You Can’t Stop Progress

 

As I said in my last post there are many words that can be used to describe my political views: democrat, liberal, snowflake, libtard, loon, nitwit and hack. Personally, I like to think of myself as a progressive. I’m for progress. Things are going to change and I don’t see much reason to stop them.

One of the weirdest things I hear people complain about (and put on billboards) is the “war on coal.” It seems strange to me. Did people cause as much of a ruckus when cars became available? Was there a war on the horse and buggy? What about canals or railroads? Did the interstate highway system wage war on them?

I’m old enough to remember DVDs never waged war on VHS tapes. The internet never took up arms against libraries. Cellphones weren’t demonized by long distance telephone services. Vinyl records, cassette tapes, 8 tracks and CDs all moved aside peacefully when the newest technology came along.

My biggest question is who would want to be a coal miner’s daughter? That’s not a job I’ve ever heard glamorized. It’s dirty, dark and dangerous. There are cave-ins and black lung. I can’t say getting into the coal industry is something I would want my children to do even if it wasn’t a dying industry.

Even neglecting environmental or health concerns the future seems to be in renewable energy. General Electric recently announced plans to restructure their operation and focus on renewables because they weren’t making enough money with older technologies. Elon Musk is making batteries to store the energy harnessed from wind and sun in a way to compete with power plants. Clean energy employs five times more people than the fossil fuel industry with some worrying about negative ripple effects if those jobs were to disappear.

It also says something that President Trump and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry are struggling to bail out the coal industry. Fossil fuels are already on track to become fossils themselves. It sucks to lose a tradition, but this may be the best way for us to regain our energy independence.

So why all this hubbub to bring back coal? Just like with the military-industrial complex, healthcare and reality TV many very rich people stand to lose a lot of money if it goes under. It’s not about putting miners back to work; if you want to put miners back to work focus on retraining. It’s a war to make lobbyists and political contributors happy. They want to earn on their investments. 

It’s disheartening that the United States pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. I think we could have been a great leader. It’s nice to see states standing up and following through without the federal government, but it would have been nicer to have all of the states united.

Was there this much confusion about the hole in the Ozone Layer? I’m too young to remember if there were questions over the science or doubts about whether or not it posed a threat. Was it like climate change? I’ve always heard that the global community came together, banned the harmful chemicals and solved the problem together.

Is that true? It’s pretty hard to imagine in this day and age.

I also think about the reaction to the destruction of the rainforest. I’m not sure if that had any direct government interaction. From what I understand people began boycotting companies that supported the practice. The best way to get corporations to listen is to hit them in the wallet.

There are so many more hot-button issues that people are arguing about today. LGBT rights, racial discrimination and immigration to name a few. But I think someday these issues will be looked upon the same way as woman’s suffrage, Jim Crow and slavery. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

What should we do? We’re already doing it. Just wait. It’ll happen

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Let Us All Unite!

 

It’s depressing how divided my country has become. I look around and see more than just two different political views; I see two different realities. I’m not just living in a different country than those I disagree with; I’m in a different universe.

Has it ever been this bad before? Was it this bad during the Vietnam War? The Cold War? The Civil War? The Revolutionary War? I don’t like the fact that when I think of periods with intense division they are all periods of ‘war.’

A few months ago I did something I thought was really cool. I had to fill out a form to take a hearing test and it asked for my nationality. After thinking for a few minutes I put down what I felt was most appropriate: American. Sure, my ancestors came from western European countries, but that’s been over a hundred years ago and I never met any of them. It doesn’t make sense to say I’m ‘Irish’ or ‘English’ or ‘German.’

For better or worse I’m an American.

But now is a strange time to be an American. I don’t feel that I need to add a pronoun to say I’m European American. It’s only somewhat important at the moment whether someone is African American or Asian American.

What people care about is that I’m a Liberal American. An American Democrat. A Progressive American.

I have a part-time job writing for a local newsweekly. I try to focus on local politics in the area. I usually do a preview of county elections and I’ve covered the Mayor’s State of the City. It’s important stuff that doesn’t always end up in our local daily paper.

Something I notice about local politics as opposed to state or national level politics is that the D and R behind people’s names don’t matter quite as much. I can safely assume someone’s views and priorities by that letter, but it doesn’t define them to the point where I feel they’re an enemy. I know what talking points I’ll probably get during an interview, but they don’t seem like boogeymen in a lightly colored mansion hundreds of miles away.

Maybe that’s because the mayor is more likely to be my neighbor. A city councilman could be my waiter. If I want to say something to a county commissioner I can pick up the phone and dial the number. These aren’t people that are far away who I can easily dehumanize.

Maybe at the local level it’s just easier to remember that in spite of our differences we all want to make our community a great place to live.

It can be frustrating to browse Facebook anymore. A lot of the time I want to get into arguments. I want to know why people hold their views. I want to know where they get their information.

But for the most part, people don’t want to share that sort of thing.

So my New Year’s Resolution is that the next time I see something I find completely ignorant I want to write a bitchy comment to on social media I’ll ask “how does this help anything?”

