Local (Daily Prompt)

Today’s Daily Prompt is: Local.

My wife and I went to a farmer’s market last week. They hold it right here in town, right off the main drag, and we were expecting big things. Boy, were we disappointed. There were maybe 5 booths, and there was hardly any produce to be had. No tomatoes, very little salad greens, nothing we were looking for. It was just pitiful.

I know that buying local is a thing now, and people try to support their local businesses and farmers, and that’s good, as far as it goes. But what do you do when the local stuff sucks?

I’ve seen lists of people we should boycott, and while the lists make sense–boycott the Koch Brothers, and Fox News and their advertisers–it does seem that if you boycotted everybody you were supposed to boycott, you’d never buy anything. Hell, I should be boycotting Walmart for their shitty labor practices, but if we did that, we couldn’t afford groceries.

It’s all a dance between what you “should” do and what you’re able to do. I’m sure there’s a lot of people who would like to boycott Walmart, but who can’t afford to. Our only other option for groceries is Safeway, and we can’t afford Safeway prices on everything. It’s really that simple.

So, the Senate is supposed to vote on repealing Obamacare sometime this week–Thursday is what I heard. My Senators and Representative are already on the right side, and I should probably be calling them to bolster their resolve, but I haven’t. I hate using the phone. It’s part of my disorder I’m sure. I had to make three phone calls today, to make appointments for various things, and it nearly gave me a fit of the shivering hits. I felt very anxious and didn’t feel better until it was done and I could lay down. I really think the world, especially the political world, is going to have to keep spinning without me and my input for a while. I just don’t have the stress tolerance to deal with it. I feel guilty about that, but it’s what I have to do to take care of myself.

I still think the “health-care” bill will pass in some form, and take Medicaid away from 20+ million people. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that this is what the billionaire class wants, and they very rarely get denied, especially by Republicans. I’m taking some solace in the fact that the Medicaid cuts wouldn’t start until 2021, in the hope that Bernie Sanders could take over as President in 2020 and force changes to the bill before it really begins to hurt. But that’s probably a fool’s hope. I’d love to see Bernie as President, but I know that the Establishment will throw everything they’ve got at him, and I question whether the American people are smart enough to see through it.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. =)

 

Tiny Bubbles

My wife has a migraine and went to bed early, and my best friend’s phone is going straight to voicemail, so I’ll try to blog even though it’s been eight days and I still don’t have anything in mind to blog about.

We have a new walking program, and we’ve been doing good with that, we’ve taken a walk every day for the last week or so. Also have a new meditation program. That’s been a little more hit and miss–we’re doing the meditations when we lay down at night, and some nights we’ve just been too tired to do them. But I have noticed, in the short period of time we’ve been meditating, that my worrying and ruminating seem to have gotten a bit better. I’m not thinking about being homeless as much for sure. Part of that may be that I haven’t been paying attention to the political news. I did note that the Democrats lost that special election in Georgia, which doesn’t surprise me. Nothing about them has changed since last November, why should they start to win in red districts? Now personally, I don’t understand how anybody other than a billionaire could be a Republican, but I’m sure Republicans wonder how anybody could be a Democrat.

We all live in our own little echo chambers, our own little bubbles where the only news that gets in is the news we want–or at least, ask–to hear. On my Facebook feed I get everything from Bernie Sanders, Liz Warren and Jeff Merkley, and nothing from any Republican. Why would I bother? Nothing they could ever do or say would make me change my mind or my opinion of them. Why let them poison my news feed? But the problem is, we’re all like that these days. I’m the only person I know whose political viewpoint has ever done a 180. I voted for W. in 2004, to my everlasting shame, and it wasn’t until Katrina in 2005 that I woke up and realized that the Republicans were nothing but a sham. That was before iPhones even existed (I think), and before I ever heard of Facebook. But I started out as a Democrat (I voted for Clinton in 1992, the first election I was allowed to vote in) so I guess I’ve just come back to my roots. But still, my family is loaded with Republicans, and we seem to have a mutual understanding that I will ignore their posts if they ignore mine. I’ve unfollowed most of my family, and I assume they’ve either unfollowed me or chosen to ignore me when I post some of my pro-Bernie propaganda or something about how the government is bought and paid for by billionaires.

Nobody ever talks anybody around anymore. Everybody I know has their political viewpoint, and it’s set in stone and nothing can really change it. Now granted, I don’t know a whole lot of people, but I sense this is a problem in our larger society. Nobody can even agree on facts anymore. We used to be a country that believed in science. We still seem to believe in technology, but I don’t know that people believe in the science behind it. In my opinion it’s because we’ve become a nation of morons. I saw some poll on CNN the other day, where 48% of American adults don’t know where chocolate milk comes from. 7% of them thought it comes from brown cows. When I hear shit like that, I just lose all faith in humanity. Well, not humanity in general, but Americans in particular. Most of Europe seems to have its shit in one sock, especially the Scandinavian countries. You know, all those rotten “socialist” countries who have the happiest populations in the world? But can we use them as an example and do things they way they do? Oh, hell no, I don’t want my tax dollars going to this program or that kind of people or whatever. Jesus wept.

