hankrules2011

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Posts Tagged ‘progressive politics’

5 Verses about the Poor We Need to Take Seriously | Jayson D. Bradley

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 5, 2013

5 Verses about the Poor We Need to Take Seriously | Jayson D. Bradley.

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Things

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 4, 2013

Just a few things. I’m sorry I haven’t updated in awhile. Not too much has been going on for me personally, and I’m in the middle of three very large books, so I haven’t been able to write a book review for awhile. However, I’m nearly done with one (finally!), so hopefully a book review will be coming.

This past Tuesday was the nine week anniversary of Dad’s death. I’m still in a state of shock, I guess. I just still can’t believe he is gone. He was fit. He was healthy. He was mowing my yard while I was at a meeting when he collapsed and died. I was there to witness it. I tried to save him, but failed. I feel sick about it. My therapist wants me to go to a grief support group. It started this week, so I’ve missed one meeting. I don’t know. I think I’m doing pretty well, considering, but I may give them a call today to find out more about it.

My wife has a bad knee, meanwhile. We think she hurt it playing racquetball with me about a month ago. It’s been increasingly bad and she can barely walk. We took her to the doctor a couple of days ago and he thinks it’s a tear in her tendon. She’s going to have to get x-rays. I don’t know what comes next. She actually doesn’t have insurance and is dying to get signed up for Obamacare, which seems promising to us, but she hasn’t been able to access the site at all, so that’s been frustrating.

I’m currently upgrading my iPhone to iOS7. I have mixed feelings about this because Gretchen did this on the first day of its release and it completely wiped her phone. She had to start from the factory settings and start all over, getting new apps and everything. It was a complete disaster. That said, she tried again a couple of days later and it worked and she seems happy with it, so I’m giving it a try — with misgivings. I can’t afford to have my phone wiped. My whole life is on there — my diaries, my many contacts, my medical records, all sorts of stuff. I’m also annoyed that I had to delete dozens of albums and hundreds of pictures to free up 3 GB of space for the download. That seems more like Microsoft bloatware to me…. Well, here’s hoping….

I’ve discovered I’m lactose intolerant. That really sucks! I’d been having gastric problems for over two months. They flared up almost immediately upon my finishing lunch and continued for the remainder of the day. I went on two antibiotics twice, but that didn’t really help very much. Finally, I caved and went to a gastro specialist. I had a theory that I posited to the doctor, and she recommended I do what I’m doing. I really think it was the yogurt I ate every day with lunch and the milk I was drinking and the tapioca pudding I’d have. I didn’t have problems until I consumed those, and then did afterwards. She told me to go off all dairy related products for a week and see what happens. I did, and everything went away and I cleared up in one day. I went a week and then had some ice cream one night, and they returned. So I’m lactose intolerant. How in the hell did that happen??? Now I’ve having to find lactose-alternative products. The yogurt is really high in carbs. The milk is pretty decent. You can find some good ice cream. The cheese really sucks. And on it goes. I guess this is a new lifestyle I’m going to have to get used to.

In sports, I’m not sure about my teams. The Steelers are the worst they’ve been in 45 years with an 0-4 record and they really, really suck. The Pirates, however, had a winning season and made the post-season for the first time in 21 years, which is really something to cheer about. However, last night St. Louis kicked their butts badly, so I don’t know how well we’ll do. My Penguins have goalie problems. Don’t know how we’ll do this year. My UT Vols are 3-2, with the two losses to ranked teams — Oregon and Florida. However, we have ranked Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama coming up, so it looks like we’ll be 3-5 by the end of the month. That blows. I really like the new coach and want him to succeed, but it looks like we’re going to have some growing pains.

Lately, I’ve been having to pay bills. That’s good and bad. It’s good to pay them, but it hurts to pay so much. I had to have $750 in car repairs too. I’m never buying a BMW again as long as I live.

I’m over this government shutdown. I attribute it ALL to the damn Republicans, who are holding the country hostage in their stupid attempt to repeal Obamacare — a LAW that was passed by Congress, signed by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court, and for whom Obama was elected for a second term while running against people who wanted to repeal it. Listen to the people, Congressmen! Damn Republicans. And they accuse the Dems. What gall! They’re truly despicable people. I will never vote for a Republican again as long as I live, and I was brought up a conservative Republican. That says a lot. They’re truly disgusting humans. What a waste. I hope they cave soon, so we can return to life as we know it.

