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Feelings Trump Facts

I'm growing ever so weary of this, but feelings are still trumping facts. I hate it.

Don't get me wrong, feelings can seem very real and true. Heck, during a dark point of my life, my feelings told me that I didn't deserve to live because I'm such a terrible person. Probably total bullshit, but at that time it felt very true and real.

Sadly, a lot of these feelings are now what people use to interpret news.

A lot of the news is sensational and causes outrage, because some of it is quite outrageous. Water turning frogs gay? That would outrage some. And then it outrages those that know it's complete malarkey, and keeps Alex Jones in the spotlight. Ugh. A lot of the sensation is to drive up clicks, likes, and thusly ad revenues. Why not make things seem overly dramatic if it means more money?

Look at all of the gun violence debates. If you took it at face value, it would seem like America is super dangerous and we should all publicly carry AK-47's. But if you actually delve into the statistics, violent crime has been trending downwards for quite some time. But does it feel that way? Not at all. I partially blame there being just so many ways to get news. I remember back in the 90s you had your print media (newspaper, magazines), the radio, and some TV (the 4 main networks, CNN, and PBS). Internet news wasn't even a thing. Your exposure was limited, but now it's everywhere. Social media. Memes. Satellite radio. Podcasts. Blogs. More cable news. So many more news outlets to cater to your political leanings, which might not be that good of a thing. Confirmation bias isn't always good.

A week ago or so, a Conservative friend shared a ridiculous FB post from 2013 - 5 years old. It was a "letter" from a mayor in Quebec to Muslims, who were petitioning having pork in school lunches. The letter was something along the lines of if you don't like the school lunches then GTFO and go back to your Muslim country. Whatever. I Snopesed it. Turns out, it's completely false. Go figure. There are several versions of that letter going around the internet, and they all specify different cities. She didn't care for my Snopesing. Her response was that she didn't care that it was false but agreed with the overall opinion of said falseness. OK? So you agree with a fake opinion about a fake Muslim petition? Gotcha....whatever.

It was an outrageous idea, Muslims wanting to have pork banned in school lunches. First off, there are many people with dietary restrictions - militant vegans, Hindus, Orthodox Jews, people with severe food allergies. Anyone that gets so stupid about school lunches is an asshole. What if it was a Hindu saying all meat should banned in school lunches? We wouldn't bat an eye. What if it was one of those PETA-vegan types? We'd ignore them. But Muslims, well that's a different story. People don't do this stuff. I wonder how many of my Jewish classmates got stuck eating pork or cheeseburgers and didn't complain. Or if the parents were really that concerned about their child's religious-based diet, they packed a lunch instead. It's that simple. No need for outrage porn.

And sadly, POTUS is very guilty of such premature outrage. Be outraged against real problems. I read this article (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/the-world-according-to-trump/557033/) a few days ago and it was just so sad.

He's an emotional guy. And perhaps that's the one thing he is kind of smart about, is that he knows what vitriol to spew to spark outrage and direct attention to him. It's how he unfortunately won. But now it's to the point, where he lives in some sort faux news alternative facts reality, that's based on fear. It would be one thing if this spew was based on 100% truth. But it's not. It's perhaps half-true mixed with a bunch of political rhetoric and opinion, at best. It's deceiving.

Remember how people would joke that we couldn't have a female president because she'd get her period and start WW3? And this was said about 60 year old+ Hillary Clinton, who doesn't have periods, pregnancy hormones, menopause hormone fluctuations anymore. But now we have a guy who's emotional and irrational. Ironic.

Especially with the current news cycle, it's difficult to not have outrage, unless you don't pay attention to it. It's tough to check your emotions, beliefs, and do the mental gymnastics it takes to believe the facts. I wish more people did that. I try to but I do sometimes fail, probably after a glass of wine or two.

I'm also finding myself with less energy for outrage. The outrage fatigue is real. It's why if something in the news does upset me, I try to find the facts before solidifying my opinion. I've been proven wrong on several occasions for doing just that. A Google search, is usually quick and it's free. I don't get why more people don't do that, and this is also usually coming from the people who share posts about "fact checking before sharing" but then don't actually do that most of the time. I shit you know. Ironic.

