Category Archives: Congress

Time for a discussion: Guns, mental health, violence

24 Hours Ago… So much can change in a 24 hour period.

Throughout the world, lives are lost each day due to diseases, wars, drugs, mental and eating disorders, famine, violent crimes and so much more. What makes today different is not only is this happening just after the other recent tragedies in a mall, a theater, hair salon, etc but these were children, teachers a principal and those there to help our children.

They lived in one of the top 10 places to live in America. School should be a safe zone. No hate, violence, bullying or fear of dying due to any senseless act of crime. Mental disorders or not. That is not a reason or excuse for violence.

People live with mental disorders everyday without causing harm. People have guns responsibly. The fact is, not everyone is held accountable. Not everyone is responsible with a gun or keeps it away from the wrong hands.

Not everyone has proper medical diagnosis, care and/or treatment for their mental illness. The discussions and resolutions can’t be avoided. Prayers shouldn’t have to continuously go out for lives lost and communities affected by tragedy.

Prayers and attention need to focus on one thing, SAVING LIVES.

Put the politics aside.

People deserve to live and people deserve proper medical attention.

Side note:

I wanted to post this now but I was working on an article following the recent shooting in Clackamas…then this happened, the shooting at an elementary school. I will follow this up with a further article.

Please share your thoughts on this matter. Worldwide, people have been affected in different ways. 

It is time for a discussion.

Elections, the GOP and more craziness!

Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. : Photo by Ashleighb77

November 6th has come and gone with another Presidential Election behind us!

Wait! Not so fast! We did have an election and Barack Obama was elected to another term in office as President of the U.S.

However, votes are still being counted… Yes, I know we are over 10 days beyond the election so how could that still be going on?

Well, even as Mitt Romney was making his concession speech and President Obama was making his victory speech, people were still waiting in line to vote. Yes, that is true. In South Florida, many people were in line until 1:00 AM. But, they stayed and voted so their voices would be heard.

Why? Voting is their right. People know their vote matters and nothing or nobody will detour them from their vote being counted, at some point… hopefully.

Every election the message gets pushed about the importance of registering to vote, getting out to vote, having your voice heard, etc. But, more and more, it is becoming a divided message.

Plain and simple, who you’re voting for, possibly could determine how much your vote may be sought after or “blocked”.

Laws to protect voters from simply being turned away at the polls on Election Day, based on who you are voting for, but the GOP is working tirelessly on passing new laws to put strains on selected groups depending on different demographics.

As much as one may think law and order is here to protect our nation, preserve our rights and honor our freedoms, that is something that is not only questioned but questionable.

Watch this clip from HBO’s “The Newsroom” to see their look at a very real issue that is only growing worse with each election cycle and is an enormous part of why “Washington” seems to be so bogged down and unable to get anything substantial moved through in a reasonable (if any) amount of time.

“THE NEWSROOM”

Do you think they have some valid points in the segment?  What?

First, the voting fraud issue. The New York Times identified out of 120 voter fraud cases filed by the Department of Justice in five years, only 86 resulted in convictions. In the 2008 elections, between 126.5 million and 128.5 million Americans cast ballots, according to a report by the electorate study center. Compare the numbers.

Rick Hasen, UCI Professor of Law and Expert on Election Law said, “When you do see election fraud, it invariably involves election officials taking steps to change election results or it involves absentee ballots which voter ID laws can’t prevent.

Does that mean there are absolutely no instances of voter fraud that could be caught by enacting voter ID laws? No, that isn’t what I am saying. I don’t think anyone would make that point because it would just be inaccurate.  So, why all the hype?

Well, let’s look at the big picture for a moment.

You have a group of GOP leaders in Washington that have made pledges all over the place. Their biggest job in Washington had nothing to do with the people who elected them but everything to do with some promises, pledges and their possibilities for re-election. Period.

In 2010, the Tea Party took them on and made deals with them. They campaigned to get them into Washington as long as they played by the Tea Party rules. Make President Obama a one-term President, get the government out of our lives, never raise taxes and we will get you re-elected.

