Down With the Sickness

Let just say something because I need to say it. You know who is getting hurt by Donald Trump cutting subsidy payments to the ACA exchanges? Me. I’m getting hurt. And I’m pissed.

Let me explain. I lost my job earlier in the year. I hopped onto a ACA plan because we need insurance. And my plan is actually pretty good! It actually covers more out of pocket costs than my previous employer insurance did. Stuff that had copays doesn’t have copays anymore! The only real downside? I make too much money to qualify for any sort of subsidies. Do you know what that means? You guessed it! I’m the asshole on the hook for the inevitable premium spikes that are going to result from this decision. Now, I can absorb the cost increase and cut elsewhere and likely be fine, but how is that fair to me?

Look, I agree that the ACA was not a perfect solution to our nation’s healthcare needs. There’s a lot that needs to be fixed. Maybe the way this plays out and pushes us towards a more universal system is better in the long run. For now though, I’m expressing my right to be fucking angry that my healthcare situation is about to get much more expensive so a bunch of assholes in DC can drink salty liberal tears while placating an orange man who wants to fuck over anything the black man who came before him did. That’s goddamn fucked up.

My Country Tis of Thee

A bit of honest truth. I haven’t been sure how to sum up my feelings from the election. It’s already February 2017. Trump has been in office for about a month and is steamrolling our country towards a cliff it may not be able to avoid tumbling over. My anger towards asshole purists on the left who ate up the same bullshit lies about Hillary Clinton that the right has peddled in for so long has not abated. People who thought they were making some grand political statement voting for a third party candidate or staying home have not stopped pissing me off. Susan Sarandon is still full of shit. I really can’t read a lot of the political drivel that ends up on Medium these days. There’s a lot of places I could go here and we could go off the rails for a long while. Instead, I thought I’d tell a story.

I live in a very ethnically diverse blue collar town. My local polling place is at the local elementary school. It’s a consolidation of three voting districts in my town in the school’s gym. In the five years I’ve lived in my town, voting has been a mostly sedate affair (and yes, I vote every year. If only you Bernie Bros had that level of dedication). You’re in and out in only a few minutes. I think the longest I waited was for maybe three voters in line ahead of me in 2012. Voting in the Primary in June of last year was equally sedate. So, naturally, when I showed up to vote on Election Day, I expected the usual in and out speed of voting.

Imagine my surprise when, upon entering the gym where the voting happens, the line for my precinct was out the door. Seriously. I always hear those stories of people in big cities who wait for a long time to vote (especially when they’re in heavily Democratic cities in a state with a Republican leadership, because voter suppression and all). I’ve never actually had it happen to me.

And who was in line? A whole hell of a lot of minorities who suddenly had a very strong urge to exercise their voting rights. And, can you blame them? The candidate who won the election was advocating a policy of racial and religious purity. Scary words that whose fear has been proven since Trump’s inauguration. In a place where you can usually vote in under 10 minutes, it took over an hour to get the deed done. And this was with a hungry child who did not want to be held or wait this out (and why the one precinct worker who offered us pretzels for said hungry child was the real saint in this affair).

At the time, it was a bit annoying to have to wait this long, especially with the hungry kid. But when I think back on this, it matters a lot more. This is where the future of a progressive movement is. While the Bernie Bros want to keep the focus on white folks (and face it, this is the case), there are a lot of people who are just cutting their teeth on this forthcoming political movement. It’s easy to lose focus and backpedal where the Democrats need to go next. Looking at all these people get out and vote makes me hope they don’t lose sight of where life is taking us next.

Dirty Laundry

So the news broke recently that Angelina Jolie is divorcing Brad Pitt, ending what may be the last true “power couple”. That isn’t what I want to talk about, though. What I want to talk about is the media’s reaction to this. I found out about this thanks to a CNN breaking news alert on my phone. I bopped onto cnn.com on my computer and, look at that. Not only is it their top “news” story of the moment, but they put the words “It’s Over” in the same giant ass font that you normally reserve for talking about war, terror attacks, or the outcome of a presidential election. I don’t know about anyone else, but this seems to sum up so many problems we have in our world right now, and how the media fuels them.

I cannot be the only person who has felt the rise of celebrity-driven journalism over the past few years, right? We care about celebrities almost more than we care about actual events happening in our world. Hell, there’s a whole group of celebrities who are famous just for being famous (can anyone honestly explain the appeal of the Khardashian/Jenner clan in any other way?). This is the kind of shit that people care about, and people who run news organizatons seem to know this and pander. After all, they need to satisfy shareholders and cororate boards that they’re making their fair share of money, right? Am I alone in thinking this has done a disservice to what media is supposed to stand for?

I don’t think I am. And I brought this up because I think this has shaped our election coverage, and I’m not alone.

If you go to the 40 minute mark of this podcast, the guys interview a reporter from CNN, who pretty pointedly says that the executives (who care more about eyeballs and ratings) can do a lot to drive coverage more than actual news editors and the like. I think this is a big part of how a bigoted joke like Donald Trump became a major party candidate and has come so far. The man is a celebrity, and a bad one at that. But we love celebrities, so we cover the circus that follows them. If there had been any measure of journalistic integrity, they would have dismissed this clown out of hand last year. Instead, we are where we are.

Sometimes, seeing what makes “breaking news” is way more telling than it should be.

San Francisco Days

Colin Kapernick

Sadly, I think that the whole Colin Kaepernick saga is very indicative of the overall status of race relations and police culture in our society. It is, I am sad to say, a large indication that we’re moving backwards at an alarming rate.

Look, I don’t know all that much about this kid, but it’s obvious that of late he has come around to stay woke. And that’s his prerogative. I’m not judging him. I think there are more constructive things he can do to fix issues, but let’s not dismiss that he’s getting people talking. The problem, of course, is how different sides are seeing this. Unsurprisingly, a lot of white people are againnit. Some woman went on a whole diatribe about how Kaepernick’s protest is killing our troops or something (honestly, my eyes glazed over before I finished reading this. But still). But then again, a lot of white people think if black people just kept their heads down, everything will be just peachy, right? Well, we know that’s not the case.

Even scarier is the way that the police have reacted to the whole thing. Did you hear that the Santa Clara Police union has threatened to boycott their job of security at the 49ers stadium because of this? Can we talk about fucked up? Of everything, this is the clearest example of the problem.

Police have always viewed themselves at something of an elite level. That’s not entirely unearned. We’re talking about people who voluntarily go into the face of danger to keep the rest of us safe. This is not under dispute, nor does anyone have an issue with this, I think. The issue is that the police also act like they’re more infallible than the Pope. Plus, after 9/11, we are supposed to elevate police to some super human elite status of hero worship. The side effect of this is that cops start to think and act like they’re super men and above the law. It’s a bad fucking mix. Kill some black kid in the hood? It’s OK, we’re the motherfucking police. That fucker deserved it. Who is going to say or do anything? Oh, and those Black Lives Matter people? They’re just inciting violence against us. It’s no wonder we’re in a virtual powder keg that might go off at any moment.

So back to Mr. Football Player. He may make a lot of money, but I’m sure he still looks around nervously if 5-0 rolls by. And maybe he was oblivious for a long time. But then maybe you wake up and see the world around you in a different light. And good for him on that.  It’s too bad that he even needs to do this, and that so many people are still so aghast about it all. Maybe, just maybe, we will have a day when this isn’t the case.