…and now we’ve got TrumpCare, and everything will be alright.

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There a lot of things I didn’t like with ObamaCare. The individual mandate bothered me.

The thing is, healthcare up to that point in 2008 was a disaster. Premiums went up annually, and benefits kept disappearing. I was paying more for a lot less. There were years in the early part of the century where my premiums went up double digit percentage points. Nobody was doing anything about the problem, other than blame everyone else for the runaway costs. Meanwhile, the CEO’s of pharmaceutical companies, along with those in health insurance were recording substantial profits, while also pissing and moaning about the pitiful state of the industry. Someone, somewhere with the guts, knowledge, and the power to do something, about a healthcare system that was out of control, had to appear on scene, had to affect change, otherwise we were doomed. And that’s why I credit then President Obama with laying the foundation for that change. Something had to be done, good, bad, indifferent, a path needed to be plowed forward, a starting point to revamp our Healthcare abyss.

And we were teetering on the brink of that abyss.

I wanted this administration of Repubs and Dems to come to the table and fix what was wrong with Obamacare, find ways to reduce costs to those who whose premiums went up. To keep the best of what the law was, and discard/fix what was not working. Back in ’08, I understood the Republicans view on pushing ObamaCare through, without debate, without conversation.. I also understand their bullshit lies prevented any form of debate or discussion. This TrumpCare crap that the Republicans just passed, well, they passed it with out a lot of discussion, without even knowing what the cost was. Much the same way ObamaCare was passed. The thought ‘hypocrite’ comes to mind.

The bill the house passed is unacceptable. The legislation takes us backward. Even using the most simplistic language, this bill does not benefit the a majority, especially you and me. it’s like a great, bold ‘WTF’ finger in our face. I’m going to pay for this shit, and a few, a few who don’t need it, are seriously going to benefit.

President Trump

downloadTwo days after Trumps election, I’m still reeling. While believing his election a possibility, even a probability, I’m still, simply astounded. Unlike a lot of people, I’ve pretty much remained silent in my thoughts. Politically, I’ve been reserved for the last couple of years. I don’t have a reason for being so, other than I just got tired of the insanity, the stupidity of people attacking our setting President.

It’s hard to point out the world is round to someone who can only see as far as the horizon.

I don’t know what Trump is actually going to bring to the table. I don’t know how Republicans are going to heal their divide with him. I don’t know how Democrats are going to deal with their newly found lack of leadership. I do know none of this bodes well for the Nation.

First and foremost, I’m scared the alt-right will have a seat at the Trumps table. They certainly did in his campaign. What I think is going to happen, is that Trump doesn’t truly understand what he has created in legitimizing the alt-right, and he’s going to find out that he’s unleashed a monster that he can’t control. You and I will suffer for that, and so will American civil liberties. I’m not as concerned with repealing Obamacare, it evidently needs some overhauling. The question is, are they going to change the ACA to benefit American citizens, or Insurance and Pharmaceutical
companies. Last, the dream of a Liberal majority on the Supreme Court is dead. Liberals need to frame their activism around that reality. I’d mention Global warming, but everything we’ve done to address it will probably unravel.

There are some bright spots. This is a great time for progressives to rise to leadership positions within the Democratic party. Bernie Sanders proved that people want to hear that message, want a scent of that future, and are willing to fight for it.

Another bright spot is personal for me, and I hope it is for most men. I’ve learned how some men are just flat out creeps when it comes in their associations with women. Trumps own words add a lot of weight to that accusation, and I hope men everywhere reassess their relationships with the women who are in their lives, be that woman their wife, or their bartender. For me, there’s a bit of shame in my past, not that I was horrible, as much just stupid. An apology is never enough.

I don’t know what the world is going to look like two years down the road. I do know this, people who believe that America will have a new wall to equal China’s great wall, will be disappointed. People who believe that American Companies around the globe will pack up, and return home with high paying jobs, will be disappointed. People who are war wearied, and want an end to perpetual wars are going to be extremely disappointed. People who believe their wages are going to skyrocket, are going to be disappointed. People who believe that people of color, people of different cultures, people of different religions will soon know their place, will be sorely disappointed. People who believe Trump will dissolve the National debt will be disappointed, People who believe Trump will decrease Government, and return power to the states, will be disappointed.

