Category Archives: its political

An Open Letter to Lindsay Graham


Dear Mr. Graham,

I thank you for the response to the message I sent you regarding my concerns regarding your party’s intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act. You were the only of my Congressional representatives who responded at all, even if it was in form letter format.

However that letter, as is usually the case in these matters, left me dissatisfied in what the message you sent, most certainly intended to dissuade any concerns I may have. It failed to do so, mainly because I have been quite interested in the process of health care, insurance, and how it impacts us, the average resident of this country.

You state:

While the ACA did provide necessary health care coverage for some, it has failed others, leaving many Americans with increased premiums and decreased choice as health insurers flee the exchanges.

This is only partially true. The ACA provided health care coverage for some Americans, those who were not already covered by employer based coverage, or through Medicaid or Medicare, or most Americans. It also gave huge benefits to all people with any type of insurance coverage, by providing free screenings, immunizations and even some medications, like birth control. It allowed parents to cover their children for longer, quite beneficial if their child had a health condition that a lapse in insurance could be catastrophic. People in states who accepted the expanded Medicaid coverage saw decreased premiums and increased choice. Those of us in red states, or with GOP governors did not.

Which brings us to the desire of the GOP to give states greater control over our healthcare. South Carolina has never ranked high in many things that we can be proud about, healthcare is one of them. Thanks to the refusal of former Governor Haley, to accept the Medicaid expansion offered, many South Carolinians were shut out of opportunities for better and more affordable quality care. The rest of us have only seen a slight slow down in the cost of health care costs, and being priced out of services because of that cost.

I agree that the ACA did not keep prices down as advertised, but that is because, we the people have not been given a say in our health care cost, availability or even quality. I do not for one minute believe your statement that says:

I will work diligently to replace this bill with legislation that transfers power from Washington back to patients and the states.

Why? Because the states, and the patients haven’t had any control of this in decades. The ones who have been calling the shots in how our health care is managed has lain mostly in the hands of insurance companies, private for profit health entities, and pharmaceutical companies. It is they that dictate the costs, the types of care patients get, what is a covered service or item, and what isn’t. While things have improved in the past few decades, like maternity care not being an insurance rider that has to be pre-purchased so that having a baby is covered by insurance, much of health insurance has followed the same essential model since the 1990s.

If you truly want to reform, and truly want patients having more control, than it is time to rein in those who keep driving costs up. It is not us, It is not the states. It is Insurance, Pharmaceutical and for profit health companies that are making health care anything but affordable. Nation after nation has demonstrated how quality health care can be had for all its residents when profit is taken out of the equation.

We shouldn’t have to choose, as I and my husband both have, to do without medication till pay-day, or delay a needed health procedure because we can’t afford it, or dread getting the flu, because that trip to Urgent Care is going to kill our budget for the month. No one should have to worry about what happens if they get sick, or if they will lose their house when getting a diagnosis, or risking their lives, and stopping treatment,  because the prescribed treatment is as more than their house payment a month.

Change the ACA, improve it, make it work for all of us. You were given a great start by the passage of the ACA. By repealing it, you and your peers, put us all at risk.

Sincerely,

Sylvie Parris

A copy of this has been sent to Senator Graham. I urge everyone to contact their representatives, and let them know how you feel about our healthcare system and its future. 

Until Then, I will Sit


stadium-seatsI did it. I sat through the presentation of colors, the invocation and the national anthem at a local high school game. I sat, because I love the country I live in. As much as I love it, I am bothered by so much of what I see. I am also bothered by what I see as a near compulsory demand for an adherence to ritual while failing to truly understand, that for many Americans, such rituals ring hollow. It is for them, after much contemplation that I sat.

I sat for the people of Flint, for whom profit mattered more than safe drinking water, for the residents Standing Rock for similar reasons. I sat for those serving long term sentences for minor drug charges while those who commit violent crimes go free. The injustice, often along color lines is an ongoing injustice. Even worse, profit comes into play, when we as a people care more about the bottom line more than our neighbors, I find silent and complacent is something I cannot be. So for those who suffer at the hands of corporate interests,  I sat.

