RJ's Corner

The President Won’t Negotiate……

I see the Republican leadership, if you really want to call it that, is now claiming that the reason for the shutdown is that the president won’t negotiate with them.  I’m not sure how much schooling the new Tea Party members got when they entered the house in 1012 but my lessons in government operations tell me that it is the House leadership, of course controlled by the GOP, that won’t negotiate.

Lets stop here and have a little lesson in how our congress is supposed to operate in regards to its budget process.

Budget Process

As shown in the above table the annual federal budget process is started with the president submitting his budget to Congress in February and ends with the final budget put in place for the new fiscal year starting on October 1. This has been the way it occurs for years and years.  That it until recently and especially this time around.  Surprisingly almost everything on this list has happened to one degree or another up to the June 15 item.  Both houses of Congress submitted their budget resolutions pretty much as scheduled.

What didn’t happen is the reconciliation process between the Senate and House budgets. That is the time when the House and the Senate appoint members to work out the differences between the two resolutions. It seems that the House leadership simply refused to start the reconciliation process!  So when it comes to the root cause of who caused this shutdown it is the Republicans in the House. They stopped the process in mid-stream and have refused to start it up again.

I understand the those yahoos in the House are trying everything possible to spin their stories. Spin seems to be the only product to come out of them in recent years.  Each spends more time trying to blame the other for the gridlock. If they simply got down and met their responsibilities as members of our government they could achieve that with much less effort than they are spending now.

I know I sound like a parrot on this blog but it is time to send those obstructionist in Washington home to get a real job and put someone in there that just might be committed to doing the people’s business in our nation’s capital.

Making Sure People Don’t Have Health Insurance…

ObamacareR “This is an interesting thing to ponder,” he said of his detractors. “That your top agenda is making sure that 20 million people don’t have health insurance and you’d be willing to shut down the government and potentially default — for the first time in United States history — because it bothers you so much.”

SOURCE: At Black Caucus Dinner, Obama Vows to Continue ‘March’ on Gun Control, Healthcare – ABC News.

The logic currently used by the Republican party in opposing Obamacare bothers me much.  I really want to believe that my conservative friends out there actually care about their brothers and sisters. Surely they are not as their current political leaders portray themselves?

Their total opposition to Obamacare would not trouble me as much if they actually presented an alternative to insuring the people who can so easily be bankrupted by health issues. If they said “We oppose Obamacare and here is the what we would use to replace it” I would certainly be willing to listen to their arguments. But instead they simply want to do away with the law and it already shown benefits.

It greatly bothers me that all they want to do is to get rid of the current law and let everyone fend for themselves against “pre-existing conditions” and such. Instead of showing any compassion for others, certainly including “the least of these” they seem to have not compassion at all!

I just wish someone could explain this to me…..

Today (October 4), Christians around the world remember one of the great heroes of our faith, and the Pope’s namesake – Francis of Assisi. But Francesco Bernadone (Francis of Assisi), who died on October 3, 1226 must be… Read More

About St. Francis , Very Interesting Person…

No Shame….

No Shame

I am old enough to remember when another small group of radical wing nuts took over control of the GOP. In the 1950s they ran around accusing anyone they disagreed with politically of being a communist. They held hours of useless hearing. The four words above finally took them down. Enough Republicans  finally gathered the courage to took back control of their party.

I am hoping for the same result this time around. When a small faction of the GOP can get the others to vote more than forty times to take away affordable healthcare to 30 million of our citizens, something needs to change.  Will they allow this small group of radicals who seem to truly hate government to allow us to default as a nation.  The jury is still out on that premise.

I pray that the majority in the GOP, even if they are ever so slight a majority, gather up the guts to finally tell theirTea Party member to piss off as the British say. Have they no shame?  I’m sure all those up on Mount Rushmore, especially Mr. Lincoln who was the founder of the Republican party, are turning over in their graves seeing what we have allowed a slight minority to get away with. I have heard that all the Tea Party nuts represent no more than 15% of the people of this nation.  How sad is it to see what they have managed to do and even worse to see what they might do in a few weeks with the debt ceiling…..

“If I was a President and wanted something I would claim I didn’t want it. For Congress has not given any President anything he wanted in the last 10 years. Be against anything and then he is sure… Read More

Wanting Something…

A Slight Majority….

Slight Majority

It is somewhat encouraging to see that a slight majority of the Republicans want to get the government running again and are not obsessed with denying 30 million of our citizens affordable health care.

When are you going to get enough guts to finally take back control from those wing nuts who have kidnapped your party???????   Better sooner than later.  A good first start would be to put a Speaker of the House in their that has an ounce of guts to stand up to those who are destroying the GOP…..

