LGBT Equality In the Workplace – 2013

Back in the June 2012 timeframe, I posted several blogs referencing the position companies in America have taken regarding the rights of the LGBT community as reflected in their corporate or company policies.  For anyone following the issues – political, legal, social, whatever – faced by this community over the past year, there has been some real positive change achieved – key events I’ve also tried to capture as they happen in my blogs.  While there has been a good deal of positive movement forward it is unfortunate we still have the haters and bigoted core of people who see their mission to ensure that anyone different – in most ways – from themselves be held to the same rules of life they profess to hold – not necessarily live by but at least say the words.  My view on these people need not be repeated in this particular blog as it is very evident in most of what I have written – basically a pox on these dim-witted and heartless cretins.  Sorry – I digress.

But with all the progress I think we’ve seen this past year, we can’t forget we still need to get the message out where we can actually influence.  While I don’t expect to ever change their views – it takes an active mind and ability for them to think and reason – I still submit the best approach is in what remains the greatest lever we have as a country – hit them in their pocketbooks.  We all have the opportunity to choose where we spend our money – or where we don’t spend it.  The HRC or Human Rights Campaign Foundation provides us an ongoing view of how Corporate America takes account of equality across our people, particularly in terms of how the workplace approaches Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality.  Every year they publish their Corporate Equality Index (CEI) and the publication for 2013 was recently released.  This is the 11th year of the Index and it has provided a good means to track how we are doing in the Workplace no matter the inequities and bias that remains in the various levels of our government.   There is a wealth of information available in the publication to which I can’t really give justice so I would suggest a visit to their site – http://www.hrc.org/ – or  http://www.hrc.org/corporate-equality-index/#.UozWxOLyQYk  to view or download the actual Corporate Equality Index publication.  While I’m happy to say that the company where I am employed is in that group of Fortune 100 corporations scoring a perfect 100 on the CEI scale, the number of major corporations that remain out there in 2013 that don’t is astounding as well as a disgrace.

Some of the good news:  Despite the reality that people can be legally denied a job or fired simply for their sexual orientation in 29 states and their gender identity in 34, Corporations in America have ignored antiquated and biased legislation to provide these protections in their company.  From the report – “For the first time in history, a majority of the Fortune 500 offers both sexual orientation and gender identity protections. Beyond these basic and essential protections, record numbers of Fortune-ranked and other major businesses have comprehensively updated their benefits packages to ensure that newcomers to their workplaces can expect both partner benefits and transgender-inclusive benefits and that retiring LGBT workers will see the financial benefits that they have worked so hard to accrue will go to their surviving family members.”

STATEWIDE EMPLOYMENT LAWS AND POLICIES - From HRC.com

From HRC.com

The bad news is that there are still many corporations and companies who remain staunchly opposed to equality in this space.  The HRC site has a great tool that should help you decide where you might want to open your wallet and more importantly where not.  Their “Buyer’s Guide” is located at http://www.hrc.org/apps/buyersguide/index.php#.UozaNeLyQYk.   Here you can view, by shopping category, those companies which excel in workplace equality as well as those companies where progress has been essentially non-existent.  To help us when we are on the go, they actually have an Iphone application for anyone with mobile Apple devices.  For other mobile platforms (Android, Windows 8) they offer the ability to access the data from any mobile phone by just texting SHOP and the company or product name to 30644.

While I have had some insight into the companies I don’t want to buy from, in reviewing the information across the categories in the Buyer’s Guide I was astounded by some of the companies that remain in the social dark ages.  I’m sad to say that a good number of my purchases have been from companies in the list below – just one example of the information in the Guide – it includes the Company, their brands, their overall CEI rating (Green, Amber, Red) and their actual CEI score.  Guess I won’t be purchasing that Rolex any time soon…..

I wish I could easily provide all the data but it is just too extensive but I would suggest you at least take a quick stop at one of the links I’ve indicated above and become a more informed consumer and shopper.  We’ve all been made aware of the companies that extensively use sweat shops and basically slave labor to provide their products from overseas (hello, Walmart?) – maybe we need to be a bit more discerning of how companies that do business on our own shores treat our sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, friends, whatever – your choice of whose success you want to support.  Is it possible to stop shopping at all the sub-par companies? Probably not unfortunately given the wide expanse of ones we all typically shop at but, to quote Chinese philosopher Laozi – “The longest journey begins with the first step”.