I sat for the victims of war…the men and women sent to fight for ideology and control of resources than ignored and abandoned when they got home, damaged, broken, hurting. For all the rhetoric about support for our troops, I find there is less substance than we are led to believe. We spend so much for the tools of war, yet the most important ones, the people we send into harms way, our nation invests so little. We’ve been in some kind of conflict for so long, that a time of true peace, is an unknown.

We send our sons and daughters, expecting them to set everything aside, celebrating what we believe is their patriotic duty to be cogs in the mechanics of war, and we rarely question why.. I am reminded of  Walt Whitman’s Drum Taps. The poem talks about the festive celebratory air that often occurs when we prepare for war. There is a line that says: 

The tearful parting—the mother kisses her son—the son kisses his mother;  
(Loth is the mother to part—yet not a word does she speak to detain him;)

Whitman proved to be quite prophetic in the lines of his poem as we prepared to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. How many mothers and sons never got to tell each other hello again since?  It is for this poignant reasons, that I hate the dark arts of war. We celebrate war through our patriotic rituals, yet rarely stop to count the cost. It is because I feel that the price is too high, that I sat.

I sat for every homeless child, every person working three jobs to make enough to feed their families, for everyone who is a victim of violence, for every person who has been subjected to the hatred of bigotry and racism, and every person who must decide which to pay, rent or medical bills. I sat for every person who came here for a chance for their future and for that of their children, fearful that they will be denied it for lack of a piece of paper. I sat for those denied that chance to even try to come here because they are from the “wrong country” or of the the “right religious persuasion. 

I, a white, middle aged grandmother, made a simple patriotic choice and went against the crowd.  I am of the mind that we can truly be a country that understands what freedom means, that it is a responsibility, an honor, a purpose, and that we are only free when all of us can be equally so. Until then I will sit.

Celebrating the End of Another Campaign Season.


If you vote, you can get a free one of these.

If you vote, you can get a free one of these.

This coming Tuesday is election day…Thank the government gods! While I appreciate, and highly respect our right to choose the people we send to run our governments, I absolutely loathe the drawn out, ugly, backbiting, dishonest, outlandish process of campaigning.

My radio, television, mailbox both virtual and the e-version has been inundated with pleas for donations, trash talk about the president, or the affordable care act, neither of which have anything to do with the jobs most of these people want  to hold. There’s also half truths about things they supposedly accomplished while in office, how horrifically more inept the opponent is than they.  All while trying to make themselves look like they are the answer to all governmental problems. There’s the ominous music playing in the background, when talking about that ebil opponent, and the angelic choirs when talking about the good candidate you should be voting for. There’s the usual patriotic imagery bandied about. There is all the requests for donations so that we can see, or hear even more of this wonderfully amazing solicitations for our votes.

UGH.

What do we get as a result? Here are a few examples.

We have a candidate in my state, running for US senate. His campaign has been carefully crafted to say nothing about his past political history, nor his past and/or current domestic woes, including a past conviction and jail time. I think he believes holding an adorable baby while talking will trigger the awww factor and distract from the fact that he just spent 30 seconds droning on about nothing substantial. The baby is adorable. The distraction doesn’t work.

PACs run adds on the ESPN networks for a candidate who is running in only one state. During a weekend, the damn thing ran at every other commercial during a football game.  I don’t live in New York state, so I don’t care about that candidates supposed stance on gun laws.

And then the foot in mouth disease that is apparent with some candidates is beginning to become epidemic in proportion. I really have to wonder if some states are so desperate to get candidates that they pick anyone willing and with a pulse, sanity is optional.

UGH again!

I firmly believe that how political campaigns are run is ineffective and lacking any information that would help people make an intelligent and informed decision. We are hiring people for a short term job. There are better ways to discover which person is apt for the task. Like each candidates’ websites, especially if they list where they stand on relevant issues. There are also information about candidates at local party headquarters,  well as  well as all sorts of information at state, local and federal websites that list who all the candidates are, how incumbents have voted in the past.

I also believe who they are married to, what religious preference they are, and who they list as political allies is less important than how they feel about the budgets they will help manage, the  needs of their districts and how to solve problems in the short and long terms, and trying to adequately meet the needs of all people in that district. I also feel they need to be willing to work together with people who hold different ideologies and ditch the petty partisanship.

