OK, it goes without saying that the lion's share of citizens never cracked the healthcare bill when it was introduced. And at over 1,000 pages, why would they? (If it doesn't have magical wizards or rich sex addicts in it most folks won't read it.)
That means that the entire healthcare brouhaha was stoked and made to flame by those with a vested interest in "interpreting" it for their constituents.
First, it was tagged "Obamacare" so as to poke the emotional hemmies of those who don't like him to begin with. Then it was twisted and warped so as to engender the most violent emotional reactions.
Today, with the Supreme Court upholding the law, emails will begin to fly, the rhetoric will again heat up warping everything in its path, and Facebook friends will, well, not be friends anymore.
Boo hoo on that last one. Not.
Here's the basics for you - distilled down, made easy - so you have some cursory knowledge of what is actually going on...
1. As we covered last week, the law does NOT contain some scary tax on every real estate transaction. Pure bullshit thought up and forwarded around to gin up more fear and hate. Shame on you if you are stupid enough to forward without research. Yes, I said STUPID. In 2012 you have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips - use it. And don't be afraid of it, evenif it disrupts your long running inner narrative. Your long running inner narative could very well BE WRONG.
2. You will NOT be forced to buy health insurance. It will still be your choice to NOT buy it. But if you choose to not have it, you will pay a penalty at tax time. (Each taxpayer will receive a W-2 type statement proving insurance.) Think of it along the lines as a user tax, only this is a non-user tax. The penalty is roughly $95 the first year, going up a bit each subsequent year. And yes, there is an income based exemption for those who simply cannot afford coverage.
3. Your children may stay on your insurance till age 26. Personally, with three children, that makes Rudy and I very happy.
4. You may not be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. (That one speaks for itself.)
5. Women may not be charged more for insurance than men. (My boobs should cost no more to insure than his testicles or prostate.)
6. The law goes into effect in 2014. With the initial wave of insurance purchases, costs should then begin to come down based on the competition between insurers.
Affordable, accessible healthcare for all is a GOOD thing. Despite what Rupert Murdoch or any other anti-President Obama overlord-with-an-axe-to-grind may tell you.
A part of me is ashamed for even sparing an eyeroll for this. After all, Texas lawmakers have repeatedly proven themselves to be some of the most idiotic, craven, low effort thinkers on the political landscape.
From rewriting history textbooks so as to better reflect THEIR version of this nation's founding and its leaders - "Eff reality, we don't need no stinkin' reality" - to being a state that actually had a law on the books making it illegal to purchase a dildo (I'm not kidding) - Texas is not exactly the land of the free thinker or the home of the brave forward thinkers.
Now, if given their way, the Texas GOP will make sure we are not the land of critical thinkers either.
When the Republican delegates met earlier this month to approve their agenda, many sections stood out as eyeroll worthy.
Take the "Educating Our Children" portion. Ahh yes, let's bring back corporal punishment because I personally want someone else making the call as to when to hit my child. Sorry, asshats, NOT. I don't hit my children, and I'll be goddamned if YOU are going to appoint yourselves judge, jury, and executioner.
If YOU spank, hit, belt your child - that's YOUR business. And we have had that debate here before. I believe it is not necessary, and have proof of that in three high achieving, respectful young ladies. It takes creativity, patience, and most of all, consistency and follow through. Three things sadly lacking when a parent makes the kneejerk reach for the belt around their waist.
(Sorry, but if you make a threat and then don't follow through? You deserve what's coming your way in the form of a child who doesn't take you seriously, doesn't fear a single consequence because none ever truly come to pass, and who WILL up the ante in the egregious behavior stakes.)
As for hitting kids in school? I don't need some overworked, overtired, at-the-end-of-their-rope, had-a-bad-week educator taking their frustrations out on any child. Frankly, if parents were doing a better job of parenting, schools would not be the Lord of the Flies arenas they are. Teach it at home, reinforce it at home, and they take it with them when they are not at home.
But back to the document...
In true head-in-the-sand GOP style, their agenda also pushes for Abstinence Only teaching in schools. Because we all know how effective "Just Say No" is when it comes to teens and sex. Let's not arm them with FACTS, information, education. *GASP!* If you explain to them how they get pregnant, then they will get pregnant, right? Idiots. Let's just give 'em a Bible, preach hellfire and damnation at them, let them educate each other with crap they make up or read on Facebook, and then act shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, when they end up pregnant.