Huh. It looks like my iPhone has updated while I’ve been writing this. It seems to have been successful. I’ve only opened a few apps, and things look like they’re still there. Oh, four of my apps are missing. *sigh* This new version looks very, very different from previous versions. It’s going to take me awhile to get used to. One thing — everything seems slower. The apps are taking longer to open. Oh well. I just checked out my space, though, and I’ve got more free space than when I started. I guess I can re-load some of my music on here. That’s good.

I guess that’s all for now. Book reviews coming soon. Cheers!

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A Senator’s Response re Toomey-Manchin

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 7, 2013

After the Toomey-Manchin amendment was voted down by our elected government officials even though polls showed that it had the support of over 90% of the US population, I emailed Tennessee’s US senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (both Republicans), to express my disdain for their vote. I tried to send messages shaming them into admitting they were in the pockets of the NRA. I finally heard back from one: Bob Corker. Here is his message in its entirety. The staffer who wrote this was quite good. Notice the excuses framed as looking out for rights of rural people, etc., et al. It’s truly disgusting.

___________________________________________________________________

Dear Mr. Holstad,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office to share your views about gun control legislation. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

The right to own firearms for self-defense, and for other familiar purposes with my family and friends, is important to me as a Tennessean and as an American.  It has been a tremendous honor to be given the opportunity by Tennesseans to weigh in on their behalf during such a critical time in our history as the Supreme Court has since provided great advances in securing the Second Amendment as a fundamental tenet of American liberty.

That said, what happened last month in the Senate cannot be satisfying to anyone. We spent the balance of a week debating the Toomey-Manchin amendment that, if enacted, would have had no effect on preventing the tragedies in Connecticut, in Colorado, in Arizona, or in many of the other recent mass killings, and would not have addressed the more critical issues involved in preventing that type of violence in the future.

When it comes to the many challenges facing parents, law enforcement, and our judicial system dealing with violent mentally ill people in our society, the inability to respond before violence occurs is a frustration widely known by communities across our country.  The vast majority of Americans are rightly concerned that, without action, their community will suffer the consequences of this volatile status quo and be home to the next mass killing.

On mental health, there are three legs to the stool that need to be propped up.  The first is ensuring that we are identifying those in our community that are dealing with mental illness and getting them to appropriate resources.  Next, we need to confront the legal impediments and ambiguities that exist at the state and federal level to ensure that those that pose a danger to themselves or others can be dealt with in a way that ensures due process, but that also ensures necessary treatment is provided while clearly establishing when an individual becomes a prohibited gun owner.  Finally, we need to work with states to ensure that the records of prohibited purchasers are reliably and efficiently added to the background check database.

A related problem is that only a very small fraction of all prohibited individuals attempting to illegally purchase firearms in Tennessee are actually prosecuted. I supported the Grassley amendment to help correct this gap in enforcement by providing additional resources for law enforcement and beefing up penalties for prohibited purchasers and those who facilitate illegal firearms transfers.

I think most Tennesseans believe, like I do, that we also should be improving background checks in a way that allows fast and accurate checks to be easily performed by law-abiding citizens, and that prevents criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms, while at the same time ensuring that Second Amendment rights are not infringed upon.

However, the Toomey-Manchin amendment went too far in infringing Second Amendment rights and I opposed it for two main reasons. First, the amendment did not provide certainty about which firearms transfers required a background check and which didn’t. By failing to clearly state which transfers would become illegal, Americans would not have the notice they need to be able to avoid running afoul of federal criminal law and would likely face selective prosecutions. None of us should want to put law enforcement in a position where they can pick and choose what actions are criminal.

Second, the amendment required that firearm transfers between two private individuals be conducted through a licensed firearms dealer.  I believe asking Americans to find and travel to a willing gun dealer and to pay an unknown, but potentially not insignificant, fee would lead to negative outcomes. It would substantially burden the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right, which would in turn discourage transfers from occurring within the background check system, resulting largely in over-criminalizing law abiding people. Particularly in rural areas, it was impossible to predict how far individuals may have to travel to find a dealer willing to perform this type of transfer, let alone how much they might be charged for the service.

These issues are complex and implicate our most fundamental constitutional rights of personal liberty and self-defense.  Unfortunately, a single amendment became the litmus test for determining who wanted to prevent the type of violence that has shocked our conscience, and last month’s debate was cut short before real solutions that respected the Second Amendment could be considered.  We owe it to all those who value our responsibilities toward the mentally ill, the safety of our communities, and the Second Amendment to get this right.

Thank you again for your letter. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me.

