We are headed into a new war.

Like many of you, I have been following what is going on in the US and around the world very closely. I have been a bit obsessed with World War II, and watching The West Wing. Think about it.

Why is Vladimir Putin so interested in our elections? What has General Flynn, along with Manafort and Bannon been doing behind the scenes? Why are these people so determined to get Donald Trump elected president?

While we Americans have spent the last eight or more years beleaguering our politicians about gas and oil, about racism and healthcare and leaching off the government, what have the money people, the corporations, the Kochs and Citizens United been doing behind the scenes? Trying always to make even more money, and taken down the middle and lower class of Americans. And, my guess would be, other free nations around the world. Drugs are being used at a higher rate than they used to be, and fewer and fewer people are trying to take any responsibility for themselves. They see only one thing – how do I get into that money and power situation.

Well, I think it is to take their minds off what is happening on higher levels of government and dictatorships and the daily grind of the common folks. What are we of use to them, other than to go out and shoot at other people, and kill one another off, while the generals and the corporate biggies rake in the money from the war machine, and get richer.

Also, if you look at wars through the ages, what has the United States suffered? We have been there in all the battlefields, razing their countries, destroying their cities, keeping it there so it won’t come over here. I think this is on the verge of being ended. With the war machine the world has now, and the firepower available to many – with troops being sent into Afghanistan, Syria, and other hot spots across the planet, we are already in place with many of the things needed to set this off. While we sit on our asses and watch it all and yell about it. Take the trumpeter’s speech to the Coast Guard graduates yesterday – what was he warning them about – how hard life is (also how badly he has been treated).

I don’t know what else to say. I as a liberal Democrat have done so much over the past 50 and more years to try to get people to be considerate and compassionate and to get along. So have many, many others. I am not alone out here thinking this. And we even have a new batch, and new generation or five, who are beginning to see this. But not nearly enough. The youth these days are more worried about keeping up with one another, and keeping their heads in their electronic ties to the world. Everyone is arguing their religious beliefs and their lot in life, and no-one is paying attention to the big picture. It has been a long time since there was even a war, and that was not even a real war. Korea and Vietnam have been the only true world fights in the last half century.

People are not even inclined to think about war. The Gulf Wars had no young men or women avid enough to join in. The last thing that spurred any kind of patriotism in this country was the downing of the Twin Towers. Lots of people signed up for things then. We didn’t even get into WW II until we were hit. America is as usual living in its cocoon it has built for itself, and is not going to wake up until lives are lost and damage is done. But in today’s climate, that will be too late.

What have you given up for your country lately? Well, get ready, because I think you are about to be asked for a lot more. I see the signs all too clearly.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

Posted in Foreign Affairs, Freedom, Other media, personal thoughts, Politics, War | Leave a comment

There is no God

WOW, did I ever have an epiphany this afternoon. I was sleeping so deeply, and as has happened before, I was dreaming about NASCAR. I do that a lot. I woke up about 2:45, and got up to go to the bathroom, but I was not quite ready to get up. So I laid down and cuddled under my comforter, and went into a sort of twilight sleep. And was suddenly awoken again with this thought.

There is no god.

What I mean by that is that there is no god who allowed the Hebrews to be taken into slavery by Egypt. There is no god that allows people to kill one another, in whatever circumstances. There is no god that allowed the Germans to murder six million Jews. There is no god that allows children to be exploited by others, or for women to be exploited and forced into prostitution, or for fires and tornadoes and earthquakes and drownings. There is no god who allows evil in any way.

A god was invented by different tribes of people, not all of them with the same god. But for some reason, there are people who have to have a god to explain where we came from. However, this planet and this universe and all the other cosmic bodies there are in the universe came from science. I have always believed in science, and been fascinated by it, but I was raised in a christian family who stuffed my head with fairy tales, and made sure I knew if I was not perfect, I would end up in hell.

So I, like billions of people, struggled with the major questions that billions and billions ask every day: why did that happen? We just need someone to blame it all on, and we look up at the sky and say it was god’s will.