Seriously, how does bickering about whether Democrats want to raise your taxes or if Republicans want to allow corporations to run the country help anything? You’d think having cellphones that connect us with every newspaper on the planet would make us more informed, but it’s still just the same thirty-second sound bytes I’ve heard my whole life. Only now they’re memes.

A good example is the recent tax cut. I don’t understand how anyone making less than $75,000/year can be happy about it. I’ll see my taxes raised within four years at my income level. Everyone under that threshold will see an increase at some point in the next few years, but I have coworkers who make the same wages as I do who are tickled pink by this.

What’s even crazier is that sexual assault and foreign interference in an election have also become partisan issues.

And you know what? They’ve already won. We’re arguing about whether Obama or Trump is better while they pick out pockets.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s work together. Let’s bridge that gap.

Like anything else in this world, I may fail. But goddammit I’m going to try.

I Could Run for Senate!

On my way home from work the other night I was struck by a thought that hasn’t occurred to me for a while. I could run for office! I’ve always been partial to the idea. That’s why I made sure to get all my tattoos in places where a suit would cover them and I’ve tried very hard to keep all my extreme viewpoints to myself.

But after my third DUI I gave up on the idea. I mean, I probably wouldn’t vote for someone with three DUIs, even if they were in recovery and hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol since the last one. Even the people of Cleveland, OH wouldn’t elect someone with three DUIs as their mayor.

But obviously, there are some people who would! I was ecstatic that Doug Jones beat lunatic Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, but it really opens my eyes to the fact that literally any maniac can run and be considered!

Hell, I even forgot what a madman Roy Moore was until a coworker brought it up last night. I completely forgot about his extreme anti-LGBTQ views, his open Islamophobia, his being a leading voice in the Obama birther movement and other conspiracy theories, his claim that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem were breaking the law, or that he was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court… twice.

All of that was completely overshadowed by the fact that he pursued romantic relationships with and allegedly assaulted girls as young as 14 while he was in his early thirties. It’s strange to think that the thing about him I find the least disturbing is his pedophilia.

I suppose the only problem with me running is that I would have to change my party affiliation. I fit pretty comfortable on the left side of the political spectrum and don’t see that changing anytime soon, but Democrats have shown they are less willing to protect scandal in their own ranks. Sen. Al Franken has been forced from office “while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” 

I suppose it shouldn’t be too hard to run as a Republicon. I don’t think many people pay a whole lot of attention to anything to anything other than the D or R after someone’s name. I could still keep all my beliefs about equality and the need to fight against the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of few people, but I’d just say things like “jobs” and “freedom.”

Come on, Donald Trump has built a political career on saying he’s working to help the little guy and then has supported legislation specifically designed to fuck him without exception. If he can do it, I probably can.

Let’s Rob a Bank

 

I’ve always wanted to rob a bank. This could be Elmore Leonard’s fault as he always made it seem like a really cool thing to do, but I’m going to blame Kathryn Bigelow’s  1991 film Point Break. Either way, somehow I got it into my head that it would be a good idea to rob a bank… and I think now’s the time.

The Republican-controlled legislature just passed the biggest tax reform bill in 30 years, and as you would expect it’s Robin Hood in reverse. The new taxes offer tax cuts to corporations who offshore jobs, end many deductions for the working class and is expected to raise the deficit by a trillion dollars. And that’s just the highlights. I’m sure there are going to be many more far-reaching effects.

I shouldn’t be too mad really. I’ll get a modest cut for a year or two before I see an increase. My student-loan interest deduction is going away, but it won’t break me. I’m not going to go hungry.

Maybe I’m just pissed off because I know a lot of people will go hungry. A lot of people are going to lose health insurance. I’m not going hungry, but I’m not so wealthy that I can donate enough to help all those needy people in my country. I don’t even like to think of people in other countries because it’s too overwhelming. I give to my church, the Salvation Army, and other charities, but it never feels like I’m doing enough.

I’m not a libertarian. I don’t have a huge problem paying taxes. I just don’t like it that my taxes are going toward dropping enormous bombs on Afghanistan and gold-flecked toilet paper for the oval office.

And I keep wondering why the United States has such bad roads, bridges and infrastructure. Aren’t we the richest nation on the planet? I know we’re the largest economy. We should have a highway system that is the envy of the world, every American should have health care, the plumbing in Flint, MI should have been replaced before it could become a problem and should be able to spew Pepsi AND we should be able to do all this stuff and still have plenty of money left over to build that stupid wall on the Mexican border.

But we don’t. People sleep on the street and go without food to buy medication so we can give enormous tax breaks to multi-millionaires who pay their workers starvation level wages so they have to rely on welfare to make ends meet. Then they cut the welfare benefits.

The money held in banks is insured by the federal government so technically I wouldn’t be stealing from Chase, PNC or any other average joes like myself. I would be stealing from the government that has just voted to steal from myself and everyone I know. In fact, they’ve voted against everyone in this country who makes less than $75,000/year. They’ve voted against everyone with a conscience.