Sincerely,

Bob Corker
United States Senator

___________________________________________________________________

So that’s it. What do you think? Imagine, infringing on the rights of rural people to sell their guns in an effort to save lives. Wouldn’t want to do that, would we? Cause those rural people REALLY need to sell each other their guns. What a crock! And I’m so sick of blaming the mentally ill. I’d love to know how many gun homicides are committed by the so-called mentally ill each year versus “normal” people. Anyone got any stats? Considering there are over 30,000 violent gun deaths each year in the US, far and away more than any other country, I’d love to know how many are committed by the mentally ill. I doubt it’s many. Sure, they get the high profile mass slaughters, and it’s accurate to assign blame, but are the gang members in Chicago and L.A. mentally ill or just messed up individuals who need to be locked up? I’m sick of seeing the mentally ill blamed. That’s an NRA cop out, an easy excuse for them. They’re the truly bad people to blame, or at least their leadership is. And they claim to be patriots. It’s disgusting. WHAT’S SO DAMN HARMFUL ABOUT UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS???

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Austerity Kills!

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 22, 2013

Austerity Kills: Crippling Economic Policies Causing Global Health Crisis | Alternet.

The Republicans are wrong. Austerity is NOT the answer!

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Senate rejects expanded gun background checks – CNN.com

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 17, 2013

Senate rejects expanded gun background checks – CNN.com.

It’s ever so nice to know we have the NRA looking out for our rights to get slaughtered in cold blood by assault weapons. The next time there’s a massacre, and there will be one, I’m writing every NRA official and congressman I can think of to personally assign blame for the blood of the victims. The NRA is vile and so are the politicians that support them.

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Guess What? The Debt Everyone Is Freaking Out About Does Not Exist

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 28, 2013

Guess What? The Debt Everyone Is Freaking Out About Does Not Exist | Alternet.

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A Review of The Survivor

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 20, 2013

The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White HouseThe Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House by John Furby Harris

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I hate this book and I despise the author. I couldn’t believe, when looking through the Goodreads reviews, how many people call this book “balanced.” I think it’s anything but. I think it’s a hatchet job on a great man, Bill Clinton, my favorite president of all time. I admit to being biased, but I’ve read several Clinton books and none were as unflattering as this one. I couldn’t even finish it! I couldn’t even get past the second chapter! Virtually every page is stocked with loaded language designed to make the reader look down on Clinton (and his wife). Examples:

Page X: He talks about Clinton’s “capacity for drama” and his “usual … swirling cloud of last-minute chaos and indecision.”

Page XI: “Hillary Rodham Clinton … hovered over the proceedings with the discerning eye of the corporate lawyer she was.” Harris makes her out to be a Dick Cheney-like character.

Page XII: In discussing Paul Begala’s first meeting with Clinton, Harris writes “In his crush, however, he kept enough detachment to contemplate that the session had been a put-on, and what seemed like a wonderfully guileless performance actually had been a more sophisticated brand of artifice.”

Pages XIV and XV: In describing Clinton’s politics as “defensive” and his knowledge of this a very conscious one, Harris writes “Certainly he understood, with occasional remedial courses required….” Like he’s stupid…. Later, his (Arkansas) opponent “portrayed him, not unfairly, as an arrogant and unseasoned young man who was out of step with his constituents.” Harris goes on to talk some more about Clinton’s alleged “women problem.” It makes me ill.

On page XVI, Clinton is described as “maddeningly noncommittal.”

On page XVII, Harris really goes for it. He plunges right in by writing, “his marriage to Hillary Clinton was said to be in turmoil…. He was a man of vagrant sexual appetites. Every political operative or journalist with even a passing knowledge of Clinton knew it.” What a crock! Even with all of the right wing-founded rumors about Clinton’s alleged infidelities, the only one that ever had any proof associated with in was the Monica scandal. In his book, My Life, Clinton denies any involvement with Flowers or Jones and I believe him. There’s no proof anywhere. This author is stooping to tabloid journalism by bringing it up in the introduction!

On page XVIII, he “bristled over the scrutiny,” while somehow showing “indifference to the rumors.” Contradict yourself much, Harris?

The author then goes on to deride Clinton’s intelligence by writing that Hillary “was his equal or superior in intelligence” and he talks about their marriage as a “partnership” and not one based on love. Does this guy have a bone to pick or what?

On page XX!, Harris writes “Traits that would be regarded as emotionally unhealthy by conventional standards — a desperate need for human contact, or a heedlessness about persona risk — were in Clinton’s case political assets of great utility.” Later, on his intelligence again: “Yes, he was smart, but no smarter than many other politicians of his generation.” Seriously? Every book I’ve ever read about Clinton, right or left, has lauded his intelligence! The man is brilliant. Holy crap — who does this Harris guy think he is? What an asshole!