It is pretty difficult to go discuss things in Washington and make decisions when your mind is made up for you without having heard both sides of what is actually going on but that is what happened and they willingly signed on the line to get re-elected or elected into Washington.

What was the pledge? It was the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” from Grover Norquist. Two people on the list are Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. You can see everyone by visiting the link.

The problem with this pledge is it includes and excludes too much to be anything close to reasonable. By signing the pledge, it shows an unwillingness to work together, discuss the issues of a very diverse nation or the ability and desire to compromise and/or find solutions.

It is a simple pledge.

The house and senate members basically say this by signing;

ONE – oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses, and

TWO- oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates

The governor says this by signing;

I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.

The state legislator says this by signing;                      

I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.

 

 

How crazy is that!

These people’s decisions would and have been affecting people and our entire nation now and for a very long time. Signing short, little summed up pledges with the words, “any”, “all”, “oppose”, “veto” and the rest of the neatly and all-restrictive wording tucked in the little Norquist pledges are unacceptable.

This isn’t new information. This has been known and even so these people have been holding things up with no viable reasoning other than they have Norquist to answer to, voters are still electing them…

As it stands right now, our leaders (I hate to use that word when I am talking about these that sign these pledges) are about to go into their “Lame Duck Session” and try to figure out how to avoid a fiscal debt crisis. How can this be accomplished when all of these who have signed pledges are basically blocked from any type of reasonable negotiations? I mean why are they in there? Why not just send in Grover Norquist? They are basically representing him, right? How do these people get re-elected?

Maybe, some voters need more convincing than others to show them their Party of choice is a complete train wreck at the moment. And, we do have more elections coming up in 2014.

As much as the GOP would like everyone to believe the Democrats, the Liberals or whatever term is being used are trying to take over healthcare, the Internet, the school system or whatever else HASN’T been taken over like it was predicted to be in 2008, let’s focus on what the GOP has been dedicated on changing, pushing through and making into laws.

This is from the same party that says the government should be out of people’s business but somehow want to be a big part of women’s lives when it comes to health care, birth control, unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

This is the same party that can tell a woman if she has been “legitimately raped” or whether her life is really in danger enough for a pregnancy to be terminated to save her life. Yes, they are suddenly ready to jump in the middle of lives there.

These are not doctors or families here. These are just elected officials who are supposed to be doing their job in Washington, not holding someone’s hand at the visit with the OBGYN or at the ER after a rape.

But, are you confused here? I’m not but I will go on.

If they are really so concerned about these unborn lives as they say, then why are they not just as concerned when they are born? Why are they not concerned when they are 2, 5, 10 or getting older? You see they oppose funding healthcare programs, early education programs, free lunch initiatives, student aid and many other things that help along life’s way. They oppose any gun legislation that would limit “the capacity of clips or magazines”. Are they for or against life? Their choices and stance on many issues do not make sense with their stance on others. If they want to protect life, why don’t they believe in helping in assisting those who require assistance and protecting the American people from gun violence? It is one thing to have a weapon to protect yourself. It is another thing to have a weapon that causes massive tragedy in seconds.

Many can say laws of these types or programs for assistance are unnecessary for everyone. How does anyone know? How does anyone know what tomorrow may bring?

A person, or unborn person, can’t decide who or where they are born. Nobody knows what life may bring their way. The fact is everyone deserves opportunity so if this “unborn person” doesn’t end up in a successful, well off family, living in a good area near good schools with access to good healthcare coverage and college, then the care needs to continue past the campaign slogan and stump speeches.

A person watching a movie in a theater, visiting a congresswoman or attending classes at college shouldn’t run the risk of being gunned down in a senseless and often preventable act of violence.

A Party can’t say one thing and live another thing. A Party can’t stand up for what they believe when all they believe in is winning votes.

That is why Mitt Romney didn’t win. It isn’t because Obama bought votes or Americans are looking through “rose-colored glasses” or anything like that. The fact is Mitt Romney was saying whatever it took to get votes from the people he was speaking to on that given day, in that particular location. Different days, different promises, different Mitt. That isn’t compromise or a change of heart.  Those are lies. That much flip-flopping is straight up lying.