Back Door Universal Healthcare…

Medicaid Expansion 2023

Anyone who has read some of my posts know that I am an advocate for universal single-payer healthcare.  After all, it is very efficient and cost containing system used in much of the rest of the world.  Many of our citizens in the U.S. including this one are currently on a single payer system known as Medicare. After being on it for two years now I can attest that I have found it to be much better than the private insurance mode I fought with for so many years prior. Other citizens also on a single-payer system are those on Medicaid and with military healthcare systems. This makes up about 40% of the current population. The other 60% are on various employer or private systems or no insurance at all.

But to those so adamantly against Obamacare, which ended up not even be close to single-payer all of these systems are to be eliminated. Just why they believe that I really don’t know. They say those systems are socialist but why is that a bad thing?  Most of the rest of the world, at least those who no longer have the mammoth healthcare runaway costs implemented single payer systems years ago and statistically most in those countries actually live longer than we do.

When the pollsters show that 52% of the people are against Obamacare what they don’t show is that there is a significant number of those people who are like me and don’t really like Obamacare because it doesn’t go far enough. There are also a large portion in the polls who readily admit that they actually know practically nothing about Obamacare and are only parroting what their favorite talking-head has told them. They are against it because their party is against it.  So much for free-thinkers among the GOP! :)  Because Obamacare is such a piecemeal piece of legislation it will have to be pretty greatly changed in the future in order to be cost-effective.

Getting back to the original thoughts for this post, it seems if we are patient enough that we will eventually get to a single payer system. With all us baby boomers retiring and so many others at the other end of the spectrum becoming eligible for Medicaid the population that is in these two systems will continue to grow.  and then of course with our incessant increases in military spending that system will also expand. We might eventually work our way into a single payer system via the back door.

Wouldn’t that be something?

The Deadliest Month….

ExecutionsOctober is America’s Deadliest Month of 2013

Unless we pray and work to change things, 8 people are set to be killed in October.

Marshall Gore on October 1 in Florida – KILLED LAST NIGHT BY THE STATE OF FLORIDA

Michael Yowell on October 9 in Texas

Edward Schad on October 9 in Arizona

William Happ on October 15 in Florida

Larry Hatten on October 16 in Texas

Allen Nicklasson on October 23 in Missouri

Robert Jones on October 23 in Arizona and

Arthur Brown on October 29 in Texas


SOURCE: Shane Claiborne: October Executions | Red Letter Christians

Since this data directly relates to this mornings post I though I would include in a afternoon post.

Let me say up front that like Shane Claiborne who authored the above post I am pro-life.  That means I value life before it is born and after. Unlike many of my conservative friends who are only against abortion, Shane and I and millions of others don’t think that any government or any earthly body should decide who should live and who should die. That decision must be left up to God and God alone.

It is interesting to note that five of the eight executions that are scheduled this month are from Texas and Florida. Another rouge State, namely Arizona, accounts for two of the other three.  Why these three States execute several more people than the other forty-eight combined?  What is in the mentality that causes this to happen.  I would really like to know? Are the people of those States aligned with their leaders in government  in this regard and if they aren’t then why do they continue to elect them to office?

I mourn all life that is taken at the hands of men and that certainly included the victims of the above group but execution is not justice it is pure and simple revenge and the Almighty made it clear that vengeance belongs to him not us.

Being Poor In Texas or Florida…..

Uninsured Rates

It is a fact that when you look at Texas and Florida they are first in many areas. They are the execution capitals of the world. They do the most to inhibit the vote. They are two of the most radically conservative States.  But, now I learn that they  also have the highest uninsured rates in the country.

It seems that Texas and Florida just don’t like poor people very much. They have the highest uninsured rates and they are determined to remain so by not producing a Statewide exchange.  That fact does not really surprise me at all as they are so adamantly against anything that is associated with Democrats.  The folks who they choose to run their states live up to the phrase “biting off your nose to spite your face”. After the massive plant explosion recently in Texas I know they don’t do much to protect their citizens in any regard. Even though these State are supposedly the heart of the bible belt the “least of these” seem to mean nothing to them.

I really want to believe that the folks in these two States are caring and loving individuals but from what I can glean from recent events that just doesn’t seem to be the case. I hate writing off entire groups of people. I would love to hear some stories about how these folks live up to the title of being a caring  and compassionate with those outside their immediate families.

“Most people and actors appearing on the stage have some writer to write their material. . . . Congress is good enough for me. They have been writing my material for years.” – Will Rogers, 8 June 1924… Read More

Mine Too…..

