How Did the Senate Manage to Make the GOP’s Health Care Bill Even More Nightmarish?

By Persephone

Seriously, this is a skill.  For eight years, the Republicans of Congress have bitched and moaned that Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) needs to be repealed and replaced.  They have droned on and on about this topic, listing it as a primary priority.

Well, they’re finally in a position where they can repeal it, with Republican majorities in the Senate, House of Representatives, and the White House.  Repealing is probably all they want to do, in reality.  They just want it to go away.

But they can’t.  And they know that.  The ACA has been around for a number of years now, and it turns out that Americans like having access to affordable health care.  Is it a perfect solution?  Of course not.  What we need to do is bite the bullet and finally take on socialized medicine, like most other industrialized nations have done before us.  However, doing so will really piss off the GOP, so don’t hold your breath that this will occur any time in the near future.

This leaves Congressional Republicans in an uncomfortable position.  They’ve preached so much on the evils of Obamacare that I don’t think it really occurred to them that they’d have to actually find an alternative (and viable) solution if they are to ever truly rid themselves of it.  Hence the mad dash to get a bill up and running.  They didn’t actually have anything ready.

The House passed a shit-bill last month which even they knew was terrible.  Not only would it cut funding for medicaid but it would render health care unaffordable by millions of Americans.

Luckily, the Senate took that crap-sandwich which was the American Health Care Act and created their own version.  They received quite the legitimate criticism for this bill, as they speedtracked the bill and kept it strictly behind closed doors.  Mitch McConnell was the lead driving force behind the AHCA, and its content was finally released last Thursday.

Whew, boy.  We thought the House’s version was cold and heartless.  Not only does this bill cut even more spending on medicaid and not force insurance companies to offer policies to individuals with preexisting conditions, but it defunds Planned Parenthood.  We’ve mentioned several times on this website the success Planned Parenthood has had with basic needs like cancer screenings and birth control for the poor.  It has actually lowered the abortion rate since abortion was legalized in the 1970s.  Millions of people stand to lose coverage if this bill goes through.  Those people left with insurance will face higher premiums for insurance that offers less coverage.  Rates will raise significantly for the poor and the elderly.  So, yeah.  There’s that.

So, who wins in this bill?  It turns out that there are significant tax breaks for the significantly wealthy.  We are trading the lives of millions for the pocket change of a few.

Talk about a step in the right direction.

Why be Such a Dick to Someone Trying to do their Job?

By Persephone

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20% of the United States workforce is devoted to the retail and wholesale industry.  Two weeks ago, I joined this number when I started a job as a checker at Safeway.

Eh.  It’s a summer job.  It forced me out of my comfort zone, as I’m dealing with a lot of strangers in a row.  Considering my history with social anxiety, this was probably a dumb job to take on, but I’ve never been known for making intelligent life choices.  Oh, well.  The paychecks from this job should sustain me when I conduct my student teaching this fall, and that’s all that matters.

Yesterday, though, I ran into a total asshole.  When I first greet people checking out at a grocery store, I always ask, “How are you doing?”  It’s inane but polite, and around 95% of the strangers I’ve said this to over the last few weeks have responded, “Just fine.  How are you?”  I say I’m doing great, and we move on with their transaction.  Thank goodness, there’s no drama in that.

Now, yesterday, I had a long line, and then I got stuck for a few minutes with one customer with like twenty items from the produce section.  When there’s no stickers on vegetables or fruit, I have to look up each item individually (remember, I’m new, so I don’t know all the codes).  This takes an extra minute or two to get through so much produce.  However, I got through it, and the line moved down.  When one older gentleman got to move his booze on through, I asked him, “How are you?” and he asked how the hell I could maintain a job when I’m so slow.

There was no warning.  He just slammed into me.  I stammered and apologized, and he proceeded to lambaste me as I finished his transaction as quickly as I could.  He even warned the person behind him to avoid this cashier, as I was so inefficient.

I’ll admit…this altercation shook me.  For about two hours afterwards, it drove down my confidence to zero, and I made several easily avoidable mistakes.