It was sad, really.

Mitt Romney was like a GOP experiment to see it just isn’t going to work anymore. Americans aren’t going to buy the promises and lies.

He did get a large amount of votes though. I am not convinced in the least those votes were all for Mitt Romney, not even half. Many of those votes were against Barack Obama. If that was on the ballot ( _ Against Obama), that would have been checked.

Voters need to understand they elect these people into Washington that are keeping things so out of balance. Signing outside pledges is not a way to represent the American people.  That is self-gratification.

Signing pledges is a campaign slogan. Saving unborn babies and turning on them after birth is a campaign slogan. Having smear and fear campaigns are nothing but showing the Party has nothing to promote with their own Nominee or with their own Party. The time for slogans, bickering and pointing fingers as to why Romney lost is over.

Americans voted. We voted our President back and we want action in Washington.

Everyone has slogans. Ours won this time. #Obama2012 #VoiceForChoice #Obamacare

America is strongest as a nation. Stand together to keep it united. Division is never the answer. 

Let Washington be the example.

Communication breakdown

Another day
Photo by: Marshall Astor

Do you get up each day wondering how you will make it through another day of repeating the same steps you repeated the day before?

Did you drop into bed the night before wondering why something just doesn’t seem to be “clicking into place” or that certain moment isn’t happening in your life?

Your “moment” may be different from someone else’s and what may seem repetitive to you may not to someone else but what is lacking more and more in society today is genuine interaction, conversation, listening, being heard and that feedback from someone on a level that is not only listening but being heard and really being tuned into to what is being said.

Genuine interaction with friends
Photo by: Philm

No, this is not an ad for Match.com but our society is changing everyday and with those changes come many benefits but also struggles if there isn’t the ability to adapt. However, is there always a way to adapt an entire society to an ongoing cycle of change?

Let’s look at one part, communication.

How many ways could one communicate 40 years ago?

Write a letter, make a phone call, telegram, or face to face pretty much.

"Old fashion" ways of staying in touch still do exist....
Photo by Muffet

Many people knew people in their neighborhoods, communities, schools, families and kept more in touch with the people around them on a more personal level.

Today, we have grown in the ability to have a much larger number of ways to stay in contact, at anytime, with nearly anyone, all over the world, even meet complete strangers.

We have the Internet which has given us numerous social medias like FaceBook, Twitter, Tagged, messaging, email, live chat, Skype, multiple online dating services, and countless ways which I am not intentionally leaving out. The fact is, the ability to communicate via the Internet is huge!

We have cellphones which allow us the ability to receive and make calls from anywhere and to anywhere which, even if it may seem rude, could mean a quiet movie theater, the bathroom, or in the middle of “nowhere” (can you hear me now?).

Contact ability goes everywhere we go....
Photo by: Anthony Quintano

Plus, with cell phones, there is texting…lots of texting! I’m not so sure if that counts as “communicating” but there are words being exchanged…so I am including it here.

It almost seems old fashion to mention the fact someone can send a Fax but it is a way to communicate….

So, here comes another point. It seems today there is less actual communication. There is far less listening and the ability to communicate and reason a point seems to be going down the drain.

Relationships are being built on the Internet, carried out through texting, and more of what was once built face to face is lost. That emotional connection, expression is becoming more of a lost part in our society.

Again, I’m not just talking about dating relationships. I mean real relationships with friends, family, people with similar experiences.

How well do you really know those you are “in touch” with?

How well do you know your neighbors, schoolmates, coworkers, distant family? Do you just keep up with their FaceBook, Blog or text here and there? Do you ask them questions?

Most of us have become very accustomed to today’s way of life. It’s easier and more suited to our busy schedules.

Our kids have the same way of life. Seriously, we text each other in the house (I have!)

But, we can’t let go of the need to sit down face to face and communicate, really let things go for a while. Ask people how they are doing and about their goals or what they are facing.

Discuss issues at work or social events
Photo by: Gelatobaby

People right next door or at our job may be facing hunger, a death in the family, domestic violence, loss of their home, divorce or a crisis but without asking or showing concern, the day may pass by, a week or a month and just the same, “I’m fine” until one day, they just aren’t at work.

