Donald Trump, Health Insurance, and A Big, Ugly Mouth

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Fair warning, friends, readers. I’m pulling no punches, holding nothing back in this blog post. You can do the same if you post a comment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you can’t take the heat, hear the truth, stay out of this particular kitchen. Trump has finally gone too far and, by the time he meets with Vladimir Putin of Russia this week, those among you who still support him, may even agree with me.

I have tried for six months to find something redeeming about Donald Trump. Some reason why he got the majority of the electoral college votes for President of the United States. Some legitimate rationale. I have determined there was no legitimate rationale. Some people bought his rhetoric, bought what he was selling. He can be pretty convincing. It sounds good when someone totally different from a previous administration says they are going to step in and fix everything. It sounded good that he was a businessman and was going to run the government like a business. But, the government is not a business. Running the huge machine that is the federal government is not very much like running Trump’s real estate businesses. For one thing, we just try to balance the budget. We do not seek to necessarily make a profit. Not that Donald has made a profit many times. He’s taken bankruptcy several times. So the profit-seeking motive is still eluding him. His billions (if they are billions) came primarily from investing his father’s money. Do you know the last President that balanced the federal budget and, actually, had a surplus? Bill Clinton.

Trump apparently has an attention-deficit problem. He does not read. He spends his time tweeting and watching Cable News. He was great screaming out all of the things he was going to do at his famous rallies. But, sitting down and reading his briefings and his foreign policy reports is something he does not do. He doesn’t even have anyone in the White House that can talk to him about the contents of the briefings verbally. No one there has any experience. They are either his family or his own appointees who are as inexperienced as he is. Even the Secretary of State, a deeply experienced man, has been reported to be screaming in the White House that he can do nothing because he finishes second to Trump’s son-in-law.

I cannot say this strongly enough. Donald Trump does not know what he is doing. Not with regard to domestic policy nor foreign policy.

Health care insurance. Everyone is upset about health care insurance. Do you know what the problem is? YOU elected him. YOU elected a man who is going to take away Medicaid and, eventually, Medicare and probably some Social Security benefits. You thought that Obamacare was so bad? Well, parts of it are, indeed, terrible and way too expensive. Was that a reason to elect a toddler to serve as President of the United States? If you voted for Trump, YOU caused this horrendous situation in which we find ourselves. Your health care insurance may be going away? Really? TOUGH. You did it. You voted for him. Why didn’t you nominate a Republican candidate for President that was experienced and wasn’t a con artist and grifter who would rather bash the Morning Joe program than help figure out health care? Don’t even mention Hillary Clinton. There were sixteen other Republican candidates to choose from. Obamacare could be fixed if Congress had support by this so-called President to fix it.

Speaking of health care, now we have a situation where Mitch McConnell, the senior senator from MY state (a fact of which I am deeply ashamed) running things with regard to developing a new health care bill. We have millions of people in our state, a poor state, who voted for both Trump and McConnell because they are low-information voters who were taken advantage of. I am not giving them a pass. Educate yourselves, people. Do not vote for the person who just SOUNDS good. Now whatever is passed will likely scale Medicaid way back as well as Medicare benefits. That will decimate Appalachia. Half of my family comes from Appalachia. This saddens me more than I can say. But, the Appalachian people can educate themselves just like anyone else. I am sad, but I do not feel sorry for them. We had enough choices in the primary election that we could have elected someone head and shoulders better than the gross, disgusting man that sits in the White House. Mitch McConnell is one of the senators highest paid by the lobbyists. Do you suppose that might be a reason that he is sucking up to the drug and insurance companies? OPEN YOUR EYES AND FOLLOW THE MONEY. Mitch McConnell is not representing his constituency.

Let’s talk about Trump’s disgusting tweets about Joe and Mika, particularly Mika, of the Morning Joe show on MSNBC. Mika is a consummate professional and the daughter of a brilliant politician and expert in foreign policy. Trump has been tweeting, for two days now, disgusting tweets about Mika’s appearance and sanity and has been doing the same toward Joe. So he is the President? SO WHAT? If I were Mika, I would hire a lawyer and do whatever is necessary to stop him from tweeting one more time anything about me. He is a disgusting pig for doing what he is doing. He is not morally or ethically fit to serve as President of the United States and, instead of being on recess, Congress should be in session determining how to remove him from office due to the fact he has proven himself not “fit to serve.”