Am I wrong, might be, we’ll see. But I’m predicting more taxes, huge taxes, high unemployment, deregulation, erosion of civil liberties, and get this, gun control.

I actually do hope I’m wrong.

But I haven’t been yet!

Maybe it’s time for people to listen.

Police Town, USA

I believe the only way to begin this piece is with a disclaimer. I live in a small town,  a bedroom community of St. Cloud that has a population of some 50,000 people. The Mississippi is what sepposter1arates us for the most part. Here on my side of the river, there’s a small town feel where everyone knows you and your neighbor. You lose that the minute you cross one of the four  bridges. Here in Sauk Rapids, I’ve met several of the police officers, worked with one, even consider Troy a friend.

Going back a bit further, as a young stud in the mind blowing sixties and seventies, I was influenced, and influenced deeply by the mantra that cops were pigs. I believed that  based on my experience growing up in Brainerd. Some of the officers back in the day  hated us, and by us, I mean anyone that was 18 or younger. Some of the names are remembered with vile. I remember my sister, a Jesus freak at the time, being taken down to the ground for no reason other than walking across a park. I, myself was harassed, arrested and charged several times on bullshit. As the years passed, one of the most hateful, ended up paying a high price for his behavior and another simply grew up, to the point where ten years after the fact, we were able to talk like sensible adults (and yes, I grew up as well).

Today, I have nothing but respect for our police officers. They put up with shit that I couldn’t, I wouldn’t. They are way underpaid, always under public scrutiny and always second guessed and 99.5 percent of them are decent people. Hardworking, with families, like you, like me.

But something is wrong!

Police brutality is spiraling out of control. In 2006, a report was issued by the United Nations Human Rights committee that stated plainly, that after 911, our war on terror  “created a generalized climate of impunity for law enforcement officers, and contributed to the erosion of what few accountability mechanisms exist for civilian control over law enforcement agencies. As a result, police brutality and abuse persist unabated and undeterred across the country.”

I’m fighting to take issue with that report and I’m finding it harder to do so as I do more research. First and foremost there are not a lot of verifiable statistics, believed to be because most instances of police brutality go unreported. I’m also struck by my own observation that since 911, Police forces seem to have become militarized.

The Rise of Technology
With the advent of the surveillance state, the police are finding out, that they too are being watched, even in the security of their own work environments. Officer Michael Hart could tell you more about that. So could Deputy Keller, or Corrections Officer Graham. Than there’s the 16 LA County deputies who thought they were safe in their own private world. Mind you, these are instances that happened in their own police stations, jails and the security of their own.

We too have Cameras.
The average American Joe and Josephine  are finding out quickly that their voice is amplified by pictures, and even more so by with moving pictures. Our smart-phones are providing us with an unprecedented voice we’ve never had before, and we are learning how to use that voice, effectively! We’ve came a long way from Rodney Kingand the California Highway Patrol can attest to that.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know there’s a growing problem and it’s evident, evident as hell.

Government by Fiat

gburgWe, the American people have become something that I am not very proud of. For a Nation that once held it’s individuality, sense of fairness, and Democratic process in high regard, we all should be ashamed. We no longer possess those attributes. Worse, there are many who accuse, who hate, who divide while the rest of us just set back and accept it. We have become a nation that rails against itself, against our government, against ourselves while serenading the overt greed of capitalism. Greed is indeed, good. No matter what camp you fall into, you’re part of the problem. Shout and deride as long, and as hard as you can, or set back quietly, giggle and laugh, or turn your head in shame, we are all the problem.

We are ravaged by war, our lives warped by fear, our thoughts manipulated and we have learned to hate our neighbors, to trust no one who is different. There are those who believe this is exceptional.

I do not.

Many find escapism in their self perceived luxury; the ability to fish, to shop, to drink, to travel. Those luxuries come at a cost, a cost that demands others have to pick up the tab.

Democracy is based in patriotism, patriotism is based in participation. Participation is based in knowledge. Without participation, you cannot be a patriot, you cannot have a democracy. What you have left is rule by Fiat, a government that has no intrinsic value, no substance to produce working infrastructure, no will to secure it’s foreign policy, no need to pursue equality and goodwill. The government has become secondary to the needs of our global Corporations and Military powers. The populace is left in a state of perpetual fear, endless confusion,and mass ignorance of facts. Knowledge is replaced with the singularity of thought provoking headlines, attentions are held by celebrity gossips and social media rumors and misdirection turns our attention from facts.

