complaints, politics, rants, stupid people, tragedies, work

You should worry about yourself…

Apologies in advance for this disjointed rant. I have a lot on my mind, and it’s coming out in heaves today. I hate to say it, but I’m beginning to think that a lot of people who identify with conservative values are actual morons without consciences or souls. It’s probably because, as usual, I’ve spent too much time looking at the news.

A few days ago, I noticed that my former college professor answered a question on Facebook about whether or not she would accept a ticket to see Bill Cosby perform. She answered “no”. Just as I was about to click off the page, I noticed that my cousin responded. This cousin shares a Facebook account with his wife, so I’m not sure which person actually wrote the comment. Friends, I was a bit sickened by it. He or she wrote that Bill Cosby is “past his prime”, but was good in concert back in the day. And Cosby had engaged in some “negativity” some time back, but is otherwise a good entertainer.

I was pretty flabbergasted. So I commented, “You’re referring to dozens of cases of drugging and raping women as ‘negativity’?” I didn’t add this, but I should have also written, “And Cosby ADMITTED to doing this, too. He’s out of prison on a ‘technicality’.”

I can hardly believe I’m related to this guy. Well… actually, I guess I can believe it. I remember overhearing him tell a nasty story to another cousin when I was six years old. He and the other cousin, also male, were several years older than I was. Still, they made it seem like a funny story, so I repeated it to two younger cousins and got in trouble with my aunt, who gave me a tongue lashing I haven’t forgotten. Later, she apologized to me, explaining that her kids were very young and “didn’t know what to do with that”. Um… neither did I! I was six years old! And I had overheard a story being told by my cousin, who apparently thinks Bill Cosby’s habit of drugging and raping women is plain “negativity”! And he’s also a proud Trump supporter, who blithely ignores Trump’s disgusting record of treating other people like shit and, like Cosby, abusing women for his own vile gratification.

This morning, I read an article in The Atlantic from March 2021 about how a lot of relationships haven’t survived the Trump era. I’m sad to say, it’s true in my case, too. There are family members I used to love seeing with whom I no longer have contact. It’s not necessarily my doing, either. A lot of them have cut off contact with me because I think Donald Trump is a poisonous man. Somehow, they fail to see that Trump is a liar, thief, and a cheat, while they bitch and moan about people “abusing” unemployment insurance and welfare benefits. I’ve got news for them. Trump doesn’t pay his fair share. He hires cronies to screw over honest businesspeople while he harasses and molests women. Read Micheal Cohen’s book, Disloyal. Cohen, Trump’s former attorney who spent time in prison due to his business with the former POTUS, writes about how he would strong arm and screw over businesspeople on Trump’s behalf.

Meanwhile, your garden variety Republican is under the delusion that people who are getting unemployment insurance and welfare benefits just stay on those programs forever. Newsflash– they DON’T. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF– also known as “welfare”) is just that– TEMPORARY. And that has been the law since 1997! Granted, state leaders are allowed latitude in how they run TANF, but the program was designed to strongly encourage recipients to look for work or engage in training to prepare them for work. Recipients have to show proof that they are job hunting or getting training in order to receive temporary benefits. And that money is generally not enough to live on for long.

I ran across the above post this morning because another friend had answered the question. My friend answered “no”, he doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t taken a job due to unemployment insurance. He lives in Virginia, where payments are notoriously low. Just under his response was a rant from some guy who said he “knows people” who aren’t working because it will interfere with their housing allowance or “food stamps” (SNAP) eligibility. And then he wrote that there should be “time limits” on aid. I had to respond. As I pointed out, “welfare” does have time limits imposed– it was five years or 60 months (federal guidelines) or less (depending on the state), last time I checked. But so does unemployment insurance. When Bill retired from the Army in 2014, he got unemployment for a month. The money he got was based on what he’d paid into the system, and he had to show that he was applying for jobs. When he got a job offer, he had to return a payment he received, which wasn’t really much money.

I’ve read a lot of comments from conservatives who have bought into the “welfare queen” myth, thanks to a 1970s era story perpetuated by former President Ronald Reagan and like minded folks. They spread a tale about people who took advantage of social safety nets, which caused some people to believe in a stereotype about poor people being lazy and bilking the system. It seems to me that the whole “welfare queen” story was news because it’s not that common. Are there people who game the system? Yes, of course. I ran into a couple of them during my brief time as a social worker. But I doubt most people enjoy using benefits like SNAP cards, especially when busybodies are judging them for what’s in their grocery store buggy and watching how they pay for such items. Also, SNAP cards can’t be used for just anything at the store. Seems to me, most people would rather have the cash to buy things they want and need. Yes, some people are truly lazy, but I don’t think it’s as common as some people claim. Moreover, it’s actually expensive to be poor.