We’re never going to get anywhere as a society when 48% of the country is so stupid that it doesn’t know where chocolate milk comes from, and thinks electing Donald Trump as President is a good idea. Our problem isn’t the politicians, it’s that people in America are so goddamn stupid they’ll vote for whoever puts the most commercials on TV. That’s the truth. If we had an educated and informed population capable of critical thinking, buying elections wouldn’t work because everybody would be following the money and know that Congressman X only thinks Bill Y is a great idea because Corporation Z donated a million dollars to his re-election campaign. But instead we have Republicans sitting on mountains of cash (and corporate Democrats too) and shooting down any and all potential opposition by just throwing money at an election. It shouldn’t be this way, it’s not SUPPOSED to be this way, and the only reason it ever got this bad is because a ridiculously high percentage of American people are just plain fucking stupid and/or ignorant. If that burns, it’s because it’s supposed to. The truth hurts. We’ve got a country that’s 45% Democratic, 45% Republican, and 10% undecided–meaning they think so little about politics and what’s good for the country that they can’t even be bothered to have a goddamn opinion. And it’s the 10% undecideds–the lowest common denominator–that decides 95% of our elections. Reminds me of an old quote I’ve heard attributed to P.T. Barnum: Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

And it’s not just the school system–otherwise the millennials would be the worst of the bunch, since most of our schools had already gone to shit by the time they got to them. It’s our whole fucking society. This anti-intellectual, anti-science, hate-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room culture we have permeates every aspect of American society. Trump is not the disease; Trump is the symptom that the disease has progressed to the point of being potentially fatal. Everybody and everything is to blame, from the media, Wall Street, and the big oil companies right down to you and me who aren’t calling our Senators and Representatives every single day and bitching to high heaven about damn near everything they do. It’s all of us. It’s modern-day America. Our nation has a cancer, and that cancer has metastasized into every limb and every organ. There is only one answer: the patient must die in order to live.

In other words, we have to scrap the present system, write a new Constitution that’s up-to-date (version 2.0, if you will), and restart the whole goddamn government from the ground up. This time we have to make it not only idiot-proof, but money-proof. I mean, the Founders did a great job and I love the Constitution as much as the next guy, but what other document never needs revision and updating? Hell, they even reword the Bible every now and then. I’m not saying we need to scrap the whole thing, just that it needs a solid rewrite to be in line with the 21st century and the problems and challenges we face as a people and as a nation. The government the Founders gave us worked pretty well for over 200 years–longer, I’m sure, than any of them ever dreamed it would last–but the system is broken now. The rot is too deep, the cancer is too widespread, and there is no way out of this except to rewrite all the rules from scratch, making sure the corporations and billionaires and lobbyists can’t rule over the people. It’s SUPPOSED to be WE the PEOPLE. We the PEOPLE are the ultimate authority. We the PEOPLE are the ones who have inalienable rights. We the PEOPLE are the court of last resort, and the government is supposed to work to OUR benefit. Right now, it isn’t. Love Obamacare or hate it, it’s wrong to take insurance away from over 20 million people, causing an extra 30k or so deaths every year. But it’s going to happen, because it’s what the billionaires want. All the phone calls and letters to the editor in the world don’t matter when there’s a guy on the other side giving out million-dollar checks.

So what is it going to take to make this happen–to get a new Constitution, or at least a new Amendment saying corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech? I don’t have the answer to that, but what I think is this: it’s going to get very bad in America, and it’s going to happen faster than we imagine. We’ve been on top for a long while, and our fall from grace isn’t going to be a gradual decline. We’re going to fall and fall and fall until we hit rock-bottom and the people, even that 7% who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows, get so sick and tired and fed up with everything that there’s open rebellion in the streets. It’ll happen when people can’t find homes and can’t feed their kids. That kind of desperation has brought down governments since the beginning of time. And it will again. But unless we wake up of our own accord, which I don’t believe will happen, it’s going to come to that. It’s going to come to people rioting in the streets and hanging effigies of their Congressmen from every lamppost and tree they can find.

Maybe I’m being unduly pessimistic, although I don’t think I am. Maybe we can elect Bernie and he can lead us to the Promised Land. But right now I can’t see it. All that money will pour in against him and everything he tries to do, and the people aren’t awake enough yet, by and large. That’s going to be the hard part, the awakening. I’m not saying it’s going to happen tomorrow…things may continue to sputter on as they have for quite some time. But when we hit bottom, we’re going to hit hard, and we’re not going to get up for a while.

Well, I guess I found something to blog about after all. Finishing just in time, because my wife’s migraine got better and she’s awake now, so I’ll stop here. Thanks for reading. =)

Streaming, Vol. 2

Well, my wife is going to bed early, leaving me to my own devices, so let’s see what kind of trouble I can get into.

I take online surveys to make a little extra cash, and I had a survey today asking all about my feelings about Trump gutting Medicaid. That put me on tilt a bit and I haven’t quite been right the rest of the day. I know his budget is not likely to pass, but just knowing that Trump is gunning specifically for disabled people just makes me feel vulnerable. I don’t know what we’d do if we lost our Medicaid. We can’t afford to pay for our meds out of pocket. I guess we’d end up going without meds and just letting the chips fall where they may, showing up at the ER every time we needed to see a doctor. I’ve lived life that way before–I’ve spent much of my adult life with no health insurance–and I’m not eager to do it again.

As a matter of fact, Trump’s entire budget can be boiled down to a series of cuts to the very programs my wife and I rely on for survival. Affordable housing? Gonna cut that. Disability? Gonna cut that. Medicaid? Food Stamps? Heating assistance in the winter? Cut that, that, and that. It’s nothing less than a war on poor people, but nobody’s calling a spade a spade except for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Well, Jeff Merkley is doing a pretty good job too.

