May 24, 2016

If Modern Conservatives chop a society to bits, does it make a sound?

I ask, because we are seeing evidence from multiple states that the modern Republican party is intent on destroying the basic fabric of society.  In Alabama, Louisiana, Kansas, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, Republicans have cut taxes, gutted funding for education and healthcare, and have consistently asked the people with the least to sacrifice the most.

In all of those states, the economy is struggling, and they lag behind national averages.  Today, Oklahoma released their budget where they kept massive cuts to the education in place, and absolutely gutted programs for the poor.  A friend put it this way when asked who was carrying the weight of the budget failure:
Families of children with Developmental Disabilities that receive services via the In Home Support Waiver, individuals with DD who attend Day Programs (25% cut will effectively put them out of business), Anyone who receives homecare and assistance via the Advantage program, families and children receiving services via the Autism Contract. Anyone who works or gets assistance via one of the many county DHS offices that will now be slated for closure. Any of the 200-700 DHS employees who will be eliminated.
None of these families can afford this.

But here is the problem.  I have seen little evidence that the same people who deny climate change and evolution will even acknowledge the crisis or their role in it.  Most of them, from what I have read, blame Obama for the economic woes, even as they pass legislation aimed at transgendered people using bathrooms.

There is such a huge disconnect between Republicans and reality that I am not sure any of them will even put this together.  My Republican friends seem either oblivious or in denial about what their vote means to the the poorest of the poor.  

April 24, 2016

This isn't faith. This is madness

I don't want to jump on my former state of Oklahoma.  I think it was Anglican who noted that when you aren't living in the state, it is kind of piling on to post stories about Oklahoma's dysfunction.  I agree, but can't help but read these stories and weep for my friends who still live there.  And there have been many stories, of late, unfortunately.  Conservative and often fundamentalist Republicans run Oklahoma with very little oversight.  They passed a bill the other day that will allow open carry without any training--a bill that was opposed by most of the state's economic leaders as well as the state's cops--but that doesn't matter to fundamentalists.  Facts do not matter to fundamentalists.  For a fundamentalist, cutting taxes will make the economy boom, and a crumbling economy and infrastructure will not dissuade them.  Just the other day, I found a story I had posted two years ago--Oklahoma House approves tax cut-- with this assurance from the bill's author:  
State Rep. Leslie Osborn, house author of the bill, predicted it would help bring economic growth to Oklahoma.“Our state has seen economic growth and record revenues due to our competitive income tax policies and pro-business environment,” said Osborn, R-Mustang. “This measure allows Oklahomans greater control over their hard-earned money. They will either spend or invest those dollars and further strengthen our economy.”
Now two years later, and the only thing that has happened is that tax cut.  Those same Republicans will blame all of this on the declining price of oil and gas, but the economy and state revenue were in decline well before that.  None of that matters to fundamentalists.  The crashing state economy will not dissuade them that tax cuts are always good for the economy.  Always.  Facts will not matter.  As we are seeing in Kansas and Louisiana, where Republicans have also sold the idea that lower taxes make the economy soar, and if you think those states are soaring, then you might need some new glasses.  

Then yesterday, I read this story about Oklahoma and abortion policy.  The push for "morality" and their hatred of abortion resulted in a bill that will revoke licenses of abortion doctors.  Because life and liberty.  Note, that this law authorizes the state to revoke doctor's licences for performing a legal procedure.  Set aside the insanity of suggesting that this is pro-life or will actually help women or children in any way (meanwhile, due to Republicans hatred of Obama, some four out of five Oklahoma hospitals will not provide birthing services), let us note that this law will absolutely draw legal challenge, meaning that the state that has been struggling to pay for core services, will have to pay for expensive litigation to defend this indefensible law.   All while poor people will die in rural Oklahoma for a lack of care.  