All wars are caused by men. Whether it is Joshua holding his arms up and stopping the sun so the Hebrews could slaughter men (not a scientific possibility), or Hitler got too much power and used it wrongly, it is not any god’s fault. Even if you have ever read the Iliad and the story of Troy, and the gods and goddesses who worked that war, they are stories out of mythology. In fact, everything that has happened with the human race since the beginning of time, has been blamed on a god of some sort.

So as long as people look to what they believe is a god running everything, and that god does not agree with another god, there will never be peace on this planet, perhaps in any other civilization as well. The sooner people accept science as what rules the daily activities of humankind, the sooner there could be peace.

So, David and others I have had this conversation with, I apparently have finally learned why atheism is so widespread. Because too many have someone to blame it all on.

So there is no god. Just our spiritual, or non-spiritual, selves to blame, or to give credit to when we understand that we are the only ones who can fix things.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

Posted in Children, Crime, Equality, Family, Foreign Affairs, Freedom, Other media, personal thoughts, Politics, Religious, War | Leave a comment

God/desses and spiritual beliefs

I just wrote this in response to a posting by David Gerrold on Facebook.  I thought I would bring it over to my blog so it can get wider readership.  To my Facebook friends, you will be getting this twice, once in my response to David, and now because I have FB sharing for my wordpress blogs.

David, you have written some very profound things here. As a Pagan of the Celtic tradition, I can tell you that the God/dess I believe in is a Spirit, bears no body, nor no face, but lives around and in and through me at all times. I communicate with her/him, or him/her, in my own way, and every time I do anything that will affect others, and allow me to live with myself.

But I do believe in lesser gods and goddesses that rule parts of my life. Lyr is the god of the seas – I came from water, I am mostly water, and water will be the place of my eventual return. Lugh is the god of my creativity – my artistic and writing abilities. And Herne (aka Cernnunous) is the lord of the trees, or the one who works with Mother Nature, and are being destroyed even as I write this through ecological disasters.

The Greek and Latin/Roman gods and goddesses are/were very real to me. I believe that they did have some rule over the peoples of this planet prior to about 2500 BC. They were very much in evidence, including those whose names are Egyptian or Scandinavian, or with the various natives of all the lands of this planet. They were never cut off, even in the christian bible left them behind, picking up the exodus of Hebrews from slavery. This mythology did not rid every tribe from slavery, but the priests of the early AD years needed to try and get most peoples behind one belief, and thus picked and chose what writings they wanted to bring everyone to one religion – namely christianity. And they gave their god the face of the well-known, and renown, Rabbi of the earliest days – Yeshua bin Ioseph, who was wise and compassionate, and definitely human.

It did not work, it has not worked, it will never work. Because humans were not made to be automatons to follow one belief. And so long as there are conflicting ideas of religion or spirituality, more people are going to search for their beliefs in whatever they can find to believe in, or to match their beliefs already. And war will always be the answer to them because peace will never reign until a catalyst occurs that allows everyone to live within themselves, and with tolerance for everyone else.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

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United Airlines

United Airlines raised a real shit storm when they decided to give their own employees four free seats. They went about the whole thing very wrong, and money will get their attention far better than people talking about it over and over. But let me point out one thing, not to excuse them for their actions: many flights for all airlines have been delayed all over the country because of the crazy weather. While people talk about the weather wherever it does not really concern them, it is when the results hit them that they start to see reality. Many planes were grounded, and with them, the employees – pilots, radio operators, stewards – were left stranded. Most of them had flown their absolute limits, according to FAA regulations. I have not flown anywhere since 9/11, but if I were to fly, I’d feel a whole lot more comfortable knowing that the pilots, especially, were not overtired. So all of the airlines have had to get their employees to other airports so they could get people off the ground and in the air. United gave thousands to one family who was stranded for a week, and missed their whole vacation while sitting in an airport – because there were no air employees to fly the planes sitting on the ground.