Harris shows Clinton plotting left and right while being naive at the same time. Honestly, I can’t read this book without getting violently angry. I made it to page 12 and that’s the furthest I’m going. I had high hopes for this book because of good reviews, but I’m sorry I wasted good — and a lot of — money on this stupid book. Definitely not recommended for anyone who admires the Clintons.

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A Review of My Life by Bill Clinton

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 13, 2013

My LifeMy Life by Bill Clinton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At nearly 1,000 pages, this book is a monster to read, but boy, am I glad I did! First of all, I love Bill Clinton, I’ve got to be honest. He was, is, and will always be my favorite president. That said, I was curious how he would describe his life and is on goings in the White House and before.

He starts with his childhood and writes an exhaustive account of his life up until Bush takes over for him. He spends a great deal of time early on discussing religion and his spirituality, both of which seem extremely important to him. (He’s Methodist.) He also spends a lot of time on the Vietnam War and his not going over to fight. He explains that he really struggled with that decision, and although I already knew this, he acknowledges that he joined the ROTC to fulfill his military duty before backing out to finish out his Fulbright scholarship at Oxford. He was plainly torn.

His description of meeting and courting Hillary is truly interesting, and it seems clear to me that he really does love her very much, as well as Chelsea. Both women are mentioned extensively in this book.

Clinton could have taken a lot of pot shots at the jerks who consistently attacked him and tried to ruin his life ever since he was elected governor of Arkansas, but he’s a bit of a gentleman and goes easy on most. He does display his scorn for Kenneth Starr, who in my opinion, is one of the most evil men of the twentieth century and who should burn in hell for the suffering he caused countless people. What a vindictive asshole! Clinton also does have some hard words to say about the hard Right, with whom he was constantly at war for the last six years of his presidency. It’s amazing to me still how much he was able to accomplish with all of the attacks on his character and presidency.

If you’re after juicy gossip, though, you won’t find it here. He denies any role with Flowers or Paula Jones and while admitting to the Monica disaster, he limits its inclusion in the book while apologizing to all for his poor decisions.

There are a couple of passages that really stood out for me. The first one reads,

“Although I would always regret what I had done wrong, I will go to my grave being proud of what I had fought for in the impeachment battle, my last great showdown with the forces I had opposed all of my life — those who defended the old order of racial discrimination and segregation in the South and played on the insecurities and fears of the white working class in which I grew up; who had opposed the women’s movement, the environmental movement, the gay-rights movement, and other efforts to expand our national community as assaults on the natural order; who believed government should be run for the benefit of powerful entrenched interests and favored tax cuts for the wealthy over health care and better education for children.”

Wow! Fast forward to 2013 and it doesn’t sound like much as changed, does it? The Republicans are still trying to oppose the very same things and advance the very same tired agenda.

Later, he writes about some of the things I loved about his presidency in writing about his 1999 State of the Union Address.

“My last State of the Union address was a joy to deliver. We had more then twenty million new jobs, the lowest unemployment rate and smallest welfare rolls in thirty years, the lowest crime rate in twenty-five years, the lowest poverty rate in twenty years, the smallest federal workforce in forty years, the first back-to-back surpluses in forty-two years, seven years of declining teen pregnancies and a 30 percent increase in adoptions, and 150,000 young people who had served in AmericCorps. Within a month we would have the longest economic expansion in American history, and by the end of the year we would have three consecutive surpluses for the first time in more than fifty years.”

Again, wow! And why did people hate such a wonderful president? Of course, the real tragedy is Bush came in and decimated everything, rolling back social expansions, international friendships, and financial gains and starting a three TRILLION dollar war in Iraq (I’m reading on a book on this right now) we couldn’t pay for and had to borrow to finance, thus practically bankrupting the country for years to come. Bush needs to be tried for crimes against humanity for what he did to hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq in his deceitful and failed attempts to establish democracy and control oil. If only Clinton were back in office. Obama is better than having the far right Republicans in office, certainly, but he’s no Clinton. Perhaps Hillary will save us in 2016. One can only hope. This was a fascinating book to read and if you’re not too frightened by its size and want to learn about American politics in the 1990s, it’s a great book to read. I strongly recommend it.

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Annabel Park: Replying to My Pro-Gun Friends and the NRA

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 5, 2013

Annabel Park: Replying to My Pro-Gun Friends and the NRA.

This is an excellent, excellent, excellent article in response to gun control and the idiocy of the NRA.

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The Ultimate Guide To The Gun Safety Debate | ThinkProgress

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 1, 2013

The Ultimate Guide To The Gun Safety Debate | ThinkProgress.

This is really a worthwhile article to read if you’re interested in gun control from a progressive perspective….

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