I also think, people don't want their beliefs challenged. Maybe it's the shame of being wrong. Or perhaps, your belief is so entwined to your emotions, it becomes real / true?

Education Gap

It's been one helluva week. It started off with some great news - awards, patents, then turned to shit. The technician who works under me, recently gave her 2 weeks notice. Which means more work for me during an already busy time. Good thing I bought that box o' wine to see me through the next few weeks.

The higher ups and I were discussing what to do to fill this void. Obviously, it would be good to hire within the company. It's a nice thing to do, and that person would already be familiar with the company and process. But as we were reflecting on who might be a good candidate, it got sad real quick. Oh so-and-so might be good, but they can't really write or do math. They can't spell, write complete sentences, do basic arithmetic, or even know basic functions in Microsoft Excel.

This got me reflecting. I live in an education bubble. Go figure. Middle class white girl with a college education.

I went through my Facebook friends feed (which does skew white and middle class), and I'd say easily 2/3 of my Facebook friends have some sort of higher education aka a college degree. That's double the national average. The other 1/3 may have some college, or at the minimum a high school diploma. But even the most of the ones with just a high school education, can still write. Outside of the occasional their / there / they're mixups, they can write complex sentences. Perhaps not too many $5 words, but definitely decent enough grammar. Heck, I even find myself using poor grammar or spellings. At least my smart phone and web browsers help correct me for that. Although, I've been known to go back and edit a post if I notice something's off. My mind works faster than I can type.

I do live in a bubble. Most of the people I would consider to be "friends" have a college degree. They're working professionals, and they work amongst others with degree or were smart enough to "make it" without one.

Back when I was more active in a knitting group, filled with ladies of similar white, middle class, college educated backgrounds, they were always shocked by my tales of the factory folk. Their biggest gripe was someone coughed too loud in the cubicle farm or someone microwaved fish. All, which I deal with. They're shocked that I work alongside people my age, but with many children, or criminal backgrounds. Or call out due to hangovers, frequently. It's definitely different to be bridging that gap between blue and white collar. Heck even some of the chemists I've gotten to know recently, work in very white collar environments.

I remember back in elementary / middle / high school, they had business people come in to lecture you on what NOT to do during a job interview, such as don't wear flip-flops, no jeans, no gum. That seems like it should be common sense. But I've been the one to answer the door, when temps have come in to interview, and I've seen all of those things. Even someone interviewing in sweatpants. It blows my mind. But contrast that to the college students I interview for internships. Most come in a suit. The most casual was maybe a guy in a dress shirt, tie, and slacks. The difference is startling.

They do come from very different socioeconomic backgrounds, but still. Wow. It's something my white collar friends would have a hard time understanding.

I get it. These people grew up far more under privileged than me. Despite even having a high school diploma, they got passed along despite not knowing too much. They didn't have parents who encouraged academic development, unlike me.

It makes you wonder how one gets by without even basic skills. Some would blame our public education systems. Some would blame the person. Some would blame the parents. I don't know. It's a complex situation. These are people and they need to make a living wage.

It's just odd I guess. Many of my educated friends are Democrats and want to be champions of the poor. But how many know the "real" poor? They all have friends who struggle with bills or student loans, but at least those friends are semi-educated. How do you get by if you can't read or write better than a 4th grader?

Dick In The Air

So yesterday was the big March For Our Lives protest. I didn't participate sadly. However, some of the negative responses are disgusting.

I get how it can seem like these children (NOT paid actors) are being used as pawns for Democratic ideology. There's no way that cute 3 year old, came up with that protest sign, let alone made it. However, the images are striking. The combative, and unsympathetic response, especially from the NRA is appalling.