(Or, if you are Sarah Palin, parade them as some badge of courage at every election stop.)
Look, I HAVE 3 daughters. I have also had an open dialogue with them from a very early age. About everything. Information is power. Information makes for better decision making. Especially when it comes to their bodies. And that is exactly what I have stressed - these are THEIR bodies. Not mine. It is not up to me what they do with them. They have been taught everything about them, about boys' bodies, about sex, about the recreational appeal of it, about the biological parts of it, and about the allure of it in the romantic realm.
They have also been taught the consequences. Now, it is up to them to each make their own decisions about when, how, with whom.
The Texas GOP also comes down against mandatory preschool and kindergarten. OK, I will give them the nod on the mandatory PreK issue. Some children are simply not ready to enter a structured environment at 3 or 4 years of age. Mine were, they embraced their preschool, but not every child is like that, and not every parent can afford a private preschool.
As for Kindergarten? It is GOOD for children. It begins a crucial socializing process, is for many the first brush up against sharing, taking turns, learning compromise. Not to mention ABCs, 123s, and the intricacies of macaroni art.
Texas Republicans are not the only ones taking on Kindergarten. In a truly I-shit-you-not moment if ever there was one to tell here at DGMS, New Hampshire Republican Representative Bob Kingsbury told a GOP convention Monday night that kindergarten leads to higher crime rates.
Yeah, chew on that nugget a moment.
Now, here - have a breath mint - as that nugget was pure GOP bullshit.
This braintrust also concludes that a lack of high school boxing classes also contributes to higher crime rates.
You know, Bob, I could argue that kindergarten and a lack of boxing classes also contributes to two A students in college (one with a perfect 4.0), and a soon-to-be high school junior on track for both academic and athletic scholarships to her choice of colleges.
But then, there I go using critical thinking skills...
Which brings me to that portion.
A section which truly stands out and exemplifies exactly what the GOP stands for is this:
Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
Let's examine that, shall we?
Critical thinking - the ability to analyze, QUESTION assumptions, decide if something is true, partly true, or total bullshit, and then take steps to form one's own opinion, view, stance.
That surely must be scary to a party whose lifeblood is to feed a steady diet of lies, rhetoric, and fear to its constituents. Heaven forbid voters actually being cognitively able of questioning the BS of those running for office, or worse, in office.
Now let's look at their justification - critical thinking is bad because it challenges "fixed beliefs" and "parental authority."
Fixed beliefs - ie: racism, bigotry, homophobia, religion, or any other area TAUGHT to a child. Sorry, but religion IS taught to you, (just as hating a black person or a gay person). It was taught to you as a child by someone who had it taught to them as a child and so on. Call it faith, belief, spirituality, whatever - you did not spring from the womb quoting scripture or facing Mecca. YOU WERE TAUGHT.
(As for homosexuality? They don't leave that stone unturned, no ma'am. From the document:
Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or c entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.
Such a load of horse shit. Save your religious justification for your CHURCHES. I don't care if you believe the garbage drafted into this document and practice it wholeheartedly in your churches, as long as it stays IN YOUR CHURCHES.
Here's their fear - young people are more and more comfortable with coming out into the light of day and being who they were born to be - READ: SOME ARE HOMOSEXUAL - and more and more of their peers are realizing that there is nothing wrong with their friends. Homosexuality doesn't tear at the fabric of society or threaten families any more than GOP lawmakers cheating on their spouses, divorcing them on their hospital beds, or playing fast and loose with young pages in the House.
And the danger to these stodgy, God fearing, Christian Taliban members is that the up and coming generations will use critical thinking to realize they are ALL full of shit, that their ideas are hateful, bigoted, and ignorant, and that they will turn away.)
Critical thinking may lead a young adult to question what they have been taught, and that is a good thing. It doesn't automatically mean they will leave their church, abandon their faith system, or start drawing pentagrams on the side of the house. But it does mean they may start to see people in a different light. Not as THE OTHER, but as just another human being. Worthy of equal rights, considerations, and liberties.
