Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Odds And Ends, Mid-October 2016

In no particular order:
1) It was a year ago that my life went in a new direction, when my program's funding officially ended and I stopped working for my former employer. I have one regret: the amount of money I was making was considerably more than I am making now and can hope to make for the near future. It took a while, but I did land in a good place. I get frustrated at times with the agency I work for; I just got a reminder yesterday that ineffective IT departments apparently are endemic in the non-profit world. But just like I was and am grateful for my former employer allowing me to build a career, I will always be grateful to my current employer for giving me a chance to continue it. And while I certainly would like to enjoy a higher standard of living than I do, I am making enough to get by. For now, anyway.
2) On to larger concerns. Apparently there was a debate last night between the two candidates for county executive. From the news accounts, there didn't seem to be anything really worth nothing that occurred during it. I don't know why the Democratic candidate isn't hammering the corruption issue--and the hypocrisy that underlies it. But even more so, I don't understand why he doesn't jump on the incumbent for consistent problems since she took office--the mess that the budget is every year because no one in the administration is able to accurately forecast sales tax revenues; the obstinate refusal to face facts about the heroin epidemic; the fact that her proposed solution for most social issues--making the jail bigger and arresting our way out of problems--is a miserable failure; the gutting of virtually every program that serves youth and those with mental health problems; the fact that DSS' rent assistance policy is an absolute shambles and needs to be completely revamped; and that the county is consistently dilatory in its accounting of the money it does disburse, leading to major issues with the state. Several of these aren't even partisan issues--they're competence issues. I really sometimes wonder if this guy actually wants to win the election.
3) I've briefly touched on this before, but one of Preston's primary initiatives was to privatize the food services the county provides to its nursing homes and jail. The results are in. My mother volunteers at the county nursing home--and reports that the food being served there is, charitably, awful. My ex has landed in jail again, and I do speak with her regularly--and she reports that the food being served there is, charitably, worse than awful. I realize that to a 34YO with a steady job and no legal involvement living out in Harpursville, these are probably not major concerns, and that's the base of Preston's support. But to those of us that are affected by it--this isn't a luxury issue. This is food, for God's sake. I don't think any of us want our parents to come to the end of their life and be forced to eat substandard food. I don't think the many thousands of us that know people that end up, temporarily or less temporarily, as guests of the county that get slop four days a week, never see items like bread, and are borderline malnourished. It's disgraceful.
4) Lost in the noise of the Presidential and county executive elections is the contest to replace the retiring Republican Richard Hanna as our representative in Washington. This is a pretty important race in the national scheme; it's one of the few opportunities nationwide to turn a red seat blue. And man, the more I find out, the more imperative it is to make sure the Democrat wins, because the Republican candidate is a straight-up Tea Party fool. Claudia Tenney sounds, acts, and votes like Sarah Palin. There's an independent guy running, too, that's one of these "taxes are bad" libertarians, and I am hoping that he appeals to enough of the rural conservatives to ensure that the Democrat wins. And I have to say that I am not impressed with the Democrat; she seems one of those pro-business types that have flushed this country down the toilet for forty years. Even more than the Presidential contest, it's a hold-your-nose vote...this system is broken, beyond doubt. Voting has become an exercise in stamping out little brush fires, not in building anything constructive. How in the hell do we get out of this bind?
5) And yet, as bad as some of our choices are around here, I am reminded on a daily basis that the rest of the country has some real, real fucked up people in elected positions. This clown that is governor of North Carolina persists in his demented crusade to demonize and criminalize homosexuals. Ted Cruz was in the news today; apparently he sent out a Tweet that said if Clinton becomes President, there will "mandated sex change operations." The Republican vice-presidential nominee is also governor of Indiana--and has pushed a law that requires all miscarriages and abortions be given death notices and funerals. This is the Republican party, folks. This is one of our only two feasible choices to vote for.
You can stop with the "I'm glad I live in a democracy and I'm glad I have freedom" bullshit. This is not anything worth celebrating. You should be outraged that the level of "choice" comes down to the lesser of two evils on every level, in every election, for years running. After every election, I muse about the Carlin Option--boycotting and not voting to register my displeasure with a system that gives me "choices" like this. And every election cycle, I end up so frightened by at least one of the choices available that I end up holding my nose and voting anyway. But God damn, I'm tired of this. This will be the 35th year that I have had the ability to vote--and I can count the number of times that I have actually been enthusiastic about someone I was marking a ballot for (I wanted to say "pull a lever", but that's not how we do it anymore--and don't get me started on that crock of shit) on one hand. Thirty-five years, an average of let's say eight races per election--so out of 300 races I've voted in, I've been genuinely excited about four of them. That's 1.25% of the "choices" available.
That's not democracy. That's bullshit.

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