Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The GOP may want to rethink its anti-Obamacare strategy

Since the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was signed by President Obama in 2010, the Republican Party has been on a mission to ultimately destroy it - through negative ad campaigns, talking points and promises leading up to election day, 50+ failed repeals, the government shutdown, etc. However, while these seemingly constant attacks on the new healthcare law had gained some traction when it came to public polling, it didn't impact the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it nor any component of the law itself. ...and not only that, unfortunately for the Republicans, since surpassing its goal of 7 million sign-ups by March 31st, Obamacare has been receiving much more positive press, and this can be seen in recent poll numbers. While the Republican Party may have been able to win over some voters during late last year with's gliched site and botched roll-out, the tide appears to be turning, and GOP candidates may need to find something else to run on in the coming elections than just, "If you vote for us, we'll repeal Obamacare!" Even if the press hadn't been so positive with regard to the healthcare law of late, I'd respond to such points with, "Right... Because when you fail 50 times at that, I'm supposed to believe 51 will be a winner!"

Reuters/Ipsos has been releasing a monthly poll regarding the public's opinion on healthcare. In February, only about 25% of respondents believed that Democrats had a better healthcare plan than Republicans. That number increased to 31% in March, and now 32% in April. On the other side of the aisle, meanwhile, 24% of respondents believed the Republican Party had a better healthcare plan than Democrats in the month of March (net -7%), and that's decreased to 18% in April (net -14%).

With regard to the results, pollster Chris Jackson said the following:

"Democrats have not managed to have a huge lead over Republicans so much as Republicans have managed to damage their own position and stay behind Democrats. That's because people don't view the Republican Party as standing for any particular healthcare system."

In any case, with: ACA enrollments eclipsing the 7.5 million mark; a recent CBO report noting that premiums are more affordable than had been anticipated and that the bill will also cost less than had been predicted; another report claiming that more insurance companies, which had been skeptical about the law at first, are looking to join the party next year, which could also decrease prices; not to mention the positive news stories with regard to the bill, I have a hunch the ACA's approval numbers will continue to climb, and with that, the Republican Party will need to find another strategy to appeal to voters on election day. If history is any indication, that's not going to happen. But if the before-mentioned ACA trends continue, what the GOP may wind up doing is telling voters, "Obamacare was our idea back in the '90s and he stole it! He's a thief! Vote for us and we'll impeach Obama for stealing Obamacare from the Republican Party!"

Finally enrolled in Obamacare

It was anything but easy, but after four months of sporadically trying, I'm finally enrolled in "Obamacare," and will be saving approximately $1,200 a year due to it (in comparison to my old plan).

I created my profile in late December of last year, and while the site was running slightly better than it had been in early October, it still wasn't cooperating with me very well, so I decided to give it up until the new year. Slowly, but surely, I started filling out the application, which was taking a bit longer than I had anticipated. Then, as of March, I had finally gone through all of my 27 healthcare options and made my decision. Unfortunately, after I clicked on my selections for both a healthcare and dental plan, once I clicked "review and confirm," a screen popped up, which said, "$0 premium - click confirm." While I had wished that was accurate, $0 is a far cry from $246, and I knew something had gone awry. When I clicked "confirm," a red error-box popped up, with the error ID 500.300586. It told me to log off, wait 30 minutes, and try again, and if that didn't work, to call a representative at the marketplace. When I tried again and was greeted with the same result, I decided to research the error, and ask around on Twitter, before calling. Unfortunately, the only advice I received was to: 1) Clear my cookies/cache and try again (that didn't work) and 2) Remove my application and make a new one (that didn't sound right). So, I then decided to go to the phone...

For my first call, I was on hold for approximately 45 minutes. The guy I talked to was kind, but I could tell he was tired, perhaps slightly irritated due to all of the problems people were having, and after about an hour of talking and being put on hold multiple times, he finally decided to have another person at a separate department look over my application, see if they could fix the error, and then call me back between the hours of 6 and 9 pm that following week. I never got that call.

When I called again this past Sunday and informed another representative about the situation, she said they didn't have me down for a call-back, and again said they'd have someone at a different department look over my app, see if they could work around the error, and give me a call between 6 and 9 pm over the next couple of days. Once again, that didn't happen.

So at 9 pm last night, I decided to call yet again - given the fact the tentative second deadline was midnight. The first time I called, I was told by a robot that they couldn't take my call due to too many callers, and hung up on me. I asked around on Twitter about what my options were, before calling back about a half-hour later, being placed on hold for an hour, and then finally talking to a representative. Fortunately, unlike the first two reps I spoke to, this one (Krystal/Crystal) actually knew what she was doing. When going through my application and receiving the same error message that I and the other two reps had received, she decided to take and save a screenshot of it, because, "I've never seen that one before." I kind of chuckled at that and said, "Wow - aren't I the special one?" Maybe that's how I'll garner more name recognition - by having a error named after me! She then gave me two options: 1) To fill out another application over the phone or 2) To wait for someone to get back to me. Since the "deadline" was midnight and I had gone with that second route two times previously, I decided it was probably for the best to go with option number one. Yeah, I know - I should rephrase that old saying to, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me three times, shame on me." Since the rep had all the information in front of her from my previous application, the process didn't take nearly as long as it had the first time through. Not only that, but she found a better deal for me, and half-jokingly said, "You see? You were lucky to get stuck on the site for so long." Perhaps she's right in a way, but due to how frustrating the experience was at times, I hope to never get that "lucky" again. In any case, as of approximately 11 pm last night, after four months of trying, I was officially enrolled in "Obamacare," and for as time-consuming and frustrating as the experience was at times, in the end, it was all worth it. Hopefully the website continues to improve and the news surrounding the healthcare bill continues to trend in a positive direction. Thanks again to Krystal/Crystal for all her help last night. After two years of being without healthcare, partially due to pre-existing-condition rejection letters, I'll finally be covered as of May 1st. Thanks, Obama.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pastor Kevin Swanson apparently likes talking crazy