Swiss, U.S. reach deal on outing tax evaders

Pile of MoneyThe U.S. government and Switzerland have reached an agreement that could expose Americans who have used Swiss banks to avoid paying taxes….

The crackdown began in 2009 after a whistleblower notified U.S. authorities that UBS, the largest Swiss bank, was enabling Americans to evade taxes.

UBS settled the case later that year. It turned over account records on 4,500 U.S. customers and paid a $780 million fine

SOURCE:  Swiss, U.S. reach deal on outing tax evaders – CBS News.

I have absolutely no sympathy for those caught trying to hide their wealth in swiss banks in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.  It is about time that the Swiss were held accountable for their part in this activity. I certainly celebrate those who through their own initiatives have become wealthy in the country. For the most part they deserve to have the fruits of their labor. But as the bible says for whom much is given much is expected.

Prior to the establishment of personal income taxes in 1913 (yes, just a hundred years ago) almost all the money needed to run our government in doing the people’s business came from inheritance taxes and import taxes. I wonder what this country would look like today if that means of funding had continued? I kind of think we would probably be  better off than what we are now.  Instead of taxing those who have little or no discretionary income why not depend on wealth returning to where it came from after someone dies?

Getting back to the point of the post, it seems that the more money someone has just increases their fixation on getting more and more and paying out less and less. They let money become the idol of their lives. In that regard  the sickness is much worse than the cure. It does my heart good to see that those who try to hide their wealth in order to avoid taxes are getting caught more frequently today thanks to the revised Swiss practices. But I’m sure there are many more than the 4,500 who were turned over. Probably orders of magnitude more…..

Why have so many Christians forgotten how to love? Have we missed much of the point of Jesus because of our obsession with Heaven and Hell? We’re forever arguing, theologizing, systematizing and evangelizing–all with the agenda to get… Read More

Love Without Agenda….

It’s All About Empathy….

On my self description to the right here I claim to be a passionate altruist. I want to expand on that statement and also ponder those who seem to have an opposite view of the world. First let’s look at a couple of definitions:

Altruism — the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others

Empathy —  understanding and entering into another’s feelings

These two descriptions are a major part of my being.  I unashamedly shed  tears when I witness those who are struggling through life with one affliction or another.  While mine has not been nearly as severe as others I can most often put myself into their shoes and understand their struggles.  The second thing that is paramount to my being is my belief that Jesus Christ came to earth to teach me how to have life and have it to its fullest.  Also to the right I claim to be a “follower of Jesus”. That is I am totally convinced that he intends us to follow his examples and teaching while we are on this earth. I’m not sure which came first, they both appear to be part of my nature.

When others are concentrating on celebrities, sports jocks, or others of authority or wealth I am watching waiters, manual laborers, especially those trapped in a minimum wage job.  While others rail against all those “takers” out there I am doing what I can to help those in need. Yes, I recognize that a small minority of people who are on various public welfare roles are gaming the system to get something they don’t need or deserve but I will never be willing to deny help to all the ones who truly need it in order to prevent those few from taking advantage of the system.

I see so many self-proclaimed Christians out there that let their fear control their behavior in this regard. But then again I also see far too many who focus on God’s supposed wrath rather than his love.  I see God loving every being that he created and wanting all to eventually come to him while others see a god who is watching them every second to find an excuse for condemning them to an eternity of pain and extreme suffering.  I guess our worldviews are dictated by which man-made version of God we believe in.  As for me I will alway live in the shadow of a loving God not in fear of a god of wrath and vengeance .

Concern for others, hopefully always above self but aware that that is not always the case, and understanding another’s feelings is my driving force in life. I could just not live in that other worldview of fear and hatred especially when it comes to my spiritual self.  I will try to understand that those who follow the opposite tract are mostly living in fear instead of love. I will always try to pray that they someday will understand that and give themselves over to the light that is within all of us….

This was a very deep and emotional post for me but for some reason I needed to say it….

LOL Moment….

Medicare CardJust a quick note to say I just watched a video of a town hall meeting opposing Obamacare. There was an elderly lady who ranted on and on about it. She was totally convinced that if we allow it to be implemented that it would certainly cause the downfall of the entire country.  She finished with the following statement. “I realize that Obamacare does not directly affect me but I just want to make sure that we keep the government out of my Medicare!!”

They didn’t show if anyone had bothered to tell her that Medicare is a single payer system run exclusively by the government. Of course this just goes to show how so many on the radical right and particularly Fox News have distorted the reality of the Affordable Care Act.

I also reviewed some of the things that happened in 1965 when Medicare was enacted.  It is amazing to see the similarities with today. Most Republicans were, like today, adamantly against that too.