NOTE: The following copied directly from the HRC Buyer’s Guide

Apparel & Accessories

Business Rating Rank
Abercrombie & Fitch  abercrombie kids; Gilly Hicks; Hollister; 100
Gap  Athleta; babyGap; Banana Republic; GapBody; GapKids; Old Navy; Piperlime; 100
Levi Strauss  Denizen; Dockers; Levi’s; Signature by Levi Strauss & Co.; 100
Limited Brands  Henri Bendel; La Senza; Pink; Victoria’s Secret; 100
Nike  Cole Haan; Converse; Hurley; NIKE Golf; Umbro; 100
Nordstrom  1901; Calibrate; Classiques Entier; Halogen; HauteLook; Jeffrey; Last Chance; Nordstrom Direct; Nordstrom Rack; Public Opinion; Trouvé; Zella; 100
Sears  Apostrophe; Canyon River Blues; Covington; Jaclyn Smith; Joe Boxer; Lands’ End; Structure; 100
Target  C9 by Champion; Cherokee; Circo; Gilligan & O’Malley; Honors; In Due Time; Liz Lange; Merona; Mossimo; Nick & Nora; Utility; Xhilaration; 100
TJX  HomeGoods; Marshalls; T.J.Maxx; 100
A|X Armani Exchange  95
American Eagle  77kids; aerie; 95
J.C. Penney  a.n.a; Ambrielle; American Living; Arizona; Arizona Jean Co.; cooks; Decree; east5th; Every Day Matters; J. Ferrar; Linden Street; Okie Dokie; St. John’s Bay; Stafford; Studio; Worthington; 95
Bon-Ton Stores  Bergner’s; Boston Store; Carson Pirie Scott; Elder-Beerman; Herberger’s; Younkers; 90
Kenneth Cole  Gentle Souls; Kenneth Cole New York; Kenneth Cole Reaction; Le Tigre; Unlisted; 90
Macy’s  Alfani; American Rag; Bar III; Bloomingdale’s; Charter Club; Club Room; Epic Threads; First Impressions; Giani Bernini; Greendog; I.N.C.; Jenni by Jennifer Moore; JM Collection; Martha Stewart Collection; Style & Co.; Tasso Elba; 90
Ralph Lauren  Chaps; Club Monaco; Denim & Supply; Lauren; Lauren Jeans Co.; Ralph Lauren Black Label; Ralph Lauren Childrenswear; Ralph Lauren Collection; Ralph Lauren Golf; Ralph Lauren Purple Label; RLX; RRL; Rugby; 90
REI  Novara; REI Private Brands; 90
Tiffany & Co.  90
Fifth & Pacific  Juicy Couture; kate spade; Lucky Brand Jeans; Mac & Jac; 85
A�ropostale  P.S. from Aéropostale; 75
Coach  Reed Krakoff; 75
Hanover Direct  International Male; Silhouettes; UnderGear; 70
The Jones Group  Anne Klein; Bandolino; Easy Spirit; Enzo Angiolini; Evan-Picone; Gloria Vanderbilt; Joan & David; Jones New York; Judith Jack; Kasper; l.e.i; Le Suit; Mootsies Tootsies; Napier; Nine West; Rachel Roy; Sam & Libby; 70
L.L. Bean  65
Burlington Coat Factory  Cohoes; MJM Designer Shoes; 60
Hanesbrands  Bali; Barely There; Champion; Duofold; Gear for Sports; Hanes; Just My Size; L’eggs; Outer Banks; Playtex; Wonderbra; 60
PVH  Arrow; Bass; Calvin Klein; IZOD; Tommy Hilfiger; Van Heusen; 60
H&M  55
Brown Shoe  Avia; Buster Brown; Dr. Scholl’s Shoes; Famous Footwear; Franco Sarto; Lifestride; Naturalizer; rykä; Sam Edelman; Vera Wang Lavender; Via Spiga; 35
Ann Taylor  LOFT; 30
J. Crew  crewcuts; Madewell; 30
The Men’s Wearhouse  K&G; Twinhill; 30
Adidas  Reebok; Rockport; TaylorMade; 15
Burberry  15
Collective Brands  Airwalk; Keds; Payless ShoeSource; Saucony; Sperry Top-Sider; Stride Rite; 15
Donna Karan  DKNY; 15
Foot Locker  CCS; Champs Sports; Eastbay; Footaction; Kids Foot Locker; Lady Foot Locker; 15
Guess?  G by GUESS; GUESS by Marciano; GUESS kids; 15
Neiman Marcus  Bergdorf Goodman; CUSP; Last Call; 15
Urban Outfitters  Anthropologie; BHLDN; Free People; 15
VF  7 For All Mankind; Bulwark; Eagle Creek; Eastpak; Ella Moss; JanSport; John Varvatos; Kipling; Lee; lucy Activewear; Majestic; Napapijri; Nautica; Red Kap; Reef; Rock & Republic; Seven for all Mankind; SmartWool; Splendid; The North Face; Timberland; Vans; Wrangler Jeans; 15
Warnaco Group  Olga; Warner’s; 15
Berkshire Hathaway  Acme Boot; Fruit of the Loom; Garan; H.H. Brown Shoe Company; JERZEES; Justin Brands; Russell Athletics; Spalding; 0
Cabela’s  0
Chico’s  Boston Proper; Soma; White House/Black Market; 0
Dolce & Gabbana  D&G; 0
Fossil  0
Giorgio Armani  Armani Collezioni; Armani Jeans; Emporio Armani; 0
Gucci  Alexander McQueen; 0
Quiksilver  DC Shoes; Gnu; Hawk; Lib Tech; Radio Fiji; Roxy; 0
Rolex  0
Ross Stores  dd’s DISCOUNTS; 0
Under Armour  0
Versace  0
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Life Isn’t a Smorgasbord…

