Posted in Not a Good German

Don’t Be A Good German

In 2017, the only debate Americans should be having about Nazis and white supremacists is how best to kick their asses. Not about whether or not their hatred is free speech. And we sure as hell shouldn’t have white supremacists in the White House.

But that’s the reality. Evil that’s been too afraid to step into the spotlight since the fall of Nazi Germany has now taken center stage. And it’s past time for those who’ve been on the sidelines to take a fucking stand.

Call out a Nazi. Shut down racist rants. Donate to Jewish and Muslim and women’s and mental health organizations. Demand your senators and representatives do their jobs.

Whatever you do, don’t be a bystander. Don’t be a good German.

Posted in Not a Good German

I Call My Senators and Ask Them Not to Kill People

In a perfect world, I would spend my evenings live-tweeting Ghost Adventures or down the rabbit hole of a book or cursing as I write. But America is far from perfect right now. The country is a raging dumpster fire.

So instead of devoting all my time to doing those fun things, I spend my time calling my senators and my representative with the goal of convincing them not to pour gasoline on the fire. And while there are multiple things on fire, the one burning brightest right now is the Senate Republicans’ healthcare bill, the BCRA.

The BCRA is the work of thirteen Senate Republicans who spent about a month writing the bill in secrecy after the House of Representatives passed the AHCA in May. Republicans finally released the text of the bill last week, and it’s absolutely not in the best interest of the American people.

You may think that I’m being dramatic or exaggerating. Or you may think that whatever this bill is, it must be better than Obamacare.

Here’s the thing: Obamacare isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction towards making healthcare accessible for all Americans.

I can hear the protests already: Maybe those Americans get insurance through Obamacare should go get a job. I’m going to let you in on a secret. Lots of people on Obamacare have jobs. They’re small business owners, freelancers, full time employees at companies that don’t offer health insurance, part-time employees who work multiple jobs. There’s also the fact that Obamacare includes a Medicare expansion that provides for people who are disabled and can’t work, for children, and for the elderly.

Well, the insurance plans offered through Obamacare are expensive.  

That is an excellent point. Health insurance through the Marketplace is expensive and the plans aren’t all that great. Part of that is due to Obamacare being imperfect and partly due to political maneuvering on the federal level. But things would get a whole lot worse under the BCRA.

The BCRA phases out subsidies that help those who’re insured through the marketplace with paying out-of-pocket costs. So by 2019, low-income individuals will face the challenge of covering the cost of high deductibles. It also changes the tax credits for premiums, allotting less funds for those in need of help paying their premium.

Should health insurance be so expensive that people can’t pay their monthly premiums or their deductible without help? Absolutely not. But does it make sense to go backwards, to a place where people can’t afford health insurance? Nope.

We should trust the Republicans in the Senate. They work for us, and they’ve got our best interest in mind. 

I disagree. The BCRA does a couple of things that have the potential to curtail coverage for a significant number of Americans.  Under Obamacare, insurance companies must provide essential health benefits like maternity care and mental health services. They also cannot put annual or lifetime caps on coverage.

While the BCRA technically keeps those restrictions in place, it allows states to waive those rules in their own insurance markets. So a state may decide to waive the rule requiring insurance companies to cover essential health benefits such as addiction treatment or prescription drugs or maternity care. Or they may decide to allow insurance companies to put an annual or lifetime cap on coverage.

Do you have an illness like diabetes? What about depression or anxiety? Do you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol? If your state issues a waiver to insurance companies, the cost of your treatment might run higher than the cap your insurance company has on said treatment. What happens then? You either cough up the cash to pay for it yourself or you go without.

But I have insurance through my/my spouse’s employer. Those things won’t affect me.

Here’s the thing. They could. The BCRA will also eliminate the requirement for large companies to offer affordable health insurance to their employees. So it’s entirely possible that your employer or your spouses’s employer might decide that it’s more cost-effective to offer employees another health plan that’s not as affordable.

There’s also the question of the unforeseeable. What if you lose your job? Then you’ll have to decide between signing up for insurance through the marketplace or go without until you get another job. Just be careful about how long that takes because the BCRA would institute a six month hold on being able to sign up for coverage for someone who has been without coverage for more than 63 days.


We all deserve affordable healthcare. We deserve to sleep at night instead of lying awake and trying to figure out how to pay the next medical bill. We deserve a world where we don’t have to make the choice between paying for prescriptions and paying rent. We deserve not to go bankrupt because shit happened.