When Columbine happened, it was my Senior year of high school, and truly alarming. I remember seeing the news footage of kids jumping out of 2nd story windows to escape the gunfire. It's sad to see, almost 20 years later, that not much has changed and the school shooting problem seems even worse. I entered high school in 1994. At that time, school violence was concerning. But it was more relegated as an inner-city school / black gang problem. Not something that happens to white Americans. In fact, my parents had considered sending me to private school, because they had fears I would join a gang or get killed during crossfire. Private school was too expensive and they didn't offer orchestra, so I got to stay in public school.

It's interesting to see the approach to black gang gun violence vs. the current political rhetoric. With that type of gun violence, there were efforts made to give these troubled black youth other alternatives. After school programs were the thing of the time. If more of these school shooters were black, would we being seeing the same attitudes as we see now?

For the walk out protests, it was being suggested that kids "walk up" vs. walk out. I think the world would be a better place if we were all nicer to each other. However, there are hundreds of kids that are bullied and many don't shoot up schools because of that. In fact, I bet if you looked up the statistics, more of these bullied kids probably die from suicide vs. shot by bullied kids.

Heck, even for my job, they're now training us on what to do if there's an active shooter in the building. Sad really. I was told to escape if possible. If not hide, in a locked room. I work in a factory. I should be worried more about not being blown up by flammable chemicals, getting acid in my eyes, or losing a finger - not some maniac with a gun.

And this whole stopping a bad guy with a gun with a good guy with a gun bullshit has to stop. You see so many pro-gun types comment on how they'd stop that bad guy at a school. Yeah right. I bet you have stormtrooper aim, and you'd probably chicken-shit and flee. It's nothing but stupid posturing. That hero shit happens mostly in movies. It's not real life.

We've even seen recently, that giving teachers guns doesn't work out so well. A teacher in Georgia, flipped out, locking himself in a room and threatening people. Thankfully no one was hurt. And then in California, another teacher accidentally fired his weapon. There were some minor injuries but it could have been worse, quite easily. I really don't see how throwing more guns at this problem helps.

The NRA is trying to say that gun control would cause more deaths as people now can't protect themselves or their children. I mean, the Jews didn't have guns and look at what happened to them during the Holocaust. *eye roll* I'm sure that could happen. However, probably not as much as all of these weapons floating around getting into the hands of evildoers. Why can't we admit that too easy access to deadly weapons is a problem? No one wants to take the guns of responsible gun owners. However, more measures are needed to prevent the irresponsible from getting deadly weapons.

Biases

Some recent friends' Facebook posts got me recently thinking about our own personal biases, especially in regards to politics, and how that impacts our opinions. I guess this goes back to the concept of bubbles, teams, and tribal alliances.

One friend posted this terrible meme-thing about how POTUS's private business as a private citizen should be kept private, or something along those lines. I guess this has to do with the Stormy Daniels debacle. While I'd like to agree with that idea, it just doesn't hold true in the world of politics anymore. And of course I had to be that asshole to comment. Because these things go both ways. Republicans smeared Jon Ossoff for playing beer pong in college, while also possibly being underaged and cosplaying as Han Solo. Republicans smeared Obama for doing drugs when young. Senator Al Franken ruined his political career due to a distasteful photo of him sort-of groping a woman. It's only OK if it benefits your guy, right?

On the flip side, Pence was in Atlanta this past Friday. I had several Democrat friends bitch on Facebook on how asshole-ish it was of Pence to fuck up Atlanta traffic even more during rush hour on a Friday. Here's the thing, Atlanta traffic is borked almost every day. I know because I easily spend 1+ hours in it every weekday. It could be an accident, a trailer that spilled onions all over the interstate, or a bridge burning down. For awhile, it seemed like Obama was making yearly visits to Atlanta, often for fundraising. It borked traffic, perhaps not on Friday, during rush hour, but it fucked up traffic. And my Democrat friends bitched about it even then. But it's especially worse if the orange one's team does it.

Not that I'm perfect about always doing this, but when I'm outraged because the opposing party did something I didn't like, I try to think that if it was my party, my team doing the same, would I be as angry? Sometimes, not. It's a good mental check to do.

