A Rain Trueax blog created as a place to discuss ideas and explore differences. First will be my opinion, when something has tweaked my interest or I've seen an article I want to share. Then will come your opinion if you choose to comment. This gives us a chance to have a dialogue where we sometimes agree to disagree. Such conversations are, in my opinion, always win/wins. (Of course, I'd believe that-- I am a moderate).

In the sidebar are political sites and blogs. I don't have to agree with any of them for them to be there. They are not hate spewing (that is a bridge too far for me) but they are partisan and discussing political issues of the day.

Friday, March 24, 2017

what to care about most...


Right now, for anyone paying attention to the news, there is so much 'information' out there that who can keep track of it all? Some of it very much involves our personal lives. Some is more abstract and about maybes.

Today the House will vote on the GOP 'health' care bill. It sounds likely that it won't pass. No democrats will vote to undo the bill that they consider their signature accomplishment (if you don't count a rising debt, more wars in the Middle East and the rise of ISIS as a worldwide terrorism network). Many Republicans won't support it since they feel the bill is Obama Care Lite or heavy-- depending on whether they are moderates or  conservatives. 

The irony is none of this is about health care. It's about insurance for health care. What the House is wrestling with (apparently) is who should pay for health care. Who should get it? What should it cover? This will not make finding doctors easier or dealing with those suffering from chronic conditions, where most of the high cost is found. It also won't do anything, from what I can tell to allow competition across state lines. With the current situation, there are those in one state paying $20,000 for a couple with a $6000 deductible. In other states, the purchaser gets their insurance cheaper than before the ACA. 

It will do nothing that I can tell to bring down prescription costs. Not a thing to train more doctors, which is how you actually get competition. I am not sure where the issue of a lifetime benefit limitation is but for someone born with epilepsy, this was a big deal. It also won't help with the elderly and the need for nursing home care-- not that ACA did either until someone loses everything and can go on Medicaid anyway. 

All of us, around the world, have to be impacted by the recent terrorist attacks where all it takes is a vehicle and a knife. You can NOT stop that before lives are lost. It's not anything that requires expertise. Where you can stop it is by what is considered very un-PC-- vetting our own citizens. As it stands, we could not arrest someone before they commit a crime. The most recent example of this problem was the radicalized British citizen, born there, who did have a violent record and the government had been aware of his being radicalized. Knowing did nothing to stop what happened this week. It can only be stopped by what currently most of the 'developed' world cannot do-- arrest and put someone in jail before they commit a crime. Lots of luck changing that. As it is, the rest of us have to hope for luck as anywhere in the world it only takes one radicalized person to kill and maim innocents, those who had had nothing to do with what angered that radical :(.


Then there is the accusation of rape in Maryland. A 14 year old girl has said she was brutalized by two youths, 18 and 17 years old, who were attending the high school as freshmen. Both had come from Central America, either as refugees or illegally. Leaving aside that, what I learned about that was that in states across this country, adults can stay in public schools until they are 21 or in the case of Texas-- 26. Now that isn't a big deal for a student who is having a hard time graduating and has been there all along, maybe one who had an illness that pulled them out of school for a period of time; but to me to take young men from a foreign culture and put them in with what amounts to children is insane. For their sake and that of the students, they should have been at a community college, providing their classes for free but where they are in school with those their age.  Apparently schools across this country are not willing or able to take into account cultural differences in their decisions? More PC gone amok.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

worldwide threats

 March 21, 2017 our yard

There is so much of the world about which we know so little. Most of us read about places like Turkey, but what do we really know? I had an English, online friend some years back who had a second home there. It sounded delightful then, but that was before terrorism began to rear its ugly head once again and turn delightful places into war zones. Why does this have to happen? Why can't we all live in peace and not attempt to take over governments or countries? It does not seem to be in the nature of humans-- sadly, as many innocents pay the price for this inability to live in peace.

Anyway this was an article that I thought was important. Was it ever smart to store nukes in Turkey? If so, it appears not so much today.