In our country, we are facing some of the toughest times ever. This is not the time to say, “It’ll pass,” and just leave everything up to our leaders in Washington.

These problems started a long time ago. It is not a party problem or a political problem. This is a communication problem.

As many of us have lost close contact with those in our workplaces, schools, communities and even our own families and may not be listening to what is always being said, these leaders aren’t listening either. How can they be making sound and solid decisions without hearing what their constituents, the voters are really calling for, asking for and needing? This is causing consequences for everyone and needs to be understood and addressed. Each person taking responsibility for their own actions and what they have been given the opportunity and trust to uphold.

Here’s an example. As an adult, you have a choice of whether to go to work or not. You can choose to never go. There will most likely be very strong consequences for you choosing not to go and they will probably go into effect pretty quickly.

However, when an elected official in Washington has a job to get done and keeps procrastinating and all of America is on pins and needles, it is okay for them to put it on hold, bicker back and forth like babies and continuously act as though they can’t decide on whether it is more appropriate to help keep funding for those who need it or those who can afford to give up some breaks?

Either way, no matter what, their job isn’t on the line, their pay isn’t on the line, the health care isn’t on the line and their homes aren’t up for foreclosure.

Do they talk face to face to the people who are going through these things or do they just go by reports being fed to them by those working for them? Have they lost the ability to listen or be genuinely immersed in a conversation and have that desire to do something that matters or is it just more important to win?

Washington shouldn’t be about winning. It was supposed to be about representing but you can’t do that if you can’t listen to those you represent.

Instead of just using the phrase, “What the American people want,” maybe it would be to everyone’s benefit to find that out again by actually learning to communicate the old fashion way.

Talks, talks and more talks but who are the discussions about and who are they listening to? How long is this acceptable?

America’s best days are ahead

"Sea to Shining Sea"
Photo by: dgroup

In our homes, our neighborhood schools, local businesses, communities and across our nation there have been conversations about the need for improvements in many areas of day to day life and the future of America.

Although when traveling through American cities or the rural communities which link our nation together, things may appear at first glance to be different, most Americans have the same basic needs in life and many share the same values and goals; family, home and having a better future for their children.

However, it’s not the differences within these communities that bring the divide to the nation. The diversity of cultures, religions and race have made America a nation that stands out unlike every other country in the world. These differences however can also be used as a tool to bring weakness and divide.

Many issues our country continues to face have come about through history and in instances, such as slavery, laws have been enacted after many lives were lost and many injustices were carried out but also heroes came to the forefront of our American culture to show that good can triumph over evil if people are willing to get involved and stand up for what is right even when it may not be popular or have anything to gain for them personally or may possibly bring them physical harm even costing their life.

Through history, lessons can be learned and the worst possible thing to do would be to revert back to old ways or act as though they never happened.

History should never have to repeat itself to prove wrong doesn’t make right and to again show one human is not above another human, not by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or economic standing.

Instead, as American and World History are taught in our schools, it should include the fact these lessons in history can and should be what makes America a stronger nation and each culture and religion represented in America should be the ties that bind us as an even greater, more unique nation of the future with goals that represent our strengths and ambitions and look out for the humanity of everyone across our nation.

On Saturday, January 8th our nation suffered a tremendous tragedy in Tucson, Arizona when a 22 year old man opened fire at a shopping center, shooting a U.S. Representative, a Federal Judge, and 9 year old girl as well as countless others in a few short moments. In the end, 20 people were shot and 6 lost their lives including one of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ aides, Gabe Zimmerman, Federal Judge – John Roll, Dorwan Stoddard – who used his body to shield his wife from being killed, Dorothy Morris – who was there with her husband of 55 years, also shot but survived, Phyllis Schneck – a loving mother and grandmother who loved her community, and Christina Green – a 9 year old who wanted to meet her Congresswoman and someday participate in Government.

The news of this horrific event ripped through the media on TV, radio, online social media, etc. causing a great deal of grief, confusion, anger, unity, memories, panic, just so many different emotions.