If I were to ever run for office, I'm sure my blog posts here would be held against me. ;)

Culture Wars

Let's face it, the world is changing whether we like it or not. It's more global. The population is becoming browner, queerer, and just more different overall. I know some long for the good 'ole days of the 1950s. But what we think of that era is purely white-washed. It wasn't a Leave It To Beaver sitcom. There was plenty of fucked-upness during that era, just some of it was hidden or the people that got fucked, didn't have much of a voice.

But part of the culture wars, is that we're now clinging more and more to our "tribe". I read this article (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/conservatives-are-losing-the-culture-war-over-guns/554585/) recently and it's quite telling.

This culture war oddly can't be won with guns. However, it's interesting to see how people's opinions about guns changes based on their tribe. My father has been a die hard Republican for awhile, but he could have given a rat's ass about guns. Then all of a sudden during the height of his mania in 2016, he decides he wants a gun. This is a man who doesn't hunt, he lives somewhere safe, and doesn't venture into the "bad parts" of town. There's no good reason for him to own a weapon. But whatever Republican tribal hysteria made him think he needs one. Thankfully, he was clueless on how to go about getting one, so such a deadly weapon was never acquired.

I'm just over such tribalistic ideals or labels. This goes for Right, Left, Up, Down, or whatever you are. While I do identify as Liberal / Democrat, it doesn't mean I blindly cling to every bit of Liberal dogma. I don't think college should be free. I'm fiscally Conservative. But it's more about the fact that many issues are so complex, you can't always necessarily go into them with such binary thoughts.

Perhaps Trumpism and whatever the hell is going on with the Republican party is their last dying breath trying to prevent the inevitable change.

Just Another Day In America...

Just another day in America and another tragic mass shooting. That makes 3 notable ones over the course of the past 6 months. And sadly, it's the same BS over and over again. There's the non-effective thoughts and prayers or statements that we can't politicize these tragedies, we need to let the families bury their dead, and heal. We debate about gun control. And then we move onto the next issue, and forget these things, until another shooting occurs. It's an unfortunate cycle. Although, it seems like with this Florida school shooting, this pimple on American history is finally starting to burst.

One of the unfortunate things I have found about the gun control debate, is that it's turned into more of a Right vs. Left debate. The rhetoric, hyperbole, and terrible memes don't help.

Personally, I'm a big believer in math and proper interpretation of statistics. In reality, the majority of gun deaths are suicides committed by middle-aged men. The 2nd highest amount of gun deaths are homicides of young, black men. These mass shootings are a small percentage of gun deaths. And we all have a higher chance of dying by cancer, heart disease, or an automobile accident than via a mass shooting. But these mass shootings are still incredibly tragic and alarming. Oddly enough, we've done more regarding perceived harm - think the banning of Kinder chocolate eggs or the fact we pretty much have to get naked just to fly on a plane.

I'm not sure what can be done to prevent these tragedies. Evil people seem to find a way. I don't think we need to give up either. I know some don't want to think that "gun control" works because making murder, theft, drug use, etc illegal doesn't prevent those things either. It's a bad argument to make. I don't think gun deaths are 100% preventable, I'm not THAT naive. However, if reasonable steps could be made to minimize or reduce gun deaths, then I'm all for that.

Too many of the gun debates I hear from the Right, are centered around taking away people's guns. Honestly, the Republicans I know don't really spew that nonsense. And quite frankly, with the 300 million plus guns in this country, that isn't happening. All I want is reasonable, common sense regulation. I don't see why most Americans need a semi-automatic weapon or large capacity gun magazines. Do you really think our government is that tyrannical? Do you think the zombie apocalypse is going to happen? But somehow you're very pro-government when it comes to your gun rights. What's so terrible about having more thorough background checks? The failure of 2 background checks is why we had 2 mass shootings - the Texas Church and the Charleston Church shootings. Yes, it's possible those jerks could have acquired their weapons through illegal means. But at least it would have been an additional barrier.