We have become fat, lazy, intolerant, and stupid. So much so that we look in our mirrors and believe we see the rugged, individual American our fathers and our mothers were.

We are far from that!

American Choices

American ChoiceThe Great American Process

American greatness has been defined in several ways; by our choice in leaders, our thinkers, scientists, by events, by our times, and by our populace, citizens, you and me. Be it Washington, Kennedy, Einstein, World War, Activism or Moon landings, we have been a great nation defined by who we are, and what we can accomplish. Yes, we have had some not very-bright spots along the asphalt path, a couple of things that we’ve been ashamed of, but the thing is, all those things, they are put out there for the world to see. We’ve talked about how fucked up our government can be, experimenting on it’s own citizens, inciting wars and little revolutions for the benefit of business and Democracy alike. Good God, google Operation Northwoods!

Nothing in the last 240 years have threatened the continuance of our Nation. Civil war, Depression, Riots, Activism, giving women the right to vote, the civil rights act; nothing has came close.

And now we find ourselves in a most peculiar position.

A position that requires us to vote for a woman nobody likes, an orange haired buffoon, a reincarnation of Joe McCarthy, a little Cuban boy, a man that should be married to the woman nobody likes, and an old white haired hippy activist socialist. Are you waking up from the nightmare with a loud, WTF?

Me? I kinda like the old hippy trippy guy, he kinda reminds me of… me, but when I was younger, a lot younger, or what I’ll be like when I’m older, much older.

Yep, I’m on the Sanders bandwagon. Hillary’s time has come and gone, and it’s time for this nation to move on, literally. Trump will never win a national election, with his three marriages, gargantuan ego, and his golden locks just ain’t attractive to most normal thinking Americans. Cruz has a lot of baggage, lot of it hasn’t been talked about yet, but most have caught on to the fact that he’s not only free and loose with facts, he’s also full of shit, a lot of shit. Marco, sorry! You have those boyish good looks but that’s just not enough, you actually have to show up at least once in a while to work and it’s kinda evident you’re still thirsty, we’er just not sure what you’re thirsty for. Jeb, like Hillary, you’re time has gone. Do us a favor and ride off into the sunset. Use the same horse your brother rode outta town on. Better, when Hillary’s political career is over, marry her and start a new dynasty, maybe in Kenya. That’s a good place to live and grow. Kenya has also produced at least one great President.

While any one of these above candidates might not destroy our Democracy, might not send our Nation descending into the turmoil of degenerative hell, (well, Trump might) not one of them will make it better.

So? Who’s left?

Bernie will make it better.

The Bern.

Vote for the Bern!

American Angry

Amwp americanangryericans are angry. Black Americans, American Latinos, Native Americans and of course, White Americans. The poor are angry, as are the rich and middle class, right along with second amendment and gun control advocates, pro-lifers, pro-abortionists, Southerners, Northerners, Christians, non-Christians, the Police, the old, the young, the general public, and just about everyone else in America.

We should be!

I am an old, not quite withered man of 58, and I am angry. I am also tired.

In my lifetime, I cannot remember a time when this Nation was not on a war footing. Wars; big, small and even inconsequential have been the thread of our existence.

What does a legacy of war say about this exceptional Nation?

An exceptional nation that honors our solders as great heroes, greater patriots in our media, in our entertainment media. Heroes that have given their lives to protect our freedom, yet our Veterans, with no better phrase to state it, are treated like crap by the Government they protect and by the very public which hails them as heroes. I’m angry about that, angry that the Veteran suicide rate is so fantastically high, almost one every hour, and angrier that few claim to even be aware of that fact. I’m angry that we have a civilian population of young and ageing vets that are damaged.

I’m angry at what we have become as a people, as a nation. I’m angry at what our priorities have become. I’m angry at those, without knowing who they are, who have driven a huge wedge between myself and my friends, and even family members. I’m angry at myself for allowing that wedge to exist, and I’m angrier at those who refuse to comprise, much less listen, and relish driving that wedge deeper into the soul of all Americans for their personal welfare, their personal agenda, and their personal view of what this Nation should look like.