Trump’s tweets are nothing but a distraction and he thinks that we, the people, are too stupid to know it. He is trying to distract us from the real issues, the fact that he can’t pass any legislation being one of them.

This is what happens when we let emotion rule our important decisions. People did not like President Obama and I contend part of the reason was because he was half black. I am horrified to have to say that in the United States of America. I’m sure that is not true for everyone, but it is true for some. So many let their emotions rule them when they voted for Trump and this is what has happened. Our democracy is literally at stake and our government is on the verge of authoritarianism. This is not something we want. Imagine Trump as all-powerful leader.

This week, we have to be embarrassed by Trump’s meeting with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, who will likely have him for lunch. Just remember. YOU voted for him. Those of us who did not vote for him are horrified at his activities. I want to believe that America, the shining city on the hill (a characterization by Ronald Reagan) does not have a society that has deteriorated to the point that we can accept a classless thug as a President.

 

 

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Book Review: Hillbilly Elegy

I posted this book review some time ago, when the book was newly published, and before many of you had read it. Now, just about everyone who is very interested in the subject has read it. We know that Ron Howard is going to turn it into a movie.  Here is the review again:

Update: This book is going to be made into a movie, directed by Ron Howard.

Before I start this book review, I feel the need to print a bit of a disclaimer. This book is about the area of the country in which I grew up. I grew up on the fringes of Appalachia, but I spent a lot of time with my grandparents who lived in Magoffin Country, KY, just two counties over from Jackson, KY, where the author spent at least part of his childhood. I don’t think I’m biased as I’ve spent most of my life in other places than Appalachia. But, I understand the culture and I am brutally honest about the culture. I have delayed writing this book review because the subject matter of the novel is so close to my heart as I’m sure it is close to the heart of J.D. Vance. With that said, here goes…..

https://rosemarycarlson.com/2017/01/02/book-review-hillbilly-elegy/

Desolation

don't bother knocking

Photo credit to courtney065 flikr

Callie knew she shouldn’t have come here. She was glad her cousin, Daniel, was with her. She had been gone from Kentucky, the state where she had grown up and lived most of her adult life, for five years now. It had been at least ten years since she had been to the old homeplace deep in the heart of the eastern part of the state. Deep in the heart of Appalachia. If her uncle’s old house on the farm looked like this, she wasn’t sure she wanted to see the main house, her grandparent’s old home. The home she had spent so much time at as a child and teenager.

Eastern Kentucky was decimated. It had been sliding downhill for years. When coal mining started to decline way back in the 1980s, the whole region started to decline. The farming that was secondary to mining also declined when the subsidies on growing tobacco were stopped. There used to be tobacco bases everywhere you looked around here. Her grandparents lived on tobacco and oil money. There wasn’t a tobacco base to be found now. All the tobacco was grown overseas.

As Callie and Daniel drove around Eastern Kentucky, where their mothers grew up, she thought of what could be done for these poor people who loved their culture and their way of life but had very little means to support themselves. Coal mining would never come back in any big way. There was a bit more mining going on under President Trump because he had done away with most of the mining regulations. All that did was make an unsafe working environment for the miners and pollute the environment. It would only last until the first big mine disaster.

The obvious solution to the job problem in this area is to let the people grow marijuana. At the very least medicinal marijuana and, in Callie’s opinion, recreational marijuana. This was the marijuana capital of the United States anyway. Why not let them grow it legally? It was used medicinally for so many good things. Regulate it if they want. President Trump was trying to do away with laws in the states that allowed legal marijuana purchases, even for medicinal marijuana. Callie and Daniel both thought that was criminal. It was a pain reliever for cancer patients. It could be used as a pain reliever for so many things, even the crippling rheumatoid arthritis like her mother had.

Letting these people in Eastern Kentucky grow marijuana legally would be such a good thing for this area. It would bring it back from the desolate state it was in. Eastern Kentucky was known, now, for its high drug use. Mostly prescription drugs but heroin had crept into the picture. Drug use was high because the unemployment rate in many areas approached 40 percent. The people felt hopeless and helpless. Give them a cash crop to grow in the valleys between these mountains and make them feel a useful member of society. The drug problem, in Callie’s opinion, would drop.

