he ever truly listen to the words that come out of his mouth? Does he really believe that the solution to curbing terrorism is making the nice Muslim family that lives down the street from me in my peaceful Chicago suburb, with two kids, a minivan and a Golden Retriever named Charlie, and attends the same school plays and soccer games as my wife and I, register as Muslims with a federal database? Is this what Trump believes is going to stop an attack by ISIS like the one we just witnessed in France? Maybe he should require Muslims all to carry religious identification at all time not unlike the Jews in Germany who were required to have yellow stars on them at all times! Well according to Yahoo News, that is exactly what he would consider.

Yahoo News - “Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out. “We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said…”

Are we going to round them all up like we did the Japanese Americans in WW2 and put them in internment camps? And are we going to do this before or after we round up all the undocumented Mexicans and ship them to the other side of Trumps “Wall” with the magnificent door that the “good” ones can enter back into the U.S. through? Maybe just to be 100% safe Trump should come up with some, oh I don’t know, lets call it a Final Solution, and just have them all exterminated. Then we will eliminate any chance of a baby Muslim American growing up to lead ISIS! This is not who we are. Mr Trump is a bigot. He is a terrible person. I truly believe that he is actually to stupid to really understand the impact of most of what he says and obviously creates policy on the fly. He has no solutions to anything that could actually work in a practical world. But the danger is that just like many of the German people who were too stupid to question Hitler and were duped into believing that the Jews were to blame, there are millions of Americans who are just too stupid not to question Trump and believe that Muslim = Terrorist. They think that his plain talk, his lack of political correctness equals competence. And simply because he can run a company, he can run the world. It still amazes me that he is where he is on the polls. This says more about the intelligence of Republican Americans who support Trump, than it does about the qualifications of Donald Trump.

The truth is Donald Trump is exactly what ISIS needs. ISIS needs Americans to over react, to persecute everyday Muslims so that they can say to the mainstream Muslim community, “See, we told you so! America hates Muslims! Join us!” When Martin Luther King fought for equality in America in the 1960’s, he killed us with kindness, with love and with peace. He made it so that during his protests no white bigots could make the argument that African American people were dangerous, that America had something to fear, that no one could say I told you so. He took the high road and he fostered change and acceptance. That is what we need to do with the Muslim community not just in America but around the world. Show the Syrians that we are here to help, that we are there friends, that they are welcome. Show Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan that we want to help them not destroy them, that America is a friend, someone they can count on, that we are there to help build schools, hospitals to make their lives better, to give them no reason to hate us, no reason to want to join ISIS. We need to change how Muslims around the world feel about America, that we are not the great Satan and that their real enemy is this radical terrorist group that uses Islam to justify their terrorism.

The attacks in Paris were horrifying. But they were not carried out by a single Syrian refugee. They were not carried out by a single person from Iraq. They were carried out by citizens from Europe who chose to join ISIS. And Trump and other Republicans want to punish Syrian refugees who have already had their lives destroyed, their homes destroyed, and their families ripped apart. 50% of the refugees from Syria are children, many are orphans, 25% are over 60 years old. These are not terrorists. America was built on refugees, on foreigners seeking a new place to live. My ancestors came here after escaping persecution in Europe. My wife's family escaped the Holocaust. Very few of our ancestors immigrated here just because. They came here because they could not stay where they were, they had something to leave. No one wants to leave the place they call home, they leave because they have to, and unless you are a Native American, you are not native to this land. A plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, and written by a Jewish women named Emma Lazarus reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Nowhere on that plaque does it say, ...unless you’re Muslim.


In Trump We Trust?

By Brian Dann

 

Donald-Trump-Duct-Tape-31214At what point does one become so arrogant that one truly believes that just being that person is the best thing that could happen to everyone else? How do you get to the point that you are convinced that people should just follow you blindly because in your eyes you feel you can do no wrong? And how is it that others autonomously nod and agree simply because what you say, no matter how non-sensical, ridiculous, or uneducated it is, is said with such exaggerated conviction that one does not even question the validity of the rhetoric? That right there is Donald Trump. It’s not what Donald Trump says that surprises me? It’s that seemingly very intelligent people are acting like this man makes any sense all and should be our president. His ego and talent for negotiating has served him well in business, but in business Trump says jump and people say how high. In business Trump says he wants his name emblazed in gold on a line of Trump crotchless panties and no one questions it. If Trump wants to bully and insult people in the corporate world he can get away with it. But politics is not the corporate world, you can't just bully Mexico and Russia into doing what you want. If you insult a world leader it can lead to an international incident. You can’t just order Republicans and Democrats to pass your bills because unlike Trump Enterprises, politicians don't work for the President and can’t simply be fired, have their salaries cut or be demoted. And giving a man like Trump the power of Executive Order is just plain scary.

Trump has said some crazy, rude, disrespectful, ignorant and insulting things, but one thing that he said October 26th on the Today Show was one of the most telling things I have ever heard him say. A question was asked of Trump by a young 21 year old student and small business owner named Brian Pickowicz during a televised town hall moderated by Matt Lauer on the Today Show. Word for word it went like this:

Brian: “Your campaign has gained a lot of recognition for calling it how it is but it has been based more on talking points than substance. Do you have a specific plan for how to bring our economy back, or should middle class voters just elect you because your name is Trump?”

Trump: “Well I think they should, because I built a great company. Everybody agrees on that. I built a great company. I employed thousands of people. I employed tens of thousands of people, and, and you know I’ve done a good job, I’ve done some of the great projects. He (Matt Lauer) knows many of them, I mean I have some of the great projects of the world. And frankly that is a part of my resume in all fairness. If I didn’t, if I didn’t have this great success, I don’t think I’d be here right now…”

After a bit more rambling about how great everything will be under Trump, Matt Lauer encouraged the young man to jump in and follow up. Brian Pickowicz pressed harder for an answer.

Brian: “But do you have a specific plan for how you plan on doing all this?”

Trump: “Sure, I’m telling you, I’m going to re-negotiate our trade deals, I’m going to bring our jobs back, I’m going to bring our manufacturing back…”

Then he went on to take full credit for Ford deciding to open a plant in the United States rather than Mexico simply because he had been talking about it on the campaign trail stating, “...frankly I think I embarrassed them.” Matt Lauer then chimed in.

Lauer: “Brian brings up an interesting point though. It does seem on a lot of issues Mr. Trump you’re asking people to say, ‘Believe me that I can accomplish these things and fix them because I’m Donald Trump.’”

Trump: “You know what, I AM asking for that.”

He then went on to tell Mr. Pickowicz how he could give a plan but plans change, that he’s gonna bring jobs back and so on. But how is all this gonna happen? Don’t worry about it! He’s Donald Trump! You don’t need to know! Trust him. It’s business. It would probably confuse us anyway! Plans change. Specifics shmicifics! Plans are for losers! Trump actually wants us to simply take his word for it that he is so unbelievably awesome that we should just trust him, that he will make everything better and we don’t need to know how or why because, plans change, and he is the great and powerful Trump! And this is what baffles me on so many levels. This is what was one of the most telling things I have ever heard Donald Trump say out loud.

Until yesterday, I thought that Trump was simply a rambling, delusional, egomaniac, who simply had never gotten around, in any of his unrehearsed, rambling speeches, to giving us specifics on how he plans to “make America great again.” But now we find out that he actually believes that he is so awesome, that his record is so spectacular, that the American public, Republican, Democrat, Independent and Undecided, should simply blindly trust him because after all, as Matt Lauer put it, “I can accomplish these things and fix them because I’m Donald Trump.” And what is even more unbelievable is that in many states Trump is currently leading in the polls, which means the people who would vote for him are either complete idiots, or complete morons! Who except a complete idiot, or complete moron would vote for anyone who simply says “Trust me,” and refuses to say how.