With regard to a new Nabisco Honey Maid commercial, which showcases a same-sex couple, anti-LGBT rights Pastor Kevin Swanson of Colorado was at it again, as he made the following statements in a Generations Radio broadcast:

- "When you come down to things like axe murder or homosexuality and you say, 'We're really going to promote it and we're going to encourage everybody in America to engage in this or at least support this thing,' there will be people on the other side who will take an adamantly opposed position to your support of axe murdering or homosexuality. They will be intolerant -- they will be very intolerant of that which is evil, like axe murdering."

- "Maybe they had another family where a dog is the wife with a human husband. Homosexuals love their friends and cannibals love their victims - they taste good."

These quotes are so out of whack, I seriously have to wonder if Mr. Swanson was high or drunk at the time of uttering them.

With regard to the first quote, the first thing that came to mind was a '90s Mike Myers film, entitled, So I Married an Axe Murderer. If the two "evils" were so comparable, then the screenwriters could have named the film, So I Married a Homosexual, and it would have been virtually identical, right?

Also, I remember seeing the following question and answers on a make-believe episode of Family Feud:

Question: "What's the scariest thing in the world?"

5. Gunshots

4. Tornadoes/hurricanes

3. Axe murderers

2. Death

1. Homosexuals

Then, with regard to Mr. Swanson's second quote, he compares homosexuals "loving" their friends to cannibals loving their victims, because they taste good. Okay... If he's going to make that comparison, couldn't he also say, "Heterosexuals love their friends and cannibals love their victims - they taste good"? In other words, the comparison doesn't make a "lick" of sense. Yeah, like I said earlier, I really wonder if before this show's broadcast, Swanson mumbled to himself, "Mm... I love the taste of my friends Johnny Walker, Jose Cuervo, and Mary Jane."

Phyllis Schlafly's views on relationships are outdated

The Republican Party should really attend a lecture, entitled, "Re-branding 101" or "Re-branding For Kids," because their version of re-branding has missed the mark more often than a blind-folded Shaquille O'Neal at the free throw line. In continuing their push to persuade women that they're on their side, Phyllis Schlafly - founder of the conservative interest group Eagle Forum - wrote the following in an op-ed published by the Christian Post with regard to the gender pay gap:

"...Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don't have the same preference for a higher-earning mate.

While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap.

Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.

Obviously, I'm not saying women won't date or marry a lower-earning men, only that they probably prefer not to. If a higher-earning man is not available, many women are more likely not to marry at all. [...]

The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap."

What year is this again? 1950? ::checks the calendar:: Oh, I'm sorry - it's 2014. My bad... As Phyllis Schlafly, being 89-years-old, should know, it's taken women a long time to get to where they are today from an equal rights standpoint, and sadly enough, they're still not quite there yet. Also, sadly enough, due to Ms. Schlafly and her ilk, women have regressed from an equal rights standpoint in some states - especially over the past 5+ years.

As far as Ms. Schlafly's contention goes about women preferring to be with men who make more money than them and men preferring to make more money than their partners, her mind appears to be stuck in the 1950s (or before). The fact of the matter is not as many women went to college and worked during her day as they do now. Fast-forward to today, more women are going to college than men, and with that, more women are earning college degrees than men. Like most men, most women have full-time jobs in contemporary America. However, women still aren't getting paid quite as much as men, and have been fighting for financial equality for what seems to be ages.

Ms. Schlafly, don't you think it's possible that during your day and age, women preferred potential male partners to make more money than them because men were going to school and working at a much higher frequency than women? Then on the flip-side, don't you think it's possible that during your day and age, men preferred to make more money than their potential female partners because they would have felt out of place amongst their peers and slightly inferior due to that?

While there are probably some men and women whom fit the "traditional" family mold which Ms. Schlafly paints, if she hasn't noticed, the times have slightly changed since she was a young woman. Some women like to be stay-at-home mothers, but an increasing number of women are going to college, stepping foot in the workforce, and doing everything in their power to make a decent living for themselves and their families (or future families). Due to this, a growing number of men have become stay-at-home fathers, and are okay with the fact their wives (or girlfriends) make more money than them.

No matter how regularly die-hard conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly want to brand marriage as being between a hard-working husband, a stay-at-home mother, and healthy kids due to this, that's anything but the norm anymore. Families can consist of: A working man and working woman, a working woman and a stay-at-home father, two men, two women, a single parent with a couple of kids, etc. There is no absolute right or wrong answer to the increasingly complex formula of a family.