I wouldn't say I'm anti-gun. I don't want to own one myself. But I have no problem with responsible gun owners legally acquiring them. I know of people who hunt as a hobby and to feed their family. I can see why you may want such a weapon for protection, especially if you live in a bad area or far away from police. I just hope you take proper means to secure your weapon when not in use. I remember a few years ago debating with a coworker about gun control. He has a small stockpile of weapons. He didn't believe that me, as a Liberal, I didn't want to take his guns away. He actually agreed on some common sense gun control. I told him that I'm OK with stupid adults shooting each, but it's the death of innocents that gets me. Not just these mass shootings, but it seems like every week your hear some news story about a toddler finding their parent's gun and shooting themselves or someone else. How do you prevent those tragedies? How can you keep guns away from the irresponsible? My thought is to have a few more barriers - improved background checks, no loopholes, raise the age of purchasing weapons to 21, require testing and training, maybe even require the purchasing of insurance. Again, this wouldn't necessarily forbid many people from legalling acquiring weapons, but it makes the process a bit more work, which is deterrent for some.

It's alarming to me that I could go buy a gun right now because I'd pass a background check with ease. Outside of shooting a BB gun at summer camp, I have never shot a proper gun. If I wanted to own a weapon, I would need a proper way of securing it when not in use - a bedside table, purse, or glove compartment box is not sufficient. Gun safes aren't cheap. You can rent space at a gun range. But people who want a gun for protection, you want easy access to that weapon should something happen. I'm also pretty sure I have horrible aim. Despite what you see in movies or on TV, even trained professionals have around a 1 in 3 chance of hitting a moving target. And I don't see myself spending hours at a gun range, to hopefully improve my abilities. I live and work in semi-sketchy areas. It's a big city and to be expected. Even after my home got broken into by teenagers, I still have yet to buy a security system, a big dog, or a weapon. I'm usually the last person to leave work in the evening. It seems silly, to walk the 10 steps from the door to my car with a loaded weapon. Instead, I invested in a tactical flashlight. I'm sure any possible thug, wouldn't expect that my innocent looking pink flashlight, would shock the shit out of them.

I'm a realist when it comes to these things. This isn't about my team. It's about the death of innocents and trying to find a solution to fix it.

One of those solutions isn't arming teachers with guns. It's ridiculous. We've already seen with this Florida shooting, that the school security guard fled. While it does seem quite cowardly, I don't blame him, You have a small pistol, and you hear many rounds of gunfire, that's scary as shit. What good does your meager pistol do against a semi-automatic weapon? I'm pretty sure this guard has a family he wants to return back to, alive. Same goes for the few cops who arrived on the scene, and hid behind their cars vs. going into the school to confront the shooter. I don't know what type of training it would take to psychologically prepare someone for that kind of situation. And basic gun training, isn't going to cover that. I know it seems nice to hire a healthy, veteran to be a school guard. Perhaps a veteran who has seen some action and doesn't have debilitating PTSD or other health problems. I don't think there enough of those veterans to go around, let alone veterans living in rural areas.

And who is going to pay for these weapons, gun safes, training, and increased liability insurance? We're already opposed to more taxes to help fund our "worthless" public education system. Kansas and Oklahoma have some school districts with reduced, 4-day school weeks, because tax cuts (that didn't stimulate growth) mean that they can't afford to keep their schools as open as much. Schools in Baltimore have outdated furnaces, that can't properly heat the schools in the Winter. But somehow, they'll give up the thousands of dollars to buy guns for teachers? There are some various door jamming products on the market. Perhaps that's an option. I looked one up that was listed in a social media video. It retails for $150 - 200. That seems relatively cheap to protect the 25 - 30 kids in your classroom. However, for the school district in my county, they have 140 schools, with 105,000+ students. You scale up the math, and it's easily $500,000+ to buy door jambs for every classroom. These are schools, that have outdated books, facilities, and not enough supplies to go around. Spend half a million on a security measure they may never need, or spend it on something that could be more useful to their students?

The more I try to wrap my brain around these tragedies, the only solution seems to be sensible gun control. Other developed countries don't have this kind of problem. Probably because they have better gun regulations. There are better social safety nets. Better health care systems, so if you're mentally ill, you can get the help you need.

