25 Things That Totally Irritate Me

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Frequently, I write about the things in my life that make me smile, but today I thought it would be more fun to list a few of the things that irritate and annoy me. See if you don’t agree. Here goes.
1.) People who blame gluten for all the evils in the world.
2.) The friend who seems to have no life outside of Facebook.
3.) Receiving a birthday gift from Mom that I know I gave her last Christmas.
4.) Knowing that Tonya Harding is the biggest name celebrity I will ever meet.
5.) Knowing that I can’t flip my pillow top mattress, and I continue to fret about it.
6.) Racist hatred and rhetoric coming from the president of the United States.
7.) Standing in the grocery line flipping through a magazine as subscription cards fall like snow at my feet.
8.) That mass murder is the quickest path to fame.
9.) Hearing the splash of liquid on liquid and then the flush of the toilet on the other end of the phone line.
10.) Having dinner with a couple that are close to a divorce.
11.) Childhood bullies who go on to achieve great financial success.
12.) That all good things come to an end, but really lousy things seem to last an overly long time.
13.) When my seven-year old granddaughter insists I should let her post my profile on Match.com.
14.) The embarrassment that comes from having dozens of cars slow down to watch me get a ticket.
15.) When the gas icon appears on my dashboard and I’m at least fifty miles from civilization.
16.) After spending all Saturday afternoon re-arranging furniture, only to decide I liked it better the way it was.
17.) The vice-like grip that the 1% hold on the world’s wealth.
18.) When I e-mail a friend with a couple of questions and the return e-mail fails to answer any of the questions, causing me to re-ask the same questions in a follow-up e-mail.
19.) Crying when I’m so enraged I am close to going on a homicidal rampage.
20.) When I’ve covered an error with Wite-Out and then can’t write over the bumpy glumpy layer of cover up.
21.) Knowing the only way I can get my dog to come when she is called is by hollering, “Come on Lilly, get a treat. Treat, Lilly. Treat time.” She won’t do anything without a reward.
22.) People continuing to lie to me, even when they know that I know, they are lying to me.
23.) Stepping out of my car into an ankle-deep puddle.
24.) Finding out that my ex-mother-in-law just won a $20 million dollar lottery prize.
25.) That a reality TV has-been is manipulating and corrupting the democracy of the United States.

Wow. That was cathartic.

Calamity Politics is a Progressive online news magazine that offers opinion and comment on the issues of the day. Join the Resistance. We are Indivisible.

Darlene

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Tools To Help You Quit Smoking Now

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This Year Is My Golden Anniversary Of Being Smoke-Free

I used to smoke cigarettes. I quit fifty years ago. So, I guess this year is my Golden Anniversary of smoke free-living. I had tried to quit several times and had sadly returned to the nasty habit. In 1968 I participated in a grad study in college.  I suddenly realized quitting was actually easier than I had thought. I just needed a different set of tools. The grad study used journaling and self contracting to accomplish behavior change. Both techniques are addressed below.

I’m writing this post for one special person in my life. I pray every day that she will quit smoking cigarettes. She says she wants to quit, but she hasn’t been able to.

Addiction specialists recognize that cigarettes, “are the crack cocaine of nicotine,” because smoking a drug intensifies its effect.  Researcher Jack Henningfield described the process as, “brain altering.” So, if you, like my loved one, have not been able to quit, read on.

Keep A Journal Of Your Smoking Habits Beginning One Week Before Your Quit Date

I wrote a journal entry each time I lit a cigarette. That entry included the time, the place, the circumstances and the emotion I felt with each cigarette I smoked. I did that for one week before quitting. During that time, I identified my triggers, my emotional involvement with nicotine, and the habituating ritual involved with each cigarette. In my case when reviewing my notes I realized there were only a couple of times a day I really wanted a cigarette. Wow, what a realization. Out of the fifteen cigarettes a day I was smoking I only really wanted about three of them. Eye opening. But everyone has a different relationship with nicotine so I pulled together some science and psychology and thought I would share with you some common sense ideas to help you become smoke free.

Saul Schiffman PhD Believes In Cue Cards

Saul Schiffman, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, recommends using cue cards to help patients kick the smoking habit. His cue cards resemble what follows. You can print these “cards” out and refer to them when you need to reinforce your choice to quit cigarettes, or rewrite them on real 3×6 cards. Be sure to personalize each action.

Card #1

Start by giving yourself Reasons to Quit:

1.) Save your life: By not smoking you are giving yourself an extra decade of life. If you are over 35 and smoke you are increasing your risk of dying from lung cancer by 12 times and emphysema by 10 times and doubling your odds of developing heart disease.

2.) Improve your health: Within 30 minutes of your last cigarette your blood pressure drops. Within 48 hours taste and smell improve. Within two weeks to two months walking becomes easier and lung function improves up to 30%. Within the first year there is a noticeable increase in energy levels.

You Will Notice Your Energy Increasing

3.) To save your looks: You will be stopping a habit that causes premature wrinkles especially around the mouth, stained teeth and yellow fingernails.

4.) To save your loved ones: If you have young children by not smoking you are no longer increasing their likelihood to developing asthma, ear infections, or bronchitis. Additionally, you are not providing a role model for smoking.

5.) To save money: You will have more disposable income. If you buy four cartons of cigarettes per month at $60.00 per carton that is $3,120 per year. OMG! You can now afford that vacation to Cancun.

6.) To save your freedom: You are no longer the slave of an addiction. Your time is once again your own.

If you notice your resolve weakening re-read your reasons to quit. To personalize the program add your own motivators to the list, because each person will have their own reasons why they want to stop smoking.

Card #2

Make a plan to kick the habit:

Set Your Quit Date Just As If It Were A Date Night

1.) Pick a date, make your quit date about a week away. Once you set your date do that journaling I mentioned, so you can identify when and why, you light up each of those coffin nails.