While the two genders aren't yet on an equal-playing field, we've slowly been getting there, and due to that, there are many more variables to take into consideration when it comes to a potential working relationships than back in Ms. Schlafly's younger years. If a man or a woman doesn't make a lot of money, chances are he or she would prefer their partner to make more than them, so they'll be less likely to struggle financially as a family in the future. If that man or woman is well off financially, then they're probably much less worried about what their potential partner makes, because they feel confident enough that their future family won't struggle financially. If this man or woman makes an average amount of money, then he or she may prefer that their partner makes a similar amount, so they feel less worried about potential struggles in the future. Like I said, there are many more variables to consider in 2014 than back when Ms. Schlafly was 20-years-old (1950), and being a woman herself who has seen her gender make strides toward equality during her day, she should appreciate fellow women trying to continue taking steps forward in this country, as opposed to taking steps backward as she would seemingly prefer. Like with many other issues, when it comes to dating, Phyllis Schlafly's views are simply outdated.

According to a new study, right-wing extremists are more dangerous than jihadists in the U.S.

Following the horrific recent shooting in Kansas by 73-year-old right-wing extremist Frazier Glenn Cross, CNN's Peter Bergen and David Sterman released a report, entitled, "U.S. right wing extremists more deadly than jihadists." The numbers released in the report were quite troubling, to say the least.

In this report, the following was written:

"...since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).

By contrast, terrorists motivated by al Qaeda's ideology have killed 23 people in the United States since 9/11.

(Although a variety of left wing militants and environmental extremists have carried out violent attacks for political reasons against property and individuals since 9/11, none have been linked to a lethal attack, according to research by the New America Foundation.)"

The report also said this:

"...since 9/11 none of the more than 200 individuals indicted or convicted in the United States of jihadist terrorism have acquired or used chemical or biological weapons or their precursor materials, while 13 individuals motivated by right wing extremists ideology, one individual motivated by left-wing extremist ideology, and two with idiosyncratic beliefs, used or acquired such weapons or their precursors."

The article then goes on to compare the lack of media attention to these violent acts by right-wing extremists to the overload of media attention to such attacks by "foreign" terrorists, as it concluded the matter with the following paragraph:

"Today in the United States, al Qaeda-type terrorism is the province of individuals with no real connection to foreign terrorists, aside from reading their propaganda online. Given this, it becomes harder to explain, in terms of American national security, why violence by homegrown right wing extremists receives substantially less attention than does violence by homegrown jihadist militants."

It amazes me how we spend so much time, energy, and money on building an over-the-top military due to the paranoia brought about by an attack which occurred 12.5 years ago. It's a ghost that haunts much of this country to this day, with regard to: Debt, liberties, xenophobia, racism, priorities, and paranoia. At some point, we're going to have to ask ourselves, "Is the ghost more real and troubling than that which stares us in the face, or would it be best to allow that ghost to fly away in the past and deal with what affects us today and in the future?" While past events will inevitably dictate who we become in the present, if our mindsets and lives remain in the past, it will prevent us from progressing in the future.

Florida Congressman Ted Yoho sounds like a yahoo

Just recently, Florida Tea Party Congressman Ted Yoho engaged in the following post-town hall discussion with ThinkProgress with regard to climate change:

Keyes: "Droughts and extreme weather have been on the rise here in Florida. Do you think that's something that's attributable to manmade climate change?"

Yoho: "No. I think it's a natural occurrence. I think we need to be good stewards of the resources we have and we need to get better, which we have, through technology and innovation."

Keyes: "Do you think scientists are right on climate change or are they off-base on it?"

Yoho: "I think there's an agenda-driven science. I can read stuff that says that the information was skewed. It's not right. I'm a guy that's worked out in the weather since I was 16. I can tell there's climate change. The cause? I'm not smart enough for that."

Based on that discussion, I can just see Representative Yahoo, excuse me, Yoho, releasing the following campaign ad in the run-up to an election:

"I'm going to be frank, America - we've got problems in this country. I mean, we've got problems - serious ones. Our problems run deeper than at any time since the Great Anti-Depressants, or whatever that was called. How can we solve these problems? I don't know. I'm not smart enough for that, but vote for me anyway. I promise, even though I won't know what I'm doing, I'll still do the right thing. God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America. Amen."

Reflection from a conversation I had over the weekend

As seems to be typical anymore, I had an interesting bar discussion over the weekend - this time, with a self-described conservative Republican. I say "self-described," because after talking to him, it was difficult for me to see him as a member of the modern-day Republican Party.

Here's a brief rundown of what this man believes:

1) Supports women's reproductive rights

2) Supports gays' rights

3) Supports taxing the rich a bit more

4) Supports conserving our environment

5) Is an NRA member, but supports what he calls "common sense gun-control laws"

6) Does not support the Citizens United ruling

7) Loathes the Tea Party

8) Doesn't believe Ronald Reagan would make it in today's Republican Party

9) Thinks lobbyists are the worst thing since the Antichrist

10) Voted for Bush (W.) twice, McCain, and Romney, in the elections ranging from 2000 to 2012

Reading the first nine points, most people would assume this man was either an Independent or Democrat when it comes to party affiliation, and either moderate or liberal in his ideology. However, then when reading point ten, many would probably have to double-check to make sure they weren't half-asleep or drunk. I know I was quite perplexed when talking to him, but then it hit me.