I just can’t believe that in the year 2017 we find ourselves in this kind of shape, with Republicans in control of every aspect of the government. On the other hand, I guess I kinda can. The Republicans have a clear message: we hate change and we hate everybody except for “normal” white people. The Democrats no longer have a message. They take almost as much money from Wall Street as the Republicans do; how can they be the party of average people when they’re all bought and owned by bankers and lobbyists? They can’t, and so they end up chasing their own tails trying to come up with a message that resonates with the American people.

How about this? We believe in fair pay for a hard day’s work. We believe in decent health insurance for everybody. We believe in the right to form a union. We believe we have to start fighting climate change NOW. We believe that the billionaires and the corporations should be paying their fair goddamned share of taxes. We believe in good schools. We believe in free tuition and a $15 minimum wage. And we believe in being fair and just to EVERYBODY.

That sounds about right. That sounds like something that might work for the American people. Sound familiar? It’s practically stolen word-for-word from Bernie Sanders, who, just by the way, happens to be the most popular politician in America right now. And yet the Establishment Democrats still don’t want to listen to Bernie. They are so goddamned stupid and insulated in their own little bubbles that it’s hard to believe. They just don’t get it. And if you’re thinking that in 2018 there’s going to be some miraculous Democratic wave election to save us from these goddam Republicans, then you’re dreaming. It ain’t gonna happen on its own, not unless the grassroots decides, “Fuck it, we’ll just run it all ourselves.” But the Establishment Democrats haven’t hit bottom yet. Trump in the White House, GOP running Congress, a Supreme Court that likely will be killing us for a decade if not a generation, GOP running most of the state governments, and the typical Democrats still just don’t fucking get it. They don’t understand that they are seen as nothing but shills, up for and available to the highest bidder. At least the Republicans are straightforward about it; they’ll tell you with a straight face that a corporation is a person and should have the “freedom of speech” enabling them to shovel money at any politician they choose. The Democrats give lip service to overturning Citizens United, as if we had no problems before 2010. Does anybody remember before 2010? I sure as hell do, because I got suckered by a young man by the name of Barack Obama, who promised to put paid to all these lobbyists and change the way Washington works. Yeah, what a laugh riot that was. I don’t hate Barack Obama, but he was selling nothing but snake oil. Yeah, we’ll change the game by letting Goldman Sachs and Citigroup run the economy, just like they always do. The Democrats let Trump get ahold of the “change” mantle, and he ran with it. Every election, every single election between now and whenever we fix this clusterfuck of a government that we have, is going to be a “change” election, because everybody you meet on the street knows that the government is corrupt, the government has been bought and paid for, and the government is out to help the billionaires and the giant corporations and out to screw the little guy. That sound familiar? More Bernie Sanders. It’s like I’m channeling a 75-year-old Jewish Vermonter. The reason Bernie says all this shit and the reason he’s so popular while saying it is BECAUSE IT’S TRUE AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT’S TRUE. Trump won because everybody hates politicians and Hillary is the dictionary definition of a politician. Obama pegged her in 2008: “She will say anything and change nothing.” That’s all you need to know to understand why Hillary lost. Hillary is the Establishment, the very embodiment of the Establishment, and your average Joe, whether in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin or California, hates the goddam Establishment so much they can hardly stomach it. My father-in-law practically blows a gasket spewing vile invectives every time a politician of either party dares show their face on his TV screen. And there’s millions more just like him. Most of them didn’t vote for Trump because of his policies, they voted for him because they thought he would throw a monkey wrench into the system. They voted for him, many of them, out of sheer desperation that somebody, ANYBODY but the same old crew be put in charge to see if they could do any better.

Well, we see how that’s turning out. Because Trump is a sociopathic, narcissistic pathological liar, as anybody listening to the better angels of their nature now knows to their core. But next time–and I mean 2020 here–next time somebody gives you a choice between change in the form of Bernie Sanders (or, maybe, Liz Warren) versus the Establishment in the form of Joe Biden, Cory Booker, or God save us, Hillary Clinton again, you better pick Bernie Sanders, because if you don’t you’re liable not to see the back of Trump until January 20, 2025. Or even worse, Mike Pence.

All of that from one little online survey? Jesus, I need a chill pill.

Thanks for reading. =)

Depression and Anxiety

I’ve been very depressed and anxious the last couple days, ever since the Trump budget proposals came out. The orange gorilla is attacking every single program my wife and I utilize to survive and avoid homelessness. SSI/SSD, subsidized housing, Medicaid, food stamps, LIHEAP, everything. It feels like he’s coming for us personally. I can’t even look at his ugly stupid face anymore without getting angry and then scared.

Fortunately, according to CNN, this budget is just a Trump campaign rally on paper and has no chance whatsoever of becoming law. But just the idea that the President of the United States wants to rob my wife and I of what little dignity and small income we have is frightening. How is it possible that 40% of the population still supports this man? What the fuck is wrong with these people? Don’t they realize that, if this stuff were enacted, millions of newly-homeless disabled people would be wandering the streets in every town and city in America? Is that what they want? Is that what they voted for? If so, fuck them. I paid my taxes too, when I was working, and now that I’ve fallen on hard times it’s time for all the things I paid taxes for to come my way for a while. I’m not ashamed of my status; I have a severe mental illness and so does my wife. We didn’t CHOOSE this; we don’t ENJOY being poor and reliant on the government for everything we have. Just the idea that we have a President and members of Congress who are so rabidly evil–and that’s what it is, evil–is frightening. I mean, these are the people who want to take away the free school lunch program, for God’s sake! They don’t even want poor children to have a hot lunch to eat! Something is seriously wrong in this country. I don’t know how we got here, when it started or if it’s always been like this, but we have some sick, sick fucking people in this country.