As for parental authority? Sorry, parents, but you don't know everything. And if your own mind is shut down to critical thinking, questioning, learning, then there WILL come a day when your child is smarter than you, has a wider scope on the world than you.
Thomas Jefferson got it. He wrote, "I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness...Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance."
Yet somehow, in the year 2012, we have a political party fully, openly embracing the dumbing down of the electorate.
And sadly, they are banking on that electorate already being too stupid, too lacking in critical thinking skills to question WHY.
To hell with it, I'm going to go buy a dildo. If I'm going to get screwed, I may as well enjoy the process.
There is something innately special about the written word. It touches folks. It connects people. It angers them. Makes them laugh. Makes them think. The written word uncovers a million "a ha!" moments daily as someone, somewhere connects on a deeper level to a series of words strung together.
Perhaps what is best about the written word is that it lives forever. As long as it is curated in some form - a newspaper, a diary, a love note, song lyrics, a blog, a movie script - it will never die. Its power to continue touching lives is potentially infinite.
It is in that thought that I find comfort in the passing of one of my heroes.
Nora Ephron has died. But her words will live forever.
I have often written about one of my all time favorite films, When Harry Met Sally. Yes, it was brought to life by the skilled line delivery and comedic timing of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, but before they even touched the script, the script had a life force all its own.
For example, in one forever noteworthy line about faking orgasms she made every man who has, or will, see it, squirm in the face of simple truth: Its just that all men are sure it never happened to them and all women at one time or other have done it so you do the math.
In that moment of sharing, millions of women silently fistpumped and fake moaned Hallelujah!
Nora's words conveyed the struggle, the silliness, the angst, the melodrama of two people so seemingly wrong for one another, yet in the end, simply the missing piece of the other's puzzle.
The same in You've Got Mail. She captured the longing to be loved - TRULY loved, desired, cherished. The human need to connect with someone else on the deepest levels - far below physical attraction, many layers beyond "Oh, I like hot dogs, too." She grabbed that yearning to be seen even when he/she can't see you.
Sleepless In Seattle is another one that will eternally pluck the strings of my heart. Yes, it takes a certain amount of leaving-reality-behind, but the bigger picture in the love story is worth of suspending disbelief.
Love found: Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together... and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home... only to no home I'd ever known... I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like... magic.
Love lost: Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.
Love found again: The small moment at the top of the Empire State building when he reaches out to take Meg Ryan's hand and you feel that magic happen again.
Nora Ephron "got" it. She knew and she translated that knowing onto the page - whether in book form, blog form, or up on to the big screen. She knew we are all full of shit, and she knew we were all also full of longing, yearning. Full of the hope that someday, someone would see past the shit to the precious person hiding behind it.
That is perfectly trussed up, cooked, and plated to perfection in Julie and Julia, as Julie struggles to find the meaning in her life, who she is, what she is meant to do. Already loved by a wonderful man, but certainly not loved by her self. And Nora understood that if you don't know and love who you are, you feel like an imposter until you do.
Nora was prolific. As a founding force behind HuffPo, her contributions were always thoughtful, revealing, humorous, and direct. She never shied away from truth and bullshit, or the discomfort brought on by forcing the two to meet. I loved that about her.
But one of her observations that will forever stay with me was her revelation on her own blogging: "Blogs were different from whatever had gone before. They weren't meant to be polished, like essays. They were informal; they were temporal. The comments they engendered weren't comments at all, althought they were logged and enumerated as comments; they were instead a conversation, and one of the reasons for blogging was to start the conversation and to create the community that comes together briefly to talk about the things they might not be talking about if you hadn't written your blog."
Amen, Nora. Amen.
Nora Ephron has died. But her words will live forever.
I think I'll watch Harry meet Sally again today...
Hi everyone - my apologies for so much silence around here the past month. Just a busy one with real life taking precedence over keyboard.
To catch up...
Debbie was here for a month to have her shoulder surgery. As usual, a fun time was had by all (surgery pain not withstanding) - sometimes TOO much fun (if you ask Kendall). It is truly a gift to have someone enter your life, become family, and fit so seamlessly into the dynamics that you cannot even really remember when they appeared on the scene, and you cannot imagine a life without them in it. That's Debbie.
