TV Binging vs Reality: We Have Many Options to Watching Live News

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A couple days ago I finished binging on the Netflix series, Fauda. It’s set in and around Israel and Palestine and the ongoing war between the two. Will the strife ever be settled, or will this war continue for another millennium? It isn’t just a rhetorical question, it’s a conundrum … but it isn’t a riddle, it’s vexing, it’s rebarbative ten times over. I guess I could have just said frightening, but when I learn a new word …

Anyway, Fauda is a great series and I hope a season 5 is coming.

Binging on TV shows is an escape from the the 24 hour news cycle. How much news is there about the murder of Tyre Nichols? I saw the entire celebration of life service for Nichols and wonder — why? We are getting deep into the 21stcentury and we still have to fight for civil liberties? Several cops — more than five — pounded on this man for more than three minutes. Punches, kicks, billy club strikes and pepper spray. I guess the preferred term to billy clubs is batons.

Thanks to these very good mobile phones we have, coupled with the technology that allows us to live stream events on any of the popular social media platforms, we see some of these crimes against humanity right here in our nation. Not 80 years ago when the Nazis were murdering millions of “undesirables,” starting with six million Jews — We’re talking about right here, right now.

There’s a lot of anti-Semitism going around for sure, but we’re talking about the institutionalized racism that allows law enforcement to hunt African Americans, and, as Rev. Al Sharpton said, when he delivered the eulogy for Tyre Nichols in Memphis, “Let me be clear: We understand there are concerns about public safety. We understand that there are needs to deal with crime, but you don’t fight crime by becoming criminals yourself. You don’t stand up to thugs in the street by becoming thugs yourself. You don’t fight gangs by becoming five armed men against an unarmed man. That ain’t the police, that’s punks.”

Now it’s six police officers fired, two deputy sheriffs suspended, plus several EMTs and fire department personnel suspended because Nichols didn’t receive any substantial care for over 11 minutes. The police are supposed to protect and serve … who was protecting and serving Tyre Nichols?

One of the body cam videos shows the officers standing around getting their stories straight. It was evidence of a consciousness of guilt.

I watch the news channel for 2-3 hours per day and them I’m off to one of the pay channels or one of the streaming services. I just can’t take hours and hours of this bullshit every day, police brutality and people that conspired to over throw an election — the government — being not only allowed to serve in Congress, but given positions of leadership. More on that later.

Then there are the commercials. The ones that are the most annoying, disgusting even, are the ones imploring old people (like me) to spend more money on health care because effin’ Medicare doesn’t cover all health care needs — by design.

Kissing the asses of the for profit health care system and Big Pharma, members of Congress couldn’t ignore those hefty campaign donations, so they give us a half ass Medicare service. “Call your [for profit healthcare business] on this toll free number with no obligation!” So we dial that toll-free number and quite possibly speak with a representative who is heavily schooled in all the benefits of that company’s version of Medicare Part B and Part C, What the hell? If you’re lucky these extra plans that cover things like eye care, hearing and dental at no cost. If you’re not so lucky, well, somebody has to cough up the money.

From the moment Social Security and Medicare came into existence the Republicans have been trying to do away with these programs. So they pick away at it hoping to scare people into thinking both programs are insolvent and will run out of cash soon. So they — Congress — make the age when we could collect the full benefit higher.

Here’s the thing — and it spurs me to write about this —  many of us don’t make it to those ages. People dying short of the 62 years for the minimum payment and especially the full payment age (66 years-six months). I’m living in bonus years. Neither my dad or two older brothers lived past the age of 62. In fact Rick didn’t even make it to 60. Now that we are living longer some members of Congress want to push that age requirement to 70 years.

Living this long has given me perspectives. One is not to waste or misuse what time I have left on this planet. Remembering kindness is more than just a word, more than a forgotten New Year’s resolution. How can I be kinder to everyone? My temper is so short at times, it requires long moments and gestures of sincere contrition. It is compounded by — or may be a direct result of — being easily frustrated. Life is too short for useless negative emotions over the people, places or things which I have no control.

Another, just as important, is seeing how we taxpayers are getting screwed. Just this year I became a Social Security recipient. Let’s get one damn thing straight: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not entitlements. We already paid for them with our payroll taxes.

The other damnable thing about our Social Security is that some of us pay taxes on our monthly benefits. In essence, we are getting taxed a second time for the same dollars. This practice began in 1984 when the Reagan Administration, with the help of the Democratic-controlled Congress, pushed through a bill charging us for a second time. Here is what the Social Security Administration says about that point:

“The taxation of Social Security began in 1984 following passage of a set of Amendments in 1983, which were signed into law by President Reagan in April 1983. These amendments passed the Congress in 1983 on an overwhelmingly bi-partisan vote.

“The basic rule put in place was that up to 50% of Social Security benefits could be added to taxable income, if the taxpayer’s total income exceeded certain thresholds.

“The taxation of benefits was a proposal which came from the Greenspan Commission appointed by President Reagan and chaired by Alan Greenspan (who went on to later become the Chairman of the Federal Reserve).”

They go into some serious detail, if you click on the links in their text. One big takeaway for me is the sentence, “These amendments passed the Congress in 1983 on an overwhelmingly bi-partisan vote.”