Hemp was another cash crop that these people could grow. It had been grown on an experimental basis on the University of Kentucky farm. It could be used to make clothes and other products. Trump had promised to bring back manufacturing to the United States. If he kept that promise, hemp could be used in manufacturing. Just like the Eastern Kentucky area was a prime area for growing marijuana, it was also a prime area for growing hemp.

Before Trump became President, there was progress being made on the legalization of marijuana and hemp production that would have helped Appalachia so much. Any progress made had been rolled back under his administration. He seemed to want to take us back to the days of his youth. The people she knew were in one camp or another. Either they were still Trump supporters or they were scared to death he was leading the country straight into Fascism. She was in the latter camp as was Daniel.

People seemed to be trying to go on with their lives. That’s why she and Daniel were taking this tour of the land where their mother’s grew up. The only relatives they had here now were very distant cousins who they didn’t even know. So they were visiting the places familiar to them, taking stock of the changes, probably for the last time. Callie had come to Kentucky for a visit and she and Daniel had decided to do this on a whim.

There was her grandfather’s house! Just as rundown as the shack her uncle used to live in. She could see the oil wells behind it in the same place they were when she was a child. They were pumping. She had noticed that her oil royalties had gotten a little better recently, but she was sure it was a short-term thing. She and Daniel and the rest of the cousins feared the wells were just about dry.

Oil, health care, and education were just about the only jobs left in this area. A few oil workers were needed as were primary and secondary teachers. A lot of health care workers were needed but they were hard to attract to the area unless they had family here. There was a lot of illness. President Trump’s immigration policy had swept all the foreign physicians out of Eastern Kentucky and they had been the backbone of the health care system.

As Callie and Daniel started home, depression hovered over them like a cloud. It used to be so beautiful here. If the federal government would provide the right kind of help, it could be again. As long as Donald Trump, or anyone like him was President, they knew it would never happen. Callie knew she would go back to her home in Florida now and would never look back. She had worried about this area and looked back too long. Time to move on.

Book Review: Hillbilly Elegy

Update: This book is going to be made into a movie, directed by Ron Howard.

Before I start this book review, I feel the need to print a bit of a disclaimer. This book is about the area of the country in which I grew up. I grew up on the fringes of Appalachia, but I spent a lot of time with my grandparents who lived in Magoffin Country, KY, just two counties over from Jackson, KY, where the author spent at least part of his childhood. I don’t think I’m biased as I’ve spent most of my life in other places than Appalachia. But, I understand the culture and I am brutally honest about the culture. I have delayed writing this book review because the subject matter of the novel is so close to my heart as I’m sure it is close to the heart of J.D. Vance. With that said, here goes…..

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance is about a family who originated in Breathitt County, KY, squarely in the middle of the Appalachian portion of Kentucky (southeastern Kentucky). Specifically, Mr. Vance grew up in Jackson, KY, the largest town in that county. Breathitt County is poor, even desperately poor, white, and most of the people are, in their way, both hopeless and proud. This book is Mr. Vance’s memoir.

Hillbilly Elegy is a graphic, yet accurate, portrayal of life in Appalachia, or perhaps I should say Eastern Kentucky, during the time he grew up. I’m not speaking as a book reviewer. I’m speaking as one who was there at the same time as well as before and since. I know that the way Mr. Vance portrayed Eastern Kentucky is, for the most part, true. The people are good people. They are proud and they would be hard-working, if there were anywhere to work. Since work is so scarce, there have been periods of movement out of the area, and Mr. Vance’s family moved during one of those periods. The typical places to move have been to Ohio and Michigan. Mr. Vance’s family moved to Middletown, Ohio seeking a better life and work. Ultimately, they were seeking upward mobility. Upward mobility existed in Eastern Kentucky during my grandparent’s time. It doesn’t anymore.

Yes, Mr. Vance’s family carried their culture with them when they moved to Ohio. What else were they to do? They knew nothing else. They were hot-tempered and quick to take offense. Perhaps that was because the culture in Eastern Kentucky developed in geographic isolation from the rest of the world. The family had addiction problems. When people can’t find work, that tends to happen. Those things went with them to Ohio as they are not solvable over night. They were “different” than their neighbors in Ohio. Of course they were. They came from a different place with different social norms and different values. It was hard to fit in, especially with people who called you a “hillbilly” and made fun of your accent. Vance’s family all struggled with their middle-class life in Ohio. They struggled to escape the demons of their pasts. They never did and my guess is neither did J.D. Vance. None of us ever do, do we?