Not sure if fits...just love the picture!

Not sure if fits…just love the picture!

Gun Control, Abortion Rights, LBGT Civil Rights (someone please tell me how this is not a Civil Rights issue) – quite a bit going on this week and next.  As our Congress spends the majority of time playing pocket pool and continues to demonstrate ineptitude beyond belief, they systematically ignore where this country has been and is heading in these areas.  Recent legislative efforts by Kansas and North Dakota (again, both states that never make the top 10 list for admirable points for which most strive) to outlaw abortion, again demonstrates a vendetta against Women’s rights and a direction counter where most people in this country are.  The Supreme Court this week will hear two cases crucial to the pace of progress in giving LGBT citizens their civil rights and equality under the law.  Gun Control – little progress in even what a thinking and feeling person might think would be an easy step forward – Universal background checks.

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

In every case the American public who, as a whole, is well ahead of the political musings and stances, makes it clear they support abortion rights (a woman’s right to choice, let’s be clear), LGBT equality and the right to marry, and better gun control (in particular Universal background checks).  The problem is in the details as we look at the state and local level and the way political divisions have been drawn. We end up with a clear division of view of where the Federal should have rule and set law and where it should fall to the State and Local.  While I don’t always believe the Federal Government is right and should be making choices for States, I would be more inclined to move decision-making for these specific issues I’ve cited to the State and Local levels if I actually believed they had the intellectual and social where-with-all to make smart decisions.  Again, my judgment to sure but making decisions based on bible teachings, views that harken back to how we used to treat both women and Blacks in our country and lastly, some misguided view that the government is trying to take everyone’s weapons seems to fall short of the yardstick of a civilized and informed society.

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain

That being said, I am willing to take a shot at letting the states have their way.  We can move these sorts of decisions out there and let the states decide for their people.  However, I suggest we should also begin to play approach out to the full extent of the concept.  If you really want the Federal government out of your shorts, sounds good to me but then let’s make it incumbent on the States to then provide everything the Federal Government provides today – try that for health care costs.  We can let the States deal with the repercussions of making abortions illegal.  We can watch as States continue to outlaw LGBT Civil Rights.  We can let more idiots own guns in those States that want it and watch more people die from the results.  End of the day, the costs, both financial and social, can sit with the State.