2.) Make an “I Quit contract”: The “contract” has been used for years by psychologists and psychiatrists to change behaviors. Write up a contract committing to at least 12 weeks to become a non-smoker. Keep it simple, but make it specific. Sign and date it.

3.) Get motivated: Focus on your reasons for quitting-refer to your reasons to quit list.

4.) Make a plan, plan for the challenges you will face and figure out how you will deal with the anticipated obstacles.

5.) Gather tools: Nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges are available over the counter. Or, you can visit your doctor and get a prescription. Studies show that use of such aids will double your chances of success.

Connect With Quit Smoking Websites

6.) Get help: Ask the people around you for support. Join a quit program, call a hotline or go online for information.  Here are some valuable numbers to use when you need encouragement. 800-QUIT-NOW, smokefree.gov, and lungusa.org.

7.) Eliminate the visual reminders: On your chosen quit day, get rid of all cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays.

Card #3

Those First Smoke-Free Days:

1.) Give yourself some pats on the back: You have made it another day Smoke-free. That’s a big deal, celebrate it. Think of how you will reward yourself.

2.) Plan ahead: Use your powers of visualization. Imagine the next 24 hours as a non-smoker. Make a plan on how you specifically will avoid each challenge as it presents itself. You have already learned through journaling what your triggers are. Use that knowledge to fortify your defenses.

3.) Use your tools: If you got a prescription from your doctor for Zyban remember to take it, set the alarm on your hand-held. If you are using nicotine replacement make sure you have enough to get your through the day.

4.) Line up support: Identify who will help you get through those moments of weakness. Is there someone at your workplace that has quit? Attach yourself to that success story. If you do not have a cheering squad; make a call, or go on-line and touch base with professionals.

5.) Stay centered: Practice yoga, do some visualizations, listen to music–anything that puts you in a relaxed and focused state of mind.

Yoga, music, deep breathing, meditation

6.) Wear a reminder: Create a bracelet from yarn or leather to remind you of your vow to quit.

7.) Be kind to yourself: Get plenty of sleep, eat well, and take a walk. If you were smoking 20 cigarettes a day you can multiply that 20 by the 10-15 minutes you engaged in the action and Voila! you have magically created 3.3 additional hours in your day to create, to communicate, to love.

Card #4

Emergency strategies for when you see yourself giving into cravings

1.) Delay: Studies have shown that if you can hold off for 15-20 minutes the urge will pass.

2.) Depart: Get out of the situation. Take a walk, go to the ladies room. Change your surroundings.

3.) Replacement: Twist a rubber band, play with a paper clip, chew gum, eat a piece of fruit. Go for a jog. Work out. Exercise will increase your chance of success and keep any potential weight gain to a minimum.

4.) Distract: Focus on a recent success you’ve had, or plan your vacation, or fantasize about those new shoes you have eyed. Find something pleasant to replace the cigarette.

5.) Refocus: Get out your list of reasons why you want to quit. Each of those reasons are important, and sometimes we just need a little reminder of what is really important.

6.) Medicate: If you are using nicotine lozenges or gum take a piece now. If you are a menthol brand smoker consider doubling up on cessation aids. Evidence strongly suggests that the minty menthol kick makes quitting more difficult. I was a menthol smoker and think this is especially good advice.

Remember that most cravings are worst during the first week of cessation. The intensity of the symptoms will drop significantly with time. At least half of smokers report withdrawal symptoms that include dizziness, headaches, nicotine cravings, anxiety, depression and weight gain.

Over The Last 50 Years I Have Saved A Bundle Of Bucks Because I Quit Smoking

These symptoms are usually mild. Take a Tylenol and move on. You will be so glad you did. I’m sure quitting smoking when I did has saved me over a $100,000 dollars.  Bad habits can be expensive in more ways than one. Break the hold of nicotine on your life.

GOOD LUCK!

Calamity Politics is a Progressive online news magazine offering comment and opinion on a variety of issues. Join the Resistance. We are Indivisible.

Darlene

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Can We End Hatred By A Mere Shift In Thinking?

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Sharon Salzberg is a NY Times best-selling author and world-renowned Buddhist meditation expert. Check out a couple of her titles, available on Amazon, Lovingkindness, and Real Happiness in 28 Days. 

Sharon Salzberg Is A NY Times Best Selling Author

In a small filler piece in an old “O” magazine Sharon began by describing an uncomfortable confrontation she observed between a man and a woman during a train trip to New York City. In the tableau the man became more and more agitated at a woman who was engaged in a loud cell phone conversation. The man finally exploded, yelling at the woman, “You are making too much noise!”

Observing the scene Sharon reflected, “A saying I once heard came into my mind, ‘The problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.’

It takes strong insight and often a good deal of courage to break away from our habitual ways of looking at things, to be able to respond from a different place. Imagine if we dropped our need to be right, our easy perpetuation of what we’re used to, our urge to go along with what others think, and instead, tried to practice what the Buddha taught: ‘Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love.’

Young Buddha Taught That Hatred Ceases With Love

Shouting to drown out someone else’s noise, returning belligerence for belligerence may be automatic, but it tires us out. Rigidly categorizing people as good or bad or right or wrong, helps us feel secure; yet relating in that way doesn’t allow us to really connect to anyone, and we actually feel alone.

Risking a new level of ‘seeing’ enables us to try out new behaviors and find new ways to communicate that convey our feelings without damaging ourselves, or those around us.

That would kick off an enormous adventure of consciousness–a readiness to step into new terrain, redefine power, see patience as strength rather than as resignation. Instead of yelling at the woman on the train, the man might have made his request before his anger built to unmanageable proportions and he saw her only as an irritant, not as a person. He might have asked before insisting and spoken before shouting, just as he might like to be spoken to himself.”