As a white man that once woke uncomfortably up, the only white man in a cell, I get that racism exists. That’s on the individual, that feeling of being uncomfortable wasn’t the result of humans that were born a darker shade than I, it was because of my feelings, my fear, my sense of being uncomfortable.

We no longer ask why we are uncomfortable, we just blame it on minorities, the poor, the mentally ill, anyone who we can claim as a scapegoat. I’m angry that is who we are.

For a Nation of Christians, we fail miserably at being good stewards of our earth, good keepers of our brothers, in being compassionate of our judgement of others. Indeed, religion as a whole has become a divisive wedge, not bringing people together in brotherhood, but instead driving people apart, in horrible, terrible ways. I’m angry at what Christianity has become, fractured, divisive, political, fearful, and even, hateful. What was once a deeply personal experience has become fodder for those who wish to propagate their beliefs, interpreting the aged words of God as their own, personal belief system.

Indeed, we do not celebrate age, wisdom and experience in this Nation, we shutter our elders away in retirement communities, assisted living and nursing homes, and most visit their mother or father on a holiday or birthday. Gone is the generational connection of having your elder living in your basement, or nearby. Gone is the honor of passing in your own home, your own bed. Gone is the tradition of inheritance, because the state, the government takes everything to pay for your parents lives lived in retirement. They will takes yours as well.

Just as we fear diversity, just as we do not celebrate our elderly, we fear and we ignore the mentally handicapped. They are shunned, outcasts and forced to live with a stigma that you not only don’t understand, but don’t want to understand.

Neither Christian, American, much less humanistic.

I was taught we take care of our own, clearly we do not.

Not only do we take care of our own, we’re not good stewards of our home, a living, breathing ecosystem in the cold darkness of space. While we’ve raised awareness, raising that awareness doesn’t do much if major corporations can continue to spill billions of oil into our oceans without serious consequence, if game and fishing industries can continue to hunt and fish our companion species into extinction, if shipping can continue to create a huge garbage dump of our oceans, all without serious consequence. Without even tagging the fact of global warming, we’re destroying our planet. Add in the dire warnings of climate change, our future looks dismal.

All of us have reasons to be angry. We live our lives in the midst of violence. Be it from our police, a mass shooting, a riot, a single murder or on the screen of our television, we almost relish it for the entertainment it brings us, until it is our son, our daughter, whose corpse we are invited to identify. We don’t even have the intelligence, the compassion, the honor or gall to even address the issue much less talk about it unless we’re blaming our neighbor for the violence. It’s always someone else’s fault.

I’m also angry that I bought into a lie my father preached to me as a young son. Work hard, be honest and you’ll find success. I don’t measure success by living paycheck to paycheck at 58. Yes, I made some bad decisions, and I take ownership, but I’ve held down a job since I was eleven. My wife, since finishing nursing school. We’ve both worked hard, decent jobs. I had almost 20 years with my last employer, and Theresa has 25 with hers. Never been poor, but this is the thing, when we get a paycheck, it’s gone, mostly to bills, groceries and benefits. We’re not poor, but we’re certainly aren’t going to have the golden years we once thought we would. Yea, I’m angry about that. Angry that I’m part of that vanishing, working class American.

There is a lot to be angry about. We are not the exceptional Nation that you believe we are. Yes, we might be full of piss and vinegar, we might beat our chests in triumph, we might bleed red, white, and blue but none of that makes us exceptional to anyone else, except those doing the shouting how great we are.

Greatness is born of respect, and we lost that when we made the collective, National decision that to be feared is exceptional, that to be respected is to be minimal.

There’s a lot to be angry about. A lot left unsaid.

robpaxtons website

Come What May, May be Unexpected.

ambabyNo American alive will argue that we live in strange times, a time stream where everything seems upside down and turned around. There are of course those who have their foundation in order, who have a clear and concise understanding of all things and for the most part, they are those who are the ignorant and uncaring of what is happening in their neighborhood. They have excuses, and a reason, for every black person that is murdered by a peace officer, every lie told by a politician, every revision in our history, every mass shooting, terrorist attack or corporate misdeed. For them, they understand the social upheaval, their understanding layered in a world long gone, never to be again, and yet they cling to their deteriorating hope that maybe, just maybe.