What happens is that we get more pockets of the same type of people living in different states as people with a social conscience and intellect migrate either to those more progressive states.  We can watch the distribution of income and educated people move around at the same time – sorry but I would expect that the median income and level of education isn’t going to rise in the South or places like North Dakota and Kansas.  And these states will lose most everyone there who have kept their state within arm’s-length of civility and humanity (maybe even Texas has a few).   At some point it will become obvious that the longer-term impact of attitudes and mindsets from the 50’s isn’t a step forward.  Sad commentary but maybe we let them have what they want.  I for one might actually see my Federal tax bill drop a bit when I’m no longer having my tax dollars going to states that are the “Takers” and depend on Federal support to run their states – interesting that as of 2011, we now have 30 of the 50 states having 1/3rd of their state budget dependent on Federal funding (my state is one of them) and two states (Oklahoma and Louisiana) with more than 50% of their state budget Federally funded.

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

 

Sometimes you just can’t protect people from themselves.  However, we can only hope that people at some point realize that life isn’t a smorgasbord – it’s basically “Eat what’s on  your plate” – some you want and some you don’t but in the end it’s all there for a reason.  And if you’re good, you might get some .

“All government — indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act — is founded on compromise and barter.” – Edmund Burke 

It’s a New Day

Back from vacation – turned out to be a great week – almost 6 days in Las Vegas (Disneyworld for adults where real life only intrudes in small pieces) and an election that pretty much worked out as I had hoped.  I will admit there was a point a week or so before the election where I had I had my doubts as to whether we would bring back President Obama for another four years but as the election grew nearer I was pretty sure we would be okay.  I already expressed some of my initial feelings on election night – posted from my cell in our room right around the time Romney appeared to deliver his concession speech.  I was not awfully elegant nor was I gracious in the least but I’ve reached that point in my life where I realize that conciliatory is not necessarily better – something I hope the Democrats keep in mind as I expect the Republicans are far from looking to make things work going forward.

Not much I can add at this point re: the election results other than a couple of thoughts:

1.  The fact that it would seem the entire Republican Party, most importantly Romney, was totally taken off-guard when they didn’t win is pretty reflective of the lack of connection with reality Mitt would have brought to the Presidency.  While we all have a tendency to see things as we wish them to be, this takes it to a new height.  I think this is also reflective of the type of CEO Mitt probably was – surround yourself with only those who tell you what you want to hear.  Doesn’t make for a company (or a country) that can realistically deal with the real problems and solutions.  Only thing I wish is that I could have been in the room when the realization that they lost became clear.  There’s a sweet picture.

2. At some level, my faith in the people in our country is a renewed.  I was disheartened thru much of the election cycle by what appeared to be the same level of intellect and lemming-like mentality that re-elected Bush the 2nd to office twice.  To have an election that wasn’t really a close one was an uplifting experience.  Nice to see there are enough people out there not focused purely on economic considerations that the care and focus on people and social issues has not been lost.  No doubt we need to fix things from an economic side – but to do it with no consideration of other human costs is not a palatable strategy.  It’s not just the economy, stupid.

3.  I am most elated with the progress in the results of Gay Rights.  Aside from a plethora of elections of GLBT candidates to the Senate and House, the shift in state votes on gay marriage was monumental as same-sex marriage was legalized in three more states using ballot referendums and not legislation.  This was the people talking – this is the voting public.  Kudos to Maine, Maryland, and Washington who all voted to allow same-sex  couples the right to marry in their states as well as to Minnesota which became the first state to have voters reject a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  While opponents to gay rights have quickly put their spin on why and how, the tides continue to change and we continue our march towards a country where all citizens are recognized equally under the law – how disheartening is it that this is even a statement that can be made in 2012.  The future for my son is looking better and while I labor under no illusion that there remain many out there who would have him stay a second class citizen, they are slowly losing.  In reality, there will always be stupid and hateful people around but we can only hope (as I’ve offered on many ocassions) that they die off quickly as they are a dwindling breed.  They remain a bane on our society all while sucking out everything they can while giving nothing back.

4. Nice to see that the idiot men whom so eloquently gave us insight into their prehistoric views of women and how they are treated in regards to sex, rape and all that were so soundly defeated.  Nice to see that there are some things that no level of spin can help.  The larger stain here is that the Republican leadership was essentially absent in their condemnation – yes, there was the attempt to distance but not the outrage one would expect (at least one who actually believes that men and women are equals and that rape is never legitimate).