I get wanting to see people working and paying their own way. I understand that it’s distressing to be going to work every day when someone appears to be living off of the system. But what I want to ask these folks is, why is it any of your business? Do you know these so-called welfare cheats and unemployment abusers personally? Are you aware of their story? Do you have knowledge of their characters, or have any idea about their family situations? My guess is that you don’t– because why would you be “friends” with someone you think is a lazy cheat? If you were friends with them, maybe you’d understand more about why it appears that they’re “getting over”. Maybe you’d realize that, in fact, most of them aren’t getting over. Anyone who has ever worked has paid into “the system”, which exists so that people have somewhere to turn when they fall on hard times. The assistance we offer in the United States isn’t really that much, either.

Let me ask you this. If you had a family and were receiving benefits, would you really want to take a job at McDonald’s just so you could be earning your own money? Stop and think about it for a minute. Yes, you’re making your own money, which might be paid to you in debit cards that you have to pay a fee to access. But let’s say the money you make is less than what you’d get from welfare. How long can you afford to work for minimum wage? And why the fuck would you? In that situation, doesn’t it make more sense to get trained for work that pays better, or to search for a job with a higher hourly rate? What if you have children? What do you do with the children when you’re working at McDonald’s, which many people think should strictly be a minimum wage job? Do you pay a babysitter to watch the kids while you work at McDonald’s? How can a person get ahead that way?

I’ve often heard people complaining about folks who drive “nice” cars or have “expensive” cell phones, but turn up at food banks. The people want to know why the nice car driver or cell phone user doesn’t sell their “luxury items” so he or she can buy food. What if the car or the phone was paid for during better times? Why would someone sell their means of transportation or communication, if it’s been paid for? Isn’t it easier to find work if one has transportation or access to WiFi? Especially if the car also serves as shelter? Now, I get that owning a car or a cell phone requires money, and if someone is between jobs for a really long time, selling the car or the phone might make sense. But you probably don’t know that person’s story. Their need for food at a food bank may be very temporary. Why does it matter to you, anyway? You don’t know that person’s story, or the obstacles he or she is facing. You should know your own story, though, and you should worry about yourself.

And finally… yesterday, I read a couple of disturbing news stories about how Republicans are turning COVID “vaccine hesitancy” into outright hostility. Of all of the bullshit I’ve read about conservative “thinking”, I think this has got to be the most ridiculous, tragic, and demented. Why in the holy fuck are COVID vaccines being politicized? My God– this virus has killed millions of people WORLDWIDE! It’s not a fucking political issue! It’s a public health issue! And in areas where people are being vaccinated, the rates of COVID infections are decreasing. The fact that so many Republicans are spewing this bullshit about how vaccines are part of a socialist agenda is just unconscionable. It just isn’t true! But, according to The Washington Post, some Republicans are spewing lots of grade A tough guy bullshit. From the article I linked:

The notion that the vaccine drive is pointless or harmful — or perhaps even a government plot — is increasingly an article of faith among supporters of former president Donald Trump, on a par with assertions that the last election was stolen and the assault on the U.S. Capitol was overblown.

Appearing at CPAC, lawmakers like Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) took aim at Biden’s push for “door-to-door” vaccine outreach, framing efforts to boost inoculations as a creeping menace from big government.

“We’re here to tell government, we don’t want your benefits, we don’t want your welfare, don’t come knocking on my door with your Fauci ouchie,” Boebert said, referring to Biden’s top medical adviser, Anthony S. Fauci, her voice rising as she paced the stage and shook her finger. “You leave us the hell alone!”

However, I do take comfort in seeing that Mitt Romney, a man I dreaded seeing run for president, has said that we need to stop politicizing the COVID vaccines. It’s nice to know that not all Republicans are like Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebart. From The New York Times:

“We don’t control conservative media figures so far as I know — at least I don’t,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said in an interview on Wednesday. “That being said, I think it’s an enormous error for anyone to suggest that we shouldn’t be taking vaccines. Look, the politicization of vaccination is an outrage and frankly moronic.

