Tag Archives: Senior Citizens

On Social Security, Is the White House Possessed by Thatcher’s Ghost?

10 Apr
If she's laughing, be afraid.

If she’s laughing, be afraid.

This week one of the prime movers in late 20th Century geopolitics died. Margaret Thatcher’s deeply conservative, pro-corporation, anti-business, slash the safety net and cut the taxes approach to governance helped set the stage for the fiscal gambling and international financial meltdown from which we are still struggling to recover. Remember her effort to secure a poll tax–oh she was a madcap, our Maggie. With a legacy like that, you might think that smart politicians would steer clear of her policies.  The English Punk group, The Jam gave the world an all too accurate portrait of Thatcher with their song, Town Called Malice, which basically addresses the death of the middle class and economic oppression.  The architects of this oppression were Thatcher and Reagan.

Sadly, the President of the United States — a DEMOCRAT elected by a coalition of the poor, people of color, women, and other marginalized and oppressed people — seems intent on taking an unprecedented and disastrous budgetary step. In the latest mind-numbingly awful round of budget “negotiations” with Congress, the White House has made it clear that cutting Social Security is part of the package.

This makes no sense. Even St. Ronnie the Addled, Thatcher’s partner in crime in the 80s, famously noted that cutting Social Security did NOTHING to reduce the deficit. Worse, the proposed plan, tying benefits to a particular Consumer Price Index, is viciously regressive. Those who depend on Social Security — the elderly disproportionately from marginalized populations — have expenses that don’t fit with chained CPI. The bulk of their expenses are health care, which increases much faster, and non-discretionary spending. You know, like food. The White House proposal effectively shoves retirees into poverty even faster.

The President’s stated goal seems admirable: compromise. Like all his fiscal wrangling with the GOP, however, he seems to think that compromise starts with capitulation and goes downhill from there. By taking the first ever major blow to Social Security, a Democratic President is easing the country into the Teahadist dream world where the New Deal and Great Society are erased forever.  Looks like most Americans will need to get used to eating cat food.

It isn’t too late. Many Democrats in Congress oppose the President’s plan and have proposed much more sensible starting points for budget negotiations. Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to support these smarter plans. Then contact the White House and make it clear that putting Social Security on the chopping block is unacceptable. If that doesn’t work, we should start raising some money to hold an exorcism.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

21 Oct

While I usually leave movie reviews to my friend and fellow blogger, Feminéma, I felt very compelled to review Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  This movie fits perfectly into the issues addressed by TSM — issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and social justice.

The tremendously talented ensemble cast make this movie an extraordinary treat, as they tackle aging, racism, marginalization, homophobia, and end of life issues. Tom Wilkinson is exceedingly convincing as a gay retired man returning to India to reconnect with the love of his life.  Wilkinson’s real life wife, Diana Hardcastle, plays the delightful easygoing Carol, who is eager to embrace her life. Former Absolutely Fabulous star, Celia Imrie, does an amazing job of a woman also wanting to reinvent herself, but also scared of what that might look like.

Another quite lovely and somewhat complicated story line is that of Penelope Wilton’s character, Jean and the demise of her marriage to Douglas, played by Bill Nighy (who was also brilliant in Love Actually). The story of Jean and Douglas is bittersweet and at times difficult to watch as they both wrestle with what they want their respective lives to look like during the autumn of their lives.  Penelope Wilton does a marvelous job of showing how many women of her age live fear based lives that can be paralyzing.  Juxtaposed with Jean, we have the recently widowed Evelyn, played by Judi Dench.  Evelyn is a picture of the complexities of a woman experiencing grief and at the same time living with great intentionality and pushing herself to forge a new life on her own terms. Rounding out the cast is the always marvelous Maggie Smith, whose racist character shows hidden depths as the bitterness of her first scene is explained and we get to watch her grow in ways that surprise even her.

In total, I found the movie to be inspirational and offers great hope.  There are times when it is nice to just watch a movie and leave feeling fueled.  I felt very nourished after watching this film, and extend an invitation to TSM readers to rent Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  

I Hate Old People, Women, and Gays!

15 Aug

I can dream, can’t i?

Yes, you probably thought this was a story about Michelle Bachmann, but actually it is about her evil twin, Paul Ryan. I don’t think it came as a surprise that Ryan was told to steer clear of Florida.  Even rabidly right wing seniors disapprove of Ryan’s plans by a comfortable 20% margin.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: Kevin Madden, Romney’s campaign manager.  Madden wants us to believe that sending Ryan to the Iowa State fair (Iowa was where Romney signed a pledge to discriminate against the LGBT community) rather than joining Romney in Florida had nothing to do with Ryan wanting to gut Medicare.  Sure, I believe that.  I also believe that it is safe to say the word Bain around Romney and that it is just a simple oversight that George W. was asked not to attend the Republican National Convention.

One might ask, why the heck did Romney pick this fascist as a running mate.  My greatest fear, given how homophobic both men are and how much they hate women, one conclusion one might draw is that they are secret lovers—-okay, ewwwww that even made me spit up.  The big question is, why on earth would any minority in the United States vote for such a duo of hate?

Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and The Republican Death Eaters

18 Sep

Carl Kasell admiring my youth and good looks.