The world is once again on the brink of more problems than we know what to do with-- like China building up islands in the south China Sea. Like North Korea threatening to nuke the US. Like Russia taking over Crimea and is that all it wants? 

And, what about us, within, where half our country has only one goal in mind-- taking down the US president and making him unable to deal with any of what is out there. If not him, who?

We recently finished watching an interesting documentary on Netflix-- Ken Burns: The Roosevelts. It went from Teddy, through Franklin, to Eleanor's death and had reminders of how our government has struggled to find balance between differing interests while the world throws out its own curves. 

One issue it brought out was how our military had deteriorated before WWII erupted. It wasn't remotely ready, even without Pearl Harbor, for what it was about to face. Back then, it had a people ready to step up to the task and work hard to change that. Do we have that today? We know that we don't have the manufacturing plants that workers back then could turn toward ships and war machinery. We shipped that capability, along with steel, overseas.

One of the arguments recently has regarded NATO and whether we are paying too much of its cost. The problem with the military, there or here, is how it takes away from needed social programs as well as infrastructure within the home countries. If only all in the world would want peace and better lives for all the humans. 

Born in the midst of one war, growing up during the Cold War, coming of age with Vietnam, it seems I've never known a time where peace lasted long. Can that ever be changed? 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

what the government giveth it can taketh away


Americans might be more interested (or should be) in the next government budget than they've ever been with half the country sure Trump is going to sell the country out. 

As a nation, generally speaking, we've been on a certain trajectory begun with the Roosevelts and in particular Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Using the Great Depression, he got many programs in place that his beloved uncle, Theodore, had been unable to do. America has had a kind of dual concept of itself from independent cowboy to custodian of the weak. When you have a dual sense of self, it can lead to what we see today. One side wins. The other is furious at the changes. And then it reverses.


It suggests cutting spending on most domestic programs to increase spending on military, nuclear, and Homeland Security, with his belief we are in trouble with enemies from around the world like North Korea, terrorist organizations, and possibly Russia again. When he says a strong military is a deterrent, I think he means it-- but is he right? When you have a strong military is there a temptation to use it like in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and assorted smaller operations around the world. America has never desired to be the world's mercenary force, but it has happened.

In addition, Trump wants to end minimum tax (something that has nailed his rates in the past) and lower taxes on corporations, where we have a high rate compared to other developed nations, and lower it on individuals with no certainty as to what that would involve.

So what it looks like is more military and less Meals on Wheels where they  receive 1/3 of their funding from the federal government.  


How does cutting a program like that actually save money if it forces the infirm from their homes and into institutions? Or are the critics of the funding right to think that the community will step up especially if it has more money due to lower tax rates?

There has been an economic theory that when the rich get richer, it trickles down. I think that's been proven a fallacy by the immense build up of wealth in the years since tax rates were lowered and their ability to hide money overseas has enabled them to avoid the taxes they might've paid. This is all made possible by government rules.

FDR believed in income redistribution as well as globalization-- though they called it a different name back then. Through the government projects he began, we ended up with some great infrastructures. Eisenhower went a step further with the interstate freeway systems, which allows ease of movement and also the massive trucking we have today. All that, while railroads, after years of much government help, were mostly ignored. Government giveth and government taketh away. 

It is possible that people will step up. In the past the Carnegies and their ilk built libraries, theaters, museums, added to national parks, and they did it, at least partly, to redeem their reputations after the robber baron accusations. Right now we seem to admire those so wealthy that all they can do with it is to use it to buy influence from both parties, which I guess benefits the politicians but the rest of us... not so much.


is one example of how individuals can come together, without benefit of the government (although they do often get tax writeoffs) to do something wonderful for a community. Maybe such will rise again to fund programs like Meals on Wheels which seems such a good thing for all the people-- not just the ones receiving the help. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

intersectionality

 Image from Stencil

Always something new and much of it not good or at least disturbing. This is a term I heard for the first time when my husband emailed me a link to this article by Andrew Sullivan.