My mother was a fairly staunch Republican for many years. She briefly protested the party by voting for Jimmy Carter after the Nixon fiasco, but outside of that, she was pretty much a straight-ticket Republican voter. Between 2000 and 2004, however, something happened. As she later told me, "I didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me." Ever since then, she's been increasingly liberal and it makes her cringe to think she ever voted for a Republican for president - especially George W. Bush in 2000.

An elderly ex-neighbor of mine spoke to me one time while I was walking my dog around the neighborhood the same thing - "I didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me."

While these two individuals have made such a confession about the current state of the Republican Party and have changed their allegiances due to that, I wonder if the person I spoke to at the bar over the weekend and many others like him, while knowing deep down the Republican Party no longer represents them, they still haven't taken that next step by letting go of that allegiance and taking it elsewhere. Maybe it's partially due to having grown up in an extremely partisan (conservative) household, consistently hearing demeaning slogans and talking points at the expense of the Democratic Party, or maybe it's just become a habit which has been difficult to break. In any case, it's about time such individuals finally let go of the past, which is just that, and take the steps necessary to move forward in the present, so it allows them to continually progress in the future. As my mother and neighbor both told me over the past few years, "I didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me." It's about time more people whom feel that way come forward, protest the party that left them with their votes going elsewhere on election day, force the GOP to reevaluate itself, and hopefully force it to make some necessary changes.

An inside look at a third upcoming book of mine

As I did with two other books I'll be releasing in the near future (The Kind-Hearted Smarta*s - Volume 2: The Wisecracks Continue and The Kind-Hearted Smart Aleck - Volume 2: The Wisecracks Continue), I thought I'd give readers a sneak peek at the third book I'll be releasing in the coming weeks, which I just completed, and which is called, LOL at the GOP - Volume 4: Guns, Jesus, Corporations, and Fetuses. Here we go...


Introduction - Every Day is Like Christmas - p. 8

The Obamascare - p. 9

“Obamacare = apartheid” - p. 13

Papa John’s offers greed as a topping - p. 14

To Rush Limbaugh, the Pope + his criticism of capitalism = an Obama orgasm - p. 15

Romney in 47% denial - p. 18

Who’s to blame for the poor Hurricane Katrina response? Just ask Louisiana Republicans… - p. 20

John Boehner changes his name to John Boner - p. 22

When Facebook and stupid political comments collide - p. 24

Pat Robertson educates the world on magic gay rings - p. 31

Pat Robertson was a poet in a former life - p. 33

A Virginia pastor has found the “cure” for homosexuality - stroking horses! - p. 34

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin simultaneously comes out against gay marriage and our military
- p. 34

To one group, gun rights = gay rights - p. 37

In Charleston, West Virginia, pack your floaties and guns before heading to the pool - p. 41

Blind people with guns? Yeah, that sounds like a good idea… - p. 42

“Don’t run with scissors!” Run with guns? That’s another story… - p. 47

Are guns in schools risky? Insurers say, “Well, duh.” - p. 48

“Guns don’t kill people; Skittles do!” - p. 50

Gotcha and Limperdick Square Off (an allegory of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case)
- p. 52

More Good Guys With Guns - p. 56

A Lesson on English and Death Threats - p. 61

The Story of Big T: The Man with a Big Truck and a Big Gun - p. 63

Juxtaposing Jesus and pro-gun bumper stickers - p. 66

Believers in the invisible, but not of the observable - p. 67

God spared Boehner as House Speaker…or something… - p. 70

Rick Perry, while singing “Jangle Balls,” signs the “Merry Christmas Bill” into law - p. 71

The GOP’s new Ten Commandments - p. 72

The Top Ten Things More Popular Than the Republican Party - p. 74

Over-analyzing Bush’s paintings - p. 75

To the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan has become like Chuck Norris - p. 78

Clarence Thomas smooth-talking a woman - p. 80

“If I Only Had a Brain” should be the theme song for Maine Republican Ken Fredette - p. 82

When it comes to women, Mitch McConnell can’t make up his mind - p. 83

According to Rick Santorum, the anti-abortion movement is one of “love” - p. 85

Apparently, liberals talk about abortion while in the shower - p. 87

Nothing spells s-e-x-i-s-t like “Fox and Friends” - p. 90

To Bill O’Reilly, marijuana = Russian roulette - p. 93

The Three Degrees of Benghazi - p. 96

Think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in U.S. history? If so, then there’s a decent chance you
don’t know where it’s located… - p. 98

The South Carolina Republican Party calls the IRS “scandal” “Obama’s Gestapo” - p. 99

The GOP hates Obama so much… - p. 101

Racism is over!!! …so says the GOP… - p. 102

Republicans try to woo minorities with history of the semi-ancient variety - p. 104

The Essence of Trickle-Down Economics - p. 110

References - p. 114

Acknowledgements - p. 121

About the Author - p. 123

A proof copy of a third new books is on its way

As I wrote yesterday, don't be surprised if I send readers more regular updates with regard to my books this week. I finally see the finish line, so there will be a lot for me to share over the coming days and weeks.