Vance’s family life seems chaotic to people who have never lived in the culture of Appalachia but not so chaotic to those of us who have. He did have the stabilizing influence of his grandparents on his mother’s side and that, perhaps, saved him. He went on to become a first-generation college student, a Marine, and he graduated from the Yale Law school. He is not the only young person to have escaped a disadvantaged background. He clearly had determination and intelligence as is evidenced in Hillbilly Elegy.

The culture described in this book is not limited to Appalachia. Any poor, white, disadvantaged culture can fall prey to the cultural problems that Vance’s family experienced. I admire J.D. Vance for writing a book that told the truth about a family and an area which he clearly loves.

Hillbilly Elegy is a bestseller. It is an excellent social psychology look at a culture in crisis. It should be required reading for high school and/or college students. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #HillbillyElegy #Appalachia

Click here to purchase from Amazon:

#weekendcoffeeshare 12/10/2016

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“Jenn, I’m so glad you’re back for our #weekendcoffeeshare! It’s been a long time since we’ve had coffee together,” I said as Jenn came through the door.

“Oh, I’m glad to be back. I’ve been gone too long. I’m anxious to hear what’s been going on. Let me help you serve everyone.”

“Thanks, Jenn,” I said.

As folks started coming round, Jenn and I served coffee, cappuccino, expresso. We also served apricot, chai, and Indian spice tea, along with hot chocolate. Everyone settled in with their hot beverage of choice. They were all glad to see Jenn.

Jenn started our coffeeshare by telling us about her recent trip to the Ft. Myers, Florida area, which is also one of my favorite areas in Florida. They had actually stayed in Punta Gorda but had visited one of my favorite Florida towns, Matlacha. It is a small, “old Florida” fishing village and one of the communities on Pine Island, FL, a place where Jenn and I have both vacationed many times. Matlacha has some of the best seafood restaurants and bars in all of Florida, in my opinion. Pine Island is also one of my favorite places to vacation, at least on the Gulf side of Florida. Great deep sea fishing and sightseeing to the outer islands. The best grouper I’ve ever eaten. A quiet old Florida culture.

I wish I was in Matlacha right now! It’s getting cold in Kentucky. Last night was in the low 20s and today, we’ll be lucky if the temperature gets out of the 20s. The dreaded polar vortex has decided to pay us another visit as it did last winter. Kicks my seasonal affective disorder and newly-discovered claustrophobia right into high gear! Maybe I’m getting used to winter. I’ve haven’t noticed it as much this week.

I want to tell you about the most interesting book I’m reading. Writers have to read, of course. It’s called Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Some of you may know that I come from an area of the country very near to Appalachia. Vance wrote this novel about Appalachia, his home, and it is an excellent story and also a good look at the culture of the area. If you’re interested in Appalachia or just in different cultures, give it a look. It really is a good story. I hear it isn’t terribly popular in the Appalachian region. Vance doesn’t always paint a flattering picture of the culture but what culture doesn’t have unflattering aspects? If you are interested in the Appalachian culture, try books by the author Silas House who is a good writer technically and knows the culture inside and out. House is a wonderful storyteller.

I have gotten very little work done on my novel this week. This novel seems to be so character-driven. The characters have taken on a life of their own and, in any psychological thriller, there are a number of twists and turns. One character has caused a major twist this week. I have to see where this one takes me.

I’ve been really fond of listening to classical music this week in my writing studio. Do you find that music with lyrics disturbs your writing? I surely do. So classical or jazz it is. Sometimes, I prefer silence. I moved out into my writing studio to escape the television in my house. I do have a television in my studio but, so far, I’ve only turned it on for the news. There is so much news, these days, that I sometimes watch too much of it.

We know, as writers, we all need a good printer. I finally broke down and ordered a Brother Laser Printer. I can’t wait for it to arrive. I’ve used a problematic Epson Inkjet for a long time now and I am so tired of buying the extraordinarily expensive ink cartridges. I was shocked at how far down the price of the Brother printers have come. You can also get wireless ones, which I did. If you’re interested, I encourage you to check them out. The price is more than reasonable.