An outpouring of prayers and wishes poured out across America for the families of the victims and those who had suffered injuries and were being rushed to nearby hospitals. So many questions were being asked but there were very few available answers.

Different news agencies were trying to gather facts and at times, there were reports coming in and then being reversed due to wrong information. There was also a great deal of information coming in that was being driven by emotion and reaction but not backed up by facts because the shooter hadn’t talked nor had enough time passed to give investigators an opportunity to put together the facts.

What happened in Tucson, Arizona is an inexcusable tragedy and by no means can be something that defines who America is but what America, as a nation, is not.

For those who used their media outlet and time before this awful event to campaign Americans against Americans will hopefully see America is a United Nation. For those who look at our nation as citizens against their government, America is a civilized democracy.

People can have different ideas, different goals and debates but as a people, Americans should be looking out for the good of one person as much as for the good of another person, one family as much as for the good of another family.

Americans should look past each other’s party, race, religion, Ethnicity and to each other’s goals, ideas, needs and future and see it as America’s future, their future.

America’s best days are ahead. It is within this great nation, our great nation to accomplish what is needed to move forward and to move ahead into the future. The idea is to work alongside each other and alongside other nations, to draw on our strengths and not focus on the weakness of others.

Our nation is made up of our people, all of our people and for America to truly be as great as it can be, our nation must unite and work together for the common goals of everyone.

As different as many may be, that is also our strength when used correctly and for the right purpose.

In the face of tragedy, unity is often seen, but everyday unity can be shown.

Examiner link

112th Congress – Now what?

Speaker of the House, John Boehner
Photo by: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

This week marks the beginning of the 112th congress. As of noon on Wednesday, January 5th, the House of Representatives is now a Republican majority and Rep. John Boehner was elected Speaker of the House.

Throughout the campaigning in the summer and fall, many promises were made by the GOP as to what they would do if the American voters would just give them another chance. The American voters not only gave them another chance but the GOP has the majority vote, at least in the House.

In a speech made from his hometown in Ohio on October 8, 2010, Rep. John Boehner vowed the GOP would get people back to work. He told those in the crowd, “This speech is about jobs, because this coming election is about jobs.”

Was it just the election? Since the election and their big win, not much discussion has been about jobs and the desperate need of the American people getting back to work.

A major goal of the GOP going into congress seems to be focused on repealing healthcare, which for those who deal with healthcare, need healthcare and/or have taken the time to understand Healthcare Reform know this is a big mistake. If the GOP wants to do anything with healthcare, work together and build on what is there to make it better, stronger.

Just today, the CBO – Congressional Budget Office has said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) repealing healthcare will add $230 billion to the deficit over the next decade and leave 32 million fewer people with insurance and raise cost for those covered by insurance. See the CBO Director’s detailed report on his blog here.

Millions of Americans are driven to bankruptcy each year due to not having health insurance or their health insurance carrier working against them through “loopholes” such as saying their condition was pre-existing or they had reached their lifetime payout amount so the insurance company is no longer required to cover anymore costs.

These are just two examples of “loopholes” insurance companies have used. There are plenty of stories of how insurance companies have basically ripped off their customers after years of paying premiums only to leave them without coverage when it was time to pay a claim.

Currently there are millions of Americans needing jobs. They need jobs and healthcare. This will help the American economy, American families and help get America back on track.

Why is the new congress coming in and trying to undo one of the greatest advancements that have been made over the past few decades instead of helping the American voters as they promised? Is it due to not having a plan on how to do what they have promised?

Help create jobs. Help promote hiring of jobless Americans.

Instead of working to repeal healthcare, work to make things better for those who elected you into office, the American voters in the towns across America.

Start with improving Washington and the ability of its elected officials being able to work together and get things done in an appropriate amount of time, appropriate in the eyes of the American people, the voters. Have press conferences about solutions and advancements, not about conflicts, broken promises and how the other party is unwilling to work with one another. Make it work.

Make America work by getting Americans back to work.