One thing is for certain, we are in the midst of social upheaval across the ethical, moral and social spectrum. No one is going to be unscathed, and that’s not necessarily a horrible thing. Your world should be turned upside down, inside out these days. You should be questioning our police, our politicians, the history revisionists and our business leaders. We should be holding them revaccountable, accountable to the same extent I am. The only people who are not are those who have the answers, who blame all the Nations ills on our President, who live precariously in the fifties.

I could argue that social upheaval is a normal cycle of any country, any nation. That people questioning everything, every now and then, is needed for personal growth and growing social consciousness. That’s certainly true of us. Our Revolutionary war, Civil war, the Depression, the Sixties all led to a social change, toward a different and better Nation than we were the day before.

Today, the climate is a bit different, with a lot more intangibles, and like you, I’m not sure I understand exactly what is happening. One foreboding truth is clear though, and that is we live in an immediate age.  So immediate, that when a tragedy happens, it’s national in an instant. And in that instant, opinions are formed based on sparse facts. Opinions that are hard to change. People are quick to their own facts, reinforced by a collective mind, without common thought, bought together only by a common agenda. You and I, are paying for that. Technology that has given us Chromecast and Netflix has also given us an outspoken, class of idiots, that we can’t shut up.

Technology has also given us truth. For the first time, we can witness the actual killing of a young American child for what it was, murder. For the first time, we can bring our collective disgust to the killing of a Zimbabwean national treasure. For the first time, a politician cannot say, ‘I didn’t say that’. For the first time, information on any given topic is available for research. For the first time, what BP does in the gulf, we know. For the first time, when Isis beheads a captive, we can actually watch it, and toss our stomach.

In a very real sense, we live in a world of extremes. Of intelligent discourse and fantastical conversation happening at the same time, often intertwined together on Facebook or Twitter, and beaveroften both. Some are not able to distinguish between the intelligent conversation and simple stupidity, finding it easier to just embrace the latter rather than formulate an articulated response. It is usually they who still live in the halcyon days of the black and white Beaver. For the rest of us, we get it. We understand our Nation is changing, and the only question is, where are we going to end up a decade from now?

My guess, unexpected country.

The Violence of Birth

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The Death Special

 

On a cool spring morning the day after Easter, the sun rose over a a makeshift city of white canvas tents that were the homes of 1200 striking mine workers, their wives and their children. Beneath the rough wood floors of the tents, men had dug pits into which they and their families could quickly jump, seeking safety when random shots were fired into their canvass homes by Colorado Fuel & Irons (CFI) company guards. These same guards, with CFI knowledge had also converted a sedan into an armored vehicle with a mounted M1895 machine gun, appropriately named the Death Special, and was used on a daily basis to terrorize the striking workers and their families along with the random sniper shootings.

Before the sun set that cool Spring day, the leaders of the strike would be found dead, shot in the back, the camp razed, all the tents burned to the ground. Among the brutality, two women and eleven children were dead, found huddled together, having suffocated in a shallow pit. Bodies were left lying for days as an example to other would be strikers.

Their grievances:

Recognition of the union as bargaining agent

An increase in tonnage rates (equivalent to a 10% wage increase)

Enforcement of the eight-hour work day law

Payment for “dead work” (laying track, timbering, handling impurities, etc.)

Weight-checkmen elected by the workers (to keep company weightmen honest)

The right to use any store, and choose their boarding houses and doctors

Strict enforcement of Colorado’s laws (such as mine safety rules, abolition of scrip), and an end to the company guard system

Promptly at 11 am on July 17th under the hot Arizona sun, 23 cattle cars whose floors were covered in several inches of manure, arrived in Bisbee and 1300 men were loaded, given no food, very little water, and under armed guard were routed to Hermanas, New Mexico, a trip of 12 hours on a 90 degree day. Kicked out of the cattle cars, the 1300 were given no food, no water, nothing except a dire warning to never return to Bisbee again.

Their crime, a peaceful and legal strike.

In September of 1897, 19 unarmed men were shot dead by the Luzerne County Sheriff and his men near Hazleton Pennsylvania for participating in a legal, peaceful strike.