I may have another cool “writer” purchase to tell you about next weekend!

That’s it for this weekend. I have to wrap-up our coffeeshare a bit early. I’m doing something exciting today. I’m going, with my girlfriend, to a performance of the ballet, “The Nutcracker,” at the Lexington Opera House, this afternoon! I’ve never seen it so I’m super excited, I will tell you all about it next week.

Have a great week and a productive writing week! #amwriting #amblogging #writing

*This post is sponsored by parttimemonsterblog.com

Thanks, Diana!

 

 

Mother’s Day: Founded in Appalachia

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Mother’s Day, an important holiday to many of us, originated in Appalachia. It was founded in 1858 by Ann Jarvis. The founding of Mother’s Day was in response to the need for sanitation for new mothers since the infant mortality rate at that time was so high. Infection spread easily through mining camps and the small communities. Diseases that were prevalent were small pox, tuberculosis, whooping cough, measles, typhoid, and diptheria, to name a few.

After the Civil War in 1865, a woman named Julia Ward Howe who was both an author and an activist, wrote the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic and her husband was responsible for trying to clean up the unsanitary conditions that existed during and after the Civil War in the army camps. More men died in the camps from unsanitary conditions than were killed in the war. Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation which urged all mother’s to leave their homes for one day in June and work for peace in their communities. There existed two versions of Mother’s Day.

In May 1908, Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Anne Jarvis who established the initial version of Mother’s Day, worked tirelessly to see her mother’s vision fulfilled. She enlisted the help of others to get an official day established honoring mothers. In 1912, West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother’s Day. Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May a national holiday — Mother’s Day. Its symbol became the carnation.

By the 1940s, Anna had soured on Mother’s Day as it was celebrated in modern society, particularly its commercialization. She passed away without ever becoming a mother.

Mother’s Day lives on and we celebrate our mother’s, or their memory, every year…..all thanks to a woman from Appalachia. #mothers day  #appalachia

 

Appalachian Roots

I am from Appalachia, central Appalchia to be exact. Northeastern Kentucky to be even more exact. My roots have a bit of a split personality. Part Appalachian, part Swedish! What a combination which probably accounts for my split personality and eccentric leanings. Someday, I will write about my Swedish family. Now I want to write about Appalachia. Appalachia breaks my heart.

I have always lived geographically close to Appalachia and spent almost 30 years teaching students who came from the region. I did not grow up deep in the heart of Appalachia but I frequently visited my grandparents and other family who lived in the Central Appalachian region. As I grew up, their culture was my culture, their values were my values, their way of life was my way of life. By the time I was becoming a teenager, Appalachia’s best days were behind it but I didn’t know it. My grandfather had worked hard to insure that his eight children, including my mother, had left the region in order to get an education and seek their fortunes. One had to go elsewhere for an education. There were only two universities reasonably close by and the terrain of the region is geographically isolating.

Poverty was the calling card of the region. My grandfather was a landowner, a successful farmer, and had gas and oil wells on the rich land. When I looked out his front door, I saw acres of corn and tobacco growing and many dairy cattle grazing. He was the exception not the rule. He refused to let his family work in the coal mines, but coal mining was one of the principal industries. Much of the region is not suited for farming as it is too mountainous. Manufacturers did not bring their industries to Eastern Kentucky. There were no good roads.

The people opposed interference from outside the region. They feared that their culture would be taken away, their way of life stolen, their children corrupted. They feared cultural change more than they feared poverty.

My grandparents are gone now but the old farmhouse still stands. Do you know what I see when I look out the door now? Trailer parks. Very poor, hopeless people. Children playing in the dirt yards. Starving dogs surviving on table scraps tied out in the yard. I know enough about the area to know what lies within some of those trailers. Drugs. Heroin. Pain pills. In that county, there is little economic activity with around a 33% unemployment rate. Farming is gone. The gas and oil wells still pump but the owners of the mineral rights live far away or the mineral rights were unfortunately sold along with the land. The people lost their way of life but not to manufacturers or education. They lost it to drugs and poverty.

Appalachia breaks my heart. #appalachia #poverty #drug abuse

Watch this space for much more on Appalachia.