As her fellow train riders settled down, Salzberg continues, “but we see elements of that ride every day; frustration, carelessness, an effort to be in control, rage, fear–AND the chance to be different. Can we “see” it all and seize the chance to operate from new levels of thinking?

Reactions To The 2005 Metro Bombing In London

Even in horrible circumstances, we have that opportunity–and the prospect for meaningful change. I saw it after the metro bombing in London in July 2005, when like most people, my initial response was sorrow for the lives lost and some anxiety about getting on a subway in New York. This was all natural and appropriate, but limited by ‘us versus them’ thinking.

Willa, the 7-year-old daughter of a friend had another perspective. On being told what had happened, her eyes filled with tears, her mother wrote me, and she said, ‘Mom, we should say a prayer.’ As she and her mother held hands, Willa asked to go first. Her mother was stunned to hear Willa begin with,  ‘May the bad guys remember the love in their hearts.’

Hearing that, my own heart leaped to another level altogether.”

Sharon’s insight is so simple, so straight forward, yet not so easy for me, or many others to embrace and implement into our daily lives, but I’m gonna try.

It is counterproductive to indulge in the US vs THEM thinking. One person is not better than any other, nor does any person or group have a lock on the truth. We must face our prejudices and work to minimize them.

Think about this “walking in the other guy’s shoes” and trying to “see” situations from a new perspective. First, I resolve to try to submerge my typical first reaction and think before I speak. I know that is a seemingly small goal, but I think it is a good place for me to start. Secondly, I promise to give a rattle before I am screaming mad. It is not polite to not say anything while on a slow boil.  I’ve decided I should at least give the other guy some warning.  How about you, are you ready to seize a chance at a new way to respond to personal interactions?

Have a great weekend.

Calamity Politics is a Progressive online political news magazine offering comment and opinion on various topics. Join the Resistance. We are Indivisible.

Darlene

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10 Sneaky Fitness Tricks For The Time Challenged

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We have good news for the time challenged. All leading fitness experts agree that we need at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. But, somehow the minutes and hours slip away and we never add that thirty minute block to our schedule. At least one recent study indicates that it is okay to sprinkle activity regularly throughout the day, even in one minute increments, and you will get the same blood pressure, cholesterol and waistline benefits as people who exercise in longer more structured intervals.

You Can Do Meaningful Exercise Right At Your Desk

This is isometric exercise. Isometric exercise is a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction. Isometrics are done in static positions and not dynamic through range of motion. In the process you tense your muscle but don’t actually move. In such positions the muscle fiber are activated, but since these are equal forces against each other, there is no movement. Imagine putting palm to palm and pressing against each other as hard as possible for 10 seconds and then release. That is isometrics.

Just remember to squeeze it–hard. Since you are not relying on movement to fatigue your muscles you need to squeeze hard, which just means you tighten your muscles as tight as you can. And don’t forget to breathe. Breathe from the lower belly.

Keep A Tennis Ball In Your Desk Or Next To Your Favorite Chair

1.) While sitting around watching TV or during a work break: Keep a tennis ball next to your favorite chair or in your desk. At least twice a day, grab a ball and squeeze tightly for at least five seconds then release slowly. Repeat 10 to 15 times with each hand.

2.) While standing in line at the bank or the movie: A full body exercise can take your mind off the wait. Begin by tensing your butt 10 times. Tighten your stomach muscles, hold for five seconds, then release slowly. Stretch your arms downward behind you and squeeze your triceps 10 times. Rise up on your toes and squeeze your calves 10 times.

3.) During your morning and evening teeth brushing try this: As you age your balance deteriorates. To reverse that natural loss stand on one foot for 60 seconds and tense your butt and upper thighs, then switch legs. When that becomes easy, try balancing while lifting your leg to the side and hold for 60 seconds.

A Stability Ball Is A Good Way To Strengthen Your Core And Gives You A Break From That Office Chair

4.) If your job is tying you to a desk it is endangering your life: You have probably heard, “Sitting is the new smoking,” sitting is hazardous to your health. If your job has you doing a lot of desk time change your usual chair for a stability ball for 20-30 minute periods throughout the day. A stability ball builds core strength and is recommended for reducing back pain. Don’t forget to get up and walk around every half hour.

5.) While the spaghetti is cooking: Place hands on the wall, shoulders wide apart. Lean into the wall, supporting your body on your toes, and keep your palms on the wall. Push as hard as you can. Keep pushing with the same force for 15 seconds. Relax. Repeat at least 5 times.

6.) While the coffee perks: Try to do a light stretch each morning. Stand at arm’s length from the wall and place one foot behind the other, keeping heels down and knees straight. Lean toward the wall and place one foot behind the other, keeping heels down and knees straight. Lean toward the wall, bracing with your arms. Bend your forward leg to stretch the calf of your back leg. Hold for thirty seconds and then switch legs.*Plantar Fasciitis is a common complaint and it can be prevented by keeping your calves and Achilles tendons from getting tight.

Use Your Legs When Getting Up From A Chair. Equal To Doing A Squat

7.) When standing up: Every time you stand up from or sit down in a chair use just your legs. Do this 10 times a day and you can congratulate yourself for doing 10 squats. If you need to use one hand at first to steady yourself you can do that initially.

8.) If you are sitting at a red light: Counter gravity’s effects on bowel and bladder by tightening your pelvic floor muscles. Just pretend you have to pee and are “holding it.” Hold for a count of 10, then release for a count of 10.

9.) While watching season six of Breaking Bad or your personal Netflix marathon lie on your side and do three sets of 15 leg lifts, then three sets of leg circles. Then switch sides.

10.) Wall sit: Stand with your back against the wall. Flex your knees and lower your body as you would while squatting. Hold position 5-7 seconds and then release. Repeat 10 times, increasing the hold time gradually. Make sure your back remains flush against the wall at all times.