Yes I know you can argue that Donald Trump has given some specifics like his tax plan, which independent sources have determined would cost trillions and skyrocket our national debt. Or you can talk about his huge, long, giant...wall, you know the one that somehow he is going to strong arm Mexico into paying for? The sheer logistics of building a wall along our entire southern border that will be impenetrable, that no one could ever tunnel under and that Mexico will pay for is beyond ridiculous! Oh yea, and it will have a beautiful door on it. Or you could talk about his plan to deport every illegal alien in this country. So will that only be Mexicans? What about Asians, Canadians, Cubans, Europeans, people from the middle east? How will this happen? It's just not practical. How can you possibly round up 11.3 million undocumented immigrants? Are we going to bring in the national guard to find them, or maybe the military? Can you even imagine the cost? Well I can. According to a September 14, 2015 article in Forbes Magazine:

“A 2015 study by the American Action Forum, a conservative pro-immigration group, estimates the federal government would have to spend roughly $400 billion to $600 billion to deport 11.3 million undocumented immigrants and prevent future unlawful entry into the U.S. over a 20 year time period...In order to implement the plan, the study says, each immigrant would have to be apprehended, detained, legally processed, and transported to his or her home country. Mass deportation will burden the economy, the report goes on. Removing all undocumented immigrants would cause the labor force to shrink by 6.4%. As a result, 20 years from now the economy would be nearly 6% or $1.6 trillion smaller than it would be if the immigrants are allowed to stay.”

Trump feels that he is either so incredible that he owes no one any specifics into how he would accomplish his goals, and we should all just blindly trust him, or he offers us solutions, that if anyone was to rationally consider for even a millisecond, would realize how insane and poorly thought out they really are. But instead people put on there blinders, autonomously nod and agree. They listen to the rhetoric, and the passion, and trust that simply because they agree with what Trump says is wrong, that he must have a plan to fix it, one that we don’t need to know about, and why? Simple...

“Because I’m Donald Trump.”

 

Update:  According to Factcheck.org Ford has not made any changes to it's plans regarding plants in Mexico.  In a statement from Ford the article states,  “As part of our global manufacturing plan, we announced $2.5 billion investment in two Mexico facilities to build a new generation of engines and transmissions,” Christin Tinsworth Baker, a spokeswoman for Ford told us via email. “These engines and transmissions will support Ford’s global product lineup. Our plans for that investment have not changed.”... "Ford Motor Co. has released a statement saying, “Ford has not spoken with Mr. Trump, nor have we made any changes to our plans. We decided to move the F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks to Ohio Assembly in 2011, long before any candidates announced their intention to run for U.S. president."


How Bernie Sanders Can Lose

By Brian Dann


BernieIf you'ld like to read this go right ahead, but I should let you know the first part of this is pretty much directed straight to Bernie Sanders. Bernie, if you want to be elected President, stop saying out loud that you are a Socialist. And saying that you are a DEMOCRATIC Socialist does not make anyone who is not a supporter of you say to themselves, “Ohhh, a DEMOCRATIC socialist. Well that’s better.” All they hear is Socialist and to most Americans, whose education ranks 35th in the world in math and 27th in science (12 places below Macau! Seriously, Macau!? I’ve never even heard of Macau, but then again I went to school in America), Socialist means the same thing to them as Communist, Marxist, Fascist or any other evil ‘ist out there. And to Google the word “socialism” to clarify what you are does not help your case in any way. Here is what comes up:

so.cial.ism
/ˈsōSHəˌlizəm/
noun

    1. A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
      Synonyms:  leftism, welfarism; radicalism, progressivism, social democracy; communism, Marxism, labor movement.
    2. Policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.
    3. (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.

 

Seriously dude! STOP IT!  People are Googling this to figure out who the hell this Bernie Sanders guy is and seeing “overthrow of capitalism” and “realization of communism”! This is straight from Google. It’s the first thing that comes up!  Seriously, try it yourself, I’m not making this shit up!  If I was any one of your opponents I would simply run a video of you saying that you are a Socialist, with that definition overlaid on the screen right next to your head with a picture of Karl Marx and wait for inauguration day. The truth is you are not a Marxist, or a Communist, and no matter what you say, I am starting to doubt that you are even a Socialist.  Wanting to institute common sense policies that would strengthen our economy, increase the income of all U.S. citizens, not just the top 1%, make us more competitive in the world market place, make us better educated, healthier, give small businesses a fighting chance and big businesses more profits, sounds a lot like a capitalist to me, a capitalist with common sense programs that benefits all of us not just the wealthy. To use our government to institute programs, policies and regulations that better our nation and benefit our citizens within it, does not make one a Socialist, it makes one a leader.

Bernie, people overwhelmingly get your message.  They get that most of the wealth goes to the top 1% and the rest of us get screwed.  They get that we are the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee health care to 100% of it’s citizens and how ridiculous it is that even with Obamacare, millions of Americans still have no access to health care except for an emergency room.  They get that Wall Street is unregulated and out of control. They get that college is way too expensive and our graduates are drowning is trillions of debt.  They get that climate change is real and it is man made and something must be done.

But what most Americans just don’t get is the true extent that all of this is destroying our country and exactly how your policies could truly change this nation.  That is what they need to hear.  They need to hear HOW, how what you want to do will make everything better for everyone.  How even with our taxes raised, we will have thousands more in our pockets than we do now?  How Single Payer will do more then just give us all access to health care but would actually save our economy.  How providing free college education will actually raise our overall GDP and increase our wealth.  How making college free and forgiving the college loans that currently exist will instantly inject millions of dollars into our economy.  Bernie, what we need to know is how, and that you will do everything you can to make it happen. But doing nothing except complaining about everything that is wrong without giving any specifics as to how you can change it, makes you look, dare I say, more like Donald Trump than Bernie Sanders, and you seriously do not have the hair to pull that off.   And if you keep being so proud that you are a Democratic Socialist, it won't matter how many speeches you give to define Democratic Socialism, it won't matter how much you talk about substance and policy, it won’t matter how right you are, and how everything that you want to do would actually be the best thing that could ever happen to this country.   Too many undecided will hear nothing except Socialist, Marxist, Communist, ‘ist, ‘ist, ‘ist… and you will lose.

And now to the rest of you...Bern, baby Bern!


I Just Wanna Give Rahm A Big Hug

By Brian Dann

Mayoralphotos

Rahm Emanuel, I’m not really sure why, but for some reason over the past couple of weeks I just want to give Rahm a big ol’ hug, maybe invite him over for a barbeque, ask him why he thinks Farmer Chris sent Kaitlyn home instead of Becca.  It’s like all of a sudden he’s just so darn likeable.  Oh I know he can rub people the wrong way, or talk when he should listen. He owns that - DAMMIT! But he’s driven to make a difference...Ok...wait...this is just weird.  I know I’ve heard those words somewhere before.  Oh yea, here…

  

  

