Money | Re: the GOP & Social Security, Medicare, etc.
Posted on December 9, 2016 at 8:00 am by Marci

Re: the GOP & Social Security, Medicare, etc.

We already know the idgits we put in office want to axe the Affordable Care Act and are planning to screw Medicare, as well. They’re also apparently intending to cut social security, possibly even for folks who are already receiving it.

Just so we’re keeping score, here, my boyfriend is healthy and alive thanks to the ACA, and my folks are on Social Security – and will be using Medicare soon. This is starting to feel real personal, GOP.

When it comes to Medicare and Social Security, I’d like to point out that we’ve been paying into those systems for years. I’ve been paying in since I was 16 – almost 25 years. I paid in with the understanding that money and healthcare would be there for me when I got old and needed it. If it isn’t, then I say I’m owed my money back.

Can we file a class action lawsuit against the government for our money back, if they cut these social programs? No, I’m serious. Any lawyers about?

UPDATED 12:15pm

Just a quick reminder, folks: Social Security is not going broke. It just isn’t. Sometime after 2030 or so, the trust that funds Social Security will run out, and at that time, Social Security will start paying out about 79% of benefits to each person. A few years after that, it’ll drop to around 74%, but it won’t stop or end. And, more importantly, there is an easy fix to the problem: all we have to do is tax top earners for Social Security, which we are not doing right now. If you make over something like $150,000 a year, you don’t pay Social Security tax. If we cut that income cap on the Social Security tax, we’d be fine.

Another FYI: There’s some GOP-spread BS going around about Medicare being bankrupt. This is completely untrue. In fact, the ACA actually helped solve some financial challenges for Medicare. Medicare is completely solvent through 2028 or so. After that, it’ll be paying out about “87 percent of Medicare hospital insurance costs,” eventually declining to around 79% of costs. And again, there’s an easy fix for this problem: raise taxes for the 1%, and regulate pricing.

Seriously, people. Don’t let the GOP lie you out of your benefits.

UPDATED 1:45pm

Here’s the story at TPM: Key House GOPer Introduces Bill With Major Cuts To Social Security.

[The bill by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX)] would, among other things, gradually raise the retirement age from 67 to 69 on Americans 49 or younger at the present. It would change the formula that determines the size of a retiree’s initial payments. And it would switch the program to a less generous formula for raising payments according to cost of living increases.

And that’s just for starters. Go read the whole article.

'No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.' - Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
Posted on December 8, 2016 at 8:00 am by Marci

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” – Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

“Stanisław Jerzy Lec, born Baron Stanisław Jerzy de Tusch-Letz, was a Polish aphorist and poet. Often mentioned among the greatest writers of post-war Poland, he was one of the more influential aphorists on the 20th century, known for lyrical poetry and skeptical philosophical-moral aphorisms, often with a political subtext.” (Wikipedia)

IRL Busy
'Decisions are made by those who show up.' - Aaron Sorkin
Posted on December 6, 2016 at 8:00 am by Marci

Resistance is never futile: things to do & people to call.

Back when we last had a Republican administration, President George W. Bush’s, I used to publish “action plans” – people to call and things to ask them about or express opinions on. As we march forward into Trump’s America, this seems like a good habit to get back into.

For starters, you can and should feel free to email, tweet and Facebook your senators and representatives. However, the best thing to do is call them. More credence is always given to a phone call.

I know, I know, I loathe making phone calls as well. However, back when Bush was in office, I called my senators and representatives so often I swear they started to recognize me. Here are a few tips:

1. Be polite and civil.
Nobody wants to hear you yell and swear, and even if you don’t like or agree with your elected representative, you’re probably not going to be talking to them. You’re going to be talking to some hapless office minion who probably doesn’t deserve your yelling and swearing. Besides, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

2. Be concise.
Even hapless office minions are busy and they don’t have time to listen to your 300-page manifesto. Make a list of the topics you want to address and include a brief reason. I usually didn’t bother to threaten them with my vote, but I did always remind them that I was a constituent. An example:

“Hello, I’m Marci Sischo, and I’m a constituent of Carl Levin. I do not support the PATRIOT Act because it’s a gross invasion of our civil rights and privacy rights. I would appreciate it if Senator Levin opposed it wherever and whenever he can. Thank-you.”