For the Florida shooting, some want to blame the parents, or lack of prayer in schools, or violent video games / movies. It's senseless finger pointing. Bad kids come from good parents. And bad parents can make for some shitty kids. But once your kid turns 18, there's often little parents can do to force their child to get help or not do bad things. The lack of school prayer argument is stupid. There can't be school mandated prayer, but that doesn't mean a child can read the Bible on the school, or pray before meals, or even have a religious based club that meets at the school after-hours (https://www.aclu.org/other/joint-statement-current-law-religion-public-schools). My guess is that if your kid is religious, their religious outlet is probably more so via a Church sponsored youth group, than doing stuff at school. And violent video games / movies aren't to blame. Those things are everywhere. Japan has some very violent games and movies, but they have one of the lowest gun homicide rates.

The problem is access to guns that is far too easy.

To Be Republican is Racist?

I posted this article (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/12/conservatism-without-bigotry/544128/) the other day on Facebook. I thought it made some interesting points. And quite frankly, I'm tired of seeing negativity from both sides. I've been correcting Republican friends that, oh yeah, that isn't a picture of the Mexico-Guatemala border wall. It's a wall in Palestine. Here's the Snopes article. I also corrected Democrats that the funny and hypocritical Trump tweet you shared, is fake. Believable but fake. To be fair, I probably do pick on the Republicans more, but I also want to show some compassion. One of the reasons why I shared this article.

I try not to throw around the r-word or b-word. Republicans know that those are bad things. And if Democrats immediately jump to that conclusion, even if justified, it seems to end any sort of constructive debate and we all go back to our political bubbles. Heck, I even found the "Haiti is a shithole" comments to only be mildly racist at best, and I had some friends school me on why it is more racist than it appeared. It's subtle. And if you're not a PC warrior, you would find those comments to be crude at best.

Does all of this make me a racist? I know I have found myself clutching my purse if I see some black "thugs" walking my way. I go on alert. It's terrible. Would I have done the same if it was some sketchy looking white guy? I don't know. But it was what I was conditioned to think growing up in my white, safe suburb. Bad people = black thugs. I am trying to uncondition myself of such things, but it's tough. I don't know if such behaviors make me inherently racist, but at least I'm trying to open my mind and change.

The thing I liked about the article I shared, is that Democrats, we do need to nurture Republicans a bit. Explain to them why certain beliefs are racist but perhaps without the name calling. And Republicans need to keep their mind open. It's tough to do. I've seen many people retreat to their political Facebook bubbles. I'd say my Facebook friends skew Democratic but there are some Republicans, who do post some terrible things. I get not wanting to see such negativity in your life. Or you're just tired of trying to explain things to Republicans who don't get it and aren't going to change their mind. But I've seen too many Facebook posts along the lines of "if you support racism or Trump or believe XYZ" you can unfriend me now. Holy shit.

The Republicans I know aren't terrible people. Some are subtly racist meaning they think segregation is wrong as well as saying the n-word, but they find issues with black men wearing saggy pants or presume everyone on Welfare is Black. How do you respectfully counteract that? I don't know. As much as I'd love to live in a Democrat utopia, I don't. I have family who are Republicans, coworkers, and friends. Their racism perhaps isn't so bad that I have to cut them off 100%, but how much should you tolerate for the sake of niceties? I don't know. I have friends that have drawn that line in the sand. I get what you might have to do for mental sanity, but also that's tough.

My dad is a bigot but he doesn't follow all of the Republican dogma. He's OK with gay marriage or transgender people using bathrooms alongside him, and he even thinks single-payer is what healthcare needs to be. But do I get do disown and cut off my own father over his politics? I'll be honest, I try to limit political interactions with him, because he still doesn't understand that it's not welfare queens who are driving up the debt. But it's my father. One of the VP's I work alongside and is a Republican, says some heinous things. However, he has told me that I'm one of the few Democrats he knows that gets it. Probably, because him and I have been able to respectfully debate without name calling. We've actually seen eye-to-eye on a few things, gun control, abortion. Shocking, I know. But it does go to show that if we open up our hearts and minds, perhaps we come to more of a middle ground.