So, I’ve been thinking about this.  I’m 31 years old.  I’m currently working towards two Master’s degrees.  I’m only going to have to suffer through this job for about another two months, then I go back to working in education.  I’ve dealt with much worse freakouts than this one–hell, I’ve been a substitute teacher for three years, a bus driver, and an in-home caregiver for six years.  I’m used to grumpy old clients as a caregiver and dramatic teenagers as a teacher.  This guy couldn’t throw out any insults that I hadn’t already heard a thousand times over.

Yet, he still got to me.  He made me doubt myself.

What really bothers me about this is, he couldn’t have known that my life is more than Safeway.  I look young.  I could easily have been 19 or 20 years old.  I could be looking at years of being a cashier.  I could have no other future than Safeway.  If I’d been that young and inexperienced…if this was the only job I could get, how much would this have affected me? Ten years ago, this would have devastated me.  Just look how much it affected me yesterday.

I’ll admit it–I’m new to the job, and I’m not as fast as the more experienced checkers.  However, even if I’m slow as molasses, it is not okay for someone to jump down a cashier’s throat like that.  I wasn’t rude, and I was clearly trying my best.  When you see a cashier making little more than minimum wage under such conditions, and your first response is to take out all your frustrations on her, it doesn’t make you the bigger man.

It just makes you an asshole.

Chocolate Mint Brownie Bars

By Persephone

In a large microwavable bowl, place 2/3 cup of butter with a 1 cup mint chocolate chips (these can be Hershey’s or Andes).  Melt these ingredients in the microwave.

Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/3 cup powdered cocoa, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, a sprinkle of salt, and 3 eggs.  Stir all the ingredients until the batter runs smooth.

Add 1 cup all-purpose flour and stir again.

Finally, mix in 1 cup of coarsely chopped nuts, along with 2/3 cup of mint chocolate chips (usually this is the rest of the package).

Place in a greased 9 x 13-inch pan and baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  When the middle is set, you can take the brownies out of the oven.  Cut into bars.

These brownies are moist and delicious.

Why Do Democrats Keep Losing?

By Persephone

Several days ago, Republican Karen Handel won the House of Representatives seat for Georgia’s 6th district.  Why did this make national news?  Because Democrats poured money into their Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff.  It was the most expensive House race in history.  Democrats across the country placed huge expectations on this race, seeing it as a true testament to changes in public opinion since Trump’s election.

Yet, the Democrats still lost.  In fact, there have been several special elections in the past several months, and they all went Republican.  This even includes Montana’s one representative, who assaulted a reporter the day before the election.

How do the Democrats keep losing?  A multitude of possibilities have been suggested.  For one thing, all the seats they’ve lost have belonged to historically Republican areas.  It would have been remarkable if Democrats had won them, which is perhaps why they’ve struggled so hard to turn them.

For another, Trump has only been president for five months.  This might have felt like closer to fifty for those of us who cannot stand him, but not so to Trump supporters.  Trump supporters still argue that he’s new to this, that we haven’t given him a chance, that the political climate is against him.  They also believe his excuses of the fuckups caused by his office over the reports presented by legitimate journalists.

Sigh.  It’s going to take more time for those loyal to President Cheeto to ever admit that he’s really an orange toddler with way too many attention issues.

So, yes, these are legitimate arguments, but I’d like to propose an alternative explanation.  Take the campaign between Ossoff and Handel in Georgia.  Ossoff was a young, inexperienced candidate who put forth a moderate, kind persona.  He seemed a man who genuinely cared about his constituents.  Handel famously admitted in one debate that she didn’t believe in a livable wage.  Her only dirt on Ossoff seemed to be that he was a Star Wars nerd in college and didn’t technically live in the district (though he was born and raised there).  Then, she won anyway.

So, why is that?  Why do the Republicans keep winning these elections, as they’re even now pushing a new health care act through the Senate that will viciously cut spending on the poorer populations in order to grant tax cuts for the extremely wealthy?

My thoughts: their message is stronger.  While Democrats argue amongst themselves, trying to figure out which issues are more important to the citizens they represent, the Republicans blaze forward through their own agendas, their constituents be damned.  They unite with each other, even when their bills prove unpopular and cruel.  When Republicans and Democrats debate, Democrats try for a more moderate voice, saying that things will improve while Republicans yell for a complete overhaul of the system.