I would have loved to have been in that campaign meeting, held right after a guy, who has the same nickname as Hans Solos co-pilot, forced a run-off for mayor of the third largest city in the United States.  I’m assuming it was Michael Ruemmler, Emanuel's campaign manager who looked at Rahm and said something like, “Well...ya see...I, I, I think the problem here is…(talking while coughing with his hand over his mouth, hoping Rahm doesn't slap him upside the head) people just don't like you.  (Pause, cringe...no slap)...Sooooo, what I think we should do is dress you up like Mr. Rogers, put you on TV and have you admit to how big of a douchebag you really are.”  To which I’m imagining Rahm responding with, “That’s fine, but then can I tell them, if they don’t like me how I am, too damn bad, deal with it?” To which Ruemmler then said, “How about if you just say, I own that.”  Now if this was a fight that Rahm was having with his wife he would have to follow up his confession with something about how he will try to be nicer and stop being such a douchebag, but since we the voters are not going to withhold sex from the mayor, he tells us “I own that.”  Here is the problem with that.  When nobody likes you, simply admitting you're unlikeable, doesn't make anyone like you any more.  And the truth is Chuy Garcia is really likeable. His nickname is Chuy for gods sakes!  I guarantee you, when Chuy Garcia walks into a bar, everyone in the bar yells “Chuy!”  When he walks down the street in his neighborhood, people on steps and in windows yell, “Hey Chuy!”  And I promise you that the chant “Chuy, Chuy, Chuy, Chuy…” has been heard many times, and not just right before he was just about to win a beer guzzling contest in college.  But nobody ever yells RAHM!  They just don’t.  Maybe they say things like, "That Rahm is such a douchebag," but that's about it. So if Rahm Emanuel wants any hope of beating the oh so personable Chuy Garcia, he doesn't need touchy feely, overly personal campaign ads that look like Trolley is about to lead him into the land of make-believe.  What Rahm Emanuel needs in a cuter than cute nickname that would make the cast of Cheers say, Norm? Norm who? So here are a few that I have come up with.

  1. Rahmy

  2. Rizzo

  3. Boogie

  4. Doogie

  5. Cheech

  6. Rahmbo

  7. Chilli

  8. Slim

  9. Coco

  10. Chachi

Seriously, I think any of these will do.  Apparently a likeable, approachable nickname is exactly what voters are looking for in there next mayor.  Coco may be a little too stripper, and Rahmy may be a bit too obvious, but all the others would work just fine. For now, I'm leaning towards Chachi.  It’s cute, catchy and still sounds like you mean business.  So at this time I would like to formally announce that I am officially endorsing for the next mayor of Chicago...Chachi Emanuel!  I just wish Chachi wasn't such a douchebag.


Hobby Lobby's Approval of Forced Chinese Abortions

By Brian Dann

HL1In China, the government regularly forces women to undergo forced abortions in order to meet there strict population control policy of one child per family.  In a report from the Associated Press and published on Yahoo! News in January 2014, “When her mind is clear, Gong Qifeng can recall how she begged for mercy. Several people pinned her head, arms, knees and ankles to a hospital bed before driving a syringe of labor-inducing drugs into her stomach.  She was seven months pregnant with what would have been her second boy. The drugs caused her to have a stillborn baby after 35 hours of excruciating pain. She was forced to have the abortion by officials in China's southern province of Hunan in the name of complying with national limits on family size.” The same month that this report was released regarding forced abortions by the government of China, the CEO of Hobby Lobby, a chain of hobby and craft supply stores, released a letter stating that Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is suing the United States government because the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is forcing Hobby Lobby to provide their employees with health Insurance that includes a mandate that says, as David Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby put it, “our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance.”  Mr. Green goes on to say, “Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one.”  Yet many of the products that Hobby Lobby sells in their stores are made in China.  That’s right, China, the country that Hobby Lobby gives millions of dollars to every year, who forces there citizens to undergo forced abortions in order to comply with government policy.  This they don’t seem to have a problem with.  Never mind the fact that emergency contraception, or the “morning-after” pill, does not cause abortions but instead stops the egg from dropping , thereby never getting fertilized in the first place, just like normal contraception does. It does not terminate a pregnancy and drugs that do such as RU-486 are not covered by most insurance plans.  

On one hand it would seem that we should be applauding Mr. Green and his family for standing up for their religious beliefs, but on the other hand the level of hypocrisy that Mr. Green, and Hobby Lobby is displaying on this matter is absolutely staggering.  Chinese abortions are ok, but American “abortions” are not?  Are we to believe that every product that Hobby Lobby sells in their stores first goes through a rigorous Christian values vetting process so that we can be assured that the hundreds of companies that they purchase products from all adhere to the same Christian values that Mr. David Green and his family adhere to?  Are we to believe that none of the products in their stores are from companies that do business with any country that has values or practices that go against the values of Hobby Lobby’s owners?  No we are not because all you have to do is walk into any Hobby Lobby and within 60 seconds you will find shelves of products that are all made in China.  Hobby Lobby has no problem paying for women to have forced abortions in China, but allowing women in their own country the freedom over their own health decisions is just too far radical for their Christian values to handle. 

In addition, if you allow Hobby Lobby, a for-profit corporation to be exempt from providing certain aspects of health coverage to their employees, simply because they say it conflicts with their religious beliefs, where do we draw the line?  Some religions do not believe in giving blood transfusions. Do you allow the owners of those businesses to exempt blood transfusions from insurance coverage regardless of the beliefs of their employees?  Scientologists discourage the use of psychiatric drugs to treat mental illness.  Do we exempt Scientologists who own businesses from providing these types of drugs in their health plans regardless of the beliefs of their employees?  Christ Church in Oregon City believes medical conditions should only be healed through prayer.  Do we allow a business owned by one of their members to deny medical insurance completely regardless of the beliefs of their employees?   The owners of Hobby Lobby are fully entitled to their religious beliefs just as any other person in the country is, but their employees are entitled to the full benefits of health care that any other person in this country is entitled to, and the personal religious beliefs of David Green and his family should not interfere with a person being able to have full control over the health choices that effect their own body, especially when what they are objecting to is not actually an abortion.  

I have heard various arguments to support Hobby Lobby such as, “no one is forcing a person to work there.”  That is true, but are we really supposed to expect that people are going to do research on every company that they apply to work at just to make sure that their own religious beliefs are in line with the religious beliefs of the owners of the company that they are applying for a job with?  And what about the 22,000 people that currently works for Hobby Lobby?  I would have to believe that not all 22,000 of them have the same religious convictions that the Greens do.  In fact I would venture to guess that many of them may not even be Christians.  I guess to the Greens, the only religious beliefs that matter are the beliefs of the owners, not the 22,000 Christian, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Scientologists, Buddhists, Mormons, Atheists, and so on that keep their business running on a daily basis.  If those people want to keep working for Hobby Lobby then they have to except that their religious convictions or lack thereof do not deserve one ounce of respect from CEO David Green and his family.  

The even larger issue here is that this lawsuit and similar debates further illustrates the inherent problems built into the Affordable Care Act, problems that would not exist in a single-payer system.  Placing the burden of providing for-profit health care insurance to individuals, upon the shoulders of businesses, rather than non-profit health care insurance on the shoulders of government, opens up the entire health insurance infrastructure to debate, law suits, abuse, ongoing financial burden to individuals, and a state where millions of U.S. citizens will remain uninsured and vulnerable to bankruptcy, inadequate health care and even death.  It places undue financial burdens on businesses that would not exist if health care costs were paid for by the government instead of individual, for-profit insurance companies that cost businesses billions in premiums each year. Financial burdens that cut into corporate profits that can be better used for things like research and development, or increasing wages, would be reduced by billions, and individuals would no longer have to ever worry that they would be without health insurance from the moment of birth to the time of death.  And businesses like Hobby Lobby would not have any reason to be suing the U.S. Government for some provision the they claim conflicts with their religious beliefs, because they would not have the burden of providing health insurance to their 22,000 employees.   

But for now the Affordable Care Act is what we have to deal with.  And as long as we have the Affordable Care Act we will have to deal with everything from Senators who want to vote 40 plus times to repeal a law that has passed the test of the Supreme Court and is actively helping millions of Americans, and companies like Hobby Lobby and their CEO David Green who place their own personal religious convictions above the 22,000 individuals who work for them.  On December 27th 2013, Hobby Lobby published a video addressing their law suit against the U.S. Government.  In it Hobby Lobby's Mandi Broadfoot states, “Hobby Lobby and the Green family do not wish to control the actions of their employees, nor do they want to impose their beliefs on anyone.  They respect the religious convictions of all Americans, even those with different views.”  Again, a level of hypocrisy that is simply staggering.  Well on a separate note, does anyone know where I can buy a set of paint brushes made in China?  Oh, yea…never mind.