While I'm still assuming the proof copies of The Kind-Hearted Smarta*s - Volume 2: The Wisecracks Continue (Uncensored Version) and The Kind-Hearted Smart Aleck - Volume 2: The Wisecracks Continue (Censored Version) will arrive here within the next few days, and will hopefully become available by early next week, I finished my third upcoming book last night, and will be receiving a proof copy of that by mid-next week, I'd guess. The third book is entitled LOL at the GOP - Volume 4: Guns, Jesus, Corporations, and Fetuses. With any luck, all three books will be available for purchase in the next two weeks. I'm still awaiting my proofreader to read through my fourth upcoming book - LOL at the GOP - Volume 5: You Can't Spell "Forgot To Take Their Crazy Pills" Without "Tea Party" - but even if she were to finish doing that this week, I'm still having trouble coming up with a cover idea. So, at this time, I'm not certain when that book will become available. In any case, it's my goal to have all four books become available by sometime in the early portion of May.

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 8,882 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All eight of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

The six books I've written and released in the past 2+ years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me by either commenting on this blog or e-mailing me at Unless I'm out of town, I'm typically very good at responding rather quickly.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book(s) Update

Well, as I mentioned on Friday, proof copies of my two books The Kind-Hearted Smartass - Volume 2: The Wisecracks Continue (Uncensored Version) and The Kind-Hearted Smart Aleck - Volume 2: The Wisecracks Continue (Censored Version) should arrive here between Wednesday and Saturday, I'm guessing. So, as long as I'm satisfied with the quality of the products, they should become available for purchase by early next week.

My proofreader was able to read through the third book I'll be releasing this year, entitled, LOL at the GOP - Volume 4: Guns, Jesus, Corporations, and Fetuses. I've fixed the errors she discovered and will be working on the book's cover today. I already have an idea in mind for it, so hopefully it won't take me too terribly long, and this book could potentially become available in as early as a week and a half to two weeks.

I've yet to hear if my proofreader has read much of my fourth upcoming book - LOL at the GOP - Volume 5: You Can't Spell "Forgot To Take Their Crazy Pills" Without "Tea Party." I'm having trouble coming up with a cover idea for this book, but will come up with something one of these days.

I'm still undecided whether to release the two LOL at the GOP books together or separate. I suppose that may partially depend on how soon I can get the first two books out, how quickly I can complete the cover for the third book, and how quickly my proofreader can finish reading the fourth.

Well, that's all I have to share for the time being. I typically update readers on these matters on Mondays, but have a feeling I'll be updating you sooner than that, due to everything that's bound to happen in the coming week. Stay tuned...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Proof copies of two new books are on the way

I finished the covers for my new books The Kind-Hearted Smarta*s - Volume 2: The Wisecracks Continue and The Kind-Hearted Smart Aleck - Volume 2: The Wisecracks Continue late last night and should be receiving the proof copies of the two books in the next week or so. So, with any luck, they should become available within the next week or two. My proofreader said she's going to be reading at least one, if not two more books of mine over the weekend, so again, with any luck, LOL at the GOP - Volume 4: Guns, Jesus, Corporations, and Fetuses and LOL at the GOP - Volume 5: You Can't Spell "Forgot To Take Their Crazy Pills" Without "Tea Party" will hopefully become available in the next 3-4 weeks. I may try to get a head start on the matter and work on at least one of their covers today. Well, that's the news for now. I'll be sure to update everyone when new news breaks. Have yourselves a fun and safe weekend!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Missouri State Representative compares abortion to buying a car

Missouri State Representative Chuck Gatschenberger (yes, a Republican) recently defended his controversial bill, which would force women to have ultrasounds before undergoing abortions, by saying this at a hearing this past Tuesday:

"In making a decision to buy a car, I put research in there to find out what to do."

Yes, the Missouri lawmaker compared pregnancy and abortion to buying a car.

Fellow State Representative Stacey Newman (Democrat) responded to Gatschenberger's awful analogy by saying it was "extremely offensive to every single woman sitting in here," before adding the following:

"Do you believe that buying a car is in any way related to a pregnancy decision? That kind of attitude is demeaning to women, regardless of what they decide to do."

After hearing the backlash from Newman and many other women, Gatschenberger apologized for his analogy, and added, "I'm just saying this is a life-ending decision. You should think about it."

I'm not sure which was more pathetic, Gatschenberger's initial comment or his apology. Does he remember what his initial comment was? Allow me to refresh his memory...

"In making a decision to buy a car, I put research in there to find out what to do."

...and how did he follow up again?

"I'm just saying this is a life-ending decision. You should think about it."

In other words, Representative Gatschenberger either believes that buying a car is a life-ending decision or he is admitting that his analogy was about as spot on as a drunken blind man at a urinal.

On that note, allow me to share with you a few future Gatschenberger analogies and his likely apologies:

Gatschenberger analogy: "Look, when I tune into The Weather Channel, I know people are going to die. It's just like gay marriage."

Gatschenberger apology: "I'm just saying it's sinful. Think about it."

Gatschenberger analogy: "When I think of healthcare reform, I think of Hitler. They both start with 'h's,' right?"

Gatschenberger apology: "I'm just saying it's dangerous. That's all. Nothing more and nothing less."

Gatschenberger analogy: "Women who use birth control are like beaten-up boxers.

Gatschenberger apology: "I'm just saying they get pounded a lot. What's so offensive about that?"

Yeah, it looks like Chuck Gatschenberger didn't receive the GOP's memo on how to talk to and about women...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

There's a reason why Ben Stein's initials are BS

I'm not exactly sure why I torture myself with Ben Stein columns. Not only do his initials typically ring true (BS), but when reading the nonsense he spews, I hear his painstakingly boring monotone voice while reading these articles. Perhaps I'm part-masochist in a way. In any case, I now feel the need to share this excruciating experience with readers. You're welcome...