Yes, it’s moronic! I completely agree, Mitt. Things will not get back to any semblance of “normal” until we get COVID-19 better under control. This is why so many people were out of work in the first fucking place! This is why we’re having a problem with inflation, as supply and demand for certain products was interrupted because people couldn’t work. Why? Because of the deadly virus! However, during our unique COVID-19 crisis, people had the time to stop and think about how completely insane the American system is. Now, some of them are demanding some changes. I say, good on them! We should be demanding work that pays enough for people support themselves. We should be demanding access to benefits that makes living healthier and happier for everyone. People should NOT be going into onerous debt because they went to college or had the misfortune of getting sick or hurt. We shouldn’t have multi-billionaires paying workers minimum wage for demeaning work while they make plans to blast off into space as tourists. It’s sheer lunacy, and yes, it’s MORONIC!

I love Amazon… but you gotta admit, the working conditions are insane and, frankly, cruel. Why do we accept this?

Through it all, many Republicans decry abortion. They say that people who have abortions have no regard for the “sanctity of life”. But they don’t want to do anything to help people who have unintended pregnancies. They don’t want employers to have to provide birth control access in health insurance policies. Their answer is to tell people not to have sex, which we all know is a policy that doesn’t work for most (it DID work for me, but my situation isn’t the norm). Tell me… why would you want to bring an innocent baby into a world where he or she can look forward to low pay, high cost of living, onerous debts, shitty employers who treat their workers like robots, deadly viruses that people don’t want to work together to arrest, and old white men in charge who literally don’t give a damn about anything but money and “pussy”? I tell you what. I don’t think the world looks so great right now. We’ve got natural disasters out the wazoo, worldwide– here in Germany, over 50 people have lost their lives because of flooding attributed to global warming, something else conservatives don’t want to talk about or fix.

So yes… I think you should worry about yourselves. Conservatives have made it plain that in today’s world, it’s every person for themselves. They don’t care about you and yours. They sure don’t seem to want to lend a hand toward making the world better for everyone. And, as much as I always wanted to have children of my own, I’m grateful that my particular line of ancestry is going to die with me. It seems to me that many conservatives are interested in money and power, and they haven’t realized that we’re all connected. What good does money do you if there’s nothing to buy because people aren’t working? What good does money do if you can’t find someone to help you clean up after a flood because so many people have died of COVID-19 and the workers who exist are already engaged?

We need to worry about ourselves and have more forbearance toward others– but we also need to realize that we’re all in this together and we could all stand a bit more humanity. So instead of judging the person you think is “getting over”, why not pay attention to your own situation and do your part to make things better? And whatever you do, don’t make excuses for creepy predators and cheats like Bill Cosby and Donald Trump. It makes you look like an asshole.

August is wise beyond her years.

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book reviews, politics, Trump

A review of Michael Cohen’s Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump

I swear, I never cared much at all about politics until the Trump era. Maybe it’s one of the few good things that has come from Trump’s presidency. Regular citizens being complacent about politics is probably one of the main reasons Trump is occupying the White House right now. People are quick to trust con men, and Trump is at the top of the list of modern shysters who thirst incessantly for money and power.

Michael Cohen, a now disgraced former lawyer turned felon, was one of the people Trump fooled. He loved money and power and had made a fortune in New York City in real estate deals and selling taxi medallions, a type of transferable permit cabbies must have in order to operate legally. Cohen had read The Art of the Deal and admired Trump for his apparent business acumen and relentless pursuit of money and power.

Cohen admits his legal pedigree isn’t all that exciting. Like my husband, Bill, Cohen got his undergraduate degree at American University in Washington, DC, graduating a couple of years after Bill did. From there, he attended the Cooley Law School at Western Michigan University. Cohen writes that he went there because it was relatively easy to get accepted, and as long as he managed to pass the bar exam, it wouldn’t matter where he went to law school. He began his career as a personal injury attorney, but then climbed the ranks to more prestigious positions before he joined the Trump Organization in 2006.

Cohen’s role at the Trump Organization was to be Trump’s legal muscle/fixer. It was his job to help Trump cheat people out of money. For this job, Cohen was paid less than he was used to earning. When Trump initially hired Cohen, after giving him a good love bombing with ingratiating flattery, Trump told him he wouldn’t be paying him his usual rate. In fact, Trump never pays full price for anything, and according to Cohen, he does everything in his power to screw over anyone who works for him. But Cohen was initially okay with it, because Trump was his idol. And that kind of tells you what kind of person Cohen is… or was.

Michael Cohen warning us… At this writing, this video has been up for 15 hours.