There is a lot I’d change about how we elect people if I got to run things. But I don’t get to do that. I do however get to vote, which I will be doing, likely cancelling out the votes of my husband. He’s a conservative, I lean very liberal. We we both agree on this. To care about our community and the people chosen to run it, is motivation enough to be part of the process. So we will be voting on Tuesday. I hope you will as well.

Besides, after Tuesday all those political campaign ads will magically disappear…for maybe a couple of weeks. There’s another election in two years. Some candidates insist on getting an early start.

UGH

Little Pollyanna Me


naiveThere are times if there is something wrong with me, if who I am is so out of synch with the rest of the world that I don’t even begin to fit. I feel like usually when my perception is not what others around me think and see. It can be very frustrating. It can be lonely.

I live in a culture that has a fascination with guns. Many of my family members, friends and co-workers are gun owners and feel that they are necessary for protection. Some of them are avid hunters or enjoy target shooting with the variety of weaponry they possess. Most of them have no problem with violent forms of retribution, such as capital punishment, “stand your ground laws”, and deliberate attacks on people deemed as threats to our communities or country.

Strange, “naive”, little Pollyanna  me finds all of that abhorrent. I won’t touch a gun, do not see the need for one other than hunting or sport related targeting, neither of which holds any interest for me, and see all sorts of serious problems with the way society deals with problems by throwing violence at it. Conversations about endorsements advocating violence as any solution upsets me greatly. That makes me the odd girl out.

Being of the non-violent sort, a day like today, an anniversary of acts of senseless violence that led to more and more and more violence, violence that continues today, makes me want to curl up in a ball and wish I could just block it all out. The hatred that has exploded, having simmered under the surface for decades as a result of a few murderous men doesn’t seem to want to abate. It angers and frustrates me to hear or read about public figures on all sides espouse violence against the other, without qualm and with malice. It mystifies me that they can’t see past their own pride at the hurt, the destruction, the fury such rhetoric promotes.

I know in this too, I’m weird one, the kooky pacifist who just doesn’t understand how the world works, at least that is how I am perceived to some. I’ve been told, more than once, that this is a trend, the world getting worse and worse until the rapture or some other Christian based end of the world scenario. But I look at history and don’t see it. We’ve always had violence, people have suffered horribly at the hands of others for eons. I read their stories and am amazed that we still haven’t learned a damned thing. I don’t see why doing the same thing we’ve always done in situations like this solves the situations. So, yeah, I don’t understand.

So today, I pray, hope, and try to instill what I do every day…peace. Not the cessation of violence, but something better. For people to stop for a minute hating one another, looking at them as enemy, lesser valued, evil, and to try to imagine walking in their shoes for a minute. For people to ask questions like: Why do they hate us? What about their culture, religion is similar to mine? What if I had to live in their world?

Will that solve the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Gaza, Afghanistan and elsewhere today? Oh, if it were only that easy. But maybe it will have us consider other options that don’t result in more loss of life. Maybe also, it will have us look at the people in our own communities with a fresh perspective as well.

I’m still working on that whole “loving my neighbor as myself” thing, yet it has given me a completely different way of looking at people as a whole and as individuals. I won’t own or touch a gun, because to me, they represent violence, pain, death, and irrevocable loss. I won’t cheer at successful military campaigns that stop murderous thugs in their tracks, it too represents those things, even if they are deemed necessary. I will appreciate and be grateful for our militaries who sacrifice much for safety and freedom of the nations they represent, but I take no joy in what they must at times do. I hope and pray for a day, where my nation feels spending 600 billion dollars a year for its upkeep as ludicrously high. I long for the day where the negotiating table always trumps the battlefield.

There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about beating swords into plowshares. I love the analogy of turning the weapons of war and destruction into implements of agriculture and building. Maybe I am a Pollyanna, naive oddball, completely doped up on a massive case of delusion. But if the writer of that passage in Isaiah could imagine such a thing, then so can I.

Deconstructing Lincoln…No, Boetcker


You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

William Boetcker

This statement has been making the rounds of social media lately, apparently as proof that self reliance, is good, being critical of the rich is bad, and the poor, well they should just accept their lot. It has been erroneously and repeatedly credited to Abraham Lincoln. William Boetcker was a Presbyterian pastor, political conservative and speaker who lived from 1873 to 1962. Boetcker’s quote got credited to Lincoln, and Lincoln’s to Boetcker through an editing error in a Conservative political leaflet printed in 1942. Lincoln’s actual quote was “Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.” Boetcker’s quote was used by Ronald Reagan who credited it to Lincoln, and a legend was born.