The American Spectator article Stein wrote that I'll be writing about is entitled, "Poverty and Income Inequality."

He started his "piece" in a typical Stein-ian fashion, by jumping randomly from one topic to the next, and writing this:

"I spent almost all day lying in bed listening to old Big Band music. I have not been well, and this is perfect therapy. I just let my mind run free to go down freeways and alleyways and this is where I came out...

At the intersection of Income Inequality and Poverty.

Here is what my mind dredged up."

Yeah... It's just like the time I wrote this introduction to a column:

"I was at a Metallica concert, headbanging like Beavis and Butthead, before I suddenly stopped, caught my balance before falling on my face, and had to leave the auditorium because something came to mind which I felt the urgent need to write down - something about government spending. Here is what, after taking some Advil, my mind dredged up."

Okay, so that never happened. But, anyway, please continue, Mr. Stein...

"There is an immense amount of income inequality here and everywhere. I am not sure why that is a bad thing. Some people will just be better students, harder working, more clever, more ruthless than other people. Some people will have better family connections than others. Some people will have richer parents than others. Unless we want to do away with property rights - a surefire route to dictatorship - we will have a lot of men and women who are rich by inheritance. Frankly, I feel sorry for them."

Not as sorry as I feel for the readers of this article. Please, go on...

"But it's inevitable that in a free society, some people will have more money than others. Surely some of those people got that money by looting their own stockholders. I know this for a fact. I spent decades writing about it for Barron's. There will be men in a position authority who will loot. Some of them will become famous philanderers and some famous philanthropists and some both."

Okay, so he goes from, "There is an immense amount of income inequality" to "...some people will have more money than others." Okay... Putting things a bit simply there, aren't we? Okay - you may continue...

"But there are just some people who are better with money than others and will wind up with a ton of money. There will be people who strike oil, who create new Internet toys. They fun symphonies and ballets and schools for inner city kids. They are a bulwark against tyranny because they can afford lawyers to fight overweening government.

We want for there to be a high number of rich people who function as a brake on government just as the nobles did on the crown in long ago England."

So, let's see if I've got this... "There is an immense amount of income inequality," "...some people will have more money than others," and "Some people are better with money than others and will wind up with a ton of money." Is that correct? Wow - is this a college research paper of some kind? These numbers and this evidence is awe-inspiring! Anything else, Mr. Stein?

"So I don't see why it's wrong to have income inequality. It isn't as if having a lot of rich people creates more poor people. We do not have a finite amount of money in America. There is an infinite amount and generally speaking, the more rich people there are who start businesses and or run them well, the more middle class people there are who work in them or hold stock in them."

Still a believer in trickle-down economics, eh? In theory, sure, that sounds like it could do some good. However, in actuality, that's another matter entirely. There's a reason why the income gap in this country is at a level not seen since the Great Depression - while wages have remained fairly stagnant for the middle- and lower-classes, the upper-class has seen a rather dramatic increase in their wealth. With rising prices in everything from food to healthcare to tickets to movies and concerts, that which the middle- and lower-classes could once afford they can no longer, all the while the upper-class is able to pay for such necessities and luxuries with greater ease than they could previously. So, while, no, having more rich people doesn't necessarily create more poor people, the conditions these rich people have left the middle- and lower-classes has resulted in more poor people. Anyway, back to the BS...

"So, I just don't see the problem in there being so many billionaires except for bare envy - an extremely basic emotion. It is an emotion that the politicians and academics and race haters have been able to stir up for a long, long time. It leads to jobs for Democrats but not much else."

Envy? Really? Does he really think those struggling to put food on the table for their families are really thinking, "Gee... If I were a billionaire, everything would be okay. I hate billionaires! I absolutely hate them! Ah!"? No - these families simply want to be able to live life from day to day and to provide all of life's essentials to their loved ones. What they basically want to do is survive. That's a far different cry than billionaires seeking to buy a third house, a second yacht, or a seventh car. It isn't that these lower- and middle-class individuals are envious of billionaires. It's that billionaires tend to lack empathy for the lower- and middle-classes. But, anyway, back to showing a strange amount of empathy for these very billionaires...

"But then we come to what is a real, genuine problem: poverty. It is not fine to have Americans (or Cubans or Congolese) in want, unable to afford the necessities in life. Again, I don't see why or where having a thin super rich slice affects that. But poverty is a real problem."

A thin super rich? What was this about income inequality? And poverty? How about reading the following from a CNBC report:

"The gulf between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America is the widest it's been since the Roaring '20s.

The very wealthiest Americans earned more than 19 percent of the country's household income last year - their biggest share since 1928, the year before the stock market crash. And the top 10 percent captured a record 48.2 percent of total earnings last year..."


"In 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent compared with a 1 percent increase for the remaining 99 percent."

But, anyway, Mr. Stein, please go on...

"In olden times, poverty was the common human condition. In the USA, as recently as the Great Depression, poverty was commonplace. FDR might have exaggerated when he described one-third of the nation as 'ill housed, ill fed and ill clad...' But surely he was not far off.