5. The lack of influence of the Tea Party this time around was refreshing.  I guess watching all these old and uneducated people who are taking Social Security and Medicare rant on about getting the Federal government out of their lives resulted in a moment of cognitive dissonance for many in our country.  Trying to have it both ways is somewhat disingenuous –  another thing that Romney seemed to forget about.

6. Additional kudos to the youth of our country for showing up again – despite all the dire predictions.  It is good to see they all recognize they have quite the vested interest in making their voices heard. I know both my kids were there without prodding – my daughter even stood for hours in line down in Washington DC.

7.  I remain somewhat embarrassed at the obvious bias and bigotry that remains with white voters.  To think that only 39% of white voters were with Obama is disturbing.  Sure, I’m sure that there are many whites who would position that it was about policy and platform differences but we all really know there is much more beyond that.   As a white male over 55 I am definitely out of step with the majority of my peers – and boy does that feel good.

8.  Last point – after watching Obama speak to the crowds after his re-election and most pointedly in his talk with his campaign staff, I again saw probably what I saw as one of the main reasons I voted for this man – it was obvious he was tired and worn out from the process but his emotional reaction was not scripted and we got a good glimpse into the type of person we just re-elected.  His level of emotion and his deep sense of caring was obvious.  He wasn’t and hasn’t been playing a part or emoting a position based on who he is speaking to.  This is a man who, at least in my view, truly cares about this country and it’s people.  Not just some of the people, not just those who can help him.

Boy, do I feel better.

It’s not the demeanor, stupid!

Wonder how Ryan’s mom feels being one of the 47%?

It has been a while since my last post and to be perfectly honest I have pretty much tired of this presidential campaign as I can hardly bear to listen to Romney and Ryan as they manipulate and lie their way forward. I can only hear so much garbage and can only tolerate those who continue to not see anything problematic with the shifting sands in which their campaign run sits. However, after the last debate with Biden and Ryan, to hear the differing perspectives of who won, who was more professional and/or stately, whatever, it become entirely clear that the details really don’t matter to most. We have reached the point where it is less about what really is impactful and critical to our future and more about whether the candidate presented themself in a way that meets our expectations. To be honest, I would rather have someone who I feel is honest about who they are and how they feel. I find Biden’s dismissal of Ryan as basically a liar and a lightweight actually refreshing – not only because I agree but mostly because I know that is really how he feels. This positioning and guidance that Obama got for the first debate not to get angry and not to show his true feelings I believe did more harm than good. And in typical Republican style, Mitt took quite the advantage of it and has continued to pound his chest and throw off all that recently found testosterone – which was usually more reserved for Ann Romney.

It is time to really get angry and more aggressive in light of what lies ahead as potential consequences. To be at this point in the election and still be undecided speaks more to someone not really paying attention or someone who really has no stated values or philosophical stand on life. This is symptomatic of our arrival at being a society where People Magazine is the literary choice of most, the Kardashian family a focal point of many and how we look is less important than who we really are. Pretty sad but also something that explains the lack of real attention to detail.

I don’t think that everyone else needs to believe what I believe or feel strongly about those issues I find important. But you have to stand for something. You have to know what is important to you and what will make a difference.  To be undecided and to have your decision on who you vote for based on whether Joe Biden interrupted too much (was it only me who thought Romney did a bit more butting in) or snickered more than you thought was right, I find that mind-boggling. What really set me off was an item I saw right after the debate this past week. I actually read a twitter comment from someone who was part of a group our local paper (a bastion on inadequacy in its own right) that after watching how Biden comported (my word) himself in that debate, she was changing her vote.   Amazing – but not really a surprise given the “undecideds” still on the fence. If you are still undecided at this point I would submit you did not pass the litmus test of having enough intelligence to actually vote – or you have been in a cave for the past 11 years and didn’t see what had brought this country to its knees. But that is my concern – to think that Romney might win and it not be because people agree with his policies (what ever they are today) or what he will likely change is disheartening – it is because of some shallow, really unimportant factor like whether you like someone’s demeanor.  Look, I think Romney is a flaming asshole and is so far away from what it most people’s life experience that his ability to understand or relate is non-existent. But if I believed in his policies and his direction for America, his persona is of less importance. Sure we want likeable. But that won’t cut it. As I recall, the Bush the 2nd polls showed him as someone with whom you would want to have a beer – unfortunately that “likeability” can now be enjoyed by almost 7000 less American military people given the execution of his policies and his view of what was good for the US.