After reading the article and feeling fully disturbed, I wanted to figure out from where this movement came, how it began-- and is Sullivan being a drama queen or is this a real concern in terms of impacting our culture in a way that might not be good? Does a cause, even a good one, become perverted when it drowns out everything else?

If I was on college campuses or lived in the world of the intellectuals, I'd probably have heard the term. I read (when I began researching this) that Hillary used it as a way to connect with younger voters and those who followed Bernie Sanders. Now I was a Bernie voter and donator, but I still never heard it. 

Did Bernie use the term or just embrace the concept that all prejudice and unfairness is interlinked? I wonder now if looking for constant examples of unfairness can become a culture in itself. Does it win elections? If it did, what would it make happen?

This made me think how different my world is from the academic or even of the intellectuals. It's simpler and involves things like-- is that sheep limping? Are the new book's protagonists making sense? Will the cats stop fighting with each other? Should I deal with my ganglion cyst or is it just one of those things? Sunshine yesterday but how much rain today? How come my daughter isn't calling? How will the GOP health care impact Americans (figuring that one out requires a little intellectualism)? By evening, it involves what should I watch on TV-- documentaries are most popular right now. Anybody see the one on the Iceman mummy? It was interesting but its title misleading. 

In my seventies, it might seem I don't need to understand intersectionality; but over all those years, I have observed that these things have a way of coming out of one world and into another. Now that I have heard the term, I have certainly heard the theory as it's been expressed in protests and arguments. In looking for articles on it, I came across many. Google it and you can see the debate as to where the thinking is leading and what it must do-- or not.


That article was written in 2015 by author, KimberlĂ© Williams Crenshaw, who is a professor at two universities and public speaker. Her speciality is critical race theory, misogyny,  and civil rights. Her articles are easily found on searches and there are a lot of them including a TED talk. She coined the term in the 1980s. Google her or the term and you'll find many opinions on it.

As a prestigious professor, she can probably speak anywhere she wants without a protest shutting her down. Will intersectionality gain what she hopes or will it lead to more negative results, stemming from resentment, for those who most need help? 

Lately, there has been a lot of talk regarding how much misogyny is out there. Is that growing or just being exposed? Can you make laws that change prejudice-- or must you change minds to have any effective results?

My concern with what happened at Berkley and more recently at Middlebury is when people refuse to listen to alternative ideas (abhorrent perhaps but not illegal) or more importantly block others from listening to them, where does that leave a democracy that depends on the exchange and debate of alternative thinking? Do we convince others by force or by better ideas? If someone has a disgusting idea to present, do we end its power by turning our backs and chanting or do we make strong points as to why it's wrong? If we can't effectively debate against ideas that we believe are wrong and instead try to silence them, where does that leave us as a culture?

In my research, I came across the following article which presents one premise as to where this leads. Selective outrage and unwillingness to effectively argue our issues does make us look stupid-- whether it takes intersectionality is debatable.

So, do we have too much info as a people or too little?

Thursday, March 09, 2017

It's the issues--

I have made this argument multiple places-- that Hillary and the democrats did not emphasize policy enough. I believe she and they did that because they didn't want people to know what they planned as their policies would not be popular with the much of the country. What they wanted to do (still want to do) is popular with the elites (intellectuals, celebrities, and the news media) and those who need or like government social programs. 


Even the debates were short on policy. Questions were not asked that delved into many issues that matter. No presidential debates discussed globalism vs. nationalism. We know Trump was a nationalist, as he was berated by the media throughout the presidential campaign for that, but she didn't make the point she was a globalist, and it only came out in hacked emails or private speeches that got secretly recorded.

To me, this has been one of my main complaints about the democratic party right now-- it doesn't argue the issues or make its case based on them. Convince people those positions are better in the short and long term. I would like it if leaders would say what they want to do and then try to do it. That, of course, doesn't happen often.