Are the Democrats better for our health care, our environment, our livelihoods, our wages, and our social policies?  Undoubtedly.  However, they don’t present the same strong, united front that Republicans do.

In short, Democrats aren’t assholes.  As President Cheeto has demonstrated, it’s only the assholes who seem to be winning lately.

This doesn’t mean that Democrats will never win again.  Our country tends to go in cycles between Republicans and Democrats for the majority.  The Democrats will have their moment once again, and hopefully they’ll be able to clean up whatever mess is left behind.

Because we know that there will be a mess.  While the Republicans might seem strong, their cares have very little to do with their own constituents’ needs.  When you see a party slash funding for Planned Parenthood (which is there to serve the poor), medicaid, the Environmental Protection Agency, foreign diplomacy, and education, their concerns have nothing to do with their constituents.

Until their constituents realize this, the Democrats will keep on losing.  This means the Republicans will continue on as they have, their power unchecked.

This latest blow in the elections is very telling for a variety of reasons.  It is not good news for anyone.

I Never Thought I’d Say This…But Thank Goodness Trump’s So Incompetent

trump

By Persephone

So, our president recently bragged to the President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela.  What did he brag about?  Only an American accomplishment a century old.  President Cheeto brought up the Panama Canal and its usefulness, as if this was a recent development.  To his credit, Varela immediately corrected Cheeto, pointing out that the canal was made a “100 years ago.”

The Panama Canal played a significant role in our history.  It was a bloody, expensive mess that might have ultimately boosted the economy in Panama but certainly didn’t in the short-term.  I could go on about the history of the canal, but let’s instead focus on the fact that our president actually believed that this was created recently.

Before you’re filled with an uncontrollable rage/disgust over our president’s incompetence, I need to you take a step back.

Yes, he’s a dumbass.  Unbelievably so.  He’s such a moron that he strongarms French leaders, salivates over his own daughter‘s hotness, challenges his popularity by threatening to shoot strangers, mistakes whether activists dead a century are alive or not, tweets stupid statements that undermine his own legal team, puts his family in positions of power in the White House despite anti-nepotism laws, fires the man investigating him, doesn’t fill in important cabinet positions despite months of time, spends every fucking weekend golfing at his own resort at the taxpayers’ expense, picks fights with reality tv stars, and oh, my god.  I need to stop this list now.  It’s just too long.

So, yes, he’s stupid.  It’s astounding that he doesn’t spend his hours drooling into his oatmeal.  I’ll admit, witnessing so much gross incompetence and corruption has broken my heart a dozen times over in the last seven months.

But, think about it.  How would this presidency differ if Trump were capable?  What if he’d been half as smart as he believes he is?

If he’d possessed an ounce of tact, Trump’s Muslim Ban would have passed.  Easily.  It was only his constant speeches and tweets that provided the court system with the evidence to combat it.  With intelligence, President Cheeto would have been able to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Department of Education–two departments the Democrats want but the Republicans find superfluous.  Who needs clean air or literate children?  Such amenities cost money, and Republicans only like spending that on themselves.

With two brain cells to rub together, Trump would have already repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act.  He would have been able to work with the Russian government more covertly.  He’s insanely obvious about his dealings with Putin at the moment.  He probably would have bombed Syria, leading us to another war in the Middle East.  North Korea would have considered him more  of a threat, so we might also be headed into a nuclear war.

More than all that, surprisingly, is that citizens of the United States might not have taken notice of what was going on until it was too late.  Thanks to President Cheeto’s blatantly apparent stupidity, much of the American population “woke up.”  I was one of them.  When Cheeto got elected, I went from being informed perhaps slightly more than the average to reading every news article that crosses my path obsessively.  Because of his incompetence, I’ve noticed all the crazy shit Trump’s been dragging us into.  It’s hard not to.  He’s just that dumb.  If he hadn’t been that dumb, I probably would have figured we’d just elected another Republican.  We’ve survived those before.  I would have figured we’d be okay.

But we wouldn’t have been.  Intelligent or not, Trump’s agenda would have remained the same, and that’s a scary thing.