No Dignity…

politician“There is very little dignity, very little sportsmanship, or very little anything in politics, only get the job and hold it.” – Will Rogers, 2 November 1932

Many of the original founders of our country were hesitant volunteers in that nation building process. They say that all the time that George Washington spent in New York, which was the nation’s capital at that time, were spent dreaming about his Virginia home and wishing he was there. Jefferson and Madison were much the same. Many of the great leaders since that time have also been reluctant to serve.

I don’t know exactly when it happened that being a politician became a full time job. I guess I will have to put that on my never ending to-do list to find out but according to the quote above it must have been before Will’s time. I am coming to believe that about the only way to get anything done in that stagnant city of Washington is to enforce some pretty strong term-limits. There doesn’t seem to be any other way to get many of those folks to go home. The only other way I can see if for our judicial system to dig into shutting down the gerrymandering practices that have assured an almost life time appointment for most of the yahoos in the House of Representatives. I am a dreamer but I really don’t see either of these things happening anytime soon.

Another way we could image to get them out is to educate the voters about the issues and hand and who is doing what about them. The reason the incumbents seem to get re-elected so much is that their names are about the only ones they know when they enter the voting booth so that is the button they push. Thomas Jefferson said a democracy stands only on an informed electorate.  If that is really the case we are in serious trouble right now.

We have got to find a way to convince the hesitant volunteer to once again get involved in politics. He would serve his time and then go home so that the next person can try his/her hand. Yes, I realize that I am a hopeless dreamer here.

Jesus… One of “Those” People….

  HomelessWhat do we do as Christians when confronted with these harsh realities? The Bible urges us to “remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself!” (Hebrews 13:3).  Jesus knew what it was like to have a loved one incarcerated. His cousin, John the Baptist, was falsely accused and arrested (and eventually executed).  Perhaps this is why Jesus, in Matthew 25, tells his disciples “when I was in prison, you visited me.”  

As a victim of false imprisonment and injustice, Jesus entered into solidarity with the incarcerated and exposed the flawed justice system of his day.  Of all people, Christians should be the most skeptical of prisons.  A simple survey of prisons in the Bible will reveal that prisons were mainly used to oppress minorities, exploit the poor, and silence the prophets.  And the prison system today continues to do so.

SOURCE:  Shawn Casselberry: Children of the New Jim Crow | Red Letter Christians.

One of my favorite Christians and author is Shane Claiborne. Several years ago he established and still lives in a strong Christian community in a very poor neighborhood  in Philadelphia. He definitely takes the words of Jesus to heart both physically and mentally.  He also has a very unique sense of humor which makes his books and writing very appealing to me.  One of his books entitled Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals is much in the line with the words above.

Lets face it if Jesus were around today he would very likely be shunned by almost everyone including, and maybe even especially, the current Christian religious establishment and especially the conservative evangelical variety. He would be thoroughly trashed by the likes of Fox News Channel as being one of those dying heart liberals who care too much for those lazy people who won’t lift themselves up by their bootstraps. He would simply be too radical for most in those groups. He would be called one of “those” people.  You know what I mean.  This simple but obvious fact saddens me greatly. When did taking care of the poor and visiting prisoners go out of style with many of my conservative friends?

Less Power….

JeffersonI wish President Bush and many of those presidents before him had taken the words of Jefferson to heart before they did many of the things they did.  I know it is against basic human nature to not utilize the power you control. Just look at all those yahoos in congress to see an example of abused power.

I have read quite extensively on Jefferson so I know the words above were at the heart of his nature.

OOPS –  I guess I was in too much a hurry to get this weekend quote out and forgot to add the quote!!!   Sorry about that.  Can’t find it now. But isn’t that a nice life size bronze of Jefferson at the visitors center outside Monticello. :)

5 Best Back-to-School Cars???

school busAnother academic year has begun, and if you (or your child) need a good set of wheels for college or high school, here’s a look at Kelley Blue Book’s five top picks for Best 2013 Back-to-School Cars.

KBB editors compiled the list by looking at all available 2013 and ’14 models starting at $20,000 or less, then choosing the cars they believe offer the best combinations of style, safety and other qualities key to young drivers. SOURCE:  

5 Best Back-to-School Cars to Buy in 2013: Fidelity.

And here I thought everyone was struggling to put their kids through college and paying off all the student loans. To add a car to that mix seems less than frugal to me let alone all the insurance, gas, and maintenance involved.  I must say that I didn’t have my own car until after I graduated from college. I bought, or I guess I should say with my diploma in hand I got a loan to buy a 1970 Mustang muscle car. I wore it out after two years but that is just how it was in those days. Cars were not nearly as reliable as they are now. I can’t understand why so many plunk down $20,000 or more to get one of those junkers today?  But here I am as usual getting off topic so let’s get back to the matter at hand.