Beyond that, it wouldn't hurt to find possible candidates (maybe outside the political arena) with charisma, like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump. I would like to think it doesn't matter, have often voted for the least charismatic candidate based on the issues (did it in '16), but I suspect it's not that way for many.

As an added note, a recent poll indicated that Trump would lose to a generic Democrat in 2020 but beat Elizabeth Warren. I think that could be for two reasons. While she does have policy positions in the domestic area, they might be too far left for middle America. The other thing is- if it takes charisma, Warren doesn't have it. When she speaks publicly, she either sounds whiny or angry. She's an attractive woman, but beauty isn't charisma, as Trump and Bernie proved. I don't know if charisma is born into someone or whether it can be learned.


~~~~~~~~~~

This next link was also interesting regarding whether being a woman hurt Hillary's chances. Two professors put together a play where they used the text from one of the debates. Clinton's words were given to a man and Trump's to a woman. 

This discussions afterward, with a pretty liberal audience, surprised the creators. The viewers had liked his words when said by a woman and disliked hers when said by a man. New York Times also had a story on it but because I only get 10 a month (and have used up 3 already) I found another source. And no, I am not subscribing again until they take a more neutral stance on the news-- put out the facts when it's news and only tell us what to think in editorials.


Although the articles said they did not use the actual names, it was obvious from the title who it was about. From what I heard elsewhere, the intention had been that it would prove people voted against her because she was a woman. It proved the opposite. To that audience, his words were more acceptable when it was said by a woman than by Trump. The audience found the constant smiling obnoxious in a man but maybe had given it a pass when it was Clinton. Or maybe they didn't as I didn't like it in her either. I felt, however, that it probably wasn't so much acting superior as knowing that older women look better when they smile-- and appearances matter. Polls had her winning all those debates.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

are leaks good or dangerous?

Interesting what the CIA leaks may reveal. Anyone who isn't concerned about what our spy networks have been up to isn't paying attention. Under Obama it grew in its complexity. Especially interesting is that the CIA can make it look like a hack is someone else-- like Russia... So the supposed fingerprints, left clumsily behind on the DNC email hacks might've been to leave false evidence. I don't know who benefits from an out of control spy network.


More will be coming but one thought is someone in the CIA must not be on the side of a secret organization that can do whatever it wants. At the same time, are leaks good for our security? More of the uncertainty gripping the country

Monday, March 06, 2017

and behind door number one is...

Lying in bed this morning, with some of the usual pillow talk, my husband and I were debating what is really going on politically. The news and discussions regarding wire tapping were part of our conversation as one pundit had taken the view that there were three possible explanations for the question of tapping the phones of a presidential candidate-- he missed a fourth which is that it was suggested by the President, to his attorney general, to find something to help one candidate win the election. Was that the case? That pundit couldn't even consider it.

This morning I read this, which I thought was interesting especially given its source-- a normally left wing site. 


Beings how Obama is a rock star to many, they will find it difficult to imagine he might be presenting one image to hide another-- the handsome, intelligent, witty man, which covers up an underhanded and even sly man-- a bit proud of what he can get away with. Is that possible? Not to liberals or progressives. He's their hero, and an article like that one is anathema as it goes against all they need to hold onto in a very uncertain era. 

As someone interested in motives and personalities, I find the whole thing interesting but a little frustrating. There is no way to really know who Obama or Trump, either one, actually are. They do seem locked in a struggle that began when Trump implied Obama might've not been born in the US and Obama ridiculed him at an annual correspondents dinner. It's not good when the last president and the current one go to war with each other. Obama attacked Bush a lot for being the cause of all the country's problems, but Bush didn't reply. He was busy doing what presidents usually do-- moving on (although lately he does appear to be back as he promotes his new book).

Obama is not moving on and neither is the country with half wanting one thing and the other half the opposite. Not sure when this will get better... if it ever does.


This is kind of fun-- playing with images; and if the whole thing is getting to you, check out the site, Dreamscope, which allows you to take your photos and apply various filters to them. Why should everything be serious!