 

Additional References: 

The "morning-after" Pill: A guide (The Week) 

The Truth About Contraception, Obamacare and the Church (Forbes)

Forced abortion highlights abuses in China policy (Yahoo! News)

  


A Special Place For Kevin

By Brian Dann

KevinThe Beatles once said, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”  For the owner of Kevin’s Place, this verse could not ring more true.  Kevin’s Place is a small cozy diner in the northern Chicago suburb of Deerfield, but what sets Kevin’s Place apart from all the other small cozy diners out there is not the food, although the food is incredible.  It’s not the décor, although it is crystal clear whose personality is all over the posters, mementos and other decorations that adorn the walls of Kevin’s Place, it’s not even the mirrored disco ball that seems to magically turn on every time it is someone’s birthday.  What sets Kevin’s Place apart from all the other small cozy diners out there is one thing and one thing only, Kevin.  Kevin Quigley is the owner, head waiter, ring leader, pied piper, and all around master of ceremonies of his diner, Kevin’s Place.  And if you ask anyone, young or old, who goes to Kevin’s Place, they go there to see Kevin.  You can ask the staff. When Kevin is off, Kevin’s Place is not as busy.  To say Kevin is friendly is like saying the Pope is religious.  Some people might say that Kevin goes above and beyond, goes out of his way for his customers.  But for Kevin this is just Kevin being Kevin.  It is what he lives for.  Kevin greets every person with open arms, a huge smile and makes each one of his customers feel like they are the most important person that walked in that day.  And this is multiplied tenfold when the customer is a child.  There are no slides, jumpies, or robotic gorillas at Kevin’ Place.  There is just Kevin, and kids will beg there parent to go and see him.  To see Kevin interact with children is nothing short of astounding.  When he makes each child feel like they are the most special person he has seen all day, when he pulls up a chair and sits down with each child and takes as much time as that child needs to order their own food, and when each parent sees the joy there child experiences from being spoken to in only the way that Kevin knows how, every parent falls in love with Kevin because for the first time they see someone treat their child in a way that few people ever have.  The evidence of this can be shown by the wall of drawing that children have made for Kevin each time they come to “play” with Kevin.  It can be shown by the number of parents who bring their children to Kevin’s Place on their birthdays, knowing that at some point the lights will go off, the disco ball will go on and Kevin will lead the whole restaurant in a chorus of happy birthday for their child.  And it can be shown by the sheer number of people who have supported Kevin on Facebook when for the second time he had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation to battle esophageal cancer.
 
I don’t know exactly when Kevin found out that his cancer had returned but I do know that on November 2nd a friend of Kevin’s posted that a Flash Mob that Kevin was trying to organize was being put on hold until further notice.  As she put it, “Sometimes, life gets in the way of our best-laid plans.”  Most people did not know what was going on with Kevin at that time but on December 3rd, it became very apparent when Kevin posted,
 
 “ICKY time...just getting called in for treatment. Ugh. I am so happy and thankful though they have a laptop to divert my attention while waiting. Gives me a chance too to catch up on my Farmville! No smart comments. Talk to you later!”  Later that day he posted, “ok...home from treatment and ok...I am craving a cheeseburger(double) ketchup only...and Kentucky Fried Chicken(original recipe)....corn on the cob, mashed potatoes and gravy, pork and beans..and of course let's not forget that DAMN double chocolate cake! HMMMM. Now boys and girls...I am on a restricted diet...very soft food diet. Has anyone in the past ever turned any of this food into a blended drink? Please share your recipe with me...or just jump in that car and bring me one. THANK YOU!” 
 
It was clear that cancer was not going to squash Kevin’s charm and positive attitude, that if anyone was going to get through this Kevin would, and if anyone who knew Kevin had anything to do with it, they would make sure that there prayers and well wishes would be heard loud and clear, 94 prayers on Facebook just in the first two days.  On December 4th Kevin posted,
 
“HEY! Since I have buckled under and started taking pain medication...(MORPHINE)...if anyone wants to come sit with me and do morphine together.....swing on by! Although, you must be warned............since starting my morphine regimen...I have found I am channeling my inner black woman and know I was born to be in TLC.......I can't stop singing "Waterfalls". Henceforth...if you too have an inner black woman in you...COME ON DOWN!”
  
Clearly Kevin’s positive attitude and sense of humor was the thing that was helping him get through this, but I believe that Kevin, being the person that he is was also helping the people who cared so much about him get through this as well.  And in comment after comment people laughed and joked with Kevin.  Kevin kept posting things on Facebook but not much about his cancer.  Then on December 20th he posted,
 
“I received a call from my doctor and he asked...Kevin, would you like your last radiation/chemo treatment on Monday, or on Christmas Eve? Without hesitation, I asked if he really had staff to be able to treat me on Christmas Eve...he laughed and said cancer doesn't do holidays. Very funny doc. HENCEFORTH...my final treatment for this f-cking esophageal cancer is Christmas Eve....HOOHOO! 3 and a half months and I am so thankful for all the support of my family and friends....” 
 
He went on to thank certain people who were there for him, some who kept things going at Kevin’s Place, some who were by his side through it all. 222 people “Liked” this on Facebook and 73 commented, saying get well and sending their prayers.  Then on December 27th Kevin posted this.
 
“OK...I have had my last treatment for my icky icky esophageal cancer(pretty name though). Team of fabulous doctors, friends that actually made me cry over their concern and care they gave me...but it's my dearest friend I must thank.....MORE PHINE. She has been such a reliable support...but more importantly, she has reunited my life with that inner black woman. I NEED HELP. Is there a venue or someone’s home I can come/go to perform to get them all out of my head??? Not kidding...all of them are running around...no comment Ellis. I am not...repeat NOT going without a fight for my dear friend MORE PHINE. They tell me I have to wind down slow off of them...or I may crash....does that mean I am then going to channel my inner Hillbilly...oops...Country western moan?
Well, just a thought. I am waiting for my laundry to get done...had one of my FAVORITE little ones...no names, Ellen, spill a chocolate milk on me today...EVERYWHERE...even in me shoes...try not to react to that one fellas! Her face when it happened was priceless....OH NO...I SPILLED MY CHOCOLATE MILK ON..........KEVIN!!! Her face was so shocked...I didn't even blink. My Mother came out in me and said…of course, "don't cry over spilled milk Ellen...Mr. Kevin is alright! Not mad...happy...not mad...happy. Then she laughed with me as her parental units were freaking out...well not really freaking...but once you meet MORE PHINE...she makes you look at everything in a different way. You know what I mean? Well...enough for now...my buzzer and I mean on my washer is done...must finish so I can make that dreaded, fun trip to Sams Club to gather "goodies" so I can provide entertainment and good eats to everyone at KPs. WOW........NEVER TAKE MORE PHINE AWAY. NEVER!!!I love her so. And ...truth be told, I am not a pill taker at all...hated pain killers and they had to convince me to meet MORE PHINE....what the hell was wrong with me? See ya later! XO Anita Baker...well really Kevin.”  
  