This time around, I see there are several key areas where you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize a difference between the candidates. You don’t need to agree but recognize what you will get on each side. My list of what is important:
1. Equal Rights for our gay citizens – whether you want to recognize it as the same as the rights won by minorities over the past decades, gay rights and equal right to marriage and the perks that go with it will not move ahead in a Romney win.
2. Women’s reproductive rights and their ability to control their own destiny – I still remain in awe of the women that support Romney. His abortion and birth control agenda will move our country back 50 years.
3. Abortion – related to above but important enough to put as its own headliner. Still trying to overturn Roe v Wade 40 years later – persistent but not based on what the American people want.
4. Religious Freedom – or what is in reality the installation of religious intolerance of anyone who doesn’t believe as I do or doesn’t hold the same view of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I could give two shits about what you do and how you do it in your personal space – but don’t limit mine. I won’t tell you what to do beyond stay out of my life and how I live it.
5. The poor and the needy – as if they haven’t had it tough enough already. Sure there are those who suck off of the rest of us but let’s not ignore our responsibility to those who are really in need – not going to happen with Romney – once politics are aside, it is back to Republican tactics and focus on the rich getting richer.
6. Behind most everything – who sits on the Supreme Court – do we want another Scalia? Do we want more political leaning and furthering of a right leaning agenda? It is likely the next 4 years will bring us at least one appointment of a new justice – and the current tenuous balance will disappear with a Romney administration.

Sure the economy is important but it is and will continue to improve. Not my hot button since I will likely be okay no matter who is in the Whitehouse and probably better with the Republicans but that really doesn’t sit well – we aren’t great as a country because we only care about our own self-interest. Bringing back the policies of yesteryear and depending on trickle down economics flies in the face of reality. There is quite a bit of money sitting in corporate coffers (keep in mind that corporations are people too) and they are doing nothing to take care of the workers – middle class or not.  They are the rich and well-off – and they have been at the core of much of the pain of the middle-class.  Do we really think corporate behavior will change?  It will only to the extent that their profits are larger – and profits at the expense of everything else.

An uncanny resemblance – has anyone checked Ryan’s birth certificate? (A “Saved by the Bell” moment – who could forget Screech – no doubt one of the more annoying characters from kid’s TV)

 

Now, quick comment on the debate this week – townhall-style, questions I believe from the audience. If I could have my wish, I’d love to see a “Michael Dukakis” moment where Romney can’t hide behind his corporate and political persona. I’d ask him “what are you going to do and what is your first action when one of your sons announces he is gay?”.

Let’s really see what kind of person we have here.

US Budget Deficit – Credit where Credit is Due

And you made quite a few of us older Americans cry also!

It’s hard to decide which topic to pick on any given day in the current Presidential race but there is one that I find particularly irritating.  The Obama contribution to the current deficit at $15 trillion is one that impacts everyone – or at least the deficit does.  The Republicans have had no shortage of data spinners in this area.  As we saw with the admission from a Romney Pollster, Neil Newhouse, (who has worked on the Republican side of the aisle for a good number of years, including working with Romney in his run for Governor in Massachusetts in 2002) the Romney campaign  messaging and ads will “not be dictated by fact checkers” ( or as I like to say “Let’s not confuse things with the facts”), the Republican leaders have given Obama credit for the large rise in the current budget deficit.  Paul Ryan, in a phenomenally inaccurate RNC speech filled with lies and mis-statements, has obviously taken the approach that most Americans are lazy and/or stupid and won’t dig any deeper than needed.  True at some level but just in case, let’s throw some real data out there.

Aside from lying about the closure of the GM plant in his home district, Paulie’s crap about how the Obama Medicare plan is that different from his, his ignoring of the Republican role in the US credit downgrade as a result of their holding the debt ceiling hostage, Paulie made it clear that “President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him” and proclaimed “We need to stop spending money we don’t have.”  Let’s spend a minute or so and look at the data.  I can’t speak for 100% accuracy in every bit of the analysis, but the data is consistent across multiple sources so I’ll take a risk that it isn’t too far off.  Looking at this data, it becomes pretty clear that rather than the $5 Million attributed to Obama, he can take credit for less than $1 Mil – quite a different picture.  I’d suggest you actually take a step out to the articles for more detail and context.