Her surgery went well, and we have all been amazed at how smooth the recovery has been (still a long road ahead of her, but doing great). She returned to Florida late last week to continue PT and enjoy her growing happiness.
Kendall had her second knee surgery last week. Like three years ago we did not know what the outcome was going to be, only that something needed to be discovered and rectified. Life was being compromised by limping, constant pain, and growing frustration. Thankfully, everything that makes a knee a knee proved to be healthy, the repair from three years ago was still looking good, and the only issues he could find were two areas of tissue in need of expulsion. Waking up from anesthesia to steri-strips vs a full leg brace was wonderful as it means her summer will once again be HER summer in short order. She started PT Friday and once the swelling is gone, she should be in great shape.
Culley finally came home for a brief visit this past weekend. She has stayed in College Station this summer to work. All made easier with the addition of her first car (compliments of Debbie driving it here, and our bank account). Instead of Rudy picking her up when he comes home, Saturday he drove to College Station, parked his car at her apartment, and SHE drove them home - top down, music blaring.
The Three Sistateers enjoyed the freedom a convertible brings and tooled around town together...
Carson had a blast in NYC a couple weeks back. It was a well earned bit of R&R after a demanding soccer season that saw her lead her girls to 1st place in Western District in Texas, then 2nd runner up at State. She turned right around from that to go guest with an older team at a college showcase in Houston. Her efforts are paying off - a very exciting email came from the head coach of women's soccer at SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design). She is happiest with a pencil in her hand and a ball at her feet, so if those two passions could dovetail after graduation, she would be thrilled.
Adding to her busy summer of working out and soccer camps, she won Nickelodeon's grand prize last month in their Legend of Korra contest. (Korra is the next series installment picking up where Avatar: The Last Airbender left off.) She is a huge fan of the show, a phenomenal artist in her own right, and winning this was incredible. The prize is a trip to San Diego for ComiCon next month, hotel, a meeting with the creators of Korra, and $500. Is she excited? Um, yeah.
Some of her artwork...
(Drawn for the Nickelodeon Korra blog)
Drawn just because.
And of course... One Direction. Because, well, they're ONE DIRECTION.
Life continues on its busy pace here at Casa de Sharp, but I should now be back at the keyboard with some regularity now. (Think of it as my life taking a daily dose of Metamucil and then being able to clear out the mental BS here at the blog.)
Especially since that sinister Kenyan-Marxist-Socialist-Communist-Anti-American black man is running again.
(Apply massive schmear of sarcasm to that word bagel above.)
The POS emails are beginning to fly through cyberspace again. Forwarded by those without thought, intellect, a brain in their heads. (Aunt Betty may make one helluva potato salad for the family reunion picnic, but a political savant she is not.) If it fits their inner narrative of Republican hate for Obama, their misplaced rage that everything wrong in their life - from their job or lack thereof to their bunions to their shoelace breaking is the result of HIM - they will forward it.
And the scarier the better.
Just like that ball of cybershit about him being a secret Muslim that STILL makes the rounds, your inbox will soon be receiving the latest in propoganda to gin up fear, hatred, and voter turnout.
Today's entry in the Low Effort Thinker's Email Sweepstakes is titled: HOME SALE TAX.
It would have you believe (based on how often it has been forwarded and its copious use of exclamation points, that beginning in 2013 every home sale will be subject to a flat 3.8% tax - thus clearing your pockets of more of your hard earned dollars. It does math problems for you. It uses ALL CAPS in spots to really get you going!!!!!!! And it cites that scary health care bill - you know OBAMACARE - as the place where it hides from we good, hardworking citizens.
Now, let's clear away the piles of email excrement, shall we?
The 3.8% being referred to is a Medicare tax on investment income (that may or may not be from real estate sales) that will be derived from the profits OVER the capital gains threshold and only affecting those who make OVER $200,000 a year (single filers) or $250,000 (joint).
THAT LEAVES OUT OVER 97% OF THE AMERICAN POPULACE.
This is not some sinister flat tax hiding in the shadows and twirling its curled up mustache waiting for the average seller to put a SOLD sign on their home.
Look, this information is not hard to find. It's not hiding from you. You don't need a PhD to sort the fact from the bullshit.
You just need a little self respect, intellectual curiosity, and appreciation for FACTS.