But never fear, because the fundamentalist knows how this all works.  
"Supporters of the bill said it will help protect the sanctity of life.
"If we take care of morality,” bill supporter David Brumbaugh, a Republican, said during deliberations, "God will take care of the economy."
As one of my friends noted that isn't how any of this works, but never tell that to a fundamentalist, because facts simply do not matter.  By this logic, of course, Donald Trump would be living in a pit of despair with no food or water--if taking care of morality led to economic prosperity.   But for the fundy, being pro-life means killing Oklahomans you don't care about while saying you are protecting life.

April 19, 2016

Moving isn't easy

Leaving Oklahoma has been difficult.  As SOF liked to say, there is a reason we stayed in Norman for 23 years.  It is time for us to change, that is for sure, but it has not been easy.  Yesterday, I really hit a wall when I realized that while I have some relatives in town, and some high school friends (from 30 years ago) who live here, I had no one to call for lunch, or to grab a beer with.

I knew this would happen, and had been prepared for this.  A friend who recently moved to Oregon warned me that my connections in Norman were so built in that I didn't have to work at it.  But now, I find myself without a network of like-minded people.  I know some people, but I don't think we have a ton in common.

It is during these times that I really understand why people go to church.  There is a built-in community there and a built-in way to meet people.  And maybe I will be open to finding a liberal congregation of some kind down the road.  But I can't return to the church of my youth--it is now on the other side of town.  Musing on that yesterday also made me angry.  I was reading about the massive cuts in social services in Oklahoma, and snarkily wondered if this Fort Collins church would organize a mission trip to help children and the mentally ill in Oklahoma survive their attack by other conservative Christians?  Probably not.

So I decided to take some action in ways that I can.  I signed up for a bluegrass jam session tonight, and there is another tomorrow.  I think SOF will bring her fiddle tonight and we will see what it looks and sounds like.

I have to create my Fort Collins network, and that is daunting right now.

March 26, 2016

New Beginnings/old issues

So I have not blogged in a while.  Facebook has taken much of that energy--it simplifies the linking process and I am there anyway connecting with friends and family.  But now we are in a new beginning, so I am exploring whether or not I want to resume blogging.

We moved, for one thing--from Norman, Oklahoma, where we lived for nearly 24 years--to Fort Collins, Colorado where I attended high school and several years of college, as well as where I met SOF.  It is weird being back in Colorado after so many years.  I love it here in many ways, though I so miss our friends from Oklahoma.  Oklahoma is a tough place to be right now.  The people with the absolute worst instincts and interests are in charge of the state, and that is really showing.  The governor had to dip into the rainy day fund to keep schools from closing early, and we just saw this news item:
With budget cuts, thousands of Oklahomans with mental illnesses are expected to lose care | News OK: As a result of state budget cuts, more than 73,000 low-income Oklahomans with mental illnesses and substance use disorders are expected to lose some access, if not all access, to the state-funded services they depend on.
Schools are still getting cuts, mind you.  And this cut to people with mental illness comes on top of a system that was already leaving people behind--and this doesn't even count the people who have been excluded from healthcare due to the Governor's spiteful rejection of the ACA's Medicaid expansion.  Further, the state just voted to cut an additional 100,000 off existing Medicaid rolls.

Colorado is no panacea, and it would be a mistake to think so.  But my initial reading of politics here is that while the same people are a powerful force here, they are not in charge--yet.

These same people in Oklahoma and Colorado are often very vocal about their Christian faith.  I know this is not news to anyone still reading this blog.  Indeed, this is the problem I have been grappling with for years.  It certainly has not gotten easier.  One of my conservative friends used to push back at my anger and frustration with the argument that conservative Christians were not for these bad things (torture, etc), they were for other things and unfortunately were in the same camp as these bad things.  I used to buy that with torture, even as polling showed Christians as one of the biggest supporters of torture--but I can no longer even give them that latitude.  Conservative Christians run Oklahoma right now.  They are spending an unbelievable amount of tax money that could be used to help people--instead using it to change the law and allow the Ten Commandments on state grounds.  These people are gutting social services for the very needy of Oklahoma and at the same time defending tax cuts that benefit the very wealthy.  They are causing incredible harm--and not passively. They are doing this to the poor.

Anyway.  Maybe I will be back for more.