Proven benefits: Helps strengthen and condition muscles, improves control over our bodies, improves body posture and spine alignment, helps prevent injury, improves bone density and strength, increases resistance and endurance, can be done anywhere at anytime, no equipment required, keeps body posture straight and erect and can be done by young and old.

Although the above 10 suggestions are quick and easy exercises be sure to strive for a combination of isotonic and isometric exercises. Isotonic exercises include squats and stair climbing. Exercise should be fun. Include a weekly bike ride, roller skate at your local rink, take a hike, play a round of golf, hit the pool or just take a walk.

Choose to be healthy.

Calamity Politics is a Progressive on-line news magazine offering comment and opinion on most everything. Join the Resistance. We are Indivisible.

Darlene

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Myths About Single-Payer Health Care

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Honest health care policy experts know that the solution to fix the American health care system is staring us in the face, and it is single-payer, Medicare-for-All. The defeat of the Republican health care legislation put a nail in the coffin of the idea that Americans can’t be sold on Medicare-for-All.

Protesters Demand Single-Payer

The evidence is clear, Americans believe that every person has a right to health care, irrespective of ability to pay. We as a people, believe that we have an obligation to take care of each other. In fact, there is more momentum for single payer than at any time in our history.

Despite its enormous popularity and unparalleled record of success Republicans are deep in their war on Medicare. New proposals have emerged since the 2016 election that would slash benefits for the elderly and leave older Americans at the mercy of the “for profit” insurance industry.

Paul Ryan Republican Speaker of the House has been vocal in his attacks against both Medicaid and Medicare. He is calling for a voucher program that would transfer more costs on to seniors and leave them at the mercy of the private insurance industry. This action must be stopped.  It is not just about protecting our existing Medicare system, it is about ensuring that everyone receives health care as a right. It is a case of “everybody in, nobody out.”

Paul Ryan Is Waging A War On All Social Entitlements. Medicare & Medicaid Better Watch Out

One hundred Americans die everyday from the lack of health insurance. That is over 30,000 unnecessary deaths each year and that number is scheduled to grow steadily over the next decade. This is an American tragedy. With the Republican tax scam now signed into law we will see millions remain uncovered and millions more lose coverage due to increased cost for insurance coverage brought on by the elimination of the insurance mandate. The insurance mandate was a device used by the ACA plan to expand the pool to keep prices down.

Former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell believes Medicare-for-All is the best health care reform, and it is the only health care reform that will cover everyone and control costs. That is why the majority of doctors, nurses and hospitals support a Medicare-for-All system.

Dr. Marcia Angell Former Editor in Chief Of New England Journal Of Medicine Supports Single-Payer

What about CIGNA, Wellpoint, United and Humana? Their place in American health care would disappear.  They would be replaced with one insurance pool. The Medicare system that serves the elderly so well would be expanded to cover all Americans. “Everybody in. Nobody out.”

How would such changes save money? Upfront we as a country would save at least half a trillion dollars in administrative costs, waste and profits. That sizeable savings would be used to cover everyone.

At birth, everyone would get a health insurance card. This card would give you access to any doctor or hospital in the United States. Free, unfettered choice of doctor and hospital. This is unlike our current practice of allowing health insurance companies to tell us which doctors and hospitals we can see.

As it stands, if you don’t have health insurance–or if you have insurance with sizeable co-pays and deductibles–you’re likely to stay away from a doctor or hospital until the condition becomes  critical, and then most likely you will end up in your local ER.

30,000 American Die Annually Because They Have No Health Insurance

Obvious positives: A Medicare-for-All system would cut drug prices by more than 40%. A Medicare-for-All system would  emphasize prevention. “An ounce of single-payer prevention is worth a pound of high-tech cure.” A Medicare-for-All system would be a powerful voice against alcohol, tobacco, junk food and sugary beverages. Furthermore, a single-payer system would store treatment results in a single database, doctors would have access to more complete research data, thereby making it easier to detect the dangers of certain drugs and environmental and workplace exposures.

Our inadequate health care system leaves millions out in the cold. Until every American is covered the body count will continue to rise. Remember at least 100 Americans die daily directly related to their inability to pay for health care. Tens of millions of people face crushing medical bills, even people with insurance are forced to choose between medicine and basic necessities like food and shelter. This is WRONG.  Medical bills are the number one cause of personal bankruptcies in the United States.

Medical Bills Are The Number One Cause Of Personal Bankruptcy In United States

Health insurance costs are going to continue to spin wildly out of control. Insurance premiums are doubling every six years, and insurers are continually pushing for patient increases in the share of cost, most significantly through higher deductibles and co-payments they demand from their customers.

Bernie has it right. There can be no compromise with the health insurance industry.  Putting the sharks in charge of the goldfish makes no sense. If Paul Ryan has his way that will be the result, seniors will be at the mercy of insurance companies.  The ACA tried to keep the insurance companies in the game, however it has become clear to most of us who are following this issue closely that the insurance industry will give less at more cost. Ryan’s voucher program in place of Medicare-for-All would be a disaster.

Lobbyists For Health Insurance Providers & Drug Companies Fill The Halls Of Congress

Remember every day 100 Americans die from lack of health insurance. Every day hundreds go bankrupt from medical bills. Both a national tragedy and a national disgrace. We must support sensible policy and sensible policy is Medicare-for-All. There is an army of lobbyists representing health care and drug industry visiting legislators everyday their central mission is to block Medicare-for-All.

Public Citizen is a citizen action group working on many public policy issues, one of them being Medicare-for-All. In a recent mailer Public Citizen responded to 6 “Myths and Lies” about a single-payer system. I would like to share their responses to the most frequent arguments.

1.) Argument: Single-payer is government-run health care.

WRONG.

Government run health care is the Veterans Administration. Or the British system where the government pays for the doctors and hospitals.