Follow and subscribe to my articles over on my Examiner Page

The answer is in diversity

America is a nation that was built on diversity. It wasn’t something that was a choice or a point in the nation’s history where a vote was held to allow immigrants to start coming in. No, America has been a land of freedom for immigrants all through the many years of its history.

Having people from all around the world living and working in one country, with different backgrounds, cultures, religions and beliefs means an absolute necessity to come together with respect, tolerance and understanding. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to become who the other person is but it means that each person does need to understand each others’ differences and learn to respect those and realize that each person has many likenesses and common goals which is what drives America to move forward.

America has always been known as the land of opportunity and has been looked to for its great medical advances, technological advances, freedoms and many other qualities that have been part of what has made America a place of growth, opportunity and achievement.

What gives that edge to America? America has qualified input from its citizens and residents that reside here from all over the world. Everyone that comes here brings with them their expertise, their dreams, goals and determination to have a better life. Whether they come here to be a doctor, a scientist, a student, an engineer, a chef or whatever they desire to be, they become part of the American fabric.

Too often, a person is judged by the way they speak or the way they look or by what part of history their culture or religion has played in America’s past but has that individual personally been part of that history?

Why should they be judged? Why would their religion be held responsible for a group of extremist?

Throughout America, look around, there are many different people. Different races, cultures, religions and with each person there is a story. Until people take time to talk to each other, there is no way of knowing who the other person is. There is no reason to judge someone without knowing that particular individual, not by something that someone said or what someone may think but by talking to them and knowing them individually.
Without this effort and getting to know those around this great land of diversity and culture, a lot of what America has to offer is being put to the wayside and being wasted. So many people are in the shadows.
Showing respect, tolerance and understanding may be the best thing to start moving the U.S. out of the struggles it seems to be stuck in. This is not just something to learn when it comes to working within different cultures, races, religions and beliefs. This is also true when working with anyone, for any reason. This is true within our political parties, our Congress and our House. This is true in our schools with our young people. This is true within the workplace. This should just be part of daily life in America.

It starts with wanting to make a difference, stop arguing, end hate and intolerance and be willing to do what it takes to move America forward and making life better for everyone and each generation to come.

The best America has to offer may be one conversation away, one handshake away or one smile away.

 

Tweet Congress

That’s right! More of congress has picked up on the fact that Twitter is a direct way of not only sending a short message (140 characters or less) but also one of the most direct ways to see what many people are chatting about, angry about, planning on or just anything that is going on in the world. It’s also a great way to see what the American people are saying about congress and what they are doing or are not doing.

According to tweetcongress.org, Representative John McCain from Arizona has over 1.7 million followers on Twitter and the first Congressional member to join Twitter was Representative Eric Cantor from Virginia. He joined Twitter in April 2007.

By visiting the website, a person is able to sign on using their Twitter account, click on a member of congress which brings up all of their contact information including any websites, phone numbers and Twitter account. Then a person can choose to follow this person or just retweet what they have tweeted, reply to them or go to their website or choose to go back to the homepage.

There is also a blog, photos and a video section on the site. Since the site is newer, there should be more added to it in the near future and more of Congress signing up for Twitter accounts.

Don’t be disappointed if you aren’t yet part of Twitterverse, there is a “Tweetstream” on the tweetcongress.org site to read what congress is tweeting which can be anything from congressional business like news in D.C., upcoming votes, past votes, messages to constituents, events in their states, or personal business with family, news about their favorite sports teams or just a random thought.

Twitter is whatever a user decides to make it. A person can just be all about business and the news or just be random all the time or mix it up and leave people wondering what they will tweet next? Twitter has become as big as it is because it is made up of so many people around the world doing so many different things and tweeting about it. Twitter is also a place where a great amount of discussions go on, sharing thoughts and opinions as well as people sharing ideas for common problems around the world.

At this time in Congress (things tend to change fast in Twitterverse) there are 127 Republicans, 103 Democrats and 2 Independents with active Twitter accounts. Those not tweeting at the moment should be signing on any day, depending on the November elections possibly.

The question is, will they get called down for tweeting while in session or can they keep their tweets under control?





You can find me on Twitter @tracysolomon