It was a real nightmare for the airlines, but folks who depend on the airlines to get them places faster and faster, do not stop to realize the stress and strain the airlines are under to get them there safely and on time. And they can do nothing to stop Mother Nature from having her way. Only We the People can do anything about that – and that is through being environmentally friendly to Her.

This does not leave United blameless for what they did to the doctor. I hope he gets recompensed for what happened to him. But it does at least give us a little more knowledge as to what the employees were undergoing at the time. We all live with stress these days, and we have to learn how to handle it.

Carol Stepp, Austin, TX

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The West Wing: Dead Irish Poets

I have written about my binge-watching the first three seasons of The West Wing in the past week or so. I have about four episodes left, and I think I may go ahead and buy the 4th season.

Anyway, last night I reached the episode called Dead Irish Poets, which general motif was Abbey’s birthday party. It had a lot of stuff in it that we should all remember from time to time, but one thing especially stood out for me in this particular episode.

It’s original airdate was March 6, 2002. Season three’s first episode was Isaac and Ishmael, which was a special episode to make a statement of the 9/11/01 attack on the Twin Towers. During those days of chaos after it happened, there was much confusion and chaos among the American people, and a White House that did not do much of anything but debate about going to war. Lots of people were opining on what actually happened on that day. That is not an argument I will get into here, because that is not why I’m here.

Among the things that should have been talked about more at the time was exactly how much Canada did for us in those days that followed. The airplane landings, the hospitality of the Canadians, the out-of-the-way actions many took just to help citizens of the US get back to their own countries. The Canadians really put themselves forward, and NO-BODY EVER OFFICIALLY THANKED THEM. GWB pretty much ignored them because he never said thank you out of the White House.

And that is where Dead Irish Poets came in. Aaron Sorkin, Tommy Schlamme, and John Wells, and I am certain pretty much all the actors in that series, came in to say thank you in the best way possible. I you have any memory of that episode at all, you will remember that one of the subplots was that Donna Moss was discovered to have been born in Canada because of a misunderstanding of whether the town she was born in in Minnesota was actually within the US or Canada when she was born. Another subplot was what Abbey was going to do about her doctor’s license.

So they wrote a scene that combined those two things in a way; a hen party among Abbey, CJ, Amy, and Donna. Donna spoke up about how the First Lady had taken it upon herself and Jed about her giving him his MS meds. It stunned everyone that she had taken the initiative.

But in the last section of the episode, just before Abbey voluntarily gave up her medical license for the duration of her time in the White House as First Lady, she did something to show she very much appreciated what Donna had said to her, and had the orchestra providing the music for her birthday party, play “Oh Canada”, the Canadian National Anthem, and had two soldiers walking two Canadian flags back and forth across the front of the guests. And the guests sand the anthem.

This was our country’s sCandalute and thank you to Canada for their aid to our citizens, and to those on the airplanes that could not land in the United States in the days following the attacks. And it took and very intelligent television series to make the move. I love The West Wing, at least the first three seasons, for many reasons, and this one seems to be one of the best reasons (In Excelsis Deo was the other).

Canada has a great many fans now because of Justin Trudeau, and I am among them. But their actions after the Iran shambles back in 1978, and then in September of 2001, should have just as much recognition, and appreciation. I wish I lived in Canada, but perhaps I am better off in my country of birth to keep these things in memory, and besides I need to stay where my medical problems are well taken care of.

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

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Suffer the Children

What kind of world do we live in when the children are the targets for destruction and death? What are we trying to show the lesser angels of every single religious thought that is known?

Children: They are victims of predators, parents who abuse them mentally and physically, religious orders that say children should not be healed by doctors; children who are in hospitals all over the world because a bomb, or a missile, or a suicide-bomber, or a person on a rampage for any kind of reasons.

They have targeted school yards, McDonald’s, hospitals, front yards, back yards, parks, recreation centers, refugee camps, carnivals, circuses, anywhere children can be found in numbers, and they turn they rage on them – children, the most innocent of all. There are more children on this planet now that have never known anything but war, death, loss of limbs, blindness, loss of innocence. They have never been able to play.