Under Single-payer you get a health care card and you can go to any doctor or hospital in the U.S.

Doctors are not employees of the government. Hospitals remain in private hands. You get free choice of doctor and hospital.

2.) AArgument: Single-payer will lead to rationing, like in Canada.

WRONG.

Right now in the United States, the private health insurance companies ration care.

If you don’t have health insurance, you don’t get health care. More than 30 million Americans now lack health insurance.

That’s why 100 Americans die every day from lack of health care.

There are some problems in the Canadian system, but most of what you hear about long lines is health insurance industry propaganda.

Zero, let me repeat that, zero people die every day in Canada due to lack of health insurance.

3.) Argument: Costs will skyrocket under single-payer.

WRONG.

Single-payer is the only health care reform that will save enough money to insure everyone.

By eliminating the health insurance industry, the country will save $500 billion a year or more in administrative costs and profits.

That money is then used to insure those who lack insurance and fully cover those who are under-insured.

Yes, more people will be seeking health care because they will now have insurance. But they will be taking care of medical problems early, thus preventing more costly treatment later.

4.) Argument: Drugs will be more difficult to get under single-payer.

WRONG.

The drug industry would have you believe that there will be less research and development under a single-payer system.

In fact, much medical research is now funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Under single-payer, this would grow.

Also, drugs will be cheaper under single-payer.

When all patients are under one system, the payer wields a lot of clout.

For example, the VA gets a 40% discount on drugs because of its buying power.

This single-payer buying power is the main reason other countries’ drug prices are lower than those in this country. (*Now you know why the drug industry is so opposed to a potential single-payer system.)

5.) Argument: Single-payer will cover less than the insurance I have now.

WRONG.

For the majority of Americans, single-payer will be a vast improvement.

All medically necessary care would be funded through the single-payer, including doctor visits, hospital care, prescriptions, mental health services, nursing home care, rehab, home are, eye care and dental care.

An enlightened single-payer will also result in a sharp increase in public health funding to prevent disease.

No more bills. No more deductibles. No more co-pays.

6.) Argument: Single-payer will cost me more than I’m paying now for private health insurance.

WRONG.

The majority of Americans will pay about the same or less than they are paying now.

Instead of paying premiums to a private insurance company, most of us will pay a similar or smaller amount in taxes.

So, now, if you are paying $8,000 in premiums for a family of four with a $4,ooo deductible, your yearly liability is at least $12,000.

It is most likely that you will pay less than that in taxes to fund a universal single-payer.

There will be no deductibles or co-pays.

And, you can go to see any doctor or check into any hospital in the United States.

Thanks again Public Citizen for answering a lot of the common questions people have about single-payer. Public Citizen is fighting for single-payer every day.  Put them on your donation list.

Calamity Politics is an online news magazine presenting a progressive view of politics and policy. Join me for comment and opinion. Join the Resistance. We are Indivisible.

Darlene

(**In my perfect world the health care insurance card would also a national voter ID. A guarantee to get access to voting nationwide. Just my idea to stop the calls of fraudulent voters and the ongoing suppression of the vote.**)

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Trump Gives Middle Finger Salute To Coastal States

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Over the last year we have seen a number of environmental rollbacks and out right attacks on protected lands by the Trump administration. Despite these tactical offenses I was not prepared for the shocking move that Ryan Zinke has proposed that would open the West Coast to petroleum exploration. I wrote about it last week, but the potential effect has sent me into a full blown rage.

The Beauty Of The Pacific Coast Is Staggering

The Zinke proposal can be best viewed as a middle finger salute to the people of all coast states, many of who voted for Hillary Clinton. I live in Oregon, one of the Pacific coast states that could be effected by the oil-leasing plan. The immediate consequences are likely to be few, at least off the Oregon and Washington coasts. The actions of the administration will most likely have the issue tied up in political wrangling and lawsuits for years.

The prospects of exploration and exploitation of oil in our offshore waters has prompted the governors of Oregon, Washington and California to mount an unified front of opposition to the concept of any offshore drilling or exploration. These state executives need our support and encouragement as do all the governors of all the states on the Atlantic coast that are also attempting to block this irresponsible and dangerous proposal.

Oil Transport Tanker Explosions Are A Danger To The Environment

Time and again we have seen horrific costs of oil development and oil transportation, just think of  the Exxon Valdez disaster to the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. The giant global companies that run the oil and gas industry and the undermanned agencies that police the industry, have already shown themselves incapable of guaranteeing there will never be another incident for which they are unwilling to accept responsibility. An “accident” along the Pacific coast or the Atlantic coast would have the potential to kill crucial industries including tourism, fishing, and crabbing.

On January 6th, 2018 an Iranian oil tanker carrying nearly 1 million barrels of light crude oil headed to South Korea collided with a freighter carrying grain from the United States. At least 30 crewmen and passengers are missing and presumed dead. The tanker has been burning for more than a week sending cones of black smoke 1000’s of meters into the sky and igniting the surrounding water surface has just sunk. The results of this disaster will take millions of dollars in clean up and will devastate the environment and wildlife in the area for years to come. My point is that these accidents happen on a regular basis and we have no means to protect ourselves, or the environment.

Oil Spill Clean Up Requires Money and Manpower

Last week the governors of Oregon, Washington, and California issued a joint statement condemning the proposal, “the administration has chosen to forget the utter devastation of past offshore oil spills to wildlife and to the fishing, recreation and tourism industries in our states.  They’ve chosen to ignore the science that tell us our climate is changing and we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But we won’t forget history or ignore science. For more that 30 years, our shared coastline has been protected from further federal drilling and we’ll do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, shortsighted action.”

Even restrained exploratory activities associated with identifying oil deposits have the potential of harming rockfish habitat, interfering with whale migrations and feeding, and increasing vessel traffic and noise in areas essential to endangered species from endangered birds, salmon to Orcas.