Instead of commenting on this post, please do a bit of research into the BCRA. Check out the CBO’s analysis of the bill, and check out which organizations oppose the bill. Or check out this New York Times article on the differences on the BCRA and Obamacare.

(Want to call your senators and representatives but don’t know where to start? Check out 5Calls.org .)

Posted in Not a Good German

The Affordable Care Act

Image result for 1990 buick regal silver coupeImagine that you have a car. Maybe this car: a 1990 Buick Regal.

It’s not the greatest on gas mileage, but it gets you where you need to go. To work. To the store. To the doctor. Out and about to where you need to go.

Now you don’t have any plans to just abandon it on the side of the road simply because it only gets 15 miles to the gallon . I mean, it still gets you where you need to go. Plus it makes absolutely no sense to just abandon it on the side of the road and wander along until you happen upon a new car.

That’s what the GOP is asking the American people to do. To leave the Affordable Care Act in a ditch on the side of the highway and continue on in hopes of finding an alternative.

The ACA isn’t perfect. No one is debating that. But it’s evened the playing field for millions of Americans who otherwise wouldn’t have access to healthcare, whether due to preexisting conditions, to employment status, or for any other reason. Someone with a family history of cancer or with high blood pressure isn’t barred from getting health insurance. And people who work for employers who don’t offer benefits (whether for full-time or part-time work) or who’re self-employed, they get access to healthcare.

That’s not all. ACA doesn’t allow insurance companies to put a cap on coverage, so they can’t drop someone who’s needed more than $200,000 worth of treatment for a spinal cord injury. It also forces insurance companies to charge men and women the same premium. All forms of birth control are covered. Preventative treatment–whether wellness exams or flu vaccines–are covered.

There’s one thing to consider above all: some people are alive today because of this law. They were able to afford lifesaving medication or treatment that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten.

As I said, ACA isn’t perfect. It’s far more expensive than it should be. Plus health insurance companies can choose not to participate in health exchanges, meaning limited choices for people in certain states.

But I’d much rather be driving a 1990 Buick Regal that gets crap gas mileage than walk along the side of the highway and hope to find a nicer car along the way. I’d rather have health insurance that’s imperfect than to have only promises that the government will come up with a plan soon. Because soon isn’t now. And I–along with 20 million other Americans–need health insurance now.

Posted in Not a Good German

An Open Letter to the North Carolina GOP

Dear North Carolina GOP,

Class is gracefully bowing to the will of the people. It is keeping your chin held high when citizens express opinions that differ from yours or when election results are not in your favor. It’s a defining characteristic for any upstanding politician. Or any respectable human being.

I could go on and on about class in respect to House Bill 2, but I shouldn’t have to. Anyone with an iota of class understands that everyone deserves respect. It doesn’t matter what gender they identify as, who they love, or the color of their skin. Even if you disagree with their beliefs or how they live their lives, class is getting along and giving respect anyway. Class is also standing that they are as much your constituents as anyone else.

I am thoroughly disappointed with the lack of class shown by the North Carolina GOP over the past year. You passed HB2 in a hurried, dead of night session, and you later blamed Democrats when the legislature failed to repeal that law. Class would be admitting your stipulation that communities be able to indefinitely delay the passing of anti-discrimination laws.

Let me give you an example of what class looks like.

This past fall, a Republican campaign office was firebombed right here in North Carolina. Democrats and Republicans from around the country donated thousands of dollars to rebuild it. A great many of them probably disagreed with the views of your party, but they donated anyway. Because no one should feel targeted for their beliefs.

We may disagree. We may call each other out when we see things that aren’t right. But we still offer respect.

That is class.

I implore you–men, women, and those in-between–of the GOP to take a step back. Examine the mark you will leave on history and the people of North Carolina. It takes courage to admit that your actions will put you on the wrong side of history. And it takes class to act and change that.

 

Posted in Not a Good German

It Was Never About Patriotism

Patriotism (n): love for or devotion to one’s country

~Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Questioning someone’s patriotism has long been a tried and true tactic for shutting down protest. Americans who questioned government surveillance after the attacks on September 11th were chastised for not being patriotic or supporting our fighting men and women overseas. Those who spoke out against Joseph McCarthy’s witch-hunt for Communists and communist-sympathizers found themselves black-listed in the 1950’s for being un-American.