When I was in high school I don’t think more than about 10% of the kids who were juniors or seniors had their own cars and only a small handful drove them to school. They borrowed dad’s car for their dates during those years.  The costs to insure a teenager was just too prohibitive let alone the cost of the car.  In college freshmen and sophomores were not even allowed to have cars on campus, that is unless you commuted from home daily.  Not that many juniors or seniors had cars either. Now it seems when I visited my alma mater all of the green space that used to be around campus is now parking lots.

I don’t know when cars became a necessity for high school kids? I know they all have football and baseball and numerous other after school activities but as I see in our neighborhood they usually provide bus services for those events as they did in my days. Ok, I will step off my “old person” stool now…

Roadtrip Nation…

Roadtrip NationRoadtrip Nation is a public television series and grassroots movement that encourages young people to hit the road in search of interviews with leaders who have defined their own distinct routes through life.

The search for eclectic individuals who have resisted pressures to conform and who have become successful by following their own paths is what drives Roadtrip Nation. This remarkable movement documents these journeys of self-discovery in a free-spirited, adventurous series that encourages people all across the globe to move outside their comfort zones and explore the world

SOURCE:  Roadtrip Nation | PBS.

I recently discovered a very eye-opening TV show on PBS called “Roadtrip Nation“. It is basically about how the producers gave groups of three teens a wildly colored bus and a camera crew to go with it. The kids were to travel America to seek out those who might inspire them. Looking back at my life I would have given almost anything to have had an opportunity such at this.

Too many of us settle for the safe and easy way through life. We simply didn’t take the time to try to discover who we really were or what is particular talents or passions we might have. The teenage years are often filled with confusion and sometimes turmoil. I was no exception. Hormones are peaking and  emotions are most likely out of balance which makes these type of life decisions even more difficult. As I have mentioned before, I went to a very small rural high school and my guidance counselor who was the FFA teacher thought everyone should be a farmer.  It made his job easier but the corresponding lack of leadership stifled my creative future. I just didn’t know the possibilities that could have been before me.

The people visited by these kids range from the successful Wall Street guy to  MIT scientists, to many artists who deem money just not important to them. I have since discovered that this series is in its twelfth season. I wonder how popular it is with the teens today. Do any of the guidance counselors around know of it? Even though these kind of insights into life are too late for me they still fascinate me. I hope there are many kids out there that watch Roadtrip Nation. It just might spur a future scientist, author, or many others…

Egypt No Longer Matters

“They kept saying, ‘What do you think of the Muslim Brotherhood? What are the Egyptian military officers telling you about [Mohamed] Morsi?’” the general recalled, shaking his head in frustration. “I told them, ‘We had our own Arab Spring, now we have a democratic government, we have acute poverty, civil wars and al-Qaeda. Can you please stop talking about Egypt and start talking about Yemen?’”

As for Egypt, it seems now that its main relevance in regional and global affairs is as a potential source of trouble. Its combination of instability, corruption and ineptitude makes Egypt fertile soil for radicalism and Islamist militancy. And Washington should treat it as such. It should stop pretending Egypt is an important player in Arab affairs, and pay more attention to countries that are.

It should stop giving the generals $1.5 billion a year. That money is better spent on countries where the democratic experiment still has a chance of success. Instead, the U.S. should prepare for the humanitarian crises that will inevitably accompany continued military brutality and economic misery. And it should be alert for the growth of a new al-Qaeda franchise on the Nile.

SOURCE: Viewpoint: Egypt No Longer Matters | TIME.com.

For as long as I can remember we have been giving Egypt billions of dollars worth of aid and war making machinery every year. Everyone says it is because they are our main allies in the Middle East. Never mind that Bin Ladin and the majority of the 911 terrorists were citizens of that country.  Never mind that they are really no more stable than any other country in that region of the world.  We give them billions because they let us use their land to prepare to bomb other countries in that part of the world.

Now that Egypt has overthrown their one year experiment in democracy and are now controlled, as is typical for the region, by the military establishment. Those who are avowed enemies of the U.S. have pretty much taken up residence there. I wonder if we will be giving them their annual stipend next year?  If we do will it  be coming back to us via a terrorist attack?

We need to just get used to the fact that no country in that part of the world is stable enough to be called a trustworthy ally. If we could only get rid of our stupid dependence on their oil we could step back and let them go at each other like we do in so many other parts of the world and like they have already been doing for a century or more. The instability and our meddling in it is the primary reason so many there seem to hate us.  It just  amazes me that our government never seems to learn this simple lesson…..


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