Kevin's incredible, infectious attitude, his outlook, his sence of humor, his love for others, his love of children, his ability to make everyone feel special, his ability to make a little girl smile over spilled milk was all still there.  People would keep coming to Kevin’s Place, not for the food as good as it is, not for the décor as Kevin as it is, but for Kevin.  They say that beating cancer is not all about the drugs but also about the attitude.  And in Kevin’s case it appears that positive attitude, prayers and well wishes sure did not hurt.  Kevin’s 55th Birthday was on January 6th and the well wishes on Facebook came pouring in.  It was clear that in Kevin's case The Beatles were right.  Finally on January seventh Kevin announced the best gift he could have received for his birthday.
 
“Hey friends! What an out-pour of love and support I have received on my birthday! I want to thank everyone and tell you how much it meant to me. I am really a sensitive man and my heart hurts when I hurt, rejoices when I am in glee. But the amount of birthday greetings threw me into a WOW factor and then the fact that I had my scans and tests done yesterday to see if I am in remission...and that support. I am over-whelmed! Thank you so very much!!! BUT...nothing was better than the birthday present I got today when my doctor called me and gave me the results of my tests. CAN YOU SAY.......REMISSION!!! Oh my goodness. Got a bit of a road to do for the post treatment for repair but, shit, that ain’t going to be nothing! Throughout this horror, I have been in support from family, friends and peeps I don’t even know ! I want to thank everyone for everything that I have received. I was placed amongst the soul mates I was supposed to be with years ago and I AM NOT LEAVING BABY!!! Ellis...WE DID IT!!!”
 
107 Comments, 182 likes, countless friends.  Small cozy diners come and go but people like Kevin Quigley are few and far between.  If you have never been to Kevin’s Place, you should go.  I guarantee you that when you leave Kevin's Place, you will have a special place for Kevin.

 

 

 


ObamaCare is Not the Solution...But What Is?

By Brian Dann

Every HumanToday I was listening to the radio when I heard a gentleman from Texas, and by the way I have a feeling this is the first time this person has been called a gentleman, refer to the president as a Marxist because of the “Socialist ObamaCare”.  Before I go on let’s point out some indisputable facts. First fact, Marxism, according to Websters dictionary is “the belief that the struggle between social classes is a major force in history and that there should eventually be a society in which there are no classes.”  C’mon don’t we all remember when then candidate Obama gave that speech where he said “YES WE CAN…create a society in which there are no classes”?…(long pause…aaaanyway…) Second fact, Socialism is defined by Websters dictionary as, “a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.” Now remind me again, what were the names of all the insurance companies that the government bought and took over to create the Socialist ObamaCare?  OHHHHHHH, that’s right, none of them.  In fact, if I remember correctly, President Obama wouldn’t even support a government run insurance plan, like Medicare for example, as one of the options or as it was known a “Public Option”.  Every option available under the Affordable Care Act is from a privately owned company.  You cannot even choose one that is government run because it does not exist. President Obama when proposing the ACA refused to even consider a public option.  Doesn’t sound too Socialist or Marxist now does it?  Third fact, no matter how many times some “journalist” on FOX “News” or some idiot who listens to nothing but FOX “News” wants to call ObamaCare a Socialist, or a Marxist, or whatever other ‘ist that they have no idea what “it” means, it doesn’t change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is the biggest financial boom for privately owned insurance companies since, well since private medical insurance began. With one signature privately owned insurance companies were guaranteed millions more customers.  If you notice there has not been any insurance industry CEO’s on television complaining about ObamaCare.  They happily adopted all the new regulations, sat back and waited for all the policies to start rolling in.  I guarantee you, insurance CEO’s have no problem with the Socialist, Marxist President Obama.  Finally, the forth fact, the only ‘ist that President Obama can be accused of is Capitalist.
 
Now you may think from all this ranting and raving that I am the biggest fan of the Affordable Care Act. The truth is I’m not, but I look at it this way.  If the ACA had not become law, with the health insurance system that we had before the ACA, both me and my wife today would be uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions.  In fact years ago when I was unemployed and my cobra was running out, I was turned down by every health insurance company I went to.  Even though my wife could get insurance at the time, any surgery that she had in the past, any allergy medicine that she was currently taking would not be covered and we would have to pay completely out of pocket for those items.  Our family was able to get insurance through the State or Illinois but it cost almost as much as our monthly mortgage payment, and being unemployed I knew that we would not be able to afford it for very long. Then we would have been left, like millions of Americans, with no health insurance at all. Luckily I found a job within a few months and was able to get insurance through my employer. Before the ACA, insurance companies could put caps on how much they would pay out, regardless if a person needed a treatment to stay alive. Insurance companies could and frequently would stop paying for life saving treatments causing millions of Americans to make choices like paying their mortgage or paying for health care, like feeding their families or paying for healthcare, like choosing to file for bankruptcy because there was no way they could afford to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars for healthcare costs.  Cancer patients who needed chemotherapy, patients who need dialysis, were told there treatments would no longer be paid for.  Children with disabilities, who needed assistance with things like breathing or eating, whose parents couldn’t work because there child needed 24/7 care, were told there child had reached his or her life time cap on payments.  Young adults who had just graduated from college, who had thousands of dollars in education debt and could not find a job, were told they were too old to be on their parents insurance.
 
Granted, the healthcare.gov website, the most visible part of the Affordable Care Act, the main vehicle for those who need to find an insurance plan through marketplace, is at this time a complete flop at startup, but this is a short term problem that will be fixed.  Yes it should have been working from day one but being an I.T. professional for the last sixteen years, this is not the first time I have seen this and I’m sure it won’t be the last. On a side note, all of the state run health insurance exchanges are working just fine.  The only states that need to use the Healthcare.gov website are those where the politicians in those states choose to fight the federal government and not to follow their advice by refusing to set up their own state run health insurance exchanges.  If they had then hardly anyone would be using the Healthcare.gov web site.  And once Healthcare.gov is working it will be nothing but a blip on the health care reform radar. What it is not is “Obama’s Katrina”. No one has died because a web site is not working, in fact the ACA has saved countless lives so far for people who in the past may have had their insurance plans canceled or who were considered uninsurable and now can have the lifesaving healthcare they need and cannot afford to pay for it themselves.  Whether people can or cannot choose a plan from the marketplace, the fact is no one can be turned down for pre-existing condition. No one will see their payment stop because they have reached a life time cap. No one will be told they have to pay more for insurance because they are a women or have a disability. Preventative care such as physicals, mammograms, pap smears, screenings, and birth control, in many cases will cost the consumer nothing at all.  How anyone can justify wanting to take this away from us is baffling to me.  Health care is not a luxury that should only be available to those who can afford it. It is essential to a healthy life just as food, water and shelter is.  It is something that every other country in the world considers a right not just for some but all. And even though as I said before I seem to be the biggest fan of the Affordable Car Act, I will say it again, I am not. 
 