I feel a little better now that I’m up and blogging about this, and after reading that CNN article. It’s good to get some of the poison out. I’ve spent the last few days worrying about being homeless, with no income, no insurance, nothing. This is why I try to avoid most political news these days–it can be very triggering for me. I get angry and scared and depressed and anxious all at the same time. Now, the Trump budget may be dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, but who knows what atrocities those fuckers will approve? So even if the Trump budget is a joke, I still sit right in the crosshairs of these Republican bastards who want to cut every program I rely on. The war on the poor is in full swing these days, and we’re going to need a lot of help and a little luck to keep from losing some of what little we have.

In other news, my prescriber is changing some of my meds. I’m getting off the Vraylar and back on Prozac. I’m also getting off of Cogentin, which I think has been making me be tired all the time. The Vraylar only seems to be good at keeping you from getting manic, it doesn’t seem to help with depressive episodes at all. So I’m back on (basically) the med regimen I was on while I was in prison. I was stable in prison as long as they left my Prozac and Zyprexa alone, so I think I’ll be more stable on them than the other combos we’ve been trying. My prescriber doesn’t really want me on Zyprexa because of the risk of weight gain, but I’ll worry about that on my own. Zyprexa is the only med that helps me worry less during the day and helps me sleep better at night. I’ve tried just about everything else at this point, and Zyprexa is the only thing that really works. But it doesn’t work on my depression, so I need an SSRI, and Prozac seems to be one that works for me and doesn’t make me manic. I was on Prozac and Zyprexa 18 months ago before they started messing with my meds (for no real good reason, I see now) and now after all these med changes that haven’t worked, I’m right back where I started. You keep thinking, wow, with all these meds they’ve got today, surely something must work better. Nope. Once you find a combo that works for you, hang on to it and don’t let them mess with it. Next thing you know you’re taking twice as many meds, having side effects, and your depression isn’t any better. I’m OK with being mildly depressed–that’s my baseline, and I’m used to it–but I’m not OK with not being able to hardly get out of bed. That’s where I’ve been lately with the Vraylar and the Cogentin. That Cogentin is nasty stuff–you feel like a zombie all day, and to top it all off you’ve got the Sahara Desert in your mouth. And the only reason I needed it was because of the side effects of the Vraylar. My prescriber is in love with the Vraylar, but luckily she was amenable to changing things since it just wasn’t working for me.

When I’m depressed like I’ve been the last few days, all I can imagine are bad things. I have visions of myself and my wife living on the streets, or being forced to give our cat to the pound because we can’t take care of her. I wonder, if we were homeless: how and where do you go to the bathroom? Where do you get water? Where do you sleep? I have all these visions of horrible things happening, and I just can’t shut them off. They interfere with my ability to sleep, my ability to spend quality time with my wife, everything. They are all-consuming and I cannot be distracted from them–not for long, anyway. I feel a sense of relief right now that everybody else sees the Trump budget as just as crazy and unrealistic as I do, but those bastards in Congress probably have some tricks up their own sleeves. I trust Paul Ryan about as far as I can spit him. Mitch McConnell less than that. So I feel like I have to stay vigilant, but that wears on me greatly. I find it hard to relax, it’s hard to sleep, it’s hard to stay focused when working on other things. A little bit of my brain is always wondering what’s going to happen and if my wife and I are going to be OK. It’s like I can never stop worrying. It’s going to be the death of me, literally, if I can’t get it under control. I have to stop looking at political stuff, but how do you do that when your life is in their hands?

That’s enough for now. Thanks for reading. =)

Precipice (Daily Prompt)

Today’s daily prompt is Precipice, and oh brother, are we on one.

It feels like things are wheeling out of control. Every day is a new Trump scandal. Now we have a special counsel, former FBI head Robert Mueller, to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia and his attempts to obstruct justice. Everybody should note that Mueller is a special COUNSEL, NOT a special PROSECUTOR. He serves at Trump’s pleasure, and Trump could conceivably fire Mueller just like he fired Comey. Nixon fired a bunch of people on his way down, so don’t be surprised if Trump axes more people as he gets more and more freaked out. In my opinion, we have not only grounds for impeachment, but may have grounds for actual treason, which last I checked still has the death penalty as the listed punishment. Trump may–oh the irony–do time in prison before this is all over.

So what happens after we impeach Trump? Well, assuming he’s clean of wrongdoing, we get Mike Pence as President. While not the comic-book villain Trump has become, Pence is every bit as bad. Well, maybe not every bit–at least we could probably trust Pence with the nuclear codes–but when it comes to pushing a conservative agenda, Pence would probably be much better than Trump at actually getting things done. Of course, by this point the whole administration will be so galactically unpopular that they may not be able to get anything done anyway. The GOP’s Congressional delegation is a bunch of rats who are figuring out that the ship is sinking. They will eventually come flying out of their holes to scramble to a lifeboat, and that will be the end of the Trump/Pence administration for all intents and purposes.