The opponents of offshore oil and gas exploration in Pacific Northwest and Alaskan waters have been vilified as obstructionists and the overly concerned, painting an image that we place more importance on sea otters and kelp than energy independence and national security.  None of us dispute that for now at least, we continue to need fossil fuels to power our cars and heat our homes. However, currently there is no shortage of oil that could possibly justify placing the coasts of America at risk for another devastating oil spill. Gas prices are stable. Taking in to consideration inflation, gas prices are equal to what they were 100 years ago and prices are less than a mere decade ago.

Opening the American coastlines to fossil fuel exploration is about nothing other than greed and politics, not about need for energy. We need to stop this move by the administration dead in it’s tracks. Let’s give a resounding “no” to this latest environmental assault.

Calamity Politics is a progressive online news magazine bringing the activities of Washington DC into perspective. Join me for comment and opinion. Join the Resistance. We are Indivisible.

Darlene

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Try These For Fun

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Yesterday I ranted and raved about the news of the last week and truthfully I need to step away from the horror of Trumpism and laugh. Here are a list of tongue twisters that should keep you giggling for a few minutes.

Try to say each of these sentences three times very fast

Lesser leather never weathered wetter weather better.
Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches.
The bootblack bought the black boot back.
The epitome of femininity.
Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager managing an imaginary menagerie.
Fred fed Ted bread, and Ted fed Fred bread.
Many an anemone sees an enemy.
Which wicked witch wished which wicked wish.

Sometimes We Need To Just Be Silly

Okay you are on your own. Remember, you have to say each of the above at least three times very fast.  I am stumbling over my words the first time through. Good luck, most of all, take a moment and be silly.

Calamity Politics is an online news magazine focused on a progressive political agenda, hopefully with humor and thoughtfulness.

Join the Resistance.

Darlene

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One Week Into 2018 & Trump Sets Off Alarms

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Michael Wolff May Have Written The Hottest Book Of The Year

The last week of Trumpism has my hair on fire. First, who can escape the release of Michael Wolff’s gossip laden new book about Trump, “Fire and Fury?” Wow. It is setting sales records. I ordered mine on Amazon, got free shipping. Yes!

I can’t wait to read every salacious word. Supposedly, Amazon will have it here by next Friday.

The White House was obviously blindsided when early excerpts from “Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House” was published online by New York magazine and other media outlets ahead of the scheduled January 9th publication date.

Many of the most eyebrow raising excerpts centered around comments by inner circle confidant of the president, Steve Bannon.  Reports describe Trump as “furious” and “disgusted” with Bannon’s newly revealed comments. Bannon reportedly called the meeting at Trump Tower in May of 2016 with Russian operatives “treasonous.” Further, Bannon said he doubted if Trump would be able to complete his term.

Sloppy Steve Is In Hot Water Over Quotes From The Fire & Fury Book

Late Wednesday Trump’s private attorney Charles Harder sent Bannon a cease and desist letter threatening a lawsuit if Steve didn’t keep his mouth shut.  The letter insisted that Bannon was bound by a non-disclosure agreement and demanded he make no further disclosure of  confidential information.

The hysteria didn’t end with the Wolff book, Trump had a very public split with Bannon, giving him the nickname “Sloppy Steve.” Rebecca Mercer, daughter of secretive computer genius Robert Mercer announced she and her father have also split with Bannon. This may lead to Bannon being pushed out of his position at Breitbart News, which Mercer has a financial stake in.

Trump threatens he will sue Wolff and the publisher.  A threat he has made often over the years while never following through. Charles Harder further notified Wolff and his publisher Henry Holt & Co. to halt publication.  Instead of stopping the publication, the threats increased interest in the book and have increased demand. The public demand has actually led to a speed up of the book’s publication by a week. Trump sure knows how to tamper down excitement.  Trump and surrogates could not have done more to spur interest in the book if they had been part of the “Fire and Fury” marketing team.

Trump Telling People How Smart He Is

The main source of distress is the confirmation of what most of us instinctively know; that Trump is a chaotic, stupid, childish, narcissistic, sociopath who probably can’t read. The more Trump tried to push back against the book, telling reporters that he is a “stable genius,” the more infantile he sounded.

The second hair on fire event for me, centered around the Trump administrations continuous attack on the environment. In April Trump issued an executive order encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters, part of the administration’s strategy to help the U.S. “achieve energy dominance in the global market.”

On Thursday the plan was announced, a proposal to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open federal waters off California for the first time since the 1970’s Santa Barbara oil spill. The Trump proposal offers a five-year drilling plan which could also open new areas of oil and gas exploration off the East Coast, from Florida to Maine. This region has been blocked from drilling for multiple decades.

Zinke Presented His Five Year Plan To Expand Oil Exploration

The five-year plan was announced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Zinke stated that development of the offshore energy resources would help the economy by adding jobs and provide billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines.

The five-year Zinke plan would open 90% of the nation’s offshore reserves to development by private companies. Zinke has proposed 47 leases be offered from 2019-2024. Nineteen would be off Alaska. Twelve in the Gulf of Mexico. Nine in the Atlantic,  and seven in the Pacific including 6 off of California.

Zinke ended his telephone announcement, saying that it was still in the “drafting stage, nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product.”

Offshore Oil Drilling Plan Is Met With Stiff Opposition

While oil and gas industry spokesmen praised the announcement, which is the most expansive off shore drilling proposal in decades, the plan drew immediate opposition from governors up and down the East Coast, including Republican Governor’s Rick Scott of Florida and Larry Hogan of Maryland. Scott and Hogan went so far as to demand that their states be removed from consideration.