In 1911, 146 garment workers died in what is known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. These women died not only because of unsafe and hazardous working conditions but also because they were unable to leave

The Aftermath
The Aftermath

the building when the fire broke out. Doors had been chained and locked to keep the women working.

While the Ludlow Massacre, the Bisbee Deportation, the Luzerne massacre and the Triangle fire all happened over a hundred years ago, these events should never be far from our collective memory. These humiliations, these tragedies forced upon everyday, hardworking people should always be remembered as the foundation for every Union member. People suffered, people died, their children died under the most horrible abuses of the rich and privileged so that today I have an eight hour work day, the right to shop where and when I want, the right to visit a doctor of my choice, the right to to a safe and secure work environment and to be paid a fair wage.

I do not forget why I am Union!

It would be an easy argument for one to make that these were the result of the times, that they were the result of the fledging Union movement and the abuses should have been expected, given the times. That abuses and tragedies such as these could never happen in the modern era. My rebuttal would be be a simple word, ‘Bullshit’. The murders and injustices happened not because of the tenttime of day but because of human nature. Human nature has not changed, federal intervention has.

Indeed, nothing really changes.

I say to you, that if you believe all the benefits you have today are the result of the goodwill of your employer, you are wrong.

I say to you, that if you believe your employer has your best interest at heart, you are wrong.

I say to you, that if you believe Unions have served their purpose and their time has passed, we will again revisit the days of deportation, murder and humiliation.

If you do not understand this, than Patria Valdez and her three young children died for nothing.

 

Why not check out my website robpaxton.me and my Youtube Channel as well.

The Divisiveness of being Independent

download (2)There’s a special, creepy kind of shit going on here in America. The kind of crap we all know is happening but just can’t quite put our finger on the stink, can’t quite describe the shit that’s happening, but we all know it’s on, and on big time!

I call it out as Independent Divisiveness!

This here is a macho thing, an American thing, and we’re all guilty of it, men and women alike! Independent Divisiveness, or ID is rooted, and rooted strong and deep, in the belief that we Americans are tough and independent old cusses. A belief that goes back to the pioneering and cowboy days of our mommas and papas.

It’s a belief that says, out here on the prairie, ‘I gotta do it myself’.download4

Not only a belief, ID is attitude, a good honest attitude, and it made for surviving harsh times, failed crops and Indian raids. The rawness of the land forced that unforgiving attitude of self reliance simply because the alternative was failure, and failure often meant death, by arrow, by starvation, by weather, take your pick.

Our forefathers and mothers needed to be tough shits to survive! It’s just that simple. Thing is, back in the day, out alone on the grasslands or trapping along the Colorado river, you didn’t have to listen to anyone else’s point of view. There was only one that mattered.

So, for any American family that’s been in this nation for more than a hundred years, it’s culturally embedded in you that you’re an independent old sort, a wily old cuss hell bent on your independence.

And there is nothing wrong with being independent, and valuing your history. I cherish mine.

This here is where it gets creepy. Has that independent thing made you a divisive, intolerant individual? So much so that you don’t need facts, hell, won’t even listen to ’em, cuz you just know better. Or worse…,

are you even all that independent?

Is your mind made up based on information, facts and figures, given to you by others? Would you even consider that those facts and figures might be in the wrong, that you might be wrong?

images2See where I’m going? How our independent streak might lead to some damn ignorance and divisive behavior?

Thing is, most of you have never known hunger, cold and even when a natural disaster comes along, your suffering is limited. That’s the nation our forbearer’s suffered for, toughened up for. That’s why they were unbending, strong as that Oak in your front yard, with your grandpas and grandmas initials carved out in the bark. A testament to their lives. Lives you should cherish.

You don’t live on that windswept prairie and you’re not  trapping the river to insure your survivability, you can afford to bend, to listen. That’s what our ancestors gave us, that’s what they fought for. They proved it in our civil war,download (1) saying it loudly, with conviction.

All I’m asking, is think just how independent you really are when it comes to weighing in on what’s happening here in America? And maybe asking yourself if that independence might be better labeled as intolerance. Intolerance not because you’re ignorant, but because you’re too damned stubborn to stop and really think. That’s the crap that stinks and it is creepy given our history of self reliance.