Even though the ACA is a vast improvement from the previous system it is still far from the solution that we need, far from the solution that would put us on par with what the rest of the industrialized nations of this world provide to their citizens.  The fact is we spend more than any other country on health care costs and are ranked only 37th in the world for the quality of our health care.  The fact is even with the health care reforms that the ACA put in place, millions of American will remain uninsured and will die because of this, and the fact remains that even with these reforms thousands of Americans will file for bankruptcy because the portion of medical expenses they will be asked to pay for a catastrophic illness far exceed there means.  And the fact remains that those who still cannot afford to buy health insurance and will not be fined for not purchasing health insurance because there income is too low, will not receive the healthcare they need because they will not be able to pay for it.  I said it before, health care is not a luxury that only those who can pay for it should receive.  It is a right that all of us should have.  We are one of the richest nations in the world yet we still refuse to guarantee health care to every one of our citizens. Countries far less prosperous then us offer this guarantee to their citizens but we don’t. The only solution that would guarantee that every U.S. citizen has full comprehensive health insurance coverage from birth to death, employed or unemployed is Single Payer Health Insurance.  To be clear, Single Payer is not socialized health care.  Socialized health care is what England has.  In England all health care workers are employed by the government. All hospitals and treatment centers are owned by the government, and the government picks up 100% of the costs.  The government owns, operates and employees everything and everyone associated with health care.  That is what socialized health care is. With Single Payer Health Insurance the current status of private hospitals, private physicians’ offices, and private treatment centers does not change.  They remain privately owned, non-government institutions just as they are now.  The employment status of health care workers, doctors, nurses remains the same just as they are now.  If they do not work for the government now that status would not change.  The only thing that would change is that every American instead of having their medical bills paid by one of a thousand different insurance companies would all use the same insurance company, one that would be sponsored by the U.S. government similar to Medicare.  Well that’s not the only change.  No one would have to pay a monthly premium for health insurance, or a deductible, or a co-pay.  No one would lose their insurance because they lost their job.  No one would have to take a job they don’t want simply because they need health insurance that won’t exclude them due to pre-existing conditions.  Sure you would have a tax taken out of your paycheck each week that goes towards health care but if you currently have health insurance through your employer then you are already having a few hundred bucks taken out each week already if not more.  Actually studies have shown that most individuals would have less coming out of there weekly paycheck to cover single payer health care then currently have taken out for private insurance.  No one would ever go bankrupt because they can’t pay a medical bill.  No one would lose their homes because they can’t pay their mortgage due to health care costs.  No one would be making a choice between food and medical bills.  And businesses would no longer be paying billions of dollars a year to provide health insurance benefits to their employees. Instead businesses would pay a health care tax that would be billions of dollars less than what they are currently paying to provide health insurance to all their employees, and they would have billions more than they have now to reinvest in their businesses and employees. In effect every single person in this country would automatically get a raise in income because they would no longer be paying for premiums, co-pays, deductibles, uninsured percentages of medical bills, and because of this everyone would have more money to spend on goods and services, which means more money would pumped into our economy, which means, businesses would see an increase in sales, which means an increase in manufacturing, which ultimately means an overall improvement in our capitalistic economy.  
 
Or we could keep what we have. And if some ignoramus wants to call ObamaCare Socialist or Marxist or what ever 'ist that they have no idea what they're talking about, well let them. Then one day they will realize this thing actually works...well, works better then what we had.

 


I Was Bullied.

By Brian Dann

 

BullyI was bullied.  When I was a kid, for most of my childhood I was bullied.  Kids find something to pick on and if they see they are getting a reaction, that’s all they need.  With me they got a reaction.  My childhood was a textbook case of knowing who your true friends were because my true friends stood by me and those who were not either joined in or did nothing.  Most of the time, emotionally I managed to deal with the bullying.  Along with my friends, I had a supportive loving family and a real creative talent for art and music that gave a focus to my life and brought me real joy.  But there were times when the bullying was still just too much.  When I finished Junior High School, the school held an eighth grade graduation ceremony.  All of our loved ones were there, we had caps and gowns, we all walked in to Pomp and Circumstance, and I was so happy, not happy I was graduating, happy it was over, so I thought.  You see someone, and I don’t know who, spread some rumor earlier in the year that had something to do with me and masturbation and possibly involving being gay.  All I know is that there was a group of kids who as I would walk down the halls would make a “swish” noise with their mouth, over and over again, referring, I guess to masturbation. Often they would do it on the bus on the way home and sometimes they would just call me gay or a fag, which I found odd and frustrating because I wasn’t gay.  The kids were relentless, cruel as kids can be, and unfortunately they knew it bothered me and that only gave them more of a reason to keep it up.  I was an easy target.  I was little, skinny, I had huge crazy curly hair, I was terrible at sports, and I let them get away with it.  I had no idea how to deal with it, how to handle it, how to get them to stop, or at the very least, how to let it just not bother me.  So when the principal called my name at that eighth grade graduation I stood up to get my diploma, looked at my parents with a smile on my face, then realized that every kid on that stage, quietly was saying, “swish, swish, swish…” over and over and over again until I sat back down and the next name was called.

I didn’t go to ninth grade with those kids.  I just needed a break from them.  I needed to go somewhere where no one knew me and I could start fresh, where I could let the last few years of school and all the bullying and teasing wash away, where I could have some time to be in a more positive place, to deal with this.   So I spent my first year of high school at a small private school on the North Shore. In that time, without the constant teasing and bullying I was able to learn about myself, I found my confidence, my own self-worth.  I still wasn’t any good at sports but because it was required, I was on the soccer team and even though we only won four games out of ten, we had the best record in four years, and I had a blast.  With some help and guidance I was able to realize that a bully can’t define who I am, that I define who I am, and I realized that one person’s opinion doesn’t matter unless you let it matter.  I was lucky.  I had parents who I could go to, and a father who was like having your very own motivational speaker.  And when I was ready to go back to those kids, to the high school where I knew they would be, I did.  A week after 10th grade started I told my parents that I don’t want to be at this little private North Shore school anymore and I went back to the public high school knowing that no matter what was thrown at me, my reaction to it would be different.  The teasing, the bullying didn’t stop, but this time it was different, because I was different.  I was a geeky artist and sat with four football jocks in English class who tried to find every way they could to get under my skin, but they couldn’t.  There was one kid who for some reason that I still can’t explain would follow me out of school every day and just scream names at me. He was crazy. Some kids laughed at him, no one from the school ever did anything, and I just kept walking and never let him get to me.  Then finally, one night, about a week before I was to graduate from High school, I was walking down the street, just around the corner from my house with my friend Doug, when a huge Cadillac convertible pulled up with the entire football team piled in the car.  They were following us and yelling all kinds of things at us, but at that moment I realized I had had it.  This was over, high school was done and I was going away to college and no matter what was about to happen, I had survived and life was about to get a whole lot better.  This one act may get me killed but it will be with a smile on my face. I stopped walking, looked at that car, raised my arm high in the air and gave the entire football team the finger.  It seemed like it was happening in slow motion and as I yelled the words “FUCK YOU!” I was thinking to myself, “What the FUCK are you doing?!”  The Cadillac stopped, the entire football team piled out and me and Doug ran for our lives, and even though I knew there was no way I was going to out run these huge assholes, and I was about to get the shit beaten out of me, it was the greatest feeling in the world.  I ran as fast as I could but eventually ran into an area I could not get out of so I fell on the ground covered my head and waited for it to end.  When it did, I was bruised, but I stood up to them.  I said Fuck You to the entire football team and made it out alive, but I knew that it was not really the football team I was saying fuck you to, it was all of the people who at one time or another thought they could get to me, it was to the school system who had no clue on how to deal with bullying, and it was to the person that I was before, before I realized that if you are confident it does not matter what others think, if you are true to yourself nothing can keep you down, and that a bully only wins if you let them.

The thing is, no matter what I had to deal with as a kid, I never had to deal with Cyber-Bullying.  Technology has brought bullying to a completely new level and the things that make Facebook and Twitter, Tumbler and texting so great are also the things that for our kids can make bullying deadly.  According to bullyingstatistics.org:

 

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying.
  • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above.
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying.

 

We are our children’s advocates and they must know that they can always come to us if they have been bullied, and we must never turn a blind eye if our kid is accused of being the bully, thinking that my child could never do that or writing it off as he or she was just playing around.  They must know that we will not tolerate bulling in any form, and that just because someone is different, bullying is never alright.  We live in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world.  We live in a world where being openly lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender is becoming more and more accepted.  And whether a kid is straight, gay, black, white, Indian, Asian, Hispanic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, fat, thin, short, tall, athletic or artistic or whatever, differences are something to celebrate, to learn about, to experience.