I first saw the quote on Facebook with a note of it being shared through a conservative group. I did a perfunctory fact check, but didn’t go far enough to see who actually wrote what is called The Ten Cannots. I then proceeded to write a detailed deconstruct of the quote, looking at it from a more social equality frame of mind. After writing and editing, I did one more bit of research. I wanted to see when Lincoln actually said it, and in what format. That is when I realized my and many other’s folly. I had fallen into the “just because its on the internet, then it must be true.” fallacy.

I broke that rule. Thankfully I caught my mistake in time. The deconstruct of the quote still stands. I’ve just learned more about our 16th president, and how easy it is to just accept bad information at face value. Learning about our history, is always a good thing.

So on to the deconstruct: Continue reading

An Epidemic We Need to Stop


fistThe World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released a study regarding global statistics on physical and sexual violence and the related deaths of women. The information the WHO released proved that physical or sexual violence affects a third of all women…globally. They rightfully consider this an epidemic.

Of course, one can assume that such violence against women occurs mostly in third world nations, or nations experiencing war, and that would be a mostly correct assumption. One would think that a nation such as the U.S. would have the lowest statistics, they would be right, but these statistics are by far not low enough. The percentage differences between the most violent regions and the least is less than 15 percentage points apart.

So the questions remain: why is this happening at all, and why is this such a huge problem in the 21st century? Why is there no relief in sight for millions of women and girls?

In developed nations, our societies have evolved with women gaining many of the rights denied to our ancestors. We can vote, choose our occupation, buy property, and decide who, when, and even if we marry.Yet we are hardly immune to the violence perpetrated against us, often by our romantic partners.

It seems that sometimes we women are determined to be our own worst enemies. We buy “romance” novels by the gross ton where the plot sometimes has the “heroine” fall in love with her rapist and they end up supposedly madly in love by the end of the book. The book series 50 Shades of Gray was a runaway best-seller, featuring a very controlling, sadistic psychopath male and a female who was written to purportedly enjoy his mental, physical, and emotional abuse. The primary target reader of this book? Women. Does our apparent acceptance of such casual violence in fiction mean that we assume that either such violence doesn’t occur in real life, or that the women who find themselves on the victim side of things “like” or “deserve”it?

Our politicians certainly don’t help. They continue to cut funding for rape crises and battered women shelters They either misrepresent or outright lie about facts concerning sexual violence in order to promote legislation or gain votes.

Our judicial systems have weak laws, passed by the legislative branches of our governments to prosecute people who physically abuse women, and yet most rapists are never arrested, much less prosecuted.

Does our frustration with our political and judicial systems mean that we give up, accept the status quo, hope it doesn’t happen to us or someone we know and buy more books glorifying emotional, mental, and physical abuse?

The Bible that so many Christians revere doesn’t seem to offer much help either. There are civil codes where if a woman is raped in a field, she won’t get stoned for adultery, but if it happens in a city and she doesn’t cry out, she is guilty of adultery, and is therefore stoned. We don’t know for sure of course, but is possible that such a scenario may have happened to the woman accused of adultery in the New Testament. We have men stealing women from a neighboring town to make wives out of them, women ordered to marry their rapists, women enslaved as the result of war and forced to marry their conqueror. Does this not seem wrong to us? Or do we essentially ignore those portions of our Bibles?

One would think that in Christianity such things as physical and sexual violence against women would be rare. Unfortunately, it’s not, and that’s what really bothers me. So many Christians are so very focused on women’s issues – so much so that it has crossed the line from religion to politics…but the problem of violence against women has oddly not been given its deserved focus. Instead these groups have chosen to focus their attention on other topics such as abortion, birth control, or demoralizing the efforts of LGBT groups gaining equal rights.

When it comes to the truly important topic of violence against women, not much is being done by religious groups. If a woman were to turn to her pastor or church for help, more often than not she’s told to stay with her abusive husband, to “submit”, to stop being “disobedient”, to pray more, or that their abusive husband would have to commit the “real” crime of adultery before God would allow a divorce. I have to wonder: how many women feel trapped in a church-sanctioned abusive relationship with nowhere to go, and nowhere to turn? How much longer will this travesty continue?