Not a big surprise to any TSM followers, but my husband and I are a bit on the nerdy side.  We are big NPR junkies and have been for more than two decades.  (I still miss Bob Edwards doing Morning Edition.)  Our dedication to NPR grows fever pitched on Saturday mornings, when Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me comes on the air. In fact, we don’t pick up the phone or attend to any demanding tasks until after the program has finished. You can’t imagine how thrilled we were when we attended a live taping of this week’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me show here in Portland, OR. We had a tremendous time and were fortunate enough to attend a small soiree with the cast after the show. Peter Sagal and Roy Blunt Jr. commented on the past week’s Republican Debate when Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care.  The response from the Republican crowd sent chills up my spine, which I felt again while watching the taping of one of my favorite radio shows.

Ron Paul replied to Blitzer’s question with a very flippant, “That’s what freedom is all about – taking your own risks.”  Spoken like a true privileged white, heterosexual, man of power. But wait, it gets worse. Blitzer followed up with should, “society should just let him die?”  Here is where I almost threw up in disgust. The Republican crowd erupted and shouted “Yeah,” in response.  Are these people Death Eaters straight out of Harry Potter?  Please someone help me here. Have we really devolved into a culture of such avarice, ignorance, and selfishness, that we cheer for Death?

Peter Sagal compared the Republican mob cheering for Death to Rick Perry having the Grim Reaper as a running mate, as, he noted George W. Bush had done, to which Peter Grosz quickly retorted: “Hey, that’s not fair to the Grim Reaper. He has a family.” Roxanne Roberts then chimed in, “…and the Grim Reaper has a heart.”  All of us in the audience were laughing, as were the people on the panel, but it was clear  by the look on Roy Blunt Jr.’s face, as with the faces of us all that we were laughing to cover up the grotesque knowledge that there is a population of vocal Republicans that think it is acceptable to scream out you would rather see someone die than make sure people have health insurance.

Looking just at where the current 21st century Republican stands on the issues, the following people would be diagnostically insane to vote Republican:

  • Anyone in the LGBT community
  • Anyone dependent upon Medicare/Social Security  (I guess there are no poor senior citizen Republicans)
  • Anyone believing that women should have the right to make their own health care choices regarding their bodies
  • Anyone believing that Government works to protect all citizens, regardless of religion, color, gender identity, sexual orientation,socioeconomic status, or age.

Is it just me, or does that seem to be an exceedingly large population that the current crap, oops, sorry, I mean crop of Presidential Candidates excludes?  You know the GOP is way off track when life-long Republicans like Clint Eastwood leave the party.

Fortunately, despite the darkness provided by the GOP Death Eaters, we had a lovely evening with the cast of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.  Despite having a very long day of travel and doing a show, they were generous enough to spend time and visit with us after the show. What a very genuine and kind group of people.  Each person we got to meet with I would want to have as a friend and or invite to dinner.  And I got to meet and have my picture taken with The Carl Kasell.  Now I just have to get him to leave his voice on my message machine.

Rational Republicans: Faint Praise Indeed

13 Jul

The New Republican Party?

Well, “Mussolini did keep the trains on time,” a very common defense of the fascist dictator of Italy during WWII.  How tragically sad it is when we as humans have to find some miniscule form of praise for “leaders” behaving rationally.  Today we will look at three Republicans who are often treated as heroes for demonstrating inconsistent rational behavior.

Mitt Romney has announced that he will not sign the Iowa Anti- Gay Pledge, which he called “undignified and inappropriate.”  The Iowa Anti-Gay Pledge says that, “the presidential candidates must back a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and have affirmed their belief that gay men are a public health risk, that gay parents are inferior to straight parents, and that homosexuality is a choice.”  Big surprise, Ms. Prick Santorum and Ms. Bat Shi_ Bachmann have both signed the pledge.  (Basically, Bachmann has declared her own husband a public health risk–Oh please, TSM audience! You know he is a big closet queen). Has the Tea Party taken over the Republican Party?

What makes me particularly angry here is that we have to praise Romney for being rational here.  “Gee, at least he did not burn any of those fags and send them to concentration camps–what a good guy.”  If not being a complete bigot, of the George Wallace camp is the new standard for hero worship, we are in HUGE trouble as a nation. Click here to see the full article on the “Pledge” and Romney.

Moving on to two others that we have to praise for being rational.  Shall we look at the Siamese Republican Twins of Maine? We have talked about Snowe before.  Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have agreed NOT to beat up a bunch of senior citizens, steal their money, and leave them homeless:

There are solvency problems with both programs,” Sen. Olympia Snowe said in an interview on Friday, “They have to be addressed but not as part of the debt reduction talks.

Thank you, Senator Snowe for being a rational person.  Forgive me if I don’t throw a parade to celebrate your humanity. Collins agreed with Snow and proposed to end the tax subsidy for ethanol production and that would save close to $6 billion a year.

Let me clear, I really do appreciate all three of these Republicans doing the right thing.  However, have our standards for leadership from our elected officials plummeted so low that showing a glimpse of humanity for those they are charged with protecting makes them look like heros? While I am painfully aware of the puritanical strain that runs deep through our country’s history, am I completely  naive to think we will learn from our mistakes? My hope is that we will soon see more Republicans like the late Betty Ford. Click here to see the full article.

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