I'm Going To Finish It

Looks like I survived another government shutdown because these child-like politicians don't want to try and get along. I remember fighting with my younger brother a bunch. He was usually the instigator trying to spit on me or wipe boogers on me. Blech. My mom would butt into our fights. She didn't care who was wrong or right, but instead tell us that she was going to finish the fight, whether we liked it or not. It's definitely the hard ass line to take, and seems cruel compared to today's parenting trends, but it made my brother and I get over our pettiness, quickly.

Quite frankly, I think the whole recent ordeal was disgusting with politicians using the lives of innocent people as bargaining tools. I get that this is how "politics" is, but it's still gross.

First off, I don't get the reluctance to fully fund CHIP. CHIP funding has been in limbo since September 2017. Not cool at all. I do wonder why such a bipartisan and popular bill wouldn't get funded ASAP. It seems like an easy win. Unless there were perhaps ulterior motives. I don't want to be a conspiracy theorist about it, but such behaviors look suspicious.

And then the DACA rescission. Come on. You knew Democrats weren't going to give up THAT easily. And seriously, why rescind it in the first place?

Honestly, I don't blame Democrats for not wanting to give in. They've been going on and on about protecting Dreamers for months now. A reversal would piss off supporters, as well as possibly put thousands of young people's lives in jeopardy. They were a rock in a hard place. No decision would good. They give in on DACA, their base gets upset. They hold their line, and they still piss off people for not compromising. There was no win. Sadness.

And where was the artful, dealmaker in all of this? Absent. But sadly, that's probably a good thing. His dealmaking skills are disappointing and probably would make made things worse in 140 characters or less.

Headlines and Bumper Stickers

Compared to even 5 - 10 years ago, there's far more information available due to countless websites, videos, etc. The internet is good for that sort of thing. However, it is a lot to take in and digest, especially when we all live fairly busy lives. I know I easily spend a good 10 - 15 hours every week, if not more, educating myself about recent political news stories. I didn't used to be such a political junkie, it's hard not to be right now. It really does interfere with knitting time, but maybe that's for the best?

I don't watch much in the way of news. I don't have the patience for fluff stories or seeing a complicated issue wrapped up into a 2 minute story. My attention span is a bit longer than that. Instead, I prefer to read my news, and I listen to NPR during my morning commute. That's pretty much it.

Even though reading takes up a lot of my time, I also think it has given me a greater understanding of the complexities around so many issues. Abortion. Healthcare. Immigration. Foreign policies. Climate change. These are complex issues and they can't be summed up in a short headline, bumper sticker, or Tweet. While that's convenient and fast, it doesn't explain the entire issue. It leads to too much black / white binary thinking which isn't good for such complex things that many shades of gray.

For example, I got into a debate recently with a person who was ranting about "illegals" getting free healthcare. I said that these "illegals" can't qualify for government programs such as Welfare or Medicaid / Medicare. Eventually, as we debated this issue, it turns out she meant that "illegals" can get free healthcare by going to any hospital Emergency Room. While in a sense the "illegals" are getting free healthcare it isn't what it may seem at face value. Technically any poor or even homeless US citizen can go to an ER for medical treatment. It's not unique to "illegals". And this is something that the Reagan administration actually made happen, because apparently we thought it was cruel and wrong to let people die outside of hospitals because they can't afford medical treatments.

And I'm pretty sure the "illegals" will get some sort of bill even if they can't pay it. Heck, I'm pretty sure most hospitals will take your money regardless of citizenship status. Even then, ER healthcare isn't all that. It's expensive. But at best, they'll make sure you're not dead, patch you up, and get you the fuck out of there and recommend you to a specialist. About a year ago, my husband slipped on some ice and got a tiny ankle fracture. I drove him to the ER. They did a brief examination, gave him an x-ray, some pain medication, and put a temporary cast on his ankle and leg. That's all they really can do. The orthopedist was the person who actually determined what the best treatment was, not the ER doctors.