How many sermons do we hear about Deborah, who ruled Israel for 40 years? How often are the names of the female prophets in scripture mentioned? What about all the women who were considered disciples? Why are women not given an equal role in the history of the church? Why are women still being denied equal roles in the church today? Why are they not also given equal protection when abuses occur?

You and I all know someone who is a victim of violence. You and I know someone who has been abused emotionally, physically, and/or sexually. You and I may know someone who died as a result of such violence. You and I may be one of those people who can list themselves in the victim list. You and I may live in fear of being a victim in the near future. As a result,you and I are the ones who understand the pain, the despair, and the feeling of utter isolation felt by victims of gender-based violence.

We can be the ones who do something about this, who work to reduce the list of victims and to ensure that all people live more peacefully and safely. We can be the ones who work to ensure that the fear of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by one half of our population becomes much less of an issue for the other half.

We need to stop ignoring this problem. We need to stop mourning the deaths, and drying the tears while we sit idly by and watch lives and hearts and souls and families shatter. We need to insist that women, all women, decide that we deserve better, and then we need to work together to rid our culture of the violence that threatens half of our species. We need men to insist that their gender conduct themselves with consideration, maturity and integrity. We need to work together, persistently, until we end this epidemic once and for all. The question is, will we?

And now for a spot of stew…polistew


You know, its a real boost to one’s creative ego, when you are asked to write about topics because someone thinks you can do it justice. That is what has been happening recently. Someone I know, who’s got a lot more street cred when it comes to writing about politics than I started a new blog and welcomes a variety of voices to the table. I get to be one of them

For me its a return, in part to what I did when I wrote the Miss Mom column for the former Spartanburg Spark. Thanks to Steve Shanafelt and Christopher George, I got to cut my creative writing teeth sharing weekly thoughts, misadventures and the odd newsworthy story. I learned a great deal during that tenure, along with the things I learned taking some creative writing courses at Converse. Maybe one day I can return and finished that durn degree.

This new outlet, other than right here, is at a place called Polistew

What I like about what Amy Lanzbury has done is that she often takes one of those hot button topics, often a state or regional one, and invites the reader to chime in with what they think. This open-ended format invites discourse and discussion. Of course I am sure there is the fair share of trolls who lumber by, but so far the comments have been really interesting as well as civil. Being a political minded place, the slant tends to lead a bit towards the left, of which I tend to be quite at home, and represents a side to socio/political points of view not often really given a fair light in this part of the US. Instead she takes what others are saying and asks us what we think on presentation, accuracy and what solutions could be suggested that aren’t already. Its refreshing.

So what do I do there? Well, so far I’m the religious voice. I’ve just completed my second piece, which was edited by Amy far better then I could ever do myself. The first piece I wrote covered the Hobby Lobby legal wranglings about contraceptives and all the insane debate/arguments over it. You’ll realize that not only do both these topics cover faith, they also cover women’s issues, something that deserves hearing all sides on. I enjoyed the research on both topics, as one of the reasons I write, is because I must, but also because I learn so much from it.

Writing about social topics from the point of view of one who is also Christian who is not only left handed, but also lists left socially, is a lot tougher than one assumes. My goal is to present a topic with dignity, to present facts and then share my views that information, all while trying to be eloquent and respectful. What I get to do at Polistew is not much different topically then some of the topics I’ve covered here, but with a new audience. Plus the topics are more serious there then my usual fare at Sylvie is a Blogger, a blog title I’ve been thinking of changing for some time. (suggestions welcome)

Please visit Polistew, Let Amy know what you think, let me know. Suggest topics. Get to see how others think about everything to who’s running for state or federal legislative seats, to what do you think about some residents to want to form their own county over a penny sales tax hike to the enacting of smoking bans in particular cities.

One of the things we don’t do enough of is sit down and simply talk about things as well as we should.  Speaking of which I have a book to recommend to you. Its a small book simply titled Civil Discourse,Speaking Strategies for a Democratic Society by Linda Powers. Its a short textbook, but its an easy read, containing simple tools on communication we can all use. The book has been quite helpful for me in navigating how to talk about difficult topics and still remembering to treat the topic as well as the other participants with dignity.