Talk to your school.  Find out what there policy is on bullying.  Ask if they talk to their students about bullying.  Ask if the students are aware that they can anonymously report bullying so that they have no fear of retaliation.  If your kids have a computer, a smart phone, monitor their activity and tell them you are doing so.  Get there passwords and let them know that they can only have their devices if they share there login info with you.  This is not about snooping on them, it is about protecting them.  Never let your children have a computer in their bedroom, but always in a public place where they can’t lock the door, and you can see if they are being harassed online or not.  If they don’t like this, well that’s ok. It’s not about being popular it’s about protecting them, and one day when they have kids of their own they will understand why you did what you did.

And one last thing.  If you have not seen the movie Bully, watch it, then watch it with your kids, then tell everyone you know to watch it.  Then go to thebullyproject.com and purchase The Bully Project Educators toolkit that includes a copy of the movie Bully and give it to your child’s principal so that they can watch it and share it with every teacher and student in their school.  I just did.

The day I wrote this was October 17th which is Spirit Day, the official day to take a stand against bullying.  But we shouldn’t need a special day to take a stand.  Our kids are too important to only do something on one day.  I was bullied.  Chances are you were too, or you were a bully, or you knew someone who was bullied. Bullying is not just kids being kids.  It is not just a phase.  It can be life or death.  It is serious.  It is your child.

 

Bully Trailer #1

For more information about bullying check out:

www.thebullyproject.com

www.bullyingstatistics.org

www.stopbullying.gov

www.bullying.org

www.thetrevorproject.org

www.glaad.org

www.wegiveadamn.org

www.itgetsbetter.org

Stop Bullying Speak Up/Cartoon Network

 

 


How To Fix The Debt Ceiling

By Brian Dann

 

STOP the presses, call the President, alert John Boehner, tell Ted Cruz to shut the f**k up already, because I just figured out how to solve the Debt Ceiling crisis!  It’s so simple and I cannot believe that nobody has ever thought of this before!   Here we go. Are you ready?  You may want to sit down for this.  The way to solve the debt ceiling crisis is… get rid of the debt ceiling!  There, problem solved, no debt ceiling, no crises.   Ok Congress, make it happen.   I will now take my Nobel Prize for economics.   Oh I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “Is Brian really as attractive in person as he is in his blog photo?” Oh, go on, you make me blush, and the answer is, no.  That was taken twenty something years ago by a professional photographer.  Now I’m distinguished looking and wise beyond my years.  But you’re also thinking “That’s just crazy talk!  How can a country function without a debt ceiling?  Our spending would be at record highs and be greater than revenue!  How absurd!  We would have to borrow money from the rest of the free world, maybe even from China!” That’s right Einstein, kinda like were doing NOW!  You’re also thinking, “Isn’t the Debt Ceiling supposed to stop us from spending too much?”  Well if that was the case then why did we have to increase the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960, 48 times under a Republican president and 28 times under a Democrat?  I know, the notion of running a government without a debt ceiling is just plain insanity, isn’t it?  What country in their right mind would possibly dream of doing that!?  Weeeeeell, actually… all of them, except for two, the USA and Denmark, and just like us Denmark had to raise their debt ceiling as well. But unlike us Denmark has raised their debt ceiling… ready for this?… once, not once a month, not once a year, just once… ever.  Oh and indecently, Denmark has very high quality health care that is free for all citizens and visitors, and is paid for by a tax that doesn’t even come close to what the average American or American business pays yearly for health coverage, plus co-pays, plus deductibles, plus uncovered procedures, plus…you know I’ll just stop there.  I could go on but I think you get the point.  So if no other countries besides the USA and Denmark have a debt ceiling, and the debt ceiling concept has done absolutely nothing to curb our spending in regards to generated revenue, and if the only thing the debt ceiling has accomplished is to turn our congress into bickering school children who won’t share their toys, while jumping up and down whining and crying because Barry Obama wont give up his Supreme Court Certified Supersonic Turbo ACA ObamaCare Hot Wheels Transformer action figure for a lump of coal!…what then is the purpose of having a debt ceiling?
 
The debt ceiling was first created in 1917 by congress but it only covered debt related to war and a few other expenses.  It was expanded in 1939 to cover all government expenses.  And for a long time it worked.  Congress raised it as needed and did not use it as a bargaining chip to change laws they did not like.  It also worked because congress used to create and approve these crazy things called budgets.  Today the Republican controlled house won’t even allow a budget meeting to happen so we have not had a budget for years.  If they had a budget meeting they would actually have to negotiate with Democrats and g-d forbid that should happen!  You see, as any responsible American knows, a budget sets guidelines for how much you will spend for the year and on what you will spend it on.  If you try to live without a budget you have no guidelines for spending and you inevitably end up spending much more than you intend to.  So lately congress, instead of passing budgets to control spending, just keeps spending and spending and spending, since there are no guide lines telling them when to stop, and here’s the kicker. It’s all on credit!  Congress basically has a Visa from the Bank of China with a trillion dollar limit. Eventually they have to go payback what they spent but since they have spent more than the debt ceiling allows them to pay back, they have to raise the debt ceiling or default.  Here is where two problems arise.  First unlike Denmark, congress never raises the debt ceiling high enough to account for all the money they will have to pay back and to avoid having to raise it again for a very long time.  Secondly, The controlling party, in this case the Republicans in Congress, who have now decided that since they are still having a hissy fit that Barack Obama was elected President, and by the way I would never suggest that it has anything to do with him being black, they will now oppose everything this President will ever stand for, and instead of raising the debt ceiling like congress used to, they risk the good faith and credit of the United States by threatening to not raise the debt ceiling unless the President pays whatever ridiculous ransom they dream up, which in the present case includes repealing the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare as it has come to be known.  Actually there is a third problem.  Lately congress will only pass the debt ceiling for at the most a few months which means congress will continually waste all their time arguing about raising the debt ceiling for a few months and will get nothing else accomplished like immigration reform, increased funding for education, fixing our infrastructure, feeding the homeless, or pretty much ANYTHING that really matters! 
 
So if the Dept Ceiling causes so many problems, and is doing nothing to control spending, and is taking time away from pretty much anything that really matters… let’s just get rid of it.  Control spending by passing a budget and sticking to it.  Or create a constitutional amendment similar to what Germany has that says debt can only exceed the GDP by .35%.  Actually my idea of getting rid of the debt ceiling altogether is not something I can take full credit for.  In fact I can’t take any credit for it.  People far more intelligent than me thought of it first, people like Warren Buffet(Chairman and CEO Of Berkshire Hathaway), Tim Geithner (former Treasury Secretary), Ben Bernanke (Chairman of the Federal Reserve), Larry Summers (former Treasury Secretary), Bruce Bartlett (Former Senior Policy Analyst and Treasury Official), Ezra Klein (Washington Post), Alan Greenspan (Former Federal Reserve Chairman), Robert Rubin (Former Treasury Secretary), Paul O'Neill (Former Treasury Secretary), and the list goes on*.  But if we did this, if we did this completely logical thing, it would remove the one thing that the Republicans have… their bargaining chip.  They would lose their ability to put their utter distain for President Obama above the financial and physical welfare of not just the people of this country, but the world.  We don’t need a debt ceiling.  We need to put people first, not politics, we need compromise, not shut downs, and the Republicans in Congress need to finally accept that a black man, with the middle name Hussein, STOP the presses…Won…Twice.

 

 *11 Smart People Who Want To Abolish The Debt Ceiling

 


47 Years Of Wisdom To Share

By Brian Dann

 

Tomorrow I will be 47 years old.  I keep telling my wife who is much younger than me that since I have so many more years on her, this simply means I am much, much, much wiser than her, more worldly, and she as well as all those who are my junior can now learn from my 47 years of wisdom.  To this she just seems to laugh, says “Yea, right!” and walks away.  But for the rest of you, gather ‘round my youngins, my flock, my fertile minds yearning for knowledge and truth as I share with you all that I have learned in my 47 years on this rock, this forth planet from the sun that we call Earth!  (hmm, what? Third planet? Yes dear, love you dear, thank you dear…) Third planet from the sun that we call Earth!