What if Pence is dirty too? Then, God save us, we get Paul Ryan as President. So it just doesn’t really get any better. Again, the GOP may have lost so much credibility by that point that Ryan is practically a lame duck by the time he gets the Oval Office. But either Pence or Ryan could conceivably stop the Republican bleeding and get them back with their shit in one sock. We have to stay vigilant, and keep working through groups like Indivisible to resist the GOP agenda at every turn.

But, back to the prompt of Precipice, it feels to me like the country is on another precipice, and that is this: what is holding our economy up these days? Manufacturing only employs like 8.5% of the population. I feel like we’re the town where everybody makes money by doing their neighbor’s laundry. We’ve got trillions of dollars floating around out there somewhere, but who does it belong to? The large corporations and billionaires. And the next time we have an economic shock (because the banks are still up to the same tricks that got them in hot water in 2008), all that money is going to get sucked right out of the system.

In America today we seem to have two classes of people: those who order Starbucks, and those who serve Starbucks. It seems to me that the latter class vastly outnumbers the former, and quite frankly, that’s not going to work, economically speaking. The whole system is built on Americans being good consumers, but when you have no money to spend, you cannot consume. More and more of America is having to divert its money to paying off student debt or credit cards or whatever else it may be, and less and less of America has any money left at the end of the month to consume much of anything. The iPhone 23 will be great, no doubt, but by then who will be able to afford it? For instance, I look around at the small town I live in, and what do I see? I see a Walmart, a Safeway, a bunch of fast-food joints and convenience stores, and a couple bank branches. How much consuming do you think the people working at these places can really do? Where’s the money? All these jobs are minimum wage or maybe a little more. There’s a mill a few miles out of town that may have a few skilled laborers, but that’s about it. I look at the price of houses in my town and all I can think is “where are the people who can afford this?” Hell, aside from subsidized housing like I live in, I don’t know how people afford rent around here.

I feel like we are on the precipice of another financial/economic disaster, where the bubbles all burst at once and we are left looking at each other wondering where all the Monopoly money went. The stock market has been booming since Trump took over, but what happens when he goes down and his agenda goes down with him? Who’s going to be the FDR that pulls us out of the Great Recession of 2018? Who? Mike Pence? Don’t make me laugh.

The fact is that America is running on fumes, and it’s just a matter of time before everything unravels. And when I say unravels, I mean Great Depression levels of unraveling (or worse). There is a great blog out there called The Automatic Earth that does a better job of explaining where we are and what’s going on than I ever could, and gives advice on how to survive the coming collapse. I’m not in a position where I can take advantage of most of their advice, but if you are, you should check out their site and educate yourself. The link above takes you to a page of TAE primers that will show you what’s going on and what you can do about it. It’s very sobering and not for the faint of heart. I don’t claim to understand all of it, but what I do understand scares the crap out of me. Inside me is a closet survivalist who wishes he was in a bunker on the side of a mountain with some guns and ten years’ worth of non-perishable food, but that’s not the fate I’m meant to have. When the collapse comes, I will be right there in the middle of the rubble, trying to claw my way out.

Well, that’s enough cheerfulness for one day. Thanks for reading. =)

Qualm (Daily Prompt)

OK, I’m doing such a rip-roaring great job of thinking about things to write about that I’m going to do a post using the Daily Post’s prompt of the day, which is: Qualm. So here goes nothing.

I immediately think not of personal qualms I may have, but qualms we have as a society. For a country as diverse as America, we seem to have a great number of qualms about people who don’t look like us. I find this odd. I would expect that countries like Denmark and Norway would have greater qualms, for instance, about accepting Syrian refugees than we do, because aside from refugees the people in those countries all look the same.  I mean, they have a very homogeneous population, you’d expect there to be some friction when you add a new ethnic group to the mix, right?

But here in the US, where we have millions of Muslims and millions more other people who came here as refugees from somewhere else–like the Pilgrims, for instance–we have this big problem accepting any Syrian refugees. Not only that, we don’t want any Mexican refugees either. We have made this clear by electing a President who is promising not to take in any refugees, and indeed to kick out the ones we have who aren’t citizens yet. These things are cheered on by his rabid base, which is overwhelmingly white Aryan types.

Speaking of Aryan types, if you’re still a Trump supporter at this point, after everything he’s done, then at this juncture I have qualms with you. I think you most likely are racist, sexist, and not too bright. In other words, you’re a perfect fit for the GOP to run for Congress next time. Go for it, Billy Bob!

But back to the qualms. So you have these really overwhelmingly white countries who are taking in great numbers of refugees with little problem, but here in the US, it’s a big huge hairy deal.. Why? The obvious answer is that the US is more racist than other countries. Or rather I should say we have a larger population of racists than other countries, and they’re more vocal about being racists. Did you see the group of torch-wielding white people who came out to defend a Robert E. Lee statue in Virginia? If that’s not the next best thing to the Klan, I don’t know what is. I get defending the statue–for better or worse, Southern whites have their own cultural heritage that places great value on Confederate icons–but what’s with the torches? It’s obviously an attempt to intimidate people and stifle opposition. And, as such, it cannot be allowed to work. These types of people are being emboldened by Trump and the systemic racism coming from the White House (and Congress) these days. The sad thing is, even if Trump gets himself impeached, which seems more likely with each passing day, these people will remain emboldened. Trump has like a 40% approval rating at this point, which in one sense is abysmal, but in another sense is remarkable. 40% of Americans think this clown is doing a great job. I don’t know if they’re the most uneducated 40%, the most racist 40%, or what, but the sad fact is that there’s a lot of them. Having to drag 40% of the population along on every single issue is going to be very difficult. It’s depressing to think about.