If you’re a nervous caller, write it down and read it to whomever answers the phone.

3. Call early, often and on a schedule.
My usual time to call was first thing Monday morning, and before any important votes. I didn’t call every week, but I called most weeks.

4. Follow up with emails, tweets, etc.
After calling I generally followed up with an email, where I could go into more depth on a position or offer more reasons for supporting or not supporting whatever I was talking about. Again, be polite and concise. Representative offices deal with lots of assholes, and they’re busy, so your brevity and politeness might help you stand out. Plus, it’s always good to remember that even if you don’t agree with someone, you’re still talking to a human being and it’s not nice to treat someone badly just because you disagree.

What to Do Right Now

Trump doesn’t take office until January 20, but now’s a good time to practice. One thing you can call your senators and representatives about are Trump’s position appointments. Many of them have to be confirmed, so now is a good time to call your representatives and let them know that you do or don’t support certain job candidates.

NPR has a running list of various appointments, here.

Steve Mnuchin (Secretary of the Treasury), Gen. James Mattis (Secretary of Defense), Sen. Jeff Sessions (Attorney General), Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce), Rep. Tom Price (Secretary of Health and Human Services), Dr. Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development), Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation), Betsy DeVos (Secretary of Education), Gov. Nikki Haley (Ambassador to the United Nations), Seema Verma (Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (Central Intelligence Agency Director) all require senate confirmation. Call your senators and let them know which ones you do or don’t support.

Another thing you can do is express support for Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, and ask your senators to appoint Garland to the SCotUS.

It’s also possible that President Obama could just appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court as a recess appointment. It’s not likely that Obama would do that, but he’s allowed to. There are some good arguments both for and against an action like that. Personally, I’m of the “any port in a storm” mindset and think Obama should do that, but I doubt it’ll happen. Still, it doesn’t hurt to mention it.

Contact Information

You can send the White House a message here.

You can find contact information for your representative here, and for your senator here.

To find contact information for your state and local officials (for state and local issues, which you should also be ringing bells about), check your state and local government websites.

Pizza, via Wikimedia Commons
Posted on December 5, 2016 at 8:00 am by Marci

In the News: Walter Scott, Donald Trump, Pizzagate & More

Brace yourselves, kids. Let’s take a look at the news.

In April of 2015 a South Carolina cop, Michael Slager, shot Walter Scott eight times in the back, killing him. Slager pulled Scott over and Scott ran on foot. Slager caught him, there was a scuffle, and Slager claimed Scott took his taser, so he “felt threatened” and shot him while Scott was running away. Except there was a witness video that seemed to show that not only did Scott not take the taser, but that Slager shot him, and then planted the taser and lied about the incident.

In case you haven’t heard this song before, Slager was a white cop and Scott was a black man. Residents of the area where Slager policed, North Charleston, have accused the police of harassment, racially profiling African Americans, and using tasers all the time without cause.

The case went to court, obviously, and the jury, made up of 11 white people and one black man, couldn’t return a verdict, so a mistrial was declared today. The prosecutors in the case will probably try to bring it to trial again, but they might also try for a plea deal.

As you might imagine, folks are mad.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump nominated Ben Carson to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Carson has accepted. This would be the same Ben Carson who thought the pyramids in Egypt were used for storing grain, and also the same Ben Carson who, less than a month ago, said he wouldn’t take a cabinet position because he didn’t have any government experience. So… yeah. That’s happened.

If you haven’t been playing along at home, NPR has a running tally of Trump’s nominations, with bios and information. It’s kind of a horror show.

Of particular note today is retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is now our National Security Adviser. This guy is a raving conspiracy theorist who, along with his son, Michael Flynn Jr., pushed the fake news story about “Pizzagate.” You can read more about that here and here.

I mention all this because, thanks to the conspiracy theory, some dude went into the pizzeria in question yesterday, with a gun, to “investigate.” He even got a shot off. Fortunately, no one was hurt. That’s how crazy the “Pizzagate” situation has gotten, and Flynn’s helping it along.

That’s the guy advising Trump on national security. I feel safe, don’t you?

In other news, Al Gore went to meet with Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump today about climate change. Yep. That happened. I think that fills my daily requirement for surrealism.

To wrap up, here’s a few good reads:

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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