Both graphics make the point very clear.  Of the $5 Million or so added to the deficient on Obama’s watch, the majority (say 80%) can be attributed to the previous administration.  When the Republican idiots throwing this crap around are actually looking for the right recipient, I would suggest they look a little further in the back of the Republican crowd – only you don’t see Georgie W. Bush and anyone else from his administration who put us in this mess anywhere to be found.

I’d like to think that Georgie has a conscience (there’s that idealistic side of me) and, if so, I expect he would be drinking again – I imagine it is tough to have the sinking of the American economy (and all that goes with it) as well as the deaths of over 6500 US soldiers on your head.

So when we put almost all our ills together today, I have to think it is only right to present the latest “Head up the Butt” award to former President Georgie W. Bush.  Take a bow – wherever you are!

Keep the Federal Govt away – unless it helps me out.

Bloomberg News

Obama Announces Meat Purchase to Help Farmers Through Drought

President Barack Obama, campaigning in Iowa today, announced $170 million in government meat purchases to help farmers struck by drought, helping to send hog prices to a one-week high.

The purchase of as much as $100 million of pork, $50 million of chicken, and $10 million each of lamb and catfish come on top of $30 million in assistance announced last week. Farmers and ranchers are struggling with the worst combination of heat and dryness since the 1950s, the administration said.

…More than half the counties in the U.S. have been declared natural disaster areas by the Department of Agriculture, and 69 percent of the Midwest last week had moderate to exceptional drought, government data show.

…Obama has pledged a wide-ranging response to the drought. His administration is giving farmers and ranchers access to low-interest emergency loans, opening more federal land for grazing and distributing $30 million to get water to livestock.

 

 

Okay – what is wrong with this picture.  So let’s add it up.  Farmers, Ranchers, whatever you call those who raise fish, etc.  getting government help to purchase their products.  Add on top of that the benefits that come with being declared natural disaster areas.  Not to cast a wide net here but I expect a good number of the states, and likely voters, where the loudest noise is based on a desire for less Federal Government in their affairs that are benefiting the most from yet another Federal program that takes my tax dollars and again bails out others who sit dramatically opposite my social and political leanings.  I’ll make it pretty clear – what I pay in Federal tax dollars hurts my brain when I do my taxes every year.  I see little of that back given my earnings have for years placed me outside of almost every break and benefit available.  That’s fine as I realize I get other benefits (but not from outside or government sources).  I don’t mind helping others that need help or are less fortunate but it does gall me to see all these people who are the first to shit on the Federal government and anyone who doesn’t believe in what they do or hold their values but yet they are the first to hold their hands out when times are tough.

Okay – now a little test – take a look at these next two graphics and tell me what looks surprisingly similar.  While not perfect, I will guess there is a bit of overlap in those states with the greatest drought conditions and the Red states.

 

Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration –
National Climatic Data Center

 

Recent historical look Red vs. Blue states

 

Now, if I can only figure out how to get my two acres here in Pennsylvania declared a disaster area.  Or maybe I need to start raising some livestock or fish out in the backyard.

 

Oh, and lastly, no sense of anything with Global Warming here.  Interesting, on the subject of that huge hoax of Global Warming – I did read a recent article in our local paper – which on occasion stumbles on some story of value – of course they took it from another publication in PA.  Seems we in the Northeast/Mid Atlantic are seeing some change in our weather – might explain where all that rain from mid-west is going.

Pa. getting ‘extreme’ storms more often

By

LAURA LEGERE

The Times-Tribune

August 06, 2012

Pennsylvania’s heaviest downpours have gotten wetter and more frequent in the last six decades, according to a report released by PennEnvironment.

Between 1948 and 2011, the state has seen a 52 percent increase in the number of “extreme” storms — those that are among the largest in the state in the last 64 years.

Large storms that used to happen once a year in Pennsylvania now happen every eight months, the report found. The amount of rain or snow in the largest storm each year has also grown by 23 percent over the same period.