Anyone with me? I’ll need a bit of cash to pay off my student loans, but the rest can go to UNICEF. I don’t want to be rich, I just don’t want anyone to be extremely poor.

 

 

A Few More Thoughts on Current Political Developments

Oh shit

After last week Friday, it is impossible for anyone to deny that the Trump campaign administration tried to collude with Russia.

I’m not implying Donald Trump was personally involved or is directly to blame, I haven’t seen enough evidence to make that kind of judgment yet, but I do have something I think everyone should consider.

Trump either knew his campaign chairman National Security Advisor was up to some shady business that could possibly lead to a number of charges, and either didn’t care or thought he could get away with it…

Or he had no idea Paul Manafort Michael Flynn lied to the FBI.

I’m not sure which is worse. That he knowingly hired someone who would engage in unethical behavior or that he would hire someone without knowing enough about them to be certain they wouldn’t engage in such unethical behavior.

Either way, is this the kind of guy we want having input on how we manage our tax code? For all we know he might be embezzling our taxes and social security to gild the White House and have prostitutes pee on the Obama’s old bed.

High School Dropout Thoroughly Convinced He Is Smarter Than Harvard Professor

Gadsden, AL – Robert Hodge, a busboy/dishwasher at a Denny’s in Northeastern Alabama, took to Twitter today to call former Harvard Professor and current Senator Elizabeth Warren a “stupid fucking libtard cunt that’s should get a refund on her JD degree.”

“Yeah, I let that liberal Liawatha bitch have it,” said Hodge during a smoke break during the dinner rush. “I’m just so sick of these people with educations and degrees acting like they know it all. It’s just a piece of paper ya know?”

He also took to both Twitter and Facebook to call Democrat candidates things such “DemoRats,” “Feminazis” and “Snowflakes.” He has managed to troll many opponents of current Senatorial Candidate Roy Moore by calling them “Blue-Pilled Sheeple.”

“All these coastal elites think they’re so smart,” he said. “But it’s just that they’re so brainwashed by the mainstream media. I get my news from the real media. I watch and read stuff from Breitbart, Fox News, and Infowars. Those are the only sources telling people the truth!”

Despite never attaining at High School Diploma or GED, Hodge is completely convinced he could do a better job running the country than some of our  former leaders.

“Barack Obama was nothing but a lazy, stupid ni- black guy,” he said. “Well, I shouldn’t say that. He was pretty smart for a black guy, but he’s still dumb compared to me.”

“I’m just glad we finally got a president with some sense. One who’s going to lower taxes, ban Muslims and execute queers.”

When it was pointed out that President Trump hasn’t been able to do any of these things despite his party controlling all three branches of the federal government, he shouted “Fake News” before reentering the Denny’s to clean up chocolate milk spilled by a toddler.

Letter to my Representatives

Dear Congressman Gibbs and Senator Portman,

With the attention being given to tax reform by both Congress and the media, I feel it is important to voice my opinion on the matter. I’m hoping I will have a few views that you may not have heard or considered regarding this debate and I sincerely hope you will receive them with an open mind.

I’m not opposed to the idea of tax reform. There are certain aspects of this debate I think merit attention. I strongly support making our tax code simpler and easier. I also like the idea of ending loopholes that allow American companies to shift profits overseas and ending subsidies that allow poor businesses to continue at taxpayer expense. It’s well past time we make a few changes.

I also like the idea of paying a lower tax, I would drop from the 15 percent bracket to 12 percent, but I don’t like the idea of adding 1.5 trillion dollars to the national debt. This seems like an extremely irresponsible and selfish thing to do at the moment. There is no economic crisis or cold war going on that could justify passing this tab to our children. I have a three-year-old daughter and I can’t help but think to pass a tax cut that would add to what she will have to pay would be like taking her out to eat at McDonald’s and then making her pay for everyone’s meal.

I have other qualms about this plan. I know the chief argument for it is that it will create enough growth pay for itself, but aside from the fact that there is no evidence or such a thing happening in the past the president himself recently tweeted that unemployment is somewhere near 4 percent and the stock market is higher than it has ever been. There really isn’t any need to stimulate growth or give our economy a “shot in the arm.” It’s also possible that adding to the debt may increase inflation, so while I would be receiving more money from my paycheck it would be worth less.

My second concern comes from the effect of these cuts on the future of our country. There has been talk of investing in our infrastructure, but no concrete plans have been laid out as to how it will be paid for. I’m also concerned about the effects this could have on other government-funded programs such as Medicaid (which both my girlfriend and mother use) and education.

I’m really concerned about what this tax plan and future budgets could mean for my income-based student loan repayment plan. Not only does this program allow me to pay my mortgage, health insurance, bills and groceries; it also allows me to put aside a few dollars every month into a savings plan so I can someday send my daughter to college.

The most important thing we can do right now is to make this a better world for our children. I may not be a small business owner or the chairman of a Super PAC, but I am one of your constituents. When considering the effects of tax reform I don’t think we should be looking at how it will affect us, but how it will affect those we care most about.

Thank you,

Zachariah T Baer