Now, real poverty, where Americans lack cars or air conditioning (imagine that we now consider it poverty to lack something that was the ne plus ultra of luxury in my youth!) or solid food is extremely rare. Yes, the government designates many tens of millions as poor, but they almost always have indoor plumbing (which my mother did not have in her small town in the Catskills) and they are super nourished as opposed to mal-nourished. They get food stamps. They get free medical care. They get vouchers for many of the needs of life."

Times kind of change, Ben... ...and with regard to the claim that today's poor are "super nourished," do you consider a "healthy" dosage of McDonald's, Taco Bell, and other cheap fast food meals "super nourishing"? Want to know one reason why the obesity level is up in this country? Growing income inequality. With the increasing number of lower-class families, there has been an increasing need for cheap meals, and with those cheap fast food meals comes an increase in fat. Think that's just a myth (you know, like climate change, evolution, and gravity)? In college, I consumed a heavy dosage of fast food. What happened? I got up to 186 lbs. After I stopped eating fast food, I dropped to 150 lbs. It must have just been one of those strange coincidences... Anyway, you were saying, Mr. Monotone?

"This is not to deny their sorrow and I am sad for them. But why are they poor? Senator Elizabeth Warren, a genuine moron, not a fake one, says it's because of 'corporations.' What can that mean? Corporations are not vampires. They are aggregations of workers, owners, and customers. Senator Warren infamously noted that 'corporations don't cry,' but their workers do when government regulators shut them down for environmental infractions. Their stockholders do when mistaken federal policy causes their stock to crash so that old people cannot retire and young people cannot go to college. If you substituted the words 'groups of Americans' for 'corporations' I wonder how much applause and hatred you would whip up even at a DNC convention."

"Corporations are people, my friend..." Right... That's why when I asked a corporation to prom and didn't hear a response, I had to go alone... Anyway, back to the myth that corporations are people, Mr. Stein...

"Corporations have nothing to do with causing poverty and in fact well-run corporations like Berkshire-Hathaway generate immense income for their stockholders - largely pension funds and hospital and college endowments - that allow for ordinary people to have comfort and rest."

I wonder what Mr. Stein thinks about the following report which was just released:

"Foreign profits held overseas by U.S. corporations to avoid taxes at home nearly doubled from 2008 to 2013 to top $2.1 trillion..." Yet, it's the minority of food stamp fraudsters which we really need to worry about, right?

"What I have also observed is that government policy rarely causes poverty over the long run. Yes, Fed mistakes can cause recessions and good people are thrown out of work for a time. That unequivocally happens. But good people find new jobs or relocate. (Retraining is often, not always, a fraud.) And recessions end and we have severe labor shortages in some areas as we do now in the oil areas and Silicon Valley.

No, federal policy does not generally cause long-term unemployment and poverty. In general. Obviously, there are exceptions."

Obviously...  Okay, I don't mean to seem agitated, but could we please close this up, Benjamin? Thanks...

"My humble observation is that most long-term poverty is caused by self-sabotage by individuals. Drug use. Drunkenness. Having children without a family structure. Gambling. Poor work habits. Disastrously unfortunate appearance. Above all, and counted in the preceding list, psychological problems (very much including basic laziness) cause people to be unemployed, have poor or no work habits, and enter and stray in poverty."

It's my humble observation that Ben Stein, like with many other things, is quite ignorant and prejudiced with regard to those in poverty...

"Impoverished people have personal problems. They may have had terrible childhoods. They may have been the victims of abuse. They are often the victims of their own abuse of drugs and alcohol. But they are not the victims of corporations or of the Federal Reserve. Their sad backgrounds lead them into self-destruction."

But, of course! The $2.1 trillion in taxes corporations avoided couldn't have aided the poor at all...

"Is there any public policy that can help them? We just don't know so far. But whipping up hate against the successful simply cannot do it. There is no connecting mechanism between envy and greater productivity. Quite the opposite. Envy legitimizes class hatred and idleness (see 'higher education - 2014') and produces nothing.

What will make the genuinely poor stop sabotaging themselves? Maybe, just maybe, if we let God back into the public forum it would help. I have seen spiritual solutions work miracles."

Yeah, that's going to do it. The poor will begin to prosper if they begin praying more to an invisible being. I have a better question for Ben Stein. What will make the genuinely rich stop sabotaging the poor? Maybe, just maybe, if we start passing laws to prevent this from happening with increasing frequency, maybe, just maybe, it would help those most in need...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Conservatives: "Just say no to equal pay!"

Progressives are referring to today as "Equal Pay Day," in an effort to bring attention to the pay gap between men and women in this country, and to hopefully prompt more people to get involved, contact their local congresspeople, and bring an end to gender pay discrimination.

So how have conservatives responded to this call to action? By basically calling the gender pay gap "a myth."

Executive director of the conservative Independent Women's Forum - Sabrina Schaeffer - said this regarding the issue: "Perpetuating the myth that women are a victim class harms women and makes them feel weak."

She also added this:

"The president, Democratic lawmakers and progressive activists use this faux holiday to convince women they are routinely suffering massive wage discrimination. [That's like] comparing apples to oranges."

Texas Governor Rick Perry referred to the matter as "misleading," "nonsense," and a distraction from "substantive" issues.

Republican consultant Katie Packer has also referred to it as a "distraction."

I'm sorry to burst conservatives' bubble with numbers - you know, facts - but the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that full-time working women make approximately 77 cents for every dollar that men make, and even if variables such as college major, job industry, and education level are controlled, women still make 7 cents less than men.