The findings were based on data from the National Climatic Data Center collected from 3,700 weather stations across the country.

The frequency and severity of Pennsylvania’s storms largely matched the average increase of the Mid-Atlantic region, but surpassed the national average, the report found.

Extreme storms happened 30 percent more often nationally in 2011 than 1948 and the largest annual storms produced 10 percent more rain or snow.

 

Maybe I should be looking for Federal Government flood relief aid….

 

Romney – the Chameleon

I was actually looking for more detail on the Romney stand on Global Warming this morning when I came across a recently posted article by Paul Davies in the Philly Post.  The article,

“Mitt Romney Has Perfected Flip-Flopping – Which side of the Republican candidate would show up at the White House?” 

can be found at  http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/08/08/mitt-romney-flip-flopping/.  It is quite a well written piece that I suggest everyone read but more impressive is the video embedded in the article which takes the various and everchanging positions of Mitt over the years and displays them very elegantly and effectively.  Say what you will about the Media, it makes it difficult for a politician to duck and run from previous statements and positions they’ve taken.  I’ve included that video below.  It is a bit longer than most (almost 20 minutes) which speaks volumes as to the contradictions and changes we can see in Mitt over his political career.

Now, if only we had a voting public with the intelligence to realize what it going on and the common sense to see that there is a problem here.

I can only hope but my expectations are low.

What is Good (at least for me)…

These are times that often annoy me beyond belief. I watch what the country seems to value (or not) as important, I see the “role models” many seem to glom on to (Snooky – really?), I look at the issues that take national attention (the fact that availability of birth control for women is still a topic is a national disgrace – what is it 1959?), I see Rick Santorum (gag!!!) is actually being looked at as the Republican front runner (who actually thinks the Republican Party isn’t in trouble? Even Reagan is spinning in his grave), I watch as there are arguments around things cost too much and taxes are too high but yet no one wants to give up anything on their side – what is the deal? Are people really this stupid? The formula is actually pretty simple – someone has to pay for everything that is received – no matter what. Simple law – everything costs and there is no magic. You don’t like outsourcing and want the jobs back in the US – well, then expect to pay more – hard to find people in the US that will take a job that pays $3500 annually – keep in mind that labor costs make up the vast majority of most company costs.
But I digress – my original thought today was really how much I need to refocus back on that which is really important and that which gives me solace in the mess that is around me. When I look at that which I control (only in the broadest sense – I really control little – it’s really where I have influence and the results of my actions end up with something good), I actually can feel good – great wife and marriage (31+ years), two amazing, stand-out kids (well, not really kids anynore – successful adults at this point), a career that is well beyond anything I ever imagined, nice house, well positioned for retirement, I could go on and on but why rub it in. Was I lucky? In some ways – but only really when it came to finding my life partner – I recognize that finding that special one is basically a crap shoot – there is a bit of luck involved but one also needs to recognize when you find that person and you need to act accordingly…and I did. I am who I am today because of her – and I never forget it.
There are those who would look at the rest of my life and say I was lucky in most everything else. Easy to do because it gives them an excuse for why they aren’t at the same place. I’ve already heard “you’re lucky you have good kids” – well, I am lucky but they aren’t good kids because it just happened. We actually did what parents are supposed to do – we actively raised them, we made hard decisions when we needed to, we disciplined when needed and meant what we said when we threatened, we spent time with them, we supported their activities and actions, we went to bat for them when they were right and we held then accountable when they weren’t.  And we loved them and they knew it no matter what.

One of my favorite photos

I can go on and on – but the message is clear – It just doesn’t happen – you need to work at it.  Whether it is your marriage, your kids, your job, who you are as a person – you can’t wait for it to happen elsewhere, you can’t delegate it to others, you need to take ownership.  I recognize I still have a lot of work to do and a bit of distance to cover but at least I’m on the journey.  Seems simple in concept but it means you need to work and expend energy – something that seems to be an issue with many in today’s world. They expect it because there is a sense of entitlement. Not sure where it came from or why but I believe it is at the core of much of our problem as a society and culture.

But again, my life is good – with that mantra I can deal with most anything – Even the stupid bastards out there that are always getting in my way –