Democratic governors on both coasts blasted the plan. NY’s governor Cuomo called it “another federal assault on our environment.”  California’s Jerry Brown vowed to block “this reckless, short-sighted action.” Washington and Oregon governor’s both condemned the announced plan.

Third, and last hair on fire event for me was AG Jeff Sessions rescinding an Obama-era policy that had generally barred federal law enforcement officials from interfering with marijuana sales in states where the drug is legal.

AG Jeff Sessions Rescinds Obama Era Cannabis Policy

Sessions has assailed marijuana as “comparable to heroin” and has blamed it for spikes in violence, and had been expected to re-ignite federal enforcement of marijuana laws. Marijuana advocates argue that legalizing the drug eliminates the need for a black market and will likely reduce violence, since criminals would no longer control the marijuana trade.

Sessions has long believed that the Obama era treatment of marijuana has created “a safe harbor” for the expansion of marijuana sales that are federally illegal, the DOJ said. Sessions’ policy will let the U.S. attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to cannabis enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts.

Sessions’ plan drew immediate and strong objection from Republican U.S. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Gardner claimed Thursday’s action by the DOJ was directly opposite of what Session’s had told him prior to the Attorney General’s confirmation. Gardner went on to say, he would “take all steps necessary to fight the step, including holding up the confirmation of DOJ nominees.”

Legal Marijuana Produces Big Dollars To State Governments Across The Country

Kate Brown the governor of my home state of  Oregon said rolling back federal marijuana policy will disrupt the state’s economy.  Oregon was a pioneer in cannabis legislation. Oregon was the first state to decriminalize personal possession in 1973, legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and finally recreational use in 2014.

Oregon collected more than $108 million in taxes from cannabis sales between January 2016 and August 2016. Brown said more than 19,000 jobs have been created by the marijuana market in Oregon. State employment estimates that another 3,500 people are employed in marijuana-related businesses, with wages of nearly $23 million. The Oregon Health Authority estimated that in 2016 they oversaw $79.4 million in medical sales and the OLCC (Oregon Liquor/Cannabis Control Commission) oversaw $215. 3 million in recreational sales.

Marijuana Boutique In Oregon

Ron Wyden, Oregon’s senior Senator said the move “ignores the will of a majority of Americans and goes against what candidate Trump had promised. Trump promised to let states set their own marijuana policies.” Wyden statement continued, “Now he’s breaking that promise so Jeff Sessions can pursue his extremist anti-marijuana crusade. Once again the Trump Administration is doubling down on protecting states’ rights only when they believe the state is right.”

Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee said he and the Washington State Attorney General will “vigorously defend the state’s laws against federal infringement.”

More Than Half Of The States Have Chosen To Legalize Cannabis In One Form Or Another

Session’s announcement came after California opened sales of recreational marijuana, launching what is expected to become the world’s largest market for legal recreational cannabis. California sales alone are projected to bring in $1 billion annually in tax revenue within the next several years.  Polls show a solid majority of Americans believe the drug should be legalized and should be treated much like alcohol.

Over the last decade as marijuana markets have expanded it has  become a sophisticated multi-million dollar industry that helps fund many government programs. Twenty nine states have legalized medical use of marijuana and another eight states plus the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

Oregon AG, Ellen Rosenblum characterizes the Session’s decision as “overreach.” “This is an industry that Oregonians have chosen–and one I will do everything in my legal authority to protect,” Rosenblum emphasized.

Two massive policy changes and an expose book on a corrupt and demented president. I don’t know if the Republic and tolerate the assault.

Calamity Politics is an online political news magazine. Join me for my mostly irritable take on the week’s news.

Join the Resistance

Darlene

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Are Your Goals Getting In The Way Of Your Happiness?

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The other day, I was pawing through a box of books I had stored in the garage and was trying to decide if they were something I should drop off at The Salvation Army when I came upon Stephen Shapiro’s 2006 self-help gem, “Goal Free Living: How To Have The Life You Want Now.”  It has been at least a decade since I read the book, but as I flipped through the pages I remembered it distinctly, and thought it would be a great reminder to pass on to my Calamity Politics readers to help them enjoy a healthy, happy 2018.

Taking A Few Minutes To Re-Read Parts Of “Goal Free Living”

Shapiro is the first person that I can remember that gave me permission to release the religion of goal making that permeates our culture, and try to live without the restrictions  of a set of goals.

I have been told since I was a kid, that goals of all kinds, big, small, wildly ambitious were all within my reach. I just had to want them bad enough. The rule seemed to be,  if you can visualize it, you can have it; if you don’t know what you want  (can’t visualize it), you might as well be lost at sea without a life preserver.

Shapiro disputes this American myth.  In fact, Shapiro argues that if you want to be happy in its most broad interpretation, you need to throw that “five-year plan,” and the “life-time to do list,” into the garbage can.

Originally Shapiro was a motivational researcher.  While doing interviews with business leaders for a book he discovered that after interviewing 150 of the country’s most successful people and traveling over 12,ooo miles the most fulfilled people were also the most spontaneous,  and believe it or not, the least goal oriented. What?  How could that be true?  It goes against everything he, or I, have been taught.

Shapiro Traveled 12,000 Miles And Interviewed 150 Top Achievers

After interviewing those 150 successful people in all fields of enterprise, from all parts of the country, Shapiro discovered that most of the successful people had taken a circuitous route to their eventual success, and it seems that the circuitous trip was what made the result, all the more satisfying.

Shapiro became convinced that the key to happiness comes from checking out the back roads and detours, both literally and figuratively, without fear of changing course. Shapiro is convinced that following goals may lead a person to financial wealth, but there is a good chance that if you follow the plan unquestioningly you will lose yourself and potential happiness.