Also, recent analysis conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families reported the following:

"If full-time working women in Ohio were paid as much as men, they could afford nine more months of mortgage and utility payments. The average woman in Louisiana could afford 21 more months of rent, or two and a half years' worth of food for her family, if she earned the average male salary."

No matter what Congressional Republicans and conservative talking heads want to believe, the gender pay gap is anything but a myth, and if they want to get the "War on Women" label off their back, they'd be wise to warm up to the idea of supporting equal pay for women. I won't be holding my breath on the matter, though...


"Homosexuality is a choice!"

"Climate change is a hoax!"

"Racism is over!"

"The gender pay gap is a myth!"

"Trickle-down economics works for everyone!"

Ah, how I wonder what it's like to have a permanent vacation in never-never land...

Fox News fails yet again (literally)

I shouldn't be surprised by this, but am still disappointed. According to a new study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, here is how accurate the three major cable-news channels are when it comes to climate science:

1. MSNBC: 92% accurate, 8% misleading

2. CNN: 70% accurate, 30% misleading

3. Fox News: 28% accurate, 72% misleading

For as awful as I think Fox News is, not even I expected those horrific numbers. Going further into detail regarding Fox News, the report also stated the following:

- "Fox News covered climate science 50 times in 2013. Of these segments, 28 percent were entirely accurate, while 72 percent included misleading portrayals of the science."

- "More than half of Fox's misleading coverage (53%) was from one program, The Five, where the hosts often instigated misleading debates about established climate science. In general, Fox hosts and guests were more likely than those of other networks to disparage the study of climate science and criticize scientists."

- "Fox News did show an improvement from a UCS snapshot analysis of Fox News coverage in 2012, in which the network's coverage was entirely accurate in only 7 percent of segments, while 93 percent contained misleading statements. To further improve accuracy, the most productive step Fox News could take would be for hosts and guests to better differentiate between scientific facts about climate change and political opinions about climate policy."

I'm not sure which number is more staggering - that Fox News was accurate with regard to climate science just 7% of the time in 2012, or the fact that after quadrupling their level of accuracy in 2013, their accuracy only reached 28%. Can you imagine if child shared such test scores with his parents?

After test #1 (7%)

Carolyn Dizpoynted: "What'd you get on your test the other day, sweetie?"

Billy: ::hands her the test::

Carolyn: "Wow... A 7%? There were 100 questions and you only answered 7 correctly? Billy..."

Billy: "I know. The teacher said I could re-do it, though."

Carolyn: "Okay - well, you better get to studying then!"

Billy: "Okay, mom."

After test #2 (28%)

Carolyn: "Have you gotten your test back yet?"

Billy: "Yup" ::hands her the test::

Carolyn: "A 28%? Well, you did better, I guess."

Billy: "I know, mom! Aren't you proud? Can I go out and play now?"

William (father): "Did I hear that correctly? You go from a 7% to a 28% and are proud? What are you, stupid or something?"

Billy: "Mom..." ::cries::

Carolyn: "William - was that really necessary?"

William: "Hey - I'm just being honest. What is a 7%, anyway? A, B, C, D?"

Billy: "F"

William: "...and what about a 28%? What's that?"

Billy: "F"

William: "...and if you got a 100% on your next test, what would these two average out to?"

Billy: "A 90%?"

William: "Jesus... No, it'd average out to, uh, uh..."

Carolyn: "64%, William..."

William: "Yeah - that... ...and what's a 64%?

Billy: "F"

William: "Well, no - it's a low D, but won't be good enough to get a degree."

Carolyn: "It's his first year there, William. Give him some time."

William: "Why'd I spend all this money on his college, anyway? Ugh. I'm going to grab another beer."

Yes, Fox News - so inaccurate that even if they were 100% accurate in 2014, they'd still have a failing grade of 45% since 2012.

Hypocritical Judgment

Considering I was once called "The Dude," in reference to Jeff Bridges' character in the film The Big Lebowski due to my laid-back demeanor, it seems pretty safe to say that it takes a lot to anger me. However, it does happen on occasion, such as once this past weekend.

Over the weekend, a devout "Christian" decided it was her duty to pass judgment on me, because, well, I'm in my 30s, don't have any kids, and am not making a great deal of money.

I found this to be incredibly ironic, considering the fact that in the book of Matthew, chapter 19, verse 24, Jesus supposedly said this: "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

In the book of Luke, chapter 6, verses 20 through 26, he said:

"And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 'Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. 'Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 'Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 'But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation."

In 1 Timothy, 6:10, this is written: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs."

It would be naive for me to deny the fact that a majority of people in a capitalist society such as the United States of America strive for and strongly value material things and wealth. However, I'm also not going to judge a person who values his or her dreams, loves, and passions over their wealth. I'm not going to judge a married couple who never has kids, either due to infertility or another reason. I'm especially not going to claim to be a faithful Christian - to worship a man who valued generosity and kindness over wealth and material things - and then judge people for placing their dreams over wealth. While I think everyone has been hypocritical before, that's hypocritical with a capital "H."

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 8,746 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All eight of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

The six books I've written and released in the past 2+ years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me by either commenting on this blog or e-mailing me at Unless I'm out of town, I'm typically very good at responding rather quickly.