However, it takes reading past sensational headlines to get to the meat of the story. Headlines are meant to be sensational so they grab your attention. But with so much to read, it can be easier just to read the headline and nothing more.

I admit. I read the Liberal fluff that is the Huffington Post on occasion. A few weeks ago they had a piece about Melania Trump removing the Jackson magnolia tree from the White House property. Given my biases, it does make you want to think that it's yet another sinister Trump controversy. I read the article. Melania was actually justified in removing this tree. It's had issues for decades and was time for this tree to go. It was a hazard. And besides, some of its seedlings have already been conserved so new trees can be planted in its place.

Thank goodness some of the Huffington Post readers actually read past the headline and commented how misleading it was. Instead of the comments section turning into a Trump hate fest, it turned into a Huffington Post hate fest.

Sometimes I Can't Keep My Mouth Shut

I'll be honest, my Facebook feed skews quite Liberal, but I do have a few Conservative friends. I don't mind a good political meme. Some are funny but baiting. Many are just pure opinion or even worse, whataboutism. The ones that just irk me the most are the ones listing no sources, especially when the presented "facts" are just plain wrong and / or taken completely out of context. These memes do more harm than good.

Anyways, sometimes I just scroll pass the shared Conservative stuff, but sometimes, I just cannot prevent myself from commenting. I try to be polite and not abrasive. No name calling. I just hope I'm not off putting.

The latest shared bit is a recent story about how the "socialized" system in the UK is terrible / failing, because they had to cancel 50,000 elective surgeries recently. This wasn't an article from the BBC, heck it wasn't even on the BBC front webpage when I checked. It was an article from a highly biased American Conservative blog, where the focus wasn't on why the surgery cancellations took place but more so how socialism doesn't work.

So I googled this further. Pretty simple to do.

Apparently, these last minute elective surgery cancellations are a frequent thing in the UK. I found several articles across several years for these occurrences. I could see how these few articles would make it appear that the health system there is failing.

Having your surgery cancelled last minute is frustrating. I'm pretty sure one would have already made pre-surgical arrangements, post-care arrangements, time off of work, etc. And then to only have to repeat that again. That's annoying and wrong.

However, here's my recent surgery experiences. It was a minor outpatient surgery that took less than 10 minutes, although I had to be put under for it. There was a $750 pre-payment. Supposedly my surgery had been "pre-approved" but now my insurance provider is trying to fight it saying that it was too elective or there were other options for me. Then there was another $500 bill for the anesthesia and other hospital bills. That's $1250 I've already paid out of pocket. I'll probably have to pay more and hopefully not all of it either.

I don't know about you, but most people don't have a few spare thousand dollars lying around. I'm fortunate that I do. For many people, they may prefer the inconvenience of a cancelled / delayed surgery over having to pay so much out-of-pocket.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect healthcare system. Ideally, healthcare would be cheap, while also filling the bank accounts of the doctors, nurses, hospitals, and pharmaceutical / device manufacturers. Everyone would be covered and get top quality care, everywhere. But that's a fantasy world which doesn't extent.

Ultimately, once I read a few articles about this surgery cancellation from less biased British news sites, it wasn't so much that socialism is bad and failing, but an unfortunate mix of circumstances. For this recent event, it's flu season, and a particularly bad one. Many of the hospital beds are filled, and they want to keep a certain number open if there's an emergency. Makes sense. But sucks for those with the cancelled surgeries. Then again, do they want to be recovering from surgery next to someone with a highly contagious and potentially lethal flu virus?

Although, ultimately the UK is facing similar problems as other developed countries. Their population is aging. Old people are living longer and needing more advanced care. Medical technology is constantly improving and that's expensive. People are having fewer kids and there aren't enough young people in the workforce to be the necessary tax base to fund the care of older people. This makes the continuation of "socialized" healthcare tricky. Then again, the system in the United States isn't all that great either. But the person who shared this article is old enough to claim Medicare, which is socialized healthcare. Hmmm....

Again, there is no perfect system, but is there a better way to take care of sick people in a cost effective manor without people falling through the cracks?