OK, so that’s the blog post on qualms. Thanks for reading. =)

 

Politics etc.

Well, my wife’s gone today to visit a friend, and I’m left to my own devices as to how to pass the day. I slept as long as I could. It’s pretty boring without my wife here. I need more hobbies.

So anyway, let’s make a blog post. The political news has become impossible to ignore. TrumpCare is all over my Facebook feed. It’s everywhere you look. How they can get away with screwing 24 million people out of their healthcare is beyond me. Maybe they won’t get away with it, and a lot of them will be voted out of office in 2018. I’m really hoping the Democrats can take back control of one chamber of Congress in 2018. But it does seem that the Democrats have their heads stuck in the sand. Bernie’s trying to lead them kicking and screaming in the right direction, but I think most of them are just too beholden to the corporate money. What we have right now are two parties controlled by corporations and billionaires, it’s just a matter of which corporations and billionaires. The Republicans are just a bit more open about being controlled, whereas the Democrats try to pretend that they’re the servants of the people. Other than Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, and a few others, this is total bullshit. They let the insurance companies and Big Pharma write the Affordable Care Act, and as a result, it’s become a mess. We should have had universal coverage back in 2010, the Democrats had the House, 60 Senators and the President, there’s no excuse why it didn’t pass other than some of the Democrats are on the take from the insurance companies and Big Pharma. And Wall Street owns them all.

Sigh. On to something else. The political situation is too depressing and triggering for me to focus on it for long. I still can’t believe Trump won, but in another way, I can. Hillary Clinton was an extremely flawed candidate, disliked by most people (including me; I voted for Jill Stein). She was definitely the “lesser of two evils”. Now, she was a great bit the LESSER of two evils, but if you give people a false choice, what do you expect to happen? Trump grabbed the change mantle, the same one Obama ran with in 2008, and he won with it. Every election from here until we fix our corruption problem is going to be a “change” election, and whoever represents change the best will probably win. That’s good, because Bernie Sanders can grab that change mantle in 2020 and beat Trump. I hope.

Actually, I fear that Trump will refuse to leave office, that he’ll claim a rigged election or something and try to stay in power even if he loses in 2020. We’ll see what happens. We’re having all these protests and marches, but I don’t think they are doing any good. What we need is a million people on the Mall with pitchforks and Molotov cocktails. Maybe then some shit would get accomplished. It’s high time the American people put their foot down and said no to all this bullshit. But when you’ve got 45% of the population supporting someone like Trump, how the hell do you get anything accomplished? The people are so divided, red states and blue states are practically at war. Hell, I’m interested in the idea of the West Coast states seceding and joining Canada. I just don’t know how we fix this. We may need another Civil War or something similar. We need a Constitutional amendment or maybe even a totally new Constitution to say that corporations are not people and cannot exercise free speech in the form of money to politicians. We also need limits on all these billionaire donors. But how do we get there? We need states to call for a convention, then the convention to pass the right kind of document, then 3/4 of states to ratify it. I don’t see how we can get 3/4 of the states to agree on anything.

Is nonviolent protest always the way to go? It worked for Gandhi and the Civil Rights movement, but they were facing civilized opposition. How far would nonviolent protest have gotten against someone like Hitler or Stalin? I don’t know the answer here. If you’re not nonviolent, who are you violent toward? The cops are just doing their jobs. The problem is the SYSTEM, and how do you break a SYSTEM? Maybe Molotov cocktails wouldn’t do that much good after all. The problem isn’t the Congress, or K Street, or corporations, it’s all of them. It’s everything. How do we fix this? I’ve beaten my head against this problem from every angle, and I just don’t see a solution. I think things have to get BAD–bread riot type of bad–before people will wake up enough to start fighting back en masse. Do we really have to become a third-world country before we can fix things? Hell, we’re nearly there now–it seems like we’re 28th in everything. But can we do better? As proud as I am of Bernie and the fight he’s bringing, I fear that come 2020 he’s gonna get screwed by the Establishment again. They’ll nominate Clinton again or some shill like Cory Booker, and Bernie will be left out in the cold yet again, and Trump will get re-elected. This is my nightmare.

So how am I, as a bipolar person, dealing with all this? I’d say I’m just not thinking about it, but that would be a lie. I can’t HELP but think about it. My wife and I get so much from the Federal government–SSI, cheap housing, Medicaid, food stamps, heating assistance in the winter–that I can’t help but worry. If ANY of those things go away, it’s going to put us in an untenable situation–like, a “we’re going to be homeless” situation. We’re in a very vulnerable position, where we’re dependent on the government for everything. The only way out of this is to get a good job.

Before my meltdown in 2011-12, I was a registered nurse. I’m still on probation for the crime I committed in 2012, and I can’t get my nursing license back until I’m off of probation at the earliest. That means November, 2018. I have to hope I can lose enough weight and get healthy enough mentally to take a nursing job come November 2018. But I don’t know if I’ll make it. My back is so bad, I can’t see myself nursing on a regular floor where you have to flip people over in bed and clean up crap. I could see myself nursing on a psych unit, but that’s about it. And there aren’t that many of those jobs. Maybe I could get a job at an insurance company denying people’s claims, but I can’t think of a more soul-sucking job than that. But I don’t know what else to do. Even if I get my disability, our rent goes up and our food stamps go down and we’re still barely making ends meet. That’s assuming they don’t take my disability for Federal restitution (I owe the Feds about $35k for restitution), which is a big assumption. I fear the Trump budget and what it may do to our housing situation. Right now we have Federally subsidized rent, but what if that goes away? We can’t pay $600 a month in rent. We only have $735 a month in income.