First, “Ask yourself, whose goal is it, anyway?” According to Shapiro, “Most people’s goals aren’t their own. They tend to be driven by society and family pressure.” Second, when you focus on a goal he believes, it is like putting on a pair of blinders, you lose your peripheral vision, causing you to miss out on all kinds of great opportunities. Third, you will always be living for the future.  You sacrifice today in the hopes that something wonderful will happen tomorrow. Goals are like that, you are always chasing them. Four, you are “courting failure” because you become attached to one outcome, and even if you achieve it, reality seldom matches the dream, and worse, it closes other doors to exploration and opportunity.

Shapiro Suggests We Use A Compass Not A Map To Get Us Where We Want To Be

But all this seems to go against every core principle that I have been taught since childhood.  How could all those books, seminars and teachers have been so wrong. I need those scraps of paper, those directions to success. I need my goals.  Or, do I? How can I achieve anything if I don’t have a goal, no matter how much fun wandering around in the wilderness having great moments may sound?

Shapiro counters with, “Goal-free living isn’t about aimless, or things are getting tough” and I’m going to bail out, but rather it is about “being passion-driven in the moment, while knowing you can change course.” It is also about “getting out, playing, and trying lots of new and different things.”

The central message here is that you can’t find out what you love by just sitting around thinking about it, you must get out and experience it.

I am a goal-aholic, I can’t just toss away all my goals. Or, can I? I think Shapiro is saying “do you have the right goals and are you relating to them the right way?”  Shapiro believes some people abuse goals, “as a way of escaping from being present in the here and now. They distract themselves by looking ahead. Life should be more into enjoying every single moment for what it is and allowing things to unfold.”

Hmmm, maybe I can do this.

I  have been an RN for nearly 4 decades and one of the foundations of nursing is the Nursing Care Plan. The care plan for a patient provides direction and continuity of  care. That mind-set is hard to just sweep away. However, I can see where a care plan to direct the care of a patient over a short-term period is not the same as the life time goal setting we do for ourselves. But, initially that professional methodology got in the way of me spreading my wings, and in fact still does in many ways. I wish I were better at this discarding everything I know.

A Nursing Care Plan Is A Short Goal Plan

Shapiro wants us to think about aspirations (working in government) versus goals such as (getting elected to congress on November 8th, 2018) because  a broader aspiration will give you pleasure today and “success” becomes more broadly defined.  The biggest complaint he has is with the institutionalization of SMART goals. In other words, Specific, Measurable, Achievable,  Results Oriented, and Time based. Sounds very similar to a Nursing Care Plan.  The idea that you will know right away whether you’ve succeeded or failed is misguided and crippling.

The cure to the pain of a failed goal is to step back and ask yourself whether you defined the desired outcome too narrowly and whether you tried to control the uncontrollable.  Shapiro reminds us, “Not only have you set yourself up for failure, but you’ve put a time limit on everything. Life is unpredictable, so give up control. Create many paths. And play hard.”

Above all, trash the idea that if you don’t succeed by Saturday morning at 11:30 you are a failure. Shapiro proclaims, “I’m not going to be done with what I’m doing till I’m dead. It is really about applying creativity to every aspect of your life.”

I  like that, “applying creativity.”

Don’t Be Afraid To Take A Detour

Shapiro’s eight guide posts for living a Goal-Free Life:

1.) Use a compass, not a map. Allow yourself to take the less traveled path, allow yourself to try new things.

2.) Trust that you are never lost–every seemingly wrong turn is an opportunity to learn and experience new things.

3.) Remember that opportunity knocks often, sometimes softly–while we are blindly pursuing our goals. Sadly, we often miss unexpected and wonderful potentials.

4.) Want what you have. Measure your life with your own ruler. Appreciate who you are, what you do, and what you have, now.

5.) Seek adventure-treat your life as the one time only journey it is, and revel in new and different experiences.

6.) Learn to be a people magnet. Constantly seek, build and nurture relationships with new people gaining support and comradeship of others.

Keep Up Relationships–Be A People Magnet

7.) Embrace your limits. Transform your shortcomings and perceived inadequacies into unique qualities that you can use to your advantage.

8.) Remain detached. Focus on the immediate. Act with a commitment to the future and stop fretting about how things will turn out.

I think Shapiro was on to something.  I think he is right. Goals are by their very nature, self limiting. So, with 2018 just hours away I am giving you permission to toss that goal list  and start living life.

Calamity Politics is a political news magazine with a Progressive agenda.  Join us for comment and opinion. Join the Resistance.

Darlene

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10 Terrible Environmental Choices Of 2017

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Greenpeace took a look at the actions of the Trump Administration in 2017 and listed the following as just plain terrible.

Whale Entangled In Fishing Net Leading To It’s Death

1.)Canceled rule to protect whales from fishing nets.
2.)Ordered review of National Monuments. *The recommendations from Ryan Zinke are hair-raising and I will discuss them in another post.*
3.)Revoked rule preventing coal mining companies from dumping in local streams.
4.)Rejected ban on potentially harmful insecticide which has been linked to lower IQ’s in children and colony collapse in bees.
5.)Overturned ban on hunting predators in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, allowing road building and the Tax bill opens 1.5 million acres to oil drilling.
6.)Withdrew guidance for federal agencies to include greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews.
7.)Ordered review and “elimination” of rule protecting tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.
8.)Rolled back limits on toxic discharge from power plants into public waterways.
9.)Roll back provisions of the Clean Power Plan with goal to repeal the Obama-era regulations many of which have been slashed by Trump agency heads.
10.)Delayed rule aiming to increase safety at facilities that use hazardous chemicals.

Regulations serve an important purpose, they save lives, they save wildlife, they save the water we drink, they save the air we breath. The damage that the Trump Administration is doing cannot be emphasized enough. The risks to our environment are terrifying. Keep your eyes open, they have a lot more damage and chaos on their agenda.

Calamity Politics is an on-line political news magazine with a Progressive Agenda. Join the Resistance.

Darlene

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