So, whenever you feel like screaming when Trump tweets yet another bit of classified information or makes another obvious threat against someone investigating him, just remember how lucky we are.  He’s a total twit, and that’s how we’re going to survive this.  Even Congressional Republicans can only defend Trump’s “inexperience” so much before Trump finally gets arrested for treason, collusion, money laundering, obstruction of justice, conflict of interest, or the host of other blatantly illegal activities he’s partaken of just since coming into office.

So, thank goodness he’s an idiot.  That’s what’s going to save us.

Picture from businessinsider.com

Guess Whose Expanding!!

By Persephone

Well, it’s official.  We’ve expanded our website onto twitter!  While I’ve been the primary writer on crankysisters.com, my sister has obsessively observed every tweet that’s crossed her path over the last eight months.  I finally convinced her that she needs to actually start tweeting messages of her own, and a few days ago she began this endeavor.

If you’d like to follow us on twitter, you can now find us here.  We’re eager to advance the cause of the resistance, one snarky comment at a time.

To the Progeny of President Cheeto…

static.politico.com

By Persephone

So, today is Father’s Day.  I spent pretty much this whole weekend selling Father’s Day cards at Safeway (my new summer job), which would have been a lot more fun if my father wasn’t dead.  It’s been a good decade since the idea of Father’s Day didn’t fill me with regret and despair.  But I digress…

To all of President Cheeto’s children, let me wish you a happy Father’s Day.  Today is the day when you can thank your father for all that he has done for you.

To Donald Trump, Jr., today is the day to remember that your father’s desire for power in the form of the United States Presidency will lead to your business’s ultimate doom.  Your upcoming years are sure to be consumed with various lawsuits concerning your father’s conflicts of interest under the Emoluments Clause.  This isn’t to mention the investigations concerning RICO, obstruction of justice, treason, and money laundering.  May your lawyers prove bloodthirsty and worthy of their high salaries.

To Ivanka Trump, what the fuck?  You’re even in the White House while all this shit is going on with your bogus “Assistant to the President” position, and your dad is still tweeting dumb statements involving words like “covfefe” and blaming Hillary Clinton for everything.  Your dad signs executive orders like they’re going out of style (even they’re just memos in disguise) and offends every world leader he meets.  This is the same father who marvels over your figure and makes entire rooms full of women uncomfortable.  Why are you not stopping him?  More importantly, why are you still supporting him?  This is the same guy who bragged about assaulting women and spouts racist, violence-inducing declarations whenever he’s left by himself too long.  It’s time to put a little distance between yourself and him.

To Eric…you know how every comedian makes fun of your relationship with your father?  They mock your father’s lack of interest in your well-being, claiming that your dad forgets your name and avoids you like the plague.  On some level, this joke probably feels somewhat true to you.  Let me place your mind at ease on this score.  Your dad really doesn’t care about you.

Tiffany: your mother Marla Maples really did you a solid when she took you to California upon your parents’ divorce.  Maintaining emotional and professional distance from your father has granted you quite the low profile, considering your last name.  Keep up the good work and send your mom some flowers, stat!

To Barron, keep your mom close.  Moving into the White House is an event she has postponed for a reason.  Watch your father for any sudden changes in behavior, shower your mom with loads of affection to remind her who the real love of her life is, and prepare to run for the hills.  You’ll know when it’s time.

In one of the presidential debates, one of the audience members asked a pretty lame question in a vague effort to make Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump compliment each other.  This guy wanted to know just what the two presidential candidates liked about one another.  Hillary pointed out that Trump’s kids were all in attendance, as that says something about his role as a father.

To me, it says something about the control President Cheeto exercises over his offspring.  I adored my father.  In retrospect, he would have made a half-way decent president.  For one thing, he was an environmental scientist.  Climate change deniers would have been pissed with my Dad’s agenda.  Even so, I wouldn’t have shown up to every event like the Trump kids do.  I’m an adult.  I have a life.  The Trump kids have multiple businesses to run, yet they take the time to make every public appearance their father asks of them.

Suspicious.  Even in their 30s, these Trump kids leap at their father’s command.  It’s way disturbing.  They really should rethink their priorities.

And maybe grow up in the process.