I think I’ve beat my head against this enough for one day. Thanks for reading. =)

Blah

I’m feeling pretty down and blah today. A lot of it is the healthcare vote that happened yesterday–one step further towards the abyss–but I don’t know if that’s all of it.

I had therapy yesterday and did EMDR for the first time. The image I selected to work on was one of me in bed, alone and crying because my wife had died. It’s a very disturbing image and one that bothers me a lot. By the end of the EMDR it seemed as though the image was less powerful, so I guess it was a success, but this morning I’m thinking about death. I know death is a part of life, and I don’t fear it, per se, but I do fear my wife dying and leaving me alone in the world, or me dying and leaving her alone in the world. We’re so close, it just doesn’t seem right that our bond should be broken in that way.

I believe that eventually, if we can get our shit together, mankind will become immortal. They’ll develop medical technologies to reverse or stop the aging process, and people will only die in accidents and the like. If we can keep the world spinning long enough for the scientists to figure it out, we may beat death. But unfortunately, my wife and I won’t live to see it happen, so it doesn’t do us much good.

I feel like we are at a tipping point as a species. We have so many ways to destroy ourselves, through nuclear war or climate change or a pandemic, but if we can manage not to do that, we are heading toward a new Golden Age that will be brought about by science. The stuff they’re doing these days is miraculous. But will we as a species live to see it to fruition? That’s the question. Given our current state of affairs, especially here in the U.S., I’m not particularly hopeful. It’s hard to move ahead when 45% of the population has to be dragged kicking and screaming towards any kind of positive change. But I don’t know how we can change it. Nobody looks at facts and changes their mind anymore–they bend the facts to support their own opinion. So how can we get our people working together towards a better future? I don’t know the answer to that question. The problems we face today seem insoluble with our current political system. We need something new, but what that would be or what it looks like, I don’t know.

I feel like I’m just rambling today, so I’m going to cut this a little short. Thanks for reading. =)

 

The A-List

For today’s WordPress “everyday inspiration” assignment, I’m supposed to make a list, so here goes nothing: my five current favorite songs. The links will open a new tab to the video on YouTube for each song.

  1. “Royals” by Lorde
  2. “Pompeii” by Bastille
  3. “Wake Me Up” by Avicii
  4. “Know Your Enemy” by Green Day
  5. “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons

I know they’re all older songs, but I never listen to the radio. We use Pandora pretty regularly, but they seldom play anything brand-new on the channels we listen to. But anyway, if you wonder what I’m listening to when I’m typing away on this blog, those five songs are a good start. I lost access to my main iTunes account about five years ago when my life fell apart, but I’ve slowly been building up a new account, and I have 260 songs on my main playlist. I mostly listen to a smaller playlist of my real favorites, though.

Music is therapy for me. I will get on to a new song and just listen to it over and over. I will listen while I read the lyrics off the Web until I know the words by heart. Lyrics are very important to me–if a song doesn’t have something to say, I don’t care to listen. I’m getting too old to listen to bubblegum pop anyway.

Speaking of therapy, I went to a group therapy session yesterday. It’s a weekly men’s group that my psych prescriber has been nagging me to go to. I’m not much of a group therapy person, but I surprised myself yesterday. They went around the table sharing how their week had gone, and when they got to me (last, thankfully) I actually shared. I told an abbreviated version of how I got diagnosed bipolar and everything that’s happened since, ending with the invisible motorcycle cop who bagged me for a ticket on Tuesday. I wouldn’t say I really connected with anybody in particular, but they seemed to welcome me into the group after I shared my story. I’ll probably go back next week. I have a lot of social anxiety, and I’m uncomfortable around strangers, but overall it wasn’t too bad for me this time.

I see the GOP is gearing up to try to repeal Obamacare again, and they may succeed this time, at least in the House. It will be interesting to see what the Senate does, though. I’m not sure the bastards can pull it off, but I’m sure they’ll keep trying. God forbid that people should have access to affordable health insurance. Makes me sick. If I didn’t have a felony on my record, my wife and I would be moving to Canada. The U.S. seems to be going straight to hell in a handbasket. The rot and corruption run so deep, I swear we’re going to need a new Constitution just to fix all this shit. At the very least we need an amendment that says corporations aren’t people and can’t lobby or donate to our politicians. These goddam billionaires trying to run everything need to be put in check, too. Sigh. I’m tired of beating my head against this problem. I’m with Bernie Sanders, we need a political revolution to fix all the shit that’s going wrong with our government.

I’m particularly worried about the Republicans taking over the government because my wife and I live by the government’s good graces. We have federally subsidized housing, SSI, Medicaid, food stamps, and heating assistance in the winter. We are basically the kind of people Republicans hate. But by God, I paid my fair share of taxes throughout my adult life while I was working. If I can’t count on some help in hard times, what the fuck good is the government anyway? It’s past time we busted out the torches and pitchforks and put a stop to all this corruption. But people are so busy just trying to survive, who has the time, energy and money to take on the government?