The Republican establishment in Washington, D.C. has even recently used this patriotism tactic as a weapon against Hilary Clinton and her supporters in reference to the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

Patriotism is–according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary–love for or devotion to one’s country. There’s nothing in that definition that excludes someone who questions the government’s actions from being patriotic. They can love and be devoted to their country and also question the actions of its government.

I’d argue that those who question their government are actually the most patriotic. Because they’re the ones forcing our leaders to justify their actions and to call them out when their actions don’t align with the goals of the people. It’s plenty easy to go round and round defending one’s patriotism in light of questioning the government. But going round and round proving one’s patriotism takes time that a person won’t be spending questioning the government.

It’s a diversionary tactic. It distracts from the real issue–whatever that issue is–while the person justifies their patriotism. And that gives the accuser plenty of time to keep doing what they were doing before they were questioned.

It’s never really about patriotism.

Two very important pieces of news broke in early December: a secret CIA investigation revealed that Russia attempted to sway the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump and certain Republicans knew before Election Day. One Republican who knew, Mitch McConnell, purposefully withheld that information from the public. And interestingly enough, his wife has been appointed to a position in the presidential cabinet.

The Republican identity has long been associated with the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance and soldiers. It’s all about patriotism and loving one’s country and the good ol’ boys. Republicans are often the ones accusing others of being un-patriotic.

For a group of people who routinely questions other people’s patriotism, it’s awfully telling that they’re okay with a foreign government interfering in our presidential election. How do I know that they’re okay with it? Because they didn’t shout it from the rooftops the moment they got the information. Because they kept that information close to their chests throughout the election and even after Election Day.

It was never about patriotism. It was about distracting everyone as the Republicans got exactly what they wanted, whether it was passing legislation or getting themselves into positions of power. They do not care about this country or about ensuring that the government serves the American people.

They’re in it for themselves. Period.

Posted in Not a Good German

Actions Speak Louder than Words

I doubt there’s anyone in the US of A who hasn’t heard that phrase. It simply advises (or warns) that our actions resonate with other far more than our words ever could. It’s one thing to offer help in painting a friend’s house, and it’s another thing to show up with a paintbrush in-hand.

There is no question that Donald Trump is a vile human being. Even if you disbelieve the news articles and segments on him, just take a look at his Twitter account.  He’s xenophobic, Islamophobic, misogynistic,  homophobic, and racist. He’s bragged about sexual assault, shown himself to be a terrible businessman, lied without any remorse, and bullied others both online and in-person.

He’s also the president-elect of the good o’l US of A.

Americans who voted for Trump are offended when they hear other accuse them of being bigots and racists and mysogynists just because of who they voted for. If you are an American who voted Donald Trump into the Oval Office, then I’ll admit that you very well might not be any of those things.

You might not be a racist, but you voted for a man who installed a white supremacist as his chief strategist. And the Ku Klux Klan will be holding a victory parade in Trump’s honor in North Carolina.

You might not be homophobic, but you vote for a man whose running mate believes in conversion therapy and “praying the gay away.” The vice president-elect also made it legal for businesses to discriminate against LGTBQ persons in Indiana when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015.

You might not be xenophobic, but you voted for a man who has called for building a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. He also called for a large-scale deportation force and said that Mexico was sending rapists and other criminals over the border.

You might not be Islamophobic, but you voted for a man who wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the country. He bullied the parents of a fallen Muslim-American soldier after they spoke out against him.

You might not be misogynistic, but you voted for a man who has bragged about committing sexual assault in what he later called “locker room talk.” He has been accused by numerous women of assault and defended himself by attacking their looks.

I will give you that you may not be a person who believes in any of those things. I hope that you don’t. But you voted for a man who does.

The President of the United States has a monumental impact on culture. When he promotes hatred, then there are millions of Americans who feel validated. Who feel that it’s acceptable to require Muslims to register with the government and to verbally and physically assault men and women who disagree politically with them.

You voted for a man who is normalizing hatred. Him and his supporters are going to make life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness difficult–if not impossible–for millions of Americans.

Now you may not be a bad person. Maybe you volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate to Toys for Tots or bring elderly neighbors homemade cookies during the holidays. But you voted for someone who is going to make life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness difficult–if not impossible–for millions of Americans.

Donald Trump is a bad person. And you voted for him.