1. The new Beverly Hills 90210 cannot hold a candle to the original Beverly Hills 90210.
 
2. No one ever got into a bar fight, drove 80 in a 20 zone, or drunk dialed there ex after smokin’ weed.  Why? BECAUSE THEY JUST SMOKED WEED!
 
3. You can keep saying that America is the greatest country in the world but as long as we are nine out of ten in GDP, seventeenth in education, and thirty sixth in health care, that is a tough claim to keep making. But we are number one in gun violence, soooooo there’s something to be proud of.
 
4. This one is only for men.  Men, if you want porno sex, get a job in pornos, otherwise it ain’t happening.
 
5. You are born gay.  You choose to be ignorant.
 
6. The greatest TV show ever was All In The Family, not Seinfeld, not Friends, not MASH, Glee, Dallas, Breaking Bad, Soap, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Star Trek, Saved by the Bell, or Baywatch (ok when Pamela Anderson was on, that was pretty epic).  You can dispute me on this claim, but this is a fact, sorry.
 
7. Jesus Crist may have re-thought this whole prophet, son of god thing if he knew the Westboro Baptist Church would come out if it.
 
8. The movie quote that changed my life, “You have to get in the middle of it. You have to take sides. Make a contribution to the fight. Any fight. The one you believe in.” – Arnold Epstein, Biloxi Blues.
 
9. If most of your social interaction is on Facebook…GO OUTSIDE!
 
10. Good sex is messy.  Great sex is disgustingly messy! Phenomenal sex usually involves replacing furniture afterwards.
 
11. If you don’t want your kids to do drugs, don’t tell them that your nickname in high school used to be Captain Trips-a-lot.
 
12. Talk to your kids about sex early, and when they ask you at what age you started having sex tell them the truth…thirty four.
 
13. Superstitions are pointless, meaningless and will never result in anything bad happening to you…knock on wood.
 
14. If you just realized that the government is spying on you…hmmmm, how do I put this lightly?...You’re an idiot.
 
15. Money cannot make you happy, but a convertible Jaguar with an eight cylinder engine that goes 0-60 in 3.4 seconds can.
 
16. Surround yourself with people smarter than you, purge the ass holes, and do the things you are most scared to do.
 
17. If you are afraid to fail then you will fail.
 
18. "Yes And..."  Look it up, Learn it, Live it.
 
19. If you’re a man you will become your dad, if you are woman you will become your mom…if you’re lucky.

20. The greatest movie in the world is Animal House.  If I have to explain why, you just don't get it.
 
21. Find something you love to do, Keep body soul and mind together, and find someone to share it with. – Dick Clark

 


Same Sex Marriage and the Death Penalty

By Brian Dann

 

Same-sex-marriageIn 1778 Thomas Jefferson proposed that any man who commits the crime of sodomy receive the punishment of castration, and any women receive the punishment of having a hole cut in the cartilage of her nose of at least one half inch in diameter.  But that’s not the messed up part.  At the time the most common penalty on the books was death. Jefferson was actually a Liberal. During The Holocaust about 50,000 homosexuals were sentenced to death by the Nazis.  There pink triangles that marked them as homosexuals were often used for target practice.  In the United States during the 1930s many in the psychiatric community classified homosexuality as a disease and treated it with such things as castration, lobotomies, pubic nerve surgery, and electroshock treatment.  Homosexuality was actually not decriminalized in the United States until 1961 by the state of Illinois. It took eight more years for another state to follow suit and it was not until 2003 that the remaining 14 states that still classified homosexuality as illegal was forced to take those laws off their books by the Supreme Court case of Lawrence vs. Texas.  That is right, 2003. We like to think that we live in a time that laws like this couldn’t possibly exist but in our life time they did, and in our life time they still do.  In this country we still legislate who can and cannot get married.  Just like in 1778, 1961, and 2003, we have existing laws on our books that put homosexuals in a class below the rest of the population and just like in those times we have politicians and advocacy groups that support these discriminating practices against homosexuals.   And to add insult to injury we have a Presidential candidate who has promised that he will “champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.”  This quote is directly from Mitt Romney’s campaign web site under the category of Values.
 
Let’s be clear here. This issue is not about homosexual rights.  It is about human rights.  It is about the rights of all people to be treated like equals regardless of their race, sex, religion, physical or mental situation, or sexual orientation.  It is about the rights of any person to love any other person they want to and the right to legally commit their life to that person regardless of their race, sex, religion, physical or mental situation, or sexual orientation.  We do not have laws restricting a Christian to marry a Jew, or a white person to marry an African American, or a person with all their limbs to marry a quadriplegic. Yet we do have laws forbidding a man to marry a man, and a woman to marry a woman.  And the only justification that can ever be given for these outdated, archaic, discriminatory laws is religion.  In a secular country that has no allegiance to any particular religion, a country that is founded on the idea of the separation of church and state, a country that is not a Christian nation nor a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation nor a Hindu nation, the only justification that any politician can ever make for legalizing discrimination is religion.  Ignorance, hate, and prejudice, is what sent 6 million Jews and 50,000 homosexuals to death in Germany.  Ignorance, hate, and prejudice is what put millions of Africans in slave ships and kept their descendents as second class citizens until people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. had the courage to do something about it. And it is ignorance, hate, and prejudice hiding behind the veil of religion that keeps homosexuals from having the legal rights in this country that every other group has, the simple right to marry the one you love regardless of race, sex, religion, physical or mental situation, or sexual orientation.
 
Civil rights never happen overnight.  When Lincoln freed the slaves they were still considered far from equal and it took decades for laws to be passed that gave black people the same exact rights according to the law that white people took for granted.  At one time it was unheard of for a black person to be able to vote in this country and today we have a black man as our President.  And today that President has done what no other leader of this country has had the guts to do. He declared that same sex marriage should be legal in all states in this country, as opposed to being made illegal by a constitutional amendment.  He did this in a country that at one time sentenced homosexuals to death.  And he did this at a time not when he had his re-election in the bag but at a time when making that declaration could had very well cost him his re-election. This president showed this country what it meant to be a leader, to commit to a cause regardless of the outcome, and he has shown all of us what it means to commit ourselves to the cause of equality for all, not unlike Rosa Parks who refused to sit in the back of the bus regardless of the personal consequences. 
 
In this election there are very few make it or break it issues for me but one of my top ones is the issue of equality for all, and that equality extends not just to homosexuals but to all persons whether it is the equal rights of women in the workforce, the equal rights for women to affordable reproductive care, the rights of all people in this country regardless of income to affordable health care, the right of all people to an excellent education, and the rights of homosexuals to marry.  I simply cannot vote for any candidate, Republican or Democrat, who supports any form of legalized discrimination.  If we as a nation choose the unthinkable, to elect Mitt Romney as our next President, a man who has publicly stated that he will “champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman,” (MittRomney.com) we will be choosing to go backwards with all our civil rights.  We will be choosing to support legalized discrimination in this country.  We will be showing the world that we are no better now than we were in 1778 when the most common sentence for sodomy was death.  And if you want to justify bigotry with quoting Jesus, quote this, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” - Galatians 3:28.

 

Mitt Romney on his opposition to same sex marriage, December 9 2011. 

 

Brendan James - "Nothin But Love" - [Official Music Video]

 

 DamnFor more on Marriage Equality go to WeGiveADamn.org.