Sigh. Better not thought about. It just makes me worry.

What else? I’m drawing a blank. Feel free to comment with your favorite song–I’m always on the lookout for new music!

Thanks for reading. =)

 

Fool’s Mate

I’m taking some of the online “classes” offered here by the WordPress site, and the assignment today is “Why Do I Write?”, but I kind of covered that yesterday, so I’ll talk about something else.

I showed this blog to my wife last night–I admit it, I can’t keep a secret–and she was saddened by my comment about only having 15 or 20 years left before I die. I didn’t mean to upset her, obviously, but for both my wife and I thinking about our partner’s death is a huge trigger for some very heavy emotions. I used to just take it as a matter of faith that I would outlive my wife just by sheer willpower. I now recognize this as magical thinking. The real situation is this: I’m the man and the man usually dies first. Plus, I’m very overweight–what the doctors call morbidly obese–and if I don’t shed some pounds, I might be lucky to make that 15-20 years. We could all die tomorrow, of course, and nobody can read the future, but there aren’t many 90-year-olds with my body size. And if I make it that far, I may not be liking life much. I’d rather die than rot in a nursing home.

Actually, I can think of a lot of circumstances where I’d rather die than go on living. The reason for this is because, a few years ago, I lost my fear of death entirely. Now, that doesn’t mean I want to die–I’m not suicidal, don’t worry–and it doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of the PROCESS of death. There are some very ugly ways to die, cancer being an example. I don’t want to die slowly. I want it quick, bam, knock me out with a heart attack or kill me in my sleep with a nice big stroke. Or have a bank robber shoot me in the head. Getting shot in the head has got to be one of the best, easiest deaths there is. But once I met a kid who got shot in the head and didn’t die. That, ladies and gentlemen, is no fun. The bullet wrapped around his skull and came out by his ear and left him weak and shriveled on one side. But I digress.

Anyway, I may be scared by the PROCESS of death, but I’m not scared at all by death itself. I am a combination of atheist and non-practicing Buddhist, and I simply don’t believe in an afterlife. I think when you die, that’s it, you’re done, you cash your ticket and you’re gone to an eternal dreamless sleep. And when you think that way about the afterlife, death gets a lot less scary. Now, I used to fear the idea of non-existence itself. This is a very common fear. But I would posit this: you didn’t exist for billions of years before you were born, and it didn’t bother you a bit. If you don’t exist for another several billion years after you die, what’s the big deal? The Big Sleep is just that. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself, as it were.

What about suicide? There have been many times in my life when I was suicidal, and I have actually attempted suicide twice (and, obviously, failed miserably). It’s a lot harder to kill yourself than you may think, especially when you don’t have a gun. Even guns can be fraught with peril–I met a chap once who unconsciously jerked his head away when he pulled the trigger, and shot his own face off. Again, not fun. And while I don’t think there’s any afterlife and I don’t believe in hell, that little sliver of me that isn’t quite sure about the whole non-existence thing tells me there may be special rules for suicides. I don’t know what those would be, and I wouldn’t let it stop me if I was seriously intent on killing myself, but dying by your own hand is a serious matter, and, if the universe cares about such things, there might be some sort of downside to dying by suicide. I don’t believe in souls either, but if we have one, suicide might not be the way you want to go out.

I have told my wife, however, that if I outlive her, I am very likely to die by suicide. Right now our only form of income is my wife’s disability. I’m applying for mine, but if she died tomorrow I would have no way to keep a roof over my head. I view being homeless as one of the great terrors of modern life, akin to rotting in the nursing home, and if I knew that homelessness was to be my fate, I would certainly check out ahead of time. That upsets my wife, too, and we’ve had several conversations about it that I won’t rehash here. She doesn’t share some of my spiritual beliefs–perfectly okay!–and I think she worries about my soul if I kill myself. She’s a sweetheart that way.

OK, enough about death and suicide. In other, potentially brighter news, the GOP is still having trouble repealing Obamacare. There is serious doubt as I write this whether or not they have the votes to do it. I hope they do not, and that they again fail miserably to pass their own rotten legislation. If they do fail, I will enjoy the remainder of my day, full of schadenfreude (sp?) and glee at their misery. I don’t hate Republicans, but I do hate Republican lawmakers (with high disdain for most Democrats aside from the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/Jeff Merkley wing) and watching them fail will be a highlight of my week. If they do manage to pass it, it still has to survive the Senate, and blah blah blah, who knows what will happen. But I’d love to see Paul Ryan with some more egg on his face, that smarmy bastard.

Not much planned for the day today besides a trip to the grocery store. I’m going to talk to my wife about this, but I think we need to buy some emergency rations that don’t need to be heated up. Everything we have is electric, and should the power go out for any extended period of time, we won’t be eating anything. We have stocked up some water, but no food. I’m a very poor survivalist–I don’t have the money to be a good one–but the least we can do is have a few cans of spaghettios and some peanut butter on hand in case of an emergency. So our grocery trip may be a bit more expensive than we’d like, but that’s neither here nor there I suppose. Stocking up, gotta be done. Never know when North Korea may lob a nuke into Portland or Seattle. Given Trump’s penchant for diplomacy and grace, nothing will surprise me less than seeing a nuclear bomb go off somewhere on the planet in the next three-plus years. I just hope it’s not more than one. Dying of radiation poisoning isn’t on my bucket list any more than homelessness is.

OK, kids, this article’s long enough. Thanks for reading. =)