I’ll be honest. The first time I heard of Michael Cohen was when I saw him in a video, speaking to the court. He was upfront as he shamed a lawyer who was trying to discredit his account of his dealings with Trump. Cohen very forthrightly told the man that he was about to go to prison and that he was there to tell the truth. Something about the way he spoke impressed me. I don’t like hypocrites, and Cohen was not hypocritical as he spoke in that televised proceeding. And, in his book, Cohen freely admits that he’s as slimy as Trump. Or, at least he was as slimy. He now seems to be trying to redeem himself. I’m not stupid enough to believe that part of this effort isn’t about him trying to save his own skin. However, given the dire situation the country is in right now, and the fact that Trump and his flying monkeys have been trying so hard to silence Cohen, I have some respect for him. I think he was brave to publish his book, Disloyal, and that even though he was one of Trump’s legal flunkies, writing this book was a huge favor to the American people.

I’ve been aware of Trump since the late 1980s. People were talking about what a dishonest scumbag he is even back then. I never paid much attention to Trump until he ran for president. I watched with dismay and confusion as people championed him, saying he was “great” for America because he’s not a politician and isn’t politically correct. But the plain fact of the matter is, he lies, cheats, and steals, and he treats women like objects. More than once, Cohen writes about how Trump cornered women and forced them to kiss him, or got them into compromising positions, manhandled, and groped them. Why no one ever clocked Trump in the face before he became leader of the free world, I’ll never know.

Michael Cohen had a very close relationship with Donald Trump. Although Trump is now trying to discredit his former lawyer, saying he wasn’t a “very good lawyer”, he still kept him around for twelve years. And Cohen explains how Trump operates, giving readers insight into the kind of person Trump is. For instance, despite his famous turn on The Apprentice, where Trump is shown barking “You’re fired!” to contestants, Trump doesn’t actually like to fire people. He leaves that job to his many underlings, who are forced to do his dirty work.

And Trump is extremely cheap. Cohen writes one story about how he was tasked with strong arming the Benjamin Moore paint company into giving Trump thousands of buckets of expensive paint because the super cheap product Trump had ordered his contractor to use at the Doral golf resort was shitty and wiped off of the walls. Trump did not pay for the product he needed for the job to be done properly. But somehow, he managed to threaten and bully his way into having the company give him their best product for free. And he did this with a “pit bull” lawyer that he wasn’t even paying full price for.

Disloyal is full of stories like this– tales of how Trump cheated, and tasked his minions to cheat on his behalf. Then, when it came time for him to pay, either with money or favors, he inevitably welched. This was especially true if he didn’t get the results he wanted. For instance, Cohen writes about how he had tasked an information technology expert he knew at Liberty University to fudge the numbers in a poll run by CNBC. The work involved buying many IP addresses and faking the votes to make Trump look like a more impressive businessman. The work cost about $15,000 for the addresses, as well as the expert’s time and knowledge. But CNBC caught the ruse and removed Trump from the poll, despite Cohen’s threats to sue. And the end result was that the IT expert got stiffed.

Cohen’s wife, Laura, and children, Samantha and Jake, hated that Cohen worked for Trump. They regularly begged him to quit. Cohen had plenty of money and didn’t need to work for Trump. Trump would call him at all hours, interrupting them at dinner or on vacations. But worse than that, he was scuzzy to Cohen’s daughter, Samantha, when she was fifteen years old. Cohen writes that once, they were at a Trump resort. Trump was also there, and he saw Samantha taking a tennis lesson. Not knowing she was Cohen’s daughter, Trump mentioned wanting that “piece of ass”. When he became aware that Samantha was Cohen’s daughter, instead of apologizing, Trump told her he’d soon be dating her classmates. Just disgusting! And it’s certainly not the first or only time Trump has treated women like meat, as we all know. There are many references to his disgusting behavior toward women in the news. There’s even a recording of him admitting how he treats them. And yet, in 2016, white women came out in droves to vote for Trump.

Cohen is right that I probably wouldn’t like him very much. He’s a sleazy, money hungry lawyer who has been disgraced and disbarred, and is now doing time. But at least he owns up to being sleazy. And now he’s trying to carve out a niche for himself as one of Trump’s former minions, fighting against the orange turd’s reelection (which he warns will be very dramatic, as Trump won’t go quietly in 2021 or 2025). Well… I can’t blame him, to be honest. And if his book helps people change their minds about Donald Trump, I am all for his decision to publish it. It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but I do think it’s valuable in that it offers a look at who Trump is by someone who knows him very well.

I think people should read Disloyal and decide whether or not Donald Trump really is the man who should be leading the United States… or if he should join Cohen behind bars. One thing is very certain to me. Trump does not care about anyone but himself. Just remember that in November.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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