So, as much as I believe Ronald Reagan is the second worst — and maybe even the worst — president in my lifetime, he had enablers and accomplices from across the aisle in many of his damaging policies — like making us pay a second time for our Social Security benefits.

One item of note about the most successful federal government program: the SSA says that Social Security Trust is projected to run out of money in 2037, 14 years from now. That point is a major excuse the GOP brings up when they propose to cut or end Social Security. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) wants Social Security and Medicare treated as discretionary spending that needs to be approved every year during the budget process. In other words he says Social Security benefits should be approved every fiscal year and if they are not approved, then we seniors do not get our Social Security.

Johnson also claims the most successful government program was set up wrong and wants to turn over the entire $2.9 trillion trust to the folks that brought us the stock market crash of 2008 … and the stock market “down turn” in 2001 (pre-9/11 attacks)  … the “down turn of 2002” … and “Black Monday,” on 19 October, 1987. The list of all the stock market failures could go on and on. Here’s a message for my family and friends in Wisconsin: your senator, Ron Johnson, wants us to turn over the Social Security trust to those people. Remove him from office Wisconsin.

Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) wants to “sunset” all federal programs, which means benefits for these programs need approval every five years. You can see his plan explained by the Joint Economic Committee Democrats here.

I guess the GOP thinks they need to do more to destroy the American middle class.

For a much-needed contrast to the doom and gloom of the Republican Party I looked at what Senator Bernie Sanders had to say about Social Security and other programs. Right at the top he lets us know his ideas. “Today, we say to our senior citizens, that we understand that you cannot live in dignity when you are trying to survive on $13,000 or $14,000 a year in Social Security benefits. My Republican colleagues want to cut Social Security but we have some bad news for them. We’re not going to cut Social Security benefits. We’re going to expand them.”

Bernie adds this: “At a time when about half of American households over the age of 55 have no retirement savings and one out of five seniors are trying to live on less than $13,500 a year, our job is not to cut Social Security. Our job is to expand Social Security so that everyone in this country can retire with the dignity they have earned and everyone with a disability can live with the security they need.”

There is an odd quirk in how the Social Security Trust is funded. No matter what your income is, or was (in my case), only the first $132,900 is subject to the payroll taxes. To illustrate: If you are making  the $132,900 per year, you are putting the same number of dollars into the SSA Trust as the guy making $10 million per year. The big disparity is this : You, me and all of us in the 95% are giving up a much bigger percentage of our income than the mega millionaires and billionaires.

We can read Bernie’s plans for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disability and veterans benefits  here.

There is so much going on in our world, especially our nation it’s impossible to talk about all of it all at once. For instance, the Nazi-like goose step to ban certain books and authors in an effort to restrict what young people can read, per the fervent proclamations from Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. He is crowing about his newest favorite bit of racist and bigoted legislation, the “Stop W.O.K.E. (Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) Act ”

Makes me wonder who came up with the actual title. What wrongs were being perpetrated on their kids and employees? At any rate DeSantis is getting a lot of attaboys from his equally depraved Republicans who still cling to the fantasy that they can make the U.S. of A. a Christian white supremacy nation … controlled by White Christian men.

DeSantis thinks that message will propel him into the White House in 2025. What’s really scary, some talking heads think his message could win the Electoral College.

Om Monday I saw something that is somewhat alarming: Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene taking the Speaker’s chair and gavel.

When we see her in action as a member of the House Oversight Committee we should resist the urge to laugh at her. She could be very dangerous to America.

We need to check into the Illinois elementary school that received over $5 billion in “Covid Cash” for CRT — Critical Race Theory — curriculum that is, according to MTG, teaching white kids not to like themselves because of the color of their skin. It’s representatives like MTG that make us concerned about the state of that House of Congress. And we haven’t even brought up the nut bar from Arizona, Paul Gosar or Colorado’s own Lauren Boebert.

The entire Republican caucus in the House of Representatives is corrupted by the lies, conspiracy theories and disinformation of the MAGA-verse and QAnon. It now defines the GOP.

Then there is the ongoing comic-drama of Congressman George Santos … What is his other name?

Some of his constituents traveled to Washington, D.C. to demand Santos be ousted from Congress. Their spokesperson, Jody Kass, the coordinator of the group, Concerned Citizens of NY-03, said, “We are here because Speaker McCarthy apparently cannot hear us when we speak from Long Island,

“Speaker McCarthy, if the GOP is so concerned about election integrity, how about doing something about the con man who lied his way into the House and perpetrated the greatest fraud on the electorate in American history?”

Something tells me Santos, also known as Anthony Devolder will be in the news for some time. Wasn’t he an astronaut on the last space shuttle flight?

Tonight (February 7) President Biden is giving his State of the Union speech. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) says the House members will be “respectful” and he won’t rip up President Biden’s speech once Biden is finished.

Maybe McCarthy forgot, but his caucus is the one that approves of, or supported or took part in the attempted coup on January 6, 2021. They might see some value in disrupting Biden’s speech. Anything for those campaign donations.

Do I watch the speech, or start binging on Hit & Run, Lior Raz’s other thriller …