Picture from politico.com

Gay Novels

By Persephone

As you may or may not have noticed after reading some of the articles posted on this website, I’m gay.  I’m actually quite the lesbian, which is depressing considering how rural the area I live in is.  Say what you will about cities, but at least there are gay people there.  In my town, there’s a gay population of one.  It gets rather depressing sometimes.

This isn’t to say that I don’t know any gay people.  I started attending a local gay support group an hour’s drive away, and I’m going to the gay pride parade in Yakima this Saturday.  I’m trying to establish myself in a community so that I’m not the only homosexual in my universe, and this connection does help.

Even so, I’d like to just say how much I hate gay novels.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Gay novels are improving rapidly, and just a few weeks ago I read several regency romances by Cat Sebastian that were delightful.  They were sweet, well written, funny, and the romance was rather believable.  But they also involved two dudes.  I found it sweet, but the sex scenes were just awkward for me to read…what can I say?  I’m a lesbian.  Two guys together just don’t inspire much lust in me.  For some reason.

Discovering these books, however, did inspire me to seek out lesbian romances.  This happens to me about once a year.  I just get so tired of all the heterosexual novels out there that I decide to go out and buy a slew of lesbian novels and binge read them.  Every year, I hope that they’ll improve.  Every year, I hope that lesbian novels will no longer suck.  And my hopes keep on getting dashed.

It’s not just the typos.  It’s not just the lack of plot.  It’s really that the romances themselves aren’t believable.  I recently finished reading about ten lesbian novels that I found on amazon, and they mostly straight-up sucked.  The heroines sure like to contemplate and talk a lot about their attraction to each other, but it’s amazing how rarely the authors even include dialogue.  When the characters do talk to one another, it conversations sound clunky and awkward.  There’s absolutely no chemistry at all.  In short, the romances aren’t credible.

I’m not sure why lesbians keep writing novels where the two main characters seem more afraid of each other when they’re talking and all idealistic about each other when they’re not, but we really do need to up our game.  We are clearly leaps and bounds behind gay men in this area, and we need to improve.  There’s no reason why two girls couldn’t end up together in a regency romance, too.

I have read a few good lesbian novels, don’t get me wrong, but they’re few and far between.  Sara Waters is usually pretty good (although don’t read Affinity, as it’s just depressing), and Red Falcon’s District by Leilani Beck is pretty good, but these are the rare exceptions.  Not the rule.

Women are supposed to be the queens of writing romance.  We really need to remember that and write good stories for our much neglected lesbian audience.  We’ve suffered enough.

Why Always With the Circus?

By Persephone

I really don’t have a lot of time to write right now (it’s the last week of school, and my schedule’s been crazy…which is so unusual, right?)  However, I just looked over some of the news this week, and I kind of had to take a step back.

Seriously–it’s only Wednesday, and the President of the United States has already found time to send out a tweet to derail his lawyers’ fight to uphold the Muslim ban.  So, that ruling has been upheld, and the Muslim ban is still banned.

My favorite Russian Presidential hopeful Alexei Navalny has been arrested again.  He was protesting this weekend and was immediately arrested.  Vladimir Putin sure is convincing the world that he’s not threatened by Navalny’s increasing popularity.  Keep it up, Navalny!  I really am such a fan…

Then, the real cherry on top was Tuesday’s interrogation of Jeff Sessions.  I’ve never heard such an incompetent Southern drawl in my life.  And I’m from Oklahoma.  I feel rather offended here, actually.  All we learned from that testimony is that Sessions really doesn’t know how to articulate his words, and that he won’t admit to anything.  So, nothing new.

Even so, that’s a lot of news for two days into the week.  What a roller coaster.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie (Just the Filling–the Crust is for Another Day)

By the Oracle

 

1 ½ cup sugar

3 tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

 

Add 3 cups of rhubarb that has been cut up into ½ inch pieces and 1 cup fresh (or frozen) strawberries.  Mix to coat fruit.  Let stand 20 minutes.  Place in unbaked pie shell.  Cover filling with either lattice or another pie crust.  Bake 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

When we make this filling, we put it all together into a quart-sized bag, then freeze it.  When it’s thawed, plunk it into the pie shell and bake accordingly.  Not only does it freeze like a dream, but this makes it super easy to make in the winter.