And this has been brought about by mindless men who seek power above anything else. And by religious zealots who have no clue what they are fighting for or against as long as their name gets into the newspapers, or on social media, or on television.

You want an angry god, no matter what name you give him. Because yes, they are all male. Tell me the name of any female god or warlord or leader of a nation’s military who would even think about calling down the war machine on a child.

I know there are perverted women who get involved in the suffering of children in areas of life not war. But while they are included in my assessment of people who target the children, they at least are not killing them by the dozens.

Well, you who are doing these things, in the name of god or religion or selfishness or just plain meanness, you may well be the final straw for all the gods, and maybe goddesses. Because if there is an End of Days where people are going to end up in some burning firepit to burn forever, you are asking for it right now.

Suffer the children, indeed. You make me sick.

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

Posted in Children, Crime, Family, Politics, Religious | 1 Comment

Social Security

Please pay attention to those two words. Notice what they mean when used together.

After the Great Depression of the 30s, the government under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt put together the Social Security Administration for the everyday working people to pay into the system to make sure upon retirement they would have a financial base to fall back on. It was not originally intended to be all, but over time, and the failure of wages to keep up with rising consumer prices, has all too often turned out to be all a person had to fall back on. It was never intended to be a government-run program, though the treasury department did have oversight over the money itself. Which was why originally, the first payments paid out were written on government checks. As computer and on-line programs came into existence, the Treasury Department moved the system into an automatic deposit for our bank accounts, and now the social security payments we get come directly into our bank accounts. Saves them money on paper and postage, but also it could now be handled by the Administration itself.

Later Medicare was another program that came into being as a way to ensure people who retired and no longer had employment insurance would have healthcare. We also paid into it as another savings account that would not pay us back, but which would insure we had healthcare in our old age.

Why, you ask, are you telling me all this? It is because of the present Washington cronyism that works together to scare the hell out of everyone. Cancel or gut our social security? No, they have no authority to take the money that we all have paid into the systems. Look at your social security money as a savings account which belongs to you, and which is being watched over, with interest, by a stand-alone administration. If any government were to take that money and use it for something else, that would be like going to your bank and stealing your personal savings account. That would be totally illegal. The money belongs to you. It is, however, held under certain restrictions built into the plan 80 years ago. You cannot get a lump sum back when you retire. You do not get all of the interest paid into it. You did not pay income tax on the money that went into the system, and some of the interest paid into your account is used to help the administration pay overhead and the people who administer your account.

Same rules and limits dictate your Medicare. Now if, like me, you also get Medicaid because your income is small enough to allow you to have it, that you possibly could lose. But only if it completely shut down forever. But if you are SLMB, or QMB, and have been getting it for some time, you are probably grandfathered in. But it is a supplemental program tied into Medicare.

Now, think about SSI or SSDI, and Medicare or Medicaid you are getting before you turn 62 or 65 or 70. SSI stands for social security implemental, SSDI for social security disability implemental. These programs are set up by the government and are what we used to call welfare. They have nothing to do with the Social Security Administration – they have nothing in common with them other than the same two words were used as a title. That is what is actually in danger of being gutted, or even cancelled. But many people are actually disabled and unable to support themselves, whether because you are mentally or physically disabled. The problem with that system is that many people have learned to play the system, and simply do not want to work because of laziness or just plain dishonesty. Those are the people who need to be sorted out from the legitimate users, and are among the biggest users of alcohol and drugs. Most of these folks go through false medical organizations, or people who are malpracticers, and the hospitals who lie about who they are taking care of, and sending bills to get paid for things they are not actually doing for anyone. This is also the system that money was taken from to pay for wars, or other things that it was never meant for. Quite a few legitimate organizations, like my assisted housing system, are now starting to give drug tests and alcohol tests to these folks who use SSI and SSDI to get into the systems.

So when you start worrying about what might happen to you if you collecting any form of social security, be sure you know what it is you are collecting. You should know if you are just getting back legitimate funds based on your working life and paying into the SSA, or if you are using the welfare program.

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

Posted in Economics, Equality, Medicine, Mental health | Leave a comment